How Did Imam Ali Treat Jews & Christians? Is There Compulsion in Religion?

19th of Ramadan Majlis

SalaAllahu 'aleyka ya Rasul Allah, salaAllahu 'aleyka wa 'ala ahli beytikal madhlumeen, salaAllahu 'aleyka ya Amir al mu'mineen ya Ali ibn Abi Talib. Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. Qaal Allahu ta'ala fi kitabihil kareem, Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. La yanhakum Allahu 'an alladhina lam yuqatalukum fil deen walam yukhrijukum min diyarikum an tabaroohum wa tuqsito ileyhim inna Allaha yuhibbul muqsiteen.(60:8)

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, He says in Surah 60 Aya 8, that Allah does not forbid you from dealing with kindness and justice with those who do not make war against you on account of your religion or those who expel you from your homes. Indeed, Allah loves the just.

So Allah is saying in this Aya that He does not forbid us from dealing with kindness and justice with anyone as long as they are not making war against us on account of our religion or expelling us from our homes. You know, nowadays we see that many people in the West, I would say the majority of people in the West, believe that Muslims hate Jews, that Muslims hate Christians, that Muslims want to kill them for having different religious beliefs. Many believe that hating Judaism and Christianity is an essential part of Islam. They believe that Muslims are commanded by the religion to come and take their freedoms. They say we want to be free and Islam wants to steal our freedom. I am sure all of us have heard these terms before. They want to take our freedom from us. You know, this type of propaganda is always being spread by the media and by those who are against Islam. And they try to stir up hostilities between the religions, to keep us oppressed, to keep us down. They want to hinder our progress. They want us to always be fighting.

They have these beliefs but most of them have never picked up the Qur'an. Most of them have never asked a Muslim what they believe. Most of them are taking their sources from somewhere else, but they are not coming to the Muslims to find out what the Muslims actually believe.

And little do they know, Christians do have freedoms in the Islamic countries. They have freedom to worship in their churches, in the majority of Muslim countries. Now, there is one so-called Muslim country that is governed by oppressors as Wahabis and Salafis, and they do not allow for the churches. But we see that the majority of all the other Muslim countries are allowing this, such as Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt. We see people are practicing their religions, even though they are not Muslims. We see that even some Christians hold important positions in governments in Islamic countries such as Lebanon. And even in the government of Iran, they have a Jewish person on their parliament. So if Islam and their essential beliefs and teachings were to hate Jews and Christians, why would they let them on their government boards or their parliaments?

So we see that one should not take things on the face value. They need to go and investigate about these things. They need to go and research what they are hearing about. Because the Muslims make up one fifth of the world's population. So they need to go and find out what is the truth about these people? What is the truth about Muslims? They need to investigate.

Allah says in Qur'an in Surah Hujjarat Aya 6, it says 'Believers, if one who publicly commit sins brings you any news, ascertain the truthfulness carefully, lest you harm people through ignorance and regret what you have done.'(49:6)

So people need to go and look at the accusations and not just take them on face value. So we are going to look at some of these claims tonight in order to show the true matter, the true view about all these things and and clear up any misconceptions.

Also, when these things are brought to us, now we will know how to answer them. When people come and accuse us of certain things in religion, we will know the answers for them and inshaAllah will be able to clear them up. Especially those youth who are in school. They hear these things from their parents and from media, and then they come and bring these accusations against them while they are in school. Also, we might face that in our workplace and outside as well.

So as I said at the beginning of this Aya, Allah said in Surah 60 Aya 8, He commanded us to deal kindly with all of mankind, except those who were trying to fight against us. And this is logical. If someone is trying to fight against you, you need to defend yourself. But we see even if one were to study the ahkaam, the religious rulings of jihad, they would see how merciful and how cautious the prescriptions were for jihad.

As, for example, we see that when Amir ul-Mu'mineen aleyhi asalam had a disbeliever in the battlefield and he had him down, they were fighting and he had him down and the man spit in his face. He turned away and walked away because he said if I would have killed him in this moment, I would have done it for my own self. So this is akhlaq and the justice Amir ul m'mineen. If someone were to spit in our face while we were fighting, most likely we would just fly off the handle and get aggressive.

We also see that we have been commanded not to block water from people, not to cut down trees, not to chase after people when they are running away and so on and so forth. So we see that Islam deals a lot with justice. Even when fighting against other people, we should not be the aggressors. We are in self-defense.

