THE PRAYER NICHE
WRITTEN BY: MOHAMMAD REZA HAKIMI
TRANSLATED BY: JALIL DORRANI
IN THE NAME OF GOD
THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL
In order to bring to light for our respected readers the incident and manner of martyrdom of Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (A.S.), the immediate successor of the Prophet and the first Imam of the Shias, we shall mention in brief the history and events prior to this incident which in fact led to the martyrdom of Ali (A.S.).
Before the advent of Islam there lived two tribes in Mecca; one was called BANI-HASHIM and the other BANI-UMMAYAH. These two tribes drew their origin from one ancestor that is one grandfather. BANI-HASHIM were the sons of Amro-ibn-Abd Munaf, known by the title of ‘HASHIM’ while BANI-UMMAYAH were the sons of Ummayeh-ibn-Abd Shams-ibn-Abd Munaf. One of the ancestors of these two tribes, Nazr-ibn-Kanaane [In lineage, he stands ninth in number as Abd Munaf’s father and twelveth in number as Holy Prophet’s grandfather, that is Muhammad son of Abdullah, son of Abdul-Muttalib, son of Hashim, son of Abd Munaf, son of Qussi, son of Kilab, son of Murre, son of Ka’ab, son of Lowi, son of Ghalib, son of Fehr, son of Malik, son of Nazr-Quraish...] was known by the title of Quraish.
Thus BANI-HASHIM (sons of Hashim; Hashimites) and BANI-UMMAYAH (sons of Ummayah; Ummayites) were both from Quraish and were called by the names of Quraish and Quraishi.
Since ancient days, MECCA enjoyed a strategic position as it was a junction for commercial caravans and hence a meeting place for various tribes. To this, add the sanctity of Ka’aba which was holy to the Arabs from ancient times because of its construction at the hands of their ancestors Ibrahim Khaleel. Moreover, some had housed their idols there and the existence of idols in that house gave a reverence to tie very town of Mecca in that Arabian Peninsula. People from various tribes used to visit Mecca in order to see that house and perform their traditional rituals in that place.
As such, Mecca held an important status and the two clans - Hashim and Ummayah dominated over it.
However in essence, this domination was completely different and distinct. The domination of BANI-HASHIM was having a spiritual aspect while the direction and domination of BANI-UMMAYAH was material and exploitable in nature. As eminent and trusted ones of the Meccan society of those days, the leading personalities of BANI-HASHIM were a kind of shelter for the people and would strive to solve the problems of the people in the city as well as the problems of those inhabitants and nomads who would settle down in the outskirts of the city.
They enjoyed spiritual support and had faith in the moral values of that time. For example Abdul-Muttalib, the grandfather of Holy Prophet and Ali was a lofty example of this faith. Once he wanted to sacrifice one of his sons Abdullah, father of Holy Prophet before Ka’aba for the sake of God because of the pledge he had offered. Such was the manner and state of mind of the tribe of BANI-HASHIM.
On the other hand, the direction of BANI-UMMAYAH was material in nature. Personal interests and material benefits was all that occupied their mind and their official occupation was commerce. Hence they did not agree to enter into the covenant which the chiefs of BANI-HASHIM had concluded and according to which it was incumbent upon them to give back the right which had been snatched away from the oppressed ones, to live in peace and forgiveness with each other and prevent the powerful ones from oppressing the weak ones or the near ones from transgressing the strangers. As a matter of fact, they stood against it because such a contract was contrary to their material and profit seeking interests.
It can be said that these two paths were having a close connection with the spiritual matters and the essence and morals of the individuals of these two clans and by decree of Taurat, the very spiritualism of the fathers appeared in the sons too1 such that among the sons of HASHIM - Muhammad, Ali, Abdul-Muttalib, Abu Talib, Hamza and Jafar - (overlooking the Islamic aspect) came into existence and among the sons of Ummayah-Abu Sufyan, Muawiya, Yazid, Hakem-ibn-Abi A’as and Marwan-ibn-Hakam came into existence.
By such background it is obvious that when a Prophet comes from God’s side and brings the religion of Islam and calls all towards faith, equality and abstinence from unlawful interests, the virtuous ones would welcome him with open arms. Rather they would hasten towards him with self-sacrifices, struggle and devotion. On the other hand the profit - seekers and interest - worshippers would strive by all means to stand against him. The same happened. After the advent of Islam, their struggle against Holy Prophet continued until he was compelled to leave his birthplace (i.e. Mecca) and migrate towards Medina.
Although Medina the city of Ansars-("انصار" the plural of "ناصر" means ‘helpers’. Since the people of Medina pursued Islam and helped the Holy Prophet, they were called as ‘Ansars’ just as the group of people who
accompanied Holy Prophet from Mecca and migrated with him towards Medina were called as ‘Muhajarins’) welcomed Holy Prophet and helped him in the expansion of his mission, the deviated and materialistic-minded aristocrats of Mecca such as Abu Sufyan, his son Muawiya, Hakam-bin-Abil-Aas and the other enemies of Islam strive every moment for the destruction of Islam. They did not sit idle from instigating and mobilizing the forces against Holy Prophet and the Muslims and from plotting to kill Holy Prophet and fighting bloody wars against the Muslims.
On many occasions Abu Sufyan stood in opposition to Holy Prophet and since Abu Talib (father of Hazrat Ali) was a great and influential figure of Mecca and was the only supporter of Holy Prophet at that time, one day Abu Sufyan told him:-
“Do not stand as an obstacle between him and us.”
