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The Personality of Imam Ali (A.S.), a Perfect Example

The Personality of Imam Ali (A.S.), a Perfect Example
(By Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi)

One look at the life of Amir ul-Mu'minin 'Ali (a.s.) will make the best of us hang our heads in shame. We would appear to be the most despicable and wretched creatures, when judged in the light of his excellence.

The Holy Prophet (S) says: "A stroke of 'Ali (a.s.) on the day of Khandaq (battle of Ahzab) is superior to the total worship of men and jinns." (Bihar al-Anwar)

'Ali (a.s.), inspite of his exalted position, is all humility when he addresses his Lord. Not an iota of significance does he attach to his outstanding achievements. They are all a Mercy from his Creator. In himself, he sees only shortcomings, faults and weaknesses for which he weeps and prays till he becomes unconscious. Abu Darda relates that I heard 'Ali (a.s.) reciting in a disconsolate voice: "O my Lord, there is no doubt that I have spent a good part of my life in Your disobedience.

Still I do not hope for forgiveness from anyone but You. Nor do I intend to please anyone except You. O my real Master when I think of Your Mercy, the weight of my sins begins to feel light. But when I remember Your severity, the load of the difficulties crush me."

Abu Darda says, 'When there was a silence after this, I moved forward and saw that 'Ali (a.s.) had fallen unconscious. When I shook his arm, it seemed lifeless. I thought that my master 'Ali (a.s.) has passed away.'

Similarly Zorara says, 'Once I saw 'Ali (a.s.) in the last part of a dark night. He was holding his beard and pleading in a sorrowful voice: 'O! The provisions for the journey are less and the distance vast. The way is horrifying and the path dangerous.'

'Ali (a.s.) says in Du'a Kumail: "O Allah the trials have increased and my condition has deteriorated and my good deeds are very few."

The personality of 'Ali (a.s) is a Model for Us

Like his fear, the hope of 'Ali (a.s.) is also well known. Since his birth upto the last moments of his life he remained engrossed in worship and obedience. He did not forgo worship even for a single moment. Sometimes he used to pray a thousand rakats of prayers in a day. Throughout his life, he fasted the whole of the month of Shaban. He never missed the midnight prayers. Even in the night of the battle of Siffin, which is known as the coldest of the nights he offered his midnight prayers. For Three continuous days he broke his fast with water. He gave his share of bread to the poor, the needy and the orphans. He gave in charity the proceeds of the sale of the garden that he had planted with his own hands. A detailed chapter of Bihar al-Anwar deals with the endowments of 'Ali (a.s.) and his charity. A few examples are quoted below.

An Excerpt from the Will of 'Ali (a.s.)

The will of 'Ali (a.s.) is phrased in the following manner: "This writing is that in which we have willed regarding one's belongings. The slave of Allah, 'Ali hopes that Allah shall reward him for this by Heaven and shall protect him from the fire of the Hell on the day when the faces of some people would be white and the others black. Whatever property I own in 'Yambao' and its suburbs, I leave all of it as an endowment to achieve the happiness of Allah." Inspite of excelling in good deeds and worship, while returning from a battle, he was seen exclaiming,

"Certainly, the best deed of a man is to die a martyr. I fear I may not get a chance to achieve martyrdom."

At last the Holy Prophet (S) informed him: "O 'Ali! Your end shall be martyrdom."

We Shall Follow 'Ali (a.s)

We may think that it is not possible for sinners like us to come up to the level of a lofty personality like 'Ali (a.s.) in terms of piety and spiritual realization. In reply to this we can say that, though it is not possible for us to reach that stage we can at least try to follow his commands as much as possible. For example, if a child sees a shining cobra, it is possible that he may try to catch it and risk being bitten to death?

Let us suppose the child is accompanied by his father. In such a situation the father who is aware of the poisonous qualities of the cobra will shout warnings and move forward to rescue the child. O the heedless one! Is not 'Ali (a.s.) your spiritual father and the virtual guide? Are you not the claimant of his love and Wilayat. If your reply is positive then you must strive to follow and imitate your master as much as possible. The hardships and the punishments of the Day of Judgement make one shudder with horror and one cannot be complacent about the preparations of this last journey. If you are a true Shia of 'Ali (a.s.) then he is the best model for you. 'Ali (a.s.) has himself said, "You cannot imitate me entirely, but you can imitate (to some extent) and follow us."

"Our Shias are only those who follow us."

Warning of the Leader

The leader of the caravan issues warning regarding the dangers of the journey and advises his followers to make all the necessary provisions for the perils and the wild animals they would encounter. Every person will be responsible for himself. Saying this he himself busies himself in preparations. The fear of the impending journey makes him terror-stricken. Seeing their leader in this condition the followers respond by feeling a similar concern for the journey and its preparations. Let us not be complacent and heedless, and waste precious moments. Let us follow our Imam (a.s.) faithfully, so that we do not have to face remorse on the Day of Judgement.

The Chief of the Caravan is Terror-Stricken

O! the caravans of piety and belief. The leader of your caravan, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is extremely afraid of the pitfalls of the last journey. He has issued clear warnings regarding the dangers. Every night he announced at the Masjid al-Kufa, "Travellers! may Allah have Mercy upon you. Pack up the provisions for your journey and be prepared. Certainly you have in your path deep ravines and terrible dangers. There is no alternative but to traverse this path."

After this he used to say, "It is a pity! The provisions are meagre and the journey extremely long and the destination, great." (Nahjul Balagha). It is truly deplorable that our involvement in worldly affairs has created a wide unsurmountable gap between us and our Imam (a.s.). We have been completely cut off from his virtuous life and perfect morals. May Allah (S.w.T.) protect us from departing His influence to follow the misguidance of Satan. Certain sins cause us to be deprived of the Wilayat of Allah (S.w.T.) and love of Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) and lead us to the Wilayat of Satan. After this we come under the control of Satan who rules us totally. Let us take refuge with Allah (S.w.T.) from such a doom.

Insulting a Believer Expels One From Wilayat

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "If a person slanders a believer to expose his faults to the public, or to insult him, Allah expels him from His Wilayat and leaves him to the Wilayat of Satan." (al-Kafi)

"Like the Satan when he says to man: Disbelieve, but when he disbelieves, he says: I am surely clear of you; surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds."
(Surah al-Hashr 59:16).

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