Axioms of Sayyidinaa Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib


With Commentary by His Son Al Imam Sheikh Muhyuddin Sayyid Mubarik ‘Ali Shah Gilani, Hasani wal Hussaini al Hashimi [Hafithahullah].

The True Faqih (jurist)

“The Faqih is one who is Faqih due to his state, not the one known as Faqih due to his oratory and writings.”
COMMENTARY: The real jurist (Faqih) is the one who leads his life according to the Law he teaches others. Unlike those who just maintain their status by their oratory and pen, but do not follow the Law themselves.

True Friend

“Your true friend is the one who participates in your efforts and for the sake of your gain is prepared to suffer losses.”

The Essentials of Friendship

“When a person cares not about three things, then separate from him even if the return is but a fistful of ashes. These are loyalty, willingness to spend, and guarding your secrets. Know the enemy of my friend is my enemy. And the friend of my enemy is my enemy.”

COMMENTARY ON HYPOCRISY: Hazrat Ali very clearly directs us that we should not cultivate any type of relationship with a person who does not reciprocate with warmth. Such a person should be left and no ill-feelings should come in one’s heart on being separated from such a hypocrite. Note that this principle applies to developing social ties with others. However, one should be full of tolerance and patience with one’s relatives.

COMMENTARY: This is the very basic principle on which friendship between two persons can be maintained; contrary to this, if a person has a friend, and that friend of his is also friendly with his enemy, then it will be very foolish on the part of the friend of that person to take him as a friend. This is not all that simple in its larger context. The principle also applies in the international friendship between two countries or communities. For instance, as we find that there is a country which maintains friendship with some Muslim countries and at the same maintains very firm, friendly ties with the enemy of the Muslims. Then it means that that country is fooling or exploiting its Muslim friend. Though this is a very simple and basic principle, yet the so-called wise politicians always suffer humiliation from the hands of their so-called friends. And yet the Muslims do not wish to learn from their rich cultural heritage of Al-Islam.

Knowledge is Life

“Ignorance of a person is a death for him before his actual death. And his body is a grave before he is buried in his grave, because a person who has not received from ‘Ilm is a dead being. And he shall never be raised until the Last Day.”

COMMENTARY: It has already been explained that according to the Holy Qur’an, the ignorant person is considered a dead being though he may be physically living. By this, it is meant that all non-believers are in fact not only dead beings, but are like walking graves wherein is buried their dead souls.

‘Ilm with Aql”

‘Ilm (knowledge) without ‘Aql (intelligence) is like having shoes with no feet; and ‘Aql without ‘Ilm is like having feet with no shoes.”

COMMENTARY: It is important to know that when a person who has no aql happens to read and memorize some books of knowledge, he will become a very dangerous person in the hands of exploiters, who by using their own aql will exploit him for fulfilling their own political or economic designs. That is what is happening in many Muslim countries. Often in religious schools only those students are sent by their parents whom they find intellectually inferior. So when such people happen to receive religious degrees then they look for some patrons which are readily found for them. On the other hand we find that many people are born Aqlu (intelligent) but they never receive any ‘Ilm, therefore they are compared with people who have feet but no shoes by which is meant they have no direction nor goal, and hence they are always lost and confused.

Companionship of Knowledge

“Knowledge is my Companion; it is with me everywhere I go. My heart is its container and not the bookshelf.”

COMMENTARY: Hazrat Ali (Karam Allah wajhahu) states that his heart contains the ‘Ilm which he uses and practices unlike those people who have knowledge but do not practice it, whom he compares with a trunk (or a bookshelf) loaded with books. In the Holy Qur’an, such people are compared with a donkey carrying a load of books.
Immediate and Lasting Pleasure

“Lasting happiness which can be acquired very fast is derived from doing thikr and ibadah every morning and evening.”

COMMENTARY: This is also an explanation of an injunction of the Holy Qur’an in which Almighty Allah states that, “Know that the peace of the heart lies in the remembrance (thikr) of Allah.” It is a well established fact that only those people who start their day with the remembrance of Allah and ibadah and also conclude it in a similar way are the happiest beings on earth. And other than this, neither worldly possessions, gardens, nor jewels can give one real happiness. If it is there, it is always very short lived and ends in despair and frustration. The world has seen many multi-millionaires, scientists, rulers, etc. committing suicide. But no one so far has seen a true believer ending his life in such a manner. Thus Allah subhana wa Ta’ala is the Source of all blisses and happiness.

Favor on the Vulgar

“Bestow not your favor on the debased, for your favor will go to waste. So due to free and noble people, for them the fragrances of your goodness’s will spread around like musk.”

COMMENTARY: Everybody knows that if you do good to a debased person it will always go to waste. For example, if you try to give honor to a professional beggar he will not appreciate it, and if you give him money he will not thank from his heart and you may never see him again. Or if you try to do favors upon a professional crook and a fraud, whatever good you will do to him he will attribute it to his planning and shrewdness with which he made you give up your wealth to him.
Who is a debased person?
1. He who sells his honor for the sake of worldly gain; such as beggars, prostitutes, thieves, pimps, and frauds.
2. The one who sells his Iman for the sake of some worldly gain. In this category are included the religious men (ulama) who become tools in the hands of the government by which people are misled, and also the Mashaikh who become lackeys (yes-men) of the government or anti-Islamic elements.
3. Those Muslims who gladly and willingly accept the kafir as their rulers; such are called the slaves of the kafirs. Therefore Hazrat Ali also advises us not to do favors to such slaves but rather to do good deeds which should be done to the noble people.

Traveling Without Provisions

“Undertake not the journey of this life without the provisions of good deeds for the way for the path of life is dangerous.”
COMMENTARY: Here, Hazrat Ali (R.A.A.) draws a parallel between the two travelers. The one who is travelling on the road in this world and while travelling he takes every possible care to have everything which he might need on the way. While there is another person who does not carry any provisions of sustenance nor protection on the way and, of course, such a journey will be a disaster. He draws our attention to our real journey of life taking us in to the Hereafter and he wonders at a people who embark on this journey and have gathered no provisions. Remember provisions for such a journey comprise in acting according to the commands of Almighty Allah and following the Sunnah of the Holy Last Messenger, Sall Allahu alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallim.

Instructions to the Writer

“Oh writer! An Angel watches over all you write. Make your writing meaningful for it will eventually return to you and you will be questioned about what you wrote.”

COMMENTARY: This is a piece of warning to the layman, writers, and journalists that they should watch over their pen and be careful of what they write with it. The way the tongue utters words and the person is held responsible for them, similarly the writing by the pen is called the words uttered by the tongue of the pen. One should never debase knowledgeable people, nor should one commit slander, nor propagate crimes and evils with the pen, such as we find in many newspapers and journals. And also we see that provocative advertisement of films and commercial products are printed in the newspapers. This is called Fahashee (lewdness). All such people feed their stomachs with the Fire of Hell, and they shall suffer painful doom and chastisement in the Hereafter because of the evil they propagated to millions. As long as that evil is in circulation and is followed by the masses, they will be responsible. At the same time many ignorant Mullahs write kalams on Islam, the Holy Qur’an, Hadiths, and morality in the same pages which have been polluted with highly objectionable writings and pictures. They can be compared with a person trying to wash garments with polluted waters.

The Reality of Dunya

“Dunya is like a floating shadow, like a guest who stayed overnight and went his way, like a dream beheld by a dreamer, like lightning which flashes on the horizons of your hopes. Dunya is like an Inn, where a traveler stays for the night and then leaves in the morning.”

COMMENTARY: Dunya (worldly aspirations, charms, and possessions) is so insignificant before Almighty Allah that He has hardly made any mention of it in the Holy Qur’an, save for a few times, and even then it is with contempt. For instance, there is a writing that “If Allah had any regard for this world, even as much as a wing of a mosquito, then the Kuffar would not have been able to get a single drop of water.” The Holy Last Messenger (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) has said, “Dunya is a Mal’oon (curse), and whatever is in it as well.” The Mu’min is allowed to use it as much as he needs it for his journey as a traveler. The great Maulana Rumi (Rahmatullahi ‘alaih) has said: The way water is necessary for a boat, similarly Dunya is necessary for a Mu’min, but remember as long as water is under the boat it will float, but if water comes inside of the boat, then it will sink the boat. By this is meant that if worldly aspirations (waters) enter the heart (boat) of a Mu’min, it will weaken his Iman, but at the same time he must have enough provisions to live honorably and without depending on anybody, and to look after the legitimate needs of his family members.