This article seeks to examine the political conduct of Imam Rida facing the revolts during the period of his Imamate, in order to set an example to Muslims in political affairs.
Imam is a guide, leader, navigator, successor of the Prophet and the Divine ambassador on the Earth, whose speech, action and authentication are authority and proofs for us. In fact, Imam is the true ideal for humanity in various aspects of worship, individual, social and political realms. While Imam’s speech, actions and authentication is authority for us in matters of worship and jurisprudence, similarly they are proofs for us in the matters of governance and politics. Moreover, if we want to succeed in these grounds, we need to follow the infallible Imams and take their code of conduct as ideal for us.
At the time of political rivalry between Caliph Amin and Caliph Ma’mun and Ma’mun struggling with internal problems, the Alawites got a favorable chance to revolt against the Abbasids’ oppressive rule. A few popular uprisings of that time were the revolt of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Tabataba, the revolt of Abu al-Saraya, Ibn Aftas, Zayd al-Nar, Ibrahim ibn Musa and Muhammad ibn Jafar. When we study the stand of Imam Rida towards these revolts, we come to know that he did not oppose the revolt itself, but disagreed with the nature and time of these revolts.
Imam Rida did not participate in the revolt of Ibn Tabataba on the day of revolt but postponed his presence to another day, which tells us that Imam agreed with the origin of the revolt but did not approve of the timing. His scolding Zayd and criticizing his actions tells us that Imam approved of
the revolt itself.
On the other hand, it is important to study the understanding of the concept of Imamate and the nature of Ahl al-Bayt during the period of Imam Rida, especially before Imam became the crown prince. It is clear from the historical evidence of the time of uprisings that the Alawites involved in these revolts had a different understanding of Imamate, which was other than the concept of Divine Imamate and the appointment of Imam by Allah only. We have this understanding because, at that time, the Alawites gathered around anybody who claimed to be an Imam and followed him. To the extent that the Alawites pledged to Muhammad Dibaj, who called himself Amir al-Mu’minin, they considered Imam Rida equal to the rest of the Alawites in respect and dignity.
In such a situation, it was natural for Imam Rida to refrain from any rebellious act to form a new government. In addition to this, other reasons were also involved, such as lack of military force, absence of active man-power and the heavy crackdown on Imams. In such a situation, the greater responsibility was spreading awareness amongst the people and the spiritual guidance of the community.
Although in some cases the Alawites gained relative victory in the beginning, later on all these rebellions faced a bitter defeat. Imam disagreed with the way the revolts took place, the lack of conscious leadership, dispersion and non coordination between them, the lack of a clear plan, the leisure of the government concerning foreign issues and concentrating on internal issues resulting in a strong control of the Abbasids over the Alawites. These are the few important reasons that consequently led to the defeat.
Title: The Political Conduct of Imam Rida while Facing the Revolts at the Time of His Imamate
Author(s): Hamid Reza Shojaeifard & Zahra Sajadi
Published in: Kom, 2020, vol. IX (1)
Length: 16 pages