Inscriptions of Naad-e-Ali and the family of Hazrat Ali on Islamic works of art

THE NAAD-E-ALI

INTRODUCED BY HUSSEIN RASHID

Who is the Ali, the universal hero of Islam? The last of those who are known as the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the greatness of Imam Ali (a.s) is best represented by story of Khaybar. The story begins that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) laid siege to the fort of Khaybar, but the walls were so well-fortified that the army could not break through. The Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet Muhammad and told him to recite the naad-e ali:

Nade Ali, Nade Ali, Nade Ali
Nade Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu awnan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin
sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika,
Ya Ali! Ya Ali! Ya Ali!

Call Ali call Ali call Ali,
the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship.
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali

And Hazrat Ali came to the Prophet’s aid, in an act of heroism commemorated in the lines of a qawwali:

The walls shake; the doors quake. Now all of Khaybar trembles hearing the name of Ali?

Ali came and tore down the gate of the fort, and the army of the Prophet crossed over and successfully ended the siege. Ali, of course, was a valiant fighter within in the fort and when victory was achieved, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad again and said to him:

There is no hero but Ali; there is no sword but Dhu’lfiqar

In this one story, how much do we learn about the value of Hazrat Ali in the Muslim tradition? We learn that the Angel Gabriel taught the Prophet a prayer for help and support, and that help and support comes through Imam Ali. One of the most popular stories of the Prophet Muhammad’s battles has as its hero Imam Ali. A fort shakes at the mention of the Imam’s name, because even at this point in the early Islamic period, the power and chivalry of Ali ibn Abi Talib was legendary. And that exceptional position was affirmed by the Angel Gabriel once more when he said, “there is no hero but Ali; there is no sword but Dhu’lfiqar.”

Photo: The British Museum Trust. Copyright.

The inscription by Ottoman calligrapher Fakhri (d. 1618) reads:
“Call upon Ali who causes wonders to appear, you will find him a help to you in adversity, all anguish and sorrow will disappear through your friendship oh Ali, oh Ali, oh Ali.”
The openwork letters are in a cream ink outlined in gold, and are superimposed upon a brown backdrop with tiny sprays of white flowers. The calligraphy is bordered by a blue frame, filled with a gold trellis hung with pink and red blooms. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Photo: British Museum Trust. Copyright.

Alams, or standards, such as the one shown above were carried in religious processions. The shape of the alam also symbolizes the sword of Imam Ali. The inscriptions on the rounded part are in openwork against an elaborate floral background. The words ‘God’, ‘Muhammad’, ‘Fatima’, ‘Hasan’ and ‘Husayn’ are part of a beautiful composition in bold script. The words “Oh Ali’ appear in a roundel above. Along the ‘blade’ of the alam the names are repeated in openwork cartouches. This is one of a pair. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Photo: The British Museum Trust. Copyright.

This lamp was made at the potteries of Iznik in Turkey. The inscriptions in cartouches include on the base the words ‘Allah, Muhammad, Ali’, referring to God, the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib. Mosque lamps such as this served a symbolic rather than a practical purpose. The association between God and light in Islam is emphasized by this verse from the Qur’an’s ‘Chapter of Light’ sometimes inscribed on mosque lamps: “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of his light is as a wick-holder Wherein is a light (the light in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star) kindled from a blessed tree” — Holy Qur’an 24:35-6. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Photo: The British Museum Trust. Copyright.

This carved limestone tombstone is one of the many Fatimid tombstones of females recovered from the cemetery in Aswan. The name of the deceased was Fatima and she died in the month of Jumada II in the year 412 of the Islamic era (September-October AD 1021). The inscription starts with the basmala and continues with chapter 112 of the Qur’an (called surat al-ikhlas, ‘Purity of Faith’). God’s blessings are called on the Prophet Muhammad and his family, then the deceased’s name and date of death are given. The script is in the angular Kufic style but with flourishes at the ends of the letters characteristic of monumental scripts of this period. Muslim graves are usually marked by upright stone slabs – one at the head, the other at the foot of the grave – despite orthodox disapproval of honouring the dead. Inscriptions on tombstones usually recorded the name of the deceased and indicated their faith. The increasing worship of the Prophet’s family at this time is significant. The piety of women is also notable and many of the tombstones recovered from Aswan are those of females. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Photo: The British Museum Trust. Copyright.

This fine steel peacock may have decorated the cross-bar of an alam, a standard carried during religious festivals in Iran. Hazrat Ali and his two sons, Hasan and Husayn, are depicted in the central medallion on the peacock’s fanned tail. The bird is also engraved with stylized inscriptions, princely hunting scenes, human busts and animals in a style typical of the Qajar period (1771-1924) in Iran. Peacocks were symbols of beauty and the pleasures of the court throughout the Islamic world. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Date posted in Simerg: September 21, 2017.

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Credits:

  1. The introduction of Naad-e-Ali has been adapted from Hussein Rashid’s piece Remembering the Heroism and Ethic of Hazrat Ali posted at Simergphotos; and
  2. The captions were prepared from the British Museum’s exhibition on Arabic script. Please visit http://www.britishmuseum.org.

Hazrat Ali (a.s.): “Have a Tender Heart, as Tender as a Fistful of Green Grass”

MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM ON HAZRAT ALI

His Highness the Aga Khan

“This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation.” — His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Aga Khan Foundation, May 14, 1992.

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THE BLESSED

Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,
whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people — Hazrat Ali

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THE KALAM-I MAWLA OF HAZRAT ALI

A page from a manuscript of Kalam-i Mawla. The Institute of Ismaili Studies collection.

Hazrat Ali’s aphorisms and wise counsels got translated into numerous languages across the Muslim world. The Kalame Mawla is a moving poetic rendition of his teachings in Hindustani. The work exhorts the believers to observe virtues such as brotherhood, honesty and generosity. The image shown above is from the manuscript  collection at the Institute of Ismaili Studies and written in a beautiful Khojki hand in Bombay. It was copied in 1908 samvat/1851 by Khoja Alahrakhea Koriji.

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Titles of Hazrat Ali in Kalam-i Mawla

  1. Shah-e Awliya (verses 2 & 182) – the Lord of the friends (of God)
  2. Sahib-e Zulfiqar (verse 15) – Master of (the sword) Dhulfiqar
  3. Wali Maqbul (verse 34) – the accepted friend (of God)
  4. Sahib-e Israr (verse 98) – Master of the (spiritual) mysteries or secrets
  5. Kawsar-e Saqi (verses 102 & 107) – the pourer (of water) at the Pond of Kawthar (in Paradise)
  6. Shah-e Dul Dul Sawar (verses 113 & 130) – the rider of (the horse) Dul Dul; etc.

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Thoughtful Teachings of Hazrat Ali from Kalam-i Mawla

Have a tender heart,
as tender as a fistful of green grass;
be not arrogant and stiff as a tree
upright in a forest;

A tree is toppled in a storm,
but grass bends and sways happily with the wind. — 8:67

When the boat of the heart comes upon a storm,
change direction, and lead it to the shore — 6:47

Gold remains in this world but right conduct (adab) enable you to meet your lord — 3:16

Be as soft as silk — 8:16

The best of wealth is that which is spent in the Name and way of the Lord — 4:22

The waters of a river do not turn back; neither does one’s age — 7:234

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INVOCATION
Nade Ali

Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali
Nadi Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu aunan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin
sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika
Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali

Call Ali, Call Ali, Call Ali
Call Ali who is the manifestation of marvels;
You will find him your helper in calamities.
Every anxiety and grief will come to an end
Through your friendship,
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali.

Date posted: April 19, 2016.

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A Story from ‘Pyara Imam ni Pyari Wato’: Historical Memories by Sairab Abuturabi and Jaferali Bhalwani

Loving Tales of our Beloved Imams: (I) Farazdaq’s Praise and Support of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.)

“…This tale belongs to ages past. It goes back to the era of Hazrat Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.), our third Imam, from whose veins was to ensue the Divine Line of the Imams. He was the Imam who, on the battlefield of Karbala, received the nass of Imamat from his father, Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s.) with the blessing: “Through you the line of Imamat will continue till the Day of Judgment…”

Please click for story

Laylat al-Qadr – A Night Better than a Thousand Months

Compiled by Simerg
with contributions from Karima Maghraby

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

Laylat al-Qadr is the auspicious night when the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) first received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, thereby conferring upon him the mantle of prophet hood at the age of forty.

The Shia Ismaili Muslims observe Laylat al-Qadr on the 23rd night of Ramadan, in keeping with traditions received through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and his wife Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), and the Imams of the Fatimid dynasty. It is a night of special prayer, reflection and remembrance of Allah.

The following verses from the Holy Qur’an describe the loftiness of this night and articulate the importance of the final revealed scripture to mankind:

“Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. What will convey unto you what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. Peace it is until the rising of the dawn.” — 94:5

“(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto you (Muhammad) that thereby you may bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise” — 14:01 

“And celebrate the name of thy Lord morning and evening. And part of the night, prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through. As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day (that will be) hard.” — 76:25-27 

“We sent it down during a Blessed Night”  — 44:3 

“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” — 2:185

Hazrat Mawlana Murtaza Ali (a.s.) the successor of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) to the throne of Imamat is quoted as having said:

“Do not remember God absent-mindedly, nor forget Him in distraction; rather, remember Him with perfect remembrance (dhikran kamilan), a remembrance in which your heart and tongue are in harmony, and what you conceal conforms with what you reveal.” — quoted in  Justice and Remembrance, Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali, by Reza Shah Kazemi, p. 162.

Date posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013

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Readers will be interested in a recently published piece on this blog, Assessing English Translations of the Qur’an, and Links to Translations on the Internet by Khaleel Mohammed (USA)

A collection of additional literary readings and essays inspired by the Holy Qur’an:

The Noble Qur’an –  An Inexhaustible Well-Spring of Inspiration and Knowledge by His Highness the Aga Khan

Literary Reading: Fatimid Scientist, Al Hazen, Inspired by the Spirit of the Qur’an

The Story of Noah’s Ark in the Holy Qur’an

The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an: An Esoteric Interpretation

In the Beginning….The Qur’an and Muslim Thinkers on Creation

“The Blue Manuscript” by Sabiha Al Khemir – An Intriguing Fiction About the Hunt for a Priceless Fatimid Qur’an

Literary Reading: Some Considerations of the Term ‘Imam’ in the Holy Qur’an

Historical Images: The Blue Qur’an from the Fatimid Period, “A Very Spiritual Piece”

A “Thank You” Letter to the Makers of the Blue Qur’an

The Verses of the ‘Immaculate Conception’ of Jesus Christ in the Holy Qur’an and their Lasting Impact on a Christian Emperor

The Birth of Jesus and the Status of Mary in the Qur’an

Historical Images: President Thomas Jefferson’s Copy of the Qur’an

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters. Please visit the Simerg Home page  for links to articles posted most recently. For links to articles posted on this Web site since its launch in March 2009, please click What’s New.

In Celebration of Father’s Day 2013: Excerpts from a Letter of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) to His Son, Introduced by Azeem Maherali

“My dear son, you are part of my body and soul, and whenever I look at you, I feel as if I am looking at myself. If any calamity happens to you, I feel as if it has happened to me. Your death will make me feel as if it were my own. Your affairs are like my affairs. Therefore I commit this advice to paper. I want you to be attentive to it and to guard it well. I may remain longer in your life or I may not, but I want this advice to remain with you….” — from Hazrat Ali’s Letter….Read more excerpts

This fine steel peacock may have decorated the cross-bar of an alam, a standard carried during religious festivals in Iran. Hazrat Ali and his two sons, Hasan and Husayn, are depicted in the central medallion on the peacock’s fanned tail. The bird is also engraved with stylized inscriptions, princely hunting scenes, human busts and animals in a style typical of the Qajar period (1771-1924) in Iran.  Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright

This fine steel peacock may have decorated the cross-bar of an alam, a standard carried during religious festivals in Iran. Hazrat Ali and his two sons, Hasan and Husayn, are depicted in the central medallion on the peacock’s fanned tail. The bird is also engraved with stylized inscriptions, princely hunting scenes, human busts and animals in a style typical of the Qajar period (1771-1924) in Iran.
Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright. Please click on image for reading.

Inspiring and Educational Readings for Yaum e-Ali, the Birth Anniversary of Hazrat Ali (a.s.)

Introduction: The birthday anniversary of Hazrat Imam Ali (a.s.) is commemorated on the 13th Rajab. This festival is celebrated by the Shi’te communities and is observed as an occasion to reflect upon the life and teachings of their first Imam. According to the Shi’a doctrine and tradition, Hazrat Ali  was the foundation (asas) of the institution of Imamah. His designation (nass) by the Prophet upon the Command of Allah (al-amr), to guide the believers after the termination of the institution of Nabuwah is central to the Shi’a theology. The Imam’s function is to continue the teaching (ta’lim) and interpretation (ta’wil) of Allah’s Final Message after the demise of the Prophet.

Today, the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims, in addition to the celebration of Yaum e-Ali, commemorate the birthday anniversary (Salgirah) of their present living Imam (Mawlana Hazar Imam), His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the direct lineal descendent of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Bibi Fatima (a.s.).

His Highness the Aga Khan seen giving his commencement lecture at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpt on Hazrat Ali, from whom the 49th Ismaili Imam is directly descended, is from the address. Photo Credit: American University in Cairo.

His Highness the Aga Khan seen giving his commencement lecture at the American University in Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpts on Hazrat Ali are from the lecture. Photo Credit: American University in Cairo.

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NADE ALI IN OTTOMAN CALLIGRAPHY

Transliteration

Nade Ali, Nade Ali, Nade Ali
 Nade Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
 Tajidahu awnan lakafin-nawaib
 Kullu hammin wa ghammin
 sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika,
Ya Ali! Ya Ali! Ya Ali!

Naad-e-Ali in Ottoman calligraphy. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Naad-e-Ali in Ottoman calligraphy. Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Translation

Call Ali call Ali call Ali,
the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship.
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali

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LINKS TO TWELVE READINGS

The Love for Ali by Altaf Hajiyani

Hazrat Ali’s Example: What We Can Do Today by Pervis Rawji

The Naad-e-Ali, “Call Upon Ali….oh Ali, oh Ali, oh Ali” by Hussein Rashid

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Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,
whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people — Hazrat Ali

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The Wisdom of Hazrat Ali: Selections from Nahj al-Balaghah for Young People (II) – Hazrat Ali

An Englishman Reflects on the Nature of Imam Ali by Barnaby Rogerson

Islam’s Great Striver: Hazrat Ali by Lt. Col ‘Abdullah Baines-Hewitt

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One who perseveres patiently
will not be without success,
even if it takes a long time – Hazrat Ali

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Surrender and Realisation: Imam Ali on the Conditions for True Religious Understanding by James W. Morris

Hazrat Ali’s Principles of Good Governance – Early Muslim Style

The Wisdom of Hazrat Ali: Selections from Nahj al-Balaghah for Young People (I) – Hazrat Ali

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One who is headstrong and opinionated perishes,
while one who seeks the advice of others
becomes a partner in their understanding — Hazrat Ali

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Ethics in the Kalam-i Mawla of Hazrat Ali by Farouk M. Topan

Nasir-i-Khusraw on The Excellence of ‘Ali by Nasir Khusraw

Discourses of Hazrat Ali by Tajdin Dhala

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A MESSAGE BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AGA KHAN FOUNDATION

"The closer you come..." by Akber Kanji, Toronto, Canada

“The closer you come, the more you will know him” by Akber Kanji, Toronto, Canada

“This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, May 14, 1992.

Date Posted: May 22, 2013.

“I Wish I’d Been There” – Volunteeering at the Dawn of the Age of Imamat by Aziz R. Kurwa

In History in Quotations, which reflects five thousand years of World History, authors M. J. Cohen and John Major write as follows:

“Muhammad said:

‘He of whom I am the Mawla (patron), Ali is his Mawla. O God, be the friend of him who is his friend and be the enemy of his enemy.’

“This became the proof text for the Shia claim that Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was the Prophet’s rightful successor after the Prophet’s death in 632. The meaning of Mawla here probably implies the role of patron, lord or protector.”

The authors then sum up by stating that through the use of the term Mawla, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) was giving Mawlana Ali (a.s.) the parity with himself in this function. Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a long serving member of the Ismaili community, takes us to the beginning of Islamic and Ismaili history and imaginatively constructs the role he played as a volunteer on that eventful and historic occasion, a day which was described by one of our readers as “an introduction to a new world order”. Aziz Kurwa was among the thirty-one who contributed to Simerg’s highly acclaimed series I Wish I’d Been There.

Please click on image below or: Volunteering at the Dawn of the Age of Imamat

London, 1979: His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) receiving Fatimid Gold dinars from Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a long serving leader of the Ismaili community who was at the time President of the Ismailia Association for the U.K.

“I Wish I’d Been There” – Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters by Jehangir A. Merchant

In our classic series, I Wish I’d Been There, we had asked our readers to pick up one incident in Ismaili History which they would like to have witnessed. One of the thirty-one contributors for the series, Ismaili missionary (Alwaez), teacher and writer Jehangir Merchant, went back 1400 years to the beginnings of Islamic history and imaginatively constructed a picture of the iconic event when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) raised the hand of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and declared, “He of whom I am the Mawla, Ali is also the Mawla!” Based on authoritative sources, this piece by a long-serving Alwaez shows his vast knowledge and flair, and brings alive a pivotal time in human history as Shia Muslims around the world celebrate the event on 18th Dhul-Hijjah (falling on Friday, November 2, 2012).

Please click Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters

Lourenço Marques, 1958: His Highness the Aga Khan, direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and current 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims is seen taking a keen interest as Alwaez Jehangir explains the Gujarati history texts that were used to impart religious education to Ismaili youth in Mozambique.

A Story from ‘Pyara Imam ni Pyari Wato’: Historical Memories by Sairab Abuturabi and Jaferali Bhalwani

Loving Tales of our Beloved Imams: (I) Farazdaq’s Praise and Support of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.)

“…This tale belongs to ages past. It goes back to the era of Hazrat Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.), our third Imam, from whose veins was to ensue the Divine Line of the Imams. He was the Imam who, on the battlefield of Karbala, received the nass of Imamat from his father, Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s.) with the blessing: “Through you the line of Imamat will continue till the Day of Judgment…”

Please click for story

Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures: A “Thank You” Letter to the Person of the Institution of Imamat by Aziz Kurwa, England

SPECIAL SERIES

A “Thank You” Letter to the Person of the Institution of Imamat by Aziz Kurwa

Please click on image to read complete "Thank You" Letter.

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