Man of many distinctions
Hadrat Ali was a man of many distinctions. He owed his distinctions to his relationship with the holy Prophet, his valour, his knowledge and his spiritual attainments.
- He had the distinction of being a Hashimite both on the side of his father as well as his mother.
- He had the distinction of having a name which was derivative of the name of Allah. No other person before him bore the name of Ali.
His relationship with the holy Prophet
- On opening his eyes after his birth, the first person who he saw was the holy Prophet.
- The holy Prophet gave him his name.
- As an infant he had the honour of sucking the tongue of the holy Prophet.
- He was the first cousin of the holy Prophet. He became a ward of the holy Prophet, and was brought up as a family member of the household of the holy Prophet.
- He received his training under the loving care and guidance of the holy Prophet.
- When the holy Prophet declared his mission, he was the first teenager to be converted to Islam.
- Hadrat Khadijah and Hadrat Ali were the first two persons to pray behind the holy Prophet.
- When the holy Prophet invited the Hashimites to a dinner, and aked them to aid him in his mission, Hadrat Ali was the only person to respond to the call of the holy Prophet.
- He risked his life for the sake of the holy Prophet and slept on his bed when the holy Prophet left for Medina and the Quraish youth besieged the house with a view to killing the holy Prophet.
- When the holy Prophet left for Medina, he entrusted to Hadrat Ali the task of returning the belongings of the people. They had placed their belongings in the custody of the holy Prophet for safekeeping.
- When the holy Prophet joined the Muhajirs and the Ansars in fraternity in Medina, he allied himself in fraternity with Hadrat Ali.
- The holy Prophet married his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra to Hadrat Ali.
- He was commissioned by the holy Prophet to write the agreement which came to be known as the Hudaybia Pact.
- After the conquest of Mecca, he had the unique distinction of standing on the shoulders of the holy Prophet and destroying the idols in the Ka’bah.
- He was entrusted by the holy Prophet with the special mission of announcing the Quraish Sura “Al Bara’at” (Immunity) to the people on the occasion of the pilgrimage.
- He was the only person to whom the holy Prophet referred to as the “Maula” [Master] of the Ummah
- When the holy Prophet proposed “Mubahala” [a special kind of debate] with the Christians and the Najran, he chose Hadrat Ali as his “second man.”
- The progeny of the holy Prophet descends through Hadrat Ali.
- He was the only person to whom the holy Prophet imparted “inward knowledge.”
- The holy Prophet conferred many appellations on Hadrat Ali such as Hidar-iKarrar, Abu Turab, Asad-ullah, Syedul Arab, etc.
- The holy Prophet declared his relationship to Hadrat Ali as that of Moses and Aaron.
- When the holy Prophet died, Hadrat Ali washed him and prepared his dead body for burial.
- He participated in all the wars of early Islam which were fought under the command of the holy Prophet.
- In all the battles, Hadrat Ali was the flag-bearer for the forces of the Muslims.
- He was the greatest man among the Muslims. For his unusual bravery, he won such titles as “Asad Allah,” (the Lion of God) or “Haidar-e-Karrar” (the warrior who nobody could match.)
- During his lifetime, he killed over 1000 enemies. In the Battle of Badr alone killed two dozen people.
- He fought over a hundred duels and in all the duels, his adversaries, however strong, were killed.
- He was the conqueror of the Khyber.
- He was the most learned man of his age. He was a living encyclopaedia of knowledge and learning.
- After the holy Prophet, he was the most eloquent person of the age.
- Because of his knowledge and wisdom he is known as the “Second Solomon.”
- His wise sayings and aphorisms have attained the status of classical proverbs.
- He was the first person to write a grammar of the Arabic language.
- Among the early Muslims, he was the only person whose collections of writings have come down to us and this collection [is] preserved under the title of Nahj-ul-Balagha.
- He was a distinguished poet.
- He enjoys fame as the “father of rhetoric.”
- He was an authority on Mathematics.
- He was a master of the science of Physics.
- He had a deep medical knowledge.
