Imam Reza (a.k.a. Ali ar-Rida, Musa Reza) was born in 766 in Medina to Imam Musa al-Kazim and Ummul Baneen, who was of Sudanese descent. Imam Ali Reza grew up in Medina and got his education from his father, who spent most of his later life in prison of Caliph Harun al-Rashid.

Imam Reza became the Imam at the age of 33 upon the death of his father Imam Musa al-Kazim in 799. Harun al-Rashid was still in power and he imposed many restrictions on the new Imam including forbidding the people of Medina to have any contact with him. This continued until he died.​

After Harun al-Rashid’s death the Abbasid Empire was temporarily bifurcated in two resulting in a western empire ruled by al-Amin whose mother Zubaida was an Arab and the eastern empire ruled by Mamoun whose mother was Persian.

During the civil war, which Mamoun won eventually, he tried desperately to win the support of the Persians, who were sympathetic to the Hashemites by first pardoning and appointing al-Deebaj, son of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq who was captured after a failed revolt against Ma’moun, as the member of his court and then declaring Imam Ali Reza as his heir apparent.

Mamoun also changed the color of the Abbasid banner from black to green, which was the color of the standard of Ahlul-Bayt. Imam Ali Reza left his wife and young son at-Taqi in Medina to join Mamoun who was in Khurasan at the time.

Many members of the Mamoun’s inner circle were unhappy with his announcement. While on his way back to Baghdad with Ma’moun near Tus, Imam Ali Reza suddenly died, possibly by poison in 818. Some historians believe Mamoun was behind the murder but the fact that many Abbasids were openly resentful of the Imam, makes him the unlikely suspect.

Unlike many Abbasid Caliphs before and after him, Mamoun treated the surviving family of Imam Ali Reza well, even marrying his daughter to Imam Ali Reza’s son Imam at-Taqi.

Imam Reza was buried in the Holy city of Mashad, Khorasan in the present day Iran.

Quotes of the Imam Reza:

  • True devotion is not limited to prayers and fasting.
  • ​The highest degree of wisdom is Self-awareness.
  • To help the disabled is much better than to give alms.
  • ​Silence is one of the gates to wisdom.
  • Giving alms repels the certain catastrophe.
  • ​Keeping other’s secrets, patience in hardships and tolerance towards others are all signs of faith.
  • To avoid the cold (flu) of the winter, before leaving your house always open the door first for a few moments, let the outside air in, then step outside. To avoid the cold of the summer, always open the door first before entering the house, let the inside air out, and then step inside.


Imam Musa al-Kazim and Sufi Tradition

Hamid Algar

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Imam Abu Muhammad Jafar b. Muhammad al-Sadiq b. Ali b. Hussein b. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is the most celebrated among the Sufi Sheikhs for the subtlety of his discourse and his acquaintance with spiritual truths. He has written famous books in explanation of Sufism. He said:

“Whoever attains marifat (knowledge of Allah) turns his face from all other”.

The Gnostic (arif) does not see other worldly things because his marifat (knowledge of Allah) is total denial of others. The denial of all other than Allah is marifat and marifat of others is the denial of the Truth (Allah). Therefore, the Gnostic is free from the creature and in union with the Truth. He does not have that much heed for others that it might keep him away from the Truth nor it is of so extreme value that it might attract him toward itself.

He said:

“There is no right worship without repentance, because Allah hath put repentance before worship, and hath said,

“those that turn (to Allah) in repentance” (Q 9:112).

I put repentance before divine service, because repentance is the start point in way of Path and worship is the last. When Allah mentioned of the evildoers He made repentance mandatory and said:

“And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah,” (Q 24:31);

But when Allah mentioned the Prophet (peace be upon him) He referred him to His “servant ship” and said,

“So did (Allah) convey the inspiration to His Servant – (Conveyed) what He (meant) to convey.” (Q 53:10).

Once Dawud Tai came to Jafar Sadiq and said,

“O son of the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah,  advise me, for my heart is blackened.”

Jafar replied:

“O Abu Suleman, you are the accomplished ascetic of your time, what for you need advise from me?”

Tai pleaded:

“O son of the Prophet (peace be upon him), thy family is superior to all  mankind, and it is incumbent on thee to give counsel to all.”

Jafar said:

“O Abu Suleman, I am afraid that tomorrow on Resurrection Day my grandsire will lay hold on me, saying,`Why did not you fulfill the obligation to follow in my steps?` because before Allah the best is ones  conduct not his ancestry.”

Dawud Tai began to weep and exclaimed:

“O Lord Allah, if one whose lineage is of Prophetic family, whose grandsire is the Prophet, and whose mother is Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) – if such as one is distracted by doubts about his end, who am I that I should be pleased with my dealings (towards Allah)?”

One day Jafar talked to his associates, “Let us take a pledge that whoever amongst us should gain deliverance on the Day of Resurrection would intercede for the rest.”

They said, “O son of the prophet, how could you have need of our intercession since your grandsire intercedes for all mankind?”

Jafar replied, “My actions are such that I shall be ashamed to face him on the Last Day.”

All of his sayings are the result of self account which is a quality of perfection, and is a characteristic of Prophets and Saints. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“When Allah wishes a man well, He gives him insight into his faults.”

Whoever bows his head with humility, like a servant, Allah exalt his state in both worlds.


He was known both as Abu Abdullah and Baqir. He was distinguished for his knowledge of the abstruse sciences and for his subtle indications as to the meanings of Quran. There are many Karamat (miracles) associated to him. It is related that on one occasion the king with the aim to kill him, summoned him to his presence. When Baqir came to him, the king begged his pardon, bestowed gifts upon him, and allowed him to leave courteously. When courtiers asked why he had acted in that manner. The king replied that when he entered he saw two lions, one on his right side and one on his left, who threatened to kill him if he had attempted to do him any harm.

In his commentary of the Quran verse, “, whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah,:” (Q 2:256), Baqir said:

“Anything that diverts one from contemplation of Allah is his taghut (idol), so one has to see what veils him from contemplation of Allah and needs to get rid of it to make union with the Truth and get free from the veil. And one who is veiled has no right to be claimant of the proximity of the Truth.

Baqir after completing his litanies at night used to have loud Manajat (secret talk with Allah):

“O my Allah and my Lord! night has fallen, and the power of monarch has ceased, and the stars are shining in the sky, and mankind are asleep and silent, there is no crowd at the doors of the rich and the Umayyad have shut their doors and are being guarded by the watchmen, and all the needy have left for their homes.

But Thou, O Allah, art the Living, the Lasting, the Seeing, the Knowing. Sleep and slumber cannot  overtake Thee. He who does not acknowledge Thy Essence is unworthy of Thy bounty.

O Allah nothing can withholds Thy Essence, neither eternity is impaired by Day and Night, Thy doors of Mercy are open to all who call upon Thee, and Thy is the owner of all; Thou dost never turn away the beggar, and no creature in earth or heaven can prevent the true believer who implores Thee gaining access to Thy Court.

O Lord, when I remember death and the grave and the reckoning, how can I take joy in this world? Therefore, since I acknowledge Thee to be One, I love Thee; I beseech Thee to give me peace in the hour of death, without torment, and pleasure in the hour of reckoning, without punishment.”

He used to do this Manajat weeping. On asking that why did he cry so much, he replied:

Jacob lost only one son for whom he wept so much that he lost his eye sight. I have lost my eighteen family members, is it not sufficient argument for me to cry.


The Noble Life and Martyrdom of al-Imam Husayn

by Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak al-Jerrahi

It was in the fourth year of the Hijra that our Master the venerable Husayn (r.a.a) came to adorn this world in Madinah the Pure, on the fifth day of Sha’ban. It was fifty nights after the birth of his brother, the venerable Imam Hasan (r.a.a.), that he was conceived in the womb of the noble Fatima (r.a.a.). It was none other than our Master, the glorious Messenger, who performed the ritual of inserting his blessed saliva into the newborn baby’s mouth. It was his blessed lips that recited the Call to Prayer in the infant’s ear, prayed for him, and gave him the exalted name Husayn when he was seven days old. It was he who made the sacrifice for his gandson at the time of the naming ceremony.

The venerable Imam Husayn (r.a.a.) , so dearly loved by the glorious Messenger, was courageous and bold, learned, pious, eloquent, fluent, and concise, and fine and moving speaker, in every respect pleasing to let Lord, in Whom he placed all his trust. According to Hazrat Abu Hurayra, the Messenger to men and jinn would use words like, “Where is the tiny fellow?” when looking for the venerable Husayn as he sat in his noble Masjid. The venerable Husayn would come running immediately, sit on our Master’s lap, hug him affectionately, then run his fingers through the blessed beard of the noble Messenger. The King of Ambiya would then kiss the venerable Husayn, saying: “O my Lord, I love this child. May You also love my Husayn and those who love him.”

Once, after the blessed time of the Nabi, the venerable ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar was sitting in the shade of the honored Ka’aba when he saw our Master, the venerable Husayn, approaching. Turning to those at his side, he said: “Here comes the person most dear to those in heaven of all the people on earth.” As he said these words he pointed to the venerable Husayn.

Pressing himself against the honored Ka’aba, Imam Husayn communed with Allah, the Lord of Glory, saying: “My God, You have blessed me with Your bounties in abundance, yet You have found me ungrateful. O Lord, You have put me to the test, yet You have found me impatient. In spite of my ingratitude, You have not deprived me; in spite of my impatience, You have not prolonged my hardship. My God, nothing but grace and generosity flows from the All-Generous.” He always accompanied and served his noble father, Imam ‘Ali, while he was in Madinah the Illuminated. He also went with him to Kufa. He fought alongside his revered father in all his battles and stood by him constantly until his martyrdom. After that he was with his brother, the venerable Hasan. After the latter resigned from the Khalifate, he returned to Madinah the Illuminated where he stayed until the year 60 of the Hijra, near the fragrant resting place of his noble grandfather, the Final Prophet.

According to Imam Suyuti, “In the year 60, the people of Syria paid homage to Yazid. Yazid sent men to Madinah the Illuminated to call on the people there to pay homage to him also. Imam Hasan, Ibn ‘Umar, and Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with them all, refused to pay allegiance to Yazid. Abdullah bin ‘Umar said, “I shall not pay homage to Yazid as long as there is no general consensus to give him allegiance.” That same night he left Madinah the Illuminated and moved to Makkah the Ennobled.

Abdullah bin al-Zubayr would neither pay homage to Yazid himself nor call on other people to do so. As for the venerable Imam Husayn, since he had been appointed heir to the throne of Yazid’s father, he was invited by the people of Kufa. The Kufans kept writing letters urging him to come to their city. In spite of this the noble Imam neither accepted their invitation nor agreed with the Kufans’ line of action. Since homage had been paid to Yazid, he was faced with making a decision either to stay as he was or to respond to the Kufans’ invitation. He was finding it impossible to decide where his duty lay. He eventually consulted Ibn Zubayr, who advised him to accept the invitation of the Kufans.

The venerable Ibn ‘Abbas, however, saw things differently: “Beware of accepting Kufans’ invitation, O Imam,” said he. “The Kufans betrayed both your father Imam ‘Ali and your elder brother, Imam Hasan. The people of Kufa are not to be taken at their word.”

Abdullah bin ‘Umar also advised him to beware of leaving Madinah the Illuminated. However, what had been divinely decreed would come to pass. Imam Husayn had decided to go to Iraq. The venerable Ibn ‘Abbas implored him not to go but he could not persuade the venerable Imam to change his mind. “O Husayn,” he pleaded, “I swear by Allah that you are likely to be slain like venerable ‘Uthman in the midst of your own family.” When this was of no avail, Ibn ‘Abbas said: “O Husayn, by going to Iraq, you are leaving the Hijaz to Ibn al-Zubayr.” Still he could not sway the venerable Imam, whose resolve was unshakable. He could not abandon the Community of Muhammad to a depraved ruler.

Meanwhile, the people of Iraq were sending a stream of couriers with letters of invitation. Finally, on the tenth of Dhul-Hijja, the venerable Husayn set out from Makkah the Enobled with his family and retinue and started on the road to Iraq. Several members of the Prophet’s household traveled with him.

In reality the people who invited the venerable Husayn to Iraq were the mischiefmakers working for the cause of Yazid. When Yazid the Damned heard of his departure for Iraq, he sent written orders to Ubaydullah ibn Zayyad, commanding him to take military action against the venerable Husayn. On receiving these orders from Yazid, the accursed Ibn Zayyad dispatched four thousand troops, under the command of ‘Umar bin Sa’d, against the venerable Imam.

As for the people of Kufa, they gave the venerable Imam no more help than they had given his father before him. Indeed, they did not even attempt to join him. Some of the Kufans who had invited him to Iraq were actually enrolled among the four thousand troops sent to oppose the venerable Husayn.

Seeing himself surrounded by four thousand armed soldiers, the venerable Imam Husayn made it known that he was willing to return to Hijaz in order to save his people from being cursed because of his murder, but he said that the proper course was either to pay homage to Yazid or else risk battle. Rejecting the idea of returning to the Hijaz, he entered the fray. The die was cast and there was no going back. They slew and martyred that beloved grandson of the Prince of the Universe, that dear child of Fatima, the best of women; they cut off his blessed head and brought it in a basin before the accursed Ibn Zayyad.

Surely the curse of Allah falls upon evildoers. [Holy Qur’an, 11:18]

Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we are returning. [Holy Qur’an 2:156]

It is said that when Hazrat Imam Husayn (r.a.a) knew for sure that the approaching army would do battle with him, he gathered his companions and the members of the Prophet’s household and delivered this brief sermon: “Praise and thanks to the Lord Allah and blessings and peace upon the noble Messenger… “O my companions, relatives, friends and fellow members of the Prophet’s household (a.k.a. Ahl al-Bayt)! You see the state of affairs we have reached. This world has changed and turned its face from us. Its goodness has retreated and very evil days lie before us. You must surely see that the truth is no longer put into practice. Falsehood is by no means at an end. Let those who are believers desire to meet Allah. For me there is no doubt that death is a blessing. I count it a crime to live in the company of tyrants.”

May Allah be pleased with him and make him pleased. His martyrdom occurred on the day of ‘Ashura, the tenth of Muharram of the year 60, at a place in Iraq called Karbala, which lies between Hilla and Kufa. Martyred with him on that day were twenty-three members of the his household. These twenty-three victims came of the pure line of our Master, the noble Messenger, and were close relatives of the revered Prophet. Among those martyred were cousins of our blessed Master, children of the venerable Hasan and the infant children of our Master the venerable Husayn, except for his son, Zayn al-‘Abidin. The tears of the ladies of the Prophet’s household flowed like the Nile and Euphrates and their sighs reached the Throne-on-High and made the soul of Fatima the Radiant weep. They distressed the blessed soul of the Prophet and threw the angels and jinn into mourning.

