Monday, February 28, 2011


As a child whenever I would come to Dholka, while still in a car I would invariably look for the minarets of Khan Masjid; a historic mosque in the town. These minarets were visible from the highway from a great distance and thus became a prominent landmark for all of us to know that Dholka had arrived. A mere sight of these minarets would make us forget the fatigue of the long journey and we would be filled with enthusiasm of meeting everybody.

The vast city of Mumbai can be represented in a magazine by showcasing just the picture of Gateway of India. Instead of Gateway of India if some other picture is used it would be really difficult as most of the people might fail to recognize it and hence may not relate it with Mumbai unless proper address along with lane number and area is mentioned along with the picture. Similarly Hyderabad can be represented by Charminar and Delhi by India Gate.

 These are the Most Prominent Landmarks of these large cities as each landmark has historical association with its respective city and has represented the city since centuries.

Allah (SWT) is Omnipotent, He is Omnipresent still we are unable to see Him. As the following ayah says:

•“Us ko aankhein dekh nahin sakti na duniya main na aakherat main aur Woh logo ki nazaron ko khoob dekhta hai aur Woh bada bareekbeen wakifkaar hai...” – ( Surah-e-Anam, ayah 103)

“(No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.)”

It is not possible for mortals to see Him, neither in this world nor in hereafter. So how do we know about His existence? As the Holy Quran again says in the following ayah:

•“Usee ne do dariya bahae jo baham mil jaate hain, donon ke darmiyaan ek hud faasil aad hai jisse tajawiz nahin karte. To ae Jinn-o-Ins tum dono apne Parvardigar ki kaun kaunsi nemat ko jhootlaoge.” – (Surah-e-Rahman, ayah 19-20-21)

“(He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress: Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?)”

Allah (SWT) reveals Himself to us through His creations. As the above ayah says all His creations are His Favours which He has bestowed upon us.

In Surah-e-Rehman after mentioning His Favours He has discussed the conditions of those who would reject them. And the following two ayahs further confirm their conditions:

•“Aur jin logon ne kufr ikhtiyaar kiya aur Hamari aayaton ko jhutlaya to wahi Jahannami aur hamesha Dozakh hi main pade rahenge.” – (Surah-e-Baqra, ayah 39)

“(But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein.)”

•“Aur un logon ne qahar-e-Khuda ki taraf palta khaya ye sab iss sabab se hua ke woh log Khuda ki aayaton ka inkaar karte the.” – (Surah-e-Baqra, ayah 61)

“(They drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This because they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah)”

Thus these Favours are the Signs of His Existence. He dislikes those who reject His Favours and they might incur Allah’s wrath in their life and He shall make them companions of Hell Fire after their death.

In the introductory section of this article we established that the manner in which the Gateway of India is a prominent landmark or the greatest sign that depicts the vastness of the city of Mumbai; similarly let us try to find out The Greatest Sign of Almighty Allah which truly depicts His Grandeur.

In order to understand this let us look at the historical journey – Meraj, of our Holy Prophet (pbuh) to the highest point. He (pbuh) began his holy journey escorted by Jibraeel (A.S) from the house of ‘Umm-e-Hani” on his steed al-Buraq.

The Traditions say that Jibraeel (A.S) who was escorting the Holy Prophet (pbuh) till Sidrat-ul-Muntaha was not permitted to go beyond it. It was only the Prophet (pbuh) who was elevated upto the highest horizons. Mentioning this journey the Holy Quran says in Surah-e-Najm:

•“Aur iss haal main ke wo Ufaq-e-Aala per hai. Phir kareeb ho aur aage badha. Phir do kamaan ka faasla rah gaya balke isse bhi kareeb tha. Khuda ne apne bande ki taraf jo wahi bheji so bheji”. – (Surah-e-Najm, ayah 7-10)

“(And he is in the highest part of the horizon. Then he drew near, then he bowed So he was the measure of two bows or closer still. And He revealed to His servant what He revealed.)”

The above ayahs narrate the journey of Rasool (SAW) to the highest horizon (Ufaq-e-Aala). When he reached there he drew closer than the measure of two bows. There are two things worth pondering upon. Firstly, who did he draw closer to as the ayah mentions? Could it be Jibraeel (A.S)? Reasoning says it cannot be him as he could not travel beyond Sidrat-ul-Muntaha. Secondly was it Allah? To think so too would be wrong as Allah is Omnipresent and He is not limited to a specific position. Also, in order to come closer to someone you need to see him, while Allah cannot be seen. Hence it was neither Allah nor Jibraeel (A.S). So who was the prophet (pbuh) coming closer to?

Also the ayah says that Allah (SWT) revealed ‘Wahi’ to Rasool (SAW). Normally whenever any ‘wahi’ was revealed to him it was always in the voice of Jibraeel (A.S), but since here Jibraeel (A.S) was not present then whose voice did Allah choose to reveal the wahi?

Further ayahs from the same Surah might help us in deriving some result:

•“To jo kuch unhonne dekha unke dil ne jhoot na jaana. To kya wo Rasool jo kuch dekhta hai tum log uss main jhagadte ho? Aur unhonne to uss ko ek baar aur dekha hai, Sidrat-ul-Munteha ke nazdeek. Ussi ke paas to rahne ki bahisht hai, jab chhaa raha tha sidra per jo chhaa raha tha. (Uss waqt bhi) unki aankh na to aur taraf maail hui aur na had se aage badhi. Aur unhonne yaqeenan apne Parvardigar ki Badi Badi Nishaniyan dekhi.” – (Surah-e-Najm, ayah 11-18)

“(The heart was not untrue in (making him see) what he saw. What! do you then dispute with him as to what he saw? And certainly he saw him in another descent, At the farthest lote-tree; Near which is the garden, the place to be resorted to. When that which covers covered the lote-tree; The eye did not turn aside, nor did it exceed the limit. Certainly he saw of The Greatest Signs of his Lord.)

The above ayahs confirm that Rasool (SAW) saw someone which was definitely amongst The Greatest Signs of Allah.

All His creations are His Signs of Existence. And we Humans are the Best amongst His creations (Ashraf-ul-Makhlukaat). Thus the Greatest Sign which Rasool (SAW) saw at the highest horizon must be from the best of creations i.e. must be a human being. Again he should be much higher in stature and closer to Rasool (SAW) and Allah (SWT) than Jibraeel (A.S).

Since Allah (SWT) reveals Himself through His creations He must have surely revealed His Greatest Sign to this world. Let us then try to identify that.

When we look at the life of our holy prophet (pbuh) we find that he trusted Hazrat Ali (A.S) the most from amongst his companions. In every war Hazrat Ali (A.S) remained steadfast and was ready to lay his life for the sake of holy prophet (pbuh) and Allah (SWT).

Following are the rare distinctions which associate Hazrat Ali (A.S) to Allah which no other human being in the entire history had:

•His Name:

Ali is his name and so is the name of Allah

•His Birth:

He was born in Kaaba, the house of Allah. It was Friday 13th of Rajab 30 Amulfeel, Hazrat Fatima binte Asad (A. S), the wife of Hazrat Abu Talib (A.S) entered the precincts of the Kaaba. Ali (A.S) the youngest son of Abu Talib was born inside the Holy Kaaba. She stayed inside for three days. This incidence is well documented by many Islamic scholars and historians.

(Ref: Muhammad ibn Talha el-Shafei in Matalib-us-saool, page 11, Hakim in Mustadrak, page 483, Vol. III, El-Umari in Sharh Ainia, page 15, Halabi in Sira, page 165, Vol. I, Sibt ibn al-Jauzi in Tadhkera Khawasil Ummah, page 7, Ibn Sabbagh Maleki in Fusoolul Mohimma, page 14, Muhammad bin Yousuf Shafei in Kifayet al-Talib, page 261, Shablanji in Nurul Absar, page 76, Ibn Zahra in Ghiyathul Ikhtisar, page 97, Edvi in Nafhatul Qudsia, page 41, Mohaddith-e-Dehlvi in ‘Izalatul Kholafa’)

And Nuru’ddin Bin Sabbagh Maliki in his work documents birth of Hazrat Ali (A.S) in Ka’ba in following words:

•"No one before Ali was born in the Ka'ba. This was a distinction given to Ali in order to enhance his honor, rank, and dignity." (Ref: Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki in his Fusulu'l- Muhimma, Fasl I, p.14)

•His Help is Allah’s Help:

We would try to establish the above claim by referring few ayahs from the Holy Quran. Allah (SWT) says this to the holy prophet (SAW) in Surah-e-Bani Israel:

“Aur ye dua maanga karo ke Ae mere Parvardigaar mujhe jahan pahoncha achhi tarah pahoncha aur mujhe jahan se nikaal to achhi tarah se nikaal aur mujhe khaas apni bargaah se ek Sultan ataa farma jisse har qism ki madad pahonche.” – (Surah-e-Bani Israel, ayah 80)

“(Say: "O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honour; and grant me from Thy Presence an Authority to aid (me).")”

Allah (SWT) instructs Rasool (SAW) to ask for an Authority (Sultan-un-Naseera) who would help him in every way. It means that Allah (SWT) wanted to help Rasool (SAW) through someone who is the authority duly appointed by Allah, Himself.

Again the ayah from Anfal says:

“Ae Rasool (SAW) wohi to woh Khuda hai jis ne apni khaas madad aur momineen se tumhari taeed ki” – (Surah-e-Anfal, ayah 62)

“(He it is Who strengthened you with His help and with the believers)

This help of a Believer (Momin) to Rasool (SAW) was actually the help from Allah (SWT) as confirmed by the above ayah.

As per the tradition of Abu Hureira, quoted by Ibn-e-Asakir, Rasool (SAW) has said that it is written on ‘arsh’ that there is no God but Allah, Mohammed (SAW) is My slave and My Rasool and I helped him through Ali. (Ref: Durr-e-Mansoor, Vol 3, P 199, Mulla Jalaluddin Suyuti, Tarkih Ibn-e-Asakir, Zainul falli).

And how did He help Rasool (SAW) through Hazrat Ali? For this Allah (SWT) says:

“Aur Hum hi ne lohe ko naazil kiya jis ke zariye se sakht ladai aur logon ke bahot se nafa ki baatein hain aur taake Khuda dekh le ke be dekhe bhaale Khuda aur usske Rasoolon ki kaun madad karta hai, beshak Khuda bahot zabardast Ghalib hai.” – (Surah-e-Hadid, ayah 25)

“(And We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will).”

Which was the iron sent down to help the holy prophet (pbuh) as mentioned in the above ayah? In the battlefield of Ohad, Jibraeel (A.S), the angel brought down the sword ‘Zulfiqar’ and presented it to Mawla Ali (A.S) by saying: ‘La fataah illa Ali La Saif illa Zulfiqar.’ (Zulfiqar is the only effective sword and Ali the unique champion) (Ref: Habib-al-Siyar; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab.)

Thus with Allah’s Sword in his hand during the battlefield of Ohad he became “Yadullah” (Allah’s hand). And looking at his valour and courage in the battlefield of Khaibar Rasool (SAW) bestowed on him the surname of "Sher-e-Khuda” (Lion of God). (Ref: Gibbon, D.& F. of Roman Empire Vol. V. p. 365).

Mir Ahmad Ali (1988) writes that Ali Ibn Abi Talib is known as mazhar al aja-ib and mazhar al ghara-ib because, as willed by Allah, he used to appear in different forms to carry out divine plans under very special circumstances. These two epithets are exclusively reserved for Ali. Even today the true believers invoke Allah to send him for help.

•His Soul:

Now let us look at the following ayah from Surah-e-Baqra:

“Aur logon main se Khuda ke bande kuch aise hai jo Khuda ki (khushnudi) haasil karne ki gharaz se apni jaan tak bech daalte hai aur Khuda aise bandon per bada hi shafkat wala hai.” – (Surah-e- Baqra, ayah 207)

“(And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants.)”

Imam Ghizali in his Tareekhe Khamees writes that the above ayah of Surah-e-Baqra was revealed mentioning this sacrifice of Mawla Ali (A.S) when he slept on the bed of Rasool (SAW) during the night of Hijrat.

Looking at Hazrat Ali (A.S)’s commitment to sacrifice his life and protect the Prophet (pbuh) of His religion; Allah (SWT) also granted Hazrat Ali (A.S) with divine status by purchasing his soul. He thus became ‘Nafsullah’ (Allah’s Soul).

•His Martyrdom:

Mentioning about his martyrdom, S Ockley writes in his famous work the ‘History of the Saracens’ that when Ali (A.S) was leaving his abode for his morning prayers, the household birds began making a great noise. And when seeing this one of the servants attempted to calm them Ali (A.S) said, "Leave them alone, for their cries are only lamentations foreboding my death."

He got martyrdom on the 21st of Ramzan. On 19th Ramzan during his morning prayers while Hazrat Ali (A.S) was in a state of prostration, Abdur Rahman Ibn Muljim (may Allah curse him) gave a blow of poisonous sword causing a deep wound on his head. He survived for two more days after that.

Thus all these events in his life showcase his proximity to Allah which is unique and no other individual had the same distinctions. That is why the holy prophet has said this about Hazrat Ali (A.S) that:

•“Amongst men it is Ali who knows Allah the best.” – (Ref: Selections from Kanz-ul-Ummal, Bahamash Al Masnad, Vol 5 P 32)

 Our reasoning on the basis of above mentioned proofs definitely indicates that beyond Sidrat-ul-Muntaha, on the highest horizon, it must be Mawla Ali (A.S) whom Rasool (SAW) saw. He is surely the The Greatest Sign (Ayat-ul-Kubra) and Divine Proof of Allah (SWT).

In order to further substantiate our above-mentioned result let us contemplate on the following ayah from Surah-e-Ra’ad:

•“Aur Ae Rasool (SAW) kafir log kehte hai ke tum paighambar nahin ho to tum un se kehdo ke mere aur tumhare darmiyan meri risalat ki gawahi ke waste Khuda aur wo shakhs jis ko aasmani kitab ka ilm hai kafi hai.” – (Surah-e-Raad, Ayah 43)

(“Yet those who are disbelievers say: "You are not the apostle sent (by God)." Tell them: "God is sufficient as witness between me and you, and he who has knowledge of the Book."”)

When we observe the above ayah, it says that there are two witnesses to the apostleship of the holy Prophet (pbuh). First one is Allah (SWT) who is Omnipresent, the other witness is the one who has knowledge of the book. All the translators of Quran have invariably used the word ‘witness’ in their translation and the dictionary meaning suggests witness means: to see, hear or know by personal presence. And the other meaning which I found was ‘to be present as a spectator’.

Now the Meraj was one of the most important aspects of Rasool (SAW)’s risalat (apostleship) which is duly testified by Quran. It means that the witness of his apostleship needs to be present at the time of Meraj to testify as per the above ayah. Because if he is not present during Meraj how can he testify and thus it would be against the above ayah.

As per the Islamic scholars and historians the witness mentioned in the above ayah who has the complete knowledge of the book is Hazrat Ali (A.S). (Ref: Tafseer-e-Suyuti, Vol 4, P 69, Ahteyaj-e-Tabresi, Tafseer-e-Ayashi)

The following hadith of the holy Prophet (SAW) further throws some light on this as he says:

•“Ali is the divine proof from his Almighty and I am witness on it.” (Ref: Tarikh Ibn-e-Asakir, vol 43 P 220, Kareeb Minal lafaz fi Yanabe-ul-mowaddat, vol 1 P 293)

It seems that on the highest horizon then Rasool (SAW) became witness to Hazrat Ali (A.S) as being the “Greatest Sign of Allah (Ayat-ul-Kubra) while Mawla Ali (A.S) became witness to the ‘Greatest Journey of the Greatest Prophet to the Greatest Horizon”.

Narrating this Mir Ahmed Ali (1988) writes that when the Prophet (pbuh) returned from his heavenly journey, before he could relate his experiences, Ali (A.S) began giving him the minutest details of the journey, making it quite obvious that Ali (A.S) was with the Prophet (pbuh) throughout his journey.

In the earlier section of this article as per the ayah from Surah-e-Najm, we found that Allah (SWT) revealed His ‘wahi’ to the holy Prophet (pbuh) at the highest horizon in absence of Jibraeel (A.S) and we wondered whose voice it must be?
Faidh-al-Kashani in his famous book Kashful Ghummah narrates a tradition from Hazrat Umar that when the Prophet (pbuh) was asked as to what voice did Allah (SWT) speak to him during Meraj, the Prophet said:

“My Lord spoke to me with the voice of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and said, “O Ahmad! I am an Entity that is not like anything else. I cannot be compared to anything else and I know all the secrets of your heart. With the exception of Ali Ibn Abu Talib, you have no other close friend. Thus, I speak to you with the voice of Ali Ibn Abi Talib so that your heart will be at ease”

 We can thus infer that Allah (SWT) reveals Himself through His creations, all creations are His Signs and amongst them Hazrat Ali (A.S) is the Greatest Sign of Allah (SWT) sent down to help and protect His Greatest Prophet (pbuh) and His Greatest Religion.

