“He was never verbally crude with anyone. He never interrupted anyone, and always waited for them to finish talking. He never refused to fulfill anyone’s needs that he was capable of fulfilling. He never stretched his legs out in front of anyone, and he never leaned back in front of anyone. I never saw him reproach any of his servants. He never burst into loud laughter, rather he would smile gently. If anyone claims that he has seen anyone as noble as him, do not believe him.” (1)
These are the words of Abraham ibn Abbas Souli in regards with the social behavior of Imam Reza (PBUH); the Imam whose humanity and benevolence was unique. He practiced equity and justice among people through his humble behavior, and made efforts to elevate the status of human beings.
Ibn Shahr Ashub has narrated in his book Manaqib that, ”One day Imam Reza (PBUH) entered a public bathroom. A man who had not recognized the Imam (PBUH) asked him to massage his back. So Imam Reza (PBUH) started rubbing his back. When people notified the man that the person massaging him was Imam Reza (PBUH), he became distressed and asked the Imam (PBUH) for forgiveness; however, Imam Reza (PBUH) continued massaging that person while comforting him”(2).
Yasir, a servant of Imam Reza (PBUH), narrates that, “The tradition of Imam Reza (PBUH) was so that whenever he had a private session, he gathered all his servants, including the young and old ones, talked to them, and was intimate and friendly with them. When he sat down to dine, he invited all the servants, whether young or old, to sit down at the same tablecloth and eat with him (3). He opposed those who blamed the Imam (PBUH) for not having a separate sitting for the servants by saying, ‘Our Lord is the same, and our parents are the same (referring to Prophet Adam and Eve (PBUH)); and Allah (SWT) will reward based on deeds (4)”.
These social behaviors of Imam Reza (PBUH) depict examples of human morality in Islam. In terms of social rights and human nobility, Imam Reza (PBUH) dismisses any social levels or personal preference in the society. He emphasizes human nobility to save mankind from any social leveling. According to Islam, he considers the only criterion for superiority to be obedience of Allah (SWT), as the Holy Quran says,” Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the most pious (5)”.
(The above is a selection taken from “An Analysis of the Life of Imam Reza (PBUH)” by Muhammad Jawad Fadlullah (with some changes))
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon the end of Safar, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the kind leader and the aid of the weak, Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (PBUH).
1. Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2. Ch. 44, Hadith 7
2. Manaqib Aal Abi-Talib, vol. 4, p. 362
3. Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, vol. 2. Ch. 40, Hadith 23
4. Kafi, vol. 8, p. 230
5. The Holy Quran, (49:13)