Naad-e-Ali – A brief history

Ali ibn Abi Talib is the universal hero of Islam. The first Muslim, the fourth of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and the spiritual master of all Sufis, the special status of Imam Ali is best represented by the story of Khaybar.

The story begins that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) laid siege to the fort of Khaybar near Medina but the walls were so well-fortified that the army could not break through. The angel Gabriel came to the Prophet Muhammad and told him to recite the naad-e Ali:

Nade Ali, Nade Ali, Nade Ali
Nade Aliyyan mazhar al-ajaib
Tajidahu awnan lakafin-nawaib
Kullu hammin wa ghammin sayanjAli
Bi wilayatika Ya Ali! Ya Ali! Ya Ali!

Call Ali, call Ali, call Ali,
the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship.
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali

And Hazrat Ali came to the Prophet’s aid, in an act of heroism commemorated in the lines of a Sufi qawwali:

The walls shake; the doors quake. Now all of Khaybar trembles hearing the name of Ali.

کبھی دیوار ہلتی ہے کبھی در کانپ جاتا ہے
علی کا نام سن کر اب بھی خیبر کانپ جاتا ہے

Ali came and tore down the gate of the fort, and the army of the Prophet crossed over and successfully ended the siege.

When victory was achieved, the angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad again and said to him:

There is no hero but Ali; there is no sword but Zulfiqar

لَا فَتٰی اِلَّا عَلِی لَا سَیْفَ اِلَّا ذُوالْفِقَار

The above tribute to Ali is universally accepted by Sunni, Shia and Sufi Muslims and is also mentioned in the very first episode of famous Turkish drama series, Diriliş: Ertuğrul.

In his book Asrar-e-Khudi, Allama Iqbal thus pays tribute to Ali:

زیرِ پاش اینجا، شکوہِ خیبر است!
دستِ اُو آنجا قسیمِ کوثر است!‘‘

Zaire paaish ienja shikohe Khyber ast
Dast e uo unja qaseem e Kauser ast

”Here the Might of Khyber is under his feet and in Hereafter his hand will distribute the water of Kauser”

Iqbal also says:

کبھی سرمایہ ٔ محراب و منبر!
کبھی مولاعلی ؓ خیبر شکن عشق!

True love manifests itself not only in prayers but also in the shape of Maula Ali’s bravery in Khyber.

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NAAD-E-ALI IN OTTOMAN CALLIGRAPHY

Fakhri of Bursa (died 1618) was an Ottoman calligrapher known to have excelled in the delicate craft of qita, or cutout calligraphy. This technique was very popular in 16th/17th century Ottoman Turkey. Lines of finely written text were cut out, including the joining ligatures between the letters, and pasted upon a new page. Alternatively, letters could be cut out from the page, and the remaining sheet superimposed on another, showing the text in recession.

The Ottoman inscription of Nad e Ali is showcased in the British Museum is written in a graceful nasta’liq script.

The openwork letters are in a cream ink outlined in gold, and are superimposed upon a brown backdrop with tiny sprays of white flowers. The calligraphy is bordered by a blue frame, filled with a gold trellis hung with pink and red blooms.

The signature ‘Fakhri’ is short for Fakhri ibn Vali el-Brusevi.

Photo: The British Museum Trust. Copyright.
Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum.

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PUBLIC PRAYER

As a public prayer, the modern version of Nad-e-Ali is a supplication to God in the name of his Prophet Muhammad and his friend (wali) Ali.

”Call Ali who is a manifestation of the wonders,
Thou shall surely find him a helper in your difficulties,
All grief and sorrow shall be eliminated.
By Thy tremendousness O! Lord,
By Thy Apostleship O! Muhammad,
By Thy granted power of wali, O! Ali, O Ali, O! Ali! O! Ali”