The last Ramadan of the life of Imam Ali (A) had restlessness in it as was apparent from the behavior of the Imam. This month was different from all the months of Ramadan of previous years.
It was clearly felt by the family members of Imam (A). Nonetheless I would like to mention the differentiating feature, which is also narrated in Nahjul Balagha. Imam Ali (A) said: When Allah, the Glorified sent down the verse:
Alif Laam Meem. (29:1)
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
What! Do people imagine that they will be let off on (their) saying: “We believe!’' and they will not be tried? (29:2)
I came to know that the disturbance would not befall us as long as the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his progeny) is among us. So I said,
‘‘O Prophet of Allah, what is this mischief about which Allah, the Sublime has informed you?”1
And he replied, “O Ali, my Ummah will soon undergo trials after me.”
When Ali (A) heard that after the passing away of the Prophet they would have to undergo tribulations, he remembered something from the past and he asked:
“O Messenger of Allah (S), on the day of Uhud did you not tell me that those Muslims who were supposed to be martyred have obtained the status of martyrdom?
On that day seventy Muslims were martyred among whom the chief of the martyrs, His Eminence, Hamza was the most important.
While martyrdom evaded me, which was very annoying to me,2 and I asked you: Why have I been denied this honour?”
His Eminence had said: “Cheer up, as martyrdom is in your pursuit. So what if you were not martyred? Martyrdom has already been written in your destiny. Saying this His Eminence asked me: ‘It will indeed come to pass, but tell me how your patience will be at the time of your martyrdom?’” Imam Ali (A) said: “O Messenger of Allah (S) it is not an occasion for patience, but rather an occasion for joy and gratefulness.”3
The family and companions of Imam Ali (A) were restless and worried because of the news the Holy Prophet (S) had given and because of those signs, which were made apparent by Imam Ali (A) because he was talking of strange things. During this Ramadan month he used to conclude his fast at one of his children’s house.4
Every night he used to be the guest of one of them. He ate at Imam al-Hasan’s (A) house one night and then Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) house on the next and then Lady Zaynab’s (s.a.) house and so on. But he ate very little.5
The Imam’s children used to become sad on this condition of Imam. They used to cry out of sadness. Once, one of them asked: “O father! Why do you eat so less?” The Imam replied: “I want to meet the Almighty Allah with an empty stomach.”6(His children used to understand that His Eminence, Ali was waiting).
Sometimes he used to look at the sky and say: “My beloved one, the Holy Prophet (S) has informed me and what he had told me is absolutely true. He cannot be wrong. The time is near.”7
On 13th Rajab, he stated something, which increased the trouble. It was Friday and the Imam was delivering a sermon. During the sermon he asked Imam Al-Husayn (A): “Son, how many days are left in this month?”
He replied: “Seventeen days are left, father.”
Imam Ali (A) said: “Yes, very soon my beard will be dyed with my blood. The time for this beard to be dyed with blood is near.”8
O mourners! The children spent some time with His Eminence, Ali (A) on the eve of the 19th. After everyone had departed, Imam Ali (A) came to the prayer-mat.9 Imam Ali (A) was on his prayer-mat and it was not yet dawn. Imam al-Hasan (A) arrived and sat down near him. Either it was because of restlessness or it was his usual habit.
The Commander of the Faithful gave special respect to Imams Hasan and Al-Husayn (A) because they were children of Lady Az-Zahra (s.a.). He used to consider honouring them as honouring the Holy Prophet (S) and Lady Az-Zahra (s.a.). He told Imam al-Hasan (A):
“I was sitting when I dozed for some moments. I saw the Prophet of Allah appear before me, and I said. ‘Your Ummah has made me cry tears of blood.”10
Really, it is strange that people opposed His Eminence, Ali (A) and did not walk on the path shown by him. People had troubled him no end. The companions of Ayesha broke the allegiance and Mu’awiyah constantly conspired against him.
It was very tough for His Eminence, Ali (A) to bear all this. Mu’awiyah was a cunning brute. He knew what hurts His Eminence, Ali (A) the most. Thus, he used to do the same. What did the Khawarij and so-called religious groups, who used to accuse Imam Ali (A) and call him an infidel, do in the end?
It is a fact that a person wonders after looking at the grief-stricken life of Imam Ali (A). Even a mountain does not have the power to bear so many calamities as he did. To whom can Ali (A) tell about his sufferings?
When he saw the Holy Prophet (S) in his dream, Imam Ali (A) opened his heart to him and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Your Ummah has troubled me a lot. Tell me, what I should do about it?”
Then he told Imam al-Hasan (A): “Father’s dearest! Your grandfather ordered me, ‘O Ali! Curse this Ummah’ And in the dream I said, ‘O Lord! Take me from this world at the soonest and appoint over them in my place someone who is worse than me.’” You can estimate the trouble and restlessness from this statement.
When the Imam started to set out for the mosque, the ducks began to quack loudly. Imam said: “Now only these ducks are quacking but the time is near when the earth and the skies will tremble and people will start mourning.”11
Hearing this, the children came forward and said: “O father! We won’t allow you to go to the mosque. Please send us or someone else in your place.” Imam Ali (A) said: “All right, send my nephew, Joada Ibn Hubaira.” Then he immediately said: “No, I will go to the mosque myself.” The children asked the Imam to permit them to accompany him but he refused saying: “I don’t want anyone to accompany me.”12
How pleasant was this night for him! Only God knows what his feelings were. He said: I myself tried a lot to know the secret but I could know only the outline; that a great tragedy was expected to happen. It is apparent from his words in Nahjul Balagha:
“I tried a lot to reach the hidden secret but God denied, because He wanted to keep it secret.”13
Imam used to call out the Azaan of the Morning Prayer. Dawn was approaching when the Imam went to the place of Azaan and recited it.14 After that he bid farewell to whiteness of dawn and said: “O whiteness of dawn! Have you ever witnessed a day when Ali (A) was sleeping when you appeared in the sky since the time Ali has opened his eyes?”
It means that it has not happen prior to this but now the eyes of Ali were going to be closed forever. After returning from the place of Azaan the Imam recited the following couplets:
“Make way for the believer warrior fighting in the way of Allah15
He is a believer who follows the divine commandments
And steps into the battlefield of martyrdom willingly
One who does not worship anyone except God,
And enjoins people to offer Prayer regularly.”
Here, the Imam is introducing himself as a believer and a warrior.
His family members were not permitted to move from their places. Imam Ali (A) had already said that after his cries, people will start mourning. Lady Zaynab (s.a.), Lady Umm Kulthum (s.a.) and other family members were awake and restless.
Their hearts were beating fast with anxiety because they didn’t know what catastrophe would occur before the darkness of this night disappears. Suddenly a voice caught the attention of everyone:
“O mourners! O mourners of Ali!” This sound was coming from every nook and corner at this unfortunate hour:
“By Allah, the pillars of guidance have been demolished. By Allah, signs of piety have been erased. The strong rope of truth is broken. The cousin of Mustafa is martyred. The successor of the chosen prophet of Allah is martyred. Ali al-Murtadha is martyred. The worst person from the formers and the latters has martyred him.”16
In the name of Allah and by Allah and on the religion of the Messenger of Allah (S)
- 1. The Faiz al-Islam Edition of Nahjul Balagha does not contain the word ‘taa’la’.
- 2. Imam Ali (A) was in his prime youth in the battle of Uhud. He was only twenty-five years old at that time. He was newly married to Lady Sayyada and Imam al-Hasan (A) was born to them. Normally, a young couple wishes for a long life but the greatest wish of Ali (A) was martyrdom. (Ustad Mutahhari)
- 3. Nahjul Balagha, Faiz ul-Islam, Sermon 155, Pg. 1481; Nahjul Balagha, Subhi Salih, Sermon 156.
- 4. Perhaps, it was his practice in the previous months of Ramadan also. (Ustad Mutahhari)
- 5. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 329.
- 6. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 224.
- 7. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 277.
- 8. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 330; Manaqib Murtazviyah, Pg. 490.
- 9. It is recommended that a place should be reserved in one’s house for worship. Imam Ali’s prayer-mat was reserved during his stay in Dar ul-Imarah as a caliph and he used to worship on it. Normally, he did not sleep during the nights and used to start his worship on this mat after completing all his chores. (Ustad Mutahhari)
- 10. Nahjul Balagah, Faiz ul-Islam; Sermon 69, Pg 156; Nahjul Balagah, Subhi Salih; Sermon 70.
- 11. Kashf ul-Ghumma, Vol. 2, Pg. 62; Manaqib Ibn Shahr Aashob, Vol. 3, Pg. 310.
- 12. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 226; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 335.
- 13. Nahjul Balagha, Faizul Islam, Sermon 149, Pg. 445; Nahjul Balagha, Subhi Salih,Sermon 149.
- 14. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 279.
- 15. Manaqib Ibn Shahr Aashob, Vol. 3, Pg. 310; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 238.
- 16. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 238; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 42, Pg. 282.