Yesterday, on the 13th of Rajab, we celebrated the birthday of Imam Ali (AS) as the only person who was born at the holiest spot on Planet Earth, that symbolic house of the Unseen but Omnipresent Creator, the sacred Ka'ba. The faithful are still basking in the blessings of the birth anniversary of the only person born in the holy Ka’ba, and who grew up to become the divinely-appointed vicegerent of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). This is certainly food for thought for Muslims.
Now we understand why God decreed the Ka'ba to be the centre of monotheistic worship and the focal point of the annual Hajj pilgrimage – a ritual that was initiated by Abraham in antiquity and formalized for all time by the Last and Greatest of Divine Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in the limelight of written history. Here we present you excerpts from one of the famous sermons of Imam Ali (AS) on the characteristics of the Imam, or the divinely-decreed leader of mankind.
Once, when TareqibnShehabrequested Imam Ali (AS) to explain to him the virtues of the divinely-appointed Imam or Leader of mankind, he was told: “O Tareq, the Imam is ‘Kalimatullah’ or Word of Allah; ‘Hujjat-Allah or the Proof of Allah; Wajh-Allah or the Face of Allah; ‘Noor-Allah’ or the light of Allah; and ‘Ayat-Allah’ or the Sign of Allah. He is chosen by Allah who bestows upon him whatever (qualities, perfections) He chooses, and makes it compulsory on all His creatures to obey him (that is, the Imam). Thus he (the Imam) is Allah’s (appointed) ruler in all the heavens and the earth. Allah has taken a covenant regarding this from all His servants… For the Imamis both justice andtruth. A column of light (stretching) from the earth to the sky is created for him, in which he witnesses the actions of (the whole) mankind. He is enrobed in the (cloak of) power and dignity; he knows what is in the minds (of people) and has access to the unseen; he has been entrusted with absolute power (in conducting his affairs); he beholds all that rests between the dominions of the East and the West: There is nothing from the realms of ‘Mulk and Malakoot’, which is hidden from him; and he has been granted the ability to communicate with the birds, during the time of his Wilayah… Allahhas proclaimed his governance and has granted him the (privilege) to rule, and has commanded all to obey him. This is because the Imamate is the legacy of the Prophets. Indeed it is the vicegerency of Allah and His Messenger (on earth) and therefore (the Imam) is regarded infallible… Indeed, it is the (True) guidance since it is the perfection of the ‘deen’ (or religion) and the benchmark of all virtues.”
Imam Ali (AS), elaborating further on the status of the Infallible Imam, says: “The Imam thus, is the guide for the seekers (of truth), a beacon for the (rightly) guided, an established path for the travellers (to Allah) and a radiant sun in the hearts of devotees of Allah (al-Arefoon). His Wilayah is the vehicle leading to salvation, submission to him is obligatory in this life, (and has many benefits) as well as an instrument (of deliverance) in the hereafter, he is the source of courage and glory for the true believers; means of intercession for the sinners; a minaret of deliverance for the believers; and a standard of triumph for the obedient. This is due to the fact that Imam is the only one who can guide to the real Islamic path by revealing the virtues of ‘Imaan’ (or true belief), recognition of limits of rewards and punishments and clarifying the laws related to the permissible and the prohibited... Indeed, the Imam provides knowledge of the boundaries and injunctions (of Allah) and makes clear the lawful and unlawful. The Imamate is a station that none can reach except those whom Allah has chosen and has given them precedence (over others), investing them with the authority to rule and to judge. Thus wilayah is (nothing other than) safeguarding (people) from danger and disaster and the management of all affairs, (even down to) demarcating the days and months. The Imam is fresh and sweet water for those thirsting (for knowledge & wisdom). The Imam is the sun that rises over (Allah’s) servants with its (illuminating) rays. The grasp and understanding of people cannot comprehend his attributes. This is alluded to in the words of Allah, most high (in the Qur’an): “To Allah belongs awe and glory and to his messenger and to the true believers”.
Here, the reference is to Imam Ali (AS) and the 11 Infallible Imams after him.
In continuation of his description of the virtues and characteristics of the Divinely-Appointed leader of mankind, Imam Ali (AS) said: “He is Unique of his age and unparalleled to none… There is none similar to him and no one can take his place. So, who is there that can attain knowledge about us; or can reach our rank; or can witness our miracles; or can ever comprehend our status. In this matter, wisdom and intellect are bewildered; understanding becomes perplexed. Our status is so eloquent that the great ones appear worthless, and the scholars dwindle (into insignificance); the Poets become exhausted and wary; the genius stutter and are speechless; the great orators begin to stammer; and the masters of language are humbled. Who has the ability and perception to recognise even one Divine attribute of an Imam… the focal point of the universe, the pivot of all that revolve, the secrets of all that is possible to exist, the ray of the Divine Creator, the majesty of the Most Great and the honour of the heavens and the earth. The station of the progeny of Prophet (Mohammad – SAWA) is exalted above description of the describers and the qualifications depicted by the highly qualified. Nor can they be compared with anyone in any realm or world. How could it be possible to describe them, since they are the first light (created by Allah)…
Imam Ali (AS), who for 25 years was deprived of his right to the political leadership of the Islamic state by persons masquerading as caliphs, then said: “Thus whoever turns away from them (the divinely-decreed leaders) has indeed deserted the Oneness of Allah…Those who imagine that some of the qualities of Prophet’s progeny can be found in other people are, in fact, crafty liars and have gone astray from the righteous path and they have chosen to worship the Calf (false god) as their Lord, and have joined the ranks of Satan. This is all due to their intense animosity against the house of Divine qualities, and the family of the virtuousness and infallibility and jealousy towards the household of the Prophet. Satan has made them believe that their (devious) actions are honourable. May Allah destroy them and destine them towards hellfire. How could they have selected an ignorant as an Imam, who used to worship idols and was a well-known deserter on the day of (armed) jihad? And none should be superior to him in (nobility) descent and nor should he be inferior (to anyone) in his lineage… O Tareq, the people have abandoned him (the true Imam) and followed their own desires and who can be more astray than the one who follows his whims without any guidance from Allah.”
What we presented you were excerpts from a lengthy sermon by Imam Ali (AS), whose 4-and-a-half-year model government of social justice continues to be an inspiration for all those striving to implement the dynamic teachings of Islam in society. We end the programme with a supplication to God regarding Imam Ali (AS). This is actually part of the Prophet's prayer to God on 18thZilhijja 10 AH, that is, the Day of Ghadeer, when after proclaiming the leadership of Imam Ali (AS) to a huge assembly of over 120,000 Hajj pilgrims returning from the House of God, the Prophet said:
"O Allah! Send blessings upon Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, Your Prophet's brother and his trustee, his testamentary legatee, his vicegerent, the repository of his knowledge, the keeper of his secrets, the gateway of his wisdom, the spokesman of his proofs, the inviter to his shari'ah, his caliph over his ummah, the remover of grief from his countenance, the annihilator of infidels, the humiliator of transgressors, and the one whom You decreed for Your Prophet like what Aaron was to Moses..."