The Alawids’ Reverence Towards him
All the Alawids agreed on revering and honoring Imam al-Hadi (AS) and acknowledging his leadership and virtue. Among them was the uncle of his father, Zayd, the son of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, (AS) who was a respectable old man. One day, Zayd asked Umar bin al-Faraj, who was the doorkeeper of Imam al-Hadi (AS), to ask permission for him to enter. He was permitted to come in to have the honor of meeting Imam al-Hadi (AS).

Zayd came in to Imam al-Hadi (AS), who was at the front of the meeting area. He sat before Imam al-Hadi (AS) in a manner of honoring, glorifying, and believing in his Imamate. The next day, Zayd came to the meeting of Imam al-Hadi (AS) who was not present yet. Zayd sat at the front of the meeting area. When Imam al-Hadi (AS) came, Zayd jumped up and seated Imam al-Hadi (AS) in his place, although Imam al-Hadi (AS) was too young then and Zayd was very old.

Relation of the People of the Book to him

The reverence towards Imam al-Hadi (AS) was not limited to Muslims only. Even the People of the Book besides Muslims believed in his high position near Allah. When they faced a misfortune, they carried gifts to Imam al-Hadi (AS) and took him as means to relieve their misfortunes. Hibatullah bin Abu Mansur al-Musily said that Yusuf bin Ya’qub the Christian was acquainted with his father. Once, he came to his father as guest and his father asked him why he had come to Baghdad. He said, ‘I was sent for to meet al-Mutawakkil and I did not know what for, but I brought with myself one hundred dinars that I gave to Ali bin Muhammad bin Reza (Imam al-Hadi).’ Hibatullah added, ‘My father congratulated him, and then he left Baghdad towards Surra Man Ra’a.

He stayed there for some days and then came back delightedly. My father asked him about his travel and he replied, ‘I arrived in Surra Man Ra’a, which I had not visited before. I wanted to take the one hundred dinars to the son of Reza (Imam al-Hadi) before going to meet al-Mutawakkil. I asked about him and it was said to me that al-Mutawakkil had prevented him from going out and that he kept to his house.

I feared to visit him and refrained from asking about him. It came to my mind that I would ride on my stumper and go to the town so that I might find out more about him without asking conspicuously. Walking in the streets and markets, I reached a house when it struck me that it might be the house of Imam al-Hadi (AS). I asked my servant to see whose house it was. The servant asked and it was said to him that it was the house of the son of ar-Ridha. My servant knocked the door and a black servant came out towards me and said, ‘Are you Yusuf bin Ya’qub?’ ‘Yes!’ I replied.

He said, ‘Dismount!’ I dismounted from my sumpter and he took me into a vestibule. He went in and then came out asking me, ‘Where are the one hundred dinars?’ I gave them to him and he took them to the Imam. After a while, he came and permitted me to come in. I came in. Imam al-Hadi (AS) was alone. He looked at me kindly and compassionately and said, ‘Is it not yet enough for you? (He meant, has he not seen enough to be guided).’

I said, ‘O my master, a sufficient proof has appeared to me!’ Imam al-Hadi (AS) said, ‘How far! You will not be Muslim, but your son will, and he will be from our Shia. O Yusuf, there are some people claiming that our guardianship does not benefit ones like you. Go to what you have come to! You shall see what you like.’ Yusuf was astonished at the miracle he saw from Imam al-Hadi (AS). He went to al-Mutawakkil and got all that he wanted.

Hibatullah said, ‘Yusuf died and I met his son who was a good Muslim following the Ahlul Bayt (AS). He told me that his father was still Christian when he died, and that he (the son) became a Muslim after the death of his father. He often said, ‘I am the good tiding of my master’. The people of the Book believed in Imam al-Hadi (AS) and found in his life a continuity to the lives of prophets and saints.

What authors say about him

All those, who wrote about the life of Imam al-Hadi (AS), saw honor, dignity, knowledge, piety, and charisma in his great personality and showed their admiration and high regard for him. Here are some sayings of historians and scholars about him:

  1. Abul Falah al-Hanbali: Abdul Hayy Abul Falah al-Hanbali says, ‘Abul Hasan bin Ali al-Jawad bin Rezabin Musa al-Kadhim bin Ja’far as-Sadiq al-Alawi al-Husayni, who is known as al-Hadi, was a jurisprudent, worshipping Imam. He was one of the Imams whom the Shiite exaggerators believe to be infallible like prophets…’.
  2. Al-Yafi’iy: Al-Yafi’iy says, ‘Imam al-Hadi (AS) was worshipful, jurisprudent, Imam…’.
  3. Abul Fida’: He says, ‘Ali at-Taqiy (pious) is one of the twelve Imams of the Shia. He is Ali az-Zakiy bin Muhammad al-Jawad…’
  4. Ibn as-Sabbagh al-Maliki: He says, “Someone of scholars said, ‘The virtue of Abul Hasan has established its domes on the galaxy, and stretched its ropes on the stars. No excellence is counted, unless with him is its conclusion, and no nobility is mentioned, unless with him are its details and totality, and no high quality is regarded, unless his proofs appear on it. He deserved all that due to the essence of liberal qualities that he alone had, and glory that governed his lofty nature which was purified from any blemish, and so his nature and morals were pleasant, his conduct was fair, and his qualities were virtuous. His gravity, calmness, certainty, chastity, honesty, and wit were like the Prophet’s and Ali’s. He had a pure soul and high determination such that no one among men resembled him (in this respect), and he lived a coarse life of asceticism such that no human participated with him in it or looked forward to it.’
  5. Ibn Shahrashub: He says, ‘He (Imam al-Hadi) was the best and most truthful of people. He was the cleverest from near and the most perfect from far. When he kept silent, dignity was observed on him, and when he spoke, splendor was observed on him. He was from the house of prophethood and Imamate, and the abode of guardianship and caliphate. A branch from the lofty tree of prophethood was he, and a fruit from the tree of the mission was he…’
  6. Al-Qutb ar-Rawandi: He says, ‘As for Ali bin Muhammad al-Hadi, all qualities of Imamate have gathered in him. His virtue, knowledge, and good merits have been perfected. All his morals were extraordinary like the morals of his fathers. He spent the night worshipping, facing the Qibla, wearing a wool garment and sitting on a mat. If we mention his high qualities, the book shall be prolonged with them.’
  7. Ath-Thahabi: He says, ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Zaynol Aabidin bin as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Alawi al-Husayni was jurisprudent and one of the twelve Imams. The Twelver Shia call him al-Manari.’
  8. Ibn Hajar: He says, ‘Ali al-Hadi was the heir of his father’s knowledge and generosity.’
  9. Ibn Anbasah: He says, ‘Ali al-Hadi is surnamed as al-Askari because he lived in Surra Man Ra’a which was called al-Askar. His mother was Umm Walad (bondmaid) who was absolutely virtuous and noble…’
  10. Muhammad bin Talha: Muhammad bin Talha ash-Shafi’iy says, ‘As for the qualities of Ali al-Hadi, ears never received praise more pleHasant than them (the qualities) such that they surrounded him, as precious pearls in their shells. What is witnessed in Abul Hasan Ali al-Hadi was that his soul was described with invaluable descriptions, and that it was in the position of prophethood in its honor of ranks and honor of roots…’