By Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"Surely, the brain is a world of wonders. No (other) created thing can match it in greatness, for it contains stores which never are full and it preserves whatever knowledge is deposited in it. If we want to mention the wonders of the brain, then we have to write a full book about them. Glory belongs to Him Who has originated and created the brain!”
These are neither the words of a philosopher nor an anatomist, although the person who expressed them knew all aspects of philosophy better than any thinker and was fully acquainted with every minor detail of anatomy better than any medic or scientist.
As a matter of fact, religious scholars sat at his feet to learn the dynamics of monotheism, while atheists and polytheists renounced their wayward beliefs to testify the Infinite Power and Indivisible Oneness of the One and Only Creator of the universe when they came in contact with him.
Those still in doubt about his identity should turn to the city of Mashhad in Khorasan, where pilgrims have converged in hundreds of thousands, if not million, from all over Iran and from the farthest corners of the world, to pay homage at his holy shrine on his blessed birth anniversary.
Yes, Imam Ali ar-Reza (AS) who was born on the 11th of the sacred month of Zil-Qa’dah, in the year 148 AH (766 AD) in Medina in Hijaz in the Land of Divine Revelation, needs no introduction.
He was the 8th Infallible Heir of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and during his 20-year period of imamate, or divinely-designated designated leadership, he ably guided the seekers of truth to the shores of salvation despite the harassment to which he was subjected by three tyrannical Abbasid caliphs – Haroun, Amin and Mamoun.
The last named, forcibly brought him to Marv in Khorasan and against his will declared him Heir Apparent of the vast Islamic realm in a bid to legitimize his own dubious rule by misleading the Muslim masses into thinking that the ruler was respecting the Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt.
Son of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS) who was martyred through poisoning in Baghdad by the tyrant Haroun Rasheed, his mother was the virtuous lady from North Africa, Taktoum, also called Najma Khatoun.
In 183 AH, the divine mantle of imamate came to rest on the shoulders of Imam Reza (AS), who ably discharged the duties entrusted to him by God Almighty in guiding the people. He was a paragon of virtue and ethics, without the slightest blemish in his impeccable character. As mentioned by the famous narrator of hadith, the Iranian scholar Shaikh Muhammad ibn Babawayh as-Sadouq who lived over a millennium ago:
"In the words of Ibrahim ibn Abbas: I never saw Ali ar-Reza committing excess over anyone in talking and interrupting anybody's speech before its coming to the end. He did not stretch his legs in the presence of others. When the meal table was laid he invited the servants to it, and took his meals with them. After taking rest in the nights he got up and made himself busy with the prayers to Allah. Similar to his forefathers he carried food to the houses of the afflicted ones at the mid of nights."
These flawless traits are an indication of not just the unsullied personalities of the Ahl al-Bayt, but indicate the Infallibility of their Immaculate Ancestor, the Prophet of Islam – the Exemplar par-excellence for all mankind as God calls him in the holy Qur’an.
Imam Reza (AS) who was kind to everyone did not tolerate any deviation, even if the person who committed wrong was to be his relative or brother, as is clear by an admonition from him to his erring brother Zayd, which shows it is virtue that exalts a person in the sight of God.
In 201 AH, Imam Reza (AS) arrived in Khorasan and was outwardly shown respect by the caliph, who deceitfully offered him the caliphate, an offer which the Imam politely refused with the words: "If the caliphate is really yours, you ought not give to others what God has given you as a trust; and if it does not belong to you, how can you give to others what is not yours."
The crafty Mamoun was stupefied but threatened the Imam that he had no other option and should agree to become his Heir Apparent, although Imam Reza (AS) was some twenty years older than Mamoun. The Imam reluctantly obliged but on condition that he will not interfere in state affairs.
Soon, to his horror, Mamoun realized that he had failed to isolate the Imam from the Ummah as the popularity of the Prophet’s Rightful Successor grew every day amongst the people in view of his exemplary lifestyle, his God-given wisdom and his dynamic debates with the leaders and scholars of various schools of thought and religion.
Though Mamoun deceitfully martyred the 8th Imam through a bunch of poisoned grapes, he could neither extinguish the Divine Light of imamate nor prolong the rule of the accursed Abbasid regime.
Imam Reza (AS) continues to rule the hearts and minds of people all over the world through his immortal legacy that includes not only the explanation of the Revealed Word of God Almighty, the holy Qur’an, but issues relating to science and medicine. Here is a beautiful description of the functions of the heart:
"As for the heart, it is one of Allah's marvelous signs in man's body, for it pumps the blood to all parts of the body, and the blood conveys food and oxygen in order to distribute them among all places of the body, and then it conveys the waste products in order to rid the body of them.
"The heart pumps the blood to the lungs in order that they may take adequate supply of oxygen from the air which man breathes. In the lungs, the blood gets rid of some waste products which it gathers from the parts of the blood and which take form of a gas called carbon dioxide. The heart also pumps the blood to the kidneys.
"As for the regulation of the beats of the heart, it is one of the secrets of creation and origination; the average of the beats of the heart is seventy times per minute. So their average amounts to one hundred thousand times a day, forty million times a year, and over two thousand millions in middle age. Therefore, we must think of this great glorification which never ceases nor flags by night and day. We must think of this marvelous sign in the body, which is the organization of heat. There is something like thermometer in the body.
"When sensory news comes from the skin and tells about the external surroundings and degree of their heat, this area which is in the brain stem and what is on it hurries to the circulatory system and urges it to protect the external boundaries and orders it to play the role of the sincere worker during this crisis, and the flexible circulatory system responds to it, and quickly the contraction of the blood vessels occur, and the heart pumps adequate supply of blood to the skin. If the skin is cold, the flow of blood which conveys heat increases in order to remove the coldness and vice versa.
Congratulations on the Blessed Birthday of Imam Reza (AS)