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Ali the martyr

As blood oozed down profusely from the forehead of Hazrat Ali (a.s) where he was struck with a poison dipped sword during the fajr prayer inside the historic Masjid-e-Kufa, his prophetic words spoken immediately thereafter will be remembered for all times to come.

“Fuztun bi Rab il Kaaba” (I swear upon the lord of the ‘Kaaba’ I have succeeded) pronounced Hazrat Ali as his sons and companions scrambled to bring him relief following his fatal injury. To onlookers, it was immediately clear that Hazrat Ali (a.s) could not survive the fatal wound. And so came the end of a powerful life of an iconic figure, revered by many as the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the husband of Bibi Fatima (a.s). The remembrance of the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali to this day, almost 1400 years after his departure, bears testimony to his enduring influence for all times to come.

The three-day annual remembrance of the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (a.s) will begin tomorrow (Thursday), the 19th day of Ramazan, when he was fatally wounded, and will last till Saturday the 21st of Ramazan, marking the day when he passed away. Mourners of Hazrat Ali during this time will visit historic sites associated with him, notably the Masjid-e-Kufa in Kufa, Iraq, or the nearby modest home in Kufa where Hazrat Ali (a.s) lived with his immediate family. The final resting place of Hazrat Ali in Najaf, the spiritual city of Iraq, has witnessed a fast-rising number of visitors especially at this time every year – a sharp rise since the departure of Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussain led to the relaxation of the tight travel restrictions imposed earlier.

Born inside the holy ‘Kaaba’ and martyred in a mosque, Hazrat Ali (a.s) spent an exceptional life in the service of Islam. Known to this day as the bravest of the brave and the wisest of the wise, there’s no single quality to define Hazrat Ali’s character. Some of his sermons, letters and guidelines on vital matters have been documented in ‘Nahjul Balagha’ – a comprehensive book which compiled the teachings of Hazrat Ali (a.s).

In a widely celebrated book titled ‘Ali The Magnificent’, respected Muslim scholar Yousuf N Lalljee wrote; “In his attempt to establish God’s kingdom on earth, he [Hazrat Ali] was constantly beset by enemies who wanted to extinguish the torch of Islam, and whose activities were resented as they were carried out in the name of God and religion. Pitched as he was against envy, hatred and malice, he [Hazrat Ali] never permitted himself to falter or to stray from the path of right, even though his singleness of purpose was to cost him his life”.

George Jordac, a respected Lebanese Christian scholar in his ground-breaking book ‘The Voice of Human Justice – A Biography of Imam Ali (A.S)’ praised Hazrat Ali when he wrote; “His [Hazrat Ali] entire life was dedicated to the support of the oppressed and the helpless so that he might realize their rights from the tyrants who considered themselves entitled to usurp the rights of others on account of noble descent and racial discrimination…His worship was in fact a continuous effort and a campaign against mischief for the sake of human life and prosperity”.

Beyond his wisdom, Hazrat Ali (a.s) was widely recognized for his exceptional bravery notably on the battlefield of ‘Khaybar’ – an exceptionally well fortified camp belonging to members of Jewish tribes, just outside Medina. After the Muslim army faced several days of resistance, Hazrat Ali (a.s) under order from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) finally led the charge and breached the well built defences before raising the Islamic flag on a well built fort. To this day, the title ‘Fateh-e-Khaybar’ or the conqueror of Khaybar remains reserved just for Hazrat Ali (a.s). In a separate well-documented instance, Hazrat Ali (a.s) slept in the bed of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to facilitate the Prophet (pbuh) to travel safely to Medina while the non-Muslims of Makkah prepared to raid the home of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Armed with such a comprehensive personality, it is not surprising that far beyond the shores of the Islamic world, the influence of Hazrat Ali (a.s) is found widely among non-Muslim scholars who have carefully studied the life of Hazrat Ali and written about him extensively.

In a landmark statement, the late Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, described Hazrat Ali (a.s) as “the fairest governor who appeared during human history (after the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh])” while advising Arab countries to emulate the example of Hazrat Ali for “establishing a regime based on justice and democracy and encouraging knowledge”. Annan stood out among a long list of respected individuals who felt compelled to speak of Hazrat Ali (a.s) as a towering individual in the history of humankind.

Email: farhanbokhari@gmail.com

Farhan Bokhari, "Ali the martyr," The News. 2022-04-20.
Keywords: Law and Humanities , Human history , Islamic world , Masjid-e-Kufa , Worship , Dictator , Humankind , Hazrat Ali (a.s) , Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) , Iraq , Medina