Story No. 272 – Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) and concentration in Namaz/Salat (Prayer)
The degree of concentration possible, will of course vary with individuals but we must mention here, the perfection in concentration achieved by Amir al-Muminin (as). In the Battle of Siffin an arrow head pierced the thigh of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as). It was not possible to pull it out because of the unbearable pain it caused. When Imam Hasan (as) was consulted in the matter, he told the people to just wait till his father stands for prayer and to remove the arrow while Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) was praying.
Accordingly the arrow was pulled out while Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) praying and Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) was totally oblivious of the excruciating pain. When Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) stood for prayers, the world ceased to exist for him, his entire being was totally immersed in the contact he had established with his Creator and his relationship with Him.
In Noble Qur’an (Surah Yusuf 12:31) showed that when Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) went in front of the women they cut their fingers but did not feel the pain. If the beauty of Prophet Yusuf (as) a creature of Almighty Allah (SWT) removed pain then think of the beauty of Allah (SWT) and when Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) stood in the presence of Allah (SWT) then all pain from removing the arrow from his thigh was gone.
At the same time the following incident indicates, how much Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) was conscious to fulfill the need of poor? Even in the middle of his prayers.
Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (ra) says that one day he was praying with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) when a beggar came to the Prophet’s mosque (Masjid-e-Nabavi) in Madina and began to ask for alms. No one responded to his pleas. The beggar raised his hands towards heavens and said, “Allah! Be a witness that I came to Thy Prophet’s mosque and no one gave me anything.”
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) was bowing (Ruku) while offering prayers at that time. Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) beckoned and called his attention to his finger, on which was a ring. The beggar came forward and promptly drew Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib’s (as) ring from his finger and left the place. In other words Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) did not wait till his prayers were finished. He (as) was so particular to give alms, that while he was still praying he told the beggar by gesture that he might pull out his ring, sell it and spend the money to meet his needs.
It may be noted that giving alms while bowing in prayers is not included in the teachings of Islam. It is neither an obligatory nor a commendable act. Both the Shi’ah and the Sunnis alike, agree that Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) did so and this incident occurred in the presence of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) who raised his face towards heaven and prayed. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) had not yet finished his prayers when angel Jibril (Gabriel) brought the following verse of Noble Qur’an.
Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who establish prayers and give charity while they bow (in prayer). (Surah al-Maeda 5:55)