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.
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) .
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.).
Al-Mutawakkil 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.
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 Samarrah, Iraq.