So Allah says about dealing kindly with all people, Surah 2 Aya 83 Wa idh akhadhna meethaqa Bani Israel la ta'badoon illa Allah wa bil waalidayni ihsana wa thil qurba wal yatama wal masakeen wa quloo lil naasi husna wa aqimu asalata wa aatul zakaat thumma tawalaytum illa qaleelan minkum wa antum mu'ridhoon. Allah says, 'We made a covenant with the children of Israel that they should not worship anyone except Me, that they should serve their parents, relatives, orphans and the destitute, that they should speak righteous words to the people and that they should be steadfast in their prayers and pay religious tax. But soon after you made this covenant, all but a few of you broke it heedlessly'.(2:83)

So this is a covenant with Bani Israel that was taken to do these things. And we notice in this verse that Allah subhanuh wa ta'ala, He says 'lil naas'. He says 'Wa qoolu lil naasi husna'. And speak to 'nas', to mankind, good things, good words. He didn't say 'Wa qoolu lil mu'mineen husna', and speak to believers good words, but unbelievers do whatever you want to with them. No, it did not say that. It did not make it exclusive for the believers. This is for mankind altogether, that we should be kind to all of humanity. We should deal with justice, with all of humanity indiscriminately. It doesn't matter what their race is, what their religion is, what their beliefs are, or their gender, if they are male or female. We need to treat everyone with kindness and speak good words and speak goodness to everybody.

Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalaam, he said 'People are of two types. They are either your brother in religion or your equal in humanity.' And this is the message that we have to get across to the people, that we are commanded to deal with everyone kindly and justly. And we see people in this way. Either they are a brother in religion or they are an equal in humanity.

The best way to propagate Islam is through being kind to other people. We have to let them see the teachings of the Prophet, sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih, and the teachings of Ahlul Bayt 'aleyhimul salam, through our actions. We have to let people become enamored or fascinated by our character and our morality. And then they will come to us.

One of the Maraji' was telling me when I was visiting with him, he said that giving tableegh is like an apple. The people look at it, they don't know what is inside of it. They just see the outer thing of this fruit. If the outside of the fruit is rotten, it looks bad, they are not going to want to take a bite of that fruit and see what is inside, even if what is inside is good. But they see the outer appearance and they will be repelled by that and they will say, this thing is disgusting, I do not want anything to do with it. But if the outside of the apple is shiny and red and nice and looks good to eat, they will come and take a bite of that apple. And he said, this is how we are. People don't know what is inside your mind. They do not know what is inside your heart. They only see the exterior of us. And if we come with bad akhlaq, then they will be repelled by us and they will say, we do not want anything to do with these people, these people have bad behavior. But if they see beautiful behavior, then they will be attracted to us, and then they want to see what we are about and we will be able to give them what is inside of us, what is inside of our minds, what is inside of our heart. We will be able to show them teachings of Ahlul Bayt.

Faith that is forced is of no use because the person who is believing by force, they are not really believing at all. They don't have anything from belief, they are just doing it because someone is forcing them. We need to accept the faith based on our intellect and our rational proofs, and because we have faith in it and we truly believe in it, not because someone is forcing us.

We see that Allah subhanuh wa ta'ala, He said, Surah 16 Aya 125: Id'oo ila sabeeli rabbika bil hikmati wal maw'idhatil hasana. And call onto the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in the best of ways and the most gracious ways. (16:125) You know, so it is saying to invite to our Lord, not with the use of the sword, but with the use of beautiful advice. We have to give beautiful advice that attracts people to Islam, not by force or by sword.

Allah says in Surah 2 Aya 256, the famous verse that we all have heard many times. La ikraaha fil deen. There is no compulsion in religion.(2:256) So it means that we cannot force the religion. As people used to come and say Islam came by force and it is by the sword and this and that and that we have spread Islam by the sword. But Ahlul Bayt 'aleyhum asalam do not agree with this and do not spread Islam by the sword. Neither the Holy Prophet sala Allahu 'aleyhi wa aalih.

Now some may have come afterwards, and those who have taken the government from the rightful position from Ahlul Bayt, maybe they have done these things, and they will be held responsible for them but, that does not mean that Islam has sanctioned this belief. We have to explain to people our beliefs and make it manifest to them.

