Thinking about the beginning of the Qur’an.
Thinking about the line of Imams.
The Qur’an begins with the fatihah.
There is a tradition that the entirety of the knowledge of the Qur’an can be found in the fatihah; the entire fatihah is contained in the first line, bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim, everything in that phrase is found in bismillah; all of that knowledge is found in the first letter, beh – a boat-shaped letter with a dot underneath; all of the knowledge of the beh is found in the dot, and that dot is Hazrat Ali.
The Fatihah begins our prayers; it begins our interaction with revelation.
All of that is encompassed in a dot.
That dot is Hazrat Ali:The dot is the father of sufism; The helper of downtrodden; The seer who appears in dreams of Sufi's; The first dot of the Qur’an; The door to meaning of the Qur’an; The beginning of the line of Imams: The king of all Sufi's!
Who is the king of men?
Who is the Lion of God?
Who is the hero without peer?
Who is Hazrat Ali?
No figure in the early history of Islam, except the Prophet himself, has been the locus for so much controversy and debate as that of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. These controversies exist on more than one level, ranging from questions of politics and history to issues in theology and metaphysics. Today, there are forces conspiring to declare the Zikar of Ali as blasphemy and bidaat.
Abdul Qadir Jilani tells how the Prophet taught Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib the basic lesson concerning the remembrance [dhikr] of Allah.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib once asked the Prophet "Which of the methods [turuq] is nearest to Allah, easiest for His servants, and most praiseworthy in His sight?" The beloved Prophet replied:
"O Ali, you must make it your constant practice to remember Allah (Exalted is He) in private moments and places." Imam Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) then went on to say, "Can such be the merit of remembrance [dhikr], when all the people are remembering all the time [since they frequently exclaim ‘Allah!’]?"
"This is no light matter, O Ali," said the Prophet , "for the Final Hour will not arise, so long as there is still someone, somewhere on the face of the earth, who is saying: ‘Allah, Allah!’"
This prompted Imam Ali to ask, "How should I practice remembrance?" So the beloved Prophet told him:
"Listen to what I say three times, then you say it 3 times, while I do the listening. "Then he said : "La ilaha illa 'llah [There is no god but Allah]" - 3 times, closing his eyes and raising his voice while Imam Ali listened. Then Imam Ali said: "La ilaha illa 'llah [There is no god but Allah]" - 3 times, closing his eyes and raising his voice, while the Prophet listened in turn.
Fana fi AliCall Ali call Ali call Ali
Call Ali, the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship. O Ali, O Ali, O Ali
Imam Ali is the spiritual ruler of the inner [unseen] life. He is the Ghaus al Saqalain, which means that he responds to the cries for help coming from [the inhabitants of] both the worlds. Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlavi said that the second type of Caliphate that emanated from the Holy Prophet Muhammad was the spiritual legacy of ‘internal (hidden) sovereignty’ or khilaafate baatini or Imaamate baatini. This spiritual legacy of the Holy Prophet was known as wilaya (spiritual sovereignty) and imamah (spiritual leadership).
The hidden caliphate is exclusively a spiritual office, being not an elective and consultative issue but a selective act, selected by Allah, therefore the declaration of the first Imam of spiritual sovereignty — Ali al-Murtaza — required neither anybody’s proposal nor support for it is Allah’s selection. Therefore, the Holy Prophet declared it at Ghadir Khumm Pond of Khumm.
Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer writes in the book ‘Ganj-e-Asrar’: “Unless a Salik follows Hazrat Ali and unless he has a true [genuine/deep] relationship with him in his heart and soul, not even a thousand years of austerity and efforts to subjugate his carnal self will give him even an ounce of gnostic knowledge, except those whom Almighty God might favor with His Grace.”
Khwaja Junaid, of Baghdad, said that Ali Ibn Abu Talib is our forerunner on the path of mysticism, for he is the one who has shown us the way to that [spiritual mystery] which dwells in the heart. He is the one who, after the days of our Nabi has pointed to God’s Truths.
The Door to Knowledge
When he was enthroned, Hazrat Ali said to the crowd in front of him" ask me before you lose me for I hold the knowledge of beginning and the end"
I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is the gate.
Imam ‘ Ali presented learning not only as a practical matter – for instance, as a means to prepare for employment as it is often seen today – but also as an essential component of the spiritual development of a sufi. Imam ‘Ali described the intellect as a ‘ladder to the ‘Illiyyin [the loftiest parts of Heaven]’.
According to Imam ‘Ali , knowledge also facilitates our spiritual growth by enlivening our hearts since knowledge is – in the words of Imam ‘Ali (as) – ‘the life of the hearts and the light of the eyes from blindness’.
