Rafed English

God Distinguished Imam Ali (A.S.) with a Blessing Never Given Before in Human History

We can approach the personality of Ali (a) from three angles: We can look at it from the angle of his personality, we can look at it from the angle of his deeds, and we can look at it from the angle of his spiritual position. From the perspective of his personality, God distinguished Ali (a) with a blessing never given before in human history. It was as if Almighty God wanted to prepare him (a) for his martyrdom in the mihrab of His worship in the Mosque of Kufa by two distinctions connected to His Sacred House, the Holy Kaaba: Ali (a) was born inside the Holy Kaaba itself, and he mounted the shoulders of the Prophet (s) to destroy the idols which were placed around the Holy Kaaba.

Viewing the personality of Ali (a) from the angle of his practical life, his life can be summarized as the embodiment of servitude towards God the Lord of the Universe at every stage of his life. He started on this course from the very beginning having even stayed in the bed of the Prophet (s). He showed the utmost patience in dealing with what transpired after the death of the Prophet (s), saying, “I remained patient even though there was a speck in my eye and a lump in my throat.” In addition to that, he did not do anything to fracture the life of the Islamic Nation with its plotting enemies gathering from every direction. He ended by not sacrificing principles just to preserve his rule. He once said, “If it hadn’t been for religion, I would have been the worst of the Arabs.”

Ali (a) strived to place the most complete and comprehensive significance on worship, from the spiritual states he found in the prayer niche to the human conditions he encountered on the battlefield. Ali was not satisfied to divide life into a part for God and a part for other than God. All of life was for him a manifestation of God’s word which said, “Verily my prayer, my piety, my living, and my dying are all for God, the Lord of the Universe.” We could characterize Ali’s view of the world by saying that every action by every individual or society should be based on gaining God’s good pleasure, whether it be great or small. Is it odd that the slave should behave according to his Owner’s will?

It would never be acceptable to say that Islamic sacred law could be applied carelessly in regards to the leadership and guidance of the Islamic Nation, when it is amongst the single most important relationships in all of human society! That is because the behavior of the people in a society is closely linked with the top of the pyramid of leadership. When Musa (a)was absent from his community for forty nights, he didn’t leave them without the leadership of his successor, Haroun (a), and even in spite of that they took the golden calf as a God instead of the Almighty! So how could the Seal of the Prophets (s) neglect the issue of succession when he was well aware of the seeds of division that were already taking route?

The significance of the Imamate is that the one who holds it should be a model for the people, and as a ruler should be like a representative of God’s rule in every affair. So the one who possesses this rule should be at the highest level of integrity in thought and deed. This is the reason for the divine prohibition on the unjust claiming the leadership of the Islamic Nation.

People can be reasonably classified into several groups: 1– Those who are unjust their whole lives through, 2– those who are just in the beginning but unjust at the end, 3– those who are unjust at the beginning but just at the end, and 4– those who are just their entire lives. Naturally, the people of the first category don’t end up there spontaneously, and likewise for the people of the third group as the sacred verse declares. This is because the unjust person at some moment in his life reaches the point in which he doesn’t achieve the position of Imamate, and as a result he determines that achieving the last is crucial for this important position. Is there anyone better for this position than the one who never bowed down before an idol prior to the advent of Islam, the one who was the first to rush to the call of Islam, and who was first to aid the preservation of the message after the establishment of the rule of Islam?

Imam al-Sadiq (a) is reported to have said, “God took Ibrahim as a servant before He took him as a Prophet, and He took him as a Prophet before He took him as a Messenger, and He took him as a Messenger before He took him as a Friend, and He took him as a Friend before He made him Imam. And when He had assembled all these things for him, He said, verily, I have made you an Imam for the people. This was indeed a grand thing to Ibrahim. Ibrahim said, “And (there will be Imamate) from my offspring?”, and He said, “The unjust cannot disrupt my covenant.” From this sacred text we know that Ibrahim attained the position of Imamate during the latter part of his time when he received the divine affirmation of his achievement, and that was by the virtue of the sacrifice of his son Ismail (a) which gained him this status right. Hence Allah said, {Verily this is a manifest challenge for him}.

The practical lesson to be learned from the verse of the Imamate is that the one who wants to arrive at the highest level of communion, the stage of “friendship with the Most Merciful, to which no level comes closer”, then he should monitor himself closely for the divine tests which will uncover the sacred jewel. The people are doomed except for the knowledgeable, and the knowledgeable are doomed except for the ones who act, and the ones who act are doomed except for the sincere, and the sincere are in serious danger!

To follow the successors of the Prophet (s) is an honor and a duty. From one perspective, the one who follows them feels almost intoxicated because he is led closest to the houses in which God permits His name to be raised. Clearly Ahlul-Bayt (a) are the most knowledgeable about what is in that house! From another perspective the one who follows them feels that there is a tax for this sacred knowledge which is to go from simply having love for the Imam to practicing what the Beloved Imam loves. Between these two expressions there is a clear difference to the one who has heart, to the one who can hear and see. Do you see the difference? sacred knowledge which is to go from simply having love for the Imam to practicing what the Beloved Imam loves. Between these two expressions there is a clear difference to the one who has heart, to the one who can hear and see. Do you see the difference?

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