We see that this Aya 'La ikraha fil deen', that the commentators or those who write tafsir about Qur'an, they said that one of these Ansari people, the people from the Ansar, who had previously been a kafir, he was an idol worshipper. And he had two of his sons that they had converted to Christianity, and they were fascinated by Christianity and they became Christians. But then their father ended up turning to Islam and becoming a Muslim. So he was upset that his sons had become Christians and that he wanted them to be Muslims. So he went to Rasul Allah sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih, and he said to him, 'Ya Rasul Allah. I have these two sons and these two sons have become Christians. Whatever I have tried, I have tried and tried and tried. They will not accept Islam. Do you give me permission that I can force them to leave their religion and become Muslims? Can I force them out of their other religion?' Holy Prophet said 'La ikraha fil deen', there is no compulsion in religion.

These stories are very important because when the non-Muslims come, the Christians come, the Jews come, they say you want to force all of us by sword to leave our religion and become Muslims. We can show them, no. This has happened in the time of our Holy Prophet, where someone brought his two sons and said, let me force them out of Christianity and make them Muslims. And the Holy Prophet told them, 'No, you cannot do this because La ikraha fil deen, there is no compulsion in religion.'

Also, this aya, there is another commentary about this aya which is said that the two tribes in Medina, Aus and Khazraj, they were the original people of Medina when the Prophet came. They were there for many years. It says there were a lot of Jewish tribes living in Medina as well at that time. And that they were more so, the learned people of that society, where they had a book and they knew how to read and write. Whereas the idol worshippers were generally speaking, they were illiterate, except a small group of them who were able to read and write. So these Jews made a lot of influence on these people and a lot of them sent their kids to these schools to be trained by them to learn from the Jews. So a lot of these people adapted Jewish ideologies and they ended up leaving paganism and becoming Jews. So once in a while, these idol worshippers, their children who went to these schools would convert to Judaism. So when the Holy Prophet entered Medina, a group of these boys who were living in the city that were trained by these Jews they did not renounce their religion. They held on to Judaism. So the parents of the children became Muslims and they wanted to force their children to leave Judaism and become Muslims.

So their fathers came to Holy Prophet sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih and asked them for permission to take them away from the Jewish people and bring them with the Muslims and make them leave Judaism and force them to become Muslims. The Holy Prophet did not grant this permission in this case either. He said now that they have chosen to go with the Jews, then let them go with them. And they said that upon this, this verse was revealed 'La ikraha fil deen', no compulsion in religion, the truth stands out from manifest error.

So we have the truth. It should stand out from error. We make the argument, the truth is presented. It is up to the person if they accept the truth or they turn away from the truth. This is on the individual. But as I said before, if someone is forcing them to be Muslims, then it has no value because they are not doing it for the right reasons. So this is our argument that we can bring on those who say that Islam was spread by the sword.

Then we say, well okay, so what does Qur'an say about Ahlul kitab, people of the book. They say your religion teaches hatred against Jews and Christians and all of these things. What does our religion say? Qur'an says In Surah Ma'ida Surah 5 Ayat 82 through 83. Nearest to the believers in affections, you will find those who say, we are Christians from amongst the priests and monks who are not proud, when they hear what is revealed to the messenger, you can see their eyes flood with tears as they learn about the truth. They say, Lord, we believe in this faith, write our names down as bearing witness to it.(5:82-83)

So we see that Qur'an is saying the closest to the believers in this world are those who say that they are Christians. So if someone comes and says that we hate Christians, this is against Qur'an. Qur'an says the opposite. Qur'an says we are the closest to each other in affection, is the Christians. So they have got misinformation.

Then we say, well, what is the relationship between the Holy Prophet of Islam, sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih, and the Christians in their time? What was going on with them? What was their relationship like? We see that after several years of oppression in the holy city of Mecca, the believers were going through a very hard time. And if we think that we are going through a hard time and we really want to see what a hard time is, we should go look and see what these people in the early days of Islam had to go through for us to have Islam today, for us to even know what Islam is. Then we will see whatever we are going through is very easy compared to the sufferings that they went through.

So after the death of the Prophet's uncle, the faithful of the Quraysh Abu Talib 'aleyh asalam, we see that the Prophet advised the Muslims to migrate, where? Abyssinia. Abyssinia at that time was a Christian country. And the Prophet said 'If you were to go to Abyssinia, it would be better for you. For the king there will not tolerate injustice and he is very friendly. It is a very friendly country until such a time that Allah will relieve you from your distress.' So we see that the Holy Prophet is telling the Muslims to go at that time, go seek refuge in this Christian country. So the relationship was very good. And we see that the brother of Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam, Jafar ibn Abi Talib, he went there and he was received well by these Christians and the Christian King. They questioned him, 'What do you believe?' And after that Ja'far, he narrated the Surah from Qur'an, Surah Maryam. And he told them about Isa, about Maryam, about the teachings of Islam. And then the King offered them safety and security from their enemies that they had in Mecca. Even though the King was a Christian at that time, he still offered help to the Muslims due to their mutual belief in God, in Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

So the basis of this relationship between the Muslims and the Christians at that time was one of mutual respect, that they both believed in one God. And we see later that the great character and morality of Holy Prophet sallaAllahu 'aleyh wa aalih, led that King eventually to embrace Islam. And we see that even today Abyssinia, which is modern day Ethiopia, we see that over a third of the population of that country are still Muslims.

We can also look, if one wants to go look, look at the charter that the Holy Prophet drew up for the city of Medina that he made with the Jews. It was one giving them equal rights and able to practice their faith. So we see that Islam is not forcing anyone to accept them. And not hanging the sword over their neck. It is not coming and trying to steal their freedoms, as people say they want to steal their freedoms. But they don't know these historical things. We know them. And it is on us to inform these people - whether we have these things online or we have them in newspaper articles or we share them with people at work, people who come in contact with us. I am not saying that we need to go and knock on people's doors and force our ideas on people or anything like this. But when it comes to us, we have the response and the reply to give these people.

Now, we do see a lot of corruption and terrorism and bad things in the world. But there is a big difference between Islam of Saqeefa and Islam of Ghadeer. We see that some extremist groups who claim to be Muslims, they actively seek out Christians to kill them. They terrorize them. They destroy their churches. They consider Christians to be the worst enemies after us, Shia Muslims. We are the number one. After them, they go after Christians. And what they are doing is directly in contrast to what was taught to us through the Holy Qur'an and example of the Holy Prophet and Ahlul Bayt 'aleyhim asalam. We see that they are also not just destroying churches, they are destroying shrines of Prophets of Allah. And they destroyed the shrine of Younus in Iraq. Then they destroyed many things in Syria. Then they destroyed these churches. And who helped them build them back. The Muslims came and helped them build them back.

We see that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala tells us in the Holy Qur'an that we should protect and we should defend the sacred places of worship that belong to Jews and Christians. So when they say that we want to destroy the churches and destroy the synagogues and all of these other things, let us take a look at what Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says. Allah says in Surah 22 Aya 39 and 40: Permission to take up arms is hereby granted to those who are attacked. They have suffered injustice. Alah has all the power to give victory to those who were unjustly expelled from their homes only because they said our lord is Allah. Had it not been for Allah's repelling some people through the might of others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and mosques in which Allah is often worshipped would have been utterly destroyed. Allah shall certainly help those who help Him. He is all powerful and majestic.(22:39-40)

So we see here that Allah is telling us that we are commanded to protect the churches and protect the synagogues and protect the masjids, not to destroy them. This is a reply to those who say that we come and we are against churches and synagogues and that we want to destroy all of them and be done with Christians and be done with Jews.

But these extreme groups that we see, like Da'esh, they have many names, same ideology. Da'esh, ISIS, al-Qaida, Shabab, all of these things, and they will go away and more will come and they will all have different names, same ideology. They go against the teachings of Islam because they have abandoned the teachings of Ahlul Bayt. They have taken people for their role models like Khalid ibn Walid. And we look at Khalid ibn Walid, he was a murderer, he was a rapist, he was killing people unjustly. He was a henchman for these first few Caliphs. The Prophet also had to admonish him many times for his aggression and his bloodshed, and he had to recompense people for his unjust slaying of them in many cases. The history books are full of the bloodshed of Khalid ibn Walid. But unfortunately, other schools of Islam, they call him Saiful Allah, the sword of Allah. So when someone sees what he does and then they say Saiful Allah, they believe that everything he does is sanctioned by Allah, na'udhibillah, but if you were to look at his life, he is not Saifullah, it is more Saiful Shaitaan. The things he has done are terrible, that history books are full of them, but we see that he is a role model for terrorism. So one of my teachers always told me these terrorist groups, they have role models for terrorism amongst these people who have done oppression and injustice to Ahlul Bayt and to Muslims in general. But we see that we, as followers of Ahlul Bayt, we do not have role models for terrorism. We do not find aggression. We do not find oppression. All we find is generosity, kindness towards people, caring for others. So there is a big difference between the Islam of Ghadeer, Islam of Ali ibn Abi Talib 'aleyh asalaam, and then the Islam of Saqeefa, those who came and took the political government for themselves and snatched away the rights of Ahlul Bayt.

So one important point we can see is that this hateful ideology that calls for destruction of churches and killing of Christians and killing of Jews and killing of anyone else who does not interpret Islam the way that they do is something that the Qur'an does not teach. It is against the examples that are put forward to us by Ahlul Bayt, by the Holy Prophet sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih, and from the Holy Qur'an.

We have to strive for a peaceful coexistence based on mutual respect, and we have to work together to achieve our common cause, which is to uplift humanity and bring harmony to this world that we are living in. We will take a look at how did Amir ul-Mu'mineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib 'aleyhi asalam, how did he deal with Christians and Ahlul kitab in his time? The people of the book, Jews and Christians.

So one time there was this old man, an elderly man, and he was a Christian and he had worked all his life. But he was not able to save. He was like us maybe, living paycheck to paycheck. He did not save anything for old age and he became blind. Now out of poverty, he was begging and asking people for money in the streets. But people they would give him some charity here and there and he would eat every day from that. And this was a sad state that he was living in. One day, Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam passed by this street and saw this beggar in this same condition, and he asked about the old man. He asked them what led him to this condition. Why is he like this? Does he have no son to support him, or is there no other way for him to live in a respectable way in his old age? The people came and told Amir ul-Mu'mineen that he was a Christian who had worked hard when he had his eyesight and he had his youth and he had his strength. But now he lost all of these and he was unable to do any work anymore. He had no savings and it just became natural for him to beg in the streets now. What did Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam say? He said, 'How strange, 'ajeeb, while he had strength, you took work from him and now you have left him on his own.' You know, his story reveals that he worked hard when he had strength. Therefore, it is the duty of the government now to take care of him. The Muslim government and the Muslim society should take care of him while he is alive. You used him when you could and now he needs your help and you are not doing anything? You need to help him. Does it matter that he is a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim? No, we put that aside. In this case, it is humanity. Allah said to do good towards all mankind, not just mu'mineen. So Imam Ali gave him a life pension from the Islamic Treasury.

Another time, Amir ul-Mu'mineen 'aleyhi asalam was traveling outside of Kufa in Iraq and a Christian did not recognize him. It wasn't like today when we have TV and everyone knows whoever the president is, they see them and say, oh, I know who that is. So this person had never seen the leader of the Muslims in that time. So this man was a Christian man and he became Imam Ali's travel companion as they were on their journey. So he asked him, 'Where are you going?' Imam Ali said, 'I am going to Kufa.' So when their paths split, there was a junction in the road. The junction went one way and then to Kufa went the other way. And we see that Imam Ali went a little way more with this companion. So the Christian said, 'Well, why are you doing that? Isn't the other way to go to Kufa?' He said, 'Yes I know that.' He said, 'Okay, so why did you go away from the route? Why are you coming this way with me?' He said, 'We have become friends for some time now on this journey, and our Prophet told us that when two people are companions on a journey, that they have obligations and duties toward each other.' He said, 'You gave me company. Now it is my duty to follow you a few more steps and then bid you farewell in a nice kind of way.' You know, this affection and respect impressed this Christian very much. And he said, 'Did your Prophet teach you this sort of code of conduct, this type of akhlaq?' Imam Ali replied, 'Yes.' So the Christian, what did he say? He said, 'Those who accepted the Prophet of Islam and followed his footsteps, they were enchanted by his morality, by his moral teachings, by his nobility.'

This is what captures the hearts of people. Morality. Akhlaq. Not the sword, not oppression, not force. What good is belief in Allah if the sword is on your neck? No, people loved the akhlaq of Rasul Allah, and they began to see this is the way to serve Allah - to follow the Holy Prophet sala Allahu 'aleyh wa aalih. So later on, this Christian, he ended up coming back to Kufa one day and there he found that his Muslim companion on his journey was none other than the leader of his time, Ali ibn Abi Talib. You see Amir ul-Mu'mineen was not proud. He never even told this person on the journey who he was. He did not say, I am the leader of the Muslim world. You know, he just said, maybe my name is Ali. He did not give all of these accolades and these titles to himself to impress the other people, as sometimes other people may do. They may come into the room and say, I am so-and-so, so-and-so and I have such and such degree and such and such position and make these long titles for themselves. No, he did not do that. Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam was very humble. And this guy, he realized, oh, wow, the guy that was traveling with me was basically the president, or the leader of the whole Islamic world at that time. And he soon became a Muslim after that. And he remained one of the most faithful companions of Amir ul-Mu'mineen, 'aleyhi asalam.

How did Imam Ali deal with Jews? One time we see the justice of Amir ul-Mu'mineen, 'aleyhi asalam, is phenomenal, you cannot find anything like it outside of the other members of Ahlul Bayt. We see that Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam said 'Even if someone were to give me what is in the seven heavens and the seven earths, all that was within it, for doing injustice to an ant by taking a grain of sand from that ant, I would never do it.' This is path of Amir ul-Mu'mineen. If we want to say that we are Shi'a of Amir ul-Mu'mineen, we need to be like this. We need to strive to be like this. It is very difficult, but this is the justice of Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam. How can we say that we are following the justice of Amir ul-Mu'mineen 'aleyhi asalam if he would not even hurt an ant by taking a grain from it. But we mistreat people in our lives. If we are mistreating our family, mistreating our friends, cheating in business and all of these other things, how can we say that we are followers of Amir ul-Mu'mineen 'aleyhi asalam? We have to analyze our life and look how we are treating other people, where Imam Ali - we are not even talking about people - he won't even take a grain of sand from an ant. SubhanAllah, this is the justice of Amir ul-Mu'mineen.

So one day a Jewish person, he put a complaint against Imam Ali. He put it to the leader of that time, Omar ibn al Khattab. Omar called both of the parties to appear in the court. So the person came, who made the complaint against Imam Ali, the Jewish man, and also Imam Ali. So they came and sat down for judgement. According to Islamic law, they bring both of them next to each other and the principle of equality should be respected. But Omar ibn alKhattab, he called out the plaintiff by name. For example, Oh Ya Abdullah stand up and give your claim. And then he turned to Imam Ali and he said, 'Ya Abal Hasan, come stand next to your plaintiff.' On hearing this, Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam, he got very angry. He got upset. And the caliph said, 'Okay Ya Ali, you do not want to stand next to him. You have a problem with him.' Imam Ali said, 'No, that is not the reason for my anger. The reason for my anger is that you threw justice out of the window. You went with injustice. You have called him by his name, but you have called me by my Kunya. You called me Abul Hassan, and you called the other person by their ordinary name. So it shows that you have affiliation with me or show some preference to me versus him. This is not justice. If you call him by his name, you have to call me by my name. You cannot call me Abul Hassan.' So this is justice of Imam Ali.

One other time, we will suffice with this last story about how Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam dealt with Ahlul kitab. It says that during the reign of Amir ul-Mu'mineen,'aleyhi asalam, that he went to court against a Jew who had the Imam's shield. He had this shield in his possession. So the Imam, he brought two witnesses. One was his son, Husayn, and the other one was his freed servant Qambar. The judge, he did not accept the witnesses due to them being partial towards the Imam, being that one was his son and one was a previous servant of the Imam. So the judge dismissed the case and he ruled in favor of the Jewish man. And on seeing this high degree of justice where the leader of the Muslim world lost a case against a Jewish person, this Jew embraced Islam. He said, 'how can I, a Jew, I am winning a case against the leader of the Muslim world? How can I even be in court against the leader of the Muslim world at this time? And how are they even entertaining me as a Jew in this thing? But this is the justice of Islam, that they have a voice and they have a chance to bring their complaints and things to the court. So they ruled in favor of the Jew. And then this Jew, he later gave the shield to Imam Ali and he said that he did indeed steal the shield and it didn't belong to him. And some say that this Jew fought alongside of Amir ul-Mu'mineen after this, and he died in the Battle of Siffin.

So we see here that a lot of these people, they embraced Islam, not due to the fact of the sword. As we see, we had the King of Abyssinia, the Christian man who walked along with him in the travels, We have this Jewish man who went to the court. All of these people and others, they converted to Islam not because of sword but because of akhlaq of Ahlul Bayt 'aleyhum asalam.

And we see that in the history books, it mentions that the people of the book, they loved Imam Ali very much. They loved him so much and they respected him that they were very sad at his death and they mourned him a lot. We see that the books of history, such as 'Restatement of the history of Islam and Muslims' by Syed Ali Asghar Razavi, he says that 'Many among the Muslims were the mourners of Imam Ali's death, but none mourned him more dolorously than the Jews, the Christians and the Maggians. They were utterly heartbroken. And when the sick, disabled, the cripples, the orphans and the widows and the Empire heard that he had died, they felt that their world had collapsed.' This is how the Jews and Christians felt at the death of Amir ul-Mu'mineen: they felt that their world had collapsed. Because how could they ever find another just ruler like Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib 'aleyhi asalam. He says he had been a father to them all. He had taken them all by the hand. He had taken them all into his prayers. Many among them did not know until after his death that he was the one who had fed them and taken care of them. He had taken all mankind into his grasp. Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam, he was accessible at all times to the poor and the weak. He didn't keep himself away from them. Rather, he went towards the poor. He didn't keep himself in some high palace and isolated himself with guards away from the poor and the weak. His own greatest anxiety and fear were that any one of them would be inaccessible to him. That was his fear, that no one would be able to reach him and be able to access him. He wanted to be accessible to all of the people.

It was only in his dominion that the non-Muslims, these Ahlul Kitab felt safe, they enjoyed complete security. No one could terrorize them. No one could exploit them. No one could do these things. But with his death, all of this was gone. They were facing uncertain times. Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalaam, he cared for all these people even though they were not Muslims. In fact, the Imam was even just with his enemies. Those who treated him bad and he was still just with them and he wanted to guide them. But how did the ungrateful community treat Amir ul-Mu'mineen Ali, 'aleyhi asalam? How did they deal with Amir ul-Mu'mineen?

And on a night like tonight, we remember what happened at Salatul Fajr to Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam while he was on his way to his salaat. We see that Imam Ali aleyhi asalam, he was kind and he was helpful to everyone. He was kind to people of other religions. He was kind to his community as well. And he always cared for the orphans. He used to go out at night and take care of all these orphans. How can he sleep while he knows that there are others who are going to sleep hungry? This is not Amir ul-Mu'mineen. He wants to make sure everyone is okay. Everyone is taken care of. How can he not care for the orphans who cry at night due to the pains of hunger? He looked after everyone.

But how did people look after and treat Amir ul-Mu'mineen? During the nights of the month of Ramadan, Imam Ali aleyhi asalam, he would alternate houses from amongst his children to go have Iftar with them. He wouldn't eat a lot of food, just a few bites. When asked, he replied, I wish that when my death comes, it should be on an empty stomach. This is Amir ul-Mu'mineen.

Imam Ali was undoubtedly sure that Abdul Rahman ibn Muljim, la'natullah 'aleyh he would assassinate him. Historians say that when Ibn Muljim, he came to the Imam and pledged allegiance to him with the others and then he withdrew from him. Then the Imam called Ibn Muljim back. He advised him, he said, 'Ya Ibn Muljim, be trustworthy and be sure not to be treacherous and don't break your oath against me.' He did that. He promised and then he withdrew again. A second time, the Imam called Ibn Muljim back and he asked him to be trustworthy and be sure that he was not treacherous and not to break his oath. Ibn Muljim said 'By Allah, Ya Amir ul-Mu'mineen, I have not seen you do this with anyone else except me.' However, the Imam at that time, he refrained from answering him. Then the Imam recited this poetic verse, he said, I want his friendship, but he wants my death.

Later in time, Imam Ali 'aleyhi asalam was delivering a speech from the mimber when Ibn Muljim heard him and he threatened the Imam. In a low voice he said, 'By Allah, I will give these people a rest from you'. One of the people attending this majalis, they heard him and they arrested him. When he was brought before Amir ul-Mu'mineen, what did he order him to do? Imam Ali said, 'Release him, he hasn't killed me yet'. This is the justice of Amir ul-Mu'mineen. But how did they treat Imam Ali?

When Ibn Muljim went to Kufa, he met one of his friends who had a promiscuous woman named Qatam living in his house. Her brother and her father were killed by Amir ul-Mu'mineen in the Battle of Nahrawan. Upon seeing this lady Ibn Muljim, he was charmed by her and fell in love with her. He proposed to her and agreed on condition that her dowry would be three thousand silver coins, a servant, and the most important dowry for this lady, she said, 'If you want to marry me, then you have to kill Ali ibn Abi Talib'. La ilaha ila Allah. Even though Ibn Muljim was not some ignorant, illiterate man. Rather, Ibn Muljim was a Qur'an teacher. Despite knowing the Holy Qur'an, he still accepted to kill Amir ul-Mu'mineen. He told her that he was actually in Kufa for this main purpose of killing Imam already. Who had sent him? Mu'awiya had sent him to carry out this deceitful task to kill Amir ul-Mu'mineen Ali, aleyhi asalam. She told him that she would help him. What a deceitful woman to go and kill the leader of the believers. What did Imam Ali ever do? He was always the embodiment of justice. How could someone want to hurt our master Maulana Ali ibn Abi Talib 'aleyhi asalaam.

On the eve of the 19th of the holy month of Ramadan, Imam went to his daughter's house Umm Kulthum. She offered him two pieces of barley bread, a bowl of yogurt and some salt. When he saw this food, he says, 'In following in the footsteps of Rasul Allah, I have never had more than one type of food on my spread. Oh daughter, please remove one of the two things from the spread.' Umm Kulthum took away the bowl of yogurt and Amir ul-Mu'mineen ate a few morsels of the bread with salt.

After the meal, according to his practice, he stood up on the prayer rug and he made his salat. He was looking up repeatedly at the stars and he said, 'Wallahi I am not lying, nor am I making a wrong statement. This is the night that was promised me by Rasul Allah.' In uneasiness, he sometimes would recite 'La hawla wala quwwata ila billahi al Aliyu al 'adheem'. When Umm Kulthum, she heard him doing this, she said, 'Why are you so worried today?' He replied, 'I have the hereafter in front of me. I am going to the presence of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.' Tears welled up in the eyes of Umm Kulthum. She said, 'Baba, today you shouldn't go to the mosque. Let someone else lead salaat, ask someone else to pray for you.' Imam said 'There is no escape from the fate that is fixed by Allah.'

The night was in the last stages of the night when the mu'adhdhin came and he called the prayer. The Imam rose and started walking towards the Masjid. When he came to the courtyard of the house, the geese started shouting and swaying their wings back and forth as if they knew what were going to happen. Ya Allah. Some people wanted to move them aside, but the Imam said 'Leave them alone. After a short time, the sounds of crying and wailing will start.' Umm Kulthum, she was confused and said, 'Baba, what sort of things are you saying today?' He said, 'I am speaking the truth.' Imam told 'Umm Kulthum, my daughter, these birds cannot speak, take care of feeding them.' Even in these last moments of his life, he was thinking about others. He was thinking about helping others, even caring for animals. Umm Kulthum bade farewell to her father with tears in her eyes. Imam al-Hassan wanted to go to the mosque with the Imam, but he asked him, don't come.

When he reached the mosque, there was darkness there. He offered a few Rakat of prayer in the darkness. After reciting some du'a, some supplications, he went from there to the place where the adhaan is called and called the faithful to prayer. 'Hayya 'ala al salaah, hayya 'ala al salaah.' This was the last time his voice was heard calling the people to prayer in Kufa. He went around calling the people to prayer 'Al salaa Al salaa', awakening the people up for prayer. Among these people was his killer Ibn Muljam.

The Imam found him sleeping face down, and he told him 'This is the way that the Shaitan sleeps.' He advised him to sleep differently from now on. He told him either on your left side or your right side or on your back. Look at how Amir ul-Mu'mineen Ali 'aleyhi asalam cares enough to even advise his enemy who he knew was going to kill him in a few moments. He said to Ibn Muljim 'Get up and make salaat. I know the your purpose you have come here with and what you have hidden under your cloak.'

The Imam starts to makes Salatul Fajr. While he is in sujood - Subhan rabbi al a'la wa bihamdih - the cursed Ibn Muljim struck the Imam on his head with a poisoned sword. The Imam cries out 'Fuztu wa rabbil ka'aba' - By the Lord of the Ka'aba, I am successful. This calamity caused the doors of Masjidul Kufa to shake. The heavens and the earth began to tremble. Oh, people, Amir ul-Mu'mineen, the master of all believers, has been struck. The pillar of Islam has been struck. Tahadamat wallahi arkanul huda. Imam Ali fell on to his face and the blood started to flow from his head. This same blessed head that Rasul Allah used to kiss is now covered in blood.

Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn ran towards the Masjid in panic, where people were crying and shouting, 'Ya Amir ul-Mu'mineen.' Amir ul-Mu'mineen has been struck by the sword. The sons of the Prophet went forward and saw that the mihrab of the Masjid was covered with blood and the Imam was turning restlessly on the floor in the blood, in the dust. He was picking up the dust from the floor, putting it on his injured head and reciting the verse 'We have created you from dust and you shall return to dust, and then you will be brought out from it again.'(20:55)

Inna lilahi wa inna ileyhi raji'oon. Allahuma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad. Allahuma l'an qatalat Amir ul-Mu'mineen.