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Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom

As Muslims bowed down during the early morning ‘fajr’ congregational prayers in the historic mosque in Kufa, southern Iraq, an assassin armed with a poison-dipped sword rose and struck Hazrat Ali (a.s.), the son-in-law and cousin of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the fourth caliph of Islam.

‘Fuztu bey Rab’il Kaaba’ [By the Lord of ‘Kaaba’, I have succeeded] proclaimed Hazrat Ali (a.s.) as blood oozed from his fatal wound. Members of the prayer congregation that he was leading gathered around him while Abdul Rehman ibn e Muljim, the assassin, was arrested.

So profound was the impact of this monumental tragedy in 661 AD or 40 years after the ‘hijrah’ Islamic calendar began that the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is commemorated to this day from the 19th day of Ramazan till the 21st of Ramazan – the day when Hazrat Ali (a.s.) passed away. The remembrance bears testimony to a life lived to the full in the service of Allah and his followers.

In keeping with past tradition, scores of Muslims will visit the ‘Kufa’ mosque and Hazrat Ali’s final resting place in Najaf, southern Iraq on Sunday, to begin three days of mourning as they pay respect to the legacy of the fourth caliph of Islam.

Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is still remembered as the wisest of the wise and the bravest of the brave among a long line up of rulers in the history of Islam. As the first among men to convert to Islam, Hazrat Ali (a.s.) was closely influenced since childhood by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

His birth on the 13th day of the Islamic month of Rajab ul Murajab still takes Muslims to the Holy Kaaba, Mecca, where Hazrat Ali (a.s.) was born. This gave him the unique distinction of being born inside the house of Allah and martyred too inside a historic place dedicated to Allah, the mosque at Kufa.

In a clear testimony of his profound influence in history, some of the world’s leading scholars have written extensively about Hazrat Ali (a.s.) as a leader, a guide and a teacher, an able administrator, a skilful general and last but not the least, an exemplary individual among pious figures. The multi-faceted personality of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) comes across prominently in ‘Nahj al-Balagha’, a compilation of his sermons, letters and commandments.

Within this record, an oft-repeated document remains a letter that Hazrat Ali (a.s.) wrote to Malik Ashtar, one of his most loyal followers, upon the latter’s appointment as the governor of Egypt – then a province of the Islamic empire. The letter has been repeatedly cited as a model for the successful administration of a state based on justice.

Among prominent international citizens who spoke out publicly to acknowledge this document, the words of the late Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations remain memorable. “The Caliph Ali (a.s.) is considered the fairest leader (after Prophet Muhammad [may peace be upon him]) who appeared in human history, so we advise Arab countries to take Imam Ali (a.s.) as an example in establishing a regime based on justice and democracy. In the times of radical and extremist interpretations of Islam, it is essential to put forward Hazrat Ali’s understanding of Islam to establish a just system” said Mr Annan.

These views followed the original text of the letter where Hazrat Ali (a.s.) advised his followers to embrace humility in ruling over their subjects. “(Do not say) I am your overlord and dictator, and that you should therefore bow to my commands as this will corrupt your heart, weaken your faith in religion and create disorder in the state. Should you be elated by power, ever feel in your mind the slightest symptoms of pride and arrogance, then look at the power and majesty of the divine governance of the universe over which you have absolutely no control”.

Beyond his unparalleled knowledge and wisdom, the example of the bravery of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is often cited in relation to his success on the battlefield. The success of Muslims during the battle of Khaybar is often remembered as an example of Hazrat Ali’s bravery. The event involved a 17-day siege of a well-protected fort held by a Jewish tribe outside Medina.

In the face of what may have looked like a long-drawn standoff, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) proclaimed that he would gave the flag of his army the next day to an able individual who would bring victory. The flag was handed over by the Prophet (pbuh) to Hazrat Ali (a.s.) who single-handedly breached the front entrance of the fort and led Muslims to victory.

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) remains his unparalleled grip on knowledge, laying the foundation for a continued search for knowledge by muslims for times to come.

From his pulpit at the ‘Kufa’ mosque during his five years as caliph, Hazrat Ali repeatedly claimed; “Salooni, Salooni, Qabla Ant’afkadooni” (Ask me, Ask me before I am not amongst you). Since his martyrdom, that claim by Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has never been successfully made by any one in the history of the world.

Farhan Bokhari, "Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom," The News. 2021-05-02.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , United Nations , Islamic Empire , Religion , Democracy , Dictator , Hazrat Ali (a.s.) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) , Kufa