The Tenth Holy Imam, Ali Al-Hadi (AS) was the first son of Imam Muhammad Al-Jawad
(AS) and Sayyidah Samana (SA). His father named him after his grandfather, Imam
Rida (AS) and his great ancestor Imam Ali (AS).
The child was brought up by his father, who taught him the knowledge of the
Imamate (leadership) and about the religious sciences.
In 243 A.H. (857 A.D.) as a result of certain false charges that were made,
Caliph Mutawakkil ordered one of his government officials to invite Imam Hadi
(AS) from Medina to Samarra (Iraq) which was then the capital. He himself wrote
the Imam (AS) a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to the
capital where they could meet. Upon arrival in Samarra the Imam (AS) was also
shown outward courtesy and respect. Yet at the same time, Mutawakkil tried by
all possible means to disrespect and dishonor him. Many times he called the Imam
(AS) to his presence with the aim of killing or disgracing him and also had his
In his enmity toward the members of the Household of the Prophet (SAW),
Mutawakkil had no equal among the Abbasid caliphs. He was especially opposed to
Imam Ali (AS), whom he cursed openly. He even ordered a clown to ridicule Imam
Ali (AS) at voluptuous banquets. In the year 237 A.H. (850 A.D.) he ordered the
mausoleum of Imam Hussein (AS) in Karbala and many of the houses around it to be
demolished down to the ground. Then he flooded the Imam’s (AS) tomb and ordered
the tomb grounds to be plowed and cultivated so that any trace of the tomb would
During Mutawakkil’s lifetime the condition of life of the descendants of Imam
Ali (AS) in Hijaz had reached such a pitiful state that their womenfolk had only
one old veil which they wore at the time of the daily prayers.
Pressure of a similar nature was put on the descendants of Imam Ali (AS) who
lived in Egypt. Imam Hadi (AS) 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 Imam Hadi’s (AS)
being poisoned and martyred.
However, upon the Will of Allah, Imam (AS) decided to infiltrate the court and
place the closest friends of the Caliph under his influence. He even managed to
influence the mother of the Caliph so she would intervene on the Imam’s (AS)
Once boils came out on Caliph Mutawakkil’s body. His condition was so critical
that no surgeon dared to put a knife on his wound. His mother made a vow that if
her son recovered from the disease, she would hand over a good deal of
properties to the Imam (AS).
Fath ibn Khaqan proposed that they send someone to the Imam (AS) to ask him for
a drug to heal the boil. They sent someone to the Imam (AS) and he came back
with the following prescription: Soak dung in rose water and place it on the
boil. It will definitely fall if Allah wishes.
Upon hearing this, some of those who were present by Mutawakkil’s side burst
into laughter. But Fath ibn Khaqan told them: What will be the harm if we
practiced what he said? They did what Imam (AS) had said. The boil burst and all
the pus came out.
Mutawakkil’s mother sent 10,000 dinars to the Imam (AS) when her son Mutawakkil
regained his health.
The Knowledge and Generosity of Imam (AS)
The knowledge of the Imams (AS) in relation to hidden affairs was not intrinsic
but something that Allah had bestowed on them. Such knowledge was placed at
their disposal through different methods, the most prominent of which was
inheritance from the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his ancestors.
In a tradition (hadith) quoted from Imam Hadi (AS), this point has been
emphasized: Allah has not revealed His inner self to anyone but the messenger in
whom He is well pleased. So whatever knowledge the messenger had, was what his
successors knew as well. If the method was other than this the land of the Lord
would be devoid of a knowledgeable messenger.
Imam Hadi (AS) was inspired, by the mercy of Allah with the knowledge of
different languages. It has been quoted from Ali ibn Mahziar that he sent his
servant, who was from Maghlabieh, to Imam Hadi (AS). When the servant returned
he was amazed because he said that the Imam (AS) had spoken his language with
him as though he had lived among the Maghlabis.
Imam Hadi (AS) knew Persian (Farsi) and Turkish but all other languages as well.
Meanwhile, he would warn people of incidents that would happen to them in the
future. This was proven when he foretold the death of Waseq Abbasi.
It has been quoted from Khairan Abbasi who said: I went to see Imam Hadi (AS).
Imam (AS) said: How is Waseq doing? I said: He is safe and sound. He asked: How
is Ja’far doing? I said: He is in the worst condition in jail. He asked: How
does Ibn az-Ziat feel? I said: Everything’s upon his order and I left them 10
Then Imam Hadi (AS) said: Waseq died and Ja’far Mutawwakil succeeded him and Ibn
az-Ziat was killed. I asked: When did these incidents happen? He said: Six days
after you set out for Baghdad. The incident had occurred exactly as Imam (AS)
He remarkably excelled all others of his time in human perfection, vast
knowledge, generosity, politeness, worship of Allah, moral qualities and
One example of his generosity is that he paid 30,000 dirhams to an Arab man of
Kufa, saying to him, “We pay your debts.”
The man then, thanking the Imam (AS) said: “Sir, the debts I owe are only about
one-third of the amount you gave me!” The Imam (AS) added, “Then spend the rest
on your family and your people!”
The man in astonishment of the Imam’s (AS) generosity said, “Allah knows whom to
entrust with His Message of Divine Guidance!” He then left.
The faith of the followers of the Ahlul-Bait (AS) was at it’s zenith during Imam
Hadi’s (AS) era. However, there was the threat of extremism of imported cultures
from the eastern lands which affected the souls of some Muslims. Powerful faith
was needed to face the threat lest spirituality faded in the followers of Ahlul-Bait
(AS) due to the propaganda engineered by enemies, especially the Abbasid Caliphs
who didn’t acknowledge the position of the Ahlul-Bait (AS).
* Compiled by R.