Imam Reza’s (AS) character at a glance
As for the noble traits of Imam Reza (AS), they were part of those of his grandfather, the Prophet (pbuh), by which he was distinguished from the rest of the prophets. Through his exalted manners, the Prophet (pbuh), was able to develop man and saved him from the ill traits of those who lived in the pre-Islamic period. As for Imam Reza (AS), he had the high noble qualities of his grandfather. Concerning his noble traits, Ibrahim b. al-Abbas has said: "I have never seen nor have I ever heard that there is a person more meritorious than Abu al-Hassan Imam Reza (AS). He never turned away from anyone; nor did he interrupt anyone; nor did he refuse to do someone a favor he was able to do; nor did he ever stretch out his leg before an audience; nor did he ever lean upon something while his companion did not; nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name; nor did he ever spit or burst into laughter; rather, his laughter was just a smile. When he was ready to eat, he seated with him all his attendants, including the doorman and the groom. He slept little at night. He spent most of his nights in praying or reciting the Quran. He did abundant charity, most of which was at dark nights."
Imam's noble moral traits were numerous. He did not turn away from any of the people, whether they were his friends or his enemies; rather, he received them warmly and smiled at them. He did not interrupt anyone while he was speaking; rather, he let him talk until he finished his talking. Among his exalted morals is that he did not stretch out his legs before those who sat with him; rather, he sat politely. He did not lean upon something while his associate did not. He did not call any of his retainers or attendants a bad name even if they mistreated him. He did not show haughtiness toward them; rather, he seated them with him when he was ready to eat. He prayed abundantly and spent his nights in praying and reciting the Book of Allah. He did a lot of good for the poor; he gave alms to them at dark nights lest none should recognize him.
Another example of his morals is that when he undertook regency, the most exalted office in Islamic state, he did not order any of his supporters and retainers to carry out his many affairs; rather, he himself carried them out. The narrators have said: "When he was in need of taking a bath, he hated to order anyone to prepare the bath for him. He went to the public bath-house in the city. The owner of the bath-house never thought that the deputy of Ma'mun, the Abbasid caliph, would come to a public bath-house and wash in it; rather, he thought that the kings would take a bath in their own houses. When the Imam (AS) entered the bath-house, there was a soldier in it. The soldier removed the Imam (AS) from his place and ordered him to pour water on his head, and the Imam did. Then a man who recognized the Imam entered the bath-house, and he shouted at the soldier, saying: 'You have ruined yourself! Why have you ordered the son of the daughter of Allah's Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, to give you a massage?' So the soldier felt extremely embarrassed; he apologized to him, saying: 'O Son of Allah's Messenger, why did you obey me when I ordered you?' However, the Imam (AS) smiled at him and said to him gently. 'It is a reward. I did not want to disobey you in what I was rewarded.' "
A man said to him: "By Allah, no person on the face of earth is nobler than you in father." He, peace be on him, said: "Reverential fear made them noble and obedience to Allah preserved them."
Another person said to him: "By Allah, you are the most meritorious of the people." The Imam Reza (AS) answered him, saying: "Do not exaggerate; he who fears Allah and obeys Him is better than me. By Allah this verse has not been abrogated: 'O men! Surely we have created you of a male and female, and made you nations and tribes that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the most Allah-fearing of you; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware."