Home Archive Lectures Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.): A Torch to Mankind

Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.): A Torch to Mankind

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Zul Kaada, 12th 1430 H. - October, 30th 2009. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.


The First Sermon

The heir apparent

Allah says in His Glorious Book: "Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying." (33:33).

Imam Ali Bin Musa Ar-Rida (a.s.) was born on the eleventh of the month of Zul Kaada, 148 H. He had a dynamic life that witnessed many important events including the fact that Al-Ma'moon, an Abbasid Caliph, forced him (a.s.) to be his successor. Actually, the Caliph wanted to transmit the caliphate from the Abbasids to the children of Ali and Fatima (a.s.), as a result of the struggle over the caliphate between Al-Ma'moon and his brother Al-Ameen, which ended up un Al-Ma'moon killing his brother Al-Ameen and asking Imam Ar-Rida to be his successor. However, the Imam (a.s.) knew that the stand of Al-Ma'moon was merely impulsive; one that is induced by the negative positions of the Abbasids who refused to pass down the caliphate to a non-Abbasid. Some historians say that at the end of Imam Ar-Rida's life, Al-Ma'moon turned against him (a.s.), and after he returned safe and sound to his family, Al-Ma'moon poisoned him (a.s.).

On this anniversary, we will try to highlight the personality of Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.). It was mentioned in his biography that when he was declared a heir apparent, some poets visited him, including the famous poet Abu Nawwas who is said to be a Shiite, who said the following verses:

I was told that I am one of the best poets ever, so why do not I praise Ibn Musa [Imam Ar-Rida]?! I said how could I praise an Imam whose father had Gabriel as his servant [an Imam who is above all praise]?!

The Imam's knowledge

When we read about the life of Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) in Al-Madina, we realize that he used to sit in the Holy Mosque (Al_masjid Al-Haram) and lecture, preach, and educate the people. Some of his companions counted the stories that quoted him and found that they were about eighteen thousand, in which he used to answer the inquirers in several domains of knowledge. He also used to sit with other scholars in the Mosque and whenever they felt incapable before any issue, they used to refer it to the Imam (a.s.).

People loved the Imam  

Moreover, Imam Ar-Rida encompassed the Islamic history with a high level of science, knowledge, faith, and spirituality. In his travel from Al-Madina to Khurasan, the people whom he met in the cities he passed by used to approach him making use of the opportunity to ask him anything and learn from him. The Imam (a.s.) called for – just as his fathers and the prophets who came before him used to call for – the unification of Allah and not to ascribe any partners to Him, and to base their lives on the purity and depth of the unification, and the greatness of the commitment to one God.

The Imam quotes the Messenger (p.)

Some narrators relate that when the Imam (a.s.) used to pass in the city of Marrow, many scholars and people used to gather around him (a.s.) and ask him to talk to them. His talk was based on the issue of the commitment to the unification of Allah which deepens the Islamic commitment and brings man closer to Allah, so the Imam used to say: "My father Musa Al-Kazim (a.s.) narrated to me from his father, Ja'afar As-Sadiq (a.s.), from his father, Muhammad Al-Baqir (a.s.), from his father, Ali Zein Al-Abideen (a.s.), from his father, the Martyr of Karbala' (a.s.), from his father, Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.), saying: "The Messenger of Allah narrated to me once that Gabriel told him that he had heard the Lord of the Throne saying: "The Kalima (Testimony) of La Ilahah Illa-Allah (there is no God but Allah) is My citadel; whoever said he would enter my citadel, and whoever entered my citadel was safe from My retribution."

The Imam's engagement in contemporary issues

Some of Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.)'s companions described some of the Imam's traits, and how he represented the sublime Islamic morals and the spiritual values. Ibrahim Bin Al-Abbas As-Sawli once said: "I have never seen Ar-Rida asked about anything he did not know. And I have never seen anyone who knew more about the previous times, as well as the contemporary times – he lived his time, for he was not separated from the phase in which he lived as he used to know what was going on in his time, handling and dealing with all the people's affairs. This is a lesson that all scholars ought to learn; which is that the scholar should comprehend the time he lives in and realize the expectations of that time, as well as the people's minds and methods, and what could open up their minds based on the Prophet (p.)'s saying: "We prophets were ordained to deal with people according to their mind levels." – Al-Ma'moon used to test him (a.s.) by asking him about everything and he would always answer by citing verses from the Holy Quran." He used to guide people to the Quran so as to realize what is related to their lives through the Quran.

The Quran's companion

The Imam (a.s.) used to finish reading the Quran over three nights and say: "Had I wanted to finish reading it in less than three nights, I would have; however, I pause at every Ayah and contemplate about its meaning and for what purpose it was revealed." The Quran represented the major source of his education, so he used to pause at every Ayah to know its content and meaning as well as its suggestions and for what purpose it was revealed, and what issue it handles; a thing we all ought to learn, i.e. how to read the Quran with contemplation and observation.

