This story was narrated by one of the caretakers of Haram of Imam Reza as a few years ago. I read about it last year. I wanted to translate it and share it with others, due to lack of tawfeeq I was not able to. However, on the death anniversary of Imam Reza as. I just finished translating it and would like to share it with everyone.
May Imam Reza as. accept this small effort and by the right of Syeda Zahra sa. hold our hands in this world and in the hereafter.
This is a story of a young Canadian and his experience which resulted in his journey from Toronto to Mashad Imam Reza as.
It was cold winter night in 1992, I entered the courtyard named Sehn Inqalab, the cold penetrated into the depths of human bones, and no one would dare to leave the comfort of their houses in this severe weather; the was a pin drop silence in the courtyard
I entered between the courtyard of the Sehn Inqalab and the courtyard of the mosque of Goharshad. When I arrived there, I noticed a young man of about 35 years old who had a fairly large travel bag and was asking around, but unable to get an answer.
Care taker: He came to me and said, “Good evening sir!”
(He spoke English, with a Canadian accent, when I answered him in the same language and with pleasure, he breathed a sigh of relief.)
Canadian: Sorry, Where is Mr. Ali Bin Musa Reza? I want to see them.
Care taker: I became really confused and my head started to spin, I collected my self and asked him:
Sorry, but you are?
Canadian: I am a law student at the University of Toronto, Canada, originally from Lebanon, but I was born in Canada and my religion is Christianity.
Care taker: That is, you are a “Christian”?
Canadian: Yes, a Catholic Christian.
Care taker: I wondered with amazement:
So what are you doing here ?!
Canadian: I have been invited to meet Mr. Ali bin Musa Reza (AS).
Care taker: Who has invited you?
Care taker: I was still confused, despite all the history of religious propaganda inside and outside the country, I had never heard about Imam Ali Bin Musa Al-Reza (AS) personally inviting someone to come to see him, that also a young Canadian Christian!
Have you seen him?
Canadian: Yes three or four times.
Care taker: This was no longer credible to me, so I asked:
That is, you have seen with your own eyes Ali Bin Musa Reza (AS) ?!
Canadian: Yes, I’ve him seen, in my dreams.
Care taker: Will you recognize him, If you see him now?
Canadian: Yes, of course.
Care taker: I was really intrigued, I asked him if he’d be willing to sit down and talk to me for a few minutes. I was overwhelmed with excitement, my heart was pounding out of my chest,
I asked: Can you tell me how did you get acquainted with Mr. Ali Bin Musa al-Reza (AS)? Can you expand more on this?
Yes, of course. One night I was walking on one of the streets of Toronto, where I saw a small crowd and there was a lot of traffic, the building was lit brightly, and heavily decorated. I became curious as to what was going on.
It turned out that that it Mosque, and they were having a celebration
I came to see what’s going on, some of them stood up in my respect and, after welcoming me sat down beside me and served me immediately with syrups, sweets, ice cream, and chocolates.
There was a sermon being delivered in English. And everyone was listening in with attention to this clergy’s sermon. I got lost in the sermon. This was my first time listening directly about Islam from the tongue of a Muslim preacher.
On the way out of the mosque, they were handing out a book to everyone, they gave me one as well, I was delighted and thanked them. I started walking in the direction of my house, I was deeply immersed and thinking about what I had heard that I didn’t even realize that I was home.
I changed into my pj’s and went to lie on the bed, I took that book with me to look at it, because I would not find the opportunity to do it tomorrow.
I started reading the book while lying my bed.
The book had completed taken over me, I could not stop reading, I would not allow myself to put it down, until I had read every single page of that book.
That book talked about a Muslim saint called “Ali Bin Musa Al-Reza”. His cherished personage and his sermons; the heavenly saint, fascinated me and conquered the entire domain of my thoughts, My entire existence immersed in thinking about this Saint.
Lying in my bed, although I could not sleep until the morning, I did not realize when I dozed off for few moments, I entered the land where I was dreaming, it was a spiritual and heavenly land! I had never seen something like this, nor could I imagine such a beautiful place. I saw a man with a bright luminous face, a heavenly man whom I had never seen before. I asked him to sit down with me for a few moments, and he accepted and sat down.
After he sat down, he asked me with the most beautiful smile,
“Do you want something from me”?
I was dumbstruck and could hardly speak, I said:
Y … Y … yes! But, unfortunately, I don’t know you!
Yo didn’t recognize me?! I am “Ali Bin Musa Reza”.
Ali Bin Musa Al Reza ?! I said out loud, I had heard this name but I do not
seem to remember …
I am the one that you could not stop reading about and towards the end of the book you said in your heart: “O God if there is such a saint, I would love to see him.”
When I heard this, I blossomed like a flower and asked him
I would really like so see you in person.
To which Ail bin Musa Reza as. responded, “Well, you can be my guest”
Your guest That is awesome. But where do you live?
Ail bin Musa Reza: Iran?
Canadian: Where in Iran?
Ail bin Musa Reza: A city called Mashhad.
Canadian: Thoughts started to come at lightning speed; I knew Iran, but I never heard the name of Mashhad! It is not so easy for me to go to such a city, financially, and in terms of the unfamiliarity of the region and for other reasons.
Yet, I asked him, how can I come to visit and see you?
Ail bin Musa Reza replied: I will provide you with the facilities.
Then He gave me the address and phone number to one of the airline ticket sales agents, with an address and a sign (he did not specify)
When you reach there, go to the person who is behind the desk number four, give him this sign, and he will give you a ticket and address where you can find me.
When I woke up I did not take it seriously, I saw him again for two nights in a row in my dream, on the last night he asked me: why didn’t you get the tickets?
Canadian: As soon he spoke those words, I woke up, I was sweating profusely and my heart beat intensified, I could no longer sleep, and I was counting every minute until the start of the office hours.”
The address, the location everything thing was as He had described in my dream.
When I entered the travel agency introduced my self to a and agent sitting behind the desk number four, he responded:
It has days since your ticket been issued, why did not you get it? You do not have a lot of time till your flight.
I asked about the cost of the ticket, which the travel agent responded:
Your entire ticket price has already been paid.
I looked over the ticket that he handed to me, the ticket that was issued to me in the following directions:
“Toronto, London, Tehran, Mashhad, -Mashad, Tehran, London, Toronto.”
The Caretaker at Haram: After hearing these words from a young Canadian Christian, I became overly excited my facial color completely changed, and my heartbeat became more intense and began to shake.
Canadian: I just got off the road and told the airport taxi to take me to the house of Mr. Ali bin Musa Reza, he brought me here. Now I do not know how to meet them?
I was so excited that the young Canadian also felt the vibration of my body and the color of my face, and asked:
Did something happen ?! Are you okay? Do not you feel good! …
The Caretaker: No, no, now I’m quite alright, just happy that I am seeing you, and you have been blessed with an invitation to meet Mr. Ali bin Musa al-Reza (AS). I am happy and delighted and overly excited.
Canadian: But, For what?
Because this person is one of the greatest heavenly saints in the world, God has placed him among the earthly people and anyone who sincerely wishes to meet him is blessed with his attention, even though it might be for a short moment …
The Canadian, could not bear much longer,
He said: May I beg you to please take me to this gentleman as soon as possible?
We put the suitcase and shoes in the back of the mosque of Goharshad and entered the Haram.
We had not descended down the flight of stairs towards the Zarih, that he saw a huge crowd.
Canadian: This massive crowd, what are they doing this night?
Caretaker: These have come here like I and you to meet Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (AS).
Canadian looking confused: But I thought that He had invited me only to visit them, it’s a private visit! Now … Now, in this bustle, how can we meet them? I would love to meet him alone.
Caretaker: Did He not invite you?
Caretaker: So, He will come on his own to meet you.
Canadian: But, how do we introduce ourselves to Him?
Caretaker: He does not need for you to introduce yourself, just like he came in your dream, He will come and find you.
(It was nice to see the emotions of surprise and wonder in his eyes, but he did not ask anything again, and we went down the stairs and went towards the Zarih; he did not know what the Zarih was all about)
Canadian: Surely he must be sitting somewhere on the high throne and people want to meet him”.
Canadian (Pessimist tone): Hope, that He is not a fiction of imagination and does not exist?
Caretaker: Actually quite the contrary! He is quite real. An imaginary being cannot invite you to come from one corner to the other corner of the world, give you the address of this place and provide you with a return ticket for you …
We got closer to the checkpoint after a while.
Canadian: ”Why are these people glued to this cage type treasure box (Zarih),?!
– Is He inside it?
– Is it possible for me to see him?
Canadian: How so?
Caretaker: Just as you see God in your heart.
Canadian: Yes that’s right.
Caretaker: Have you ever seen Jesus (AS)?
Canadian: Yes, many times, but in my dreams.
Caretaker: Mr. Ali bin Musa al-Reza will show himself to you, he was martyred by his enemies over a thousand years ago.
Canadian: How will he contact us now?
Caretaker: Do not you know how God communicates with mankind? How do you really connect with Mary (SA) and Jesus (AS)?
