Commemorating The Birthday Of Imam Ali (A)

Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim. Al-Hamdulillahi Rabbil-Alameen, assalatu wassalamu a'la ashrafil anbiya-i-wal mursaleen, wa aale baytihi at-tayyibeen at-tahireen ashabil muntajabeen. Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I take this opportunity firstly to thank the Ismaili Council for holding such an important event, which I believe is on a man who is one of the most important, or at least arguably one of the most important men in the history of humanity.

A man who unites essentially the Islamic world with a Judeo-Christian world. If you look at the Islamic civilisation. A mosaic of essentially seven cultures, you have the Persian culture. The Arab culture from Benghazi to the river Euphrates, you have the subcontinental cultures, the Malay cultures, West African culture, the Maghrib, East European cultures. United in that mosaic, essentially, is what we call the Islamic civilisation. Imam Ali was an expound of the principles of the Prophet and the vision of the Prophet.

Essentially, what was the vision of the Prophet? The vision of the Prophet was to unite humanity under one umbrella. Go to the Quran and say the only book that I have come across as a religious book that addresses all of humanity when it says" Ya ayyuhan naas ", O People! O Humanity as one. He brings forward these principles, so today, if you see, for example, advancement in the Islamic civilisation that took place, whether it was in geography or whether it was geometry, whether it was algebra, whether it was, for example, physics, medicine and so forth from arts.

Fundamentally, it was this man who inspired it, put those principles forward, but the one thing that really reflects about him is the fact that he was the expander of a perennial wisdom that starts from Adam, the preserve of the Library of Alexandria, that when these were translated and remember, fourteen hundred years ago, Europe was in the dark ages. This perennial wisdom was then translated, there was a meeting of two civilisations that leads to the current day well, that we have it.

Influences again on China as well, that many centuries later, his followers then went to China. And as you know Hulagu, on the one hand and his brother within China, both of which brought together the Persian and the Chinese empires to share knowledge. So one man influences almost you could say the face of this planet. But the unfortunate thing is this. The unfortunate thing is that within the Western world, we really do not know much about him other than in universities, poets, mystics. You find not very many people know about this great leader.

It was only until 2002. But the then secretary general, Kofi Annan, compiles together with the help of the UNDP, an entire six point charter for the Middle East, to say that, look, if you are going to improve your affairs, you need to go back to this person, Ali ibn Abi Talib.

What does he bring forward? A letter written by Ali to his governor, Malik al Ashtar, when he was sending him to Egypt. And he puts these six points forward and he says that this is the prototype and I quote her, to quote him, says that arguably one of the most influential men in history in terms of a governor.

So in this way and I remember only last week at the beginning of last week, I was with Kofi.Kofi and I, as we sat down with 88 leaders, so to speak, we were there to train them. The very first opening remark was on the letter of the Imam Ali. And it read like this to quote that when Imam Ali says to Malik in that letter, he says, "Look, Malik, I am sending you to a country where you will find diversity.But know one thing. Either the people will be of your faith, brothers in faith or your equals in humanity. And that is a huge statement. Fourteen hundred years ago, put yourself in that position and ask yourself the question, which leader in those days would say you have two types of people, one, your brethren in faith and the other your equal in humanity?

And this is where this entire ascension of the letter of Ali ibn Abi Talib begins from 2002 to today. If today were the North America the most read poet as Rumi, ask yourself the question. Who inspired Rumi? Go into the Masnavi and see littered within the Masnavi are the words of Ali ibn Abi Talib. You go to the Middle East today, whether it is Christian from the Coptic and onwards, the Orthodox Christians within Lebanon, for example, George Jordac, when he writes about Imam Ali, what does he say?

He says that this man's values, this individual's pluralism is an example for everyone. And then he quotes and he says he says: Imam Ali is not just for the Muslims, but is also for us as Christians as well, because when he came into power, he empowered the Christians and freed them.