Imam ‘Ali said that ‘a person whose intellect is perfected regards carnal desires with disdain.’Rather than being controlled by his or her desires, a person with true intellect controls them, thereby coming closer to the level of the angels – who have intellect but no desires – rather than sinking to the level of the animals.
As Imam ‘ Ali said, ‘Knowledge commands, action drives, and the carnal soul is the obstinate mount’; developing the intellect helps us to tame the nafs.
Imam ‘ Ali said, ‘Whoever remembers Allah, glory be to Him, Allah enlivens his heart and illuminates his intellect and the innermost core of his heart.
The following passage from the Nahj al-Balaghah speaks of esoterism and knowledge of Ali:
"Here (and he pointed to his heart) I have abundant knowledge, if only I could find people to bear it. Unfortunately, I have found learners who are not faithful to it, applying it to the devices of belief in this world Thus does knowledge die out with the passing of its bearers. O God! Certainly the earth is not devoid of those who rise in honor of God for good reason, either openly and notably, or in fear and obscurity, so that the proof and clarifications of God may not be in vain. But how many are they, and where are they? They are, by God, fewest in number but greatest in rank with God. By them God preserves the divine proofs and clarifications until they entrust them to others like them and plant them in their hearts of others like them. By them knowledge enters into real insight, and they are imbued with the spirit of certainty.They consider easy what seems hard to those who lead a life of comfort, and they take to what the ignorant are averse to. They are physically in the world, yet their spirits are suspended in the highest liberation. They are the deputies of God on earth, and are those who invite people to the religion of God. Oh, how I long to see them!"
Here ‘Ali was speaking of none other than the esoteric teachings of Islam and the idea of the khawass, or spiritual elite. He was speaking of the true mystical knowledge, which can only be carried by those who are transformed by its truths.
This is why it dies out with the passing of its bearers; books cannot convey such knowledge, they can only speak of it. He also echoes here the fact that many are called, but few are chosen, making note of those who did not make proper use of what he had taught them.
Even in the time of ‘Ali those qualified to receive spiritual teachings and pass them on to others like them were in the minority, although sanctity was of course much more widespread.
O ‘Ali, thou art all mind and eye, relate a little of that which thou hast seen!
The sword of thy forbearance has rent my soul, the water of thy knowledge has purified my earth.
Tell it forth! I know that these are His (Gods) mysteries, because tis His work (way) to kill without sword
Thine eye has learned to perceive the Unseen, (while) the eyes of the bystanders are sealed
Inasmuch as the moon (even) without speech is showing the way, when it speaks it becomes light upon light.
Since thou art the gate of the city of Knowledge, since thou art the beam of the sun of Clemency,
Be open, O Gate, to him that seeks the gate, so that by means of thee the husks may reach the core.
He whose mowla I am, Ali is his mowla
In the Sufi tradition it is related that the Prophet once said to ‘Ali, You are of the rank of Aaron in relation to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me.
Perhaps we may examine this statement in light of the prophetic hadith stating that there will be ulama (those endowed with knowledge) of my ummah who will be of the rank of the prophets of the Children of Israel.Here we can draw a parallel between the spiritual function of at least some of the Hebrew prophets with the great saints of Sufism, lines beginning respectively with Aaron and ‘Ali. No Hebrew prophet after the Sinatic revelation was of the same rank as Moses, just as no saint in Islam could duplicate the role of the Prophet.
The Nahj al-Balaghah is replete with passages where ‘Ali is giving answers of a theological nature to questions of the nature of God and the cosmos. Notably, we find eloquent descriptions of tawhid, or the Doctrine of Divine Unity, which are expressed with in Arabic of almost matchless conciseness and power
The Prophet said, O People, among you is one who struggles with the interpretation (tawil) of the Qur’an as I struggle with its revelation (tanzil),referring to ‘Ali.
‘Ali himself said, No verse has been revealed without me knowing for what it was revealed, and where it was revealed.
The towering figure of Qur’anic commentary Ibn Masud said: The Qur’an has been revealed with seven readings, each with an inner meaning and an outer. Ali ibn Talib knows the outer (al-zahir) and the inner (al-batin).[The Sufis have always held that each verse of the Qur’an holds meaning upon meaning, revealing truths much deeper than the surface meaning of the text, a meaning that is of course also true on its own level. Some have assigned four levels of meaning, others seven.
These numbers must be understood metaphorically, of course, since in principle the meanings of each verse are infinite. Ibn Arabi said that each time one reads a verse a new meaning should be made clear. Therefore, when Ibn Masud said that ‘Ali knows the inner and outer meanings, this means that he was qualified to interpret the symbols (ayat) of the Qur’an. He was a seer whose eyes could penetrate behind the veil of words and time.
The springtime of a friend of Ali is always full fo the efflorescence of Ali.
None deserves eminence and praise among the people except he who befriends Ali.
The heart of every Shi’i is protected from Satan in the fortress of Ali.
As Ali is from the Prophet’s family, the true Shi’i belongs to the family of Ali.
A hundred years of praise is not equal to even one in a thousand praises of Ali.
Courage, knowledge, abstinence, generosity: these are the qualities I revere in Ali.
Therefore, my back is bent with gratitude under the weight of the favours of Ali.
My under and outer garments are faith and knowledge, just as they were for Ali.
If you want to understand his status, reflect upon the role and the deeds of Ali:
he was a lion, the battlefield his meadow, and Gabriel was the spearman of Ali.
Ali’s cave is of knowledge, not stone, for stone does not befit the glory of Ali.
The clouds of ta’wil do not shed their droplets except on the trees and the seed-fields of Ali.
Ali had no desire for gold or silver; faith and knowledge were the choice of Ali.
There was not fault in him nor blemish in the tongue, hands and garments of Ali.
Husayn and Hasan, the Prophet’s reminders, were none other than the reminders of Ali.
Truly no one can be saved from the fire unless he comes under the protection of Ali.
So in this Ramazan on the date of his martyrdom, send blessings on the father of Sufism; the holder of occult mysteries and the savior of the downtrodden and persecuted.
Call Moula Ali to open your heart to the mysteries of Quran and the universe and remember him by reciting the following lines by Rumi.
Come into the shade (protection) of the Sage whom no conveyor can carry off the Way.
His shadow on earth is like Mount Qaf, his spirit is (like) the Simurgh that circles (soars) exceedingly high.
If I should tell of his qualities until the Resurrection, do not seek (expect)and conclusion and end to them.
The (Divine) Sun has veiled Himself in Man: apprehend (this mystery), and God knows best what is right
O ‘Ali, above all devotional acts is the Way (of God) do thou choose the shadow (protection) of the servant of God
Everyone took refuge in some act of devotion and discovered for themselves some means of deliverance.
Go thou, take refuge in the shadow of the sage, that thou mayst escape from the Enemy that opposes (thee) in secret
When the Pir [master] has accepted thee, take heed, surrender thyself (to him): go, like Moses, under the authority of Khizr
God has declared that his (the Pirs) hand is as his own, since he gave out (the words) the Hand of God is above their hands.
He is the helper of believers in times of need (mushkil-kushā in Farsi).
Haḍrat Shāh Bahāʾ ad-Dīn Naqshband al-Bukhārī, who was a true lover of Ahl al-Bayt, says :
یا رب بعلی ابن ابی طالب و آل
آن شیر خداوند جهان جل جلال
کاندر سه محل رسی بفریاد همه
اندر دم نزع و قبر و هنگام سوال
“O Lord! By the sake of ʿAlī ibn Abī-Ṭālib and his family!
That lion of the Almighty God of the universe,
Come to my rescue in the three situations,
In the moment of death, and in the grave, and during the Questioning [Sawāl].”
In another verse, Shāh Naqshband pleads Alī in the following beautiful words:
اے شیرِ خدا امیر حیدر فتحے
وے قلعه کشائے در خیبر فتحے
در هائے امید بر رخم بسته شده
اے صاحبِ ذوالفقار و قمبر فتحے
“O lion of God! O lord Haider the Opener!
And O castle-opener and the door opener of Khyber!
The doors of hope have been closed unto me,
O master of Zulfiqār (the sword) and Qambar (the slave), the Opener!”
Similarly, Shāh Naqshband pleads for help from Imām ʿAlī, who is the helper of believers in times of difficulty, with the following beautiful words :
یا حیدر شهسوارے وقت مدد است
پارندۂ هشت و چار وقت مدد است
کارے عجبے فتاده درپیش مرا
یا صاحب ذوالفقار وقت مدد است
“O Haider! the great rider! it is time for help!
O shatterer of eight and four, it is time for help!
A strange task is posed to me,
O master of Zulfiqār (the sword), it is time for help!”
The Muslim champions failed to conquer it. The Prophet challenged that he would conquer it in 40 days. No sign of victory was seen after 39 days. The Prophet declared: "Tomorrow, I will hand over the standard of Islamic army to such a person who is an impetuous warrior and not an absconder; he befriends God and His Apostle and is also befriended by them. God is sure to grant victory on his hands." Every one of the Prophet's Companions was anxious to be signalized on the morrow as the beloved of God and His Apostle.
On the next morning, the Prophet found silence in the Muslim camps. He broke up the silence and asked, "Where is Ali?" He was informed that he had suffered with sore eyes and gone to cure his eyes.
