It was the month of Ramadan. The streets of Kufa were still hot from the day’s unbearable heat. A musafir (traveler) was walking through the streets. His clothes had a thin layer of sand, his amamat was worn low on his forehead against the harsh rays of the sun, his shoes worn out from the long walk. Hungry for food and tired, his eyes caught the tall and beautiful minaret of the masjid. He quickened his pace towards the masjid, entered, and said Salaam.
Straining his eyes, he saw a lonely figure inside and his ears picked up the low hum of prayers filling every corner of the masjid. The musafir knew in his heart that he was in the presence of a very saintly man, a Wali of Allah Ta’ala.
The musafir laid his masallah near the mehrab and prayed namaaz. He saw the Wali unlock a wooden chest, take out a handful of food and eat it. The musafir having not eaten anything all day, went closer to the Wali and asked, “Saheb, I have had nothing to eat since yesterday. Please give me something to eat.” The quiet, peaceful voice of the Wali replied, “Brother, I do not have anything that you would like to eat.” The musafir insisted, “I just saw you eat a handful of something. You look like a pious, good muslim and yet you refuse to give me food.” Upon the musafir’s insistence, the Wali opened up the wooden chest and gave the musafir some food to eat. The hungry man grabbed the handful and put it in his mouth. Suddenly he was choking on the dry and tasteless food. He could not swallow it. He looked at the man, his eyes filled with tears of pain. “Brother, what did you give me to eat?” The Wali replied, “That was the dry flour of jav (wheat).”
“Saheb, flour is very cheap in this part of the country. Why do you keep it locked? Is it that you are afraid of thieves?”, questioned the unknowing musafir. The Wali answered, “I know flour is cheap and I am not afraid of the thieves either. I keep this chest locked because when I am not around my sons mix butter and sugar in it. You look very hungry. Go the house of Hasan (SA) and Husain (SA). During the month of Ramadan, they serve many varieties of food to those who are fasting and hungry. Go join them and delight yourself in the company of good people and delicious food.” The musafir folded his masallah, took the directions to the house, and then went to join in the festivities.
Hundreds of people were gathered together at the home of Maulana Hasan (SA) and Maulana Husain (SA), all seated and enjoying delicious food. As the musafir entered the courtyard, two very tall, handsome men approached and invited him to dinner. The musafir sat and ate his fill. As he was leaving the house, Hasan (SA) and Husain (SA) stopped him and said, “We’ve been watching you and have seen that your face is sad, and your eyes have tears in them. Do you have a family somewhere? Are they also hungry? If so, we have plenty of food. Please bring them here to eat or take some food for them.”
The musafir answered, “Maula, I have no family. I am a poor man, but I saw a man praying at the masjid, his clothes are old and he is eating dry flour. While eating the delicious food in your home, I was thinking of him and crying. If you give me some food, I will take it to him.”
Maulana Husain (SA) put his right hand on the musafir’s shoulder and said, “Brother, the man you saw in the masjid praying is the Allah’s Wali, Mohammad RasulAllah’s (SAW) Wasi, and our beloved father Ameer-ul-Mumineen Ali (SA). The delicious food you just ate is all provided by him.”
Ali (SA) was the cousin of Mohammad RasulAllah (SAW). He was born on the 13th of Rajab in the Ka’aba in Mecca. When his mother came to the Ka’aba, she felt weighed down before the Holy structure and prayed humbly to Allah. No sooner had she raised her head from supplication, then the wall of the sacred House split by a solemn miracle. She entered the Ka’aba and the portion returned to its normal position. Some who witnessed the event flocked at the gate of the Sacred House which was lodged and tried to open it, but in vain. They then decided to give up, considering the miraculous nature of the event and the Divine will in action. The news of the this miraculous incident spread like wildfire in Mecca.
Maulana Ali (SA) was born within the Ka’aba with his eyes closed and his body in humble prostration before Almighty God. His mother stayed in the Ka’aba for three days and as the fourth day approached, she stepped out, carrying her gem in her arms. To her great surprise she found the Holy Prophet (SAW) awaiting to receive the newly-born child in his anxious arms.
Maulana Ali (SA) was brought up under the care and affection of RasulAllah (SAW). As Ali (SA) says, “The Holy Prophet (SAW) brought me up in his own arms and fed me with his own morsel. I followed him wherever he went like a baby camel following its mother. Each day I learned a new aspect of his noble person and I would accept it an follow it as a command.” — Nahjul-Balagha
Ten years in the company of the Holy Prophet (SAW) had kept him so close and inseparable that he was one with him in character, knowledge, self-sacrifice, forbearance, bravery, kindness, generosity, and eloquence. From his very infancy, prayed along with the Mohammad RasulAllah (SAW). Maulana Ali (SA) always accompanied the Holy Prophet (SAW) to help and protect him from his enemies.
Mohammad RasulAllah (SAW) has said of Ali (SA):
“O Ali (AS) you are my brother in this world and the hereafter.”
“I am the City of Knowledge and Ali (AS) is the gate.”
(“Ana madinat-ul-ilm wa Ali-yun baaboha”)
“For whom I was your leader, Ali (SA) is your leader also.”
(“Man kuntu Maula, fa-haza Ali-yun Maula”)
Maulana Ali (SA) had the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valor. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, Ali (SA), was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his brother.
Under divine instruction, RasulAllah (SAW) arranged the marriage of his beloved daughter Fatimah (SA) to Ali (SA), though others vainly tried for her hand. Among their children, Imaam Hasan (SA), Imaam Husain (SA), Maulatena Zainab (SA) and Maulatena Umme Kulsum (SA) have each left their mark on the history of the world.
While offering his prayers in the Masjid at Kufa (Iraq) on the 19th of Ramadan, Maulana Ali (SA) was struck by a poisonous sword of an enemy. He passed away 2 days later on the 21st of Ramadan and was buried in Najaf-ul-Ashraf. He was born in the house of God in Masjid-al-Haram and martyred in the house of God in Masjid-al-Kufa. The lion of God, the most brave-hearted and gentle Mumin that ever lived, Mushkil-Kusha, Ali (SA) began his glorious life with devotion to Allah and RasulAllah (SAW) and ended it in the service of Islam.
“And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; Nay, they are alive but you do not perceive.” [Al-Qur’an 11:154]
–by M. Zakir Shk. Hussein Haveliwala