Imam Ali (as), whose Imam is he? 3

3. Imamul- Najin (The Imam of the Whisperers to God)

Supplication, invocation and communication with God depend directly on the level of people`s knowledge and trust in God. The more one knows about God the more the person communicate with Him and approaches Him in his needs. From the Islamic point of view, it is recommended that any Muslim organizes his days into three portions;

1. For communication with his Lord
2. For his livelihood
3. Halal and permissible pleasures.

It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s), “Ameerul Mo’mineen was a man who used to whisper a lot to God through supplications.”(1) Several years after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s), Dherar ibn Dhamrah arrived at Moawiyah. Having seen one of the companions of Imam Ali (a.s) Moawiah asked Dherar to describe Imam Ali (a.s) to him. Dherar requested that Moawiah excuse him on that but Moawiah insisted. Finally, Dherar opened his mouth and described his most beloved Imam. Part of his description reads, “I swear to God that one night I saw Imam Ali on his prayer mat holding his beard and moaning in tears like the one that a snake has bitten, as if the echo of his voice is still in my ears saying; “O my Lord.

O my Lord. Addressing the pleasure of this world he was saying; ‘You want to deceive me! Are you trying to encourage me to yourself? How impossible! How impossible! You may deceive other than me. I have divorced you three times. How short your life is? How low your position is? How easy you can put one into danger. Ahhhh. Ahhhh. Because our provision is so little, and the journey is so long and the path is so lonely.”

As Dherar was narrating the holy words of the Imam, Moawiah along with his councilmen were all in tears wiping his tears with the comb of his attire. He then said, “Indeed Abul Hassan (the father of Hassan) was like this. O Dherar! how is your life without him? Dherar with a deep sorrow said: “Like the life of the one whose most beloved one is beheaded at his bosom whose tears have no end and his grief cannot be eased. He then stood up and left.”(2)

The supplications of Imam Ali (a.s) are so many that books have been compiled as a collection of his supplications. For nearly every occasion there is a supplication narrated from Imam Ali (a.s), such as the famous Doa’ Kumail, Munajaat Sha’baniyah and numerous other supplications. There are even specific supplications narrated from Imam Ali to be recited at the time of entering Salat, the wearing of your clothes, sleeping, waking up, eating, drinking etc.

4. Imamul Hakimeen (The Imam of the Rulers)

Political and high position in society is a rank that many wishes to have. How many mischievous plots and deceits many people may commit to achieve a political position. Campaign elections of the candidates of the presidency or even as simple as being a counselor of a local council are examples that we observe in our day to day transactions. Following the Machiavellian political philosophy of ‘the end justifies the means’ they involve themselves in any type of deceit and fraud and give false promises just to gain a mere seat.

Political position and the ruling of subjects were less valuable for Imam Ali (a.s) than the sneezing of a goat(4) or a worn pair of shoes unless the position will enable him to bring to ease the oppressed or implement social justice.

Ibn Abbas narrated: “I saw Ali ibn Abi Talib sitting and repairing his shoes. I said, ‘It is better you spend your time on repairing the social affairs.’ He ignored me until he finished with his shoes and then asked me how much the value of his pair of shoes was. I said that it had no value. He insisted that I may price it as it was. I said: “Well! A fraction of a dirham”! Imam Ali then said: “By Allah, this pair of shoes is more favorable to me than leading your political affairs unless I can stand a right and diminish a falsehood!”(5)

It was in the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales that I heard for the first time that a solicitor was addressing the judge: ‘Your Honor!’ I was then wondering if the ‘honor’ was really to the judge or his position. Would he be still honored if he had retired?! What we usually don’t realize is that the honor and respect that people offer to us is metaphoric, it is in fact, the position that they honor not the person. Thus, once we lack the position the so-called honor also disappears. There are however few exceptions in history.

Abdullah son of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (the Imam of Hanbalis) said: “One day I was sitting with my father where a group of people were discussing the Caliphate of Abu-Bak, Omar, Othman and Ali. When my father noticed that their conversation was taking long he turned around said: “Indeed, the caliphate did not give any honor to Imam Ali, rather he honored the position of caliphate.”(6)

Indeed, such was the position for Imam Ali (a.s) as Sir William Muir said: “It was rather thrust upon him than sought.”(7) During his leadership he was informed that the army of Muawiah had invaded a village and seized the torments of a Jewish lady. He felt so grieved and anguished with the news that he said: “If any Muslim dies of grief after all this he is not to be blamed but rather there is justification for him before me.”(8)

Imam Ali (a.s) as the head of the then vast Islamic country. Nevertheless, he went to the market with his servant Qanbar to buy two shirts, one for himself and one for his servant. He bought the shirts but gave the more elegant and expensive one to Qanbar and kept the simpler one for himself. When Qanbar surprisingly complained that he was a leader and it would be more suitable for him to wear the more elegant one, Imam Ali (a.s) replied: “But you are younger and it’s more becoming on you and I can manage with the one I have chosen.”

Where on earth can humanity find such leaders? The Muslim Shia has such an exceptional role model and unless they live on that line they cannot reclaim that Imam Ali (a.s) is their Imam.

His judicial system was one of the most just in existence. Thus, all citizens irrespective of their background felt safe to call to the court whoever they had a complaint about. The story of Imam Ali (a.s) as the leader of the country and a Jewish subject on the issue of the stolen armor is well known. To cut a long story short, Imam Ali (a.s) was so just during his political leadership that he is titled by even non-Muslim historians “The Voice of Human Justice.” Others have regarded his justice the actual cause of his martyrdom as tyrants and mischief makers could not tolerate and live with his justice.

5. Imamul Mutasadiqeen (The Imam of the Charity Givers)

Man’s duty in Islam is twofold. One in relation to him and his Lord; the Almighty God in the sense of worshipping and other rituals, and the other in relation to his fellow humans and creatures around him.

The examples of Imam Ali’s generous and sincere charity giving are more than what I can mention in this brief lecture. An Ayah (verse) (9) in the Quran is solely practiced by Imam Ali (a.s). Also, he is the unique example of the one who gave charity whilst he was bowing in Raku’ about which Ayah(10) is revealed. An Ayah(11) revealed to the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.w) to eternally mark the most sincere and generous donation of Imam Ali (a.s) and his family.

Unlike nearly all people whose wish in their life is to extend their wealth and investments Imam Ali’s wish was to increase his ongoing charity. Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrated from Imam Ali (a.s): “At the time of the Prophet of Islam, I was starving so much that I had to firmly wrap my stomach with a stone but today thanks to God I can give forty thousand (dirham) for charity.”(12)

Imam Sadiq (a.s) describing the amount of charity that Imam Ali (a.s) used to give says: “By Allah, Ameerul Mo’mineen purchased one thousand slaves and freed them for the sake of God and to be able to afford it he worked even till his hands were badly worn and wounded.”(13)

The aspects of the leadership of Imam Ali (a.s) and his role-model characters are not limited to the above-mentioned points. He is undoubtedly the Imam of al-Mottaqin (the pious people), the Imam of al-Zahedin (those not desirous for worldly pleasures), the Imam of al-Mowahhedin (monotheists), the Imam of al-Fosaha’ (the eloquent), etc.

By: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

NOTES:

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1. Al Kaafi .vol. 2 ,p. 468

2. al-Isti’aab, vol. 3 p. 209

3. For instance, see ‘al-Adiye al-Alawiyyah’ by Seyyed Hashim Rasooli Mahalati in which he has complied about 150 supplications of Imam Ali (a.s).

4. (Nahjul Balagha Sermon 3)

5. al-Irshaad vol.1 p. 247 and similar story is mentioned in Nahjul-Balagha, Sermon 33

6. Mosoo’atul-Imam Ali, vol. 8 p. 409

7. The Life of Mahomet, London 1877, p. 250

8. Nahjul-Balagha, Sermon 27

9. The Holy Quran 58:12

10. The Holy Quran 5:55

11. The Holy Quran 76:5-22

12. al-Mosnad vol. 1 p. 334

13. al-Kaafi vol.8 p.165