The Imam's sublime morals

In another narration by Ibn Al-Abbass As-Sawli, he said: "I have never seen or heard anyone better than Abi Al-Hassan Ar-Rida, and I have seen him act in a way like no one before – he was always the one referred and resorted to, that, once, Al-Ma'moon arranged a meeting for him with a group of people of all religions and told them to ask him anything. The Imam (a.s.) used to answer them, presenting indisputable arguments that none of the people had any chance to object or question what he (a.s.) was saying – nor did I see him interrupt anyone, or refuse to do someone a favor he was able to do, nor did he ever stretch his legs before an audience, nor leaned upon something while his companions did not, nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name – at that time, he (a.s.) had servants and attendants, and he was lenient with them and never swore at any of them or called them bad names – nor did I see him spit – when he wanted to spit, he used to do it away from people – or burst into laughter; rather, his laughter was just a smile. When he was ready to eat and sat to be served, he seated with him all his attendants, including the doorman and the groom. He was used to having a little sleep at night and he used to fast a lot and would always fast for three days in a month, and say: "This is the fast of an entire lifetime." He was also very charitable but in absolute secrecy. During the dark nights, he would go round the houses of the poor giving charity without letting them know him. Thus, do not believe anyone who claims that he has seen someone who is as pious as him (a.s.)."

Raja' Bin Abi Ad-Dahhak who was commissioned by Al-Ma'moon to escort Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) said: "By Allah! I never saw anyone more pious than him nor more often remembering God at all times nor more fearful of God, the Exalted. People approached him whenever they knew he was present in their neighborhood, asking him questions regarding their faith and its aspects, and he would answer them and narrate a great deal of Hadith from his father who quoted his forefathers till Ali(a.s.) who quoted the Messenger of Allah (p.). When I arrived at Al-Ma'moon's court, the latter asked me about his behavior during the trip and I told him what I observed about him during the night and during the day, while riding and while halting; so, he said: `Yes, O son of Al-Dahhak! This is the best man on the face of earth, the most learned, and the most pious."

The Imam's modesty

Al-Kalini in Al-Kafi quotes a man from Balkh saying: "I accompanied Ar-Rida (a.s.) during his trip to Khurasan. One day, he ordered preparations for his meal to which he invited all his attendants, blacks and non-blacks, so one of his companions said: "May my life be sacrificed for yours! Maybe these should have a separate eating arrangement." He said: "God Almighty is One, the father [Adam] and the mother [eve] are the same, and people are rewarded according to their deeds." 

Ali Bin Shuaib said: "Once, I visited Abi Al-Hassan Ar-Rida (a.s.). He asked me: "O' Ali, do you know who the best earner of livelihood among people is?" – some people might think that the best earner is the one who has a big amount of money, a big house, and a high prestige – I answered: "You, my master, are more knowledgeable than me." He (a.s.) said: "The best earner of livelihood among people is the one who improves others' livelihoods out of his livelihood." – i.e. the one who is not selfish and does not live for his own sake, but rather tries to elevate the level of the people around him. He (a.s.) then asked him: ""O' Ali, do you know who the worst earner of livelihood among people is?" I answered: "You, my master, are more knowledgeable than me." He (a.s.) said: "The worst earner of livelihood among people is the one who deprives others from improving their livelihoods through his earnings."

The Imam's teachings

Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) said: "Everyone's friend is his reason; his enemy is his ignorance." Reason enables man to differentiate between what is good and what is bad, and the ignorant offends himself in the first place before offending anyone else. It was also narrated that he said: "Being kind to people is half the mind," and that worship is not about fasting and praying as much as it is about thinking of Allah. Worship ought to be enclosed in man's mind; the more man gets to know his God, the closer he gets to Allah. He (a.s.) also said: "Supporting the weak is the best kind of charity," because you would be granting him dignity and pride.

Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) encompassed the entire Islamic world and wanted people to be at a high level of knowledge and awareness and to further know Allah and get closer from Him and be more devoted to Him. This is the life of the Members of the House (a.s.) whom Allah wanted them to elevate people's level.

Peace be upon Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) the day he was born, the day he passed away, and the day he will be brought back to life.

The Second Sermon

The Arabs' resignation from the Palestinian cause

In Palestine, the Israeli aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque continues as part of the continuous aggression on the Palestinian people, as well as the Arab and Islamic nation, in a Zionist attempt to impose a new fait accompli that eradicates everything that has to do with the Islamic and Arab identity in Palestine, so that once the Arabs and Muslims and Palestinian negotiators wake up from their civilized sleep, they would find nothing to demand for or negotiate about.

It is shameful that the Palestinian naked chests are abandoned and left alone to defend Al-Aqsa, especially after the expansion of the scope of the aggression against it [the Mosque] in what seems as an Arab and Islamic resignation from the Palestinian cause and from all the other crucial causes related to it, for all what the Arabs are offering are statements of condemnation, denouncement and grief. Moreover, the Arab and Islamic regimes are preoccupied with bilateral struggles and internal disagreements within their countries which they have turned into big prisons for their peoples, in a kind of conspiracy of concerted roles in the international game that aims at establishing a reality in which the Zionists entirely end the Palestinian cause in appropriate political conditions.

The collapse of the Arab institutions  

Thus, the Arab League has collapsed, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has failed, and Al-Quds Committee is absent, and the Arabs and Muslims were meant to suffocate in their internal problems and to be stranded down the road of finding solutions for their social situations, and the rising poverty percentages amongst them as a result of the oppression and starvation policy adopted by the authorities that have got used to re-electing themselves and their symbols in well-studied and calculated political and electoral occasions.

The PA turns its back to Israel  

We feel the mass danger of the engagement of the Palestinians in internal political rows and mutual accusations of treason and collaboration, at a time the enemy proceeds with its attack on the last of the Palestinian religious and political sanctuaries. Moreover, we wonder how a certain authority preparing for the elections could use against its people, or at least a big part of it, such cruel and hurtful words, at a time this same authority addresses the enemy with a calm ordinary political rhetoric; thus demonstrating a scene in which man's self-respect is lost before an enemy that goes so far in humiliating and insulting him.

We say to those and to everyone who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth): The Palestinian situation, as a whole, is a trust in your hands, and this kind of rhetoric as well as insisting on turning the back to the enemy and the major causes, and preceding with inciting marginal issues in an emotional manner will eventually result in ending the Palestinian cause and making the temple collapse on the heads of everyone in the inside and the outside. Therefore, you ought to return to dialogue, which is the right thing to do, for you have got no other choice but dialogue.

Iraq: A bleeding wound

On another level, Iraq, the country the nation used to regard as a crucial supporter to its causes, and particularly the Palestinian one, was meant, by certain international and regional axes and Takfiri parties related to them, to turn into a bleeding wound and an everlasting tragedy that drives the attention away from the crimes of the Jewish occupiers against the Palestinians, paving the way for the enemy to go forth in its aggressive scheme.

Moreover, any attack on the innocent people and the civilians in any Arab or Islamic country, just as the horrible explosions that took place in Iraq and in Peshawar, a Pakistani province, and resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of people regardless of their sectarian, racial, and confessional affiliations… any such attack is an attack on all the Muslims' issues, at the top of which is the Palestinian cause. In addition, we consider the explosions that took place in Baghdad, recently, and that resulted in the death and injury of around a thousand people to be executed by collaborators with the enemy and ones who serve its goals and plans, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and their abode will be one of painful chastisement that Allah promised "whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land" with.

Turkey: A bold stand

In this dreadful scene engulfing the nation and threatening it in many of its positions due to the infighting and the moving internal strife, starting from Yemen, to Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, reaching Afghanistan that has turned into a graveyard that welcomes the invaders who go forth in committing crimes against the Afghani civilians… before this scene, we cannot but appreciate and praise the stands of certain Turkish officials and the leaders of the Justice and Development Party who defended the Palestinian people and condemned the Israeli crimes as clearly and explicitly as possible. Moreover, the Turkish Prime Minister defended the Islamic Republic of Iran and pointed out that the west treats Iran "unfairly", because, as he said, the states that accuse Iran of seeking to possess nuclear weapons are the same states that possess major and powerful nuclear capabilities. Actually, this Turkish official Islamic stand, along with the vital popular stand in the Turkish "street", represents a major starting point towards rehabilitating the Islamic positions that are capable of protecting the nation's issues, at the top of which is the Palestinian cause.             

Lebanon's everlasting political instability

As for Lebanon whose officials are satisfied with listening to the threats of the enemy's Minister of War who said that the Israeli army is ready and prepared for a new war against Lebanon, and with watching the Israeli – American maneuvers taking place on their borders while hiding their heads in the sand, disregarding the dangers approaching from the South and awaiting the "big accomplishment" of the birth of a new cabinet after more than four months of waiting… this Lebanon will remain in the sphere of political turmoil and will remain an exposed and open arena to the Israeli espionage, without any questioning by the United Nations. Moreover, "Larsen", the guardian of the 1701 resolution, in his biased reports, seeks to lay the foundation for further Zionist infringements to the resolution, and continuous violations to the Lebanese sovereignty, in the sense that the international parties will continue to consider this country from the Israeli security point of view... whereas, the security of the Lebanese, as well as their political, economic, and social safety will remain subjected to the dictations of the outside and the negligence of the inside.