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Hazrat Ali Wiladat: Know History and Significance of Prophet Muhammad’s ‘Spiritual Successor’ On His Birth Anniversary

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Devotees at Hazrat-e-Ali shrine at Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan | (Photo Credits: Getty Images)

‘Shah-e-Mardan’, Sher-e-Yazdan’, ‘Quwwat-e-Parwardigar’ are the three prominent phrases used by Muslims to refer to Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), also known as Hazrat Ali or Maula Ali. The three phrases roughly translate to as follows: ‘King of Men’, ‘Lion of Allah’ and ‘Power of Lord’. With these references, one can gauge the perspective of Islamic believers and theologians towards Hazrat Ali. Ahead of the day of his wiladat – falling on March 9, 2020 as per the gregorian calendar – here is a brief history and significance of the man widely regarded as the first “spiritual successor” of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Hazrat Ali, as per the Arabic calendar, was born on 13th of Rajab, 21 years before Hijri (BH). According to the gregorian calendar, his date of birth is claimed to be September 15, 601. He was born into the dominant Quraysh tribe, with his father being in-charge of guarding the sacred Kaaba in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca. Prophet Muhammad, who was yet to proclaim Islam till then, was his cousin brother.

When Muhammad (SAW) began preaching Islam and inviting the pagans of Makkah to embrace the religion, Ali was the first among them to accept Islam. Several prophetic narrations have confirmed that he was first Muslim or the believer of Abrahamic faith to have taken oath from Muhammad, the final messenger of Allah.

Hazrat Ali emerged as one of the closest companions and aides of the Prophet, accompanying him in the da’wah or the invitation of Islam extended to all Arab and regional tribes, as well as the wars which had erupted after Hijrat, or the migration journey taken by the Prophet and his followers to Medina.

Ali’s valour in the Battle of Badr and Hunain, along with other military confrontations, earned him the titles of Lafata Ila Ali (no victory without Ali) and La Saif Illa Zulfiqar (no sword except zulfiqar — the sword used by him). After the Prophet’s departure from the world, he was seen as the fourth caliph to the Islamic empire.

The Sunni and Shia division emanates from this point in the history of Islam. While Sunnis regard Ali as the immediate “spiritual successor” of Muhammad (SAW), they also agree that he was the fourth in rank to politically succeed the Prophet. The Shias, however, allege a conspiracy, claiming that the Prophet had in his lifetime declared Ali as both his political and spiritual successor.

Both sects rely on the hadeeth of Eid-e-Ghadeer as narrated in several prophetic narrations including Sahih Ibn Hibban and Al-Musnad. As per the hadeeth, the Prophet – while returning from his final pilgrimage in the year 632 (18th Dhul Hijjah, 10 Hijri as per the Islamic calendar) issued a sermon at a place known as Ghadir Khumm.

“Mann kunto Maula fahaza Ali un Maula (Whoever considers me his master, Ali is also his master),” the Prophet had told the gathering, while holding the hand of Hazrat Ali, as per the narration. With this declaration, says Maulana Tahir ul Qadri of Pakistan-based Minhaj ul Quran, Prophet Muhammad made it clear that Ali was spiritual successor.

The tradition of Wali or Auliya (sainthood) is passed on from Ali to the entire Ahle-e-Bayt (Prophet’s household). Ali was the husband of Muhammad’s daughter Fatima az-Zahra. Their sons – Imam Hussain (RA) and Imam Hassan (RA) – also considered as wali by Shias and most sub-sects of Sunnis. From their lineage, saints travelled to several parts of the world to preach Islam. In India, one of the most revered Sufi saint – Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) – comes from the lineage of Hazrat Ali.

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