Resources / Companion

IMAM ALI (r.a) 2 *

He was the fourth person among those who first accepted Islam. Although he was still a child, he was one of the first people who accepted Islam and began to pray. There are many hadith regarding this ... He was a person who was brought up devoted to Islam from his childhood. He was granted a great reward and will be shaded under the shadow of the Throne, and enter paradise. Since he was a person who was raised in Islam from his childhood, Imam Ali (r.a) is a very special and important person...

Translations in other Languages

Prof. Dr. M. Es‘ad Coşan
(May Allah have mercy on him)

If Allah wills, I intend to give talks on Imam Ali (r.a) periodically, once every month. There are reasons for me deciding to discuss this topic...

Alevism bears great social importance for us. I do not consider Alevism as an expression of actuality, but rather as being a follower of Imam Ali (r.a). This is an important issue. I believe we need to discuss this subject in terms of science and research based on sound knowledge. I believe this will be beneficial and bring prosperity to our country and our people. This is why I believe it is necessary.

As your humble brother, I am interested in the descendants of Ali (r.a). It is suggested that our ancestors came from his roots. In which case, we are from his ancestry. Therefore, those who follow him and have affection for him deserve our respect and attract our interest.

In addition, in terms of Sufism, according to a report the first person to follow the Naqshi order was Abu Bakr as-Siddiqi who chose secret dhikr as his path, however, another branch of our chain is also connected to Ali (r.a), and then to our Prophet.

Therefore, all imams that are sons of our Prophet, Ali (r.a), and Fatima, the daughter of our dear Prophet –May Allah be pleased with them- are people that we are sincerely devoted to from a Sufi perspective.

In our country, there is a respected and important community, a large group associated with this name... Being Alevi basically means a follower of Ali (r.a). When the letter “I or u” is added to the end of a word in Arabic, it signifies belonging. Istanbulu means being a citizen of Istanbul, Konyevi means the citizen of Konya, in the same way that Makki means being a citizen of Mecca etc.… This is called ism-i nisba and the meaning is clear, “a person who is a follower of Imam Ali (r.a)... This means a follower that is committed by heart, in love and faith. This is a good thing, because Imam Ali (r.a) is an extremely blessed, an extremely honored person.

This word can be the means of pride for some people, and concern for others. Sometimes this can cause a sense of hesitation for some saying “Is he Alevi?” In fact, sometimes this can even be the cause for some people distancing themselves. We need to solve, discuss these issues! There are articles, pictures published in newspapers on this topic. There are many works on this subject, however, we can address this issue from two aspects:

  1. As a sociological affair. There is a group called Alevi… This group exists whether we refer to them as Alevi or by any other name. We should consider studying their belief, their customs and status; we should portray, describe and acknowledge this. This actually means considering, studying any social fact.
  2. Also, it may be necessary to address the issue in terms of ideals, in terms of the truth and integrity. In other words, addressing the issue with a critical opinion, studying the sources and the authenticity of the sources, assessing their path, discussing its accuracy...

I personally do not intent to explain “In Turkey there is a social fact called Alevism, Bektashism, and their rituals are so and so…” There are some people who follow, are devoted and love Imam Ali (r.a), I also have affection for him, like them. Therefore, I want to help them.

What is Alevism? How should devotion to Ali (r.a) really be? What kind of person was Imam Ali (r.a)?

In the modern definition, I guess I am a bit of a radical concerning Alevism. I want to correct matters regarding this from the root, the foundation, and I believe that this will be beneficial, because this is an expressive topic. Sometimes it can be a topic of controversy and debate. It has become a social problem. I address this issue because "Turkey is our country, and therefore we must consider, discuss and seek solutions regarding the problems of this country, we must try to find the right solutions, and attain good results, we must concern ourselves with these issues as this is our duty to our nation.”

