By Mohamedarif Suleman
The onset month of Rajab inspires a natural feeling within the hearts of many brothers and sisters of devotion and submission to Allah (SWT). It also brings to the mind the fantastic adventure that occurs on the day of Me’raj, and of course the memory of one of the world’s greatest leaders of all times, Imam Ali bins Abu Talib (AS).
Imam Ali’s life is undoubtedly lined up with a series of very high profile episodes, amongst which are included in his supremacy in writing and speaking, in addition to the excellent other virtues that he so soberly possessed. History is replete with incidences of the small and big victories of this great personality. And the mention of Imam Ali (AS) seldom goes unaccompanied with the utterance of a great book, a collection of his speeches, letters and words of advice, the Nahjul Balagha, or the Peak of Eloquence.
The first letter that is constituted in this book is the one that he wrote to the people of Kufa prior to his arrival and engagement in the Battle of Jamal. In this letter he demonstrates and lays precedence of what a leader out to do, and how closely his actions are watched by the masses. So much that the need inside of him to relate and rationalize events to them is as vital as leadership itself. In this circumstance, he explains the reason for going to war with Aisha and the incidences that lead to the killing of Uthman, one of the wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the following manner:
“People were dissatisfied with him and were accusing and blaming him. Out of the muhajirs, I was the only man who wanted to appease and pacify the people, and did not want to indulge in the activities of those dissatisfied persons, while Talha and Zubayr were instigating the populace in such a way that the least they said was the worse that the worst could be asserted or alleged against Uthman. Their whispering campaign was deadlier than the loudest propaganda which could be carried on; Aisha also exhibited extreme annoyance and anger against him. Under such conditions, some persons resolved to kill him…”
This piece while showing the pattern of his thought also releases vital information about the movement that led to the assassination. The choicest words picked up are a lesson in diplomacy, except that unlike modern day diplomacy, this particular style does focus in on the masses as the rightful owners of state information. That lying to the people is not only a compromise but a betrayal of the very faith that they have vested in the leadership.
Imam Ali’s caliber has always been high, and like so many other marginalized sections or persons that history has witnessed, the defenders of his greatness did reach propensic stages of revering him. And it is not just a particular sect of Islam that considers Imam Ali as God, we now find that through the carefully carved and deigned words of lyricists and poets from the Indian Sub Continent, we now find such utterances in our imambadas today. The opponents of such utterances are often wrongly seen as rebels to the love of Ahlul Bayt and the creed of fazaail of our AImmah (AS).
But when we hear in munajats the implied understanding that we have for those who believe in Imam Ali as God, there is little we can say, because this great personality also lives in our hearts at that great level, the crux of our teachings and the epicenter of our values seems to be suddenly and perhaps accidentally submerged into the beliefs and values of a misguided community.
For many years, Khoja mosques, by virtue of their ancestral connection to India and Pakistan, have been the platform for the arrival of certain zaakireen whose only forte in majlis is the issue of Khilaafat. Many writers, scholars and even leaders protested against this unseemly behavior because in their vision they did envisage this practice leading to some other horrendous faith changes. And true to this supposed assumption, the change has been gradual and so silent that we are hardly able to recognize this.
The month of Rajab, brothers and sisters, then reminds us of how Imam Ali (AS) used to tremble in front of his lone deity, Allah (SWT) and that he was hardly an immortal. This month brings various favours and blessings to us, but the richest favour that we can do ourselves and our progeny to come is to ensure that, even unknowingly, even in implication, we do not consider Imam to be godly, for our actions not withstanding, the interpretations by our young will not be much to be pleased about. May Allah (SWT) guide us aright, Ameen.