His Imamate lasted 20 years and was during the reign of three Abbasid caliphs: Harun (ten years), Ameen (five years) and Ma’moun (five years).
Here are some of the virtues of the eighth Imam:
1- Knowledge: Imam Reza (AS) says about his knowledge and superiority over thinkers and scholars of different branches of knowledge that he would sit in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and many scholars who failed to find answers to a question went to him and he answered their questions.
Ma’amoun invited every scientist and scholar who he thought could hold debates with Imam Reza (AS) and win. He organized debates between Imam Reza (AS) and scholars and thinkers from different schools of thought, hoping that they would defeat the Imam (AS) but Imam Reza (AS) defeated all of them.
2- Karamat (generosity, high-mindedness, supernatural wonders performed by the Infallibles): Many of the pilgrims of Imam Reza’s (AS) holy shrine have benefited from his Karamat.
3- Quran recitation: Imam Reza (AS) recited the Quran before sleep and when he read a verse about heaven or hell, he would cry, praying God for heaven.
4- On time Salah: Imam Reza (AS) never lost the opportunity to perform Salah at the earliest time. Even in the middle of most important political or scholarly sessions, he would leave the session to say prayers on time. One, there was a debate between Imam Reza (AS) and Omran Sa’ibi, a prominent scholar of the time. Imam (AS) answered his questions gracefully and with strong reasons. When the debate reached its height, the time for noon prayer came and Imam (AS) started to leave for Salah. Omran Sa’ibi asked Imam Reza (AS) to stay and continue the debate but Imam Reza (AS) first performed the Salah and then resumed the debate.
5- Courage: After the martyrdom of Imam Musa Kadhim (AS), the Imamate of Imam Reza (AS) began during the reign of Harun. Although the conditions were very hard, Imam Reza (AS) openly declared his Imamate and started guiding people.
6- Wisdom and prudence: Imam Reza (AS) attracted thinkers and scholars by attending debates and offering rational arguments and guided some of them to the true path.
He had rational and wise behavior in all areas of life, including in the political arena. His acceptance of the crown prince position was a fully wise move that foiled all of the plots hatched by Ma’amoun.