- After the holy Prophet, he is regarded as the greatest philosopher of Islam.
- He was a calligrapher and wrote in a beautiful hand.
His spiritual attainments
- He was the first person to learn the Qur’an by heart.
- According to the commentators, there are at least 300 verses in the holy Qur’an which have an implied reference to Hadrat Ali
- After the holy Prophet, he was the Chief Judge among the early Muslims. He is regarded as the “father of fiqh.” [jurisprudence]
- He is the first revivalist among the Muslims. He interpreted the doctrines of Islam and systematized them.
- He is regarded as the “father of Sufism.” All schools of Tasawwuf [authentic Sufism] trace their origin to him.
Because of his multidimensional greatness and outstanding qualities, Hadrat Ali is known by many appellations, and each appellation illuminates one particular aspect of his excellence.
Some of these appellations are as follows:
(1) Murtada – he with whom God is pleased
(2) Maula – the master
(3) Haidar-i-Karrar- the brave warrior against whom no one could stand
(4) Asad Allah – the lion of God
(5) Al-Ghalib – the victorious
(6) Sher-i-Yazdan – the bravest man of the age
(7) Mushkil Kusha – wine whom resolves the difficulties of the people
(8) Shah-i-Awlia – the king of saints
(9) Shah-i-Mominin – the king of the pious
(10) Abu Turab – father of the earth
(11) Amir-ul-Momineen – leader of the faithful
(12) Amin-ul-Momineen – the trustee of the faithful
(13) Imam-ul-Muttaqeen – the leader of the God-fearing
(14) Sayyid-ul-Arab – the chief of the Arabs
(15) Al Wasi – the beneficiary under the Prophet’s ‘testamentary statement’
(16) Al Hadi – the guide
(17) Al Zahid – the chaste
(18) Al Abi – the pious
(19) Al Salah – the reformer
Imam Ali in the Holy Qur’an
References to Hadrat Ali in the Qur’an
According to the commentators of the Holy Qur’an, there are numerous verses in the Holy Qur’an which have implied references to Hadrat Ali. According to the Shi’ah commentators there are as many as 300 verses in the Holy Qur’an which have an implied reference to Hadrat Ali. According to the Sunni commentators this number is much smaller. According to the consensus of commentators, some of the verses which refer to Hadrat Ali are as follows:
Verse 33, Sura 33
“Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing.”
Hadrat Ali is obviously included in the expression “Folk of the Household.”
Verse 61, Sura 3
“And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie.”
This verse alludes the deputation of the Christians of Najran who came to Medina to hold a discussion with the holy Prophet about the truth of Islam. In this verse, the reference to “our sons, and our women” includes references to Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Fatima, Hasan and Hussain.
Verse 3, Sura 9
“And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve.“
In pursuance of this verse, the holy Prophet commissioned Hadrat Ali to go to the ‘Greater Pilgrimage’ to announce the verses of the Sura “Immunity” wherein God absolved the Muslims from all obligations under treaties previously concluded with the idolators.
Verse 23, Sura 42
“Say O Muhammad to mankind: ‘No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.’ “
According to Traditions, when the holy Prophet was asked as to who were the relatives alluded to in the verse, the holy Prophet said, “Verily, the reference is to Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Hussain.”
Verse 21, Sura 45
“Do those who commit evil deeds suppose that We shall treat them like those who believe and do good deeds – that their lives and their deaths shall be equal.No, bad is their judgment.”
According to Ibn Abbas, “the doers of good” cited to in this verse, refer to to to Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Hamza and Hadrat Ubaydah b. Harith.
Verse 17, Sura 11
“Is he to be counted equal with those who rely on a clear proof from his Lord and the witness from Him recites it, and before it was the Book of Moses, and example and a mercy? Such believe therein. Whoso disbelieves therein, the Fire is his appointed place. So be not you in doubt concerning it. Lo, it is the truth from your Lord, but most of mankind believe it not.”
