THE UNFIXED WAGES
THE UNFIXED WAGES
That day Sulayman bin Ja'far Ja'fari and Emam Reza (A.S.) had gone out together for some work. It was sunset when Sulayman wanted to return home. Emam Reza (A.S.) said to him: "Come to my house and be with us tonight." Sulayman agreed and with Emam (A.S.) he went to his house.
Emam (A.S.) saw his servants busy in gardening. By the way, he saw a stranger, who was also busy in gardening with them. Emam (A.S.) asked: "Who is he?"
The servants replied: "We have hired him today so that he may help us."
Emam (A.S.): "It'a all right. How much wages have you fixed for him?"
Servants: "We will give him something and would make him satisfied."
The signs of displeasure and anger appeared on Emam Reza (A.S.) face and he wanted to punish them. Sulayman Ja'fari came forward and said:
Why do you make yourself uncomfortable?"
Emam (A.S.) said: "I have repeatedly given orders that till the work and wages are not fixed, never get the work done by anyone. First fix the wages of the person and then get the work done. Even if you have fixed the wages, you could give something extra to him after the work is over. Certainly, when he finds that you have given him more than the fixed wages, he would be thankful to you and would like you. And the affection between you and him would increase. And even if you would give him the wages you have fixed, the person would not be unhappy with you.But if you do not fix the wages and employ someone to work, whaterver you would give him after the work, he would not think that you have done a favour to him. Rather, he will think that you have given him less than his actual wages."
On Emam Reza(A.S.) arrival in Marw(Khorasan),the seat of al-Ma'mun's caliphate, the Abbasid caliph showed him hospitality and great respect, then he said to him: "I want to get rid of myself of the caliphate and vest the office in you." But Emam Reza(A.S.) refused his offer. Then al-Ma'mun repeated his offer in a letter saying: "If you refuse what I have offered you, then you must accept being the heir after me." But again Emam Reza(A.S.) refused his offer vigorously. al-Ma'mun summoned him. He was alone with al-Fadl ibn Sahl, the Iranian noble incharge of two offices (i.e., military and civil). There was no one else in their gathering. al-Ma'mun said to Emam Reza(A.S.), "I thought it appropriate to invest authority over the Muslims in you and to relieve myself of the responsibility by giving it to you." When again Emam Reza(A.S.) refused to accept his offer, al-Ma'mun spoke to him as if threatening him for his refusal. In his speech he said, "Umar ibn al-Kahttab made a committee of consultation (shura) (to appoint a successor). Among them was your forefateher, the Commander of the faithful, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. (Umar) stipulated that any of them who opposed the decision should be executed. So there is no escape for you from accepting what I want from you. I will ignore your rejection of it."
In reply, Emam Reza (A.S.) said: "I will agree to what you want of me as far as succession is concerned on condition that I do not command, nor order, nor give legal decisions, nor judge, nor appoint, nor dismiss, nor change anything from how it is at present." al-Ma'mun accepted all of that.
On the day when al-Ma'mun ordered to make the pledge of allegiance to Emam Reza (A.S.) one of the close associates of Emam Reza (A.S.), who was present, narrates, "On that day I was in front of him. He looked at me while I was feeling happy about what had happened. He signalled me to come closer. I went closer to him and he said so that no one else could hear, 'Do not occupy your heart with this matter and do not be happy about it. It is something which will not be achieved.' "
It is written in 'Dhillul Mateen' that Meer Mu'inuddin Ashraf who was one of the virtuous attendants of the shrine of Emam Ali- Ar-Reza (A.S.) says that, "Once I dreamd that I was in the shrine of Emam Reza (A.S.) and was coming out to perform ablution (Wuzu). When I came near the mound of Ameer Ali Sher, I saw a group of people entering the shrine. An eminent personality was leading them, and they all carried spades in their hands. As soon as they entered the shrine, the eminent personality pointed towards a particular grave and said, "Dig out the wretched fellow from his grave". Hearing his command they started digging the grave. I asked one of those men as to who that man was. He replied that He was the Commander of the faithful Imam Ali (A.S.). Suddenly I saw that Emam Ali- Ar-Reza (A.S.) came out of His shrine and greeted Imam Ali (A.S.). Hazrat Ali (A.S.) answered His greeting. Emam Reza (A.S.) said, "O my Respected Grandfather! I request you, and have faith, that you will forgive this person on my behalf who lies buried here under the shelter of my shrine". Amirul Mo'mineen (A.S.) answered, "O my dear son! Do you know that he was a mischief-creator, an adulteror, and a drunkard"? Emam (A.S.) replied, "I do know, but when his last moment neared he willed to be buried under the shelter of my shrine, so I request you to forgive him on my behalf." Hazrat Ali (A.S.) forgave him and left. I awoke from my sleep in awe and woke up the other attendants and related to them my dream. We all went to the place which I had seen in my dream, and found a newly constructed grave, whose mud was scattered. After inquiry we learnt that a Turkish man who had died was buried there the day before".
Haji Ali Baghdadi had the honour of meeting Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and ask him some questions. One of the questions put forward by him was that "Is it true that a person who goes for the pilgrimage (Ziyarah) to the shrine of Imam Husain (A.S.) on Friday night receives salvation"? Imam (A.S.) replied, "Yes, by Allah". Haji Ali Baghdadi says that I saw tears in the eyes of Imam (A.S.). Then I asked him another question, "In the year 1269 A.H. when we went for the pilgrimage (Ziyarah) to the shrine of Emam Reza (A.S.), we met a nomadic Arab who was a native of Najaf. We invited him for a meal and asked him his views regarding the reward of the love of Emam Reza (A.S.). He replied, "Paradise", and said, "Since the past fifteen days I have been the ZAIR(pilgrim) of Emam Reza (A.S.), do Munkir & Nakeer' have the nerve to come near me. The food which I consumed from the table of Emam Reza (A.S.) has turned into flesh and blood". I asked Imam Mahdi (A.S.) whether his claim was true. Imam (A.S.) replied, "Yes it is true. Emam Reza (A.S.) himself will come and save him for the questioning in the grave. For verily by Allah! My Grandfather is a Zamin (Surety) Imam".
(Manazile Akherah by Shaykh Abbas bin Muhammad Reza al-Qummi, pp. 62-64.)
The Holy Imam's Social Behaviour
Ibrahim bin Abbas, who was one of the high-ranking officials of the Abbasid caliphate,has left the following eyewitness account of Imam Reza's(A.S.) impeccable character.
- His Holiness never irritated others by verbal or practical teasings.
- His Holiness did not interrupt others' speeches.
- The Holy Imam (A.S.) never refused the demands of others.
- I never witnessed him to have his legs stretched out before the others.
- And I could never find him in a resting position in the presence of other people.
-His Holiness never swore at his servants.
-His Holiness never cachinnated in happy circumstances.
-I never saw him spit his saliva out.
-At dinner all his servants including porters and even the stablemen were served in his attendance.
- His Holiness used to stay up all nights invoking Allah the Almighty. The Holy Imam (A.S.) also observed regularly the religious duty of fasting and always gave alms in secret.
Fraternity and Equality
Quoting a witness from "Balkh", in his famous work entitled "Kafi", the celebrated scholar "Kulayni" relates the following:
"On the way to "Khorasan" I was among the attendants of His Holiness Imam Reza (A.S.). At dinner the Holy Imam (A.S.) invited all his men around him and asked them to have dinner with him. There a few negro servants were among those men. Declaring that they were all of the same flesh and blood the Holy Imam (A.S.) asked that the whole company should have had dinner at one table.
His Holiness practically combated against the superiority of race and colour in connexion with the distinction of the human beings. The Holy Imam (A.S.) tried to revive the Islamic precepts of fraternity and equality in the Muslim community.
Eleisha ibn Hamza says: "I was once talking to Imam Reza (A.S.) when a large crowd of people assembled to ask him about what is permissible in Islam and what is not. A man as tall as Adam came to him and said: `Assalamo Alaikom, O Son of the Messenger of God! I am a man who loves you, your fathers and grandfathers, and I have just been on my way to perform the pilgrimage when I discovered that I had lost everything with me and now I do not have anything enough even for a leg of the trip. If you will, please help me with the expense of going back home, and I am a recipient of God's blessing (i.e. well to do). As soon as I reach there, I will give to the poor as much as you will give me, for I do not qualify to be a recipient of alms.' He said to him: `Sit, may God be merciful to you,' then he kept talking to people till they dispersed except that man, Sulaiman al-Ja'feri, Khuthai'ama and myself. Then he (Imam Reza) said: `Do you permit me to enter (the room)?' Sulaiman said to him: `May God advance your endeavour.' So he entered the room and stayed for about an hour after which he came out and closed the door behind him, stretched his hand above the door and said: `Where is the man from Khurasan?' The man answered: `Here I am!' He said: `Take these two hundred dinars, use them for your preparations for the trip; may God bring you blessings thereby, and do not spend an equal amount to it on my behalf, and leave the room in a way that I do not see you and you do not see me,' then he left. Sulaiman then said: `May my life be sacrificed for yours! You have made quite a generous offer, but why did you hide your face?' He answered: `I did so for fear of seeing the humiliation on the face of the man due to my assistance for him. Have you not heard the hadith of the Holy Messenger of Islam (S.A.W.) in which he said: `The one who hides a good deeds receives rewards equal to performing the pilgrimage seventy times; one who announces his sin is humiliated, while one who hides it is forgiven'? Have you heard the saying of the example of the first case: Whenever I approach him, one day, with a plea, I return home and my dignity is still with me. Then he hides himself from the person who appeals to him when he gives him something so that he does not see the humiliation on his face, and so that the pleading person retains his dignity when he does not see the face of the benevolent one who is giving him?"
He asks him to leave without seeing him in order to safeguard himself against feeling as having the upper hand over the pleading person, and in order to relieve the pleading person from having to show his gratitude to him.
While in Khurasan, Imam Reza(A.S.) once distributed his entire wealth to the poor on the day of Arafat, so al-Fadl ibn Sahl,the Prime Minister during Mamun's reign said to him: "Now you are bankrupt!" he said: "On the contrary! I am now wealthier than ever. Do not consider trading my wealth for God's rewards and pleasure as bankruptcy."
He does not give others in order to buy their affection or friendship; rather, he considers giving with generosity as a good trait whereby man gets nearer to his Maker by including His servants in the wealth with which He blessed him. This is the difference between his method of giving and the method of others. Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Nawbakhti is quoted saying:
"A man passed by Imam Reza(A.S.) and begged him to give him according to the extent of his kindness. He said: `I cannot afford that.' So he said: `Then give me according to mine,' whereupon he ordered his servant to give the man two hundred dinars."
The reason why the Imam Reza(A.S.) abstained from giving the man according to the extent of his own kindness, as the man asked him the first time, is probably due to the fact that he simply did not have as much money as he liked to give. As regarding his own affection towards the poor and the indigent, and his way of looking after them, Mu'ammar ibn Khallad narrates this anecdote:
"Whenever Imam Abul-Hassan al-Reza (A.S.) was about to eat his meal, he would bring a large platter and select the choicest food on the table and put on it, then he would order it to be given away to the poor. After that he would recite the following verse: `But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep.' After that he would say: `God, the Exalted and the Sublime, knows that not everyone has the ability to free a slave, nevertheless He found means for them to achieve Paradise (by feeding others).'"
Imam's Method of Training Others
Like all other religious leaders His Holiness Imam Ali Ibn Musa-ar- Reza (A.S.) permanently endeavoured to train and guide talented persons in appropriate opportunities.
In addition to his sermons the Holy Imam (A.S.) strived to lead others practically.
Once some of his servants took a kind of fruit and cast aside the half-eaten leavings. After praising Allah, the Holy Imam (A.S.) addressed them and said:
"If you need not this fruit any more, behold there are many people who desire to take some of this edible blessing. Then don't spoil it and proceed to feed the needy on it."
Here the Holy Imam (A.S.) has tried to enjoin people to abandon evil acts of dissipation. Unfortunately the well-to-do people of today are seriously involved in this dangerous catastrophe.These ignorant people leave behind considerable amounts of half-eaten foods carelessly and do not think of the urgent wants of the needy.
Respect for Humanity
Imam Reza's (A.S.) behavior with the poor, the slaves, the servants, and the destitute, was humane in the deepest sense of the word. He looked on them as his co-religionists and brothers in humanity. One of his followers related the following:
I was with Imam Reza (A.S.) when he travelled to Khurasan. One day he laid the table-cloth and gathered all his servants. "May I be your ransom, said I, "would not it be better if you lay a separate table-cloth for these?' "Do not say that" the Holy Imam (A.S.) replied, "The Lord, the Blessed and High, is One, and all the human beings are the children of Adam and Eve, and everyone shall be rewarded or punished according to his deeds.
One of his servants Nadir, says: Imam Reza (A.S.) would never assign a task to any of us, the servants, while we were eating, until we had finished.
Another servant, Yasir, reported the same about Imam Reza (A.S.), saying, "Abul Hasan said to us: "If I request you to do something and you are eating, do not get up until you have finished". Sometimes he called for some of us, but when he was told that we were eating, he would say. "Leave them till they finish their food".
When Imam Reza (A.S.) had spare time, he would gather all his servants, and talk to them. He would show his pleasure with them, which he did to please them. And when he sat at the dining table-cloth, he would invite all those around him, to eat food with him.
Total Devotion to Allah
Imam Reza (A.S.) was the best worshipper of his time. Even his enemies acknowledged this fact and could not ignore this prominent trait of his. Mamun, the Abbasid caliph, for instance praises the virtues of Imam Reza (A.S.) in the "Covenant of Allegiance", in which he declared His Holiness as his successor.
Reja bin Zahhak, who forced Imam Reza (A.S.) into exile from Medina to Marw on the orders of Mamun, the Abbasid caliph, also describes the Holy Imam's piety and worship saying "I accompanied him from Medina to Marw. I swear by Allah! I have never seen a man who remembered Allah all the time like him, nor have I seen a man more fearing Allah, the Mighty and High, than he. At day break he would say his morning-prayers. Finishing his prayer, he would stay in his place glorifying Allah, and reciting these phrases repeatedly 'Praise is to Allah', 'Allah is Great', 'There is no god but Allah', "O Lord, Bless Muhammad (S.A.W.) and his progeny" till sunrise. Then he would go down in prostration till sunrise. Then he would go down in prostration till forenoon. Then he would see the people, asking about their concerns and enjoining them to do good. This would last till noon.
Ibrahim bin Abbas, one of the high-ranking officials during Mamun's reign, said about the Holy Imam's worship.
"He slept little at night, staying awake most of it. Most of the time, he stayed awake till the morning. He also often fasted. He used to fast three days of every month. He called this fasting "Fasting of Lifetime". He was very charitable, giving out alms in secret to the needy, often at night. Who ever claims that he has seen someone else who matches him in his virtues, do not believe him."
A guest once kept entertaining him part of the night when the lamp started fading and the guest stretched his hand to fix it, but Imam Abul-Hassan al-Reza (A.S.) swiftly checked him and fixed it himself, saying, "We are folks who do not let their guest tend on them."
Al-Manaqib states that Imam Reza (A.S.) once went to the public bath-house and someone asked him to give him a massage, so he kept giving the man a massage till someone recognized him and told that person who that dignitary was. The man felt extremely embarrassed; he apologized to the Emam (A.S.) and gave him a massage.
The 8th Shi'ite Imam, Imam Ali ibne Musa ar-Reza (A.S.) is also called as Imam-e-Zaamin(A.S.).When Muslims go on journeys they take with them something called Imam-e-Zaamin (another name for Imam Reza (A.S.)) which is some money tied in a cloth. This tradition probably came from the time of Imam Reza (A.S.) when people used to carry money with them especially because it had Holy Imam's (A.S.) name on it. As Ma'mun,the Abbasid caliph the contemporary of Imam Reza(A.S.), had coins minted with the name of Imam Reza (A.S.) on them, it was very easy for the Muslims to carry the name of Holy Imam (A.S.) with them, especially when they went on journeys.
Imam Reza (A.S.) is also known as Imam-e- Zaamin (A.S.). Zaamin means "The Guarantor". One day when Imam Reza (A.S.) was on his historical journey from Madina to Marw(Khurasan),while in a jungle the Holy Imam(A.S.) came across a hunter who was about to kill a deer. The deer was trying to get away and when she saw Holy Imam (A.S.), she said something to him.Holy Imam(A.S.) asked the hunter to free the deer so that she could go and feed her little baby deer who were very hungry. Imam Reza(A.S.) also told the hunter that once the deer had fed her babies she would come back. The hunter allowed the deer to go becauseHoly Imam (A.S.) had told him to, but he did not think the deer will come back. But Imam Reza (A.S.)) waited with the hunter until the deer returned with her young ones. The hunter was amazed on witnessing this miraculous event and he set the deer free as a mark of respect for Imam Reza(A.S.).After this historical event Imam Reza(A.S.) became famous as Imam Zaamin(A.S.).
The most famous artist of the contemporary world, Ustad Mahmud Farshchiyan has depicted this historical event in this beautiful masterpiece iconograph entitled "Zaamin-e-Aahu"(The Guarantor of the Deer).