Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is recalled today for his spiritual intellect, scholarly pursuits and humanitarian wisdom. He was honoured by the Prophet, who is believed to be the “Madina-tul-ilm” (city of knowledge), with an epithet of “Bab-ul-ilm” (gate of knowledge). He was also elected as the Muslim caliph or Amir al-Mu’minin (chief of the believers) in an Islamic period called the “rightly-guided era”. Hazrat Ali’s birthday, which falls on the 13th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, is an occasion of paramount importance in both Sunni-Sufi and Shia Islamic traditions. It is celebrated as “Yaum-e-Ali” by world’s mainstream Muslims with great gusto. In India, it is also marked as “Jashn Maulud-e-K’aba” (commemoration of the one who was born in K’aba).
Muslims, celebrate this annual occasion as an event to recall the peaceful, pluralistic and rationalist messages and other notable memories of Hazrat Ali. As for the Sunni-Sufi Muslims, they show great veneration to this day believing Hazrat Ali as the fourth righteous chief of the believers “ameer al-mu’minin” and the founder of Islamic spirituality or Tasawwuf (Sufism). However, for Shia followers of Islam, Hazrat Ali was actually the first righteous caliph and the first imam in the long sacred chain of Shia imams, beginning with Imam Ali to Imam Mahdi who is believed to appear at the end of the world. Apart from these doctrinal disagreements, both Shia and Sunni-Sufi Muslims, also known in India as Ahl-e-Sunnat, unanimously honour and celebrate the occasion of Hazrat Ali’s birthday anniversary.