Imam Ali Al-Hadi Al-Naqi (PBUH)
Imam Ali Al-Hadi Al-Naqi (Arabic: علي الهادي النقي), also known as Ali Al-Naqi is the tenth Imams. His full name is Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali (PBUH). The exact date of his birth and martyrdom are unknown, but it is generally accepted that he was born between 827–830 CE (2nd Rajab, 212 AH-214 AH) and he martyred in 868 CE.
Imam Hadi was born in Medina to the ninth Shia Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (PBUH), (also known as Imam Muhammad al-Jawad), and Lady Sumanah. His father bestowed upon him the surname Abu’l-Hassan, after the surnames given to his grandfather Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH) and his great grandfather Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH). Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) assumed the official role of Imamate at a very young age of 7 or 8 years. At that age, he had become a point of reference for the Muslims. People would refer to him and seek his guidance in almost everything pertaining to their lives. When the enemies of Ahl Al-Bayt saw this, they were displeased with the situation. So, in conjunction with the government of the time, which was in opposition of Ahl Al-Bayt, they began looking for a person who was the most knowledgeable of the time yet a sworn enemy of Ahlul-Bayt, so that Imam Hadi (PBUH) is put under his care for training and the Muslims, particularly the Shia do not get any access to him. Finally, Ubaydullah Junaydi, a prominent scholar from Iraq and a sworn enemy of Ahl Al-Bayt was appointed for the task. Ubaydullah took the Imam into his care and did not allow any Shia to visit him. This way, the guidance of Imam Hadi (PBUH) was suspended for his Shias. One day a person came to Ubaydullah Junaydi and asked him, “How is the Hashimite servant doing?”Junaydi, a sworn enemy of Ahl Al-Bayt became extremely furious with the man and said to him, “Do not call him a Hashimite servant for he is not a servant but a leader of Banu Hashim. By Allah! Despite his young age, he is more knowledgeable than I am. People think that I am disciplining him but the truth is that he is disciplining me. I swear by Allah! He is not only the Hafidh of Quran(someone who has Quran verses in memory) but also possesses its knowledge. To be precise, he is the best of all on the face of this earth”. (Al-Dam’ah al-Saakibah)
According to Shia accounts, after his father’s assassination at the will of Mu’tasim, the Abbasid caliph ordered Omar Ibn al-Faraj to find a teacher in Medina for the young Imam who would preach hatred toward the Ahl Al-Bayt. He found al-Junaydi to perform the task. However, al-Junaydi often reported on the Imam’s intelligence. Imam Hadi (PBUH) often provided perspectives on literature that al-Junaydi hadn’t thought of, and at his young age he had even developed a comprehensive understanding of the Quran and the revelations within. Al-Junaydi, impressed and astounded by the young boy, concluded that it could only be by divine causes that the Imam could be so knowledgeable, and so he dropped the animosity he had held towards the family of the Prophet.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) utilized the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina as a place to teach people about knowledge, principles, and morals that could be derived from Islam. The Imam was dedicated to teaching, so much that he would pay for students’ supplies if they needed it (in addition to the regular charity he gave to the poor). Due to his kindness, most people in Medina that interacted with him were loyal to him.
Despite the general population’s love for the Imam, one man despised the Imam for the support he had amongst the people. Abdullah bin Muhammad was the guardian of Medina, and he told Mutawakkil that Imam Hadi was dangerous because some Islamic nations were giving him money with which he could buy weapons; those weapons could then be used to revolt against Mutawakkil. When Imam Hadi (PBUH) learned of what Abdullah bin Muhammad had told the caliph, he sent a letter to Mutawakkil assuring him that the warning had no bearing, and that it was merely a product of a grudge he had held against the Ahl al-Bayt.
Mutawakkil responded to the letter with another, stating that he had deposed the guardian and that the Imam should come to Samarra and be under house arrest so that the caliph could “protect” him. At the same time, Mutawakkil ordered Yahya Ibn Harthama to go to Medina both to investigate Abdullah’s claims and to bring Imam Hadi (PBUH) to Samarra. When the Imam received the letter, he knew that in being invited to live in Samarra, he was actually being banished from Medina. While he hated to leave, he also knew that if he rejected the invitation, he would eventually be forcibly removed, it was a situation which he wished to avoid. Yahya then searched the Imam’s house and found nothing more than copies of the Quran; afterward he had but one task left.
