[Pic: The radiant dome of Imam al-Ridha ('a) in the Holy City of Mashhad]
The first ten days of the lunar month of Dhul Qa’dah are celebrated in some Muslim countries like Iran as Daheye Karamat (ten days of nobility). This is because they start with the birthday of Hadhrat Ma’suma (‘a) on the 1st of Dhul Qa’da [173 AH] and meet with the birthday of her sibling, Imam al-Ridha (‘a) on the 11th [148 AH] of the same month. Both are epitomes of spiritual greatness and nobility. Their life histories are brim with lessons for us to learn and emulate. Celebrating such occasions is to remember their personalities and instill in us the spirit of obedience to Almighty Allah. When one beholds the tomb of Hadhrat Ma’suma (‘a) in the holy city of Qum, which in reality serves as its fundamental source of light, one should be overtaken with the purity it exemplifies. Her radiant shrine constantly echoes a very important message for all her lovers: protect yourself from sin and struggle for infallibility. She was known as al-Ma’suma by her infallible brother Imam al-Ridha (‘a) due to her immaculate personality. If we are receptive enough to absorb her message, we would struggle for purity. Celebration in reality is an act of commitment and pledge. We must resolve to flee from sin, in order to celebrate this occasion of joy. Imam al-Ridha (‘a) likewise gives a similar message but in another language: the language of Divine pleasure. The word al-Ridhaa connotes both al-Raadhi (the pleased one) and al-Mardhi (the one whom one is pleased with). In other words He is pleased with what Allah does, and Allah is pleased with Him. He thus enjoys the state of a contented soul (al-nafs al-mutma’inna), whose status is so high, that Almighty Allah addresses it thus: “O soul at peace! Return to your Lord, pleased, pleasing! Then enter among My servants! And enter My paradise!” (89:27-30) The word “jannati” (my Paradise) in the verse refers to the loftiest kind of Paradise, which scholars of authority call “Jannat al-Liqa’” (the Paradise of encountering Allah). Such a station is what has to be experienced and words do not qualify to express. Fortunate are those who are able to visit the radiant shrines of Imam al-Ridha (‘a) and her noble sister Hadhrat Ma’suma (‘a). Mere visitation, however, is not enough. We need reflective minds who are able to draw a world of information by beholding such edifices of light, that can transport every receptive heart to the true meaning of belief, action, love, steadfastness, extinction in the Divine, absorption, revolution, emancipation, concern, etc.