Assessment of Hadrat Ali by Eminent Muslims
Abdullah b. Masud used to say that throughout Arabia there was not a more impartial judge than Ali. He also said that Hadrat Ali was the founder of Arabic grammar.
Abu Saeed Khudiri held that he could easily detect a hypocrite by his enmity towards Ali.
Imam Hanbal said: “Ali had numerous enemies, and all of them tried to find fault with him, but they searched in vain, and could not find any flaw in him. At long last the joined hands with Muawiyah, and declared war on Ali. When they failed to defeat him by fair means, they took to treacherous and defeat folk courses to defeat him.”
Ibn Athir, the great biographer held: “Ali was the first Caliph and both of his parents were pure Hashimites. He was so judicially minded that he could not put up with the dishonesty of his relations or friends, and was so much engrossed in piety that at the time of his marriage with Fatima, he did not possess anything save a camel skin on which he fed his camels in the day, and which he converted into a bed sheet at night. The Prophet in his table talk has not extolled anyone of his Companions as much as he had Ali. Surely, Ali never spoke a lie in his lifetime.”
Dareema was a sharp tongued Arab lady who was very loud in the praise of Hadrat Ali and the denunciation of Muawiyah. After the death of Hadrat Ali, Muawiyah summoned her to his court and inquired of her why she had supported Ali. She said that she had done so because Hadrat Ali was a lover of justice, who honoured the pious and sympathized with the poor.
Umar b. Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad Caliph was asked who he considered to be the most pious man in the world. He said: “Ali excelled mankind in piety. Not only did he practice its virtues, but he tried zealously to reform his friends, associates, acquaintances, and all those who came into contact with him.”
Masudi, the great historian wrote, “If the glorious name of being among the first Muslims, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful Companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate friend in life and his kinsman, is he truth knowledge of his teachings and of the Book, if self abnegation and practice of justice, if honesty, purity and love of truth, if the knowledge of law and science constitutes a claim to pre-eminence, then all must regard Ali as one of the foremost Muslims.”
Shah Wali Ullah observed: “Chivalry and strength of character, humanity and sincerity which are the attributes of great men were represented in abundance by Hadrat Ali. He is the father of Islamic learning, and his intellectual attainments were due to the ideal training of the holy Prophet. He was a Hafiz and a great authority on the Qur’an.”
Syed Amir Ali assessed the achievements of Hadrat Ali in the following terms: “His bravery won him the title of the “Lion of God,” and his learning that of the “Gate of Knowledge.” Chivalrous, humane, forbearing to the verge of weakness as a ruler, he was a man before his time. Most of the grand undertakings initiated by Umar for the welfare of the people were due to his counsel. Always ready to succour the weak and to redress the wrongs of the injured, the accounts of his valorous deeds are recited with enthusiasm from the bazaars of Cairo to those of Delhi. With his dying breath he inculcated lessons of charity, love, humility and self abnegation to his sons. He expressly ordered them that no harshness should be shown towards his murderer, who should be executed with one blow.”
Ata Mohyuddin: In his book, Ali, the Superman, Dr. Ata Mohyuddin assessed Hadrat Ali in the following terms: “Ali meant many different things to many generations, each of whom has found something to inspire it out of the diverse wealth of his mind. During his lifetime, he was thought of primarily as a warrior fighting at first in the battles of God, and later for a decade against schismatics. He was also respected for his knowledge and learning, and in later years many thought of him as a saint. But it was not until after his death that the effect which he had exercised over the ethical life of his time began to be appreciated. He was the founder of the movement which aimed to rejuvenate the ethical life of the Muslims. The Arabs had begun to forsake the unity of Islam in favour of the tribal laws of the “Days of Ignorance.” Ali had to fight against the disintegrating social forces that were everywhere around him and attempted almost singlehandedly to restore the religious policy of Islam. That he succeeded as well as he did was due to moral earnestness of his own character, and to the colossal store of spiritual knowledge from which he drew his strength. In subsequent ages, his ethical pronouncements which fell largely on deaf ears during his lifetime, were to have an invigorating effect on the Islam that he served so well. The influence of Ali, was to continue to make itself felt long after his death, and to recreate earnestness among the believers. It still makes itself felt today.
Allama Iqbal In his poem “Asrar-i-Khudi,” Allama Iqbal paid tribute to Hadrat Ali in the following terms:
“Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet was a man of many qualities.
He gave fresh vigour to Faith.
And brought honours to the community of the faithful.
He developed self-disciplines and killed avarice.
A person who knows and controls himself rules the world.”
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi