Yawm‐e Ali – literally the “Day of Ali” – commemorates the birthday of Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), and who, in accordance with the Shia tradition of Islam, is the first in the line of hereditary Imams from the progeny of the Prophet.
According to tradition, Hazrat Ali was born on 13 Rajab in the year 599 CE. It is reported that on that day, Hazrat Ali's mother visited the holy Ka‘ba to pray, and it was there that he was born.
In both Muslim tradition and modern scholarship, Hazrat Ali is recognised as the most important spiritual and intellectual authority in Islam after the Holy Prophet. The first Shia Imam, Hazrat Ali is also revered by all Muslims as the last of the four “rightly‐guided caliphs” (al-khulafa al-rashidun).
As caliph and as Imam, Hazrat Ali established a paradigm of Muslim leadership centred on the ethics of Islam, and principles of just and moral leadership. He elucidated the notion of the intellect as a facet of faith that is to be developed and used in keeping with the ethical imperative of Islam, and which is intimately connected with the spirituality of the faith.
On the occasion of Yawm-e Ali, Ismaili Muslims renew their commitment to the principles that Hazrat Ali exemplified, particularly the ethics of care, compassion, generosity, integrity, tolerance, forgiveness, brotherhood, and service to others. It is recorded that, on appointing Malik al-Ashtar as governor of Egypt, Hazrat Ali advised him to “Infuse your heart with mercy for the subjects, love for them and kindness towards them... For they [are] either your brothers in religion or your like in creation.”
Recalling the teachings of Hazrat Ali at the Commencement Ceremony of the American University in Cairo on 25 June 2006, Mawlana Hazar Imam highlighted their enduring relevance:
“From the very beginnings of Islam, the search for knowledge has been central to our cultures. I think of the words of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first hereditary Imam of the Shia Muslims, and the last of the four rightly-guided Caliphs after the passing away of the Prophet (may peace be upon him). In his teachings, Hazrat Ali emphasised that ‘No honour is like knowledge.' And then he added that ‘No belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation.'
“Notice that the virtues endorsed by Hazrat Ali are qualities which subordinate the self and emphasise others - modesty, patience, humility, forbearance and consultation. What he thus is telling us is that we find knowledge best by admitting first what it is we do not know, and by opening our minds to what others can teach us.”
The Ismaili extends warmest Yawm-e Ali felicitations to our readers and to the Ismaili Jamat worldwide.