And that is something which is important to understand. In the same way today, when you go to Iraq, you see Jewish Iraqis who revere Imam Ali.Go to India today and you find that there is a movement there as well from within the Vedic teachings that looks towards Imam Ali, at least as a saint. To remember back to a friend of mine who once presented Rajiv Gandhi with this very letter. And so he asked him about a month later, he says, Rajiv, I do not see this letter in parliament. I do not see it on the front wall of your house, you know, where have you put this letter and he replies, he says, look, if I had put it outside for people, I'd have been showing off. I keep it in my drawer in room. So every morning when I wake up, I go in. I read this letter because this letter resonates with me.

That is Imam Ali. What is our responsibility, therefore, as Muslims to truly bring forward who this Imam Ali is to the people? And I think if this was to be the case, you did find a lot of peace and tranquillity and acceptance within the Islamic world as well as the wider world. So, look, I am going to start a journey here and come with me on a journey. Separating this lecture really into three parts, the first part is what I call looking at the culture of God. The culture of God and the culture of the Prophet.The second part we look at this letter.What is this letter that Imam Ali writes, which has become so famous? And I think the third part really is practical lessons that we can learn from this letter.

So here it starts. What is the culture of God? To truly understand pluralism is to understand God. If you want to understand the thought process of the Prophet and Imam Ali, go back to God and see what is God. God in the tradition, it says, within the Islamic mystical tradition was a hidden treasure. He loved to be known. So he created humanity, created the world, created the universe through manifestation, but essentially was based on mercy.

So he says in a very famous tradition, that I was a hidden treasure. I loved to be known. Two things, become apparent here - God in terms of love and God in terms of wanting to be known. There is a divine gnosis here. So there is a mystical reality, which is here. Two things come into play. From that God creates the entire universe. From there he creates man. What is the purpose of man? What the Quran says, the purpose of man is this. Essentially to do what? Quran says to worship God. But honestly, if I was to go outside and say to the people that come to Islam because you need to worship God, it really would not make sense. And it is not a point that people are attracted towards. So a person comes to the Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq, one of the grandsons of Imam Ali, and he asks him, you know, what does this mean? And the reply comes, here knowing God means having 'Ma'rifah. Essentially knowing God here,worshipping God means to know him intimately, divine form of knowing. But one cannot achieve this until love is not there.

The entire movement, therefore, of creation is based upon two things. Love and love goes back to mercy. Allah is merciful. This is divine mercy. From this mercy love flows. And essentially when love flows, when the heart opens, then what happens? Divine knowledge then comes. There is a connection of the heart that takes the heart towards God. Two things therefore. What is God essentially doing from that point of unity? God is hidden. He manifests himself within multiplicity. The entire world that you see, according to Islamic mystics, are what the asman, the Sifaat, the characteristics and the names of God scattered all around you.

Naturally, there is this plurality, which is the naturally you see pluralism, multiplicity, which is thethere. Every name is different from the other. But if you take all of these thousands of names or within the Islamic tradition, officially the 99 names, even though there is more than that particular prayers which we have, you bring him onto one locus. It equals the name Allah. Allah is that name in Arabic, they call it Ism Jam. It takes all of the names and brings it on one locus.

Allah reflects multiple names and multiple realities. So therefore, within creation, what do you find? You find multiple layers of reality. You find multiple layers essentially of knowledge. Bring it to one locus and it equals Adam. The Adamic reality, Adam,is that creation that brings together all of creation. It is the mirror of God, essentially, that reflects all of the divine names. So in this way, what do you have? You have multiplicity and you have unity. There is two realities which come into one, essentially. So the culture of God tells us that it is not bad to be multiple. Actually, it is a very good thing. Go look at the Quran and see.

Says " We have created you in tribes, languages, cultures, colours, the purpose of which so that you can understand one another" (49:13). And why is it important to understand one another? Ask ourselves the question, why is it important, even though when you look at yourself, what does Imam Ali say? He says something very beautiful. He says, man, why do you look at yourself for such a small entity? You contain the entire universe and yourself, all of the realities of creation are found in yourself.

But sometimes the problem is this. We can't see it. This is what the Quran says. Quran says firstly Allah will show you His signs on the horizon, which means the world of multiplicity. And so what is the world of multiplicity? You are the world of multiplicity. When you look at each other, you come to know God in this entire seven billion of us. And from that, all of creation lies one humanity lies, one reality. So what is God teaching us?

God is teaching us this. That is not bad to be different. Actually, your difference has a common thread and that is the mercy of God. All of you unite as one humanity. Hence Allah says in the Quran, Ya "Ayyuhan naas", O' People, O' Humanity. So, essentially this is what the culture of God then symbolises. But come down a step and see you have got this multiplicity and then you have got this unity there. You have got the perfect man with an Adam and you have got this entire chain of, as the Muslims say, one hundred twenty four thousand Prophets.

The final prophet comes into play. And the first thing he says is this To believe in me is to believe in Adam. And to believe in Noah and to believe in Abraham and to believe in Moses and to believe in Jesus. So you find an individual who does not negate. Many a time when you find professors, they negate each other's works. At the same time, you find doctors, you find philosophers many a time negating.But here you find the line of Prophets that they accept one another, they accept these teachings, they accept this diversity.

And that is something which is important.Really what is the first lesson from the culture of God then? The first lesson is this. This diversity of multiplicity is good. We do not come and say that we are exclusive in that respect. What are we to accept Islam is to accept all of the messages of all of the Prophets. They are all one in that reality. Yes, as a religion, we may be exclusive, but the fact is that perennial wisdom that Godly wisdom is one, it unites all of us from Adam all the way down to the final Prophet, brings it all together.

What was Imam Ali essentially? Look at his words, the divine. He is the expounder of this philosophy where that when he becomes the Caliph, what does he say. Very beautifully he says. He says, look, he divides his city into six parts according to certain traditions divided within six parts. You have a portion for Jews, you have a portion for Christians. There is a portion for different sects. By that stage, there were more than one sect, more than one party within Islam and so what does he say? He says this. He says, look. You rule by your principles, but if there is a conflict between you, then what ? Then come to me. What will I do ? I will judge the Jews from the Torah. And the Christians from the Gospel and the Muslims from the Quran. What does that tell you? Straightaway that tells you, that within the pluralism of the Imam, it is not just enough to accept somebody, but what is important is to understand the other. Here is a man who has knowledge and refined tradition where he speaks in Hebrew. In one tradition is to say that he speaks in Persian to Salman, in one tradition is to say that he can read Greek, the purpose of this understanding, the other is important.

How does one understand truly? When one begins to educate oneself, to know about the other is extremely important. You know, today within the societies we live in, regardless of the fact that we live in a global village. But the minute that you see a woman dressed in a particular way or a man dressed in a particular way, you have 10 people to ask you, do you speak English? And at that point I said, well, I do, but with a lousy London accent. And at that moment it kind of raises a smile on people's faces.

But the fact is this. Regardless of globalisation has taken place, we do not understand one another. We do not understand or appreciate the diversity of one another. So when the Islamic civilisation was that these seven cultures had different dress codes and different ideas. But the fact was, the message is this: Acceptance. How does one accept? To know the other. And that is what is important. So here from the culture of God, as we said to the culture of the Prophet and the idea of the culture of the Prophet is educate yourself about one another.

And this is what Imam Ali is teaching. Very first message is this. He is saying, I will judge the Jews by the Torah, it means he knew it. He knew the intricacies of the Old Testament. He understood the intricacies of the Christian faith, understood the intricacies of the Islamic faith. And so what does that mean? And that is the man who truly is exploring humanity.

And so that is what we call the culture of the Prophet, the idea of acceptance, but also if you look at it, what did Imam Ali do? Revive the mysticism of Moses and Jesus, that two centuries later, if Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross or many centuries later, Meister Eckhart are expounding that philosophy, go back and see where was it coming from? You have a number of ports within Europe. One of them was Venice. One of them was Spain....Greece purpose of that? You found that the ports of knowledge, the very same visions that Teresa of Avila was having, you find that the same way as the Sufi mystics of the Maghrib, what was there? There is a unity of mysticism, which is there.Who teaches the Arabs that to sit together?

Moses Bin Maimonides is the famous Jewish mystic who they say that his son converted to Sufism. The Jewish mystic theologian, what was he doing? He was sitting there with Muslims, with Christians, discussing, debating, and so you see the revival of the golden era of Islamic and Jewish mysticism and theology. While people coming together, what happens when we begin to talk? You see humanity begins to flourish. And again, that is something which is important. So when we look at Imam Ali, we have not even touched his letter yet, by the way.

You know, we are going to get to it in a minute. But the fact is this, you are already seeing the mosaic, the way the things are linking together.

What is pluralism in the eyes of this great man? It is something which we cannot comprehend. There is a vision there.If only we could take those bits of, only we could take this message out to the world. Maybe something which is fascinating for the world to see. So here the Quran comes in and says. Again, the culture of the Prophet before I move on to the letter. " wa ja'alnaakum ummatan wasata"(2:143). We have created you as a nation of balance, the fact is there is no extremes here within Islam.

There should not be any extremes. You are a nation of balance. No fundamentalism, no extremism balance. What does balance mean? Balance means want to take the middle road, calmness, peace, tranquillity. And if you are not doing that, then what? You have not understood the soul of the Quran today.

If we are looking at the weaponization of religious texts in the world, you are seeing that today, not just the Quran, but other forms of text as well. And the 21st century is a century today, whether it is secular right wing or left wing or religious fundamentalism, you are seeing ideological fundamentalism. It is a global problem. It is not just a problem for one religion. You know, you are seeing the rise in all religions. You come to Europe and I will show you places where there is secular Right-Wing activities which are going on.

The fact is this we have a global problem today. Regardless of who you are, we need to go back to the middle road, that middle pathway. Truly, it is wrong when people say Islam was spread by the sword. If Islam was spread by the sword, you would not have intellectual advancement. Intellectual advancement does not come when people's lives are a threat. It comes when people are at peace. How does the society progress? Today I can truly say that in Toronto, we are one Ummah and that Ummah expands to all of us.

Why is that? Because when one of us is in pain, it affects the whole. And that is something we need to bear in mind, today if a person is committing an atrocity that atrocity not just against one person, it is against the whole line because it brings down the standard of the whole.We are connected with one body. And this is why Imam Ali says very famously says the Ummah is one body.

If a part of the Ummah hurts or the part of the body hurts, the entire Ummah hurts. And today, living in a global village, global society, if we truly are to see the advancement of society, what does it require for us to come together, for us to understand one another, for us to aid one another? So let me take you before I go into the letter just to look at the culture of the Prophet and the culture of this great Imam.

Battlefield. Wars taking place, and again, Islam is in the pacifistic religion of somebody attacks you, you proportionately to defend yourself. But 1400 years ago, Imam Ali is teaching in ethics. He is saying, look, you are not allowed to cut down trees. You cannot stop water from reaching your enemy. It is a defensive war, somebody attacks you, you are allowed to defend yourself, you cannot demolish churches, you can not demolish synagogues, places of worship. If a person turns their back on you, you cannot kill them. There is an ethics there. If he surrender, show mercy upon that person. That Imam on the battlefield, heated battles taking place. Who is he fighting?

Essentially, he is fighting the Khawarij. Who are the Khawarij? The Khawarij are those very people who today we call Daesh, the ideological ancestors of Daesh or ISIS. So there is a war which is taking place there. And at that moment, one of the as they say in the traditions, one of the hypocrites comes to him.Now the purpose of the hypocrite coming in, asking him a question is this. We are going to slow Ali down and when we slow him down, we can kill him. His caliphate is going to come to an end.

So the person comes forward and Ali is taking. As Imam Ali is walking, goes towards his horse. And the person asked the question. He says Ya Ali O Ali, what is Islam? I was expecting 24 hours to 28 hours of an entire discussion of what Islam is and look, if I was to ask you, what is Islam, we did be here until 4:00 in the morning discussing what Islam is. But there is a difference here. There is a difference between a wise man who in the Islamic tradition is known as a Hakim, a wise man.

What is the difference between a scholar who has knowledge and a wise man? The scholar expands knowledge. A wise man takes an ocean of knowledge and puts it in a pile. That one statement of Imam Ali 1400 years ago. And you have got half a billion Muslims today still trying to figure out what it means. So what does he say. Takes him in his stride,the horses is there, smiles, walks up to the horse to get onto the horse.

He says, My friend Islam is two things. Your duty to God and your duty to humanity. And that's it. Person looks up stunned. It is duty to God and duty to humanity this is correct. But what does that mean? Islam. Therefore, if you go back to Imam Ali and follow the teachings of the Imam Ali is twofold. Your duty to God, your duty to humanity. What is humanity? Humanity is the diversity that you see. It is not restricted to one person. It is not restricted to Muslims. Imam Ali led a life whereby when you found that there was a Jewish woman who is in pain, he would go he would counsel her orphans, widows. So one day when the Imam was walking onto the streets, it's phenomenal at night time, one of his companions comes, he says Commander of the Faithful, what are you doing at night time? He replies. He says, I am going to give food to people who are impoverished. So the reply comes as well. Why do not you call them to your house? He says, I call everyone to my house, but this food is for my enemy. They do not want to come to me, so I am going to them.

That is a lesson. Not just stories for us to just listen to and digest. The fact is,there is a reality there. As a Muslim. What do we need to do, and all Muslims, regardless of what denomination you are? We all follow the common thread after the Prophet for Muslims really is who? We are united under the Caliph, the fourth Caliph or the first Imam. So there is a unity there, right. Brings us together after the Prophet. If there is anyone who Muslims come together on, it's Imam Ali. And what is he teaching us? He is going beyond any religion saying, look, my enemy, if he does not come to me, I will take food to my enemy and that is something that makes a difference.

So here one side, second side is this. The Medina of Imam Ali. And then we come to the letter, the awaited letter, the Medina of Imam Ali. What was the Medina, what was the city of Imam Ali? And again, it is phenomenal to understand what was a city. This city again, had this pluralism, which is there.

But what essentially is pluralism, the many strands of which but one of them is essentially to accept the other. So what do you find, 1400 years ago, in the time of the Prophet, before Imam Ali's reign, at the time of the Prophet, what do you find? You found that Prophet, the final 10 years of his life in Medina establishes an Ummah and there you find the first ever social system. Now we talk about the Greeks, the Greek social system is based upon charity, but the first official or formative social system that mimics the social system of today was found under the Prophet.

You know, who the first minister was? The first minister essentially was a woman and that woman was his daughter, the Prophet's daughter. Today when Muslims talk about are women allowed to, for example, go and work or are they allowed to leave the house and so forth. Forget working. Here is a woman who was in charge of the first system. And what was that system? Social system. When we talk about the gardens of Fadak, for example, what were they ? They were not essentially just for Fatima. There were many people there working in that land as a form of charity, as a form of social system for other people, people who are impoverished.

She would allow them. She would bring them there. But you come in and you work there. So essentially, look, what are we seeing here? We are seeing the empowerment of women. There were three women who I can truly say. Three women that Islam owes a debt to, the first is Khadija, the wife of the Prophet. In today's terms, a woman who would be the richest woman, a billionairess of her time. What does she do?

Does the Prophet allow her to work or not? Well, she would not be a billionairess if she was not working. But what is the reality there? She supported him side by side. Fatima,daughter of the Prophet, the wife of Imam Ali, preserved the guardianship of Imam Ali, side by side. And then you have the daughter of Imam Ali, who he calls Zaynab, made up of two words, the beauty of her father named her that. Why was she the beauty of her father? Because she preserved the message of his son, Hussain that today, if Islam is where it is, is because of that great man. Three women played a part. See within the family of the Prophet, it is been working side by side. Yes, Imamate is for men. But the fact is, the women had nothing less of an important job in the same way they were working parallel, and that is important, the acceptance of the other.

And you are going back 1400 years ago, it's unfortunate to see we have not evolved in the way that we should have done in those fourteen hundred years. I wish we had done. Today when we talk about it, even in the Western world, that there is a particular quota for women and for men and jobs, there should be this much and that much. No, what Islam was teaching then was a parallel, working parallel.

You do not need quotas. They should come to you naturally. But both are equal. Yes, they have different functions. But the fact is, there is equality there. Coming to the letter now, the second part of our discussion, and look, the letter is phenomenal.

You know, if we were to open this letter, we did be here for ten lectures, let alone one lecture or head that the letter that Imam Ali writes.He writes this letter and he gives it to Malik and he says to Malik look, I am sending you as my governor, and this really is where you get the nuggets. He says, I am sending you as my governor. Go to Egypt. And what you will see in Egypt is that you will see multiple different people there.

And here is where the letter starts, says Malik. And I am paraphrasing it, if we read the whole letter, honestly, it would not it justice. So paraphrasing, he says Malik, I am sending you as my governor, but in the way that I am sending, you know, something, there have been other governors as well. In the same way as we would criticise those governors know something, as a leader, people are going to criticise you.

So make sure that everything which you do is above board with God consciousness because know, in the same way as you criticised leaders before you and you see that in any system. You know many a time, a prime minister, a president comes within six months, the rating falls. Very few presidents in the world or prime ministers their ratings remain. People are critical. And in the same way, when you are the opposition, you are criticising, say, Imam Ali says ,he says, Listen, people are going to criticise you.

Be very vigilant, and when you go there, adopt God consciousness. Not everyone is going to look like you. They are not going to be the same. There are going to be Christians there.There are going to be Jew there.There are going to be Muslims there. And the Muslims are not all going to be from your denomination either.But remember one thing, either they are your Brother in faith or your equal in humanity. So be very careful. Empower them. Be with them.

And so here he begins, he says, look, first thing is this. Forgive people, remove any negativity as a leader. Why? Because you need to connect to your people. And Malik, do not be aloof either. Be of the people. The biggest problem that we have today in leadership is what it becomes a dictatorship when the leader does not go to the people. There is a difference. Leadership and dictatorship, a leader is a person who empowers his people, empowers his team. A dictator, a person who rules , find certain dictators in the world and even in the Western world without mentioning any names.

Dictatorship it is a modern day dictatorship taking place, but look, as a foreigner to your country, I can see that your Prime Minister is doing a wonderful job and empowering his cabinet. A year ago, so for Iftar, I was watching this clip that he was empowering the Muslims and he was empowering other people. And that is that is a quality that a person has.

Very few people have the quality of making others feel as us and here what is Imam Ali teaching. He is teaching make the other not feel as the other. Make him feel like us. Do not be aloof there, ask them their concerns. Talk to people. Why?

Because minorities or people who are impoverished when you go to them and you just listen to them, even if they mourn at you, even if they want to show their anger at you, listen to them. Let them take all of that out. When they take all of that out, then what do you do then? You comfort them, then you reassure them, says Malik, even smiling at a person who is impoverished. You know what? It has a massive effect on their heart. Smile at them. Listen to them. Other people do not do that. And Malik,let me tell you something. Do not just sit with the elites. Do not favour the elites. You know why? Because in bad times, you will find that they would not be there to support you, empower the people there. Empower the people, and do not be forceful upon them.

Be forgiving. If you want God to forgive you, forgive them first as well. Forgive them. And at the same time, do not be oppressive, because when you are oppressive, you oppress yourself first before the people. So here, look at the message. Not only is it a message, not only is it a message. For who? For just Muslims, it is a message for all of humanity. It is a message for leaders. That is the pluralism of the Imam.

Go to the people, appreciate the people, sit with the people, talk to the people. Look, do not look for gratitude with the elite. If you have an option, go to the poor, sit with the poor, sit on the floor, eat with them. Drink with them. Become one with them. Why? You change the hearts of the people. The man is afraid of what he does not know. Again, Imam Ali this is his quote, man is afraid of what he does not know. And you see that within our society. You see a Muslim and it is unfortunate. It is the case people are scared of the minute that a person in it happens to me, you know, go use the underground.

If I see a person with a very big beard and a rucksack, I do sweat, even though I am a Muslim. Why is that? Because of the disparity that is being created, honestly. But if only we sat down and we conversed and that is what ecumenical dialogue is important amongst Muslims. Maybe we are not having that, but we need to have that so that we can understand one another. So we fear the unknown. What does the Imam say, go and sit with people of the unknown, talk to them, let them open up.