I.e. do not aid Muhammad and leave him alone so that we can destroy him. Abu Sufyan had also taken an active part in the conspiracy of ‘Daarul-Nadwa’. (In ancient Arab history ‘Daarul-Nadwa’ was a place of common consultation for civil affairs etc among the people. Before the migration of Holy Prophet the Quraish gathered in this very place and decided to kill him.)
In the battle of Uhud, he stood in the front rank among the enemies of Islam. It was he who initiated the war of ‘Ahzaab’ and caused the death of 70 of the best companions and near ones of Holy Prophet among them being the brave helper and valiant commander of Islam, Hamza-ibn-Abdul Muttalib the uncle of Holy Prophet. In the incident of ‘Aqaba’ (Aqaba is the name of a place where the people of Medina had given allegiance to Holy Prophet for the second time. The disbeliever of Quraish realizing this pact decided to choose one brave man from each tribe so that all of them would collectively kill the Holy Prophet as a result of which the blood of Holy Prophet would go in waste. It was due to this plot that Holy Prophet migrated towards Medina) Abu Sufyan was among the twelve who had laid an ambush for the killing of Holy Prophet.
It was as such until finally on the 8th of Hijrat (when Islam had spread its wings) Holy Prophet advanced victoriously towards Mecca and took over the city with the power of Muslim warriors and Ansars and cleared this holy place from its idols and idol worshippers.
In the incident of victory of Mecca, Abbass-ibn-Abdul Muttalib (uncle of Holy Prophet) brought Abu Sufyan (who was his friend from the period of ignorance) near Holy Prophet and due to insistence of Abbass and fear from his past record of enmity with Islam and the blood which he had shed of the Muslims, he (apparently) accepted Islam.
After becoming a Muslim too, he stood in the front rank among the hypocrites- (double-dealers and internal enemies who had apparently become Muslim but inwardly were the enemies of Islam). Moreover, on many occasions he created sedition and internal differences among the Muslims such as the one after the demise of Holy Prophet and the occurrence of the event of Saqifa Bani-
Sa’eda when he came to Ali (A.S.) and persuaded him to fight for his right and the dismissal of Abu Bakr.
Ali (A.S.) sent him away and refrained from taking any severe action which was detrimental to the interests of Islam. Besides, he did not wish to shed blood near the dead body of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S) nor he wished to be the initiator of an internal conflict among the Muslims.
The Islamic historians have named Abu Sufyan Muawiya and their likes as the ‘Muslims of the victory’ i.e. those who had become Muslims after the final victory of Mecca and after the lapse of 21 years from the appointment of Holy Prophet. For this reason, the Muslims hated them (who, for years had campaigned against Islam and now were apparently displaying themselves as Muslims). For overcoming this hatredness, especially from the future generations, Abu Sufyan thought of a trick. He approached Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and requested him to accept Muawiya to be one of his writers (who was one of those knowing to write).
Although Muawiya (on insistence of Abu Sufyan) became one of the so-called writers of Holy Prophet during the last months of his life, yet he too was similar to his father. He was reckoned to be one of the most obstinate enemies of Islam and Ahl-e-bait of Holy Prophet - an enemy very active and an enmity, which unfortunately did not leave him (even) till the time of his death. For this reason, some of the great personalities of the beginning of Islam and the disciples of the companions had not reckoned him to be a believer too. Many traditions have come rebuking Muawiya. In the book of ‘AL-GHADIR’ (written by Allama Amini) 80 traditions and sayings from Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) Imam Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (ع )the companions, disciples of the companions and other great Islamic scholars have been narrated vilifying Muawiya for his hypocrisy and enmity with Islam which he had till the end of his life.
Ali (A.S.) has named Muawiya and his followers as:
"اَعداءُ ا... وَ السُّنّةِ وَ القرآن"
I.e. the enemies of God and the traditions of Holy Prophet and Qur’an
Ali’s (A.S.) words with regards to Muawiya and his efforts in making the people recognize him are not one or two examples. On one occasion, when he was commanding his army towards the arena of the battle of Siffeen he said:
“March forward towards the enemies of God, the enemies of the traditions of Holy Prophet and Qur’an. March forward towards these remaining ones that have survived from the battle of ‘Ahzaab’; these murderers of the Muhajirs and Ansars.”
Among those great personalities of Islam who have introduced Muawiya one can mention the name of Mohammad-ibn-Abu Bakr, the son of the first caliph. In one letter to Muawiya (which has been narrated in authentic Sunni and Shia sources such as in the ‘Book of Siffeen’ page 132 by Nasr-ibn-Maza’hem Munqari in the year 212; ‘Murujuz-Zahab’ vol.2, pg. 59 written by
Abul Hassan Mas’oodi in the year 346; ‘Commentary of Nahjul-Balagha’ vol.3, pg. 188 written by Ibn-Abil Hadeed Mada’eni Baghdadi in the year 655; ‘Jamharato-Khatabel-Arab’ vol.1, pg. 542 written by Ahmad Zaki; ‘Al-Ghadeer’ vol.10, pg. 159 written by Allama Amini) he says: -
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
From Muhammad-ibn-Abu Bakr to the deviated one Muawiya-ibn-Sakhar: (Sakhar was Abu Sufyan’s name, father of Muawiya)”
“Peace be upon the followers of God those have accepted the Government of that divine man. God brought into existence the creatures with His Majesty, Greatness, Might and Power. He created them without any trouble, weakness or need. Rather He created them so that they be His slaves and worshippers…”
Thereafter, with the knowledge that He possesses (knowledge of reality of the people and things) He resorted to selection and among all the creatures He exalted and selected Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) Then He vested him with His mission and exalted hint to be the recipient of His revelation. He bestowed on him the Prophet hood and made him loyal in the affairs of religion.
Thus the divine books became a beacon for the legislation that was to be established. Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) invited the people on the path of God with virtuous sagacity and counsel. The first person, who accepted his invitation, inclined towards him, acknowledged him, submitted to his commandments and brought faith in Islam was his brother and cousin Ali-ibn-Abi Talib (A.S.). Hazrat Ali (A.S.) brought faith in God and in all the unseen affairs (of God) which Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) used to narrate.
He gave preference to Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) than all his near and dear ones and in every moment of fear he became his shelter and protection. In fact, in every danger and fear he considered Holy Prophet’s life to be his own life. He fought with his enemies and helped his friends. Ali (A.S.) was always as such. He would put his life in stake in moments of danger for the sake of Prophet’s safety. In this manner he became a matchless and unparalleled warrior and a self-sacrificing personality.
Now I see you drawing yourself in the same category as him although you are a different from him and he is different from you - he is a distinguished warrior having taken precedent in all the virtuous affairs. He is the first Muslim and the possessor of the most pure intentions and the chastest progeny. He is the husband of the best of the wives and Muhammad, the best of the men k his cousin. On the other hand, you are the damned one, the son of a damned one. You are the same one who along with your father always fomented sedition in the religion of God and strived in extinguishing the light of God. For this, you kept on amassing troops, went on spending money and associated with the tribes of Arab. Your father died on this very belief (enmity with the religion and Prophet of God) and you succeeded him on this path. The witness that you are as such is your companions who have surrounded you i.e. the ones who have
survived the battle of ‘Ahzaab’ and the ones who are the pioneers of sedition and have enmity with the Prophet of God. Similarly, the witness and proof of Ali’s (A.S.) purity and truthfulness (leaving aside the matter of his manifest virtues and previous record in Islam) is his companions whom God has mentioned and praised their virtues in Qur’an be they Muhajirs or Ansars. They are the (true) soldiers who have now arrayed as warriors around him. They strike with their swords and shed their blood for him because they are aware that his path is the true path of religion and any kind of enmity and opposition with him would result in deviation and wretchedness.
Woe be upon you, ‘O Muawiya! On what basis do you regard yourself as equal to Ali? Although Ali is the heir to Holy Prophet and his legatee and son-in-law, (yet) he is his first follower and the last one to whom Prophet had spoken. Moreover Holy Prophet has revealed the Divine secrets to him and has entrusted him with the affairs of religion. On the other hand, you are the enemy of the Prophet of God and the son of the enemy of God. Now, as much as you can, you may take pleasure from this deviated path which you have chosen and as far as possible Amr-Aas too may help you in this deviation. Your end is fast approaching and your sly hand is gradually becoming sluggish. Soon it shall become apparent as to whose consequence will be a good one? Know that you are playing tricks against God, reckoning yourself to be safe from His revenge and you have indeed become disappointed of His Mercy. God is lying in wait for you and you are heedless. God and the household of Holy Prophet are needless of you. Peace be upon the one who follows the guidance.”
In this manner we come to know that these people’s conversion into Muslims was not based on faith and belief rather, as they comprehended that external enmity with Islam was no longer beneficial to them (or was rather not practical) they accepted Islam and resorted to internal hostility and sabotage from within. They displayed themselves as familiar ones so that they could act strangely and slow down the pace of advancement and influence of Islam and weaken the position of the true leaders (which Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had previously appointed). The same they did. They entered in the fold of Islam and became the top-most hypocrites and foes. They set-up and aided anti-Islamic organizations and parties at various levels. They imprisoned or exiled the eminent companions of Holy Prophet, the possessors of knowledge of religious laws and the challenging Muslims who strived to put the Islamic programmes into practice. They made ugly propaganda against them, burnt them killed them and put them aside from various social spheres of Islam. For example their behavior with Miqdad Kendi, Abu Zar Ghaffari, Ammar Yassir, Malik Ashtar, Muhammad-ibn-Abi Bakr, Abdullah-ibn-Mas’ood, Hujr-ibn-Adi, Amr-ibn-Hameq and the like of these holy warriors. All of them have been recorded in history and are famous in Islam.
In reality, the danger of these people (i.e. the hypocrites) to the Islamic teachings after their conversion into Muslims was much more than before their
conversion. This was because now they had become friendly ones and were striking from the rear. This view has been expressed by most of the eminent personalities of the beginning of Islam and the Islamic scholars-whether Sunnis or Shias. Thus, taking into consideration the historical events and the human wont’s, it becomes apparent that all those who had entered the fold of Islam under some pretext or the other, were not so much pure and sincere believers. Rather, there also existed a group of hypocrites and un-believers among them. In Holy Qur’an there are some verses which points out the danger posed by these group of people under the name of ‘Munafiqs’ and reproaches them. (Sura Tauba Ayat’ No.61 and Sura Ahzaab Ayat No. 57) These ‘Munafiqs’ (hypocrites) which Qur’an has warned the Muslims about them, were not imaginary individuals or people far away from the Islamic land. Rather they were among the Islamic society and apparently appeared to be a section of the companions and sometimes as famous companions. They associated themselves with the Holy Prophet just as according to stipulation of Qur’an, they were vexing him.
In reality, those who were following the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) were of two sections: Some were self-sacrificing believers where Islam and the Muslims are constantly indebted to their sacrifices while some others were not as such. The second section consisted of several groups - those in whom ignorance was still prevailing, those whom the Islamic teachings had negated from any kind of unlawful benefits and satanic power and thirdly those hypocrites and wicked ones who were and are responsible for most of the losses which have befallen upon the religion of Islam. All of them were looking out for an opportunity to strike upon Islam, diminish the full enforcement of its teachings, prevent its instructional influence and tie down the hands of a determined man who was the sequel of Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) (at the time of putting the general Islamic precepts into force). This sure opportunity was subject to the demise of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.). This was because enmity and revenge with Islam and the Muslims was impractical during the lifetime of Holy Prophet, especially during the last few years of his life.
When Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) passed away no body even imagined that except for Ali (A.S.), anyone else could become the leader and take the Holy Prophet’s place. This was because Ali (A.S.) was the legal successor and legatee of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and the Imam of the Muslims. Therefore after the demise of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) the right thing for the influential companions (who recognized Ah very well and were aware that the continuation of the very programs of Holy Prophet was related to him) was to approve his Caliphate (by using their influence) and making him sit in the Prophet’s seat by all means. They should not have with-hold themselves from offering help to his caliphate which was the choice of God and his Prophet. However the Opposite took place. They utilized all their power and influence in preventing Ali-ibn-Abi Talib from taking over the seat of Caliphate. History witnessed a person like Ali
(A.S.) confining himself to one corner of his house for a quarter century. Indeed from the view-point of results, confinement of Ali (A.S.) to his house was not having much of a difference with the measures taken against the movement of Holy Prophet in the initial years of Islam. This was because Ali (A.S.) was not a new entity or possessing a new characteristic in the realm of Islam. Rather, he was the very continuation of Holy Prophet’s existence and action. It is quite obvious that twenty-five years is a period sufficient enough to cause every deviation to take root. The same happened. Conditions changed to such extent and the training of the people inclined so much towards destruction that it was not within one’s power to rectify them. This was especially so during the period of Osman’s caliphate where many groups engaged in amassing wealth, usurping the public treasury and spoiling the rights of the people. All these were instrumental in trampling the visage of Islamic training and metamorphosing the identity of the people.
In this regard, Ali (A.S.) has himself said many painful words such as:
اَلاوَاِن بَلیَّتَکُم قد عادَت کَهَیئَتِها یَوْمَ بَعَثَ اللَّهُ نَبِیَّه (نهج البلاغه)
“You should know that the same troubles have returned to you which existed when the Prophet was first sent.”
That is to say, you have returned back to the same state, conduct and morals, which was prevalent among the people living in the period of ignorance. In the “Covenant of Malik Ashtar” i.e. the written instructions which he wrote for his virtuous and brave disciple and Commander, Malik Ashtar at the time of dispatching him as Governor of Egypt, while recommending him to select the best person for the position of a judge he says:
....فَانظُر فی ذلکَ نَظَراً بَلیغاً ، فَاِنَّ هذالدینَ قد کانَ اسیراً فی اَیدی الاَشرار. یُعَملُ فیه بالهویَ وَ تُطَلُب به الدُّنیا.
“For settlement of disputes among people select him who is most distinguished of your people in your view...
Because this religion has formerly been a prisoner in the hands of vicious persons when action was taken according to passion and worldly wealth was sought after.”
The same occurred. If in case Ali (A.S.) had sat on the seat of Caliphate immediately after the demise of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.), he would have had no more than one fundamental duty - continuing the programs of Holy Prophet. But now he was faced with two important and extremely difficult duties - Firstly returning the people to the same state prevalent in the last few years of Prophet’s life and persuading them to act upon the Islam which Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) had brought. Secondly, continuing that-same state and the same Islam. Now, was these five years which were remaining from his life at that time, sufficient enough to accomplish these two great tasks!?
As per the sayings of the historians despite the odds, Ali (A.S.) was firm in enlivening the Sunnah of Holy Prophet. However, his enemies did not provide him any opportunity to fulfill this task too.
As such, by impelling him to wars in the battlefield and creating various problems for him, these five years too went in waste.
Anyhow, Imam (A.S.) began his caliphate by confiscating and returning back to the public treasury the lands and properties which Osman had once gifted to his friends and relatives. Ali (A.S.) himself said:
“By Allah even if I had found that by such money women have been married or slave-maids have been purchased I would have resumed it (to the public treasury).
Thereafter, he dismissed the previous aristocratic Governors and Governor- Generals such a Muawiya and his likes. These Governors and Governor- Generals were such class of people who were having no concern for religion and people and were ignorant of the essence of Islamic teachings. As such, they were acting against Islam and were having no regard for the rights of the people. On the other hand, the people too were having grievance against them. After this, he came to Kufa and made this city the seat of his Caliphate and the center place for all the Islamic countries.
Now too Ali (A.S.) was the legal Caliph as per Qur’an, Prophet and also the consensus of the people. So anybody who would now oppose Ali (A.S.) would be in fact opposing the Divine Law. Moreover, this opposition as per any belief would be an exit from the domain of Islam and result in discord among the Muslims. Nevertheless, Muawiya did the same and separated the entire Syria from the domain of Islamic Caliphate.
In short, each one of Imam’s enemies ruined the five-year period of his Caliphate in some way or the other Thalha-ibn-Obaidullah, Zubair-ibn-Awwam and Ayesha, daughter of Abu Bakr started the war of Jamal. Muawiya set in motion the war of Siffeen. In this war when the soldiers of Imam (A.S.) were about to gain victory. Muawiya and Amr’Aas thought of a trick and placed the Holy Qur’an on top of the spears. Moreover it was the result of this very hostile trick of Muawiya and Amr’Aas that a group called Khawarij came into existence and started another war by the name of Nahrwan. Imam (A.S.) who had attained his divine and social position (i.e. Islamic Caliphate) alter twenty-five year of confinement could not reorganize the affairs of the Muslims due to the afore-said events. These incidents prevented him from bringing the state of affairs to the same state as in the days of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and turning the Muslims once again as the Muslims prevalent in the beginning of Islam.
Ali (A.S.) was disgusted from class distinctions, inequality of justice and favoring of the aristocrats.
Once Osman-ibn-Hunaif the Governor of Ali (A.S.) in Basra had gone as a guest to one of the houses of an aristocrat. All the guests invited to that house were high-class dignitaries and aristocrats and not the poor and the helpless. Realizing this Ali (A.S.) wrote to him as such: -
“O’ibne Hunaif I have come to know that a young man of Basra invited you to a feast and you leapt towards it. Foods of different colors were being chosen for you and big bowls were being given to you. I never thought that you would accept the feast of a people who turn out the beggars and invite the rich.
Once Ali (A.S.) had gone to a Judge for deciding a case which had come up between him and another one, the Muslim Judge honored Ali (A.S.) more than the other person. To this, the condition of Ali (A.S.) changed and he objected to this type of privilege.
During the period of his Caliphate, Ali (A.S.) delivered many speeches and gave many advises. He gave the Muslims many instructions about Monotheism, theology, Holy Qur’an, greatness of Holy Prophet, social philosophy of Islamic commandments, legal politics, the manner of controlling the society based on religion less oppression, setting up of Justice, looking into the affairs of the weak and helpless, the matter of satisfaction and honor and about one’s position in life.
Ali (A.S.) wrote many letters too. He wrote these letters either as a reply to the letters of others or simply wrote them from his own side to his companions and officials. His letters too are overflowing with those same magnificent matters and teachings, which have come in his speeches and sermons.
Similarly the aphorisms of Imam (A.S.) too (i.e. has advises and short sayings) are overflowing with brightness of reflection, recognition of man and realities of life and tens of other examinations which are valuable and instructive for life, reflection, perception and abstinence (from sins).
A great scholar and writer by the name of Abul-Hassan- Muhammad-Razi-Musavi Baghdadi (died in the year 406 Hijri) collected together a selection of Imams sermons, (speeches) letters and advises in one book and named it as ‘Nahjul-Balagha’. Sayed Razi who himself was a pious, virtuous and reputable scholar complied Nahjul-Balagha on the basis of tens of references.
Among the famous writings of Imam Ali-ibn-Abi-Talib (A.S.) is a letter which he wrote to Malik Ashtar Nakha’ee. This personality i.e. Malik Ashtar was one of the prominent companions and disciple of Imam (A.S.). He was a great scholar apart from being brave, pious and unparallel. Ali (A.S.) had great attachment towards him and highly respected him. When he wanted to send him to Egypt as the Governor-general of that place, he wrote a lengthy instruction for him, which is famous as the ‘Covenant of Malik Ashtar’. In this Convenant Ali (A.S.) discussed numerous matters based on practical Islamic philosophy and Quranic policies and kept Malik acquainted with the essence of social teachings of Islam. This was so that he (i.e. Malik) could lead the Egyptian society like one Muslim ruler and act as the true representative of Imam (A.S.). Among the instructions and guidelines which Imam Ali-ibn-Abi-Talib (A.S.) has expressed in this covenant are as follows: -
To observe piety in principle; to adhere to the Book and Sunnat; to ignore the carnal desires; to have love for the people and to be affectionate to them; not to behave brutally with the people; to overlook the mistakes of the people; not to be remorse of forgiving the wrong-doers; not to feel happy at the time of punishing the criminals; not to take any due advantage of the position and
status; not to be proud and haughty; to reckon oneself to be low and insignificant before the Magnificence and Power of Allah; to control one’s tongue before the people; to shun the feeling of Almightiness and Majesty; to observe Justice for both friends and foes without any distinction; to avoid tyranny; to adopt moderation in all matters; to seek public Justice and public satisfaction; to rely on the mass of people; to refrain from lending ear to the talks of slanderers; to preserve the dignity of the people; not to have any consultation with misers, cowards and greedy people; not to employ the assistant of tyrants and cruel people; to seek the cooperation of good and virtuous people; to pay heed to the facts even though it may be bitter; to prevent providing any opportunity to the flatterers and those who lavish praise; not to treat the good-doers and the evil-doers on equal terms, to behave with the people in a pleasing manner and to do good to them; to ease the Government expenditure; to enliven the worthy customs and traditions; to associate with the scholars and the learned in religion; to look into the lives of soldiers and frontier guards; to have close connection with noble and virtuous people; to mix with the brave, the valiants, the stalwarts and the generous; to support the people and officials having a good record of service; to consider work and service to be the basis for reverence; to entrust the affair of passing judgment to the best, the most knowledgeable, the finest, the most disinterested (in greed) and the most patient person; to hold in high esteem the position of a judge; to employ the officials with utmost care; to keep the most satiated people in the service of the people; to look into the affairs of the officials; to punish the treacherous and to be firm with them; to spend the public fund in the way of public amenities and social welfare; to apply and spread justice in all places and in all affairs; to select the secretaries and managers from the efficient class; to take care of the interest of the traders, businessmen and hard-workers; to prevent them from any kind of infringement, greed and hoarding; to put the scales of justice into effect in purchase and sales; to pay utmost attention to the poor, helpless, sick and weak class of the society; to fulfill the needs of the indigent and deprived ones; to look into the problems of those having no means and channels; not to feign but to be humble before them; to consider oneself to be responsible before every one; to find the unknown and give them their rights; to appoint meek and humble persons for looking after such affairs; to recognize and pay heed to the orphan, the disabled old and the shelter less people; to refrain from shedding unnecessary blood; not to feel proud and haughty of status and position; not to put any obligation on the people at the time of doing some service for them; not to break one’s promise to the people; to treat all equally and respect equal rights; to come to the relief of the innocent; to deliberate over the destiny of the previous generations and follow their virtuous deeds; to keep alive the instructions and traditions of Holy Prophet and to act upon the Islamic commands...
The above sayings are a part of the main topics, which have come in this
The other policies of Ali (A.S.) were that he disliked wars. He was never the first to start the war. Moreover, whenever he was forced to fight due to the attack of the enemies, he would recommend his soldiers as such:
-Never be the first to start the conflict.
-If you are victorious do not kill the escapees.
-Do not do away with the wounded ones.
-Do not plunder their wealth.
-If the women of your enemy say unfair things to you and use indecent words against your leaders and commanders, do not feel disturbed.
Ali (A.S.) was very much worried about illegal expropriation of public wealth and property. Once his brother Aqeel who was blinds and encumbered by a large family requested him to give one صاع (approximately one kilogram) more from the flexed apportionment, One day Ali (A.S.) made hot an iron rod over the fire and kept it on Aqeel’s hand. When Aqeel started to scream due to the burning heat of that iron rod, Ali (A.S.) said:
You scream as a result of an iron, which has been made hot by one human being. Should I not scream from the burning fire, which is caused by the wrath of Allah?
When Thalha and Zubair came to speak to Ali (A.S.), the latter who was busy calculating blew or the candle
-Why did you extinguish the candle?
-I do not wish to speak private affairs under the light of this candle, which is from the public wealth!
Ali (A.S.) was attentive to the training of youths and laid emphasis on entrusting the affairs to those believers who were well trained and experienced. During the period of his caliphate, not even one person could be found in Kufa and its outskirts who had slept with hunger or had been deprived of the basic necessities of life. Kufa had seven districts. A precise statistics of the weak and orphan of each district had been prepared by the عریفان (sheriffs) and based on those statistics all of them were cared and looked after. Moreover some among them were those whom Ali (A.S.) used to take food and other provisions for them. Even the non-Muslim poor were granted their expenses from the public treasury. Once, when he was passing one of the streets of Kufa along with a group of people he suddenly saw a girl holding the hand of an old blind man who was begging. Ali (A.S.) cried: What is this? They replied: He is a Christian.
He said: “Till the time he was young and useful, you employed him. Now you have forgotten him. Give him from the public treasury every month.”
As a ruler, Ali (A.S.) reckoned himself to be the father of the orphans and a friend of the poor. Whenever he used to meet the orphans he would behave with them in such manner that as if he was their father. When others would object
Why do you spend so much of your time in caressing the orphans?
He would reply:
A leader of the society is the father of the orphans. They (i.e. the orphans) should not feel that they have lost their fathers.
He would respect the women and greet them especially on public places. If he would come across a foul-mouthed or an ogle he would correct them by one slap. He would give importance even to the petty problems of the people. To him, one trivial problem was like one human problem. If it happened that a date-seller would refrain from paying back the money to a maidservant who had returned back the dates to him, he would step in to free the maidservant from her distress. On occasions if it happened that a group would decide to cook food collectively, he would take the responsibility of collecting the twigs. If someone would claim something against him, he would present himself before the judge like one ordinary person. With regards to revenue from tax and other revenues, which were exacted from the towns and cities for the Islamic Government, he would recommend that whatever amount was necessary to be spent in the concerned localities. It should be allocated for those localities and only the excess were to be sent for the public treasury.
With the indigent and those without means he would behave in a friendly and humble manner. He was inattentive towards the rich and arrogant people. Whenever the respect of a person was about to be trampled and the human pride about to create destruction he would keep himself in place of that person and withstand such degradation so that no kind of insult was inflicted upon that person.
Ali (A.S.) would recommend all to piety, bravery, nobleness, chastity, human-love, endurance, campaign against injustice, helping the oppressed and other lofty qualities. According to the writers, he was an Imam as well as a champion. Whenever he would see a decline in moral qualities, he would shiver in himself and roar like a lightening. In establishing the truth, he was like a mountain and at the time of spreading affection and conscience, he was like a sea. In front of the oppressors he was like a vicious fire and in front of the oppressed ones he was like a gentle breeze.
Ali (A.S.) would give almost importance to worship, prayers, flitting, Jihad (holy war) and piety. He himself used to worship too much and recommend others to worship God. In the matter of sacrifice and giving priority to other he was a perfect example of a divine man.
The historians have written:-
“He would fast in the days and pass his nights in hunger. As such he would give his nourishment to others. Whenever he used to give some wealth to the poor from the public treasury he would sweep the place of public treasury and then offer his prayers.”
A tradition has been narrated from Hazrat Imam Jafer Sadiq (A.S.) that:
“Ali-ibn-Abi Talib purchased one thousand slaves with his own wealth which he had acquired through work and hardship and then freed them.” (In the way of God). Moreover, they have written that:-
He used to offer prayers and keep fast more than others. People learnt ‘Namaz-e-Shab’ (mid-night prayers), attentiveness in the praise (invocation) of Allah and the ‘Nawa’fil’ prayers (supererogatory prayers) from Ali (A.S.). A callus had formed on his forehead due to lengthy prostration in his prayers. In one of the severe nights of the battle of Siffeen which is famous by the name of "لیلةُ الهریر" [The night of Clamor] a rug was spread out for him. He performed his prayers in the middle of the battlefield and even in such a night he did not shorten his prayers. In that night arrows passed on his left and right and yet he was busy in his prayers. In this manner, by putting into practice the practical philosophy and wisdom of Qur’an, Ali (A.S.) ruled with complete power and clear and proficient politics during the entire period of his Caliphate. And finally his political rivals were not the ones who were victorious. Rather he was killed by the hands of his enemies who according to him, wanted to take revenge from him. As such his Caliphate, which was full of dignity, came to an end with his martyrdom and it was not that, he was weak and got defeated.
Just as it was said before, the entire five years of his Caliphate was overflowing with unpleasant events and numerous hindrances. These measures which were all internal came out in the form of destructible battles like Jamal, Siffeen and Nahrawan. Even though Ali (A.S.) the devout scholar, the conscious worshipper, the wise philosopher, the matchless valiant and the lion of the battle-field cried out to them not to start these battles, yet the old avengers did not pay any heed.
From the other side, Ali’s endeavors for the reestablishment of Islamic principles and restoration of the same situation which was prevailing at the time of Holy Prophet (where he did not provide any kind of opportunity to the egoists and profit-seekers) caused him to discover enemies among the privileged class of Arabs (especially those who had access to unlawful property and opportunities during the period of the third Caliph). Finally the old enmity which was prevalent during the period of ignorance and also in beginning of Islam appeared against this great soldier of Islam. In the midst of the battle of Siffeen, the raising of Qur’an on spears by Muawiya, Amr’Aas and the hypocrites like Ash’as-ibn-Qais-Qendi resulted in the formation of the Khawarij sect. The appearance of this sect gave rise to the battle of Nahrawan. In this battle, the supporters of Imam (A.S.) who were witnessing from close the changes in the baffling belief of the Khawarij and their hindrances engaged in a relentless battle against them and destroyed them. Ali (A.S.) himself striped hard in getting rid of their corruption. In this manner, only a few among the Khawarij survived. The rest were all destroyed.
A few of the Khawarij who had malice against Ali (A.S.) as well as Muawiya left for Mecca. Over there, three among them gathered and declared Ah and Muawiya to be the ones responsible for disheveling the affairs of the nation. One of them said: “Amr’Aas too is the same. Rather, every sedition is from his side.” From here on these three people - Abdul Rahman-ibn-Muljim Muradi, Barak-ibn-Abdullah and Amro-ibn-Bakr Tamimi conspired to go to Iraq, Syria and Egypt respectively and kill Ali (A.S.) and the other two in one night. (19th of Ramadhan, 40. Hijri). Barak went to Syria and at the specified night waited for Muawiya. When he forced down his sword, it hit Muawiya’s thigh but nothing serious happened. Amr’o Tamimi went to Egypt and on the night of 19th Ramadhan laid in ambush in the mosque for Amr’Aas – the governor of Egypt - Incidentally, the same night Amr’Aas fell sick and did not attend the mosque. Instead the Judge of Egypt attended the prayers and as a result got killed.
However, Ibn-Muljim came to Kufa and as few more days were remaining for the night of 19th Ramadhan he stayed in the locality of Khawarij. One day, in one of his friends’ house, he got acquainted with one Khawarij girl by the name of Qatham. He fell in love with her and asked her hand in marriage. Qatham’s father and brother had both been killed in the battle of Nahrawan. For this reason, she had an adamant malice against Imam (A.S.) and was always in search for an opportunity unity to take revenge. Listening to Ibn-Muljim’s proposal she said:-
“My dowry is indeed heavy: the killing of Ali ... This condition made the decision of Ibn-Muljim more decisive. The night of nineteeth Ramadhan approached. In that night, Qatham herself came to the mosque and summoned a few others to help Ibn-Muljim. All of them waited for morn to approach and laid in ambush for Imam (A.S.).
* * *
In that month of Ramadhan Ali (A.S.) used to go every night to one of the houses of his children for breaking his fast. That night of 19th Ramadhan he had gone to Umm-Kulsum his younger daughter’s house.
“That night my father came to my house. He first prayed. I brought a tray which I had placed only two bread of barley, one bowl of milk and a little salt. After finishing his prayers, he looked at the tray and said” ‘My daughter! Why have you brought two kinds of food don’t you know that I follow the ways of the Prophet? My daughter! There is accounting to be given to the legitimate things of this world and there is punishment for the illegitimate things of this world. I swear by Allah that if you do not take away one of these two eatables, I will not eat. I took away the bowl of milk. He ate a little bread of barley along
with salt. He then thanked God and once again stood for prayers. That night, he prayed excessively and lamented before his Lord. That night, he frequently went out into the yard and gazed at the sky and recited sura ‘YASIN’. At dawn as he was leaving the house for the mosque he uttered these words” ‘O Allah! Make death fortunate for me.
At dawn, some ducks, which we were having in the house, came out near the door step and started to whimper and flap their wings in front of him. We wanted to move them away from him but he said: “No, leave them crying out (for)after them there will come the elegists.” Thereafter he made some recommendation about them - ‘O my daughter, these dumb birds cannot declare their hunger and thirst. Either take care of them or set them free.’
Then Imam (A.S.) came to the mosque that night. The lanterns of the mosque were off. In the darkness he performed a few prayers and recited some supplications. Thereafter he climbed the roof of the mosque and recited the ‘Man’ (i.e. called the people for prayers). Whenever he would recite the ‘Azan’, every house in Kufa would hear his call. On top of the mosque, he was constantly remembering God and uttering
لااِله اِلاّ اللّه
(There is no god except Allah)
and sending salutations upon Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) He then came down and woke up all those who were sleeping. Ibn-Muljim who pretended to be sleeping among the people had hidden his sword (which was tainted with poison) beneath his stomach. When Imam (A.S.) came near him, he said:
“Don’t sleep in this manner! It is the way the Satan’s sleep...”
Then he went towards the adytum and stood for prayers. Ibn-Muljim and Shabib (who had come to assist him) took themselves near the adytum. When Imam (A.S.) raised his head from the first prostration, Shabib struck with his sword but it hit the arch of the adytum. Seeing this, Ibn-Muljim rushed forward in haste and struck Imam’s head with his heavy and poison-tainted sword...
At that moment, by paying full attention to the greatness of martyrdom and his own spiritual life, Ali (A.S.) with his blood-tainted head in the adytum of the mosque of Kufa cried out:
فُزتُ وَ ربِّ الکَعبَة
“By the Lord of the Ka’aba, I have succeeded.”
A chaos followed. The people caught hold of Ibn-Muljim and brought him before Imam Hassan (A.S.). With regards to Ibn-Muljim, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) gave the following instruction:
“Act moderately with him. Give him of whatever you eat and have mercy on his anxiety and fear.”
After bringing Imam (A.S.) from the adytum to the yard of the mosque he was then carried to his house. The people of the city became aware and as a result, rushed towards his house. Imam’s condition was not favorable. Only a
few were allowed to see him. The family of Imam and the others became restless from the pain and sorrow of this great catastrophe. Imam (A.S.) himself put up fever due to the pressure of pain and burning sensation of the poison. At moments, when he felt himself to be comfortable he would advice his children and other companions and reminds them of the path of religion and piety. Occasionally he would lose his conscious and at times would regain it back. Once, when he regained his conscious Imam Hassan (A.S.) handed over a bowl of milk to him. Imam (A.S.) drank a little milk from the bowl and ordered the rest to be given to Ibn-Muljim. Once again he recommended about Ibn-Muljim and about his food and water.
Gradually and gradually night approached - the night of twentieth Ramadhan. The same night Imam (A.S.) performed his prayers in a sitting position and every now and then would advice his children. The following day too people were coming and asking questions. Imam (A.S.) asked them to shorten their questions. He then replied to their questions. Hujr-ibn-Adi came and recited a poem in his sorrow. After this Imam (A.S.) informed him that in the near future, he would be called and asked to express his disgust with his Imam and the same happened. But Hujr-ibn-Adi did not give way. He exhibited his steadfastness and true faith to the people of truth.
That day also turned into night - the night of twenty-first Ramadhan. In this night he called his children and family members together and bid them farewell. He expressed his famous will as follows:
....قُولاَ بِالحق، وَ اعمَلاَ لِلاَجرِ
کونا لِلظّالِمَ خَصما، وَلِلمظلوم عَونا
“Speak the truth and act (in expectation) for reward.
Be an enemy of the oppressor and helper of the oppressed.
I advise you (Hassan and Hussein) and all my children and members of the family and every one whom my writing reaches to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order, and to maintain good relations among yourselves.
Keep Allah in view in the matter of orphans. So do not allow them to starve and they should not be ruined in your presence.
Keep Allah in view in the matter of your neighbors, because they were the subjects of the Prophet’s advice.
Keep Allah in view in the matter of Qur’an. No one should excel you in acting upon it.
Keep Allah in view in the matter of prayer, because it is the pillar of your religion.
Keep Allah in view in the matter of Allah’s House. Do not forsake it so long as you live...
Keep Allah in view in the matter of Jihad with the help of your property, life
and tongue in the way of Allah.
Have relation with each other and attend to each other.
Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations. Do not give up bidding for good and forbidding from evil lest the mischievous get positions over you and then if you will pray the prayers won’t be granted...”
After this he fell unconscious for some time. Then he regained his conscious... He turned towards his family members... I entrust you to Allah... May Allah keep all of you on the true and correct path?
‘O the Angels of Allah, salutations be upon you.
And this verse of Qur’an:
لِمِثلِ هَذا فلَیغمَل العَا مِلون
اِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الَّذینَ اتَّقوا وَالَّذینَ هُم مُحسِنون
A few moments later they saw him calmly stuttering:
اَشهدُ اَنْ لاَ اِله اِلاَّ اللَّه. وحدَهُ لاَ شریک لَه
وَ اشهَدُ اَنَّ مُحمّداً عَبدُهُ وَ رَسولُه