Ali al-Hadi, Imam of matchless knowledge and peerless attributes
His knowledge with certitude made him the Pride of Prophets. The fact that he was a mere boy of 8 years when the divine mantle of Imamate came to rest on his tender shoulders is ample proof of the wisdom he possessed. This is proven by his debates with silver-bearded scholars who were all at sea against his immaculate reasoning and explanation of facts and realities.
The thirty-three years of Imamate of Imam Hadi coincided with the caliphate of Mutasim bin Harun, Wathiq bin Mutasim, Mutawakkil bin Mutasim, Muntasir bin Mutawakkil, Mustain, and Mutazz bin Mutawakkil.
Being too occupied in state affairs, al-Mutawakkil did not get any time to harass the Imam and his followers - like previous caliphs - for four years. But as soon as he freed himself from state affairs, he started to molest the Imam. The Holy Imam devoted himself to the sacred mission of preaching in Medina and did thus earn the faith of the people as well as their allegiance and recognition of his great knowledge and attributes. This reputation of the Imam evoked the jealousy and malice of al-Mutawakkil against him.
The governor of Medina wrote to al-Mutawakkil that Imam Hadi had been maneuvering a coup against the government and a multitude of Shia Muslims were pledged to his support. Although enraged by this news, al-Mutawakkil still preferred the diplomacy of not arresting the Holy Imam. Under the garb of pretended respect and love towards the Imam, he planned to put him under life imprisonment after inviting him to his palace. Prior to his imprisonment, in a series of correspondence with the Imam, he expressed the view that he was convinced of all the claims of the Imam and was ready to settle them amicably. He wrote to the Imam that having been acquainted with his great personality, his matchless knowledge and his peerless attributes, he was impatiently looking forward to the honor of seeing him, and he most cordially invited him to Samarra.
Although the Imam was well aware of al-Mutawakkil's treacherous intentions, he anticipating the fatal consequences of refusing the offer, reluctantly decided to leave Medina. But when the Imam arrived in Samarra and al-Mutawakkil was informed about it, he took no notice of the Imam's arrival. When asked about where the Imam should stay, he ordered that the Imam should be put up in the inn meant for beggars, the destitute and homeless people. The Imam remained under his strict vigilance for a number of years, during which he was subjected to boundless tortures. But even in this miserable imprisonment, the Imam kept devoting himself at all times to the worship of Allah.
Fat’h ibn Khaqan, the Shia vizier of al-Mutawakkil, could not stand Imam's captivity. He endeavored to have him released from imprisonment and arranged for his comfortable residence in a personally purchased house at Samarra. Still al-Mutawakkil could hardly refrain from his antagonism to the Imam and he appointed spies to watch the Imam and his connections and finally ordered poisoning the Imam.
Imam Hadi was only forty-two years old at the time of demise. The period of his Imamate was thirty-five years. He was buried in Samarra, Iraq.
Imam al-Hadi (AS) once told al-Mutawakkil that “Do not expect honesty and purity of intention from someone who has suffered from your malice; do not expect loyalty from one to whom you have been disloyal; do not expect goodwill from someone whom you regard with ill-will; his heart towards you is the same as your heart towards him.”