I'm a theologian, my doctoral degree is on theological studies, my associate professorship is in the field of theological studies, and my professorship title is professor of theology. I taught at the Faculty of Theology in Ankara for twenty-seven years.

As you know, a person enters university as an assistant, then he studies for doctorate, then he becomes an associate professor, then he becomes a professor. Of course, now there is also an assistant professorship level, and the procedures for passing this level are slightly different than it was in my time….

Hajji Bektashi Veli was the subject of my associate professorship thesis. I was a man who was studying the field of religious literature. The religious produce of Turkish literature, the authors, poets and the works themselves, the texts, the explanations of these... My subject was a pleasant subject, an enjoyable subject, I enjoyed working on this topic; the holy poems of mawlid, eulogiums, naats, religious works…

I studied the life and works of Hz. Hajji Bektashi Veli, because he is also a much loved person... He has followers who call themselves Bektashi. He is also connected with us. He received knowledge from the Naqhsi sect, he is also one of the Naqhsi caliphs… He is a dervish that is a member of “Hajaganiyya”, and was taught by Abdulhalik-i Gucduvani Efendi.

Everyone has studied Hajji Bektashi Veli. Europeans studied him, there were people who studied him from Turkey. But I consider the topic as an historian of literature. I searched for the works of Hajji Bektashi Veli in libraries. I've worked on his manuscripts. I visited the mausoleum of Hajji Bektashi Veli, I visited his lodge, I studied his hierograms, I did research. I scanned the libraries of Anatolia. I found the materials unknown to Europeans and local researchers, material they were unable to find.

Prof. Ord. Fuad Köprülü, Prof. Ord. Ismail Hikmet Ertaylan, Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı wrote articles on this subject. Constantly showing by credentials I found material that amended all of these. I produced a sound text of Hajjı Bektâş-ı Veli's ’Makâlât.’ Benefiting from our works has become a vital part of Hajji Bektashi Veli’s commemoration ceremonies, as the results of our research on this subject inevitably concerns and involves everyone.

During recent years, the Alevi-Sunni issue also presented concern for our country Turkey. We strive to protect our country with great care. As this is an entrustment passed on to us by our ancestors, we try to protect our country like something fragile, something precious in a glass jug that is breakable. We are trying to protect its unity and integrity. Although we have such a desire, on the other hand there was an attempt to divide and inflict sufferings on our people.

I traveled to Australia in late 1993. On this continent which is so far away, I noticed this issue has become a matter of controversy, has led to major dispute, and caused unhappiness. They explained this to me, and this caused me great sadness.

I said “It is our duty to solve this. According to the information we acquired from our ancestors, we are connected in terms of our ancestry. On one hand we have a connection in terms of Sufism, and a connection in terms of knowledge; on the other hand we have a connection in terms of nationality...

So I visited the organizations of these brothers in Mildura, a large agricultural city in the middle of the continent. I sat with them. I said:

“I came to visit you. I've heard you have acted disrespectful. You spoke against Islam on the radio. You spoke about the rivalry and hostility among the Sunnis and Alevis, as if Alevis are not religious, as if they are disbelievers and they are targeting Islam. The words were something to the effect of ‘attacking Islam.’ I came to tell you that this is incorrect!” I asked: “Are you Alevi? Are you followers of Ali (r.a)? If you're truly are followers, I came to discuss this with you because things like this should not happen.” I discussed this with them for almost three hours.

They explained all their problems, and we gave answers to every question. They were convinced, but then we had an idea, a desire. I said “We should continue to represent Ali (r.a). We should serve our Alevi brothers. Because it is beneficial for people who are familiar with the subject and who speak based on sources to discuss this... It is wrong to use this for political issues or to generate or fabricate any kind of hostility ... Imam Ali (r.a) would not approve of this ... Allah does not approve this ...This disturbs us deeply. We need to solve this issue!”

We developed a means of solving this: We can introduce all the great figures that our Alevi brothers respect using sources!… We leave it to knowledge, so everybody is familiar, surrenders to the truth. As our Prophet says in a hadith;

زَلَ م عَ الْثُحَقِّ حَيْمَا زْالُ

Zul mea’l-hakkı haysumâ zâle.

“Follow the truth wherever it may be.”[1] Do not persist in taking a specific side; follow the truth wherever it may be, be with the Truth; support the truth, support what is true and right.

Therefore, I would also like to continue this topic in Turkey. Every Sunday, hadith lessons are given in our mosque, the Iskenderpasa Mosque in Fatih. We read the hadith as a tradition that began many years ago. We start from the beginning of a hadith book, and when we have completed the book, we go back to the beginning and read it again. We hold these lessons on Sundays so our audience becomes familiar with the Prophet Muhammad from his words, so they become familiarized with him from his hadith, the Sunnah of the Prophet which is one of the main sources of Islam. We said “we should also begin lessons that explain Imam Ali (r.a).

As an historian of literature, this interested me in terms of studies on the history of literature. In the following weeks I intend to relate different examples from Turkish literature so it will be more interesting; to make you understand different scenes of our culture and so these topics are understood properly.

In Turkish Literature, there are some works relating to the words of Imam Ali (r.a). I was considering publishing these works. For example, there is a work titled “Sad Kalima Imam Ali (Hundred Sayings of Imam Ali)." A writer took 100 sayings of Imam Ali (r.a), translated them into Turkish, and interpreted these. An appealing subject ... He explains the sayings of Imam Ali (r.a). This constitutes material for his followers.

This was constantly on my mind. We had a student in Ankara who retired from the military who I was very fond of. He was successful in the military, but after his retirement he came to our faculty and graduated with an honors degree. He bought books, expanded his library. He purchased books on sources. In his library I noticed a work published in Najaf, one of the important centers of Shia in Iraq. I took a copy of this work, which contains 1000 sayings of Imam Ali (r.a), and turned this into an interesting book.

I thought to myself “As we are doing Hadith lessons here on Sundays, we could also give another lesson on the sayings of Imam Ali (r.a). So Imam Ali’s (r.a) sayings and ideas can be known, understood and circulated... So sound material about him can be produced, accumulated. When we were invited to Bakırkoy, this is where we began the project.

If we need to give a brief summary about Imam Ali (r.a):

Imam Ali (r.a) was born in 598CE; His father was Abu Talib our Prophets uncle who took him under his protection and gave him great support… He was a person who protected the Prophet when others displayed hostility towards him.

Abu Talib had many children; Imam Ali (r.a) is one of them ... Our Prophet was a very loyal, very thoughtful, very compassionate and very sincere person ... Of course everything about him was charming, he was a great example and he maintained a stable relationship with his relatives and people who supported him until his death…

For example, when he came to Medina, he did not enter Medina immediately, he stayed in the Quba Village where the Quba Mosque is located. Later, he used to visit Quba every Saturday. He was loyal to people, and was loyal to places...The people of Medina invited him and embraced him, they helped him. He first came to Quba, this was where he was first welcomed. In fact, soon after this Friday prayer became obligatory, they performed a Friday prayer here, there is a Friday mosque here ... As he visited Quba every Saturday, there is a hadith encouraging the Sahaba to visit the Quba Mosque;

"“Whoever purifies himself in his house then comes to the mosque of Quba’ and prays there, he will have a reward like that for ‘Umrah.”[2]

The Prophet went to Abu Talib and said;

 ”You have too many children, your home is too crowded…allow us to help you.“

As a result, when Imam Ali (r.a) was still a little boy, the Prophet took him under his protection. On one hand, he paid his debt of gratitude to his uncle; his uncle took care of him and now he was taking care of his uncle's son. But on the other hand this was a great honor for Imam Ali (r.a)... The Prophet had no sons, but Imam Ali (r.a) was a person who grew up beside the Prophet as if he was his son.

Of course, he was the Prophet's cousin, but grew up beside him like a son, and a year after the migration to Medina-i Munawwara, he was honored with marrying the Prophet’s daughter Fatıma al- Zahra and become the Prophet’s son in-law. Therefore, Imam Ali (r.a) is a person who contributed to the continuation of the Prophet's linage until today; he was the means of the continuation of the pure generation of Prophet to reach the present…

He was a dark-skinned, strong-bodied man, and extremely brave; a hero who participated in most of the battles- if the Prophet had not assigned him to another duty- including Badr, Uhud and Handak and achieved tremendous success in these battles. [3]

During the Battle of Khaibar, when the fortress of Khaibar was besieged, our Prophet said;

"Tomorrow I will give the flag to somebody who will be given victory (by Allah) and who loves Allah and His Apostle and is loved by Allah and His Apostle." He said this at night. Everyone was curious until the next morning;

I wonder who will receive this blessed flag from the Prophet? A Sahabi who loves Allah, but also a person the Prophet confirmed to be loved by Allah… Who could this be?

Umar said;

“I dearly want to be the one to receive the flag from the Messenger of Allah…”

Then the next day, the Prophet looked at his companions. Everyone stood straight in the hope that “I will look better than the others so he will choose me.” The Prophet looked at them but didn’t choose any one of them. He asked:

“Where is Ali?” They replied:

“Oh Messenger of Allah! He has bad pain in his eye. His eye was hurting, he was lying in the tent ill.” He said.

“Call him!”

They called him. The Prophet applied some of his blessed saliva to his eyes. Then his pain disappeared. The Prophet gave him the flag.[4] Therefore, on the confirmation of the Prophet, it became clear that Imam Ali (r.a) was a person loved by Allah. Imam Ali was a blessed man who loved Allah and was loved by Allah.

Of course he was one of ten people who were granted paradise before death... Once, while sitting in a date orchard the Prophet began counting some of the names of those present saying, "So and so is in paradise... so and so is in paradise ... So and so is in paradise ..." He counted the names of ten people.[5] These are known as ”Asharat Mubasharah bi al-Jannah“ meaning the ten companions blessed with paradise before death. In short, we refer to them as Asharah Mubasharah . One of them is Imam Ali (r.a). In view of this, he was a person who was given these tidings by our Prophet.

Because the Prophet said;

“What a great commander is he who conquers Istanbul! What a great army which conquers Istanbul!”[6] How many campaigns were carried out by the Umayyad! How many times did Islamic armies attempt to conquer Constantinople, they tried and tried, but eventually this conquest was ordained for Mehmed the Conqueror, Fatih Sultan Mehmed Khan... Similarly ... Imam Ali (r.a) of the Asharah Mubasharah , was a person who was given the tidings of paradise during his lifetime...

He was the fourth person among those who first accepted Islam. Although he was still a child, he was one of the first people who accepted Islam and began to pray. There are many hadith regarding this ... He was a person who was brought up devoted to Islam from his childhood. He was granted a great reward and will be shaded under the shadow of the Throne, and enter paradise.[7] Since he was a person who was raised in Islam from his childhood, Imam Ali (r.a) is a very special and important person...

He is the fourth of the caliphs. The fourth of the first Muslims, the fourth of the mature caliphs... He became a caliph in 654 according to Gregorian calendar and he was martyred by a Kharaji called Ibn Muljam[8] in 661. Martyrdom is certainly no ordinary death, it is the sign of being granted paradise... Therefore, Imam Ali (r.a) was a blessed person who was honored with martyrdom.

He was extremely well lettered. There's a great letter that he sent to the commander of Egypt Malik bin Astar, we will also discuss that letter also. Then his literary and intellectual capability will truly become apparent.

He was an extremely fluent and eloquent man. Due to this, in the introduction of this book it relates:

“Emîru’l-mu’minîn ve seyyidu’l-bulegâ”; Commander of believers, leader of the eloquent. Indeed, he was witty, graceful, fluent, eloquent; this is the kind of person he was... May Allah bless him!

Abu Turâb was his favorite nickname.[9] It means "Father of the soil", because one time he had a dispute at home. He left the house and went to the mosque. He was lying down in the mosque. When the Prophet Muhammad went to his home, he asked his daughter, Fatima al-Zahra... She was also given the tidings of paradise by the Prophet. She was also known to be a person who was granted paradise.[10]

"My daughter, where is Ali?"

“We had a few words, a dispute; he was angry and left the house.”

He went to the mosque, laid down and went to sleep there. When the Prophet went to him, he said;

“Wake up, oh Abu Turâb!” [11] As he laid on the ground and there was soil on his clothes, he said, "O father of the soil, wake up." As this was a witty compliment, it was one of Imam Ali’s (r.a) favorite nicknames.

Another of his nicknames was ”Asadullah.“[12] My name is Es’ad, written with an “ayn”, there is an apostrophe after the letter “s”. Es’ad means the happiest ’. Asad means lion. Asadullah means ’the lion of Allah.’

Again, there is another name given to the lion by Arabs which is “Haydar”. Therefore, another attribute of Imam Ali (r.a) is Haydar.[13] Sometimes they called him ”Haydar-i Karrâr”. Karrâr means the person who attacks the enemy again and again. He was a lion that attacked the enemy again and again. During battle persistence in attacking is important.

There is also desertion... “Karra and Farra”... Kar is "to attack forward" and far is “to run backwards”. Therefore far is unfavorable.

اِلْفَّرَارْ يَوُمَ الزِحْفَ

“el-Firâru yevme’z-zahf (mine’l-kebâir).”

“It is a major sin to run from battle.“[14]

Running away from the enemy during battle can only be used as a military decoy. A person cannot run away from the enemy with the fear of death. This is why our people were victorious in battle... As it was a great sin to run from the enemy, they resisted, they fought.

All the members of the Ottoman army were followers, admirers of Imam Ali (r.a). As it is a major sin to run away from battle, and because Imam Ali was the Haydar-i Karrâr, they resisted and fought like him because he was like a roaring lion that attacked.

He is “Shâh-ı Mardân”. “Mard” means “man” in Persian; “mardan” means “men”. The plural affix is “ân” in Persian; “zan” means ”woman“ and “zanân” means ”women.” “Shâh-ı Mardân” means the shah of the men, the master of the masters, the leader of the courageous , the most superior of the courageous.

There is also another phrase similar to this; Shir-i Yazdân. Shîr means lion and Yazdân is used for Allah. “Shir-i Yazdân” is the Persian version of “Asadullah”, both mean “the lion of Allah.”

Shir-i Yazdân, Shâh-ı Mardân, Haydar-i Karrâr, Abu Turâb, Aliyyü Marl-Murtezâ ... These are all his attributes.

He is the shah of saints, because he is in the highest position in the levels of sainthood.

It is related “The mercy of God ascends where the righteous people are remembered.”[15]

Therefore, I believe that the mercy of Allah will ascend to a place where we mention our righteous leader who is a habitant of paradise, our blessed, righteous ancestor; I believe His mercy will pour down upon us, into our hearts, our souls and bodies…

May Allah grant us his intercession…

* Historical and Sufi Personalities: Istanbul: Server Communication, 2015, 4th Edition, pp. 47-58.

[1] Bukhârî, al-Târîkh al-kabîr, VII, 296, translation. no: 2045; Tabarânî, al-Mu’jam al-kabîr, XX, 322, hadith no: 763; a.mlf., al-Mu’jam al-awsat, VII, 296, hadith no: 7542; İbn Hibbân, XIII, 196, hadith no: 5882; Abû Ya’lâ, al-Musnad, III, 137, hadith no: 1568; Hâkim, IV, 176; Haysamî, Majma’ al-zawâid, VII, 593; IV, 292.

[2] Hadith text:

مَنْ تَوَضَّأَ فَأَحْسَنَ الْوُضُوءَ (مَنْ تَطَهَّرَ فِي بَيْتِهِ ثُمَّ أَتَى مَسْجِدَ قُبَاءَ)، ثُمَّ صَلَّى فِي مَسْجِدِ قُبَاءَ رَكْعَتَيْنِ كَانَتْ لَهُ عُمْرَةً

See. Nasâî, “Masâjid”, 9, hadith no: 699; İbn Mâjah, “İkâma”, 197, hadith no: 1412; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, III, 487, hadith no: 16024; Tabarânî, al-Mu’jam al-kabîr, VI, 75, hadith no: 5561.

[3] Imam Ali did not participate in this battle because he was assigned to protect the family of the Prophet during the Tabuk campaign See. İbn al-Asîr, Usd al-Gayb, I, 92, translation. no: 3789.

[4] Bukhârî, “Jihâd”, 101, 141; “Fazâil al-sahâba”, 9; “Maghzî”, 36; Muslim, “Fazâil al-sahâba”, 34-35.

[5] Abu Dawud, “Sunnah”, 9, hadith no: 4649; Tirmizî, “Manâkıb”, 26, hadith no: 3747-3748; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 188, hadith no: 1631.

[6] Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 335; İbn Kâni’, Mu’jam as-sahâba, I, 81; Tabarânî, al-Mu’jamu al-kabîr, II, 38, hadith no: 1216; Hâkim, IV, 468, hadith no: 8300; İbni Asâkir, Târîhu Dımashk, 58, 34-36 (Ibn Asakir who includes many chains of hadith relates the narrations one by one with the previously included transmitters. Among these transmitters are İbn Abî Shayba, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Bukhârî, İbn İshâq). This hadith is also included in books on great Islamic figures and Sahaba and other narrators included in this hadith: Bukhârî, al-Târîkh al-kabîr, II, 81; a.mlf., al-Târîkh al-sağîr, I, 306; İbn Hibbân, Sikât, III, 31; Zahabî, Tajrîdu asmâi sahâba, I, 51; Abû Dhar’a al-Irâqî, Zayl al-Kâshif, translation. no: 131; İbn Hajar, İsâba, I, 162, translation. no: 685; İbn Abdilber, al-İstîâb, I, 170; İbn al-Asîr, Usd al-Gayb, I, 389, translation. no: 437. Haysamî: “Râvileri sikadır”. See. Majma al-zawâid, VI, 323.

[7] Bukhârî, “Zakat”, 15; Muslim, “Zakat”, 91.

[8] Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 92, hadith no: 713; Hâkim, III, 155; Bayhaqî, al-Sunan al-kubrâ, VIII, 56, 183.

[9] Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 263; Hâkim, III, 151.

[10] For the hadith narrated byAbû Saîd See. Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, III, 64, 80, hadith no: 11636, 11773; Hâkim, III, 168.

[11] Bukhârî, “Masâjid”, 25; “Fazâil as-sahâba”, 9; “İ’tisâm”, 40; “Adab”, 113.

[12] For the name Asad See. Hâkim, III, 116.

[13] For the name Haydar See. Hâkim, III, 116.

[14] See. Nasâî, “Tahrîmü’d-dem”, 3, hadith no: 4009; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, V, 413, hadith no: 23553; Tabarânî, Musnad al-Shâmiyyîn, II, 178, hadith no: 1144.

[15] This was attributed to Muhammad b. Nasr al-Hârisî and Sufyan b. Uyayna. See. Ahmad b. Hanbal, Zuhd, p. 326; Abû Nuaym, Hılyat al-awliyâ, VII, 285; Ajlûnî, Kashf al-hafâ, hadith no: 1772.

Article “Hz. Ali - 2” Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Coşan (Rh.a.)