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Story 37: Bizanti

Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr Bizanti, who was counted among the scholars and the learned of his time, came to believe in the Imamat (leadership) of Imam Al-Ridha’ (‘a), after exchanging numerous correspondences with him (‘a). One day he asked the Imam (‘a), “I wish to come to your house and benefit from your presence. Would there be any problem with my coming and going from the point of view of government?”

One evening, Imam Al-Ridha’ (‘a) sent him his personal messenger and invited him to come to his house. The evening passed, and they engaged in the discussion of scientific matters until midnight. Bizanti was repeatedly asking questions in matters in which he found difficulty and the Imam (‘a) provided the answers. Bizanti felt proud to have the opportunity of being with the Imam (‘a) for such a long time and was very happy.

The night passed and it was time to sleep. The Imam (‘a) called his servant and said, “Bring my personal cot in which I sleep every night, and prepare it for Bizanti.” This kindness and compassion appealed to Bizanti and his joy soared like an eagle. He thought that no one was more fortunate than him in the entire world.

The Imam (‘a) had sent his personal messenger to escort him, and had spent the whole night answering his questions. In addition to all this, the Imam (‘a) had allowed him to sleep in his bed. Thus, who could be more fortunate than him in the whole world? Bizanti was busy enjoying sweet delicacies, imagining the entire world was at his feet.

Suddenly Imam Al-Ridha’ (‘a), leaning on his hands, stood up and addressed him, which interrupted his train of thought, and said, “O Ahmad. Whatever you experienced this evening is not a reason for you to show pride over others. Once Sa’sat ibn Suhan, a great companion of Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a), became ill. Imam Ali (‘a) went to visit him and showed him much affection and kindness, stroking his hands gently on Sa’sah’s forehead; but when Imam Ali (‘a) was about to stand up and leave, the Imam (‘a) addressed him and said, “Do not take this act as a source of pride and consider yourself to be above others. Whatever I have done, it was my duty and responsibility. These things are of no meaning or value to you.”1

  • 1. Bihar, v. 12, p. 14.