By Altaf Hajiyani
Hazrat Ali (a.s) the first cousin, son-in-law, first male convert and the champion of Islam is revered, loved, and respected by all communities in Islam. However, this affection is at different levels for different Tariqah’s within Islam. For Shia Muslims he is at the center of their spiritual guidance and the very first Imam and rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s). The Sunnis regard him as one of the four rightly guided caliphs.
The affection that Shias and Sufis as well as other Muslims hold for Ali is not unusual as it was the Prophet himself who showed his profound feeling for Hazrat Ali right from the time he was born in the House of God, the Kaaba. Indeed, it is said that when Hazrat Ali was born he did not open his eyes, nor his mouth till the time Prophet Muhammad took him in his hands.
Ali is the one who climbed Muhammad’s shoulders to bring down the idols in Kaaba. He defended and fought valiantly for the glory of Islam in major battles including those of Badr, Uhad, Khandak and Khyber. At Khyber, which is regarded as the climax of all the battles, the Holy Prophet entrusted the command to Ali – “the beloved of Allah” – after a series of unsuccessful attempts to defeat the enemy. Wasn’t it Hazrat Ali who put his own life in danger when Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina?
Hazrat Ali was not only the Prophet’s cousin, son-in-law, or the first convert to Islam, but he was the one who bore the same light as the Holy Prophet. According to a number of well known hadiths, the Prophet had proclaimed that “Ali and I are from same light” and “People are from various trees, but Ali and I are from the same Tree.” Hazrat Ali was married to Hazrat Bibi Fatima, the daughter of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. With their two sons Hussain and Hasan, the five together are known as the Ahl al-Bayt.
The Prophet had said that Ali was to him as Aaron was to Moses, except that there would no prophet after him. In one specific incident in the presence of some of the closest companions of the Prophet, Hazrat Ali had said “Ask, ask what you want to know about the Qur’an and I shall inform you about it.” Thus the reference to Hazrat Ali and his descendants as al-Qur’anu ‘n-Natiq.
For all Shia Muslims, the love for Hazrat Ali and his descendants is of the utmost importance and priority. He was divinely ordained as the Prophet’s successor. Ali is also one of the 99 most beautiful names of Allah. According to a famous Shia tradition Ali had said, “Ana nukhtatan Ba” (i.e. I am the dot under the Ba of Bismillah).
I Wish I’d Been There to witness some of incidents which occurred during the life of Hazrat Ali, showing him as Islam’s defender and champion as well as to observe the mutual love that he and Prophet Muhammad carried for each other.
About the writer:Altaf Hajiyani of New York is a keen student of the history of Islam and its varying interpretations, with a special focus on the articulation of the Ismaili tariqa in all its forms. He teaches 10th grade in REC and also is an educator/teacher in the US religious education system. He graduated with an MS in Technology Management from New York University.
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