Faith Matters: Ali ibn Abi Tālib: A Leader and a Noble Example for Humanity!

Image: Hakob Hovnatanyan.

By Imam Rizwan Rizvi, Minister of Religion, Masjid-E-Ali

“He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, and he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere”- Ali ibn Abi Tālib

This Saturday March 31st 2018, millions of people around the world observe the birth anniversary of a man whose social justice work has been celebrated for centuries now. Global thought leaders, including those in the United Nations, has openly acknowledged his formative reform work around political administration, protection of minority rights and women empowerment during his time. This man is no one other than Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and the son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.

Born in the year 601 in Mecca Saudi Arabia, Ali brought about radical changes around fiscal and monetary policies that supported notions of equality and justice for all. While his caliphate existed between 656 and 661, Ali is regarded as the rightful immediate successor, or ‘Imam’ after the death of Prophet Muhammad by Shia Muslims.

Imam Ali is respected not only as a just leader, but also for his extensive knowledge in theology, astronomy, Islamic law and Arabic literature and grammar. His policies and ideas of government are manifested in a landmark 658 AD letter that was addressed to the newly appointed Governor of Egypt, Malik Al-Ashtar.

As Imam Ali’s legacy continues to challenge oppression around the world even today, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a historic resolution in 2002:

“The Caliph Ali ibn abi Talib is considered the fairest governor who appeared during human history (After the Prophet Muhammed)”

The World Organization for Human Rights called the rulers of the world to follow the example of Imam Ali’s sound and humanitarian method in ruling which revealed the spirit of social justice and peace. In his letter Imam Ali notes that people are two kinds; either brothers in faith or equal in humanity, urging him to treat people, who were not Muslims, with charity and beneficence confirming the necessity of equality among the Jews and Christians with Muslims in rights and tasks. The UN most notably mentioned six sayings of Imam Ali which were distributed among world leaders. They include consultation between the ruler and the ruled, speaking out against corruption and other wrong doings, ensuring justice to all, achieving domestic development, and being mindful of masses welfare.

Imam Ali is admired for the deep sympathy and support he showed for the poor and orphans. He is quoted as saying: “If God grants wealth and prosperity to any person, he should show kindness to his deserving kith and kin, should provide for the poor, should come the assistance of those are oppressed with calamities, misfortunes and reverses, should help the poor and have-nots and should assist honest people to liquidate their loans.”

As with any social justice movement, Imam Ali’s efforts were not looked upon kindly by the political powers of the time and he managed to cultivate opposition for his work around governance, justice and equality. At the age of 61, Imam Ali was attacked and wounded by a poison-coated sword while prostrating in the morning prayer at the Great Mosque of Kufa, Iraq. Imam Ali died two days later on 29 January 661 and is buried in Najaf, Iraq.

Today, people around the world celebrate his birthday every year on the 13th day of Rajab (the 7th month of Islamic calendar) which falls on Saturday, March 31st this year.  Members of the community will gather at Masjid-e-Ali in Somerset to celebrate the birth anniversary of this great personality.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate recognizes the rich faith-based community that calls the township its home. We welcome submissions by representatives of those faiths; email them to editor@franklinreporter.com.

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