With the help of ayah from Surah-e-Rahman and couple of more ayahs from Surah-e-Baqra we understood that Allah’s wrath is incurred upon those who reject His Signs and Favours. Let us now try to further substantiate this with few more ayahs. As the holy Quran says:

•“Aaj Maine tumhare din ko kaamil kardiya aur tum per apni ne’mat poori kardi aur tumhare iss Deen-e-Islam ko pasand kiya.” – (Surah-e-Maida, ayah 3)

“(This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.)

Commenting on the revelation of this ayah, most of the compilers have unanimously said that it was revealed after the holy Prophet (pbuh) announced ‘Man Kunto Mawla’ by holding the hand of Hazrat Ali (A.S) and indicating him to the gathering at Ghadeer-e-Khum.

(Ref: Durr-e-Mansoor, Jalalluddin Suyuti, V3, P 19, Tarikh by Khatib al Baghdadi, V8 P 290, 596, Yanabi-al-Mawaddah from Abu Hureira by Al-Qudoozi Al-Hanafi).

After this ayah was revealed the holy Prophet (pbuh) said:

•“Allah is Great on the perfection of religion, completion of bounties and Allah’s satisfaction with my messengership and Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.)’s mastership after me.” – (Ref: Tirmizi, Nisaai, Hakim Neshapuri, Ahmad-e-Hanbal, Tabari)

There are couple of things which can be inferred from the above ayah. First is that Islam was perfected on the announcement of Man Kunto Mawla. And second is that Allah(SWT) did complete all His Favours on this announcement. Thus it can be said that Mawla Ali (A.S) is not only the ‘Greatest Sign of Allah’ but Allah’s Favours are incomplete without him.

And we have already seen that rejecting any of Allah’s Favour invoke His wrath. So what happens if “The Complete Favour’ is rejected? The Holy Quran confirms in the following manner:

•“Ek maangne wale ne kafiron ke liye ho kar rahne wale azaab ko maanga jisko koi taal nahin sakta jo Darje wale Khuda ki taraf se (hone wala) tha.” – (Surah-e-Meraj, ayah 1-3)

“(A questioner asked about a Penalty to befall- The Unbelievers, the which there is none to ward off,- (A Penalty) from Allah, Lord of the Ways of Ascent)”

Commenting on the revelation of above ayah Sala’bi writes in his tafseer that the news of Hazrat Ali (A.S.)’s appointment as master and leader by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) on divine command spread everywhere. A person named Haaris Ibn Noman Fehri came to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and said: “You asked us to give two witnesses (of divinity and messengership), we gave. You made prayers, Zakaat and Hajj obligatory upon us, we accepted. Now, you intend to appoint your cousin (Ali) as our master by announcing, “Of whomsoever I am his master, Ali is his master too.” Is this announcement from your side or on divine order?” The Messenger of Allah answered:

“I swear by Allah, except Whom there is no God, this command was certainly divine.”

On hearing this, Haaris stood up and walking towards his camel, grumbled, “O Allah, if this order is from your side, then punish me by raining stones upon me.” He had hardly completed his sentence, when a stone fell from the sky and crushed him to death. At this justice, the Qur’anic verse was revealed: “A questioner asked about a Penalty to befall.” (Ref: Tafseer-e-Sal’abi)

Thus the ayah explains that penalty befell the unbeliever who rejected Allah’s Favour i.e. rejected the leadership of Hazrat Ali (A.S).

I feel like mentioning here a beautiful couplet from a famous Qawwali:

“Shahe Mardaan Shere Yazdaan Quwwate Parwardigar
Lafata illah Ali (A.S) la Saif e illa Zulfiqar”

 And conclude that Hazrat Ali (A.S) is the Greatest Sign and The Greatest Favour of Allah (SWT) and hence Allah has concealed His bounties in the love for Hazrat Ali (A.S)while hatred towards Ali (A.S) invokes His wrath. So let us pray that May Allah give us enough strength to love Hazrat Ali (A.S) and remain thankful to Allah for His limitless Bounties and Favours. Aamin