I Wish I’d Been There
By Tajdin Dhala
From the very day of Hazrat Ali (a.s) being designated as the Mawla by the famous prophetic proclamation at Ghadir-Khumm - “He of whom I am Mawla of him Ali is also the Mawla” - till his demise, a span of twenty four years, the Imam delivered sermons and discourses to the faithful.
“I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate; so whoever desires knowledge, let him enter the gate” so had the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) addressed the community. Hazrat Ali’s discourses are valued not because he was the first Imam or the fourth of the rightly guided caliphs but because of their ‘intrinsic worth, their intellectual profundity and spiritual fecundity.’
Referring to relationship to the Prophet, Imam Ali in a sermon said:
“When I was but a child he took me under his wing….I would follow him as a baby camel follows the footsteps of its mother. Every day he would raise up for me a sign of his noble character, commanding me to follow it. He would go each year into seclusion at (the mountain of) Hira. I saw him and nobody else saw him. At that time no household was brought together for the religion of Islam, except (that comprising) the Messenger of God, Khadija and myself as the third. I saw the light of the revelation and the messgage, and I smelt the fragrance of the prophecy.”
In regard to the most formidable battles, ‘al-jihad al-akbar’ of the soul, the inner struggle, Imam Ali prescribed the following solutions:
“Struggling against the nafs through knowledge – such is the mark of the intellect”
“ The strongest people are those who are strongest against their own nafs (self, desires)”
“Truly, one who fights his own nafs, in obedience to God and does not sin against him, has the rank of the righteous martyr in God’s eyes”
“The ultimate battle is that of a man against his own nafs”
“He knows his own nafs fights it”
“No jihad is more excellent than the jihad of the nafs”
During the caliphate, Ali appointed one Malik al-Ashtar as his governor of Egypt and sent him a letter. From the historical point of view the letter has been a source of inspiration down through the centuries, being read as an ideal contribution for the Islamic governance, complementing – through its relatively detailed description of the duties and rights of the ruler and the various functionaries of the state and main classes of society – the more general framework of principles enshrined in the famous Constitution of Medina dictated by the Prophet.
Numerous sayings of Imam Ali appear in Khutbatu ‘l-Bayan as follows:
“ I am the proof (hujjat) of Allah against those who are in the heavens and on the earth.”
“ I am the interpreter of the revelation of Allah; I am protected (from committing errors) by Allah.”
I Wish I’d Been There to participate at Imam Ali’s sermons and discourses for twenty four years.
About the writer: Born in Mombasa, 1931, Tajdin Dhala completed his secondary school education at the Aga Khan High School and then set sail for the UK in 1948 for higher education where he obtained a degree in commerce as an external student of London University at the Regent Street Polytechnic.
Upon returning to Mombasa, he began serving in various capacities in Aga Khan Schools and the Aga Khan Education Board. He became a member in charge for a school for the handicapped. He then served as the Hon. Secretrary and Chairman of the Ismaili Provincial Council until 1975. Subsequently, he was recruited by Serena Group, Nairobi, and then the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi to work in the Material Managements sector.
After his retirement in 1998, Mr. Dhala joined his two daughters in London, and continued serving in an honoray capacity as a support staff in Baitul Ilm. He is currently in Malaysia where his son and family reside.
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