Imam Ali (AS)’s remembrance must be paired with clarity
It just seems right to mention one of history’s most celebrated personalities – Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) on this poignant occasion of his martyrdom. It feels even more appropriate to forfend the recklessness of history’s other personalities, who hijacked his name and his mission and turned him into something he never was or ever claimed to be, for gain and profit through faithful leadership. It sometimes feels as though atrocities on these great personalities have never stopped, as many people have situated him to be on Allah’s throne, others impersonate him as his reincarnates. A few also sing his praises to the point of devotion believing firmly in his status as a prayer granter and a shield of difficulties.
When one reads his sermons or sayings, studies his life and indeed the manner of his superior conduct in virtually all walks of life, it is not improbable, though highly abominable, to yield to the fable of his Almightiness. In reality, while amongst the specially chosen ones, Imam Ali (AS), was delivered to humankind as an exemplar, a role model for eternity, who illuminated the path of a just, honest, balanced, minimalist life as a code for passing the test of this life enroute to our permanent abode. So, yes we owe it to this giant personality to study him and understand him, to reject preachers who in the name of fadhaail, drag their feet with ostentatious poetry, that all but reflects the truth. We must question ourselves to as to whether we are crossing the thin line of shiirk each time we remember his remarkable life.
What better reminder than his own inscriptions in which he describes the awesome being of Allah (SWT) and His magnificient creation that surrounds us, to serve as a logical understanding of how abased he felt in front of the Master of the universe. ‘Then He created the openings between high skies and filled them with all classes of His angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not kneel up. Others in kneeling position and do not stand up. Some of them are in array and do not leave their position. Others are extolling Allah and do not get tired. The sleep of the eye or the slip of wit, or languor of the body or the effect of forgetfulness does not effect them. Among them are those who work as trusted bearers of His message, those who serve as speaking tongues for His prophets and those who carry to and fro His orders and injunctions. Among them are the protectors of His creatures and guards of the doors of the gardens of Paradise. Among them are those also whose steps are fixed on earth but their necks are protruding into the skies, their limbs are getting out on all sides, their shoulders are in accord with the columns of the Divine Throne, their eyes are downcast before it, they have spread down their wings under it and they have rendered between themselves and all else curtains of honour and screens of power.
They do not think of their Creator through image, do not impute to Him attributes of the created, do not confine Him within abodes and do not point at Him through illustrations.