Many criticized Imam Reza (PBUH) for allowing Ma’moon to introduce Imam Reza (PBUH) as his crown prince. Even though Imam Reza (PBUH) had accepted the position under a strict condition-he would not have any part in the actual government-, yet certain people complained that even just the name of Imam Reza (PBUH) under the government would not be suitable. They believed that in a way it was supporting the corrupt government of Ma’moon.
In a discussion to their complaints, Imam Reza (PBUH) answered: “Are the Prophets superior or their successors?”
They replied: “The Prophets.”
Imam (PBUH) asked: “Is a pagan ruler inferior or a corrupt Muslim ruler?”
They replied: “The pagan ruler.”
Imam (PBUH) continued: “Which situation is better: one in which the person personally offers to cooperate; or one in which that person is forced to accept a position?”
They replied: “The one in which the person personally asks to collaborate.”
The Imam (PBUH) then said: “The pious Yusuf was a prophet, while the king of Egypt during his time was a pagan. Despite this fact, (Yusuf) said: “Set me over the store-houses of the land: I will indeed guard them, as one that knows (their importance).” (Quran 12:55). This is because Yusuf wanted to obtain a position in which he could use it to the best aim. In addition (to this) the king of Egypt was a pagan, whereas Ma’moon is a corrupt Muslim. Yusuf was a prophet and I am a successor of prophet. Yusuf suggested himself but they forced me (to accept the position).”
That logic is basically what all religions accept, which allows the followers to enter the corrupt systems, providing that they are steadfast in their faith and with the intention to benefit the system in the correct moral sense. In other words, they are not employed to help the system with its corrupt activities; rather they are employed to improve the system in the best religious way. In the latter case, the person is a part of the system and his efforts are put towards the system’s benefits; but in the former, although he is a part of the system, he works in the system in such a way that can be beneficial to his religion and to all of mankind.
All the Imams were as such in that on one hand they would fiercely condemn cooperation with the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties. When some would bring the excuse that if we do not cooperate, someone else will, the Imams would say, “If no one obeys them, their government will be mutilated.” On the other hand, they encouraged those people who cooperated with the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties, but had the correct attitude on this matter: namely they employed the government in favor of their religion.
(Excerpt taken from: “A Promenade to the Life of the Imams”, by Murtada Mutahhari (with some changes))
Congratulation to all on the 11th of Dhi al-Qa’dah, the birthday anniversary of the leader of guidance and the symbol of Allah’s (SWT) kindness:
Imam Ali ibn Moosa al-Reza (PBUH)