One day, in one of his sermons, Hadrat Ali said that there was hardly a man from among to the Quraish who had not been referred to in the Holy Qur’an. Hadrat Ali was asked to recite some verse which alluded to him. Thereupon he recited the above verse.
Verse 4, Sura 66
“Now if both of you turn to Allah repentant, it will be better for you as your hearts are already so inclined. But if you backup each other against him, surely Allah is his helper, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, all other angels too are his helpers.”
According to Ibn Abbas, the holy Prophet said that the “righteous men” alluded to as “helper” in this verse, refers to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 18, Sura 32
“Is he who is a believer like him who is an evil doer? Verily they are not equal.”
According to Ibn Abbas, “believer” in this verse refers to Hadrat Ali, and “evil doer” refers to Walid b. Utba.
Verse 54, Sura 25
“And He it is Who created man from water, and has appointed for him kindred by blood, and kindred by marriage, and your Lord is all powerful.”
According to the Traditions, “kindred by blood and kindred by marriage” refers to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 36, Sura 24
“The lamp of light is lit in houses which Allah has allowed to be exalted so that His name be remembered in them. Therein He is glorified in the mornings and evenings.”
According to the Traditions, the holy Prophet said that be “houses” referred to in this verse include the house of Hadrat Ali and Hadrat Fatima.
Verse 55, Sura 5
“Your friend is only Allah and His Messenger, and the believers who observed prayer and pay the poor rate.”
According to the Traditions, “the believers” referred to in this verse includes a reference to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 12, Sura 58
“O ye who believe! When you consult the Messenger in private, give alms before your consultation. That is better and purer for you. But when you do not find the wherewithal, Lo! Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.“
According to the Traditions, when this verse was revealed the holy Prophet wanted to fix an amount which every person who consulted the holy Prophet should pay. Hadrat Ali contended that since the people were generally poor no amount should be fixed and the option should rest with the person concerned, to pay whatever alms he could.
Verse 181, Sura 7
“And of those We have created, there are people that guide men in the truth, and do justice therewith.”
According to the Traditions, the reference to “people that guide men with truth” includes a reference to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 57, Sura 43
“And when the son of Mary is cited as an example, lo, the people jeer thereat.”
According to the Traditions, the holy Prophet is said to have told Hadrat Ali that one day his example would be like that of Jesus Christ. A section of the people would love him so much that they would willingly die for him, whereas there would also be other people who would fight against him.
Verse 29, Sura 48
“Muhammad is the Apostle off God. And those with Him are firm against the disbelievers, and Merciful amongst themselves. Thus see them bowing down, and prostrating themselves in prayer, seeking grace from Allah and His pleasure. Their mark is upon their faces, being the traces of prostrations. Such is their description in the Torah. And their description in the gospel is like a seed that sends forth its sprout, then makes its strong; it then becomes thick, and stands on its stem, delighting the sowers, and causing the disbelievers to burn with rage at the sight of them. Allah has promised to those of them who believe and do good works, forgiveness and a great We reward.”
According to the commentary of Imam Abu Musa, this verse was revealed in favour of Hadrat Ali
Verse 43, Sura 13
“And those who disbelieve say ‘you are not a Messenger’ say to them, ‘sufficient is Allah as the witness between me and you, and so is he who possesses knowledge of the Book.”
According to commentators, the phrase “whosoever has the knowledge of the Book” alludes to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 64, Sura 8
“O Prophet! Allah is sufficient for you and for such of the followers as follow you.”
According to commentators, the phrase “such of the followers as follow you” alludes to Hadrat Ali.
The Sayings of Hadrat Ali
Hadrat Ali was the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the Sayings of Hadrat Ali, which breathe wisdom and have attained the dimension of aphorisms are on record. Some of these are:
- Fear God and you will have no cause to fear anyone.
- Resignation to the Will of God is the cure for the disease of the heart.
- The Word of God is the medicine of the heart.
- Lead such a life that when you die people will mourn you, and while you are alive they long for your company.
- The days of your life pass away like clouds, so do good while you are alive.
- Of all follies, the greatest is to love the world.
- Opportunity is swift of flight, but slow to return.
- The most happy is he to whom God has given a good wife.
- He who knows himself knows God.
- Do not sell your conscience for anything but heaven.
- The disease of the heart is worse than the disease of the body.
- To fight against one’s desires is the greatest of all fights.
- The strongest among you is he who subdues himself.
- Wealth and greed are the roots of all evil.
- Riches without faith are the greatest poverty.
- A man’s worth depends upon the nobility of his aspirations.
- Knowledge enlivens the soul.
- The learned lives although he dies.
- The sum total of excellence is knowledge.
- To respect the learned is to respect God.
- Generosity hides shortcomings.
- The wealth of a miser is as useless as a pebble.
- Desire is one’s most inveterate enemy.
- Those who walk on the surface of the earth shall one day be interred in it.
- Every breath of man brings him nearer to death.
- People are asleep as long as they live. They are awakened when they die.
- Patience is the fruit of faith.
- Virtue never dies.
- A man’s glory from his virtue is greater than the glory of his pedigree.
- No shelter is safer than piety.
- A man’s behaviour is the index of his mind.
- Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything.
- Clemency graces power.
- Jealousy devours virtue as fire devours fuel.
- He that lends a listening ear to reproach is one of those [who] deserves reproach.
- Forgiveness is the crown of greatness.
- Carnal appetites are nets spread by the devil.
- Every arrow does not hit [its] mark, nor is every prayer granted.
- Ostentatiousness spoils prayer.
- Fear none but your sins.
- He who praises you murders you.
- A man who praises himself displays his deficiency of intellect.
- Honour your parents and your sons will honour you.
- A man is hidden under his tongue.
- The tongue of a wise man lies behind his heart.
- The tongue pierces deeper than [a] spear.
- He who purifies his heart from doubt is a believer.
- The opinion of a wise man is [like] an oracle.
- To seek council is to go to the fountain of guidance.
- Association with a fool is tyranny to the soul.
- God hastens the fall of tyrants.
- Tyranny leads to moral cowardice.
- A tyrant’s success is his moral defeat.
- It is better to die than to beg.
- When a man begs, he loses his faith.
- Hajj is the jihad of every believer in faith.
- A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.
- Silence is the best reply to a fool.
- The best speech is one that is short and reasonable.
- Speech is like a medicine, a small dose will cure but an excess will kill.
- He that has no courage has no religion.
- His grief is long whose hope is short.
- The right of freedom of speech consists in speaking the truth.
- Repentance washes away sin.
- Folly is an incurable disease.
- To assist the wrong is to oppress the right.
- Sinning is a disease, repentance is its medicine, and abstinence from it is a sure cure.
- Sorrow makes a man old before his time.
- Pride impedes progress and mars greatness.
- To forgive is the crown of greatness.
- He who understands humanity seeks solitude.
- Right is the best argument.
- Misrepresentation spoils narration.
- As a man’s wisdom increases so his desire to speak decreases.
- He who seeks to do justice with men, let him desire for them what he desires for himself.
- The greatest sin is the sin which the sinner considers to be ordinary.
- Contentment is an asset which is never exhausted.
- Governments are a trial for man.
- He who fights against the truth, the truth will defeat him.
- Finding fault with others is one’s greatest fault.
- Haste is a [kind] of madness.
- Greed is perpetual enslavement.
- He who does not know his own worth, is doomed to destruction.
- The best investment is one with which duties are performed.
- Anger is a fire kindled, he who restrains anger extinguishes the fire; he who gives vent to it is the first to be consumed by it.
- Jihad is the highway of prosperity.
- None is more solitary than a miser.
- Knowledge is the ornament of the rich and the riches of the poor.
- Knowledge is the sum total of excellence; he who teaches you a letter binds you with a fetter of gratitude.
- As long as we do not hope we do not fret.
- He who indulges in jokes and loose talk loses a part of his wisdom.
- Truth [may be] bitter, but it’s a result is sweet; falsehood appears to be sweet but it is poisonous in its effect.
