From Orphanhood to Fatherhood

by Muzafer M Alidina

The thirteenth of Rajab this year coincided not only with father’s day, but ironically also with the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression Day.  For those who know him, love to listen to stories about him. For those who don’t, they are always left astounded. Imam Ali (a.s) was the man described by the Prophet as the “complete embodiment of faith” at the battle of the trench[1], the authentic flag-bearer of Islam after the demise of the Prophet, and the rightly appointed leader on the day of Ghadeer.

Surely this man was brought up in the best of households. Surely he was fathered by the best of peoples. Islam has numerous examples of exemplary fathers’, from Hazrat Luqman to Imam Ali (a.s) himself. However, the relationship between Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w) and Imam Ali (a.s) is one that is always left undermined.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w) broke numerous cultural barriers. We know that he brought up his daughter in a time when daughters’ were buried alive; he was the only man in the Arab world at the time to continue his lineage through his daughter. However, he also brought up Imam Ali (a.s.).  What better a father to have than a man who was an orphan in his young age? A man who knows the love needed for a young child? What’s more is that this man is also the last seal of Prophethood.

For those who understand Wilayat, and the system of Imamat, it is understood that they are infallible. And anything they say therefore is infallible. In Khutba al-Qas’iah Imam Ali (a.s) describes his relationship with the Prophet, and how he grew up in his shadow.

Here is a passage of Imam Ali (a.s)’s sermon called “Al-Qas’iah” describing his relationship with the Prophet:

Certainly, you know my position of close kinship and special relationship with the Prophet of Allah – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants. When I was only a child he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and lay me beside him in his bed, bring his body close to mine and make me smell his smell. He used to chew something and then feed me with it. He found no lie in my speaking, nor weakness in any act

From the time of his weaning, Allah had put a mighty angel with him to take him along the path of high character and good behaviour through day and night, while I used to follow him like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother. Every day he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits and commanded me to follow it. Every year he used to go in seclusion to the hill of Hira’, where I saw him but no one else saw him. In those days Islam did not exist in any house except that of the Prophet of Allah – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants – and Khadijah, while I was the third after these two. I used to see and watch the effulgence of divine revelation and message, and breathed the scent of Prophethood.

When the revelation descended on the Prophet of Allah – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants – I heard the moan of Satan. I said, “O’ Prophet of Allah, what is this moan?” and he replied, “This is Satan who has lost all hope of being worshipped. O’ `Ali, you see all that I see and you hear all that I hear, except that you are not a Prophet, but you are a vicegerent and you are surely on (the path of) virtue.”[2]

Imam describes his position with respect to the Prophet. That he had the honor of sleeping on his chest, that he had the chance of sleeping next to the Prophet (s.a.w.w). Furthermore, Imam Ali (a.s.) was the only person to hear the wailing of Satan.

The very fabric of Imam Ali (a.s) is the Prophet himself. Whatever Ali (a.s) hears, the Prophet hears. The nature of their relationship is beyond comprehension. As a young boy, Imam Ali (a.s) is fathered by the best of men. Imam Ali (a.s) isn’t brought up by the Prophet to be a perfectionist; he is brought up to be perfection. Hence it only makes sense that perfection has to marry perfection, when Imam Ali (a.s) is granter permission to marry the Prophet (s.a.w.w)’s daughter.

The role of a father will always be second best to the role of a mother.  But the role of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) on the life of Imam Ali (a.s) can be seconded to none.

[2] [2] Nahjul Balagha, Sermon #192.

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