The Life and Reputation of Imam Reza




“Anyone pursuing his goals honestly does not slip up and if he does, he can seek a way out.”

Imam Reza (A.S.)

(Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.356)



Born in Madinah on 11th Zeeqae’dah 148 Hijri (1 January 766 AD – 23 August 818 ) Alī ibn Mūsā al-Rezā (Arabic: علي بن موسى الرضا‎‎), also called Abu al-Hasan and in Iran as Imam Reza (Persian: امام رضا), is of the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) and the eighth Shia Imam after his father Imam Musa al-Kadhim and before his son Imam Muhammad al-Jawad.


His name, title and honorary name

His name is Ali, his title is Abu al-Hassan, and his most famous honorary name is “Reza”, meaning “Satisfaction”. 

One of his famous titles is Alim Al Muhammad (scholar of Prophet’s progeny). His success in the different disputes with the scholars of various religions indicates his high knowledge. This ability and superiority in knowledge is a proof for his Imamat, as it can be inferred from his sayings, all this knowledge is revealed.


His father and mother

His father was Imam Mousa al-Kadhim (A.S.), the seventh Imam who was martyred by Haroon on 138 (AH) and his mother was Najma or Tuktam.


His life and Reputation

Before traveling to Iran, Imam Reza (A.S.) lived in Medinah; city where the shrine of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and his father’s grave exists. He was occupied with guiding people, indicating Islamic educations and Prophet’s (P.B.U.H.) Sirah (manner and behavior). People of Medinah loved him and assumed him as their father. Although he had spent most of his life in Medinah, he had many followers throughout the Islamic counties.

He lived in a period when Abbasid Caliphs were facing numerous difficulties, the most important of which was Shia revolts. The Caliph Al-Ma'mun sought out a remedy for this problem by appointing Imam Reza as his successor, through whom he could be involved in worldly affairs. However, according to the Shia view, when Al-Ma'mun saw that the Imam gained even more popularity, he decided to correct his mistake by poisoning him. The Imam was buried in a village in Khorasan, which afterwards gained the name Mashhad, meaning the place of martyrdom.

The knowledges of Imam Reza, peace be upon him, were not confined to the precepts of Islamic law; rather they included all kinds of science of which was medicine. The Imam was unique in medicine, and the clear proof of that is this dissertation which al-Ma’muncalled al-Risala al-Dhahabiya fi al-Tibb (the golden medical dissertation).


His Scholarship and Intellectual Works

As the eighth Imam of Shi’as, Imam Reza (A.S.) was a pioneer in the realm of wisdom and faith. He has written a number of books and dissertations which had not only been great sources of knowledge at Imam’s era but also considered as extraordinary references for many scholars and thousands of their students.

These include not just the works on Islamic teachings such as fiqh (jurisprudence) but some very specific works in other scientific fields as medicine which reiterate one of Imam Reza’s (A.S.) outstanding aspects of his intellectual life.

Here are some of those works which have consequently been observed, commented and referred by many teachers in Islamic schools and their students, savants, religious leaders, sources of emulation for Shias.

  • Al-Fiqh al-Radawi

Among the books by his holiness is Al-Fiqh al-Radawi which was for quite some time the subject of debate among scholars, for there are among them those who considered it to be authored by the Imam (AS), relied on it, and established their arguments on such a basis, such as the Majlisi, Sayyid Bahr al-Uloom, the author ofAl-Hadaiq, Shaikh al-Nawari, and others

  • Sahifat al-Reza

Sahifat al-Reza is a work by Imam Reza (A.S) which deals with fiqh.

  • Mahd al-Islam

Among other works attributed to the Imam (AS) is the book titled Mahd al-Islamwa Shara'i ad-Din which is referred to by al-Saduq in his Uyoon from al-Fadl ibn Shathan,

  • Al-Risala al-Dahabiyya fil Tibb

Among such books is Al-Risala al-Dahabiyya fil Tibb (the gold medical dissertation) for which sources are counted reaching sometimes to Muhammad ibn Jumhoor, and sometimes to al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Nawfali who was accepted as trustworthy by al-Najjashi who described him as "highly esteemed and trustworthy; he narrated one text about al-Reza (AS)," which could be "the gold medical dissertation."

  • Imam’s manner and behavior

Besides that his holiness has always obviously been the messenger of mercy not only to the people of his era but also to the human being of present time and a real eminent humanitarian either for his own people or other nations.

His moral virtues and piety was such that besides his followers and companions his enemies were attracted to him. He treated people as respectfully and kindly as possible and never separated himself from the people.

One of his companions say: “I never remember him, talk badly to anyone and interrupt someone while speaking. If he afforded to help, he would never reject any poor and never stretched his legs in front of people. I never remember him talk badly to his servants. He always smiled instead of laughing loudly. While having a meal, he invited all the servants to have the meal with him. He slept little at nights and was used to staying up and saying prayer during almost all nights. He always performed three fasts in the month. He helped the poor secretly in the dark nights.”

He was the one who focused much on honesty and repeatedly mentioned the importance of helping people, solving their problems, bringing them peace, happiness and relief as a religious duty.

May God The Almighty bless our lives with Imam Reza’s teachings and advice so we could both enjoy his divine guidance and enlightenments for our earthly lives and may our spirits be congregated with his accompany on the Doomsday.

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