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The Tenth Imam, ‘Ali(a.s.) Ibn Mohammad (a.s.)

 

Name
Imam Ali Ibn Mohammad (a.s.)
Father’s name
Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.)
Mother’s name
Janabe Samaana (S.A.)
Date of Birth
15th Zil hijjah 212 A.H.
Place of Birth
Madinah Munawwarah (at Surya)
Kuniyyat
Abul Hasan
Titles
Naseh, Murtaza, Ameen, Naqi
Age
42 years
Martyrdom
3rd Rajab 254 AH
Buried
Saamarra

 

“And I concluded with bliss for his son Ali, My friend and My helper and a witness upon My creation and My trustworthy upon My revelation.”

He was born in the second half of Zilhajj 212 A.H. in a suburb of Madinah called ‘Surya’, in the house of Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.) and ‘Samaana’. He was named ‘Ali’ like three of his ancestors.

In 220 AH, after the martyrdom of Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.), the responsibility of Imamate came upon the young Imam who was, at that time, only eight years old. Of his several titles, ‘Hadi’ and ‘Naqi’ are the most popular. Generally, he is remembered more as ‘Imam Ali Naqi’ and ‘Imam Hadi.’ His Kuniyyat is ‘Abul Hasan.’

Caliphs during his Era

During the 34 years of his life, Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) passed through six caliphs of Bani Abbas, namely Mo’tasim, Waathiq, Mutawakkil, Muntasir, Mustaeen, and Mo’taz. All six of them followed the footsteps of their fathers and tried to create as many difficulties for Imam (a.s.) as possible.

His stay in Saamarra

Amongst the calamities that Imam (a.s.) faced, was the deportation of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny from Madinah to Saamarra (which was the capital of Muslim rule). This deportation took place during Mutawakkil’s reign. After this deportation, there was a significant increase in the injustice and tortures afflicted on the Imams (a.s.) by the Umayyad and Abbasside caliphs and their agents. These injustices were done under the direct supervision of the Caliph. Mutawakkil’s agents had reported from Makkah and Madinah that if you want these two cities, then deport Imam (a.s.) from here.

On account of this and due to other factors, Mutawakkil took this step. Mutawakkil’s desperation becomes more evident when we see how he placed Imam (a.s.) in a military cantonment (‘Askar’). Imam (a.s.) passed more than 20 years of his life in this ‘prison’. Thus, the government kept an eye on each and every contact and meeting of Imam (a.s.). Not satisfied with this, based on the reports of his spies and sycophants, the government often raided the house of the Imam (a.s.) unannounced, alleging that he was gathering arms and mobilizing his friends for attempting a rebellion against the government. Under this excuse, every nook and corner of the Imam’s (a.s.) house was searched.

This aspect of Imam’s (a.s.) life highlights that the tyrannical Abbasside government was under tremendous stress and also brings forth the extent of the fear of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) in the hearts of the rulers.

The ability to lead society, profound knowledge, piety, righteousness and awareness was abundant in our Imams (a.s.). The society and members of the ruling government were well aware of this fact.

Hazrat Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) was raised to the status of Imamate at the age of eight.

In the writings of Shias, all the words and wills of Imam Jawad (a.s.) are present, which during his 17 years of Imamate emphasized again and again about the Imamate of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.). This was done in order to repel the evil designs of Bani Abbas that they do not use the young age of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) as a pretext against his Imamate. In this period, the Abbasside government decided against its policy of conducting open discussions and debates with the Imam (a.s.). This was because in every such debate the holy personality of the Imam (a.s.) was manifested even more splendidly before the people.

One day, Yahya Ibn Aktham (who was disgraced by Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.) innumerable times) approached in a gathering the brother of Imam (a.s.), Musa Ibn Mohammad ar- Reza, and asked him a few questions about the Holy Quran, history of the dawn of Islam and a few judgments of Imam Ali (a.s.) and demanded his answers. He (Musa) was not well versed with such topics. Hence the questions were directed to Imam Naqi (a.s.) who smiled and asked Yahya Ibn Aktham to repeat the questions. He repeated the questions and their complications (there were about 14 different ones) in front of Imam (a.s.). He gave all the replies immediately and instructed his brother to send the same to Yahya Ibn Aktham in writing who in turn carried out the instructions.

During his 34 years tenure of Imamate, Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) bore a lot of difficulties and problems inflicted on him by the six Abbasside caliphs and their agents but spared no effort when it came to the true guidance of the Islamic society.

The Worship of Imam (a.s.)

His worship and obedience of Allah were famous and he possessed tremendous spiritual power. The following incident is the best example of these two characteristics. During the reign of Mutawakkil, government servants raided the house of Imam (a.s.) with the objective of finding arms and letters of Shias (by which it could be established that they were plotting against the government). When they entered they saw Imam (a.s.) in the corner of the house where even the necessities of life were not provided in a condition that he was sitting on stones with a woolen cover on his head. Imam (a.s.) was engrossed in the worship of Allah and reciting verses of Qur’an which speak about hope and fear. The mercenaries of the government took the Imam (a.s.) along with the same stones and woolen blanket to Mutawakkil who was busy drinking. On seeing the Imam (a.s.) he was so overawed that he regained his consciousness. Respecting the Imam (a.s.), he made him sit next to the throne and after some conversation, he requested the Imam (a.s.) to recite some couplets.

Initially, the Imam (a.s.) refused, but Mutawakkil did not relent. Finally, he (a.s.) recited such verses in front of Mutawakkil, his courtiers, and dignitaries, the topics and contents which forced a man as hard-hearted as Mutawakkil to break down. Even those who were around Mutawakkil started weeping. Mutawakkil ordered his men to take Imam (a.s.) home with utmost respect.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

From this incident, one comes to know that Imam (a.s.) was a perfect symbol of all Islamic teachings because Islam has taught not to go only after the world. In contrast, it ordered the man to pay more attention to worship and moral aspects of his life. Imam’s (a.s.) life was a symbol of such teachings. Islam neither encourages kingly lavishness nor does it advocate the manner of the ascetics. Imam (a.s.) also adopted the same method. On spotting the opportunity he did not fail to admonish a bloodsucker like Mutawakkil. We also gain another lesson from this incident that according to the saying,

“Opportunity passes away like a cloud. Therefore make use of good opportunities.”

In the field of benevolence and nobility, Imam (a.s.) was a model. When one reads the incident of Imam (a.s.) which the historians have noted down in their books, one may even think of his generosity as miraculous.

Appointment of Deputies

Due to circumstances, Imam (a.s.) appointed reliable deputies so that the restrictions imposed by the government should not become the cause for people to remain far from religious judgments of daily necessities and from turning towards the Imam (a.s.). Amongst these deputies was Abu Amr Usman Ibn Saeed Amri, who later became the deputy of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) and Imam Mahdi (a.s.). Thus it was like preparing the field for Imame- Zaman (a.s.) to appoint deputies and the aim was to teach the people that in case they cannot approach the Imam of the time for religious verdicts, they must know how to obtain them.

Nevertheless, Imam after facing all such troubles never stopped teaching and training the people. There are several traditions from the Imam (a.s.) found in Islamic writings which display clearly how much the Imam (a.s.) was sensitive to this matter.

Self Admiration

For removing the defects in the character of his followers, he (a.s.) said,

“The one who is satisfied with himself indulges in self-admiration. (The result will be that) an increasing number of people will be against him.”

Thus he would teach his followers how to attract people towards them and how to reduce the number of their antagonists.

Patience

Whenever he admonished his followers to be steadfast and keep patience, he (a.s.) advised, “Sorrow is single for the patient and doubles for the despicable.”

(One who is patient bears only sorrow and calamities, while the one who is impatient, along with sorrow and calamities, he also has to bear his disability).

The world is Preparation for the Hereafter

Whenever he wanted to remind the people of their transient lives, he said, “The world is a market in which one group benefits (because they are well aware and work in it) while the other loses. (because they are unmindful and deep in slumber)”

Supplications

Invocations have also been noted from Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) in which every prayer has a world of understanding in its lap.

Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) enjoys such a status in the history of Islam that the greatest scholars of Ahle Sunnat have mentioned him in their writings. Ibn Khallekaan in Wafayaatul A’yaan, volume 2, page 435; Mohammad Ibn Talha Shafaei in Mataalebus So’l, page 188; Ibn Hajar Haithami in al-Sawaaeq al-Mohreqah, page 205. Each one of them has remembered Imam (a.s.) in their books and in various ways mentioned his greatness.

Martyrdom

Finally, on the command of Moa’taz Abbasi, Imam (a.s.) was poisoned and martyred on Monday, 3rd Rajab 254 A.H. at the age of 42 years. His martyrdom worsened the image of the Abbasids.

His holy body was buried in his house in Saamarra. Today visitors from every nook and corner come to his grave and through his holy self-try to gain proximity with Allah the Almighty. To end this lesson, we quote an extract from the invocation of, Imam (a.s.) which he used to recite in Qunoot. This invocation to some extent conveys those heart-rending problems which Imam (a.s.) had faced in his 34 years of Imamate.

“O, Allah! Save the believers from your wrath and incur that wrath on the unjust. O, Allah! Hasten to help the people of truth and hasten to destroy the helpers of injustice.”