HAZRAT ABBAS IBNE ALI

It was the fourth of Sha’ban in the year 26 AH. In the holy city of Medina, a man came running to the Prophet’s Mosque. He stood for a moment at the door looking among the worshippers for some particular person.He was excited and when he spotted the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (PBUH), he rushed towards him breathlessly, shouting I have good news for you.The man was none other than Qanbar the faithful servant of the Imam. hadhrat <span style='background-color:yellow'>abbas</span>
He wiped the sweat off his forehead and said: my master I am coming from your house now and God Almighty has blessed with another son. I have come to give you this good news and ask what should he be named. Happiness could be seen in the Imam’s eyes. He smiled and said this child has a high status before God. I will come home now. I will name this son Abbas like my Uncle. That day was the fourth of Shaban.

Many experts in psychology believe inheritance; education and the surrounding environment play important roles in forming human beings’ personality. In this regard, Hazrat Abbas grew up under special conditions.

He grew up in a house where worldly ornaments were not important, but which was filled with the light of God and love for humanity and its ethereal values. He grew up among brothers as noble as the Prophet’s two grandson Imam Hassanand Imam Hussein (pe ace be upon them). He grew up in a household on whom the Prophet had asked God to bestow His blessings. This house was the place of hope and refuge of the world.

It was the habit of Imam Ali (PBUH) to cultivate and irrigate the palm groves and then endow them to the needy. Abbas acquired these qualities from his father as well as from his brothers Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (peace be upon them), the illustriou s sons of the Prophet’s impeccable daughter Hazrat Fatemah (peace be upon her) who had long expired.

He soon adorned himself with the highest human characteristics. Hazrat Abbas’ life was filed with knowledge and love.

He was wise and knowledgeable as well as tall, handsome and brave. Among the Arabs it was a tradition to name beautiful children Qamar or moon. And Hazrat Abbas acquired the epithet of Qamar-e Bani Hashem or the Moon of the Bani Hashem Clan.He was also polite and patient and this was a reminder of his father’s words that No heritage is worthier than politeness.

Hazrat Abbas, who was brought up in such a congenial atmosphere never sat down without permission in front of his brothers Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (peace be upon them).

He respected the high status of his brothers as the heirs of his father and the righteous successors of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny). Soon his knowledge and wisdom reached a level in which the scholars of his era become humble before him. Hazrat Abbas since his youth showed signs of bravery and courage alongside his father Imam Ali (PBUH).

During the Siffeen war against the rebel governor of Syria Mua’wiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, when the enemies blocked water to camp of the Muslims, Hazrat Abbas who was in his early teens entered the battlefield with a veil on his face to hid his true identity. Mua’wiyah ordered one of his powerful men Abu Shasa to confront him.

The Syrian arrogantly said: People compare my bravery to a thousand riders, now you want me to fight this young boy? Abu Shasa sent his youngest son to confront him. But his son was soon defeated and killed. Abu Shasa then sent his other son, but to his surprise, he was also killed. Then Abu Shasa fuming with rage swallowed his proud words and personally entered the battlefield seeking to avenge the death in combat of his sons. But the boy was such valiant that he defeated him and made swift work of th e infidel.

At this sight, the Muslim army rejoiced and felt surprised at the bravery of the young masked lad. Imam Ali (PBUH) called the youth and took the mask off his face. Then everyone saw that the brave youth was no one but Hazrat Abbas.

During the era of Imam Hassan (PBUH), Hazrat Abbas stood steadfastly at his side despite the plots of the enemies to snatch away the political leadership of the Ummah from the Prophet’s elder grandson. Despite his courage, Hazrat Abbas always followed th e Imam and was patient.

He retired with the Prophet’s Household to Medina from Kufa in Iraq when the rebel Mua’wiya deceived the Iraqi people and forced Imam Hassan (PBUH) to sign a peace treaty relinquishing the caliphate. Ten years later when Imam Hassan (PBUH) was martyred through poisoning, the divine right of imamate came to rest on the shoulders of the Prophet’s younger grandson Imam Hussein (PBUH). Hazrat Abbas proved loyal and true to the Imam as always.

He was a faithful and trustworthy advisor. So devoted was Abbas that he never left the side of his beloved brother Imam Hussein (PBUH). The height of the greatness of the personality of Hazrat Abbas reached its peak in Karbala and the heroic martyrdom. In chaotic conditions when the people were entangled with worldly desires and succumbed to the offer of posts, he became the Imam’s flag bearer and led his troops.

Guarding the Imam, protecting the tents of the womenfolk of the Prophet’s household, caring for the children and making a sacrifice to bring water to the thirsty camp of Imam Hussein (PBUH) were among the most beautiful and epical manifestations of his l ife in Karbala.

In reality in Karbala Hazrat Abbas’ effort to satisfy God and carry out his duty, astonished the world. In Karbala Yazid’s troops cut the water supply to the Imam’s camp. When the young children could no longer tolerate thirst, Hazrat Abbas volunteered to bring them water. But this was almost impossible.

