By Farhan Bokhari
March 11, 2020
Monday’s birth anniversary celebrations (13th Rajab al Murajjab/March 9) remembering Hazrat Ali (a.s) came as a timely reminder of a personality who represented the core values of Islam, notably in the midst of ever growing crises worldwide today.
Born inside the holy ‘Kaaba’, Mecca, in 601 AD, Hazrat Ali (a.s) became a towering figure in Islam, second only to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He embraced Islam at the tender age of ten, becoming the first among children to see the light of the final message from Allah to humanity. His parents, Hazrat Abu Talib and Bibi Fatima bint e Asad, the paternal uncle and aunt of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), remained the main guardians of the messenger after he was orphaned in childhood. It was a time of turmoil across Arabia when the message of Islam was revealed.
Societal values had crumbled to the lowest point of human values with practices such as infanticide of new-born baby girls becoming the accepted norm, while warring tribes settled disputes frequently through shedding blood. Any comprehensive discussion on the light brought about with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in this world of darkness remains incomplete without references to members of his household – namely his daughter Bibi Fatima (a.s), his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Ali (a.s) and their sons, Hazrat Imam Hasan and Hazrat Imam Hussain. Together, the five members of the family led by the messenger are remembered by Muslims as the ‘Panjtan Paak’ or the holiest five.
Hazrat Ali (a.s) remained by Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) side during the years of the Prophet’s (pbuh) frequent challenges in Mecca before the migration to the holy city of Medina. So profound was this departure from one city to the other that to this day Muslims worldwide date their Islamic calendars back to the time of the ‘Hijra’. And Hazrat Ali’s choice to sleep on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) bed to fend off attacking Meccans gathered against the messenger after he left Mecca, was an unusual act of courage that has been frequently documented across innumerable historical documents.
Hazrat Ali’s personality was so comprehensive that it’s impossible to describe him under one set of virtues. His book of quotations known as ‘Nahjul Balagha’ remains an unparalleled account of letters, quotations and sermons on multiple facets of human life and religious values. Hazrat Ali’s oft-repeated claim; “Salooni, Salooni, Qabla Ant’afkadooni” (Ask me, Ask me before I am not amongst you) from his pulpit remains unchallenged in history.
On the battlefield too, the numerous achievements attributed to Hazrat Ali (a.s) have remained unparalleled. One of the most notable and oft-repeated account dates back to the capture of ‘Khyber’ – the well fortified compound which posed a recurring threat to the Muslims of Medina. Historical accounts bear testimony to the single-handed uprooting of the ‘Bab-e-Khyber’ or the door to Khyber – an entrance that required up to ten sturdy men for its opening and closure every day.
The personality of Hazrat Ali (a.s) has been well documented not just by Muslim scholars and historians but non-Muslims too. In a memorable statement to highlight the best traditions of governance and statecraft, the late Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations wrote; “The Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib is considered the fairest governor who appeared during human history after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). So we advise Arab countries to take Imam Ali bin Abi Talib as an example in establishing a regime based on justice and democracy and encouraging knowledge”.
As Muslims worldwide this week remembered Hazrat Ali (a.s), his many lessons of fair play and justice ranging from running affairs of a family to those of a state are still abound, offering guidance. Among his last wills, Hazrat Ali (a.s) urged his followers to exercise unlimited tolerance towards each other.
“Beware of disunity and enmity. Do not desist from promoting good deeds and cautioning against bad ones. Should you do so, the worst among you would be your leaders and you will call upon Allah without response” he said. It is hardly surprising that the chaos surrounding the Muslim world today has followed a departure from Hazrat Ali’s (a.s) teachings, so eloquently documented to this day.
Farhan Bokhari is an Islamabad-based journalist who writes on political and economic affairs.
Original Headline: A celebration
Source: The News, Pakistan