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May 16, 2020

Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom

Opinion

May 16, 2020

As Hazrat Ali (a.s) lay severely wounded at his home in Kufa, southern Iraq after a lethal head injury from an early morning attack on 19th Ramazan, in the 40th year of Hijrah, his promise to spread knowledge till his last breath remained intact.

Surrounded by his closest family members Hazrat Ali (a.s) in one of his last wills said; “Until yesterday I was your Ameer (leader), today I am only an object from whom you can take lessons and warnings, and tomorrow I shall part company with you”.

Resigned to his imminent departure for the eternal world, Hazrat Ali’s last words ranged from instructions on the inheritance of his wives and children, the treatment to be meted out to his assassin Abdul Rehman Ibne Muljim to guidance for Muslims on the best principles that must guide them in their private and public lives.

These final guidelines, along with numerous others, remain preserved as Muslims worldwide commemorated the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (a.s) yesterday on the 21st of Ramazan. Roughly fourteen centuries after the fourth caliph of Islam following Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) passed away, his letters, sermons and commandments continue to spread across the world. Born inside the ‘Kaaba’ and martyred in the historic ‘Kufa’ mosque in southern Iraq, Hazrat Ali’s (a.s) life remains a widely acknowledged source of knowledge, inspiration and enlightenment.

To his friends and companions Hazrat Ali (a.s), the son of Hazrat Abu Talib and Bibi Fatima binte Asad, brought the most valuable guidance on a variety of subjects. These ranged from human relationships at a personal level to the workings of a society and the best practices for successful statecraft.

‘Nahjul Balagha’ – the book comprising Hazrat Ali’s sermons, letters and commandments – bears a rich testimony to his vast knowledge. The history of Hazrat Ali’s role in some of the most memorable battles fought by Muslims continues to be a powerful reminder of his eminence beyond just an unparalleled source of scholarly knowledge. In the years since becoming caliph, Hazrat Ali (a.s) spent a large part of his life in facing up to one adversity after another on the battlefield.

Yet, even in this period surrounded by intrigues which often culminated in military encounters, Hazrat Ali (a.s) maintained the highest quality of governance. So powerful is the enduring legacy of Hazrat Ali (a.s) that pilgrims to his final resting place in Najaf, southern Iraq, today routinely flood the city notably on the anniversaries of his birth and martyrdom to extend their homage. And the teachings of Hazrat Ali (a.s) passed on from generation to generation provide a rich testimony to the recognition of his words of wisdom.

More than two decades after Hazrat Ali’s martyrdom, his son Imam Hussain (a.s) met his martyrdom on the battlefield of Karbala, southern Iraq. Beyond the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) as he knelt down to offer his ‘Asr’ prayers, the tragedy of Karbala continued for several months further.

Hazrat Ali’s daughter and Imam Hussain’s sister, Bibi Zainab binte Ali (a.s) became the de-facto leader of the survivors of Karbala. In a historic speech at the court of Yazid ibne Muawiya, she predicted Yazid’s downfall and unending humiliation for all times to come.

It was a powerful message that resonated across the Muslim empire of the time, as the truth behind the massacre spread far and wide. In effect, Bibi Zainab (a.s) pioneered the tradition followed by Muslims worldwide today to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s).

The eloquence of her message while in Yazid’s captivity owes as much to Bibi Zainab’s strength of character as the teachings of her father Hazrat Ali (a.s), whose martyrdom on 21st Ramzan left behind a valuable tradition for all times to come. It is truly in recognition of his legacy that Pakistan’s highest military honour – ‘Nishan-e-Haider’ is named after him.

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

Email: [email protected]