In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate - - - Heartfelt condolences to you all on the tragic 21st of Ramadhan, the martyrdom of the most perfect and meritorious person after the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
Angels cried when his head was split while engrossed in the Morning Prayer on the 19th of Ramadhan by the poisoned sword of a renegade, and when his soul flew to the ethereal heavens they lined in rows to welcome it. In the words of his elder son and successor, after laying him to eternal rest in the dead of night:
“There has died tonight a man who was the first among the early in (good) actions. Nor did any later (believers) attain his level in (good) actions... He, peace be on him, has died on this night on which (Prophet) Jesus, son of Mary, was taken up (to heaven), on which Joshua, son of Noon, the testamentary legatee of (Prophet) Moses, peace be on him, died. He has left behind no gold or silver except seven hundred dirhams of his stipend, with which he was intending to procure a servant for his family.”
The words you heard are the tribute of a bereaved son for his departed father. This is how Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS) summed up the merits of the One and Only Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), on whose martyrdom anniversary we are clad in black these days, with public holiday declared in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Najaf, in Iraq, where he rests in eternal peace, the atmosphere is full of grief, with tens of thousands of devotees paying respect to him. Imam Ali (AS) even in the last moments of his life, did not feel bitter nor neglected the commandment of God. As the man who was Islam personified, in the state of acute pain he said:
“I advise you to fear Allah. Do not go after this vicious world though it may try to entice you. Do not seek it though it may seek you and do not grieve over and pine for things which this world refuses you. Let the eternal Reward and Blessings of Allah be the prompting factors for all that you say and do. Be an enemy of tyrants and oppressors and be a friend and helper of those who are oppressed and tyrannized.
Here is part of what he said while leaving the mortal world, on being struck in the state of ritual prayer in the Mosque of Kufa, in the fasting month of Ramadhan by the poisoned sword of the renegade Ibn Muljam al Moradi, after expressing that immortal phrase Fuzto wa Rabb-il-Ka’ba, which means by the Lord of the Ka’ba I have succeeded):
“As for my last will, it is that concerning Allah, do not believe in a partner for Him, and concerning Mohammad (SAWA) do not disregard his Sunnah. Keep these two pillars and burn these two lamps. Till you are not divided, no evil will come to you… I am departing from you like one who is eager to meet (someone). Tomorrow you will look at my days, then my inner side will be disclosed to you and you will understand me after the vacation of my place and its occupation by someone else.”
This was Imam Ali (AS), the Doyen of Justice, who said that even if the rule of the seven climes were to be given to him on condition that he take out a mere morsel of food from the mouth of an ant, he would never do so. He lived a simple life, wore coarse clothes, and ate meager food devoid of delicacies, despite being the ruler of a realm spreading from North Africa to Central Asia. The book Nahj al-Balagha that contains his letters, sermons, and maxims, is proof of his knowledge, wisdom, prudence, piety and patience, in addition to unsurpassed eloquence that is regarded by Arab literati, as next only to the Revealed Words of God Almighty. His words are bezels of wisdom and are keenly studied till this day. For instance we read in letter 47 of the Nahj al-Balagha:
“Develop mutual liking, friendship and love, and help one another. Take care that you do not spurn and treat one another badly and unsympathetically. Exhort people to do good and abstain them from evil, otherwise the vicious and the wicked will be your overlords and if you willingly allow such persons to be your rulers then your prayers will not be heard by Allah."
The greatness of Imam Ali (AS) is greater than one could imagine. The magnanimous cousin and Divinely-Decreed Successor of the Seal of Messengers, continued to give precious advice to the usurpers for the sake of Islam, advising the Second Caliph against personally participating in the wars against the Romans and the Persians, for obvious reasons, when ordinary mortals would have wished for calamities to befall the deprivers of their rights. For the sake of God, Prophet and Islamic unity, he refused to take by force his usurped right in order to save the neo-Muslim Arabs from reverting to paganism, even when the regime stormed his house with fire and crowbars, and mortally injured his wife, the Prophet’s daughter, by smashing the door upon her.
Here we present you tribute in verse to Imam Ali (AS) by Iran’s English language poet, Dr. Hassan Najafi:
Your love the parting soul requires
Even in our ashes live your love’s fires.
In your love alone awakes living soul’s lyre
Hearts become alive when burn in your love’s fire.
Freezes the genial current of the soul
In Saqifa the enmity its folds unroll.
It was your presence that their crimes confirmed
And their presence shut the gates of mercy on mankind.
Hear the drowning men’s cries in the tempest brought
By the dark power of a mock Islam – a fake thought.
And this keeps ever going in a slow winding flood
Perpetual the spray, constant the train of its mud.
In your Name, by your Name our identity is unfurled
You always triumphed and presides over the world.
Your love holds an irresistible might
Else, all is ignorance, all in night.
Because of your love descend the angels in nightly crew
To deck our graves with pearly dew.
You can’t dignify the caliph’s Noble Race
Saqifa, content yourself with a humbler place.
The prosperity of this and that world you combine
Creation’s Heir, Ali, and again Ali is mine.
Oft a sigh prevails, sorrows fall
To see the hoard of your love so small.