Yahya thus forced the Imam and his family to leave Medina for Samarra. Their caravan stopped off in Bahgdad, where Yahya visited the governor Isaaq bin Ibrahim adh-Dhahiri. The two talked, and the governor warned Yahya that if he were to say anything about the Imam that was negative, Mutawakkil would have the Imam killed; the blame would thus be on Yahya’s shoulders for the death of a member of the Ahl Al-Bayt on the Day of Judgment. After arriving at Samarra, Yahya met Mutawakkil and spoke only good things about the Imam, and he told him that he didn’t find anything in his home that supported Abdullah’s claims. Mutawakkil dropped his anger towards the Imam and met him. Even though the caliph had no reason to be suspicious of Imam Hadi (PBUH), he insisted upon his staying in Samarra under house arrest. While the Imam was under house arrest, Mutawakkil maintained a strange relationship with the Imam. The caliph turned to and trusted the Imam over his own personal jurisprudents when he was presented with legal problems; however, part of the caliph still held resentment toward him.
On one occasion, Mutawakkil organized a conference to be held in his palace. He had asked Ibn as-Sakkit to ask the Imam a question that he didn’t think the Imam would answer, so that Mutawakkil could embarrass and defame him before the theologians and jurisprudents he had invited. Not only was the Imam able to answer as-Sakkit’s question, but he also answered the questions that Yahya Ibn Aktham had been told to prepare as backup. Despite Ibn as-Sakkit’s acceptance of the task, he actually ended up dying at the hands of Mutawakkil; the caliph asked him “Are my sons more respectable than Hassan and Hussain?” To which as-Sakkit replied,”…Imam Ali’s slave Qamber is more respectable than both of your sons.” In addition to this attempt to humiliate the Imam, Mutawakkil imposed penalties upon anyone who was found giving the Imam gifts, giving him money, or trying to obtain knowledge about Islam from him. Furthermore, even with the Imam suffering under the caliph’s house arrest, Mutawakkil order on several occasions the arrest of the Imam and the searching of his house on suspicion of having money and weapons with which he could revolt; each time the Imam was cleared of the charges.
Failed assassination and the death of al-Mutawakkil
Mutawakkil had tired of people preaching of the knowledge and piety of Imam Hadi (PBUH), but mostly he was angry about hearing the Shia talk of how the Imam was more worthy of the caliphate. It was at this point that the caliph hired several non-Muslims to kill the Imam. After explaining what he wanted to do, Imam Hadi (PBUH) arrived with several palace guards. When Mutawakkil saw him, he started to reflect on what he had ordered, and became afraid for his fate in the afterlife. He immediately embraced the Imam, addressed him as “my master,” and kissed him on the forehead. His actions confused the men he had hired, and so they refrained from killing the Imam. The caliph, having given up on killing Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH), decided he would try to humiliate him instead. He ordered that the officials, notables, and the Imam (so it wouldn’t look like the act was intended for him) would have to travel on foot during a hot summer day while the caliph remained mounted on his horse. The Imam, having almost suffered a heat stroke, recited the Quranic verse, “Enjoy yourself in your abode for three days that is a promise not to be belied.” Another account of this prediction stated that the Imam was imprisoned by the caliph, and it was that act which provoked the Imam to foretell of his death. Within three days of that event, plotters assassinated the caliph; one of the assassins was actually his son, al-Muntasir.
Epithets given to the Imam
Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) was given a vast number of descriptive names throughout his life, each with a specific meaning. He was called An-Nasih (loyal), to describe his dedication to his nation. He was called Al-Mutawakkil (reliant on Allah), however he disliked this name because it was the same as the epithet for Ja’far al-Mutawakkil, a known critic of the Ahl al-Bayt. Imam Ali al-Hadi was given other epithets such as at-Taqiy (pious), al-Murtadha (being pleased with Allah), al-Faqeeh (jurisprudent), al-Aalim (knowledgeable), al-Ameen (trustee of religion and life), at-Tayyib (generous), al-Askari (military), al-Muwadhdhih (explainer of the verdicts of the Quran and the tradition), al-Rasheed (wise), al-Shaheed (the martyr), al-Wafiy (loyal), and al-Khalis (pure from defect). These epithets were both characteristic of the way the Imam presented himself and the way the Muslims in the 9th century perceived him.
There were many times throughout the Imam’s life that he exhibited extreme generosity. In one instance, two men came to the Imam, with one complaining of the other’s debt to him. To solve the problem, the Imam gave to both men 30,000 dinars. Another account described how a nomadic man came to Imam Hadi (PBUH) to tell him of how he was heavily in debt and in need of assistance. Imam Hadi (PBUH), being short of money himself, gave the man a note saying that he was in debt to the nomad, and instructed him to meet the Imam in Samarra, where he had a meeting, and to insist that the Imam pay back the debt. The nomad did as he was told, and the Imam apologized to the nomad in front of those at the meeting for being incapable of paying him back. The officials at the meeting reported the Imam’s debt to the caliph, al-Mutawakkil, who then sent the Imam 30,000 dirhams, with which he then presented to the nomad. Essentially, the way in which the Imam lived his life gives enough evidence to understand exactly why he was given the epithet at-Tayyib.
According to Twelver Shias, he is described as being endowed with the knowledge of the languages of the Persians, Slavs, Indians and Nabataeans in addition to foreknowing unexpected storms and as accurately prophesying other events. In the presence of al-Mutawakkil, he unmasked a woman falsely claiming to be Lady Zaynab, daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH), by descending into a lions’ cage in order to prove that lions do not harm true descendants of Imam Ali (a similar miracle is also attributed to his grandfather, Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH)). A theological treatise on human freedom and some other short texts and statements ascribed to Imam Hadi (PBUH) are quoted by Abu Muhammad al-Hassan Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hussain Ibn Shuʻbah al-Harrani.
The Imam worked on his farm to support and feed his family. Through working on the farm, he relieved himself and his family of any tendencies towards lavishness; whatever they needed they would provide for themselves. It was reported that when people would ask Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) why he worked on a farm, he would answer: “Who was better than I and my father, who worked with a spade on his farm.” When they would inquire as to whom he was talking about, he would tell them that he was referring to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); the fact that he emulated the Prophet so much that he lived in the same manner that he did helps in understanding why he was given the epithet of at-Taqiy.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) understood the importance of the teachings of the Prophet, and because of this he dedicated his time to obtaining them so that people could find guidance with regards to morals, disciplines, intellectual issues, and social issues. In addition to narrating Hadith, he narrated sayings from Imam Ali (PBUH), Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (PBUH), Imam Musa al-Kadhim (PBUH), and Imam Ali al-Ridha (PBUH). Imam Hadi thought it very important for people to comprehend and follow Hadith and the sayings of the infallible Imams, and he instructed those Muslims who understood them to adhere to them, and those who didn’t to approach their present infallible Imam and ask him to explain them.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) was dedicated to upholding Sharia law with regards to its verdicts, teachings, and principles. He was considered to be one of the most knowledgeable men of his time concerning the matter, and there were many occasions where even al-Mutawakkil would refer to him for help. To this day, some Shia practices are derived from that which was determined by the Imam. On one account, a man wanted to know that if a Shia Muslim died and there happened to be Murjites present (followers of Islamic school Murji’ah) while the washer wanted to wash the corpse, whether the washer should wash the body like the Murjites (no turban or palm branch) or not. The Imam determined that he should wash the body according to the way of the Ahl Al-Bayt, and that the palm branch should be put on secretly so the Murjites couldn’t see it happen. Another account detailed one man’s predicament concerning Shia jurisprudents regarding the clothes one could wear during prayer. It is unlawful to wear clothing during prayer made of animals whose meat Muslims aren’t allowed to eat, but this particular man lived in an area where those were the only clothes available; he feared that if he took them off for prayer, he would freeze. The Imam told him that if he needed to wear the fur of an animal, it should come from fennec or beaver, thus establishing a tradition whereby men could pray in the fur of only those two animals. The Imam also dealt with the question that some had about the validity of a prayer when someone walks in front of them. Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) replied that the prayers were indeed valid, and they would be accepted by Allah. The Imam was asked questions regarding the act of fasting during Ramadan. Imam Ali al-Hadi (PBUH) decided and set into tradition that only when a Muslim first sees the sun do they have to begin fasting. He also stated that women who were breast feeding were not obliged to fast; only if a nurse could be employed is a woman allowed to fast. These are but a few of the many times that Imam al-Hadi (PBUH) was consulted in matters of jurisprudence, and they help to explain the epithet of al-Faqih that was given to him.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) lived during a time when people had grand misunderstandings about the theology surrounding Islam. As such, the Imam not only found it necessary to confute these misconceptions, but he contributed to the books of “argumentation” that were compiled by Shia scholars to further refute misguided beliefs about the religion.
