In Praise of Hazrat Imam Ali

Knowledge is better than material wealth, because it protects you while you have to protect your wealth…What you get from wealth disappears as soon as your wealth disappears, but what you achieve through knowledge will remain even after you.
Nahj al-balagha, Sayings of Hazrat Ali

Calligraphic Nade-a Ali prayer arranged in the form of a bird. (Image: V&A Museum)

Ali b. Abi Talib (d. 661), cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, is highly revered by Shi’is as the wali Allah, or the “friend of God,” and as the Prophet’s wasi or successor, believed to have been appointed under divine command. In the Shi’i tradition, Hazrat Ali is the first Imam whose progeny through the Prophet’s daughter continues the line of Imamat. In the Sunni tradition, Hazrat Ali is regarded as one of the four righteous caliphs; he reigned as the fourth caliph of the Muslim community from 656 to 661.

In the Shi’i tradition, many of Hazrat Ali’s sayings are recorded alongside those of the Prophet. His sermons, letters, and sayings were collected by Sharif al-Radi (d. 1015) in a work titled Nahj al-balagha (Way of Eloquence), with numerous commentaries on it by Sunni and Shi’i scholars. In almost all Sufi tariqas, Hazrat Ali forms a link in the chain of spiritual masters reaching back to the Prophet.

Hazrat Imam Ali’s wise counsels inspired the spiritual life of Muslims through the centuries and in many lands. His words were translated into numerous languages across the Muslim world. The Kalame Mawla is a poetic rendition of his teachings in Hindustani.

In praise of Hazrat Ali:

Kalame Mawla
Kalame Mawla
(Image:The Institute of Ismaili Studies)

The Prophet said to him [Hazrat Ali]:
‘O Light of my eyes, we were both created from one light.’ Since Ali is
of one light with the Prophet, they are as one person, with no trace of duality.
As the gate to the city of knowledge, he is with good reason the gatekeeper of paradise.”
Farid al-Din Attar in Ilahi-Nama (Book of God)

King of the brave, lion of Allah [and] strength of Allah.
There is no one like Ali…
Of whom I am the master, Ali is the master.
Ali is the king of the brave and the great leader because
after the Prophet there is Ali.
Amir Khusraw, in his poem Man Kuntu Mawla

Farhad Daftary, Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, Scarecrow Press Inc.,Plymouth, 2012
Gujarati and Khojki Manuscript, The Institue of Ismaili Studies Accessed April 2015
Victoria & Albert Museum (Accessed May 2015)

Research by Nimira Dewji

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