By Yusuf Abdullah
In the name of Allah who states "Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, …." Q9:35 Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servant, our master Muhammad and his pure purified progeny.
Birth of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib on the first great night in the holy Kaaba was one of the most memorable historic events of the month. Being the head of the prophet’s household, loving him and his family are the necessary reward for prophetic guidance “… no reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin…” Q42:23. His virtues are highlighted for believers to emulate. In view of this, I will take a brief look at his blessed life in remembrance of the event. Allamah Ibn Hajar has narrated in Sawa’iq Chapter 9 that the prophet (S) has said: Behold, this is Ali: he is with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with him. They shall never part from each other until they come to me at the pool of Kauthar” It was narrated as recorded in Mustadrak and Kanzul Ummal, that the prophet has said “whoever wishes to live and die like me, and to abide in the Garden of Eden after death should acknowledge Ali as his patron and follow Ahlul-bait after me, for they are my Ahlul-bait and they have been created out of the same clay, and were blessed with knowledge and understanding as myself. Woe unto those followers of mine who will deny their distinctions and who will disregard their relationship and affinity with me. May Allah never let them benefit from my intercession”. On the occasion of farewell pilgrimage, when the Imam was sent for deliverance and declaration on the great pilgrimage day, Abu-Bakr cried saying O messenger of Allah! Reveal something for me. The messenger answered “my lord ordered me that nobody can discharge my duty except myself or Ali”
Al-Tabari has narrated as mentioned in Kanzul ummal, Volume: 6 page 153, when marrying out his daughter to Imam Ali, the prophet said, I gave you in marriage to the first one to adhere to Islam from my nation, he is also the most knowledgeable and most patient among them. Ahmad bin Hanbal has said: “no one among the companions of the messenger of Allah had more virtues than Ali Ibn Abi Talib. When Imam al-Nisa’i wrote his prominent book -Khasa’isu Ameerul mu’mineen – the virtues of Imam Ali, on a visit to Damascus he was asked to produce any such merits in respect of Mu’awiya out of envy. As he insisted on none, they killed him at the spot! The Sunnis chant – Karramallahu wajhahu – May Allah honor his face when referring to him, in contrast to other companions because he was the only one that never prostrated for any being beside Allah the Most High. On the 18th day of Zilhajj, ten years after hijra, at the pool of Ghadeer, as pilgrims returned to their respective destinations, holding his hand, the prophet said; “Do you witness that I have a prior right to and superior authority over all the faithful? They replied yes o messenger of Allah. There upon he said” Ali is the master of all those of whom I am master. O Allah! Love him who loves him and hate him who hates him, help him who helps him, forsake him who forsakes him, and turn justice with him wherever he turns. To cut it short, Imam al-Shafi’i said “I am surprised about a man whose virtues were kept secret by his enemies out of envy, and by his followers out of fear, but nevertheless, an enormous amount of them spread”
For this unequalled position, he was envied and suffered lots of persecution along with his blessed family. Apparently, he was the greatest companion of the noble messenger (S). And no doubt, he could never be compared with any other in terms of leadership qualities at all. In the story of the children of Israel, they asked their prophet to appoint for them a king with whom to fight in the cause of Allah. “Their prophet said to them; Allah hath appointed Talut as king over you. They said; how can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance? He said Allah has chosen him above you, and has gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess; Allah granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth; Allah is all-embracing, and He knoweth all things” Q2:247
Looking at the two criteria we may ask; did any of the prophet’s companion compare with Imam Ali (AS) with regards to knowledge and bravery? Allah states “Say; are those who know and those who do not know alike? Q39:9. In a well known tradition, the prophet said “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate”. Abu Bakr, the prominent companion has said, may Allah never put me in a predicament that Abul Hasan cannot solve” just as Umar repeatedly said’ if it was not for Ali, Umar would have perished. Ibn Abbas on the other hand has said “my knowledge and the knowledge of the companions of Muhammad (S) is but a drop in seven seas if compared with Ali’s knowledge”. Thus Imam Ali has said about himself “ask me before you lose me. By Allah, if you could ask me about anything that could happen up to the Day of Judgment, I will tell you about it. Ask me about the book of Allah, because by Allah there is no Qur’anic verse that I did not know whether it was revealed during the night or the day, or whether it was revealed on a plain or a mountain” Al-Isti’ab, volume, 3 page, 39. “Is he then who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you, how do you judge? Q10:35
Looking at his bravery on the other side, the Imam’s role in defense of Islam and Muslims was generally acknowledged. Statistically, he was believed to have killed more number of enemies than those killed by other companions put together. Did any of the companions compare to him in Badr, Uhud, Hunain and Khandaq among others? After the non-tactical retreats of famous companions in Khaibar, the prophet said “Tomorrow I will give my flag to a man who loves Allah and His messenger, ever going forward and never retreating, Allah had tested his heart with the faith”. On that very day, he handed over the flag to Imam in whose hands Allah gave the victory. Virtually, the Imam categorically compared to none in knowledge, bravery, brevity, piety and other sterling qualities. But out of envy some fabricated a number of sayings linking same to the noble messenger and his purified progeny for promotions and demotions on selfish grounds. For example, why could not Imam Ali narrate more with his young age, exceptionally gifted talent and retentive memory? Above all, he was the gate of the city of knowledge and wisdom as repeatedly pronounced by the noble messenger. This is the case with his wife Fatima (AS), the great daughter of the prophet who could not narrate but few of her father’s sayings? So also her children described as leaders of youths in paradise by the messenger. However, others transmitted thousands of the prophetic sayings including late converts that accepted Islam few years to the demise of the messenger!
It was from such fabrication that his parents were thrown to hell. Although they loved the prophet and gave him utmost protection for which the messenger described the year of Abu Talib’s death which coincided with that of his wife Sayyida Khadija as the year of sorrow! His wife Fatima was martyred before his eyes at the age of eighteen in Medina. After a very long persecution, the Imam was finally assassinated in Ramadan forty years after hijra while leading the Morning Prayer. And his children were mercilessly martyred one after the other by the Umayyad! The Imam was greatly hated by many including companions for one reason or the other. It was on the basis of that enmity some disallowed the prophetic will to reach his umma! In Bukhari, Ibn Abbas narrated that the prophet was in his last moment and many people had gathered in his house at that time when he said “I want write a will for you so that you will never go astray after me” Some people said “the prophet was affected by pain. We have the Qur’an with us; the book of Allah is sufficient for us” people gathered in the house started opposing one another on this point. When the noise increased, the prophet ordered them to leave him alone.
The questions we may ask include; why was the prophet not allowed to write his will? And what would the prophet write if he were allowed? Could we relate the oft-related sayings of the prophet on his pure progeny as would be the will? In relation to this, Abdullahi Ibn Abbas described deterring the messenger of Allah from writing his will as the greatest calamity that has befallen the ummah. And no doubt, the perpetrators must pay heavily being the cause for all that went astry and confusion witnessed today.
While urging all to strive more to acquire the pleasure of Allah in this sacred month, I wish to redraw the attention of all justice seeking people regardless of all borders to play their role to secure freedom for Sheikh el-Zakzaky, his wife and other disciples. No doubt justice delay is an obnoxious oppression, and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I pray to Allah to protect him, bring an end to the oppression and avenge for all the innocent victims.