His Highness the Aga Khan seen delivering his commencement speech at the American University of Cairo on June 15, 2006. The excerpt on Hazrat Ali, from whom the 49th Ismaili Imam is directly descended, is from his speech. Photo Credit: American University in Cairo.
Editor’s note: According to tradition Hazrat Ali (A.S.) was born on the 13th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, approximately twenty one years before the Hegira or the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) from Mecca to Medina, from which the Muslim calendar begins. For 2011, the 13th of Rajab falls on Tuesday, June 14. The various sayings of Hazrat Ali are produced from Nahj-ul-Balagha and are not part of the original article.
By Lt. Col ‘Abdullah Baines-Hewitt
The Imam ‘Ali (A.S.) is a unique figure in the history of Islam, a personality the vital freshness of whose memory has not been dimmed by the passage of time. A man of great integrity, in whose character great personal bravery was balanced by tenderness of feeling and an exemplary humanity, who combined patience and forbearance with a strong sense of justice, who was already ready to play his part in the struggle for the realization of the truth and ideals of religion, and whose outstanding intellectual gifts were ennobled by a singular purity of spirit; this was Amir al-Mu‘minin (Commander of the Faithful) ‘Ali, who also earned for himself the appellation Imam al-Muttaqin (Leader of the Godfearing). To millions and millions, for generation after generation, the Imam ‘Ali has been a name to conjure with. It has never failed to bring profound solace to the heart and upliftment to the soul. ‘Ali was the magnanimous humanist who advised people to “live in such a good, gentle and noble way that folk will love to flock to you when you are alive and will weep for you when you are dead”. And how well he put this precept into practice in his own life is attested by all those generations of human beings who have found inspiration in his example and teaching.
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