The Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the Words of Imam Ali (a.s.)

To identify a personality, you need to either find written material such as a book or know a person who is very close to him. The life of the Holy Prophet can be understood by the Book of Allah which was revealed to the Prophet, or through Imam Ali (a.s.) who is referred to in the Verse of Mubahila in the Quran, as the nafs (soul) of the Prophet.  The Prophet himself said that Imam Ali (a.s.) is the door to his knowledge.

In this article we will explore how Imam Ali (a.s.) describes the Last Prophet of Islam. The pearls flowing from the tongue and pen of Imam Ali (a.s.) were studied and compiled by Sayed Razi in a book he named ‘Nahjul Balagha’. In this noble book, Imam Ali (a.s.) has identified  the Holy Prophet in a remarkable way. We will point out only sections of his speech; for more details, readers can access Nahjul Balagha on our website.

His Prophethood

Imam Ali (a.s.) has mentioned in detail the grace of Allah in sending His messenger. Imam says:

"In this way ages passed by and times rolled on, fathers passed away while sons took their places till Allah deputised Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His Prophet, in fulfilment of His promise and in completion of His Prophethood. His pledge had been taken from the Prophets, his traits of character were well reputed and his birth was honourable. The people of the earth at this time were divided in different parties, their aims were separate and ways were diverse. They either likened Allah with His creation or twisted His Names or turned to else than Him. Through Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) Allah guided them out of wrong and with his efforts took them out of ignorance.

Then Allah chose for Muhammad, peace be upon him and on his progeny, to meet Him, selected him for His own nearness, regarded him too dignified to remain in this world and decided to remove him from this place of trial. So He drew him towards Himself with honour. Allah may shower His blessing on him, and his progeny." (Sermon 1)

 At another place Imam says:

"I also stand witness that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and His Prophet. Allah sent him with the illustrious religion, effective emblem, written Book, effulgent light, sparkling gleam and decisive injunction in order to dispel doubts, present clear proofs, administer warning through signs and to warn of punishments. At that time people had fallen in vices whereby the rope of religion had been broken, the pillars of belief had been shaken, principles had been sacrileged, system had become topsy turvy, openings were narrow, passage was dark, guidance was unknown and darkness prevailed." (Sermon 2)

Imam again says:

"Then Allah deputised Muhammad (S.A.) as a witness, giver of good tidings and warner, the best in the universe as a child and the most chaste as a grown up man, the purest of the purified in conduct, the most generous of those who are approached for generosity." (Sermon 103)

His nobleness

"His place of stay is the best of all places and his origin noblest of all origins in the mines of honour and the cradles of safety. Hearts of virtuous persons have been inclined towards him and the reins of eyes have been turned towards him. Through him Allah buried mutual rancour and put off the flames of revolt. Through him He gave them affection like brothers and separated those who were together (through unbelief). Through him He gave honour to the low and degraded honour (of unbelief). His speaking is clear and his silence is (indicative) like tongue." (Sermon 95)

Obeying the Holy Prophet

"Those companions of Muhammad - peace be upon him and his progeny - who were the custodians (of divine messages) know that I never disobeyed Allah or His Messenger (pbuh) at all, and by virtue of the courage with which Allah honoured me I supported him with my life on occasions when even the brave turned away and feet remained behind (instead of proceeding forward).

When the Prophet (pbuh) died his head was on my chest, and his (last) breath blew over my palms and I passed it over my face. I performed his (funeral) ablution, and the angels helped me. The house and the courtyard were full of them.

One party of them was descending and the other was ascending. My ears continually caught their humming voice, as they invoked Allah's blessing on him, till we buried him in his grave. Thus, who can have greater rights with him than I during his life or after his death? Therefore depend on your intelligence and make your intentions pure in fighting your enemy, because I swear by Him who is such that there is no god but He, that I am on the path of truth and that they (the enemy) are on the misleading path of wrong. You hear what I say; and I seek Allah's forgiveness for myself and for you." (Sermon 195)

In the longest sermon of Nahjul Balagha called al-Qasi’ah, Ameerul Momineen says:

"Even in my boyhood I had lowered the chest of (famous men) of Arabia, and broken the horn points (defeated chiefs) of tribes of Rabee and Mudar. Certainly, you know my position of close kinship and special relationship with the Prophet of Allah - pbuh. When I was only a child he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and lay me beside him in his bed, bring his body close to mine and make me smell his smell. He used to chew something and then feed me with it. He found no lie in my speaking, nor weakness in any act.

From the time of his weaning, Allah had put a mighty angel with him to take him along the path of high character and good behaviour through day and night, while I used to follow him like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother. Every day he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits and commanded me to follow it. Every year he used to go in seclusion to the hill of Hira, where I saw him but no one else saw him. In those days Islam did not exist in any house except that of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and Khadija, while I was the third after these two. I used to see and watch the effulgence of divine revelation and message, and breathed the scent of Prophethood.

When the revelation descended on the Prophet of Allah (pbuh)  I heard the moan of Satan. I said, "O' Prophet of Allah, what is this moan?" and he replied, "This is Satan who has lost all hope of being worshipped. O' `Ali, you see all that I see and you hear all that I hear, except that you are not a Prophet, but you are a vicegerent and you are surely on (the path of) virtue." (Sermon 190)

Remembering the Prophet with Salawat

Here Imam tells people how to pronounce salawat  (invoking Divine Supplication) on the Prophet:

"My Allah, the Spreader of the surfaces (of earth) and Keeper of all skies, Creator of hearts on good and evil nature, send Your choicest blessings and growing favours on Muhammad Your servant and Your Prophet who is the last of those who preceded (him) and an opener for what is closed, proclaimer of truth with truth, repulser of the forces of wrong and crusher of the onslaughts of misguidance. As he was burdened (with responsibility of prophethood) so he bore it standing by Your commands, advancing towards Your will, without shrinking of steps of weakness of determination, listening to Your revelation, preserving Your testament, proceeding forward in the spreading of Your commands till he lit fire for its seeker and lighted the path for the groper in the dark.

Hearts achieved guidance through him after being ridden with troubles. He introduced clearly guiding signs and shining injunctions. He is Your trusted trustee, the treasurer of Your treasured knowledge, Your witness on the Day of Judgement, Your envoy of truth and Your Messenger towards the people. My Allah, prepare a large place for him under Your shade and award him multiplying good by Your bounty.

My Allah, give height to his construction above all other constructions, heighten his position with You, grant perfection to his effulgence and perfect for him his light. In reward for his discharging Your prophetship, grant him that his testimony be admitted and his speech be liked for his speech is just, and his judgements are clear-cut. My Allah, put us and him together in the pleasures of life, continuance of bounty, satisfaction of desires, enjoyment of pleasures, ease of living, peace of mind and gifts of honour." (Sermon 70)

His way of life

"He treated this world disdainfully and regarded it low. He held it contemptible and hated it. He realised that Allah kept it away from him with intention and spread it out for others by way of contempt. Therefore, he remained away from it by his heart, banished its recollection from his mind and wished that its attraction should remain hidden from his eye so that he should not acquire any clothing from it, or hope for staying in it. He conveyed from Allah the pleas (against committing sins), counselled his people as a warner (against Divine chastisement) and called (people) towards Paradise as a conveyor of good tidings.

We are the tree of prophethood, staying place of (Divine) Message, descending place of angels, mines of knowledge and the sources of wisdom. Our supporter and lover awaits mercy while our enemy and he who hates us awaits wrath." (Sermon 107)

Again Imam said:

"You should follow your Prophet, the pure, the chaste. In him is the example for the follower, and the consolation for the seeker of consolation. The most beloved person before Allah is he who follows His Prophet and who treads in his footsteps. He took the least (share) from this world and did not take a full glance at it. Of all the people of the world he was the least satiated and the most empty of stomach. The world was offered to him but he refused to accept it. When he knew that Allah, the Glorified, hated a thing, he too hated it; that Allah held a thing low, he too held it low; that Allah held a thing small, he too held it small. If we love what Allah and His Prophet hate and hold great what Allah and His prophet hold small that would be enough isolation from Allah and transgression of His commands.

The Prophet used to eat on the ground, and sat like a slave. He repaired his shoe with his hand, and patched his clothes with his hand. He would ride an unsaddled ass and would seat someone behind him. If there was a curtain on his door with pictures on it he would say to one of his wives. "O' such-and-such, take it away out of my sight because if I look at it I recall the world and its allurements." Thus, he removed his heart from this world and destroyed its remembrance from his mind. He loved that its allurements should remain hidden from his eye so that he should not secure good dress from it, should not regard it a place of stay and should not hope to live in it. Consequently, he removed it from his mind, let it go away from his heart and kept it hidden from his eyes. In the same way he who hates a thing should hate to look at it or to hear about it.

Certainly there was in the Prophet of Allah all that would apprise you of the evils of this world and its defects, namely that he remained hungry along with his chief companions, and despite his great nearness the allurements of the world remained remote from him. Now, one should see with one's intelligence whether Allah honoured Muhammad (pbuh) as a result of this or disgraced him. If he says that Allah disgraced him, he certainly lies and perpetrates a great untruth. If he says Allah honoured him, he should know that Allah dishonoured the others when He extended the world for him but held them away from him who was the nearest to Him of all men.

Therefore, one should follow His Prophet, tread in his footsteps and enter through his entrance. Otherwise he will not be safe from ruin. Certainly, Allah made Muhammad (pbuh) a sign for the Day of Judgement. a conveyor of tidings for Paradise and a warner of retribution. He left this world hungry but entered upon the next world safe. He did not lay one stone upon another (to make a house) till he departed and responded to the call of Allah. How great is Allah's blessing in that He blessed us with the Prophet as a predecessor whom we follow and a leader behind whom we tread.

By Allah, I have been putting patches in my shirts so much that now I feel shy of the patcher. Someone asked me whether I would not put it off, but I said, "Get away from me." Only in the morning do people (realised the advantage of and) speak highly of the night journey." (Sermon 158)

True love of the Prophet

"The persons most attached to the prophets are those who know most what the prophets have brought. Then Imam recited the verse: Verily, of men the nearest to Abraham are surely those who followed him and this Prophet (Muhammad) and those who believe (Quran, 3:68). Then he said: The friend of Muhammad is he who obeys Allah, even though he may have no blood relationship, and the enemy of Muhammad is he who disobeys Allah even though he may have near kinship." (Short Saying 96)

"Our Islam is well-known and our (greatness in the) pre-Islamic period too cannot be denied. Whatever remains has been mentioned in the words of Allah:

“... And blood relations have the better claim in respect of one to the other, according to the Book of Allah...”( Quran, 33:6)

He also says: “Verily, of men the nearest to Abraham are surely those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe; and verily, Allah, is the Guardian of the faithful. (Quran, 3:68)

Thus, we are superior firstly because of kinship and secondly because of obedience. When at Saqifah, the muhajir contended kinship with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) against the ansar, they scored over them. If that success was based on kinship then the right would be ours better than yours. Otherwise, the ansar's contention stands." (Letter 28)