THE TENTH Holy Imam , like his father
, was also elevated to the rank of Imam in his childhood . He was
six years old when his father Imam Muhammad al - Jawad(a.s.) died .
After the death of al - Ma'mun , al-Mu`tasim succeeded him , and was
later followed by the caliph al-Wathiq . In the first five years of
the reign of al-Wathiq , Imam Ali al-Hadi (an-Naqi(a.s.) ) lived
peacefully . After al-Wathiq , al-Mutawakkil came to power . Being
too occupied in State affairs , al-Mutawakkil did not get any time
to harass the Imam and his followers for four years . But as soon as
he freed himself from State affairs , he started to molest the Imam
Imam(a.s.) devoted himself to the sacred mission of preaching in
Medina and did thus earn the faith of the people as well as their
allegiance and recognition of his great knowledge and attributes .
This reputation of the Imam evored the jealousy and malice of al-Mutawakkil
against him. The governor of Medina wrote to al-Mutawakkil that Imam
Ali Naqi(a.s.) had been manoeuvring a coup against the government
and a multitude of Shi'ites were pledged to his support . Although
enraged by this news al-Mutawakkil still preferred the diplomacy of
not arresting the Holy Imam(a.s.). Under the garb of pretended
respect and love towards the Imam , he planned to put him under life
imporisonment after inviting him to his palace.
Prior to his
imprisonment , in a series of correspondence with the Imam(a.s.), he
expressed the view that he was convinced of all the claims of the
Imam(a.s.) and was ready to settle them amicably . He wrote to the
Imam(a.s.) that having been acquainted with his great personality ,
his matchless knowledge and his peerless attributes , he was
impatiently looking forward to the honour of seeing him , and he
most cordially invited him to Samarrah . Although the Imam(a.s.) was
well aware of al-Mutawakkil's treacherous intentions , he
anticipating the fatal consequences of refusing the offer ,
reluctantly decided to leave Medina . But when the Imam(a.s.)
arrived at Samarrah and al-Mutawakkil was informed about it , he
took no notice of the Imam's arrival. when asked about where the
Imam (a.s.) should stay , he ordered that the Imam should be put up
in the inn meant for beggars , destitutes and homeless people.
Al - Mutawakkil
who was a deadly enemy of the Ahl-ul-bayt , removed the Imam(a.s.)
from this inn and entrusted him to the custody of a stone - hearted
brute named Zurafah . But , by the grace of Allah(swt) , his enmity
was, in a short time , transformed into love and devotion for the
Imam(a.s.). When al-Mutawakkil learnt about it, he shifted the
Imam(a.s.) into the custody of another cruel man called Sa'id . The
Imam(a.s.) remained under his strict vigilance for a number of years
, during which he was subjected to boundless tortures . But even in
this miserable imprisonment , the Imam(a.s.) kept devoting himself
at all times to the worship of Allah(swt) .
The watchman of
the prison used to comment that Imam Ali al-Hadi(a.s.) seemed to be
an angel in human garb. When Fath ibn Khaqan became the vizier of
al-Mutawakkil , he being a Shi`ah could not stand the idea of the
Imam's captivity . He endeavoured to have him released from
imprisonment and arranged for his comfortable residence in a
personally purchased house at Samarrah . Still al-Mutawakkil could
hardly refrain from his antagonism to the Imam(a.s.) and he
appointed spies to watch the Imam(a.s.) and his connections . But
through all these attempts , his hope of creating some fabrication
to prove the Imam's activity against himself could not be realized.
In the time of
al-Mutawakkil there was a woman named Zaynab who claimed to be a
decendant of Imam Hussain(a.s.). Al-Mutawakkil sought the
confirmation of Zaynab's claim from the Imam(a.s.) and said : "`That
as the beasts are prohibited to eat the flesh of the descendants of
Imam Hussain(a.s.) he would throw Zaynab to the beasts and test her
claim" .' On hearing this , Zaynab began to tremble and confessed
that she was a fake . Al-Mutawakkil then ordered the Imam(a.s.) to
be thrown to the beasts to test the claim . To his great surprise ,
he witnessed the beasts prostrating their heads before the Imam(a.s.).
happened to suffer from a serious malady which was eventually
declared incurable by his physicians . When the Imam(a.s.) was
approached for some remedy , he prescribed an application which
resulted in a spontaneous cure. Once al-Mutawakkil was informed that
the Imam(a.s.) was preparing a revolt against him . Thereupon , he
ordered a detachment of the army to launch a raid on the Imam's
residence . When the soldiers entered his house , they found him
sitting on a mat , reciting the Holy Qur'an.
Not only al-Mutawakkil
, but his successors' opposition to the Imam(a.s.) was fierce .
After the death of al-Mutawakkil , al-Mustansir , al-Musta`in and
al-Mu`tazz carried on the same mission of harassent against the
family of the Imam. al - Mu`tazz , understanding the uncontrollable
and intense devotion of the people towards the Imam(a.s.) ,
eventually contrived the Imam's assassination. He got him poisoned
through an ambassador which resulted in the Imam's death within a
few hours . The martyrdom occurred on 26th Jumadi-as-Sani 254 AH ,
and his funeral prayer was conducted by his son , Imam Hasan al-Askari(a.s.).
The Imam(a.s.) was only forty-two years old at the time of death .
The period of his Imamate was thirty-five years . He was buried in