Shia Muslims celebrate the birthday anniversary of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad.
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Thousands of Muslims arrive in Mashhad to visit the holy shrine of Imam Reza to mark the birth anniversary of the “gracious Imam”.
Every year, millions of Shia Muslims visit his magnificent shrine in Mashhad to pay homage to the eighth Shia Imam.
As the birth anniversary of Imam Reza (AS) approaches, more and more pilgrims arrive in Mashhad on foot.
Muslims believe Islam, as introduced by the Prophet, could have gone astray without the Imams.
Imam Reza (AS) holds a special position among Iranians since he spent his last years in Iran and is the only one of the infallible Imams buried in Iran.
Iranians regard Imam Reza as bliss, a bountiful source of spirituality that never ceases to pacify the pilgrims of his shrine.
Imam Reza’s (PBUH) birthday anniversary falls on the 11th day of the lunar Hijri month of Dhul Qaada.
This year, the auspicious birthday anniversary of Imam Reza (PBUH) is celebrated on Wednesday, May 31.
According to Hossein Rezaei, the spokesman for the Society Serving Imam Reza Pilgrims Traveling on Foot, some 10,000 pilgrims are expected to march to Mashhad, IQNA reported.
So far 100 foreign pilgrims from the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf, and Kadhimiya have arrived in Mashhad, he said, noting that they have traveled part of the path from Iraq to Mashhad on foot.
Hujjat-ul-Islam Shariatinejad noted that the main motto of the Karamat Celebrations this year is “We Are All Servants of Imam Reza (AS)”.
A Quran recitation session at Imam Reza (AS) holy shrine, which will be attended by internationally-acclaimed Qaris, is among the programs for the auspicious occasion, he said.
There will also be various religious, cultural, arts, and literary events as well as forums, including one for women on the theme of justice social health, and status of women, the official added.
The ten days between the birth anniversary of Hazrat Masoumeh (AS) and his brother, Imam Reza (AS) is popularly known as the Ten Days of Karamat (munificence) as the two were example of.
Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (AS), the eighth Shi'ite Holy Imam was born on 11th Zee al-Qa'adah 148 A.H. in the holy city of Madinah. He was divinely entitled 'Al-Reza"(meaning that Allah Almighty and His Holy Messenger (S.A.W.) were deeply pleased with him). The Holy Imam (AS) is also considered the Aalim (the Greatest Erudite) of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (AS).
He was the son of Imam Musa al-Kazem, while his mother was the pious lady, Hazrat Najma (peace upon her). In his youth, Imam al-Reza (AS) enjoyed such outstanding virtue and scholarship that people referred to him as a religious authority. Imam Kazem (AS) referred people to him, saying: “My son’s writing is as my writing; his words are as my words, and his envoy is as my envoy; whatever he says is the very truth.”
The beginning of the eighth Imam's (God's greetings be upon him) Imamate coincided with the dictatorial rule of Harun al-Rashid.
Anyone who showed the slightest disobedience to the wishes of the ruling system faced unrelenting pressures. It was in such circumstances that the eighth Imam (AS) achieved Imamate.
The period of his Imamate lasted twenty years, of which seventeen years were spent in Medina and the last three years in Iran's Khorasan.
At the height of the people's desire for the eighth Imam of the Shia Muslims, Ma'mun, from the Abbasid Caliphate, conspired against Imam Reza and poisoned him, which led to his martyrdom.
The Sunni scholar, Ibn Hajar, has written that Imam Reza (AS), when only twenty and some years old, would give fatwas or legal judgments in the Mosque of the Prophet during the lifetime of his father. This is proof of his God-given knowledge.
At the age of 35 years, the mantle of Divine Trust came to rest on his shoulders, following the martyrdom through the poisoning of his illustrious father in the dungeon of the tyrant Haroun Rashid in Baghdad. For the next 17 years, the 8th Imam lived in his hometown Medina, grooming scholars and imparting to the seekers of truth, the genuine teachings of Islam, and the Seerah and Sunnah of his ancestor the Prophet. As a result, his popularity spread throughout the Muslim realm and beyond, alarming the usurper Abbasid regime.
In 200 A.H., Mamun, the self-styled caliph, who was based in Khorasan in the city of Merv (which is currently in Turkmenistan), felt nervous about the position of the Imam, and in a bid to isolate him from the ummah, forced him to leave Medina, and come to his capital.
Here in Merv, Mamun pretended to respect the Imam and offered him the caliphate, an offer which the Imam refused. Next, he deceitfully, against the Imam’s will, declared him as heir apparent, and to fool the people, even had coins minted in the Imam’s name.
The plot was to keep Imam Reza (AS) under strict surveillance, and if possible, to humiliate him by arranging debates with scholars of various religions and philosophical schools.
To the surprise of the caliph, however, the Imam as the rightful successor of the Prophet, triumphed in all such debates, making his opponents admit the truth of Islam, and the creed of the Ahl al-Bayt.
The holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in the holy city of Mashhad is one of the most extensively visited pilgrimage centers in the world and annually more than 20 million pilgrims and lovers of Holy Ahlul Bayt (AS) from all parts of the world visit the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS).
Visitors are all hopeful that the magnificence of the king Imam would also include them even centuries apart.