The word na’d means sound, voice or calling, and Na’de Ali means calling upon Ali. It is a sacred invocation uttered in the time of troubles and adversities. Imam Jafar Sadik said, “One who recites Na’de Ali with pure heart, his desires will be accomplished.”
During the battle of Uhud, the Meccans launched a reinforced attack on the rear of the Muslim ranks, and it caused heavy havoc. It turned the scales against the Muslims, who lost courage and took their heels. Everybody deserted the Prophet in the field. He was also embosomed with the enemies and injured. On this critical moment, the Prophet is reported to have received an inspiration, suggesting to call upon Ali bin Abu Talib. The inspiration was repeated once again to call upon Ali, who is the epiphanic source of marvels. You shall find him a help for you in adversities. All anxiety and grief shall disappear through his authority, (say,) O’Ali, O’Ali, O’Ali (Na’de Aliyyun mazharul aja’ib tajid’hu avnal’laka fin nava’ib kullo hammin wa ghammin sayanjali bi wilayatika, Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali).
Thus, the Prophet called upon Ali thrice with a loud voice. Ali appeared in twinkle of eyes and hurled himself into the fray. He shielded the Prophet and dashed the raiders. He fought with such a tenacity of courage that he singly weighed for more than the extraordinary out-numbered party of the Meccans. John Kingsley Birge writes in The Bektashi Order of Dervishes (London, 1937, p. 138) that, “On the occasion (of Uhud), it is said Muhammad became sorely wounded. As the blood flowed, the angel Gabriel came to him and spread out his wings over him, telling him to recite the prayer of “Calling on Ali,” Nadi Aliyen. As soon as Muhammad recited this prayer, Ali immediately came to his rescue, drew his Zulfikar sword and hewed down the enemy, saving both Muhammad and all the Muslims.”
Beholding the valiant feats of Ali in the field, the words of glorification gushed out of the mouth of the Prophet: la fata Ali la saifullah zulfikar means “There is no youth braver than Ali, and no sword like Zulfikar” (Tirmizi, 2:299). It is also said that the phrase la fata Ali la saifullah zulfikar was also recited by the angels after the end of the battle. Sachiko Murata writes in The Tao of Islam (Lahore, 2001, p. 267) that, “The perfect exemplar of chivalry is Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, greatest warrior of Islamic history, and patron saint of the guides. According to some sources, after the battle of Uhud, when Ali demonstrated his unparallel valour, and angel was heard calling out, “There is no sword but Dhu’l-Fiqar, there is no fata but Ali.”
The word futuwwa signifies generosity, liberality and nobleheartedness. It is derived from fata, meaning young man, hero or champion. The word fata appears often in the Koran: “They said, we heard a noble youth (fata) called Abraham speak of them” (21:60). Fata in its plural form (fityan) is also applied to the Companions of the Cavern (ahl al-kahf), vide 18:10, 13 and in its singular form it designates Moses’ companion (18:60, 62).
The event making the Na’de Ali a cornerstone of the invocations was the battle of Khaibar in 7/629. The Muslims reduced five strongholds of the Jews with the exception of an impregnable al-Qamus under the command of Marhab. The Muslim champions failed to conquer it. The Prophet challenged that he would conquer it in 40 days. No sign of victory was seen after 39 days. The Prophet declared: “Tomorrow, I will hand over the standard of Islamic army to such a person who is an impetuous warrior and not an absconder; he befriends God and His Apostle and is also befriended by them. God is sure to grant victory on his hands.” Every one of the Prophet’s Companions was anxious to be signalized on the morrow as the beloved of God and His Apostle.
On next morning, the Prophet found silence in the Muslim camps. He broke up silence and asked, “Where is Ali?” He was informed that he had suffered with sore eyes and gone to cure his eyes. The Prophet became worried, and on this critical moment, he was inspired to call upon Ali, who is the epiphanic source of marvels. You shall find him a help for you in adversities. All anxiety and grief shall disappear through his authority, (say,) O’Ali, O’Ali, O’Ali (Na’de Aliyyun mazharul aja’ib tajid’hu avnal’laka fin nava’ib kullo hammin wa ghammin sayanjali bi wilayatika, Ya Ali, Ya Ali, Ya Ali). Syed Safdar Hosein writes in The Early History of Islam (Lucknow, 1933, p. 167) that, “Some traditions say that Ali was absent from the camp on this occasion, being at the time in Medina. The Prophet, however, saying Nad-i Ali, who appeared on the scene with his eyes badly sore.”
The instillation of the Divine message was tinkling in the heart of the Prophet. He exclaimed, Ya Ali adriqani, Ya Ali agisani (O’Ali! Catch hold me. O’Ali come to help at once). Ali made his presence in twinkle of eyes, saying Labaik Ya Rasulillah (O’ Prophet of God, I am present). The Prophet, taking Ali’s head into his lap, applied the saliva of his mouth to his eyes, and then gave him the charge. Ali proceeded the front and put Marhab to sword and subdued the fort.
The word adriqani is derived from adraq yudriqu meaning to reach or avail, referring to reach to help. Its other derivative form adraqu occurs 13 times, adraqum (10:16) once and yudriqa thrice in the Koran. While the word agisani is derived from agas meaning mature or anything reaches in time. Both words thus represent a similar meaning as the Koran (8:9) says: “When you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you” (iz tastaginsun rabbakun fartajab lequm).
The invocation, Na’de Ali does not begin with the word qul (say), but na’d (call). It is that when the Prophet was to address the people, the word qul occurred in the Koran, but when his address reserved for an individual, the word na’d was employed.
The Koran says: “And to God belong the beautiful names (asma’ul husna), so call on Him by them” (7:180). In Kawkab-i Dhurri (3:29), there is a blessed saying of Ali bin Abu Talib that, “I am the beautiful names (asma’ul husna) by which God has commanded people to call on Him.” According to the report of Abul Hamra, it is mentioned in Hilyatu’l Awliya that the Prophet said, “When I was carried by night to the heaven, I saw written on the leg of the Throne: