The Tenth Imam: Ali Al Naqi Al Hadi (a.s.)

Imam Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi (sometimes referred to by the title of Hadi), was the son of the ninth Imam. He was born on Friday, 15th of Thul Al-Hijjain 212AH/827AD in Medina and according to Shi’ite accounts was martyred through poisoning by Mu’tazz the Abbasid caliph, on 3rd Rajab 254AH, at the age of 42 in 254AH/868AD.

During his lifetime the tenth Imam was contemporary with seven of the Abbasid caliphs: Ma’mun, Mu’tasim, Wathiq, Mutawakkil, Muntasir, Musta’in and Mu’tazz. It was during the rule of Mu’tasim in 220AH/835AD that his noble father died through poisoning in Baghdad. At that time Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi was in Medina. There he became the Imam through Divine Command and the decree of the Imams before him.

He stayed in Medina teaching religious sciences until the time of Mutawakkil. In 243/857, as a result of certain false charges that were made, Mutawakkil ordered one of his government officials to invite the Imam form Medina to Samarrah which was then the capital. He himself wrote the Imam a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to the capital where they could meet. Upon arrival in Samarrah the Imam was also shown certain outward courtesy and respect. Yet at the same time Mutawakkil tried by all possible means to trouble and dishonor him. Many times he called the Imam to his presence with the aim of killing or disgracing him and had his house searched.

In his enmity toward the Household of the Prophet Mutawakkil had no equal among the Abbasid caliphs. He was especially opposed to Ali, whom he cursed openly. He even ordered a clown to ridicule Ali at voluptuous banquets. In the year 237/850 he ordered the mausoleum of Imam Husayn in Karbala and many of the houses around it to be torn down to the ground. The water was turned upon the tomb of the Imam. He ordered the ground of the tomb to be plowed and cultivated so that any trace of the tomb would be forgotten. During the life of Mutawakkil the condition of life of the descendants of Ali in the Hijaz had reached such a pitiful state that their womenfolk had no veils with which to cover themselves. Many of them had only one old veil which they wore at the time of the daily prayers. Pressures of a similar kind were put on the descendants of Ali who lived in Egypt. The tenth Imam accepted in patience the tortures and afflictions of the Abbasid caliph Mutawakkil until the caliph died and was followed by Muntasir, Musta’in and finally Mu’tazz, whose intrigue led to the Imam’s being poisoned and martyred.

He remarkably excelled all others of his time in the fields of human perfections, as vast knowledge, generosity, politeness of manners, worshipping of Allah(swt), with moral qualities and discipline. As one example of his generosity is that he paid thirty thousand Dirhams to an Arab man of Kufa, saying to him,

“We pay your debts.”

The man then, thanking the Imam said, 
“Sir, the debts on me is only about one third of the amount you gave!” The Imam added,

“Spend the rest on your family and your people.”

The man in astonishment of the Imam’s generosity said, 
“Allah knows who to entrust with His Message of Divine Guidance!” 
Then he left.

The Special Moral Features of Imam (A.S.)

Imam (A.S.) was unique in asceticism, devotion and prayers. So that, when the agents and officials of Mutawakkil attacked his house, they saw him busy praying in a simple room. He had a great attachment and affiliation with the holy Quran. Whenever he was free from the works of the people he would recite Quran. He conducted people with smiling and bloomed face and when he walked he took slow steps. He attended and helped the afflicted ones. Sometimes, he would grant up to thirty thousand dinnars to the have nots, needy and problem stricken people. So that when “Mutawakkil” sent thirty thousand dinnars for him he gave all of it to a needy and poor Arab.

The mother of “Mutawakkil” had become enamored and fascinated by the devotion and asceticism and faith of Imam Hadi (A.S.). On the day when Mutawakkil fell ill, his foot was injured and the physicians got unable and helpless regarding his treatment. His mother sent “Fatah bin Khaqan” to Imam’s (A.S.) house to request him for a medicine. Imam (A.S.) recommended a medicine to him by which Mutawakkil was treated and cured and all the physicians were astonished at it. His mother send a thousand dinnars as a gratitude in connection with his being cure. He distributed all of that money among the afflicted ones.

Imam’s (A.S.) Knowledge Status

Since the knowledge of Imam Hadi (A.S.) originated from the Prophetic school thus the light of knowledge shone over his heart and made him aware of the secret of creation.

1. One day, the emperor of Rome wrote to one of the caliphs of Bani Abbas, “We have read in Bible that there is one Surah (Chapter) of the heavenly Surahs, which if read by anyone and practiced upon it’s content God will not send that person to the Hell. You write me as to which one is that Surah? Because we did not find it in Bible.”

The Abbasade Caliph gathered all the wise men and asked them the question and all of them failed to answer it. The Caliph summoned Imam Hadi (A.S.) and put to him that question Imam (A.S.) opened his lips for the reply and said, “That surah is Surah “Hamd” which every Muslim recites a number of times in his prayers at day and night time.”

