We grew up hearing about Hazrat Ali’s bravery and sagacity and his egalitarian nature. Ya Ali madad a constant refrain in times of need.
But i had not heard the word jawanmardi till i did a instagram live session on Hazrat Ali with Prof Sajjad Rizvi , whose bio reads, Ali da Malang. He explained the concept of futuwwah & how different it is from western notions of chivalry. For that i am indebted to him forever.
Thereafter, i researched and found a book on Fatuwwah and the result are these passages in my book “In Search of the Divine: Living Histories of Sufism in India”.
“In Ali, a man of medium build with piercing eyes, were combined not only mystical knowledge but also chivalry and bravery. The Arabic traditions of futuwwah (chivalry) were very different from its European connotations. After the advent of Islam the word futuwwah meant a code of honourable conduct in the tradition of prophets, saints, and those who are Allah’s beloved.
The noun was fata which meant an ideal, noble, and perfect person, generous to a fault, one ready to give up everything including their life for the sake of their friends, and of course follow the path of Allah. The Prophet was himself a supreme example of futuwwah. The Persian equivalent of this is jawan-mardi (chivalry), and Ali was the epitome of it. Futuwwah is also one of the essential requirements of a Sufi.
there are many hadiths in which the Prophet extolled Ali, and according to Schimmel, ‘[T]hese served the Sufis when they elaborated their own definitions of the various stages and states.’20 Ali’s chivalry and perfect behaviour or adab is seen as a continuous act of devotion in Sufism as it is a constant reminder of the existence of God and being on the right path.”
Prof Rizvi adds”That Javanmardi work is an excellent volume – the important thing is anyone can follow the path of Amir al-muminin to become a javanmard – as Molana says the quest is to become a mard-e Khoda – it would be contrary to divine mercy and to the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt to make that gendered.
لا فتى الا علي ولا سيف الا ذوالفقار”
(image from pinterest of Imam Ali pulling the door of Khaybar fortress.)