Today is the auspicious 13th of Rajab, the day the holy Ka’ba came alive exactly 1458 lunar years ago, as its wall miraculously parted to allow entry to a respected lady of the monotheist Hashemite clan, as she beseeched the One and Only Creator to help ease the pangs of delivery. The wall then closed behind her, as the Arabs looked in disbelief and amazement.
The Arab pagans who had polluted the Primordial House of Monotheism with idols were flabbergasted. They tried to break the door with crowbars but the locks and the wooden beams held steadfast. The edifice built by Adam at the dawn of creation and rebuilt by Abraham in antiquity was suddenly lit by Divine Light, with the birth in its holy precincts of a radiant boy who would be second only in merits to the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He was named Ali in honour of one of the loftiest attributes of the Lord Most High. Three days later the Arab idolaters were again stupefied when the same miracle occurred at the Ka’ba as its walls parted and closed to allow Fatema bint Asad (SA) to step out with her newborn son in her arms. To the further bewilderment of the heathen Arabs, a calm and unperturbed Abu Taleb stood at hand to smilingly greet his virtuous wife. Along with him was his nephew, the son of Abdullah his deceased brother, who gently stepped forward to take into his arms his infant first cousin. It was then that the baby boy opened his eyes. As the eyes of the two cousins caught each other there were smiles of acquaintance on both the faces as if the two were meeting after a period of separation. The sight was indeed dazzling as Light mirrored Light. The infant moved his lips and seemed to be expressing voiceless words when the elder cousin, the future Prophet, whispered something in his tender ears. The person who ten years later would be commanded by the Almighty to publicly proclaim his mission as the Last and Greatest of Prophets, smiled and said: In the light of Ali's birth, God Almighty will open the gates of His Mercy for His servants. Stay with us for a special feature on the blessed birthday of the Commander of all True Believers, the Leader of the Pious, the Epitome of Justice, the Symbol of Valour, the Gateway of the City of Knowledge, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
Imam Ali (AS) is indeed the finest example of the perfect man. In the words of the martyred Iranian scholar, Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, if we take Imam Ali (AS) as our role model and leader, we have made the perfect man our ideal, in whose dynamic personality all humanitarian values are reflected. Imam Ali (AS) transcends history and historical developments as the most excellent embodiment of human rights. The world has come to the conclusion that the so-called charters of human rights, drafted by fallible minds, are not the solution to the crises plaguing the world and have not brought to end the wars and bloodsheds that have made the fate of humanity miserable for thousands of years. In other words, only the divine system of justice, based on God’s revelation, can guarantee the better protection of human dignity and rights. The practical example in this regard is the life of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and the establishment of the government of social justice by his divinely-designated vicegerent, Imam Ali (AS). Although, his period of rule was cut short by an assassin’s sword after only four-and-a-half years, the precedent set by the One and Only Commander of the Faithful, continues to serve as inspiration for all seekers of truth till this day. In his realm that was spread over a large area from Egypt till Central Asia, and included people of various races, languages, colour of skin, and classes, Imam Ali (AS) practically demonstrated the proper implementation of the true charter of human rights.
Human rights without the concept of God, piety, and moral virtue, are impossible to achieve, since the human being is the creation of God and strives to achieve the proximity of the Almighty Creator during life. Thus, it is Islam which has given the world the correct concept of human rights, as is reflected in the personalities of the Prophet and his Infallible Ahl al-Bayt. Imam Ali (AS) remains the supreme embodiment of the practical implementation of human rights. The famous book Nahj al-Balagha, which is a selection of his eloquent sermons, letters and maxims, is a testimony in this regard. As a matter of fact, the Imam’s epistle of instructions to his governor of then Christian-majority Egypt, Malek Ashtar, has been hailed as the finest specimen of Human Rights, more complete and perfect than the so-called UN Charter of Human Rights. It teaches us how to treat human beings, irrespective of whether they are co-religionists, since mankind is descended from a single pair of parents. It shows us how to govern in a proper manner, with consideration for the rights of all and everybody else. No wonder, Imam Ali (AS) has been hailed as the Voice of Human Justice by even non-Muslim scholars, such as George Jordaq, who has written a series of books on this great personality.
Examples galore in the Nahj al-Balagha of the dynamic definition of God-oriented human rights by Imam Ali (AS) including his letter to his son, in which he says: Beware that you have been created for the hereafter and not for this world; and you will soon move from the abode in which you live. You are on the path whose end is the hereafter. So do not sell the hereafter for this world.