Then Imam (A.S.) gave some explanations about it, which surprised and astonished all the wise men. The answer of Imam (A.S.) was sent to the emperor of Rome who, having read it, was much pleased and embraced Islam.

2. “Yahya bin Aqsam” who was one of the wise men of Mamoon’s age and the caliphs afterwards asked Imam (A.S.) many questions through a letter which were replied by him. The questions of Yahya and the response given by Imam (A.S.) are as under:

Question No.1. When “Sulayman (A.S.)” demanded the throne of queen “Bilqees” of “Sheba” his minister “Asif Barkhia” said, “I can bring the throne for you in the time of winking of an eye” why did Sulayman (Solomon) (A.S.) himself not do that? Did he himself not have the knowledge?

Answer: Whatever Asif did was through Sulayman (A.S.) and he had received his wisdom and knowledge from him since, Sulayman was a Prophet he had the capacity and power to perform all these works. But because of it, that he wanted to introduce his successor to the people and make them aware of his station he assigned him this work.

Question No.2. On the basis of Quranic version when Yaqoob (Jacob) (A.S.) went to Kanaan along with his sons to see Yousuf (A.S.) all fell down into prostration before Yousuf (Joseph) (A.S.). Why did a Prophet like Yaqoob (A.S.) performed prostration for Yousuf (A.S.). Whereas, prostration is specified only for God?

Answer: This prostration was not for Vousuf (A.S.) but as a thanks giving to God, just like the prostration of the angels for Adam (A.S.) even though, they did not perform it for Adam (A.S.), but prostration to God as a gratitude and thankfulness, regarding this creation, to Him.

Question No.3. Based upon the Quran’s narration, if the edibles and beverages of Paradise are for the sake of pleasure then, why was Adam (A.S.) forbidden to eat the grapes and was expelled from Paradise?

Answer. As God wanted to try and test Adam (A.S.), He commanded him not to obey his wife Hawwa (Eve) (A.S.) and not to eat from that tree. But he opposed it and as a result he was ousted from the haven.

Question No.4. Why did Ali (A.S.) order his men in the battle of Jamal (Camel) to chase and bring into effect the pursuit of only “the warriors” and not to kill those who ran away, or were not armed, or injured? But in the Siffeen battle he ordered to kill them all, whether armed or unarmed, injured or uninjured, whomsoever they found and laid hands upon. Why was this difference in the order?

Answer: Since, the battle of Jamal was a battle of Islam verses Islam and a battle between a deceived Muslim against another Muslim but the battle of Siffeen was a battle of infidels against Islam. It was a combat between Muslim appearing infidels and the real Islam.

The next day Yahyah bin Aksam asked all the wise men present in the assembly of Haroon:

When Adam (A.S.) went to perform Hajj and visit the house of God, who shaved his head off?

All of them were unable to give an answer to him. Then they put question to Imam Hadi (A.S.). He said, “Gabriel the angel of God.”

Yahyah took pleasure and enjoyed the answers of Imam (A.S.) and admitted to the knowledge station of Imam (A.S.) in the presence of all.

Imam’s (A.S.) Attends the Distressed

Once “Younas Naqqash” came terrified and trembling to see Imam (A.S.) and said, “Oh the son of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) I am at the verge and threshold of death, you help my family.” Imam (A.S.) asked him as to what was the matter. He said so, “one of the courtiers of Abbasade caliphate has given me a gem to engrave a design upon it. During the work, the gem broke into two pieces. Tomorrow, he will send someone to collect the gem. If he comes to know about the matter he will kill me.”

Imam (A.S.) bent his head downward then he raised it saying, “I prayed for you, be satisfied no harm will reach you from him, instead, this work will end to your benefit. Get up and go you will face no trouble tomorrow.”

The next day Younas moved towards the house of that man with trembling legs along with one of the officials deputed. Not very long afterwards, the owner of the house arrived and said, “Oh younas it was settled that you engrave a design over that gem but two of my daughters have a conflict upon this gem.” If it is possible, break the gem into two pieces, and engrave the design on each of the two parts of it. I will give you a reward too, for that, Younas said, “Permit me to think about this matter.”

He came out of that place and returned happily to Imam (A.S.) and expressed his gratitude and thankfulness over the kindness he had shown to him.

Martyrdom Due to Truthfulness

One day Mutawakkil asked Ibn-e-Sikkit the tutor of his sons, “Do you love my sons more than you love the sons of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.).” He at once answered with valor and bravely, “I love Qambar the slave of Ali (A.S.) more than I love your sons.”

Mutawakkil was enraged and furious like an injured wolf and ordered that the tongue of this man be extracted and pulled out of the back of his head (neck) and so that great man died at the age of 58 years.