The Life of Ali Ibn Abi Talib fourth caliph of early Islam and revered fountainhead of Shiite and Sufi lineages, ‘is both inspirational and controversial: intrinsically inspirational and extrinsically controversial!
These words set the tone for what is an intricate and penetrating view of the figure of Imam ‘Ali on various planes, the spiritual and ethical, the individual, the political and social. The author draws a unique kind of portrait in which the spiritual undercurrents of early Islamic history may be discerned at play, and where the sanctified heart of the Imam is revealed as a fulcrum of harmony between diverse and even divergent tendencies.
The life of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib is both inspirational and controversial: intrinsically inspirational, one should say, and extrinsically controversial. We will focus on what is essential and inspirational in his life and thought, and ignore—as far as possible—the political, ideological and theological controversies that have, alas, obscured the radiance of his personality and the wisdom of his teachings. We do not aim to present here anything like a comprehensive biography, as this has been given in other works which can be easily consulted (see Bibliography). Rather, what we offer here is a series of reflections upon some of the essential elements of Imam Ali’s life, basing these reflections on points of view opened up by his own teachings. These teachings are themselves applications of the principles conveyed by the essential sources of the Islamic revelation, that is, the Holy Qur’an and the spiritual reality of the Prophet, al-Hagiqa al-Muhammadiyya. These reflections on Imam life and teachings are intended to disclose the transformative nature of the ideals for which this great man lived and died—ideals which derive from the essence of the Islamic faith, but which also go to the heart of all authentic religions….
About the Author
Reza Shah Kazemi is an author in the fields of Islamic studies and Comparative Religion. He is a Senior Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, and has been involved in important interfaith initiatives for the last two decades. His published titles include The Spirit of Tolerance in Is-lam and the award-winning Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali. His first book, Paths to Transcendence according to Shankara, Ibn Arabi & Meister Eckhart, was heralded by Professor James Cutsinger as an `irreplaceable, meticulous and far reaching study,’ and his Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism was described as ‘pioneering’ by the Dalai Lama.
Title: Imam Ali – From Concise History to Timeless Mystery
Author(s): Reza Shah-Kazemi
Publisher: Matheson Trust
Length: 194 pages