Biography/ Occasion

Imam Ali-El-Reda (AS): A Brief Look into his Life

Biography 223-224



Quoting a witness from «Balkh», in his famous work entitled «Kafi», the celebrated scholar «Kulayni» relates the following:

On the way to «Khorasan» I was among the attendants of His Holiness Imam REDA (as). At dinner 8th Imam, Holy Imam REDA (as) invited all his men around him and asked them to have dinner with him. There were a few negro servants were among those men. Declaring that they were all of the same flesh and blood the Holy Imam REDA (as) asked that the whole company should have dinner at one table. His Holiness practically combated against the superiority of race and color in connection with the distinction of the human beings. The Imam tried to revive the Islamic precepts of fraternity and equality in the Muslim community.


  1. Eleisha Ibn Hamza says: “I was once talking to Imam REDA (as), when a large crowd of people assembled to ask him about what is permissible in Islam and what is not. A man came to him and said:

“As-Salamu Alaykum, O Son of the Messenger of Allah! I am a man who loves you, your fathers and grandfathers, and I have just been on my way to perform the pilgrimage (Ziyarah) when I discovered that I had lost everything with me and now I do not have anything enough even for a leg of the trip. If you will, please help me with the expense of going back home, and I am a recipient of God’s blessing (i.e., well to do). As soon as I reach there, I will give to the poor as much as you will give me, for I do not qualify to be a recipient of alms.”

Imam REDA (as) said to him: “Sit, may God be merciful to you,” then he kept talking to people till they dispersed except that man, Suleiman al-Jaafari, Khuthai’ama and myself. Then Imam said: ‘Do you permit me to enter (the room)?’ Suleiman said to him: ‘May God advance your endeavor.’ So he entered the room and stayed for about an hour after which he came out and closed the door behind him and said: ‘Where is the man from Khorasan?’

The man answered: ‘Here I am!’ Imam REDA (as) said: ‘Take these two hundred dinars, use them for your preparations for the trip; may God bring you blessings thereby, and do not spend an equal amount to it on my behalf, and leave the room in a way that I do not see you and you do not see me,’ then he left. Suleiman then said: ‘May my life be sacrificed for yours! You have made quite a generous offer, but why did you hide your face?’ Imam REDA (as) answered: ‘I did so for fear of seeing the humiliation on the face of the man due to my assistance for him.’

Have you not heard the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, in which he said: ‘The one who hides a good deeds receives rewards equal to performing the pilgrimage (Hajj) seventy times; one who announces his sin is humiliated, while one who hides it is forgiven’?

Then he hides himself from the person who appeals to him when he gives him something so that he does not see the humiliation on his face, and so that the pleading person retains his dignity when he does not see the face of the benevolent one who is giving him.

Imam REDA (as) asks him to leave without seeing him in order to safeguard himself against feeling as having the upper hand over the pleading person.

  1. While in Khorasan, Imam REDA (as) once distributed his entire wealth to the poor on the day of Arafat, so Al-Fadl Ibn Sahl, the Prime Minister during Al Ma’mun’s reign said to him: “Now you are bankrupt!” Imam REDA (as) said: “On the contrary! I am now wealthier than ever. Do not consider trading my wealth for God’s rewards and pleasure as bankruptcy.”

Imam REDA (as) does not give others in order to buy their affection or friendship; rather, he considers giving with generosity as a good trait whereby man gets nearer to his Maker, Allah by including His servants in the wealth with which He blessed him. This is the difference between his method of giving and the method of others.

3.Ya’qubibnIshaq al-Nawbakhti is quoted saying:

“A man passed by the Imam and begged him to give him according to the extent of his kindness. Imam REDA (as) said: ‘I cannot afford that.’ So he said: ‘Then give me according to mine,’ whereupon he ordered his servant to give the man two hundred dinars.”

The reason why Imam REDA (as) abstained from giving the man according to the extent of his own kindness, as the man asked him the first time, is probably due to the fact that he simply did not have as much money as he liked to give. As regarding his own affection towards the poor and the indigent, and his way of looking after them.

4.Mu’ammaribnKhallad narrates this anecdote:

“Whenever Imam REDA (as) was about to eat his meal, he would bring a large platter and select the choicest food on the table and put on it, then he would order it to be given away to the poor. After that he would recite the following verse: ‘But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep.’ After that he would say: ‘God, the Exalted and the Sublime, knows that not everyone has the ability to free a slave, nevertheless He found means for them to achieve Paradise (by feeding others).”


Imam REDA›s (as) behavior with the poor, the slaves, the servants, and the destitute, was humane in the deepest sense of the word. Imam REDA (as) looked on them as his co-religionists and brothers in humanity. One of his followers related the following:

Eve, and everyone shall be rewarded or punished according to his deeds.

One of his servants Nadir, says: Imam REDA (as) would never assign a task to any of us, the servants, while we were eating, until we had finished.

Another servant, Yasir, reported the same about the Imam, saying, Imam REDA (as) said to us: «If I request you to do something and you are eating, do not get up until you have finished». Sometimes he called for some of us, but when he was told that we were eating, he would say. «Leave them till they finish their food».

When Imam REDA (as) had spare time, he would gather all his servants, and talk to them, he would show his pleasure with them, which he did to please them. And when he sat at the dining table-cloth, he would invite all those around him, to eat food with him.


Imam REDA (as) was the best worshipper of his time. Even his enemies acknowledged this fact and could not ignore this prominent trait of his.Al Ma’mun, the seventh Abbasid caliph, for instance praises the virtues of Imam REDA (as) in the «Covenant of Allegiance», in which he declared His Holiness as his successor.

Reja bin Zahhak, who forced Imam REDA (as) into exile from Medina to Marw (Khorasan) on the orders of Al Ma’mun, also describes the Holy Imam›s piety and worship saying «I accompanied him from Medina to Marw.» I swear by Allah! I have never seen a man who remembered Allah all the time like him, nor have I seen a man more fearing Allah, the Mighty and High, than he. At day break he would say his morning-prayers. Finishing his prayer, he would stay in his place glorifying Allah, and reciting these phrases repeatedly ‹Praise is to Allah›, ‹Allah is Great›, ‹There is no god but Allah›, «O Lord, Bless Muhammad (saw) and his progeny» till sunrise. Then he would go down in prostration till sunrise. Then he would go down in prostration till forenoon. Then he would see the people, asking about their concerns and enjoining them to do well. This would last till noon.

Ibrahim bin Abbas, one of the high-ranking officials during Al Ma’mun›s reign, said about the Holy Imam REDA›s worship.

Imam REDA (as) slept little at night, staying awake most of it. Most of the time, he stayed awake till the morning. He also often fasted. He used to fast three days of every month. He called this fasting «Fasting of Lifetime». He was very charitable, giving out alms in secret to the needy, often at night. Whoever claims that he has seen someone else who matches him in his virtues, do not believe him.