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Allama Iqbal  in his poem “Asrar-i-Khudi,”  paid tribute to Hazrat Ali  (k) 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.”

Such was the dynamic personality of Hazrat Ali (k) – The father of Sufism, the metaphor of “bravery” (known as “Sher-e-Khuda, The Lion of God), the symbol piety, the simile of Wisdom and the master of jurisprudence.

The Lion of God

The modern-day cinema produces movies of eternal chivalry, like Gladiator, The last Samurai, 300 etc. Hazrat Ali (k)’s stories of bravery are no short of a holly-wood epic. It was tradition of the time, then, to instigate a war by fighting duels (one on one) in the beginning. Islam was a new force to reckon with, the Muslims always had Ali (k) representing the flag of Islam in these duels. He fought over 100 duels, with best warriors of the opposing camp, and always stood victorious. Such was the vitality of the man, who is still remembered for his heroics in the battlefield and many Muslim armies use slogans to motivate soldiers, praising and remembering him. Pakistani Army, uses “Nara-e-Haideri” – “Ya Ali”

  • He participated in all the wars of early Islam which were fought under the command of the holy Prophet (p).
  • In all the battles, Hazrat Ali (k) was the flag-bearer for the forces of the Muslims.
  • He was the greatest man among the Muslims. For his unusual bravery, he won such titles as “Asad Allah,” (the Lion of God) or “Haidar-e-Karrar” (the warrior who nobody could match.)
  • During his lifetime, he killed over 1000 enemies. In the Battle of Badr alone killed two dozen people.
  • He fought over a hundred duels and in all the duels, his adversaries, however strong, were killed.
  • He was the conqueror of the Khyber.

The sea of knowledge and spirituality

  • After the holy Prophet, he was the Chief Judge among the early Muslims. He is known as the “father of fiqh.” [jurisprudence]
  • He is the first revivalist among the Muslims. He interpreted the doctrines of Islam and systematized them.
  • He is regarded as the “father of Sufism.” All schools of Tasawwuf [authentic Sufism] trace their origin to him.

According to ‘Data Ganj Baksh’; the rank of Hazrat Ali (k) is very high in the lineage of Sufis. According to JUNAYD AL-BAGHDADI, he is the Shaykh as regards to the principles and practices of tasawwuf. With exception of 1-2, all Sufi orders trace their lineage to him.

Ata Mohyuddin in his book, Ali, the Superman, assessed Hazrat Ali (k) 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.” he 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. His influence, was to continue to make itself felt long after his death, and to recreate earnestness among the believers. It still makes itself felt today.

His sabre Dhul Fiqar, which was wielded by the Prophet on the battlefield of Badr, has been immortalized in the words of this verse found engraved in many medieval Arab records, “no sword can match Dhul Fiqar, and no young warrior can compare with Hazrat Ali (k).

 

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Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. The same Allama Iqbal who was given fatwa’s on, by his contemporary “Mullahs” is now quoted by well-reputed Mullahs of the same school of thought.

The same Bulleh Shah, who had been refused by the mullahs to be buried after his death in the community graveyard because of his unorthodox views, today enjoys worldwide reverence and is quoted by contemporary mullahs. The tomb of Bulleh Shah in Qasur and the area around it is today the only place free of collective refuse, and the privileged of the city pay handsomely to be buried in the proximity of the man they had once rejected.

Maulana Rum (aka Rumi), who was condemned as a kaafir, is not only the top selling poet across the globe but is held in high reverence by people of all religions.

I have written on this topic previously, the verses of Bulleh Shah force me to write again. Every word that was misinterpreted by mullahs, can serve a cure for all the ills we are facing in our times.

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay
Jithay Saaray Annay
Na Koi Saadee Zaat PichHanay
Tay Na Koi Saanu Mannay
 
O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)
And where no one believes in us
 
Masjid Dha Day, Mandir Dha Day
Dha Day Jo Kujh Disda
Par Kissay Da Dil Na Dhawee(n)
Rub Dilaa(n) Wich Wasda
 
Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there
 
Hindu na nahi musalmaan,
Baheeye tiranjan taj abhimaan.
Sunni na naheeN ham sheeya
Sulha kuhl ka maarag leeya.
 
Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace.

 

Props to Junoon, Rabbi, Abida Parveen, Saeen Zahoor and other musicians of our times for helping the new generation in rediscovering the message of Bulleh Shah. Junoon started the trend and was labeled as “Sufi Rock Band” – The message that pierced my heart was through them, when I was 12.

This first aspect of Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy that strikes upfront is his bold and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy of his day; specifically the Islamic religious orthodoxy. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on anyone claiming control over religion.

Mulla tay mashaalchi dohaan ikko chit
Loukan karday chananan, aap anhairae vich
 
Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark 

 

Bulleh Shah’s poetry portray him as a humanist. Someone providing solutions to the sociological/political/cultural problems of the world around him, describing the turbulence his homeland of Punjab is passing through, while simultaneously searching for God. His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual journey through the four stages of Sufism – Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). He starts from the rules as laid down by Islam, and eventually ends up at a point where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no discrimination between different religions, finally becoming one with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak your faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had through his soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

Islam was never spread by sword. It wouldn’t be the fastest growing religion on earth if that were the case. Islam is spread by the message of love and by deeds, not the way Taliban “ENFORCE” it.

Lord Almighty Himself says:

There shall be no compulsion in religion – [2:256]

I cannot help pasting the verse below:

Bulleh-a aashiq hoyiyon Rabb da, Hoai Malamat Lakh
Tenon Kafir Kafir aakhdey, toon aaho aaho aakh

O Bulleh, just love your God and ignore the chidings
When they say you are an infidel, say “yes I am one”

 

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