By Syed Mohsen Rizvi

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

And We inspired Moses and his brother, (saying): build houses for your people in Egypt and make your houses as QIBLA, and establish worship. And give good news to the believers. (Holy Qur’an, 10:87)

In this short write-up we will attempt to reflect on the station of Imam Ameer ul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a) to the best of our capacity and pray that we learn something new through this effort. The holy month of Ramadan takes the believers on a journey from corporeality (جسديّة) to spirituality (روحانية) where the believers are ordained to reject the necessities of the material world, and focus on the heart that connects to the metaphysical world.

The heart can either be adulterated by the invasion of the mundane needs, desires and vicious instincts. Or the heart can be purified if the material inhabitants are removed to allow the divine light to shine bright, and navigate us towards the higher realm. In essence, the heart is a nucleus to the components (مركبة) of the human reality, what dwells in the heart will determine the fate of the human being in this world and the hereafter. The inhabitant of the heart is either faith/Imaan, or unbelief/Kufr.

The meaning of unbelief/Kufr is to conceal or cover what is evident and clear. In other words, concealing or rejecting all the inarticulate proofs (آيَاتٌ)[1], and demonstrative proofs (بَيِّنَاتٌ)[2] that are bearing witness to the existence of Allah (swt) – constitutes unbelief.

The opposite of unbelief is faith, and faith means to believe in the unseen realities through reflection and contemplation on the inarticulate proofs with the knowledge in hand. However, if the intellect cripples due to lack of knowledge, then holding on to the rope of the demonstrative proofs and following their footsteps with absolute obedience – constitutes faith.

There are many definitions of faith and unbelief, but to make it easier for the human being, Allah (swt) condensed the idea of Faith and unbelief to a single criterion, and ordered the Prophet (saw) to declare;

Love for Ali is faith, and hate for him is unbelief.[3]

Allah (swt) made the love of Ameer ul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a) as the criteria of faith, and hate for him as the sign of unbelief. As there will be many who will claim to love Ali (a) for generations to come, the Prophet (saw) immediately explained the real meaning of faith by saying:

Looking at Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) is servitude (to Allah SWT), remembering Him is servitude (to Allah SWT), and Allah (swt) shall not accept the Faith of his servant unless it is coupled with the Wilayat of Ameer Ul-Momineen (a), and condemnation of His enemies.[4]

So, the broad definition of Faith is Love that is accompanied by the Wilayat of Imam Ali (a). When such love of Ameer ul momineen (a) enters the heart then foundation of faith begins to establish inside the heart, and as a result the heart is purified and that person reaches the rank of a believer/Mo’min, and such faith protects the believers from misguidance, ignorance and apostasy.

Like the heart, the Holy Kaaba on earth also plays a central role for the believers. The Qibla refers to the direction of guidance, while the Kaaba refers to destination of guidance. The square shape foundation existed much earlier than the advent of Islam, and later on by the command of Allah (swt) the walls of Kaaba were raised by Prophet Ibrahim (a). It is important to note that Prophet Ibrahim (a) was the first and only prophet who once shattered the idols of unbelief/Kufr and establish the foundation of Islam and declared the Tawheed of Allah (swt), as Quran says

He said: Nay! your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who brought them into existence, and I am of those who bear witness to this. (21:56)

And, by Allah! I will certainly do something against your idols after you go away, turning back. (21:57)

So he broke them into pieces, except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it. (32:21)

However, after Prophet Ibrahim (a) left the mortal world, for centuries the polytheists and the idolaters inhabited the Kaaba with their idols. The removal of idols by Prophet Ibrahim (a) was the first step towards rejection of falsehood and the implementation of truth, and the birth of Imam Ali (a) inside the Kaaba was the preparation of the end of the falsehood and perfection of truth. As history records the incident that Imam Ali (a) was born in the center of Kaaba:

Amir ul Momineen Ali ibn Abi Talib (a) was born in the center of Kaaba.[5]

The light of Ameer ul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a) entered the Kaaba like the spirit enters the body of a human being and brings the body to life. The one who will revive the practice of Prophet Ibrahim (a) was born, and Prophet Muhammed (saw) supplicated to Allah (swt) to change the direction of the prayers and make Kaaba as the new Qibla, as Qur’an revealed:

Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque. (2:144)

After conquering the city of Mecca, Ameer ul Momineen (a) following the footsteps of his grandfather Prophet Ibrahim (a) stood on the shoulders of the Prophet (saw) and shattered the idols, as the Prophet (saw) said,

O Ali, the first who brought down the idols was your grandfather Ibrahim (a), then you O Ali is the last one. [6]

When the light/noor of Imam Ali (a) entered the empty cube-like structure, the structure was purified and came to life as a symbol of guidance and the sign of the absolute Wilayat of Allah (swt) towards which all believers fall in submission.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the house in which Imam Ali (a) was born became the Qibla of all the believers, it is not a novel idea, because Allah (swt) has made the house of Musa (a) and Haroun (a) as the Qibla, as Qur’an says:

And We inspired Moses and his brother, (saying): build houses for your people in Egypt and make your houses as QIBLA, and establish worship. And give good news to the believers.(10:87)

The obligation to establish worship was given after making the house of Musa (a) and Haroun (a) as direction of their worship. Thus, Musa (a) and Haroun (a) were not only the medium of guidance to their nation, but also Allah (swt) were the medium through which the faith and worship of their nation will be accepted.

The centrality of Kaaba is like the centrality of a metaphysical heart in the universe of a human being. As the heart receives guidance & purification with the Love of Ameer ul Momineen (a), the Kaaba becomes the symbol of guidance and purification with the manifestation of Ameer ul Momineen (a). Whether it is Kaaba or the heart of a human being, the ultimate message of the holy Qur’an, and the holy Bayan, and all the symbols and the act of worship is that Ameer ul Momineen (a) represents the Wilayat of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw).Rejecting, ignoring or belittling Ali (a) is equivalent to rebellion against Allah (swt) and His messenger (saw). Hence, it is narrated by Abu Dhar ul Ghaffari (a) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

The parable of Ali in my nation is the parable of Kaaba, looking at him is worship, and pilgrimage to him is obligatory. [7]

If anyone visits the Kaaba without understanding the spirit and essence of the Kaaba then they have only circled around a physical structure and ignored the purpose of the pilgrimage. Hence it is important to reflect on the similarities between the Kaaba and the heart of human being that is filled with the love of Imam Ali (a), the necessary conclusion of such reflection will help us understand why Imam Sadiq (a) said:

Honor of a believer is greater than that of the Holy Kaaba. [8]

The reason a believer is more honorable than Kaaba is because Ameer ul Momineen (a) came once inside Kaaba, but as for the heart of a believer, it is a permanent place for the love of Ameer ul Momineen (a).



[1] Inarticulate proofs are un-intelligent creations like, animals, trees, mountains, oceans, earth moon, sun, solar system and so on as science progresses. These natural phenomena stand witness without speaking, that our Creator is no other than Allah (swt).

[2] Demonstrative proofs are the Prophets and their successors who demonstrated the evidence through knowledge and intellect for those who comprehend, and miracles and authority for those who were stubborn.

[3] Al-Khisaal by Sheikh al-Sudooq part-14, hadith 13-5

[4] Amali al-Sadouq by Ibn Babeveyah, Mohammad b. Ali, page 138, hadith#9

[5] Tasliyah al-Majalis wa Zaynah al-Majalis by Husaini Mousavi, Mohammad b. Abi Talib, page 256, volume1

[6] al-Rawdhah fi Fadha’il Amir al-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi Talib(a) by Shazan Qomi, Shazan b. Jibri’il  (single volume, page 31)

[7] al-Rawdhah fi Fadha’il Amir al-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi Talib(a) by Shazan Qomi, Shazan b. Jibri’il  (single volume, page 83)

[8] al-Khisaal, 1-96, p62