Selected sayings of Hazrat Ali, and His Highness the Aga Khan on his ancestor

According to tradition Mawlana Murtaza Ali (a.s), the first Shia Imam, 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 (s.a.s.) from Mecca to Medina, from which the Muslim calendar begins.

The Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle (29-30 days) and is thus shorter than the Gregorian calendar by approximately 14 days every year. For the year 2019, the Ismaili Shias will be observing the birth of Hazrat Ali on March 19/20 in their respective Jamatkhanas around the world. The ceremonies will incorporate sermons or readings on Imam Ali as well as inspiring recitations of Ginans and Qasidas signifying the importance of Hazrat Ali’s birth and his exemplary life.

We present a selection of sayings by Mawlana Ali on diverse topics and conclude the post by providing His Highness the Aga Khan’s views on his ancestor from whom he is directly descended.

Sayings of Hazrat Ali


Blessed is one
who is humble regarding himself,
whose livelihood is good,
whose inner thoughts are virtuous,
whose character is good,
who spends the surplus from his wealth
and removes superfluity from his speech,
who keeps his evil away from people.


Have a tender heart,
as tender as a fistful of green grass;
be not arrogant and stiff as a tree
upright in a forest;
A tree is toppled in a storm,
but grass bends and sways
happily with the wind. – Kalame-i Mawla, 8:67


Gold remains in this world but right conduct (adab)
enables you to meet your lord. – Kalame-i Mawla, 3:16


The waters of a river do not turn back; neither does one’s age — Kalame-i Mawla, 7:234

Hazrat Ali and His Highness the Aga Khan in the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution

B. In accordance with Shia doctrine, tradition, and interpretation of history, the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Mawlana Ali Amiru-l-Mu’minin (a.s), to be the first Imam to continue the Ta’wīl and Ta‘līm of Allah’s final message and to guide the murids, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s) and his daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, Khātun-i-Jannat (a.s).

G. Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.

His Highness the Aga Khan on Hazrat Ali


The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself. It is the presence of the living Imam that makes our Imamat unique. – Interview, “The Power of Wisdom” , Politique Internationale


This is a time of new freedoms, but it is also one in which new choices must be made wisely. In exercising freedom and making choices, our institutions must be guided, as they have been in the past, by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace of Allah be upon him), and the tradition of our tariqah, which is the tradition of Hazrat Ali: A thinking Islam and a spiritual Islam – an Islam that teaches compassion, tolerance and the dignity of man – Allah’s noblest creation. –  May 14, 1992, Message, Aga Khan Foundation 25th anniversary.


From the very beginnings of Islam, the search for knowledge has been central to our cultures. In his teachings, Hazrat Ali emphasized that “No honour is like knowledge.” And then he added that “No belief is like modesty and patience, no attainment is like humility, no power is like forbearance, and no support is more reliable than consultation.” Notice that the virtues endorsed by Hazrat Ali are qualities which subordinate the self and emphasize others – modesty, patience, humility, forbearance and consultation. What he thus is telling us, is that we find knowledge best by admitting first what it is we do not know, and by opening our minds to what others can teach us. – June 15, 2006, American University in Cairo

Epilogue: The Imamat

“To Ismailis who believe in the Holy Institution of Imamat, the Imam-e-Zaman, or the Imam of the Age, is the manifest representation and the visible symbol of the Divine Institution they know as Imamat. Each Imam presents to the world of his time that facet of the multi-faceted splendour the Ismailis call Imamat. Ismaili doctrine has emphasised the principle of the Unity of Imamat under the superficial diversity exhibited by each Imam-of-the-Time. It is in this sense that the Ismailis believe that each Imam, as the bearer of the Noor of Imamat, is the same irrespective of his own age or the time he lives in. The proverbial valour and exemplary statesmanship of Imam Mawla Murtaza Ali and the organizing genius of the present Imam, Shah Karim al-Hussaini, are only some of the more spectacular characteristics exhibited by the Imam-of-the-Time in accordance with the exigencies of the situations facing him.” – from an article by Esmail Thawerbhoy, Simerg

…And an Invocation to the Imam-of-the-Time

Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali, Nadi Ali
Nadi Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu aunan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin
sayanj-i Ali Bi wilayatika
Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali

Call Ali, Call Ali, Call Ali
Call Ali who is the manifestation of marvels;
You will find him your helper in calamities.
Every anxiety and grief will come to an end
Through your friendship,
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali.

Date posted: March 17, 2019.
Last updated: March 18, 2019.

Before leaving this website, may we suggest that you visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 140 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family.


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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan.


  1. This is a great post. There is good information and the best part is that Hazrat Ali is linked with Hazar Imam.


  2. As always thank you for sharing so many important facts through the excerpts that have been provided from numerous sources. For those unfamiliar with Shia Islam and the Ismaili Tariqah, the reading will be very helpful. as important statements connect Mawlana Hazar Imam directly with his ancestors, Hazrat Ali and our beloved Prophet Muhammad.


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