Ali Ibn al-Husain (A.S.)

Ali, the son of Husain, the son of Ali the Commander of the Faithful, was born in Madina, in 38 A.H. during the Caliphate of his grandfather.

He was two years old when his grandfather was assassinated while offering the morning prayers in the Mosque of Kufa. In his twelfth year he had to mourn the loss of his mild and generous uncle Imam Hasan poisoned at the instigation of the Court of Damascus.

Since then he had to witness the persecution of his revered father Husain (A.S.), at the hands of Yazid who required of him the oath of fealty to the throne of Damascus. To avoid being forced. to swear allegiance to a man who was pagan at heart and whose depravity had undermined the foundations of religion and morality.


family to Mecca. On reaching there he found himself in greater peril and fearing of the sacred Precincts of the Ka'ba by bloodshed, he set out for Kufa, in compliance with the invitations of the fickle and perfidious people of that place.

But on his way there, he was intercepted by a numerous army sent by Yazid, and Husain (A.S.) himself, his kinsmen and followers, 72 in all, died fighting on the field of Karbala, after suffering insults, and pangs of hunger and thirst for three days in succession.

Even Husain's (A.S.) baby son, Ali As?ghar, (6 months old) and some other children of very tender years, fell victims to the cruelties of the ruffians.

Of Husain's heroic band, the only individual that survived the massacre was his son Ali (A.S.), the hero of this sketch. His serve illness at that time had disabled him from bearing arms, and his deference to his father's parting command restrained him from attempting to do so. Thus was he spared.

He is the fourth holy Imam of Shi'ite sect. He was the most eminent Faq?h (Jurist) of his age.


Besides a small collection of short, didactic, poetical piece, ascribed to him, his sermons preached on different occasions and his prayers, bear testimony to his deep knowledge of human nature, morals and theology.

His speech in Damascus, in utter disregard of Yazid's threats, is a good specimen of his oratorical powers, and affords an unquestionable proof of his indomitable courage and presence of mind. "Such souls when they appear", says Emerson "are the Imperial Guard of Virtue, the perpetual reserve, the dictators of fortune. One needs not praise their courage - they are the heart and soul of nature."

A Few Examples of His Character

His piety and devotion have won for him the appellation of the `Ornament of the Pious.' It is said that when he performed the ceremonial washing before prayer, he used to turn pale, and being questioned as to the cause of this alteration replied, 'Don't you know in Whose Presence I am going to stand up?'


`Once upon a time, Says Ibrahim, the son of Ali (A.S.) "I accompanied him on a journey to visit the Ka'ba. His camel was very lazy. The Imam had in his hand a stick, which he raised at the beast, from time to time, but did not strike him." Such was his tenderness of heart.

One day one of his slaves was climbing up a ladder, while carrying a large copper vessel containing roasted meat for some guests on the top of the house. He had scarcely reached the uppermost round, when he lost hold of the vessel which dropped down causing mortal injury to a child of his master.

The accident filled the slave with consternation. But the gentle master thus addressed him, "I know thou didst not do this intentionally do not be afraid. I forgive thee and emancipate thee!' Such conduct on such an occasion is one of the noblest instances of forbearance and generosity, on record.

He was very lenient and forgiving, `One day' says the author of al-Saw?'iq al-Muh?riqa, `Somebody abused him. The Imam (A.S.) did not mind what he said. Thereupon the fellow said: `You are very careless:


`I turn away from thee;' replied the Imam, quoting the verse of the Qur'?n: Use indulgence, and enjoin what is just and with-draw from the ignorant.

Another instance of his forbearance is thus mentioned by Qarshi. A man once told the Imam (A.S.) that so and so spoke ill of him. Thereupon, the Imam (A.S.) asked the informer to accompany him to the evil speaker.

The man complied believing that his company was solicited for assistance in case of a quarrel. When they reached the evil speaker the Imam (A.S.) thus addressed him: `If what you said was true, then may God forgive me, and if false then may He forgive you!' To such a pitch had he carried the cultivation of conscience!'

His Death

After his return to Madina, though he lived apparently unmolested, Ali (A.S.) was not quite safe from the intrigue of the enemies of his house. He is believed to 


have died of poison, administered at the instigation of Walid, the son of Abdul M?lik in 95 A.H. He was buried in the graveyard of Baq?' beside his uncle, Imam Hasan (A.S.).

The Invocations of al-Saheefa al-Kmelah

The S?ah?eefa contains one of the best collections of devotional addresses.

They reveal to us the greatness of the mind that gave them utterance, his deep and accurate knowledge of human nature, his fervid earnestness, his humbleness of heart, and his constant sense of moral obligation. They also afford us glimpses of his sufferings and trials unparalleled in world's history. They are the prayers of one whose father (Imam Husain A.S.) sacrificed himself and his kith and kin for the spiritual and moral welfare of humanity, and did not forget to remember God, when actually beneath the sword of one of the myrmidons of the tyrant of Damascus.

They are sincere utterances of a devout mind, not incomprehensible, uncertain metaphysics, and teach men to listen to the 


silent whisperings of their own souls, by appealing direct to the heart. They indicate a very high standard of practical morality to making the reader fully conscious of his responsibilities as a rational being. They contain the gist of religion and morals, and with a few exceptions can be advantageously read by every one having faith in Unity and Grace of God.

They form one of the best guides to moral self-review the importance of which is too well known to require any proof. They hold the mirror up to nature and the reader finds his most secret faults, and most trivial errors faithfully reflected.

If regularly read they cannot fail to effect permanent moral improvement by enabling the reader to form a correct idea of his defects and a moderate view of his merits, thereby, eradicating vanity and self- conceit.

It is quite evident from the study of this Do'a' that there are best advices contained in it from which all Muslims and even non-Muslims can be benefited equally.


Such Supplications should be considered in essence as educational lessons, full of exhortations and advices, that have so nicely been placed, in the reach of the Muslims (of all places and of all ages).

As a matter of fact it is absolutely impossible that these perfectly innocent personages had even the slightest tinge of sins in their immaculate characters. But they were very near to Allah so they felt excessively the dread of His punishment.

Surely: those who know Him best, fear him the most. As the Imams (A.S.) are the guides of the Muslims, they have placed some specimens before them. And this is the mode that can successfully guide the humanity as large.

The style and language of their invocations sets for us the style of praising Allah, seeking help from Him, calling Him, presenting our needs before Him, and the ways of prolonging our wants with these particular words. They further mean to emphasise that we must always go on remembering Him as it is expedient for we the servants.


How the Book Ought to be Read

Having thus briefly enumerated the advantages of reading the book under reference, I think it desirable to say something as to how it ought to be read. Some books', says Bacon, `are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested, that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention'.

Now Saheefa is a book which deserves `to be chewed and digested', that is, to be read wholly and with diligence and attention, or to use the words of Dr. J. Todd, it ought to be read `deliberately, slowly, understandingly and with personal application.' In order to be thoroughly enjoyed it should be regularly, at least once every day, for repetition leads to appreciation, and in appreciation lies the secret of enjoyment. 

But let me add that the true enjoyment of a spiritual book depends upon the degree of innocence possessed by the reader, the freer the conscience from guilt the greater the enjoyment.


`A man's studies' says Ovid, `pass into his character.' The S??ah??eefa, if read with sincere earnestness, will gradually become a part of the readers' mind, its beauties will go deep down into his heart. How ennobled, purified and uplifted would the soul feel, when the contents of such a book, shall become an essential part of its mental and moral equipment.