When her noble brother Husayn was martyred, Zaynab screamed through her tears at the cruel murderer: “You tyrants! You do not know what you have done, whom you have martyred and whom you have caused to weep. How will you answer the glorious Prophet if he asks you on the coming Day of Resurrection: “What did you do to the people of my household and to my children after I was gone? Some of you made captive, some you enslaved and some you steeped in crimson blood. How will you look him in the face and how can you expect his intercession if he says: ‘Is this how you display your gratitude to your Prophet? Is this how you show your affection?’ Will you not be ashamed of yourselves if he says: Would you dare to drink from the fount of the Messenger, when you condemned the people of my household to go thirsty and refused a single drop of water to my beloved Husayn and his Innocents?’ ”

On those roads, in those deserts throughout those lonely wastes, Houries and jinn bewail poor Zaynab’s fate.

On the night when Imam Husayn was martyred, our Mother Umm Salama, may Allah be pleased with her, dreamt that she saw the most Noble Messenger looking sorrowful and sad. She asked the reason for his grief and received this reply: “O Umm Salama, they have martyred my Husayn, that is why I am full of sorrow and despair.”

Such cruelty the turning spheres had ever known. The glorious Messenger was in despair there by the most high Throne. The venerable Ibn ‘Abbas had a vision in the middle of the day, in which he say our blessed Master holding a bottle full of blood. “What blood is that, O Messenger of Allah?” he asked. The answer came: “This is the blood and tears of my Husayn and the people of my household. I am gathering from the ground the blood and tears they shed this day.” The venerable Ibn ‘Abbas checked the date and found that his vision had occurred on the day when the venerable Husayn was martyred.

Our Mother, the venerable Umm Salama, said: “I heard the jinn weeping and mourning the venerable Husayn.”

We should not be surprised to hear that the very jinn wept at the martyrdom of Imam Husayn. All the angels in heaven and earth were weeping. Sun, moon, stars, and all the heavenly bodies trembled and made moan for the fear of Allah.

How beautiful are these words of Sayyid Jalil Shihab al-Din Ahmad ibn Rufa’i in his elegy for the venerable Husayn: “Heaven and earth wept for the martyr cruelly wronged, as he lay with his radiant countenance all stained with blood. The blessed hands of Imam Husayn, so thirsty when he fell a martyr by the sword, were powerful enough to make the oceans flow.”

While people at the Resurrection drink Kawthar’s water from Haydar’s hand You lie a thirsty martyr, O Husayn, in Karbala’s desert sand.

Even as the treacherous Shimr was pinning him down and preparing to make him a martyr, Imam Husayn addressed these words to the man who refused him water: “You made me and my children wander thirsty in these desert wastes. You gave me no water and I know better than to expect any from you. But at least give my children a drop to drink, so that I may forgive you for the great wrong you have done to us.”

The brigand’s only reply was to say: “If the earth and sky were full of water, I would not give one drop to you and your children.” The venerable Imam Husayn then said to the accursed Shimr: “You have denied me water and refused my children even one drop. But at the Place of Resurrection we shall not sink to your level by letting you go thirsty. For the owner of Kawthar is my grandfather and the waterbearer of the fountain in Paradise if my father.”

He then quickly kicked the ground, from which a crystal spring burst forth. Pointing to this water, he said to the accursed Shimr, whose eyes had opened wide in amazement: “Now you see the quality of our patience. We have only suffered like this in order to teach the Community and make them understand that they must be prepared to sacrifice everything they have, when they engage in a necessary struggle agains the tyrannical and the corrupt. Otherwise, water was at our command. If we had wished, we could have drawn it up and drunk it before now. We refrained from doing so, however, in order to set the Community of Muhammad and example of self-sacrifice.” As soon as he had uttered these words, the wine of martyrdom quenched his thirst.

O Lord, do not deprive us of the Intercession of Husayn…

The accursed Ibn Zayyad sent the blessed head of our Master Husayn to Yazid the Damned, who was safe and sound in Damascus, waiting impatiently for the fruits of his crime. Also sent to him were Imam Husayn’s beloved son, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin, and the sister, the venerable Zaynab. The child and his aunt had been at Karbala that day, but they had been to sick to take part in the fighting and had somehow survived.

The ill-famed Yazid stuck that blessed head on a rod in his hand and dared to mock it, carry disrespect for the Messenger’s family to an extreme degreee. He appeared enormously pleased with his criminal act, never thinking that he would be damned and cursed till the Day of Resurrection, not only by all the Muslims but by all men od conscience and common sense.

Even this did not satisfy Yazid. He gave orders for the blessed head to be exhibited throughout the lands of Islam. Only when he heard of the discontent expressed by all the Muslims when they heard of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, did he feel compelled to send the Imam’s noble relatives back to Madinah in safety. The blessed head of the venerable Husayn was sent to ‘Asqalan, where the local governer had it buried.

When Ascalon was captured much later by the Crusaders, a Fatimid vizier called Salih Tala’i paid a lot of money to buy the blessed head from them. He received it with a great military parade. He bored the blessed head of the venerable Husayn upon his own head, set it upon an ebony throne and wrapped it in green silk. He had a casket made out of solid gold and lined with musk. The blessed head was placed in this casket and laid to rest in a special mausoleum in the Mosque of Husayn, which that vizier had built in Cairo. Despite the inevitable differences of opinion about what did actually become of that blessed head, the great saints and most Sufis maintain that it does indeed repose in Masjid al-Husayn in Cairo, where it is visited every day by the Qutb (Cardinal Saint) of our age.




Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was born around 600 A.D, in Makka. Ali alayhis ‘salam was born under unusual circumstances. On the thirteenth of the holy month of “Rajab”, Fatima Rahmatullahi ‘alayh, the mother of Ali alayhis ‘salam, visited the Ka’ba for performing the pilgrimage. During the course of the pilgrimage while circumambulating the Ka’ba, Fatima felt the pangs of childbirth. She retired to a secluded place in the precincts of the Holy Ka’ba, and there Ali alayhis ‘salamwas born. Ali alayhis ‘salam had thus the unique honor of being born in the House of God. This unparalleled honor has endowed Ali with a halo of sanctity, which has become the subject of many legends.


Fatima Rahmatullahi ‘alayh wanted to name the child “Asad” after the name of her father. Abu Talib wanted to name him Zaid. When the mother and the child came home, the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam, and Khadija Rahmatullahi ‘alayh came to see the newborn child. Since his birth, the child had not opened his eyes, and that worried Fatima Rahmatullahi ‘alayh and Abu Talib Rahmatullahi ‘alayh. As the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam took the child in his lap he opened his eyes. The first person that Ali alayhis ‘salam saw after his birth was the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam). When the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) was asked whether he approved of the child being named as Asad or Zaid, he said that as the child was born in the House of God, he should be named Ali alayhis ‘salam, the word Ali being a derivative of Allah. Ali alayhis ‘salam had thus the distinction of being named after Allah. No person before him had ever been so named. The name acquired further sanctity as it was proposed by the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam).