You know what happens? What happens as you find you have a lot of a lot of things in common and then you become friends. And what happens with friendship? Trust! And what happens with trust? Hope. And hope is what society needs today, civilisations, societies, cultures require hope. The world is an interesting place, and I do not mean it in the far Eastern sense, you know, in China, if you say to somebody the world is an interesting place, it means the world is a cursed place. If you say we are living in interesting times, it means may you be cursed essentially, but maybe we are living in a cursed times. But there is still hope and that hope needs to shine. That hope for all of us.

So let me move on. Then he says something and look as well as celebrating diversity. So something very beautiful I am going to bring this point out. He says this protect the weak and protect the minority. That is a lesson for us today, that is a lesson for us today, that where you live, if is in an Islamic country, make sure that you are integrating well with the minorities and for leaders in the Western world. It is a principle. Go to the minorities, speak to them, talk to them, help them integrate, help that process, help them. How do you do that? Conversations, help them. The Imams says help the minority.

Second point he raises and this is for the Middle East, essentially, I did say. He says, look, no to bloodshed. Says Malik, if you cause bloodshed, that very blood will be your downfall. Have you not seen dictators in the last seven to 10 years, last 20 years come down from the very people? That they were oppressing, says Malik, bloodshed,put it to one side, do not even think about it, the primacy of peace is important. Peace. That is what Islam teaches, not war, not bloodshed. Do not establish your governance on the basis of bloodshed. Do not kill somebody. Corporal punishment and so forth. Give people chances. Close your eyes, essentially your close your eyes. Forgive forgiveness of people as much as you can. This is what Imam is teaching for the modern day.

So in conclusion, we take it all together, what are the lessons that we can learn? And I feel saddened that I have not done justice to this letter. I wish I had done I wish I had done, but, what, in conclusion, are we learning? We are learning this from the multiplicity in the unity of God. And each one of us mimic that in our daily life, right? Even an atheist, if you speak to them, they will tell you, what do you do in the morning?

I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth. And if you have not brush your teeth for a week, you send them over to the shrink because it must be something wrong with them. But why?

Beauty. Beauty lies that God is beautiful, right? When we talk about the fact that man has created in the image of God to go back to the Old Testament or within Islam, the fitrah of Allah. What does that mean? What is the Fitrah? It is not a physical body of God. It is the attributes and the characteristics of God, that each one of us are mimicking. It is innate. When we talk about subjective ethics, essentially there is an objective reality, which is that even a child at three, you notice the child is combing it's hair.

Why beautification God is beautiful. It is in your Fitrah. What was Imam Ali coming to do? He is coming to take out that God DNA from inside of yourself, to take out that Fitrah from inside of yourself. To essentially do what? To make you appreciate that beauty, love, compassion, which is there if an old lady was to walk and fall over, all of you would stand up to help her, regardless of whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim or an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist and so forth.

Why would you do that? Because as part of the image of God inside of yourself, God is perfect. You want to be perfect. That is why you do what you do on a daily basis. God is beautiful. You want to be beautiful, you beautify yourself. God is compassionate. You want to be compassionate, God is kind. You want to be kind. God is giving. You want to be giving all of these things. What is Imam Ali therefore do he takes out the humanity in people, the diversity in people, the multiplicity of people so that you appreciate one another.

From understanding God,now understand who this man is. This man was what he represented humanity that in his time you would find at night times he would be helping the orphans. He produced an entire ethics of war as well. As you know, Arabs pre Islam were very barbaric, very much barbaric, killing one another.He gave an ethics. He says, look, be very careful based upon virtue.

Today of the questions to be asked, is Islam compatible today with Judeo-Christian values? Imam Ali is teaching to say, yes, it is because our values are based upon virtue, ethics, from even before Aristotle, the great expound of virtue ethics. You have virtue inside of yourself. And Virtue is the Fitrah of Allah, the Image of God. What is the Imam essentially doing his pluralistic society.

His example of pluralism is what? To bring together humanity on the basis of virtue so that each one of us can relate to our self and essentially go back to its perfection. Thank you very much.