With his courage, he drove away hordes of enemies and reached the banks of the River Euphrates. Although he was thirsty himself, he never drank a drop of water. After filling the goatskin water-carrier, while he was making his way towards the Imam’s camp , the cowardly enemy attacked him from all sides. One of his hands was severed when he was struck from behind.

He fought single-handedly with his left arm, which was also severed by the Omayyud marauders. Nevertheless, he spurred his horse towards the Imam’s camp hoping to take water to the thirsty children. Alas, he was not destined to do so. The enemies burst upon him like a pack of jackals and shot arrows in his eye and at his chest piercing the goatskin water-carrier and making the water flow on the ground.

Hazrat Abbas thus drank the cup of eternal martyrdom in this valiant name and the memory of this great sacrifice will remain eternal in history. In 10th muharam even many non-Muslims bow at the threshold of Hazrat Abbas in Karbala and beseech God Almighty t hrough him.

Imam Zain ol-Abedin says about his uncle Hazrat Abbas, My uncle Abbas will have such a high status before God on the day of resurrection that all the martyrs will envy him.

Hur ibn Yazid al Riyahi

O Hur, May your mother weep for you – Hussain.

Hur ibn Yazid al Riyahi was the general of the Ummayad army dispatched from Kufa, Iraq to intercept Imam Hussain. Hur was ordered along with his 1,000 soldiers to bring Imam Hussain and his followers to Kufa. Initially responsible for holding Imam Hussain and his followers captive, Hur died fighting on Hussain’s behalf.

Hur’s short but provocative mark on history spans less than one week’s time, but is embedded with complex details and fatal turns of events that led to the death of Imam Hussain during the Battle of Karbala.

As the events unfolded, one of the companion of Hur asked:

“Whats wrong with you Hur? I am puzzled by your case, by God if I were asked about the bravest man in our army I wouldn’t hesitate to mention your name, and now you are so disturbed and worried?”

“I find myself between the Hell and the Heaven, and I have to select between them, and by God I will not choose but Heaven, even if I were cut to pieces or burnt to ashes!”

Once decided, He slowly approaches the camp of Hussain, and as he gets closer he hangs his boots from his neck, and keeps his armor down (as a sign of remorse)

“I am the one who closed your path O Hussain! Is there a repentance for me?”

Hussain embraced Hur and welcomed him to his army. Hur was the first one who went into the field against the enemy and charged bravely and laid down his life, after killing more than 40 enemies. Imam Hussain rushed to find him with big cut on the head. Hur asked Imam, “Did I do well and are you satisfied?” And the Imam replied: “Your mother made the right choice by naming you Hurr (The Freeman), you are free in this life and the beyond”. The holy Imam tied Hur’s head with the cloth of her mother, Hazrath Fatimah. He was among the lucky ones who laid their lives on the lap of Imam Hussain.

Imam Hussain’s Revolution: Reasons and Motives

All those who are familiar with the Imam’s life do certainly realize that his role in serving Islam had started very early in his life. He has contributed to the rising Islamic movement when he was a boy, and played a significant role, when his father was the Commander of the faithful, taking part in all three wars that his father fought along with the rest of the faithful companions and followers.

When his brother Hassan (A.S.) became Imam, he obeyed and followed him in all what he said or did. Then his role entered a new stage with the passing away of his brother. And since the role of any Imam of Ahlul-Bait is defined in accordance with the nature of the social and political conditions of his age, the Imam drew a new course in determining the direction of the Islamic movement.

Winds of Revolution:

When Muawiah died in the middle of Rajab of year 60(Hijra), and his son Yazid took power, and ordered his walis to ask for the people’s pledge of loyalty and especially that of Imam Hussain (A.S.), a wave of rejection and opposition to the policy of betrayal and tyranny mounted, and the Imam decided to rise to his religious responsibilities as the lawful Imam and the leader of the Islamic nation entrusted with the task of preserving its divine message.

He (A.S.) went to his grandfather’s (S.A.W) grave, and recited the following prayer:

“O God, This is the grave of your Prophet, Muhammad (S.A.W) and I am his daughter’s son, and I have come to know what you undoubtedly know. O God, I like to enjoin the good and reject the evil. I ask you O All-Mighty God by this grave and by who is in it to choose for me what would please You and Your Prophet”.

Thus Imam Hussain (A.S.) pledged that he would defend the message whatever the cost, as long as it would lead to Allah’s satisfaction.

The Imam went on to meet with his relatives and followers and inform them of his intention to leave to Mekkah. He was met by a lot of opposition of those who tried to dissuade him, either because they were afraid that he would get killed, or because they were not courageous enough to follow him. But his resolve to uphold the right was not shaken by such objections or threats.

He declared his first revolutionary communiqué which took the form of a will he wrote to his brother, Muhammad bin Al-Hanifiah:

“…I did not revolt for the cause of evil tyranny or corruption, but to reform my grandfather’s (Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)) nation. I want to enjoin the good and denounce the evil, and take the course of my father and grandfather”.

This eternal communiqué was the official declaration of his revolution.

The Imam (A.S.) traveled to Mekkah and there he chose to stay at the house of Al-Abass bin Abdul Mutalib, where the faithful believers of Mekkah, as well as those outside it, started to visit him and pledge loyalty to him. News about the political uprising in Kaufa reached Mekkah, and the leaders of the city wrote a letter in which they declared their opposition to the Ummayad rule, and they would not accept anybody else but Imam Hussain (A.S.) to rule them. This letter was followed by many other letters asking the Imam to come to their city to assume his rule as an Imam of the faithful.
On the way to the Greater Martyrdom:

Yazid became so worried that he decided to send an army led by Umar bin Saad bin Abi Waqqas, to kill the Imam wherever they found him and whatever the costs. When the Imam heard that Yazid’s army was heading towards Mekkah, he was afraid that they would violate the sanctuary of the City, so he decided to leave to Kaufa although he knew before hand the ultimate destiny he was to face.

Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his companions headed towards Iraq; although he was certain that he was going to be killed. But he believed that the true victory of Allah’s message would be realized through his martyrdom, since there was no one else to stand up for the oppression. He knew that the nation would not wake up except by such a great shock. Therefore, let this shock be his martyrdom, along with Ahlul-Bait who went all the way with him.

The Reasons of the Revolution:

Imam Hussain (A.S.) did not possess the necessary force that would enable him to win; he did not even rely on those who wrote to him from Kaufa. For he declared his revolution before he received their letters and delegates. Al-Hijaz too did not give him enough support to be able to stand against the Ummayads. Therefore he decided to leave to Iraq for the sole reason of preventing any blood shedding in the Holy City of Mekkah. Moreover, he knew that he was destined to die; yet he went on.

Why then did he insist; and why did he declare his revolution?

To answer this question, one should be aware of the following facts:

First: Yazid represented a real danger to the Islamic nation, for he was not a true Muslim. He was not properly educated with the teachings of Islam. And he used to drink alcohol, gamble, and commit all other sins according to historic sources. He said: Banu Hashim staged a play to obtain the Kingdom. Actually, there was neither any news (from Allah) nor any revelation. Such a man could not be entrusted with the affairs of the nation. Nevertheless, the faithful forces, with Imam Hussain (A.S.) as their leader, had benefited a lot from these points of weakness in the personality of such an evil ruler.

In these circumstances it might not be strange to see many Muslim dignitaries trying to convince Imam Hussain (A.S.) to avoid the confrontation with Yazid, although they bore witness to the corruption of the Ummayads, and they also realized that it was the Imam’s duty and right to face it. He was thus approached by Abdallah bin Umar bin Khattab and Abdallah bin Al-Zubair, as well as some of his family members. These are some of the manifestations of the absence of the militant spirit among most Muslim leaders.

As for the common people, this negative spirit spread among them to a terrifying extent. The people of kaufa, for example, broke all their pledges promises and oaths, once they were subjected to the wave of terror led by Ibn Ziyad, as well as seducing them with promises of wealth and power. These factors were among the main reasons that led to the announcement of the revolution. The Imam wanted to shake the dead consciences because he knew that there was no reason what speeches and talks to galvanize and mobilize the people and solidify their morals.

Second: The general level of the nation as a whole was below the required to stand up to the current of sweeping deviation. A tendency to treasure the pleasures of this world began to be visible in all sections of the nation, as a substitute to the spirit of sacrifice for the cause of Allah. And this enabled the opportunistic current to win and hold the positions of ruling and guidance.

Third: It was necessary that the nation should learn about the true Islamic conception of the Imamate; it’s true role and its dimensions. The dangerous effects of undermining the Islamic conceptions which was played by the Ummayad rule was never emerging from the grass root level, but rather from the high levels of leadership that monopolized all means of guidance. Therefore, in accordance with the demands of the Islamic message, and the qualities that have to be available in a Muslim ruler, Imam Hussain (A.S.) had to explain these issues to the Muslim masses in every speech he made or any other opportunity he had: “O people you have to be pious believers, and know the right. That is better for you. We the members of the family of Muhammad (Ahl ul-Bait) are more entitled to be the rulers than those who claim what is not rightfully theirs; those oppressors and tyrants”.

With such roaring words the Imam Hussain (A.S.) revealed that the Ummayads who have deviated from the right Islamic path are not fit to be rulers, and explained to the nation the foundations of the course an Islamic traits that are embodied in the Imam himself that qualify him to be Imam of the nation. Thus, underlining the Islamic conception of the Imamate and revealing the falsehood of the Ummayad claims were among the fundamental reasons that made the Imam declare his revolution.

Fourth: The Islamic message offers no justification for the Muslim to relief him from performing his duties as a man who has obligations towards the message he believes in. Man in the Islamic society is not an independent individual but rather a person who is integrated in his society and who should perform his duties towards the Islamic message. But to fulfill his commitments towards Allah’s Shariah in enjoining the good and forbidding the evil meant that he had to follow the path of the revolution, because it was the only way that provided any hope for reform in his grandfather’s (S.A.W) nation.

These are the main reasons that gave Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his companions the right to declare the victorious revolution, which immortalized Islam and inspired the coming generations to defend it and to hold fast in the Holy Wars of Jihad.

Pakistan’s Original Sin

The fields of Hampshire are usually associated with blazing crops of rapeseed and fragrant lavender. But on the final weekend of August, over 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims from all over the world converged on Oakland Farm in East Worldham to attend Jalsa Salana, the biggest Islamic convention in the United Kingdom. Abid Khan, the press secretary of the Ahmadi community, said by phone that the purpose of the gathering is “the promotion of peace, tolerance, brotherhood, and advancing true Islamic ideals.” The conviviality of proceedings and numerous banners emblazoned with the community’s motto (love for all, hatred for none) epitomized this sentiment.

Meanwhile, scenes of a very different nature were playing out in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, as the country plunged deeper into its latest crisis. Anti-government protestors, led by firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri and cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, stormed the headquarters of the national television channel, PTV, causing it to be taken off the air. After a fortnight of political deadlock in which demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over allegations of election fraud, things escalated dramatically with the attack on the state broadcaster and a march on Sharif’s residence, resulting in fierce clashes with police. With neither side willing to compromise, the present turmoil shows no signs of abating.

Just over 40 years ago, in the second constitutional amendment, the government of then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. It was a moment of great significance in the history of the country, and it led Pakistan and the community it has long sought to ostracize down divergent paths. It also set off a chain of events that continue to shape the political and social landscape of the nation to this day.

The founding members of Pakistan, led by their quaid, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, were secularists in their principles and ideals, yet throughout the independence movement their chief rallying cry was that of Islam. Religion was the common thread by which they were able to unite Muslims of different ethnicities, provincial lines, languages, and cultures. It also augmented the two-nation theory advanced by Jinnah to the British, by which he argued that the chasm between the Muslims and Hindus of the subcontinent was so vast that they could not feasibly be expected to live together. As soon as the country was formed, the role of Islam in the new polity assumed a prominent position in the national debate, and religious groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami, which had originally opposed its creation, seized the opportunity to advance their own theocratic version of statehood. A symbolic victory was struck as early as 1949, when the Objectives Resolution — a preamble to Pakistan’s first constitution — admitted certain religious concessions.

Running concurrently with the issue of Islam was the notorious Ahmadi question, which was finally deemed to be settled by Bhutto and in later years by military dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. The constitutional amendment of 1974 not only marginalized Ahmadis in a country they had helped build from its foundations — the efforts of Pakistan’s first foreign minister, Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, most readily come to mind — but also left a pernicious legacy, with a litany of devastation that is as long as it is grim. Its initial impact was to confirm the union between statecraft and religion. Whereas the 1973 constitution declared Islam the state religion, the amendment gave legislators the power to determine their own definition of religious identities, and thereby the two became inextricably bound together. From this moment forth, Pakistan has, for in all practical purposes, existed as an ideological state. The Islamization policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq built on these foundations with the promulgation of Ordinance XX, which effectively criminalized all religious activities of the Ahmadis. Zia also set up a federal sharia court, enacted various Islamic laws, and made religious education compulsory in all schools. Over the years, Islamic legislation has legitimized the role of religious parties in both politics and society and is often used to persecute and ostracize minority groups and those who are deemed to fall foul of Islamic principles. This has had a corrosive effect on governance and social stability in Pakistan.

The second constitutional amendment, coupled with the Sunni bent of the Zia Islamization to which it gave birth, has been a key factor in the growth of sectarianism. Since its passing, extremists have used it as a precedent to raise demands for other Muslim minority groups — like Ismailis, Zikiris, and even Pakistan’s sizeable Shiite population — to be expelled from the ummah. This not only makes such groups constantly vulnerable, but also tears at the fabric of society. A poll taken by the Pew Research Center a couple of years ago found that only half of Pakistan’s majority Sunni Muslims consider Shiites to be within the fold of Islam. The latter have suffered ever-increasing violence over the last several decades — to the extent that some commentators have described it as genocide. In 2013, almost 700 Shiites were killed in sectarian attacks. The proliferation of sectarianism has had a hugely detrimental effect on national cohesion and has entrenched religious rivalries to such an extent that it is very difficult to see how the situation can be reversed.

This religious encroachment in the sphere of politics, initiated by the events of 1974, has further undermined democracy in Pakistan. Strict Islamic provisions incorporated into the machinery of the state have resulted in a lack of equal rights and political representation, and of persecution of minorities. What hope is there for the flourishing of a secular, parliamentary democracy when political institutions are encumbered by a hard-line and authoritarian version of Islam? The key players in the current crisis that has embroiled the nation would do well to remember that if they are truly sincere in their goal of advancing democracy, they need to recognize that the legal and constitutional structure of the state needs crucial reforms to enable representative government to thrive.

It is also imperative to recognize the Ahmadi issue as a key factor in Pakistan’s slide into radicalism. While external circumstances like the wars in the Gulf and Afghanistan and the specter of India have given rise to jihadist organizations and religious extremism, at a local and grassroots level it is often the Ahmadi issue which is used as a tool of popular mobilization. Social boycotts of Ahmadi business, local hate campaigns, and other such initiatives are easy to implement and gain support for, especially when the charge against the movement is so emotive: that they insult the rank and status of the Prophet and are enemies of Islam. Religious arguments against Ahmadiyya doctrine feature prominently in madrasa education and even in the national curriculum, Islamiyyat courses are aggressively tailored to emphasize those aspects of mainstream Sunni Islamic teachings that run counter to Ahmadi beliefs. Furthermore, the Ahmadi question is an ever-present stepping stone which allows the religious right to pursue their own political agenda, gives them a constant voice on the national stage, and is perhaps the one issue around which they are all able to unite, meaning that it is an important source of empowerment for Islamic groups.

What of the Ahmadis themselves? Domestically, their situation has deteriorated extensively and over the last four decades hatred against the community has become commonplace. Professor Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first — and until just this year, only — Nobel laureate is a figure of shame rather than pride because he belongs to the ‘wrong’ faith group. There are no roads or institutions named after him, nor is there a single national monument which celebrates his achievements. Elsewhere the status of Ahmadis as non-Muslims, one which they have never recognized, strips them of many of their civil liberties such as the right to vote. Ahmadi-specific laws ushered in by Ordinance XX have effectively extinguished their religious freedoms: They are prohibited from the use of Islamic symbols or preaching their faith, and the laws also provide sanction to hate crimes against members of the group.

In this year alone, notable examples include the targeted killing of an American physician, Mehdi Ali Qamar, and the brutal arson attack on an Ahmadi neighborhood in Gujranwala at the end of Ramadan which leftone woman and two infant girls dead. The failure of the authorities to hold to account the perpetrators of these crimes has created a climate of impunity for extremists. As a result, many within the community have left the country, creating a widespread Ahmadi diaspora. Internationally, however, the movement continues to prosper and now has branches in over 200 countries of the world. In recent years their current spiritual head, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has been invited to deliver addresses at the European Parliament and on Capitol Hill, while the heads of state of countries such as Ghana and Canada regularly attend their annual conventions. Despite the best efforts of the Pakistani state, the Ahmadis have forged a place for themselves in the world and flourished.

If the international community and liberal Pakistanis are serious in their desire to curb extremism in Pakistan and bring stability to the country, the Ahmadi question is one which they will eventually have to confront. For too long it has been overlooked and ignored by experts, scholars, and policymakers as a key destabilizing factor in the country. In truth, however, it is one of the earliest and root causes of Pakistan’s descent into Islamization and has long fed the growth of intolerance. Until and unless it is satisfactorily resolved, there is very little chance that Pakistan will be able to halt the drift to extremism and emerge on the world map as a peaceful, democratic, and progressive state.

HAZRAT ALI’S LETTER TO MAALIK AL-ASHTAR– TESTAMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY

Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, wrote a long letter of guidance after appointing Maalik al-Ashtar to be Governor of Egypt. An excerpts of this letter had been posted . The letter was discovery for Fahmida Riaz who, in an email wrote as follows:

“…here is this document, written by him,1500 or so years ago. The sheer beauty of his thought, the largesse of his great heart, the incredible refinement of his mind! It takes your breath away and brings tears to your eyes. And then, his understanding of the class structure of society..long before anyone in the world paid attention to the composition of society! All this is so incredible.”

As Anita Rai, who in her book, ‘Ghadeer – Government of the people, for the people, by GOD’ writes:

The Christian West met the Islamic world much earlier than the crusadeswhen the breeze carrying the mildest fragrance of Ali gently stirred Europe in its sleep. Long before Europe could even dream up a remote synonym of ‘human rights’, or even had the vaguest idea of it as the most basic of civilised values, did Islam introduce and celebrate it. Even better. It had also preserved the actions and words, of the pioneer of human rights – Ali ibne Abi Talib. There is no chapter in the charter of the U.N., which is not running parallel to the rules laid down by Ali in his letters to his governors, especially the one to Malik al Ashtar – a letter, as you will see in this book, has undoubtedly influenced the United Nations’ charter strongly. The imprints are too striking to be ignored or to go unobserved. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a formidable precedent in the form of Imam Ali’s letter written almost 1400 years ago. Irrespective of the change in the needs and eras of lifestyles, the jargon of the contemporary philosophies, and the new vicissitudes of techno-crazy world opening up at sci-fi speed, the letter of Ali ibne Abi Talib accommodates today and tomorrow.

Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, wrote a long letter of guidance after appointing Maalik al-Ashtar to be Governor of Egypt. He advises the new governor that his administration will succeed only if he governs with concern for justice, equity, probity and the prosperity of all.

The passages excerpted below illustrate the timeless applicability of Hazrat/Imam* Ali’s admonitions. The letter itself is contained in the Nahjal Balaagha, which is a collection of the letters and speeches of the fourth Caliph.

Manifest religious tolerance: Amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you [and] are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than yours, [who] are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to; they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you.

Equity is best: A policy which is based on equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the have-nots and the depressed persons overbalances the approval of important persons, while
the displeasure of a few big people will be excused…if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you.

The rich always want more: They are the people who will be the worst drag upon you during your moments of peace and happiness, and the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity. They hate justice the most. They will keep demanding more and more out of State resources and will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favor shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused.

A healthy society is interdependent: The army and the common men who pay taxes are two important classes, but in a well faring state their well-being cannot be guaranteed without proper functioning and preservation of the other classes, the judges and magistrates, the secretaries of the State and the officers of various departments who collect various revenues, maintain law and order as well as preserve peace and amity among the diverse classes of the society. They also guard the rights and privileges of the citizens and look to the performance of various duties by individuals and classes. And the prosperity of this whole set-up depends upon the traders and industrialists. They act as a medium between the consumers and suppliers. They collect the requirements of society. They exert to provide goods….Then comes the class of the poor and the disabled persons. It is absolutely necessary that they should be looked after, helped and provided….at least the minimum necessities for well-being and contented living….

Ensure an honest judiciary: You must select people of excellent character and high caliber with meritorious records….When they realize that they have committed a mistake in judgement, they should not insist on it by trying to justify it….they should not be corrupt, covetous or greedy. They should not be satisfied with ordinary enquiry or scrutiny of a case but…must attach the greatest importance to reasoning, arguments and proofs. They should not get tired of lengthy discussions and arguments.They must exhibit patience and perseverance…and when truth is revealed to them they must pass their judgements….These appointments must be made…without any kind of favoritism being shown or influence being accepted; otherwise tyranny, corruption and misrule will reign….Let the judiciary be above every kind of executive pressure or influence, above fear or favour, intrigue or corruption.

Poverty leads to ruination: If a country is prosperous and if its people are well-to-do, then it will happily and willingly bear any burden. The poverty of the people is the actual cause of the devastation and ruination of a country and the main cause of the poverty of the people is the desire of its ruler and officers to amass wealth and possessions whether by fair or foul means.

Corruption undermines national well-being: I want to advise you about your businessmen and industrialists. Treat them well….They are the sources of wealth to the country….One more thing….you must keep an eye over their activities as well. You know that they are usually stingy misers, intensely self-centered and selfish, suffering from the obsession of grasping and accumulating wealth. They often hoard their goods to get more profit out of them by creating scarcity and by indulging in black-marketing.

Stay in touch with the people: You must take care not to cut yourself off from the public. Do not place a curtain of false prestige between you and those over whom you rule. Such pretension and shows of pomp and pride are in reality manifestations of inferiority complex and vanity. The result of such an attitude is that you remain ignorant of the conditions of your subjects and of the actual cases of the events occurring in the State.

Peace brings prosperity: If your enemy invites you to a peace treaty….,never refuse to accept such an offer, because peace will bring rest and comfort to your armies, will relieve you of anxieties and worries, and will bring prosperity and affluence to your people. But even after such treaties be very careful of the enemies and do not place too much confidence in their promises, because they often resort to peace treaties to deceive and delude you and take advantage of your negligence, carelessness and trust. At the same time, be very careful never to break your promise with your enemy; never forsake the protection or support that you have offered to him, never go back upon your word and never violate the terms of the treaty.

History reveals all: Do not reserve for yourself anything which is a common property of all and in which others have equal rights. Do not close your eyes from glaring malpractice of officers, miscarriage of justice and misuse of rights, because you will be held responsible for the wrong thus done to others. In the near future your wrong practices and maladministration will be exposed and you will be held responsible and punished for the wrong done to the helpless and oppressed people.

Forty-Seven Sayings About Imam Ali (A.S) From Prophet (P.B.U.H)

1) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The title of the believer’s book is love for Ali (A.S).” Al-Manaqib of Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 243; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi, 4/410; Al-Jami^ of Al-Sayuti, 2/145; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda.

2) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “There is no sword but Dhul-Fiqar, and there is no man but Ali (A.S).” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 2/385; Sunan Al-Bayhaqi, 3/376; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 197; Al-Tabari, 2/514; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/190.

3) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The carrier of my flag in this life and the Hereafter is Ali (A.S).” Kenz Al-Omal, 6/122; Al-Tabari, 2/201; Al-Khawarizmi, 250; Al-Fadha’il of Ahmad, 253; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 42/200.

4) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “My Lord commanded me to close all the doors except the door of Ali (A.S).” Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’i, 13; Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/125; Al-Tirmidhi, 13/173; Al-Bayhaqi, 7/65; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 282; Musnad Ahmad, 4/369; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 245; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 126.

5) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The truest believers are three: the believer during the time of Al Ya-Sin, the believer during the time of Pharaoh, and the best of all, Ali (A.S).” Al-Manaqib of Ahmad, 194, 239; Kenz Al-Omal, 5/31; Al-Jami^ of Al-Suyuti, 2/83; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 245; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 126.

6) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The one who wants to live my life and die my death will attach himself to Ali (A.S).” Musnad of Ahmad, 5/94; Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/128; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/217; Al-Tabarani.

7) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The caller will call out on the Day of Judgment, ‘O Muhammad, blessed be your father, and Ibrahim, and blessed be your brother, Ali (A.S).” Al-Fadha’il of Ahmad, 253; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 67; Al-Khawarizmi, 83; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/201.

8) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Every prophet has an executor and inheritor, and my executor and inheritor is Ali (A.S).” Kenz Al-Omal, 6/158; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 11/173; Shawahid Al-Tanzil, 2/223; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 94.

9) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Dear God, don’t take my life until you have shown me the face of Ali (A.S).” Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/201; Al-Fadha’il of Ahmad, 253; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 67; Akhtab Khawarizm, 83.

10) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “We were created from the same tree, I and Ali (A.S).” Al-Tirmidhi, 13/178; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 122; Asad Al-Ghaba, 4/26; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/216.

11) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The most knowledgeable person in my nation after me is Ali (A.S).” Manaqib Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abi TAlib (A.S) of Ibn Al-Maghazeli Al-Shafi^i.

12) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Embellish your gatherings by mentioning Ali (A.S).” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/109; Musnad Ahmad, 4/368, 5/419; Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’I, 9; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 16; Al-Manaqib of Akhtab Khawarizm, 94; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 8/290; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda.

13) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The most judicious person in my nation is Ali (A.S).” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 70; Arjah Al-MatAlib, 544.

14) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “I am the warner, and the guide after me is Ali (A.S).” Musnad Ahmad, 1/151; Al-Tirmidhi, 2/135; Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’I, 20; Kenz Al-Omal, 1/247; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 222.

15) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Exemption from the Hellfire comes with love for Ali (A.S).” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 2/241; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 6/851; Akhtab Khawarizm, 86; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 90.

16) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Of whomever I was master, Ali (A.S) is his master.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/129; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/157; Al-Dilmi.

17) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “There would not be one sufficient for Fatima if God had not created Ali (A.S).” HAliyat Al-Awliya’, 1/34; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/177; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 242; Al-Khawarizmi, 42; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 112.

18) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “For the one who believes and trusts in me, I recommend the wilayat of Ali (A.S).” Al-Jami^ of Al-Suyuti, 1/230; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/168; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 1/316; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 49; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 266.

19) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The first of you to reach the Pond is the first of you who accepted Islam: Ali (A.S).” Kenz Al-Omal, 6/154; Al-Tabarani, 5/32; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 1/165; Dhaka’ir Al-^Aqi, 65; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 230.

20) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “No one is permitted on the Bridge except by the wilayat of Ali (A.S).” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 15; Al-Isti^ab, 2/457.

21) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “No one can give account of me but Ali (A.S).” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 119, 242; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/177; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 112, 419; Al-Khawarizmi, 253.

22) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The most miserable person from the beginning of the world to the end is the murderer of Ali (A.S).” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/141; Musnad Ahmad, 4/263; Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’i 39; Al-Tabari, 2/408; Kenz Al-Omal, 5/58.

23) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “There is a tree in Paradise called Tuba. Its roots are in the house of Ali, and its branch is Ali (A.S).” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/109; Musnad Ahmad, 4/370; Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’i, 25; Al-Tirmidhi; Al-Tabarani.

24) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the distinguisher between truth and falsehood.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/132; Musnad Ahmad, 1/331; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 92.

25) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The most righteous one is Ali (A.S).” Al-Bayhaqi, 4/35; Kenz Al-Omal, 7/176; Al-Jami^ of Al-Suyuti, 2/276; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 93.

26) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The hand of Ali (A.S) and my hand are equal in justice.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/14; Al-Tabari, 2/272; Al-Tirmidhi, 2/299; Ibn Al-Maghazeli.

The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is my brother in this life and the Hereafter.” Al-Khasa’is of Al-Nisa’i, 5; Al-Tirmidhi; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 61; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 37; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 57.

28) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the best of humanity, and the one who denies it has blasphemed.” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 129; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 233; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 5/37; Al-Khawarizmi, 235.

29) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the door of servitude, and whoever passes through that door is a true believer.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/156; Al-Dilmi.

30) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the Imam of goodness, the fighter against iniquity, the helper of those who come to his aid, and the deserter of those who desert him.” Kenz Al-Omal, 6/153; Al-Darqatani.

31) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the Imam of the pious, the prince of believers, and the leader of the resplendent.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/129; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/153.

32) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is to me what Haroun was to Musa.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/137; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 65, 104; Al-Tabarani; HAliyat Al-Awliya’, 1/63; Akhtab Khawarizm, 229.

33) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) holds a right over this nation like the right of a father over his son.” Muslim, 2/361; Al-Tirmidhi, 2/299; Al-Hakim, 3/130; Musnad Ahmad, 3/198; Al-Nisa’i, 7; Asad Al-Ghaba, 3/40.

34) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is with the Qur’an, and the Qur’an is with Ali.” Al-Bukhari, 5/19; Muslim, 2/360; Al-Tirmidhi, 5/304; Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/109; Ibn Majah, 1/28; Musnad Ahmad, 3/328.

35) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) and his shi^a are the successful ones.” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 47; Mizan Al-^Itidal, 2/313.

36) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the door of my knowledge, and the one who will clarifies for my nation that which I was sent with.” Tafsir Al-Tabari, 3/171; Shawahid Al-Tanzil, 2/356; Al-Darr Al-Manthour, 6/379; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 61.

37) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Love for Ali (A.S) is faith, and hatred for Ali is hypocrisy.” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 67; Al-Khawarizmi, 236; Fara’id Al-Samateen; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda.

38) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the partition between Heaven and Hell.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/127; Kenz Al-Omal, 5/30; Al-Jami^ of Al-Suyuti, 1/374; Al-Tirmidhi; Ibn Maghazeli, 80.

39) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “The position of Ali (A.S) amongst the people is like Surat Qul Hu Allahu Ahad in the Qur’an.” Muslim, 1/48; Al-Tirmidhi, 2/299; Al-Nisa’i, 27; Musnad Ahmad, 6/299; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 191.

40) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the beloved between two friends, myself and Ibrahim.” Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 88; Fara’id Al-Samateen; Bea^ Al-Abrar; Moniq Ibn Ahmad Al-Khawarizmi.

41) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Whoever splits with Ali (A.S) has split with me, and whoever splits with me has split with God.” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 45; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 181.

42) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is from me and I am from him, and he is the protector of every true believer after me.” Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 69; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 125.

43) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) is the most beloved of God and His Prophet in all of creation.” Kenz Al-Omal, 5/33; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/211; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 219.

44) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Mentioning Ali (A.S) is a form of worship, and looking upon him is a form of worship.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/123; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/156; Al-Tabarani; Ibn Al-Maghazeli, 240, 278; Al-Khawarizmi, 62.

45) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Love for Ali (A.S) is a good deed, so don’t ruin it with bad deeds.” Al-Tabarani; Yanabi^ Al-Mawda, 2/3.

46) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) holds the position of the Ka^aba.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/122; Musnad Ahmad, 3/82; Al-Tabarani, 6/155; Kenz Al-Omal.

47) The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “Ali (A.S) stands in relation to me as my head to my body.” Mustadrak Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/141; Al-Jami^ of Al-Suyuti, 1/583; Tarikh Baghdad of Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, 1/51; HAliyat Al-Awliya’, 1/182; Al-Riyadh Al-Nudhra, 2/219.

A letter from Dr Abdus Salam to Malala

Dear Malala,

Despite all that occurred, I’d always lugged around with me a sliver of optimism. They referred to me as Pakistan’s ‘only’ Nobel laureate; I insisted on being called the “first”.

I was born in a small town called Santokh Das; arguably not as beautiful as your Swat valley, but it did have much to offer. I grew up in Jhang, a city now tainted by its name’s association with dangerous groups.

My father was an education officer working for the Punjab government. I have a feeling your father would’ve liked him.

Like you, I took a keen interest in my studies. I enjoyed English and Urdu literature, but excelled at mathematics. At a very young age, I scored the highest marks ever recorded then, in my matriculation exam.

My education, however, was never as politically challenging as yours.

I did not have to contend with the Taliban destroying my school, or forbidding boys from receiving education. But whatever barriers they constructed in your way, you bravely broke through them.

In fact, you continue to defy them with every breath you take.

Winning the Nobel prize has enraged your attackers, as it has annoyed many of your countrymen.

It takes courage to walk through it all, and knowing you, courage is not in short supply.

Not a lot has changed in this country. You were mocked and alienated by your countrymen, when you did nothing wrong. I know something of that.

As a nation, we do not want to be celebrated.

What we wish for, is to be pitied.

They were pleased with you as long as you were another local victim. But then, you cast off your victimhood and emerged as a hero, a beacon of hope for young girls around the world. That’s where you lost them.

We don’t like heroes, Malala.

We like battered souls that we can showcase to the world. We want to humiliate the ‘colonialists’ and the ‘imperialists’ for their crimes, real or imagined, against the Muslims of the subcontinent.

We want them to acknowledge the Iqbalian paradise we lost to the plots and schemes of the ‘outsiders’. Any mention of the incalculable harm caused by perpetrators within us, does not assist that narrative.

We do not want to acknowledge the bigotry within, of which I know something too.

This is not something I had fully realised the day I received my Nobel prize. Standing in ceremonial Punjabi garb among a group of men in tuxedos, I was proud to represent my country, though my country was far less thrilled being represented by me.

I was demonized and successfully disenfranchised for my religious beliefs; I was not allowed to offer lectures in certain universities due to threats of violence; my work was belittled by my own people.

I decided that working abroad was better than being treated as foreigner in my own homeland. That only gave further wind to the hurtful theories about me being a ‘traitor’ to my country.

Now, the mantle passes to you, dearest child.

And with it, I regret to pass onto you the heart-wrenching burden it brings.

You are the new ‘traitor’.

You are presented with the dire challenge of bringing peace and pride to a country, that doesn’t want your gift.

Like a mother of a particularly rebellious child, you must find a way to love them nonetheless. Eventually, I pray, they will understand.

I had the privilege of being the first to offer this country a Nobel Prize. But now there are two of us.

And, I’m still counting.

Yours truly,
Abdus Salam