Standing by The Holy Prophet

When the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam preached Islam publicly & no one listened to him, it was young Ali alayhis ‘salam who listened to him & accepted Islam when he was only 10 years old, by saying to the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam that, though he is a child but still he’ll stand by him.

Relationship with The Holy Prophet

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was the paternal cousin of the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam, and later married to his youngest daughter Hazrat Fatima alayhis ‘salam, from whom he had two sons, Hazrat Hasan alayhis ‘salam & Hazrat Hussain alayhis ‘salam.

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam & Treaty of Hudaybia

It was Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam who wrote the treaty of Hudaybia. The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam dictated its terms and Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam wrote them down. The Quresh agents objected to the words “Prophet of Allah,” being written with the name of the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam). They wanted instead the words “Muhammad bin Abdullah.” The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam agreed to the change. But Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam refused to rub out the words “Prophet of Allah.” So then the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam had to rub off these words with his own hand.

Participation in Battles

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was the hero of many a battles fought in the lifetime of the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam. When the exception of Tabuk, he joined all battles and expeditions. In the battle of Badr, Hazrat Ali’s alayhis ‘salam sword did real wonders. According to Arab practice, three of the bravest warriors of the Quresh came out for single combat. Ali alayhis ‘salam killed two of them. This struck terror in the heart of the enemy.

The Jews had a chain of strong forts at Khaybar. These were a source of an ever-present threat to the Muslims. The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam led an army to deal with this threat. The Jews put up a stiff fight. But their several forts fell one after another. However, “Qumus” proved to be the strongest Jewish fort. Its commander, Marhab, beat back all attacks. At last the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said, “Tomorrow I am going to give the standard to a man who is loved by Allah and His Prophet and who loves Allah and His Prophet. Allah will grant him victory.” All were eager to know who the fortunate man would be. The next morning Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was granted the standard. Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam defeated Marhab and his brother and took the fort.

Hazrat Ali’s alayhis ‘salam Strange Battle in Yemen

After the conquest of Makka, the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam thereafter commissioned Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam to proceed to Yemen. A force of three hundred soldiers assembled at Quba outside Madina. The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam tied the turban on the head of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam with his own hands, and handed him the standard. The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam prayed to God to enlighten the mind of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam, to make his tongue eloquent, to make his talk impressive, and to make his conduct a source of attraction for others. Although Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam proceeded to Yemen at the head of a force, he was commanded not to use force. The force was only meant for defense in the case of any attack. It was a voyage of enlightenment. People were to be converted to Islam not by an appeal to arms but by an appeal to their hearts.

On reaching Yemen, Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam realized that the people of Yemen were very much under the influence of the Christian priests and Jewish Rabbis, and unless such priests and Rabbis were effectively tackled, there was little likelihood of any success with the common men. The Christian Priests and Jewish Rabbis were proud of their religious knowledge. They challenged Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam to a debate. Ali alayhis ‘salam was used to fighting duels with his adversaries in the case of battles, now he had to fight an intellectual duel. The first challenge came from a Christian Priest renowned for his learning and piety. A public debate was held. The Christian Priest advanced arguments in favor of the perfection of Christianity, and of Jesus Christ being the son of God. It was observed that in such circumstances there could be no question of another faith. Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam smashed these arguments one by one. He quoted from the Christian scriptures wherein Jesus Christ had himself spoken of the advent of a Prophet after him. Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam took pains to explain that Islam acknowledged Jesus Christ as a Prophet, but did not regard him as a son of God. He maintained that Islam was a perfected form of all previous religions. The debate lasted for several days and at last Ka’ab (The Christian Priest) admitted the superiority of Islam and was converted to Islam. With his conversion many Christians were also converted to Islam.

The Jewish Rabbis felt concerned at the success of Islam. They challenged Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam to a public debate. This debate lasted for several days, and ended in the victory for Islam. Some of the Jewish Rabbis accepted Islam, and following them many Jews accepted Islam. Thereafter Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam spread his men throughout the length and breadth of Yemen to carry the message of Islam to the people. When the people came to know that their Priests and Rabbis had accepted Islam, they lost the will to resist Islam and accepted the new faith willingly. Within a few months most of the people in Yemen were converted to Islam. These people came to look to Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam as a great hero.

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam in the reign of three Caliphs

During Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakkar Radi Allahu anhu & Hazrat Umar Radi Allahu anhu, he performed his duties as the Chief Judge of the Caliphate. The 2nd Caliph Hazrat Umer Farooq Radi Allahu anhu relied so much on the wisdom of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam, so before taking any step, he took advise of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam. But in the 3rd Caliphate of Hazrat Usman Radi Allahu anhu, he lived a normal life, kept away from Caliphate activities.

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam as the 4th Caliph

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam had been elected as 4th Caliph after the martyr of Hazrat Usman Ghani Radi Allahu anhu (The 3rd Caliph). During the Caliphate of Hazrat Usman Radi Allahu anhu, many of the governors became corrupt, lived luxurious life. People turned against them & complained to Hazrat Usman Radi Allahu anhu, but he was unable to take strict action against his governors. So some rebels took place, and the rebels martyred him. After that, people elected Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam as the new Caliph, but he declined to accept the Caliphate. However, on continuous insists of the people, he accepted it then. And he took strict actions against the governors by depriving them from their posts. So they turned against Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam & planned many conspiracies to make people rebellious against him. Even the wife of the Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Hazrat Ayesha Radi Allahu anhu fell a prey to those conspiracies & turned against Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam. But later she realized her mistake & supported Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam. Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam bravely fought against the rebels to bring peace & harmony in the region. He was martyred by a rebel cowardly, when he was busy performing Fajr prayer in the mosque. He died on 661 A.D in Kufa (Present day Iraq).

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam as The Father of Sufism

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam is acclaimed as the “Father of Sufism”. ALmost all Sufi orders claim their descent from Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam. According to Hazrat Ali Hajveri (Data Ganj Bakhsh) Radi Allahu anhu, the rank of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam is very high in the line up of Sufism. According to Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi Radi Allahu anhu, Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam is the Shaikh as regards the principles and practices of Sufism.

Allah & inward eyes

Once Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was asked whether he had seen Allah. He said that verily he had seen Allah because he could not worship Him without knowing Him. He was asked how he had seen Him, and he said that He had seen him with the inward eyes of the heart.

Gnosis of Allah

According to Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam, the base of religion is the gnosis of Allah. He said: “The height of gnosis is His confirmation. The height of confirmation is Tauhid (Oneness of Allah). The height of Tauhid is the acknowledgment of the supremacy of Allah in all matters. He is beyond all attributes. No particular of attribute can give an idea of His exact nature. He is not bound by anything; all things are bound by Him. He is Infinite, limitless, boundless, beyond time, beyond space, beyond imagination. Time does not affect Him. He existed when there was nothing. He will exist forever. His existence is not subject to the law of birth or death. He is manifest in everything, but He is distinct from everything, He is One. He is not the cause of anything, everything is because of Him. He is unique. He has no partner. He is the Creator. He creates as well as destroys. All things are subject to His command. He orders a thing to be and it is.” Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam enjoined the severance of the heart from all things save Allah.

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was asked what was the purest thing that could be acquired, and he said: “It is that which belongs to a heart made rich by Allah”. When Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam was asked about gnosis, he said: “I know Allah by Allah, and I know that which is not Allah by the Light of Allah. “

Prayers to Allah

When Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam used to pray, his hair would stand on end. He would tremble and say: “The hour has come to fulfil a trust which the heavens and the earth were unable to bear.” Hazrat Abu Darda Radi Allahu anhu, an eminent companion of the Holy Prophet, said: “None in this world has excelled Ali alayhis ‘salam in prayer.” While praying, so great was the intensity of the emotions of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam that he would fall into a swoon. It is related that on one occasion, Hazrat Abu Darda Radi Allahu anhu found Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam lying rigid on the prayer mat, and touching his cold body thought that Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam had breathed his last. Then he broke this news to Hazrat Fatima alayhis ‘salam. She said that Ali alayhis ‘salam often became unconscious while praying. Hazrat Abu Darda Radi Allahu anhu weeping profusely sprinkled some water on the face of Ali, and he regained consciousness. Seeing the tears in the eyes of Hazrat Abu Darda Radi Allahu anhu, Hazrat Ali said: “Why are you crying? You shed tears when you see me in this state. Imagine what will happen to me when the angels drag me into the presence of God, and I am forced to render an account of my deeds. They will bind me with fetters of iron, and present me before God and those of my friends who will happen to be witnesses will be powerless to help me. They will lament my unhappy plight, but none save God will be able to help me on that day. “

Once an arrow stuck in the feet of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam. It could not be taken out because of the intensity of the pain felt. When Ali alayhis ‘salam stood up in prayers, he was so much absorbed in the devotional exercise that the surgeon pulled out the arrow without Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam feeling any pain.

The learning of Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam

Ali alayhis ‘salamwas the most learned man of the age. He was a living encyclopaedia of knowledge. The Noble Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said: “If I am the City of Knowledge; verily Ali is the Gate of it”. He was the first person to have learnt the Holy Quran by heart. He possessed a prodigious memory. He was a keen observer; he was a deep thinker; he had an enlightened mind and he carried in his brain a vast storage of knowledge. He was a versatile genius and he exhibited extraordinary talents in all disciplines of knowledge. He was a master of philosophy and rhetoric. He was a distinguished poet. He was a great preacher and teacher. His knowledge extended to such disciplines as: logic, mathematics, physics, astronomy, numerology, medicine and history.

Once he said: “You have to guard your wealth, but knowledge guards you. Therefore, knowledge is better than wealth.” He also said: “Knowledge cannot be stolen, while wealth is constantly exposed to the danger of being stolen. Accordingly knowledge is better than wealth.”

Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam, a great Mathematician

Once, two persons sat together somewhere to have meal. One of them had three breads & the other one had five. When they were about to start, another person came to them, he was a traveler & didn’t have anything to eat. So he asked both of them to let him share the meal with them. They both agreed, so together all three of them ate eight breads. After finishing, the traveler gave them eight Dirhams, and went. They both started to discuss how to share those eight Dirhams. The person who had five breads, wanted five Dirhams, and the person who had three breads was insisting on half from them. Finally they agreed to go to Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam, and whatever decision he would make, they will accept it. After listening their story, Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam told the person who had three breads, that he should take three Dirhams otherwise he would regret. But he wasn’t agreed & asked for justice. So then Hazrat Ali alayhis ‘salam explained:

“Total breads were 8, and the persons who ate, were 3, so 8 couldn’t be divided with 3. So we should suppose that every single bread was divided into 3 pieces, so all 8 breads totally had 24 pieces (3 x 8 = 24). So, in that way, every person ate 8 pieces, and as you had 3 breads, so you had 9 pieces in total (3 x 3 = 9), from which you ate 8 pieces, so from your breads only one part left, which was eaten by that traveler. And the person who had 5 breads, he had total 15 pieces (5 x 3 = 15), from which he ate 8 pieces, and the remaining 7 pieces ate the traveler. So, the justice is that you should have only one Dirham as from your part only one piece of bread went to the traveler, and the other person should take 7 Dirhams, as the traveler ate seven pieces of breads from his part.”

After listening to that explanation, they both became satisfied.


From Ahl-i-Bayt, successor of Prophethood, candle of the Ummah and Autad, the afflicted, Imam of the deprived is Abu al-Hasan Ali b. al-Hussein b. Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). He was the most honored and ascetic personality of his time and is famous for unveiling and narrating the truth and subtleties. In reply to a question about who was the most blessed, he said:

“The man when he is pleased, it is not on wrong, and when he is angry, is not carried by his anger beyond the bounds of right.” This is the character of those who have attained perfect rectitude, because to get satisfied with fictitious is also wrong  and to quit the truth in anger is also immoral and pious does not like incorrect.

Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him) used to call him Ali Asghar (the younger). When Hussein and his children were martyred at Karbala, there were none left alive except Ali who was sick. The women were brought unveiled on camels to Yazid (may Allah curse him), at Damascus. Someone asked Ali that how was he and members of the house? Ali replied:

“We have been treated in the same way as Pharaoh did with people of Moses who slaughtered their sons and took their women alive. We are under so many afflictions that we do not know when day has arisen and when night has fallen. We are still thankful to Allah for His bounties and praise Him for the trial in which He has put us.”

Once, Caliph Hisham b. Abd al-Malik during Hajj while performing circumambulation of Kaba tried to kiss the Black Stone (Hajr-i Aswad) but due to rush of pilgrims was unable to reach to it. At that time Ali was also circumambulating. When he approached Hajr-i Aswad to kiss it, all pilgrims withdrew from his way and he peacefully kissed it. One of the Syrian courtiers tauntingly pointed out to Hisham that he was not offered the chance to reach to the sacred stone, are you the King or that beautiful youth, for whom  everybody made the way. Hisham said that he did not know the youth. At that time famous poet Farzoaq was also present there. He got up and said in a loud voice that he knew the youth. People asked him to tell them who was he? The poet Farzoaq stepped forward and recited the splendid encomium:

This is he whose footprint is known to the valley of Mecca,
Whom the Kaba knows, the unhallowed territory, the holy ground.

He is the son of the best of the entire creature,
He is the pious, the elect, the pure, and the eminent.

Know that he is the darling child of Fatima,
He is one whose ancestor Prophethood is sealed.

Whenever Quraish have a look on him, everyone exclaim,
No one can surpass him in commendable qualities.

He occupies such an exalted position that
Arabs and non Arabs are incapable to reach there.

His ancestor was the possessor of qualities of all the prophets,
And whose Ummah possesses the virtues of all the Ummah

The Nur (light) of their forehead lightened the hearts,
As with the rise of sun darkness perishes.

Hajr-i Aswad recognizes him from his odor, so that, when
he comes to touch Hajr-i Aswad, it kisses his hands.

Modesty keeps his gaze low, but people lower their gaze because of his awe,
No one dares to talk with him except when he has a smiley face.

His hands hold stick of musk willow which spreads pleasant odor,
His palm is emitting fragrance; he is a leader of high repute.

His qualities are blessed from the qualities of the Prophet,
His conscious, habits and virtues are all praiseworthy

The heavy shower of his graciousness is common to all,
He is ever generous, material paucity never stops him.

His beneficence is open to the creature, who because of him,
Got deliverance from immorality, poverty and tyranny.

No one can match him in generosity, and neither
Any nation can show equality, may their men be very generous.

He is like rain of mercy in famine, and
Lion of the jungle at the time of fear and calamity.

It is that family whose love is faith, and enmity is infidelity, and
Nearness to them is the shelter for peace and deliverance.

When Farzoaq read these lyrics, Hisham got enraged and ordered for him to be imprisoned. When Ali came to know about it, he sent to him 12,000 dirham with a message that we only possessed that much which was too less to your affliction. Farzoaq returned it, with the message that he had uttered many lies in the panegyrics on princes and governors which he was accustomed to compose for money, and that he had addressed verses to Ali as a partial expiation for his sins in that respect, and as a proof of his affection towards Ahl-i-Bayt. Ali, once again sent the money back with the message that if Farzoaq loved him, he must retained the money however, he begged to be excused from taking back what he had  already given away; Farzoaq at last consented to receive the money.

There are so many virtues and merits of this eminent Imam that these cannot be encompassed in writing.


The exemplary guide, learned scholar and pious ascetic, Shaikh Abū Ṣāliḥ Naṣr b. ‘Abdu-r Razzāq b. Sayyiduna-sh Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir al-Jīlī-al-aṣl al-Baghdādī-al-mawlid, studied Islamic jurisprudence under his father and other experts in the field. He also received instruction in other traditional subjects, from his father, from his paternal uncle, ‘Abdu-l Wahhāb, and from Abū Hāshim ar-Rawshānī, as well as from other scholars. He became a professor and narrator of Prophetic Tradition, taught by dictation, provided formal opinions on legal problems, and engaged in public debate.

His Birth and Passing

He was born on the night of Saturday, the 14th of the month of Rabī’ al-Ākhir, in the year 564 A.H. He passed away shortly before daybreak on the night of Sunday, 16th of Shawwal, in the year 633 A.H. He was buried at the Battle Gate [bāb ḥarb], beside the tombstone of Imam Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal.

His Mother

His mother was Umm al-Karam Tāj an-Nisā’ bt. Faḍā’il at-Tarkīnī. She studied and became a narrator of Tradition [ḥadīth]. She was endowed with an abundant share of goodness and righteousness. She died in Baghdād, and was buried at the Battle Gate. May Allah have mercy on her.

His Knowledge and Roles

In his Generations [ṭabaqāt], al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī states:

(Shaikh Naṣr b. ‘Abdu-r Razzāq) was a jurist, a debater, a Traditionist, a pious ascetic, and a preacher. He became the Chief Justice [qaḍā’ al-quḍāt], the Shaikh of the age, and the pillar of the religion [imād ad-dīn]. He memorised the Qur’an in his early youth, and learned the Prophetic Tradition [ḥadīth] from his father and his paternal uncle, ‘Abdu-l Wahhāb.

He was awarded diplomas by Abu-l ‘Alā al-Hamadānī, Abū Mūsā al-Madīnī, and other professors. He possessed an eloquence and fluency of speech, and an excellent manner of expression. He issued formal opinions on legal problems, and he became the director of his grandfather’s schoolhouse.

His Appointment as Chief Justice

He was appointed to the office of Chief Justice [qaḍā’ al-quḍāt] in Baghdād, the City of Peace [madīnatu-s salām]. He adhered to the legal doctrine [madhhab] of Imam Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (may Allah be well pleased with him). He was thus the first of his [Ḥanbalī] colleagues to be summoned to the post of Chief Justice.

His appointment took place on Wednesday, the 8th of Dhu-l Qa’da in the year 622 A.H., during the Caliphate of Imām aẓ-Ẓāhir bi-Amri-Llāh. The bracelet of honour was conferred upon him, and his confirmation was proclaimed in the three major congregational mosques [jawāmi’] of the City of Peace. He thus embarked on an excellent and praiseworthy career, in which he always followed the straight path.

He used to dictate the Prophet Tradition [ḥadīth] in his courthouse sessions, and the people would write it down. At times, witnesses would record in writing some of his general comments and those related to cases, with his permission.

His appointment to the high office did not cause him to alter his character. He retained his humble modesty, and kept to the lifestyle for which he was known for before his appointment. When he went out to the congregational mosque [jami’] to attend the Friday prayer, he used to walk on foot.

He continued his work as a judge [qāḍī] for the remainder of aẓ-Ẓāhir’s life. When the Caliphate [khilāfa] passed to his aẓ-Ẓāhir’s son Imām al-Mustanṣir bi-Llāh, the new Caliph confirmed him in office for a period of four months and a few days. He then dismissed him on the 23rd of Dhu-l Qa’da in the year 623 A.H.

Ibn Rajab writes about his appointment and subsequent dismissal:

When the Caliph an-Naṣir died, he was succeeded by his son, aẓ-Ẓāhir, who proved to be one of the best of all the Caliphs [khulafā’]. He was one of their finest in lifestyle, and one of their most distinguished in religious devotion, righteousness and justice.

He abolished non-religious taxes [mukūs], rejected all forms of wrongdoing and oppression [maẓālim], and took great pains to ensure the proper implementation of the rules of the Sacred Law [ahkām ash-sharī’a].

According to Ibn al-Athīr: ‘If one were to say: “No one like him (aẓ-Ẓāhir) has reigned as Caliph, not since ‘Umar b. ‘Abdu-l Azīz,” the speaker will be telling the truth.’ For every position of authority, he would always select the most righteous candidate he could find.

This is why he appointed Abū Ṣāliḥ (i.e. Shaikh Naṣr b. ‘Abdu-r Razzāq) to this judgeship [qaḍā’], the supreme judicial office in his empire. It is said that the Shaikh attached a pre-condition to his acceptance of the post viz. that he must have the power to enforce the inheritance rights of close relatives.

The Caliph told him: ‘Give every holder of a right his right and proper due. Beware of offending Allah, but do not be afraid of offending anyone other than Him.’ He commanded him to insist, without compromise, on the delivery of what was rightfully due, in every case where a person’s right had been established by lawful means.

The Caliph also sent him ten thousand gold coins, with which to settle the debts of those debtors held in his prison, who could not find a means of settlement. Then he charged him with the supervision of the hubus [awqāf] available for general purposes, as well as the hubus earmarked for the Shafi’ī and Hanafī universities, the Sultan’s congregational mosque [jami’], and the congregational mosque of Ibn al-Muṭṭalib. The Shaikh was thereby empowered to appoint and dismiss professors at all the universities [madāris], including the Niẓāmiyya, the most famous of them all.

When aẓ-Ẓāhir died, his son al-Mustanṣir confirmed the Shaikh in office for a considerable period of time. The new Caliph summoned him on the occasion of the inaugural pledge of allegiance [mubāya’a], in order to establish him in a position which he had temporarily delegated to someone else. He had not yet announced his decision, when the Shaikh said: ‘How I wish your father had never appointed me.’ It was then that the Caliph declared his appointment.

During the days of his term in office, the call to prayer [adhān] would be given at his courtroom door, and he would lead the congregation in the performance of the ritual prayer [ṣalat]. When he went out to the mosque, he would go as a pedestrian. He dressed in simple cotton cloths. In giving judgement, he always paid scrupulous attention to the facts of the case. He was strongly committed to the truth, and his way of life was modelled on the practice of the righteous predecessors [salaf].

When al-Mustanṣir eventually dismissed him, he uttered these poetic verses:

I praised Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He),
when the judgement on me was dismissal from the office of judge.

I give thanks to al-Mustanṣir, the victorious [manṣūr],
and I pray for him over and above the ordinary supplication.

Ibn Rajab ends by saying:

No one from among our (Ḥanbalī) companions, so far as I know, was ever appointed Chief Justice [qaḍā’ al-quḍāt] before him. In Egypt, for sure, none but he ever held that office.

His Guesthouse

Ibn Rajab states:

After being relieved of the judgeship, he settled in the family schoolhouse, teaching, providing formal opinions on legal problems, and attending the public sessions and private meetings held by eminent figures.

Then al-Mustanṣir commissioned a guesthouse [ribāṭ] for him. He had it built in the district in Baghdad known as Monastery of the Greeks [Dair ar-Rūm], and installed him in it as a Shaikh. The Caliph treated him with great honour and respect, and used to send him ample funds for him to distribute as he deemed fit.

His Book & Praise of him

Ibn Rajab mentions:

The Shaikh compiled a book to which he gave the title, Guidance for Beginners [irshād al-mubtadi’īn]. Many students have learned Islamic jurisprudence from it, and found it very useful.

In his Qaṣīda Lamiyya, aṣ-Ṣarṣarī eulogises Imam Aḥmad (b. Ḥanbal) and his companions  (may Allah be well pleased with them all). In one verse the poet says:

In our own age, in the field of Islamic jurisprudence,
Abū Ṣāliḥ Naṣr is a guide for every hopeful student.

His Characteristics and Virtues

During his early youth, his father had taught him many a valuable lesson. He was trustworthy and honourable. He had a keenly inquiring mind, and always verified the authenticity of any information he transmitted and received. He was extremely well-versed in the Prophetic Tradition [ḥadīth], and his grasp of the legal doctrine [madhhab] was extensive.

When discussions revolved around questions of scholarly disagreement [khilāf], he spoke with eloquence and wit. His mode of expression was charming, and he conveyed his meaning in a beautiful style. He was modest to the point of humility, gentle and kind in disposition, gracefully refined in social relations, good-humoured, sagaciously polite, courageous, a man amongst men, undaunted by any problem or danger that might arise.

His Aloofness to the Haughty

He had the utmost respect for scholars and saints, and had complete disdain for those of arrogance and pride, regardless of their worldly ranks. He is known to have said (may Allah bestow his mercy upon him):

I was in the office of the Grand Vizier, al-‘Amthī, writing my document concerning the licenses granted to Christians. While I was in the building, I found myself in the company of Munaḥḥib ar-Razzāz the Traditionist [muḥaddith], Ibn Zuhair al-‘Adl, and Ibn al-Marwazī representing the Shaikh of Shaikhs.

Suddenly, in came a man of dignified appearance, dressed in a fine suit of clothes. As soon as he uttered the greeting of peace, they all sprang to attention, and declared their readiness to serve him. I followed their example as I assumed that he must be one of the Islamic jurists [fuqahā’].

I asked about him, and they told me: ‘He is Ibn Karam, the Jew, and the Governor of the Imperial Mint [dār aḍ-Ḍarb].’ The man was obviously accustomed to dignity and respect, for he went and sat himself down, adopting the posture of someone condescending to receive homage.

‘Get up,’ I told him, ‘and come over here!’ He came and stood in front of me, and I said to him: ‘Woe unto you! When you first entered, I imagined that you must be one of the jurists of Islam. That is why I stood up in your honour. But in my estimation—woe unto you!—you are not of that stature.’

I repeated this rebuke several times, while he stood there saying: ‘May Allah preserve you! May Allah grant you long life!’ Then I said to him: ‘Scram over there, far away from us!’ So off he went.

His Unstinting Trust in Allah

He also said:

In the month of Rajab, I was entitled to collect a fee from the Christian alms-due [sadaqa naṣiriyya], which I received from the priests [badriyya]. It so happened one year that this event took place on a Wednesday, when I had gone to pay a visit to the tomb of Imam Aḥmad [ibn Ḥanbal].

When I returned from the visit, I discovered that the people had already collected their fees, and had gone their separate ways. Someone told me: ‘Your fee is with the Christian called Thomas. It was placed in his care, so you had better find him, and collect it from him.’

To this I responded: ‘By Allah, I shall not go looking for him, nor shall I seek my sustenance from an unbeliever [kāfir].’ I promptly returned to my house, putting my trust in Allah (Glory be to Him), and recited these poetic verses to myself:

O my soul, there is no substitute for our religion,
so forget about this world, and do not quarrel with me!

It ill befits us to go chasing a polytheist [mushrik],
since polytheism is the source of every sinful error.

If we have any debt to pay, we do have a Creator
who will settle it—such is my hopeful expectation.

That fee remained with the Christian. I did not venture to seek him out, and he did not send it to me, until he was killed the following year, in the month of Jumādā al-Awwal. The gold was then taken from him house and delivered to me.

His Children

He was blessed with three children: Shaikh Abū Mūsā Yahyā, Shaikha Amatu-Llah Zainab, and Shaikh Abū Naṣr Muḥammad—his notable spiritual inheritor (see next chapter).

The learned scholar and pious ascetic Shaikh Abū Naṣr Muḥammad al-Baghdādī, is one of the main spiritual inheritors of his father, Imādu-d Dīn Abū Ṣāliḥ Naṣr al-Baghdādī (may Allah be pleased with them both). He studied Islamic jurisprudence under his father and other experts in the field. He also received traditional instruction from his father and from other scholars.

His Appearance & Epithets

He bore a striking resemblance to his great-grandfather, sayyiduna-sh shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him). Conseqently, he was addressed as Muhyu-d Din by some who had seen sayyidina-sh sheikh in his lifetime. This can be seen in some of the initiatic chains [silsila]. More commonly though, he is anointed with the epithet: “honour of creation” [Fakhru-d Dīn].

His Teachers

In his Generations [ṭabaqāt], al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī states:

Shaikh Abū Naṣr Muḥammad received traditional instructions from his father, as well as from many other scholars, incluing al-Ḥasan ibn ‘Alī ibn al-Murtaḍā al-‘Alawī, Abū Isḥāq Yūsuf ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Faḍl al-Armawī, ‘Abdu-l ‘Aẓīm al-Iṣfahānī, and Ibn al-Mushtarī. He was an active seeker of knowledge and a student of Islamic jurisprudence.

His Knowledge and Love for it

He was without doubt a learned scholar, endowed with piety and led an ascetic life. He held classes in his great-grandfather’s schoolhouse, and engaged in a constant pursuit of knowledge till he died.

His Students

He was a narrator of Tradition and one of his students was al-Hāfiẓ ad-Dimyāṭī, who has mentioned him in his Alphabetical Encyclopaedia [Mu’jam]. Ibn ad-Dawālībī mentions that he also took traditional instruction from him.

His Offical Appointment and Resignation

When his blessed father, Shaikh Abū Ṣāliḥ Naṣr was appointed to the office of Chief Justice [qaḍā’ al-quḍāt], he appointed his son to a judicial and administrative position in the seat of the Caliphate. He attended only one session in the courtroom, however, before tendering his resignation.

He then moved into their family schoolhouse by the Portico Gate and never returned to that official post. In taking that decision, he was motivated by a sense of aloofness from passing judgement, and an inclination towards pious detachment.

His Children

He fathered three children: Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qādir, Shaikh ‘Abdu-Llāh, and Shaikh Aḥmad (see next chapter).

His Passing

He returned to his Lord in Baghdad on the night of Monday the 12th of Shawwal, in the year 656 A.H. He was buried beside his great-grandfather, sayyidina-sh shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qādir al-Jīlānī (may Allah be pleased with them both), within the confines of his schoolhouse. His death occurred shortly before the catastrophe of the invasion and sacking of Baghdad.

May Allah bestow His mercy and be well pleased with Shaikh Abū Naṣr Muḥammad and the narrators mentioned above, and bless us for their sake.

Adapted from: Holland, M [Al-Tadifi, M] (1998). Necklaces of Gems [Qala’id al-Jawahir]. Florida: Al-Baz Publishing, Inc.

The pole of the age [qutbu-z zaman] and possessor of charismatic exploits [sahibu-l karamatShaikh Sayyid Muḥammad Bukhārī Tangal was born in 1144 A.H. in Andrott (Androth) Island, part of present-day Lakshadweep archipelago, off the south-western coast of India. He is a scion of the Prophetic household [Sayyid] whose forefathers hailed from central Asia.

His Name

“Tangal” is a honorific bestowed upon descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the southern state of Kerala in India. As for the family name “Bukhari”, there are two variations to its origin: (a) it indicates the affiliation to the place of origin of his ascendants, Bukhara, in present day Uzbekistan, (b) it relates to an incident involving his forefather, Sayyid Maḥmūd, who was confronted by a Rafidi ruler of a city near Khorasan in central Asia.

The ruler declared to Sayyid Maḥmūd, “If you are ahlu-l bayt as you claim, then fire will not harm you!” Saying this, he was put into a furnace. A kind of bukhār or smoke then emanated with the sweet scent of bukhūr or frankincense. He then emerged from the kiln unscathed, with neither his clothing nor skin burnt. It is said that by virtue of this miracle, he was anointed with the epithet “Bukhari”, which continues to honour his descendants to this day.

His Family Life

He was married to four women at various junctures of his life. Through two of them, he was blessed with four daughters. He did not have any male offspring.

His Notable Deputies

Luminous amongst his deputies and disciples is Shaikh ‘Umar al-Qahiri (d. 1216 A.H.), who is his foremost spiritual inheritor (see next chapter). Other notables include Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qādir of Malacca (d. circa 1238 A.H.), and Sultan Hyder ‘Ali of Mysore (d. 1197 A.H.).

Shaikh ‘Abdu-l Qādir was the maternal grandfather of Imām al-‘Arūs Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ahmad Lebbai. He was a missionary in the East Indies and frequented the areas around the Straits of Malacca. He is buried in the city of Malacca and his tomb is in an area called Kampung Kling. He is renowned as Malacca Shaikh. (Note: there is a possibility that Shaikh Abdul Qadir is the same as Munshi ‘Abdullah’s father, Abdul Kadir. Further research needs to be undertaken.)

Sultan Hyder ‘Ali was a distinguished military statesman and the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in Southern India. His reign was marked by a revival of Islam in the Malabar region, and the Muslim rulers of Cannanore were some of his staunchest allies. It was in this climate that he became a devoted disciple of Bukhārī Tangal. It is said that the “Sultan” Hyder ‘Ali, with all the weapons and warfare at his disposal, was conquered by the “Sufi” Bukhārī Tangal with his spiritual supremacy.

His Rank

Once, a group of people who did not fully grasp the rank and virtue of Bukhārī Tangal, came to lodge a complaint against him about his peculiar ways to his elder brother, Sayyid Ibrāhīm, who was a scholar and saint himself. Sayyid Ibrāhīm sent a group of people to investigate the allegations.

After a lapse of time, when the delegation did not return, Sayyid Ibrāhīm went in search of them. He found them at a place lying paralysed. He raised them up with his blessed hands and cured them of their paralysis.

On being queried what had happened, the deputation said that they had met with Bukhārī Tangal, who told them: “Please wait here,” and left. Subsequently, they could not move their limbs. It then dawned upon them that they had made a mistake in doubting his rank and casting aspersions on his virtue.

His Encounter in Madina

After performing Hajj, he undertook the visitation to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Sharif of Madina, not convinced of Bukhārī Tangal’s Sayyid credentials, became uncomfortable with his presence and made a public declaration of his feelings.

After a confrontation, it was decided that both of them will go to the Holy Sepulchre, convey their greetings to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and await a reply. It was agreed that whosoever’s greeting was replied to, shall be deemed a Sayyid.

As it befits propriety, the Sharif was first to give salam. No reply came forth. After a short while, Bukhārī Tangal conveyed his salam. A reply was heard in the burial chamber. The Sharif was stunned and became saddened.

Bukhārī Tangal then told the Sharif: “Now greet the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). And you will get a reply.” The Sharif did as told and, to his pleasant surprise, received a reply from the blessed resting abode.

Bukhārī Tangal then said: “When you gave your first salam, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was praying. Hence, you did not receive a reply. Which was why I delayed till he (Allah bless him and give him peace) had completed his prayer before conveying my salam, and a reply came forth. Then you greeted again, and you too received a reply.”

The Sharif was speechless, acknowledged his imprudence with Bukhārī Tangal, and proceeded to honour his esteemed kin.

His Preaching to non-Muslims

He instituted a large mosque in the city of Cochi in Kerala. During its construction phase, he delivered religious discourse in the evening which were well attended by Muslims, as well as Christians, Jews and others.

Once, a Jewish leader named Sansur, together with his people, came to one of Bukhārī Tangal’s sermon with the thought: “If he is indeed a man of God, then he shall preach about (Prophet) Moses in his assembly tonight.”

On that particular evening, Bukhārī Tangal was talking about the prayer, when he abruptly changed track and began talking about Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) in detail. The congregation were bewildered and Sansur was stunned.

Thereafter, Sansur offered two precious stones to Bukhārī Tangal as a gift, which he politely refused. Instead, Bukhārī Tangal requested for a teak tree for the construction of the cross beam of the mosque. It is said that Sansur duly obliged.

His Instructing of the Jinn

He is said to have imparted religious instruction to Jinn, who came in droves to seek his blessing and association. It is further said that he conversed many times with Jinn that came in the form of snakes.

His State of Ecstasy

He was regularly in a state of being emancipated by the love of Allah. During such poignant moments, many have witnessed him with his limbs scattered all over.

His Miracles

Countless are the prodigies [karāmāt] that Allah revealed at his hands. Some of these include walking on the sea, making a woman into a man, raising the dead – all by the permission of Allah, Glorified is He and sanctified be His Names!

His Passing and Enduring Miracle

He passed away on Monday 3 Shawwal 1207 A.H. at the age of 63 and was laid to rest next to the  Cannore (Kannur) Main [jāmi’a] Mosque in Kerala, India. A mausoleum was subsequently raised. Imam al-‘Arus Sayyid Muḥammad b. Aḥmad Lebbai has composed a panegyric on him entitled: “minhatu-l bari fi midhati-l Bukhari”.

His resting abode is an important pious visitation [ziyara] point in South India and manifests an enduring miracle – the soil of his grave emanates an unexplainable, lingering sweet scent to this day. It is perhaps a testimony to the legacy of his blessed forefather, Sayyid Maḥmūd, who was anointed with the title: “Bukhari”.

May Allah be well pleased with Bukhari Tangal, and may He forgive and bless us for his sake.