- Miserliness is the root of many evils.
- Knowledge and practice are twins, and both go together for there is no knowledge without practice, and no practice without knowledge.
- He who dissembles, plays with his honour.
- When God wants to humiliate a person, He deprives him of knowledge.
- When your power increases, decrease your desires accordingly.
- He who listens to a backbiter loses a friend.
- It is not justice to decide a case on mere conjecture.
- He who does not know his own worth is shameful.
- He who practices thrift will never be in want.
- He who does not know should not be ashamed to learn.
- Patience is to faith what the head is to the body. When patience goes, faith goes [and] when the head goes, the body goes.
- The grace of God is the best guide.
- A good disposition is the best companion.
- Wisdom is the best friend.
- Good breeding is the best inheritance.
- There is nothing more hateful than pride.
- Be among men like a bee among birds.
- Mix with the people with your tongue, but be separate from them in your deeds.
- Be generous, but do not be a spendthrift.
- Do not run after the world, let the world to run after you.
- A wise man is he who does not despair of the bounty and mercy of God.
- He who is aware of his own faults is oblivious to the faults of others.
- What the eye sees the heart preserves.
- The vision of the eye is limited; the vision of the heart transcends all barriers of time and space.
- Do not be misled by appearances for these are apt to be deceptive.
- Do not have too many irons in the fire; concentrate on one thing at a time.
- What you do not like for yourself, do not like it for others either.
- Contentment is the treasure which is never exhausted.
- The advice of old men is dearer than the bravery of young men.
- That knowledge is superficial which is merely on the tongue; that knowledge is real which demonstrates itself in your practice.
- To waste time is one’s greatest loss.
- He who knows to keep his secret, knows the way to success.
- Foresight is the way to safety.
- No relationship is stronger than the relationship that exists between man and God.
- Enlighten the heart with prayers.
- Strengthen your heart with faith.
- Suppress all lust with piety.
- Do not sell the Hereafter for the world.
- Do not speak in a state of ignorance.
- Refrain from unnecessary talk.
- Do not tread the path from which you can apprehend the danger of running astray.
- In the affairs of God, do not be afraid of the accusations of evil mongers.
- In all that you do, seek the protection of God.
- Do not covet what is undesirable.
- If you seek the truth, neither stray from the right path nor be assailed by doubts.
- Do not become a slave to your desire.
- That wealth is no wealth which brings dishonour.
- Whatever harm accrues of silence can be remedied. But whatever harm is done because of speech cannot be remedied.
- It is better to restrain your desires than to stretch your hand before others.
- A little that is burned because of honest labour is better than a larger amount gained through dishonest means.
- Guard well your secret.
- He who seeks more than what is necessary indulges in error.
- To oppress the weak is the worst tyranny.
- Do not bank on false hope, for that is the capital of the dead.
- A wise man takes a lesson even from a minor lapse.
- Overpower desire and suspicion by patience and faith.
- He who does not take the middle course strays.
- A stranger is he who has no friends.
- When hopes are frustrated despair becomes the way of life.
- He who trusts the world the world betrays him.
- There is no treasure like knowledge. The realm of knowledge has no bounds. The chief of talents is knowledge.
- Knowledge leads to wisdom, accordingly the educated man is the wise one; riches diminish by expenditure, while knowledge is increased by dissemination. A wise man needs each day an hour set apart in which to examine his conscience, and measure what he has gained or lost.
- The heart is the source of wisdom, with the ear as its channel. Philosophy is a, tree growing in the heart, and bearing its fruit on the tongue.
- Belief and wisdom are twin brothers; Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala accepts not the one without the other. While you live you die. Each breath of a man is a step nearer death.
- Death awaits every living creature and everything must end. You are the game that death hunts. If you stand still, it will seize you; If you flee, it will overtake you.
- Books are the gardens of the learned.
- The man of learning lives even after his death.
- The ignorant man is dead, while still alive.
- The scholar knows an ignorant man, because formerly he was ignorant himself, but the ignorant knows not the scholar, never having been one.
- He is very unfortunate who cannot in his life-time gain a few sincere friends and sympathisers and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then to have lost them (through his deeds).There is no greater wealth than wisdom, No greater poverty than ignorance, No greater heritage than culture, And no greater friend and helpmate than consultation.
- The strongest man is he who can fight against himself.
- The strongest man is he who can make his reason conquers his passions.
- Protect your wealth by means of Zakat.
- Cure your sick through offering of Alms and destroy difficulties and dangers through prayers.
- One without pity for others will never be pitied.
- Whoever has compassion upon orphans, will see his own children treated kindly.
- There is no better means of prolongation of life than Sadaqah (alms) and there is no better thing than prayers for emancipation from evils. There is no better method of making human beings look venerable than by good manners and there is no better remedy than repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Beware that Sadqah (Alms) is a curtain between oneself and the fire of hell and is an easy medium for the Pool-e-Serat and is a protection from punishment.
- Treat people in such a way and live amongst them in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.
- I recommend five things to you, the attainment of which will be worth any amount of hardship: Not to expect anything from anyone but from God; not to fear anything but your sins; not to be ashamed to say, ‘I do not know’, when asked about something you are not aware of; not to be ashamed of learning a thing you do not know. Ever preserve the virtue of patience, for patience in relation to ‘Eeman‘ (Faith) is like the head in relation to the body. And there is no good in a body which has no head, neither in ‘Eeman’ which has no patience.
- He who understands Divine Greatness never boasts.
- A sincere friend is sincere even in hardships.
- Do not envy the glory and magnificence of others, let not pride and grandeur of this world puff you, nor let sorrow over its wickedness and poverty depress you; for, all glory and magnificence shall fade, all worldly bliss pass away and all evil and poverty surely end, as we shall ourselves pass away.
- Humbleness and prostration bring nearness to God.
- God the Almighty selected us from His Creation and selected for us our followers who assist us. They are pleased when we are pleased and are sorrowful in our sorrows. They give up their lives and property for our cause. Therefore they are ours and will be with us in Paradise.
- If you believe in God, abstain from forbidden things, then you will be saved from all evils. If you please God, God will also please you.
- Simplest way of attaining God’s mercy is to be good to all humanity.
- The descendants of the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings upon him) are his Confidants, the Shelter of his commands, the Trustees of his knowledge, the Stronghold of the Qur’an and the Mountains of his Faith.
- It was his firm belief that a ruler should rule not to please himself but to bring happiness to the ruled. And it was on the basis of this principle that he laid down rules for his people to carry out.
- You must develop in yourself, kindness and love for your subjects. Do not behave with them as if you were a ferocious beast.
- Muslims and non-Muslims should be treated alike. Muslims are your brothers and non-Muslims are human beings just like you.
- Do not feel ashamed to forgive. Do not, be hasty with punishment. Do not quickly lose your temper over mistakes and failures of those over whom you rule.Anger and desire for vengeance are not going to be of much use to you in administration.
- Do not allow favouritism and nepotism to force you to violate your duties to God and man, and drive you towards tyranny and oppression.
- While selecting officers take care that you do not select such persons as have served tyrannical and oppressive rulers and have been responsible for atrocities and savage cruelties.
- Select honest and kind persons as your advisers and from amongst them prefer those who speak out the bitter truth to you unreservedly without fear or favour.
- Appointments in the first place must be on probation.
- Keep your officers well paid so that they may not be tempted to practice corruption or misappropriation.
- Appoint confidential officers secretly to watch the activities of your officers and staff and report to you about their behavior.
- Your secretaries should be the cream of your civil, judicial or military service. Choose the best among them irrespective of age or period of service.
- All letters or applications should be dealt with by the officers and replies or orders about them should be drafted by them only. No subordinate must be allowed to be the eyes and the mind of these officers.
- Let your subjects into your confidence and make them feel that you are their well-wisher and friend.
- Never break a promise or go against the terms of a treaty. It is a sin against God.
- You must take care of your traders but should never allow them to resort to hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering.
- Help handicraft; it reduces poverty and raises the standard of life.
- Agriculturists are assets to the state and should be protected.
- Remember that your sacred duty is to look after the poor, disabled and the orphans. Let not your officers humiliate them, ill-treat them or oppress them.Help them, protect them and let them approach you whenever they are in need of your help.
- Avoid bloodshed; do not kill anybody unless he deserves to be killed according to the Canons of Islam.
Similes of Imam Ali
Hadrat Ali had the peculiar skill to explain things by giving appropriate similes. In his various addresses and sermons, we come across many instances of his brilliance of expression that brings home the truth through these interesting examples.
The world: The world is like a serpent which is outwardly very soft skinned but poisonous within.
Falsehood: Like the feathers of a peacock, falsehood might look very attractive, but is as ugly as [as are the] feet of a peacock. Falsehood has no legs to stand upon.
The unbelievers: Unbelievers are like bats who can see in the dark, but who are blinded by daylight and [so] cannot see.
The people who did not respond to his call: When Hadrat Ali exhorted the people of Iraq to respond to his call for war against Muawiyah, they did not respond to his call. He said, “You are like a pregnant woman who undergoes the ordeal of childbirth, but gives birth to a dead child.”
The tree and the fruit: When after the death of the holy Prophet, the Quraish based their claim to the caliphate on the ground that they belonged to the same tree as the holy Prophet. Hadrat Ali said, “It is strange that they look to the tree, but neglect its fruit.”
The people of Basra: When the people of Basra, who had originally taken the oath of allegiance to him, [yet] later chose to fight against him, Hadrat Ali said that these people were near the water but far from the sky.
People of the age of ignorance: Referring to the people of the age of ignorance in the pre-Islamic era, Hadrat Ali said that they were like an egg which has broken in the nest.
The people of Kufa: Addressing the people of Kufa, Hadrat Ali said: “When I invite you to fight, your eyes begin to move in their sockets as if you [were] in the agony of death. You are like camels whose herdsmen have disappeared, and when these animals are collected on one side, they scatter on the other side.”
Mughira b. Shu’aba: Mughira was regarded by the Quraish as a wise man. When Mughira favoured Muawiyah, Hadrat Ali said, “Mughira has profited from Islam only to the extent of seeking worldly gain. He is oblivious to the Hereafter.”
The people who run after the world: About the people who run after the world, Hadrat Ali said, “Those people who chase after the world are like beasts who lunge at one another, with the strong oppressing the weak.”
The people who are not deceived by the world: About the people who are not deceived by the world, Hadrat Ali said, “Those who have understood the deceptive character of the world, do not feel distressed on death. They are like the people who migrate from a famine-struck land to a land of plenty.”
Hadrat Ali’s complaint against the Umayyads: During the caliphate of Hadrat Uthman, Hadrat Ali had a complaint that the Umayyadds were was holding from him what was due to him. He said, “The Umayyads are withholding what is due to me, just like the camelman who milks the she camel withholds milk from the young one of the camel.
Falsehood of Muawiyah: Referring to the falsehood of Muawiyah, Hadrat Ali said that falsehood had appeared in his case like the horns on the head of a young goat.
Shedding of sins through prayer: In a sermon, Hadrat Ali said that through prayer the sins of men were shed just [like] a tree sheds its leaves.
Cleanliness and prayers: In another sermon, Hadrat Ali said, “Prayer is like a hot spring of water which flows at your door and provides you with the wherewithal for cleanliness.”
Crumbs after meals: In a sermon, Hadrat Ali said that the world had run its course, and nothing had been left of it except the crumbs after the meals.
The people who did not respond to his call: Hadrat Ali compared the people who did not respond to his call to a camel who ran away from the herd shrieking with pains in its belly.
Hearts of the people: Hadrat Ali prayed for the hearts of the people to melt at the mention of the God’s words, just like salt [is] dissolved in water.
Ignorant persons: Hadrat Ali said that ignorant persons were like persons riding on beasts of burden who could not see. He deplored that such ignorant people dealt with the injunctions of Islam as wind scattered straw.
Ashas b. Qais: Hadrat Ali said that among his companions, Ashas b. Qais was what Abdullah b. Abi Sahi was in the time of the holy Prophet.
Patience and faith: Patience and faith bear the same relation in a human being. Like a head is attached to the body (and a body cannot be without a head) so there can be no faith without patience.
Disease and sins: Disease sheds sin just [like a] tree sheds its dead leaves.
Death of the virtuous: Hadrat Ali compared the death of the virtuous to the migration journey of the people from a famine-struck land to a land of plenty.
Days of life: The days of life pass like clouds in the sky.
Devotion to the world: Those who are devoted to the world are like barking dogs and ferocious animals who lunge at one another and where the strong devour the weak.
Seekers of the world: Those who seek the world are like a loose camel roaming about causing mischief.
Virtue of silence: Hadrat Ali advocated the virtue of silence by advancing the simile that water can be preserved in a waterskin only when its mouth is tied.
Thirsty camels on a water pond: When the people flocked to him and urged him to accept their allegiance, Hadrat Ali compared them to thirsty camels who flocked to a water pond when their harnesses were untied.
The caliphate of Hadrat Umar: When Hadrat Abu Bakr died, Hadrat Umar became the Caliph. Hadrat Ali held that the second Caliph was like a person riding a camel, whose reins, if tightened would injure the camel, and if loosened would endanger the rider.
Umayyad use of the Bait-ul-Mai: Referring to the appropriation of the funds of the Bait-ul-Mai by the Umayyads for personal ends during the caliphate of Hadrat Uthman, Hadrat Ali held that they ate away the public funds, just as the camel eats away the grass.
Withholding the milk of the she camel from its young: Hadrat Ali had the complaint that during the caliphate of the Hadrat Uthman, the Umayyads withheld from him what was his right, just like the camelman who, while milking the she camel, withholds its milk from its young one.
Handle of the grinding stone: When Hadrat Abu Bakr became the Caliph, Hadrat Ali held that Hadrat Abu Bakr had assumed the mantle of the caliphate forcibly while he knew that he (Hadrat Ali) was as essential for the caliphate as a handle was necessary for turning the grinding stone.
The simile of a sinner: A sinner is like a person riding on an animal [of] which he had no control, and which is running fast to hurl him into a precipice.
Drops of rain: The injunctions of God descend like drops of rain.
Summer clouds: When the people of Kufa did not respond to the call of Hadrat Ali to meet the challenge off Muawiyah, Hadrat Ali said that he longed for warriors who in their action and speed would be like summer clouds.
The goat and the lion: Addressing the people of Kufa, Hadrat Ali said, “I want you to tread the path of the truth, but you run from it like a goat runs away when hearing the roar of the lion.”
Taking the thorn out of the foot with a thorn: On another occasion Hadrat Ali said that the people of Kufa were like a person who picked out [a] thorn from his foot with a thorn.
Solution of salt in water: With reference to the people of Kufa, Hadrat Ali prayed “O God, melt their hearts like salt dissolves in water.”
Bull with crooked horns:When Talha defected after taking the oath of the allegiance to him, Hadrat Ali compared him to a bull with crooked horns.
Shaking plants: Referring to the piety of the Companions of the holy Prophet, Hadrat Ali said that they shuddered at the mention of the Hereafter [like] plants shake when a strong wind blows.
Pregnant woman separating from the child: Addressing the people of Kufa, Hadrat Ali said that they were not dependable and that they were likely to leave him like a pregnant woman is separated from [her] child at childbirth.
Households of the holy Prophet: Hadrat Ali described the household of the holy Prophet to be like stars, in that if one star sets another star rises.
Foaming waves of the sea: While addressing Hadrat Uthman, Hadrat Ali said that treason was likely to rage like the foaming waves of the sea.