These words of the Commander of the Faithful are a reflection of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an where God points out to us the mortality of the world by emphasizing the eternal life that follows it in the hereafter. Thus, when we speak of human rights we should, in addition to human dignity, have our eyes focused on the Hereafter, and this is not possible except on the basis of faith in God Almighty, and adherence to His commandments. Islam grants rights of life to both the believer and the unbeliever, since man has been granted dignity by God Almighty. It is on the basis of free will that real faith is achieved. In view of this, freedom is also a fundamental right given by Islam. Freedom, however, does not mean unrestrained liberties that violate the rights of others. Freedom has its own rules and regulations, which were practically demonstrated by the Prophet and the Infallible Imams. For instance, Imam Ali (AS) once during his speech at the mosque was being targeted by his opponents with undue criticism. At times, these distractors tried to disrupt the gathering. The Imam, despite being the ruler of a vast realm, maintained his calm, and ignored their malice, because his goal was not the mere slogan of freedom and human rights, but building the cultural and social infrastructures of the Islamic society through deeds and words in a manner that he encouraged the people to express their opinions. At the same time he strove to inculcate in the governors, rulers, and administrators, the value of being patient in the face of criticism, rather than take any hasty action. Moreover, Imam Ali (AS) by expressing facts prevented the abuse of freedom and thus defined its limits.
Human rights also include the principle of equality of all human beings, provided this does not contradict the concept of justice, because justice means to grant a person his/her deserving right, according to one’s abilities, which means that in such cases, equality of all might not be justice. Imam Ali (AS) sacrificed his life for establishment of justice and equality in society. An example in this regard is his epistle to his governor of Egypt, Malek Ashtar, to which we have already referred earlier in this programme. It shows that Islam treats all human beings as equal, without the superficial differences of ethnicity, skin colour, class and creed. The actions of Imam Ali (AS) serve as lessons to us till this day. For instance, when certain companions of the Prophet demanded more money from the public treasury, the Imam warned them, saying that there is no difference between the Ansar of Medina or the Mohajer of Mecca, as well between the Arabs and the non- Arabs, since all Muslims are equal in the sight of God, and the real faith and virtue will become evident on the Day of Resurrection, when God will award people as per their merits and grades of sincerity. Imam Ali (AS) showed to us the rights of minorities in the Islamic state as well. Once when a Jew stole his saddle and brought it to the market to sell, the Imam recognizing it asked for its return. The Jew refused to do so, and denied he had stolen it. Despite being the ruler of a vast realm, the Imam preferred that the matter be settle in the court, and he himself like an ordinary citizen, attended the court. Since the Imam procured no witness to prove his claim to his own stolen property, the judge gave the verdict in the favour of the Jewish thief, and the Imam accepted the ruling. At this demonstration of equality and respect for law by the ruler himself, and that too vis-à-vis a member of a religious minority who had committed a crime, the Jew felt remorse, repented, admitted his misdemenour, and decided to convert to Islam.
This very special day is celebrated by Iranians as National Fathers’ Day and has entered the calendar out of respect for the Twelver Shiites’ first Imam.
Fathers’ Day it is a day to honor the place of fathers in the family and to celebrate the prestige of fathers in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Let us listen to a poem composed by Iran’s English language poet, Dr. Hassan Najafi, in honour of Imam Ali (AS)
All Prophets stand in a row
Who this infant; in respect they bow.
While we trace your birth we bask in your glow
Tears of joy our eyes overflow.
The heaven, mysterious in its works, decreed
The perfect boast of time to the Prophet must succeed.
To the majesty of the Ka’ba no elements adorn
Greater than Ali who therein was born!
O you; whose spirit divinely blest
The sacred crown of the Prophet’s crest,
In glittering arms and glory drest,
High we see you as a ruby crest.
How difficult to speak about Ali
Can an ocean be poured into a cup of tea!
The Prophet’s picture we see in your conduct’s frame
Closely consistent, closely equal – if not the same,
Undaunted by power, unmoved by year
You held the Prophet’s Mission dear.
Eternal sunshine at the Ka’ba overhead
Round it the rolling pilgrims seek Ali’s shade.
Your birth is a wonder alive in every age
You fill and in you is filled the Qur’an, page to page.
Your words and therein the hidden art
Charm every ear and gain on every heart.
In your every word persuasive wisdom flows
In your each deed divinity glows,
For our children, the epics of Ali are told
To instill faith, honour, and courage manifold.
Let us see Ali in the words of the Prophet
There remains no reason to suspect.
- “To find Ali, find the Truth
Wherever be Ali, there is Truth”.
- “Ali is with Truth and Truth with Ali
Truth rotates with the movements of Ali.”
- “As Aaron was to Prophet Moses
Your presence to me the same poses”.
- “Nobody knows you but me and God
Nobody knows me but you and God.”
- “I and Ali are created of the same clay
Prior to clay, we belong to one ray;
As such we both in the same qualities sway
Planets beyond the earth to us obey.”