Canadian: Well, we have something in the Western world that scientists and psychoanalyst are talking about …
Canadian: Yes. That’s right.
After some exchange of words, and in order not to be annoyed among the crowds, I led him towards the area of his head near Zarih, and said:
Caretaker: You must stand here to see the gentleman himself.
Then I opened the prayer book and began to read the ziyarat beside him, but, to be honest, my focus was the Canadian, and he did not understand a single word of the ziyarat.
He was gazing at Zarih, and completely immersed and mesmerized, when suddenly he said:
– Mr. Ali bin Musa al-Reza …
And without any greeting, he continued:
– You invited me, I also came and …
He spoke with Imam Reza as. for approximately an hour and a half. Tears were rolling down his cheeks during the entire conversation. His whole face was covered with tears, I understood some of his words and rest I could not understand.
Once the conversation ended, I said, “I did not think you would come to meet someone and cry in this manner”
Canadian: I never though I could break down in this manner, but the attraction of this heavenly saint overtook me and I broke down into tears, especially when he said his goodbyes at last minute, during which told me:
“You are tired, go and relax, tomorrow I’ll wait for you.”
I could not bear the separation from this holy saint, it caused me to break down even further, I started to cry even more
Without any prayers by the Canadian, we left the shrine.
I booked a two twin bedroom at Tehran hotel so I could be close to him and follow the story. After dinner, I asked: What did you talk with Mr. Ali bin Musa Reza (AS)?
Care taker: I grew impatient with curiosity and continued asking him questions.What did you talk with Mr. Ali bin Musa Reza (AS)? I asked
Canadian: I asked him questions, and he answered them, questions about the world, the hereafter, humanity, the end of man and the future of mankind. Then they ordered me that “if you want to see the bright doors of life and paradise of the world and the Hereafter, be sure to look into Qur’an”
I said: I have heard the name of the Quran, but never looked into it.
He read the Qur’an for me, in such a charming and beautiful tone. I was so absorbed in the Quranic verse that involuntarily I started to cry. From then on I became fascinated by the Qur’an and stated to Him: I hope I can read the Qur’an and enjoy it and use it.
He said: “If you want to get the full benefit of this book, you need to accept the roots and origins of the book”
I asked: What is the root and origin of this book?
Then He explained to me the series of divine prophets that began from Adam (AS) and ended with Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors and that Mr. Ali ibn Musa al-Reza is his eighth successor
and Just as I had accepted Jesus (AS), I should accept other prophets and successors of the last Prophet, so that my faith is complete and I can benefit most from the Quran …
Caretaker: (I grew very curious, with every single word the Canadian said.
I asked: Well, did sir (Imam Raza as) tell you anything else?
Canadian: Yes, he explained to me with five principles of belief.
Caretaker: Well, what were those five principles?
Canadian: (he took out a piece of paper, on which he had taken notes and read it out loud) t
“Tawhid (Oneness of God), Nabuwwat (Prophethood, Adl (Justice), Vicegerents (Imamate) and Ma’ad (Resurrection)”.
Then he explained the belief in the doomsday and said:
– I have never heard of these five principles in any way and religion!
Caretaker: Did he explain the name of the religion to you?
Canadian: incidentally, yes! Because I asked, “What religion do you follow?” And he answered:
“The religion of Islam, till one is not a Muslim, they will not be happy in this world nor in the Hereafter”
Caretaker: So what did you do?
Canadian: I also became Muslim through him.
Caretaker: (With excitement and wonder and with a sense of curiosity), I asked the following question: How did you become Muslim and what words did you say?
Canadian: I first learned these words and then announced them
And then he spoke in broken Arabic
«اشهد ان لا اله الا الله، واشهد ان محمداً رسول الله، واشهد ان علیاً ولی الله»
(I bear witness, that there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is his Messenger, and Ali is his successor)
I did not want to tire him more and let him be in solitude. We rested for the evening and as usual, I woke up before the morning prayer in order to visit the shrine of Imam Reza (AS), he woke up and asked:
Canadian: where are you going?
Caretaker: I am going to visit Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (AS)
Canadian: Wait! I’ll come with you too.
Caretaker: You talked to him just a few hours ago for an hour and a half …
Canadian: But I have a lot of other things to talk to him about. My words will not end soon.
When we were standing again near the head of Imam Raza where is buried, He gazed at Zarih, his connection with Imam Reza (AS) was established and he began to talk. Once he finished talking with him, he performed ablution and started to pray in Arabic, with an accent, without anyone ever teaching him a word of Arabic.
Once he finished his prayer, he told me: “ At the last moments, I told Mr. Al bin Mosa Raza, my heart desires to come and see you again.”