One such issue the Imam dealt with was whether or not it was possible to see Allah. Imam Hadi (PBUH) said that it was impossible to see Him, because, “When the seer equals the seen thing in the cause of sight between them, sight takes place, but those who compare between the seer (man) and Allah, they are mistaken, because they have likened Allah to man… Essentially, to say that you can see Allah is to say that you have the same qualities as Allah, which, in this case, is the ability to be seen. Another issue that the Imam dealt with was the belief that Allah has a body (embodiment of God). Imam Hadi (PBUH) chastised those who believed it and stated that, “He, who claims that Allah is a body, is not from us, and we are free from him in this world and the afterworld…body (substance) is created, and it is Allah Who has created and embodied it.” To attribute Allah with embodiment is to characterize Him with need and to limit Him to a body. Essentially, it is wrong to equate Allah with created things due to His nature as our creator.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) also expressed strong feelings about the impossibility of describing Allah’s Essence. The rationale behind his objection was that Allah is so great that, as humans, we are incapable of conceiving how truly amazing He is, and that the only one that can truly describe Allah is Allah Himself. He then uses this as a segue into the belief that true Muslims, the Prophet, and the infallible Imams cannot be described either, because their obedience to Allah draws them closer to the Essence of Allah, and descriptions cannot wholly encompass their virtuous qualities that result from submitting to Allah.
Imam Hadi (PBUH) and Heretics
Ibn Hasakah preached to the people that Imam Hadi (PBUH) was in fact Allah. On top of that, he told people that he was a prophet sent by Imam Hadi to guide the Muslims, and with that declaration he also claimed that prayer, Zakat, Hajj, and fasting were no longer required. Upon hearing this, Imam Hadi (PBUH) immediately rejected what Ibn Hasakah had said and ordered that those who preach such blasphemy should be both rejected and killed. Muhammad bin Nusayr al-Fihiri an-Namiri was also a heretic claiming the Imam to be Allah. He claimed that it was permitted to marry close relatives, such as a sister or a daughter, and he permitted sodomy and promoted the idea of transmigration of the soul. Other heretics went as far as to claim that words such as “Zakat” or “prayer” didn’t mean praying or giving alms, but instead that the words referred to a man and not to an actual action. Again, Imam Hadi (PBUH) immediately rejected the claims and he ordered that Muslims reject them as well. In addition, he ordered their deaths, as made evident when he said, “…if you overcome any of them (extremists), break his head with a stone!” His commands act to show the extreme importance the Imam placed on making sure that all Muslims remained pure of blasphemy so that they wouldn’t be led astray into hellfire.
Imam hadi Al-Naqi was poisoned by Al-Motawakkil. He killed Imam Hadi (PBUH) by poisoned meal. The Imam martyred at 30 Rajab, 254 H. he was buried in Samerra where later his son Imam Hassan Al-Askari (PBUH).
On 22 February 2006, a bomb attack in Iraq badly damaged the shrine of Imam Hadi (PBUH) and his son Imam Hassan Al-Askari; another attack was executed on 13 June 2007, which led to the destruction of the two minarets of the shrine. Those attacks took place by Wahhabis.
His direct descendants are called Naqvis (also spelled as Naqhavi or Naqavi in Iran and the Arab world respectively). They primarily reside in Pakistan as well as a small but prominent minority in India.