imam razaWafat: 8th Imam Ali bin Musa Ar Ridha a.s.

Imam Ali bin Musa Ar Ridha a.s. led the Ummah for 20 years till the time of his martyrdom on 29th Safar,203 A.H. due to poison by the Abbasid Ruler Mamun Rashid.

Ghareebul Ghuraba?

In our recitation of ziyarat the 8th Imam is addressed as Ghareebul Ghuraba.
Ghareeb in Arabic denotes strange, foreign, remote, alien, distanced. This term was utilized by the 8th Imam himself as he departed from Madina towards Marv as summoned by the ruler Mamun Rashid.
Muhawwal Sajistani narrates that Imam mentioned to him, “Meet me now as after I will have left the neighbourhood of my grandfather’s grave .I will die in a distant foreign land, a stranger.”

How is the Imam considered to be a stranger yet he would have abundant company and great access to people especially the shia devotes by virtue of being the heir to Mamun Rashid? Certainly the Imam was aware of this yet he chose to consider himself as ghareeb?

Imam being ghareeb: What lesson for us

“The world is a prison for the believer.” Noble Prophet.
What is the state of one who is imprisoned? I find myself uncomfortable, in a strange environment during my visits of short duration to prisons as a Chaplain and look forward to exit from the place. So like the prisoner, a believer looks forward to the exit from this world towards the actual home, the akhira.

“A believer is a stranger and blessed be a stranger.” 5th Imam Muhammad Al Baqir.
Being ‘imprisoned’ in this world, the believer finds oneself ghareeb-alien- to the rest. The Imam being Amiral Muminin would definitely be top on the list of ghareeb.

The Imam enjoys the ultimate station of wilayah, exalted and close to Divine pleasure, but far from other human beings. The majority of the people including the rulers were not acquainted with Wilaya. Thus Imam was Ghareeb in their company This proximity has distanced him from other humans. Thus Imam is a stranger. As shia you too are perceived as a stranger among the muslim masses. A mumin will stand out from the rest.

Thus in leading our lives, if one confirms (finds himself comfortable / being at home) to the traditions and practices prevalent in the community that are not according to the Thaqalayn, then there is need to check out ones eiman. By striving to practice according to Thaqlayn, which at times is opposite to the prevalent ways of living, then the believer finds himself to be different i.e. ‘a stranger’.

Question: How much a ghareeb- ‘stranger’ does one find himself so that he elevates himself to the level of being a devoted believer / mumin and benefits from the dua of blessings from Imam?

Mamun Rashid had forced Imam to accept the position of Heir apparent and to travel to join him in Merv leaving his home, family and the sacred shrine of holy prophet. His days in Merv where he was deprived of all functions were like being in exile, captivity. Finally leading to his martyrdom by poison on 29th Safar, 203 A.H. and being buried in Khurasan province remote from Madina.

Wa ma tawfiqi illa billah

With salaams and duas

Fazle Abbas Datoo
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Resident Alim
Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat