Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate – Ana madinatu’l-ilm wa Ali babuha

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate Ana madinatul ilm wa Ali babuha

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate;
so whoever desires knowledge, let him enter the gate.
(Ana madinatu’l-ilm wa Ali babuha;
Fa-man arada’l-ilm fal-ya til-bab).1

This profound Hadith, (saying of the Prophet) recorded by Muslims of every theological school, shows the unique place given by Prophet Muhammad to Hazrat Imam Ali, who, married to the Prophet’s daughter, Bibi Fatima, was also cousin to the Holy Prophet; Abdul Mutalib was their common grandfather.

Imam Ali did not fail the Prophet in this position of gate of the Prophet’s knowledge as evidenced by the vibrant spiritual traditions descending from him in the esoteric practice of Islam in Sunni and Shia followers.

The Quran highlights the Prophet’s spiritual and material behavior in 68:4: ‘Verily, thou art of a tremendous nature.’

Prophet Muhammad ensured that his legacy would be continued by the formal institution of Hazrat Ali at Gadhir-e Khumm and also by his many traditions, Sunna. He said to Ali, ‘You are from me, and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’ And more sayings: Ali ‘is as my own soul (ka-nafsi.)’ and ‘Ali is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali. They will not separate from each other until they return to me at the [paradisal] pool (al-hawd).’3 See more of these sayings attributed to Hazrat Ali at this link.

This transference of the prophetic nature to Imam Ali is not only in the following of his words and deeds, the Sunna, but also of his spirituality, his inner nature, that soul connection that every Muslim aspires to, and Hazrat Ali became the foremost exemplar. Did not Angel Gabriel reveal to Prophet Muhammad:

La fatah illa Ali! There is no one like Ali!

La Fatah illa Ali! There is no one like Ali!

The success of the Prophet’s mission has been carried on by Hazrat Ali par excellence as not only the Sufi Tariqahs trace their beginnings to him, but the Imams of his progeny are here to guide us as present and living! Mashallah!

This affinity between the Prophet and Imam is a special spiritual relationship and when a believer walks on this path, he is transformed both physically and spiritually due to the Baraqah of this unity. With this notion in mind, I decided to present small nuggets of our faith where a momin lives by daily ritual in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet and the Beloved Imam and thus by ethical living, intellectual search for truth in all matters, action that follows faithful conviction, the Baraqah of the Holy Spirit that exists in all transforms us. That is another reason why the slogan for my website is: Islam means not only faith but it also means works – Aga Khan.

You will experience this soul-full change too when you listen to and watch this Nasheed based on my epigraph above. Just like I presented Dam Hama Dam Ali Ali Farsi Qasida a couple of weeks back at the beginning of this holy month of Ramadan, the constant remembrance Dhikr does enter your soul as we are all hard-wired to know God and return to Him, the primordial Fitra, as He asks in the Quran: ‘Am I not your Lord? (Alastu bi Rabbi-kum?)’ Quran 7:172.

The soul in us is always ready to answer: ‘But of course!’

That was the theme and conviction of our poetic greats like Rumi who relates the soul’s longing to return to it’s original home (as in the “Song of the Reed” Masnavi Gazal F-1725), Hafiz, Ibn Hani, Nasir Khusraw, Al Muayyad, and others.

When the Salwaat is recited over and over, as are the Tasbis, invocations to Allah, Muhammad, Ali and the Imams, I promise, that this Light upon Light that I talk of in my website, will affect you just as the Quran descended upon Prophet Muhammad on Layla tul Qadr, and he transferred this knowledge to Hazrat Ali and the Imam of the Time instills it in his believers (murids)!

Tonight, on this night of Layla tul Qadr, a night for prayers, reflection, and making ready to receive that knowledge that was given by the Prophet, from the Imam! Inshallah!

Ana Madinatul Ilm wa Ali Babuha – Haddad Alwi & Sulis 4

Translation of above Nasheed

by Amon Abdulloh

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
Enter in to this city,
Its doors are always open for you.
Its doors are always open for you.

There is a well known hadith of Muhammad,
The hadith that doesn’t need any proof.
The one who accepts me should accept Ali
Al Murtaza is the Generous One,
And his good character is shining to the bright,
If you want to know Me know Ali first.
The doors are always open for you.

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
Come in to this city,
Its doors are always open for you.
Its doors are always open for you.

The one who wants to have knowledge of Mustafa,
Should know that it’s possible only through Ali.
O Father  who has the “knowledge of Mustafa”
You are Ali  the Highest One the Highest One,
O the One for Whom the Kaaba is house,
Anything You do is Blessed from above.

If you want to know Me know Ali first.
The doors are always open for you.
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
Come in to this city,
Its doors are always open for you.
Its doors are always open for you.

O the One who shows the meaning of Unity of God through actions,
And You were the proof of God and the Master of Iman,
You were doing what was liked by Allah.
And You were following what was commanded by Him.
O the Gate to the Knowledge of Prophet,
You were following what was commanded by Him.

If you want to know Me, know Ali first.
The doors are always open for you

O the One! The mercy is in Your hands,
Because You are the Trusted of the Prophet
O the Proof of God and and the chosen One
Guide us to the right path.
O Mavla You loved Everyone.
And there was message from above stating:

There is no one like Ali. (La Fatah illa Ali)
O the truthful One
From the progeny of Muhammad!

If you want to know Me, know Ali first
The doors are always open for you
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.
Enter in to this city,
Its doors are always open for you.
Its doors are always open for you.

Tile from Friday Mosque Isfahan displaying the hadith "I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is the Gate".

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Notes:

1. Nisaburi, Mustadrak, p. 929, no. 4694 cited in Reza Shah-Kazemi – Justice and Remembrance – Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali.

2. Especially by keeping the message universal and living in every age by focusing on the intellectual, ethical and spiritual message of the Quran and the Prophet’s traditions, the essence of the faith was kept alive and practiced by all the different paths in Islam. This body of knowledge found in Imam Ali’s discourses (Khutbas – Arabic, Farmans – Persian), his sayings, letters and instructions, compiled in Nahj al-balāgha – a text recording Imam ʿAlī’s sermons, letters and sayings gathered and recorded by Al-Sharīf Al-Raḍī.  – Reza Shah-Kazemi – – Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali, p 8. Al-Raḍī’s father was the great grandson of Imam Mūsā al-Kāẓim, son of Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq; and his mother was the great grand-daughter of Imam ʿAlī Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn, son of Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib. His elder brother was the famous theologian, al-Sayyid al-Murtaḍā; both brothers were students of the most respected and influential Shiʿi scholar of the age, al-Shaykh al-Mufīd (d.413/1022).

3. Nīsābūrī, al-Mustadrak, p.924, no.4672 cited in Reza Shah-Kazemi – Justice and Remembrance – Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali.

4. Above Nasheed performed by Haddad Alwi who is a popular singer from Malaysia with a great following. This video is the special edition, Love for the Messenger which was accompanied by Victoria Philharmonic Orchestra from Melbourne and Sydney with the female singer of equal fame Sulis of Malaysia who accompanies him in the Cinta Rasool albums. Please do view other videos of theirs on youtube. You will be pleasantly entertained.

9 Responses to I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate – Ana madinatu’l-ilm wa Ali babuha

  • Amon says:

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Peace be Upon the Commander of the Faithful, Hazrat Mavla Aga Khan!

    Our Beloved spiritual sister!

    A very very interesting and wonderful article, Alhamdullillah!

    Once a man came to Hazrat Imam al Baqir al Ilm (A) and asked about the tafseer for this holy hadith of our Prophet(s) ” I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is Its Gate”…our Beloved Imam smiled and said: “Ya Sabyan unfortunately you have not enough time to listen for the explanation of this hadith,because it will be more than 70000 books each 70000 pages on 70000 camels and more….so, I will just tell you what the Allah the Exalted says in His Book:”Say: ‘My Lord! increase me in knowledge,” (W20:111; H20:114)

    and He says, “Say: ‘Are they the same – those who know and those who do not know?” (W39:10; H39:9)

    The Almighty says, “Allah will raise in rank those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge,” (58:11)

    and the Almighty says, “Only those of His slaves with knowledge have fear of Allah.” (35:28)
    Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah will make the path to the Garden easy for anyone who travels a path in search of knowledge.”
    And after telling this verses of the Quran the Holy Imam said: By knowledge He means Knowledge of Amir Al Mumineen Ali and Imams from His progeny….for verily the Holy Prophet said:Knowing Ali is KNowing Me and Knowing Me is Knowing Allah”

    • Amaana says:

      Thank you for your wonderful message,Amon!

      A believer is a mirror to another believer – Prophet Muhammad.

      Inshallah, I will include your above Tafseer in my article. Thanks again!

  • Rahim says:

    I love the way you wrote this article. This is wonderful. I do hope you intend to write more of these types of articles. Thank you for this interesting content!

  • Atiya says:

    please mail me the page no and hadees no…in bukhari or timazi……with authentic refrence…for the HADESS….ANA MADINA TUL ILM WA ALI BABUHA……..now a days some false hadees can be seen in which names of other three ashab is also mentioned…..i want a very strong refrence….please mail me

  • Rahim Ali says:

    My brother recommended I would like this page. He was totally right. I spent time here, especially the video song! Thanks!

  • Pingback: Importance of Imam Ali for All Muslims – Reza Shah Kazemi | Ismaili Web Amaana

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Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.

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Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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