The Prophet became worried, and at this critical moment, he was inspired to call upon Ali, who is the epiphanic source of marvels.
The instillation of the Divine message was tinkling in the heart of the Prophet. He exclaimed, Ya Ali adriqani, Ya Ali agisani (O'Ali! Catch hold me. O'Ali come to help at once). Ali made his presence in twinkle of eyes, saying Labaik Ya Rasulillah (O' Prophet of God, I am present). The Prophet, taking Ali's head into his lap, applied the saliva of his mouth to his eyes, and then gave him the charge. Ali proceeded the front and put Marhab to sword and subdued the fort.
Syed Safdar Hosein writes in The Early History of Islam that, "Some traditions say that Ali was absent from the camp on this occasion, being at the time in Medina. The Prophet, however, saying Nad-i Ali, who appeared on the scene with his eyes badly sore."
You shall find him a help for you in adversities. All anxiety and grief shall disappear through his authority, (say,) O'Ali, O'Ali, O'Ali (Na'de Aliyyun mazharul aja'ib tajid'hu avnal'laka fin nava'ib kullo hammin wa ghammin sayanjali bi wilayatika, Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali).
Read some of Hazrat Ali's sayings and let them open your heart: Meditate on them and let his wisdom wash over you. You would feel transformed. His words have transformed the hearts of sufis for centuries. You can meditate on some sayings during zikar and you would feel a strange strength seep into you. I have experieneced that myself and so have even my non muslim friends. Moula Ali's bounty is boundless.
- He who is greedy is disgraced; he who discloses his hardship will always be humiliated; he who has no control over his tongue will often have to face discomfort.
- Avarice is disgrace; cowardice is a defect; poverty often disables an intelligent man from arguing his case; a poor man is a stranger in his own town; misfortune and helplessness are calamities; patience is a kind of bravery; to sever attachments with the wicked world is the greatest wealth; piety is the best weapon of defence.
- Submission to Allah's Will is the best companion; wisdom is the noblest heritage; theoretical and practical knowledge are the best signs of distinction; deep thinking will present the clearest picture of every problem.
- The mind of a wise man is the safest custody of secrets; cheerfulness is the key to friendship; patience and forbearance will conceal many defects.
- A conceited and self-admiring person is disliked by others; charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities; one has to account in the next world for the deeds that he has done in this world.
- Man is a wonderful creature; he sees through the layers of fat (eyes), hears through a bone (ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue).
- When this world favors somebody, it lends him the attributes, and surpassing merits of others and when it turns its face away from him it snatches away even his own excellences and fame.
- . Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.
- . If you overpower your enemy, then pardon him by way of thankfulness to Allah, for being able to subdue him.
- Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his life and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost them (through his deeds).
- When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.
- He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.
- Every person who is tempted to go astray, does not deserve punishment.
- Our affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah, even our best plans may lead us to destruction.
- There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet "With the help of hair-dye turn old age into youth so that you do not resemble the Jews". When Imam Ali was asked to comment on this tradition, he said that in the early stage of Islam there were very few Muslims. The Holy Prophet advised them to look young and energetic and not to adopt the fashion of the Jews (priest) having long, white flowing beards. But the Muslims were not in minority then, theirs was a strong and powerful State, they could take up any style they liked.
- For those who refused to side with any party, Imam Ali or his enemies, Imam Ali said: They have forsaken religion and are of no use to infidelity also.
- One who rushes madly after inordinate desire, runs the risk of encountering destruction and death.
- Overlook and forgive the weaknesses of the generous people because if they fall down, Allah will help them.
- Failures are often the results of timidity and fears; disappointments are the results of bashfulness; hours of leisure pass away like summer-clouds, therefore, do not waste opportunity of doing good.
- If the right usurped from us is given back to us we shall take it, otherwise we shall go on claiming it.
- If someone's deeds lower his position, his pedigree cannot elevate it.
- To render relief to the distressed and to help the oppressed make amends for great sins.
- . O son of Adam, when you see that your Lord, the Glorified, bestows His Favors on you while you disobey Him, you should fear Him (take warning that His Wrath may not turn those very blessings into misfortunes).
- Often your utterances and expressions of your face leak out the secrets of your hidden thoughts.
- When you get ill do not get nervous about it and try as much as possible to be hopeful.
- The best form of devotion to the service of Allah is not to make a show of it.
- When you have to depart from this world and have to meet death (eventually), then why wish delay (why feel nervous about death).
- Take warning ! He has not exposed so many of your sinful activities that it appears as if He has forgiven you (it may be that He has given you time to repent).
- When Imam Ali was asked about Faith in Religion, he replied that the structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad.