Wednesday March 29, 2023

Hazrat Ali’s wisdom

May 06, 2020

The advent of the holy month of Ramazan this year has brought a period of a dramatic change for Muslims worldwide. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, country after country has witnessed a clear departure from long followed practices.

In a widely shared lament during the fasting month, visits by Muslims to Saudi Arabia for ‘Umrah’, followed by a visit to ‘Masjid e Nabavi’, have all been halted.

In this period of disappointment for intending pilgrims, powerful lessons combining issues of the world along with spirituality can be drawn from the teachings of Hazrat Ali (a.s), who spent his life among the closest companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Hazrat Ali (a.s) also had the distinct honour of being the first among the children of Mecca who rose to the call of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he announced the message of Islam as revealed to him.

Later in Ramazan, Muslims worldwide will once again commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (a.s) in the 40th year of the ‘Hijri’ calendar when he was attacked while leading fajr prayers in the historic ‘Masjid e Kufa’, in southern Iraq. While Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom ended a critical source for the distribution of endless knowledge to the early converts to Islam, his very powerful legacy lives on. Enshrined in ‘Nahjul Balagha’ – the book compiling sermons, letters and commandments issued by Hazrat Ali (a.s) – is no shortage of guidance on every facet of human life. He remained true to his widely known claim urging Muslims to ask questions before he left this world. To date, there is no evidence of Hazrat Ali (a.s) having ever left a questioner without a clear and satisfactory response.

Among Hazrat Ali’s enduring legacies, an oft-repeated one was a letter that he wrote to Malik e Ashtar upon the latter’s appointment as governor of Egypt – then a province under Islamic rule. That document has been widely recognised for containing the most comprehensive set of guidelines for running of an Islamic state. Ranging from instructions on the most essential personal traits of a ruler to administration of a state, Hazrat Ali’s guiding principles continue to find an audience more than 14 centuries later in today’s world.

Right after enduring an armed attack with a sword on 19th Ramzan 40 Hijri, just two days before Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom, his first words were meaningful. ‘Fuztu bi Rabbil Kaaba’ (By the lord of Kaaba, I have succeeded’) he announced as blood oozed out profusely from his head. Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom led to the culmination of a life exceptionally well lived in the service of Islam and humanity.

Today as the world is engulfed with the challenge unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic, there are essential lessons flowing from the teachings of Hazrat Ali (a.s). This is especially relevant as a country like Pakistan battles the multiple challenges surrounding key institutions of the state and their ability to deliver fundamental needs for the population, notably those who will likely get pushed in further poverty.

In a well documented response to one of his companions who asked for money from the public treasury, Hazrat Ali (a.s) replied: “The public treasury is neither my property nor yours. It is the property of the Muslims. It is collected through their exertion or it is the booty of their wars. If you had joined them in the wars, you would also have received your share”. This is just one of the many valuable guidelines that outlined the significance for a ruler to tightly resist ‘conflict of interest’ as a key principle. Similar guidelines from Hazrat Ali (a.s) have ensured his life as a shining example for others to follow, even 14 centuries after he left for his eternal abode.

The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist who writes on political and economic affairs.