Ali

Ali

Overview
.His father's name was Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam. Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 Muslims consider Ali the fourth and final of the Rashidun
Rashidun
The Rightly Guided Caliphs or The Righteous Caliphs is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the first four Caliphs who established the Rashidun Caliphate. The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the Abbasid Dynasty...

(rightly guided Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s), while Shi'a Muslims regard Ali as the first Imam and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Muhammad
Succession to Muhammad
The Succession to Muhammad concerns the various aspects of successorship of Muhammad after his death, comprising who might be considered as his successor to lead the Muslims, how that person should be elected, the conditions of legitimacy, and the role of successor...

, all of which are members of the Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

, the household of Muhammad.
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.His father's name was Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam. Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 Muslims consider Ali the fourth and final of the Rashidun
Rashidun
The Rightly Guided Caliphs or The Righteous Caliphs is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the first four Caliphs who established the Rashidun Caliphate. The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the Abbasid Dynasty...

(rightly guided Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s), while Shi'a Muslims regard Ali as the first Imam and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Muhammad
Succession to Muhammad
The Succession to Muhammad concerns the various aspects of successorship of Muhammad after his death, comprising who might be considered as his successor to lead the Muslims, how that person should be elected, the conditions of legitimacy, and the role of successor...

, all of which are members of the Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

, the household of Muhammad. This disagreement split the Ummah
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

(Muslim community) into the Sunni and Shi'a branches.

Muslim sources, especially Shi'a ones, state that during Muhammad's time, Ali was the only person born in the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

 sanctuary in Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, the holiest place in Islam. His father was Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

 and his mother was Fatima bint Asad, but he was raised in the household of Muhammad, who himself was raised by Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

, Muhammad's uncle. When Muhammad reported receiving a divine revelation
Wahy
Wahi is the Arabic word for revelation. In Islamic context, it refers to the revelations of God to his prophets, for all humankind. In Islam, the Qur'an is considered a wahi given to Muhammad.-Awha:...

, Ali was the first male to accept his message, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.

Ali migrated
Hijra (Islam)
The Hijra is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. Alternate spellings of this Arabic word are Hijrah, Hijrat or Hegira, the latter following the spelling rules of Latin.- Hijra of Muhammad :In September 622, warned of a plot to...

 to Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 shortly after Muhammad did. Once there Muhammad told Ali that God had ordered Muhammad to give his daughter, Fatimah
Fatimah
Fatimah was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca...

, to Ali in marriage. For the ten years that Muhammad led the community in Medina, Ali was extremely active in his service, leading parties of warriors on battles, and carrying messages and orders. Ali took part in the early caravan raids
Caravan raids
The Caravan raids refer to a series of raids which Muhammad and his Companions participated in. The raids were generally offensive and carried out to gather intelligence or seize the trade goods of Caravans financed by the Quraysh,...

 from Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and later in almost all the battles fought by the nascent Muslim community.

Ali was appointed Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 by the Companions of Muhammad (the Sahaba
Sahaba
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...

) in Medina after the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan.
He encountered defiance and civil war
First Fitna
The First Islamic Civil War , also called the First Fitna , was the first major civil war within the Islamic Caliphate. It arose as a struggle over who had the legitimate right to become the ruling Caliph...

 during his reign. In 661, Ali was attacked one morning while worshipping in the mosque of Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

, and died a few days later.

In Muslim culture, Ali is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies, and therefore is central to mystical traditions in Islam such as Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

. Ali retains his stature as an authority on Qur'anic exegesis
Tafsir
Tafseer is the Arabic word for exegesis or commentary, usually of the Qur'an. Ta'wīl is a subset of tafsir and refers to esoteric or mystical interpretation. An author of tafsir is a mufassir .- Etymology :...

, Islamic jurisprudence
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 and religious thought. Ali holds a high position in almost all Sufi orders
Tariqah
A tariqa is an Islamic religious order. In Sufism one starts with Islamic law, the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam and then is initiated onto the mystical path of a tariqa. Through spiritual practices and guidance of a tariqa the aspirant seeks ḥaqīqah - ultimate truth.-Meaning:A tariqa is a...

 which trace their lineage through him to Muhammad. Ali's influence has been important throughout Islamic history
Muslim history
Muslim history is the history of Muslim people. In the history of Islam the followers of the religion of Islam have impacted political history, economic history, and military history...

.

In Mecca



Birth and childhood



Ali's father Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

 was the custodian of the Kaaba and a sheikh
Sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

 of the Banu Hashim
Banu Hashim
Banū Hāshim was a clan in the Quraysh tribe. Muhammad, was a member of this clan; his great-grandfather was Hashim, for whom the clan is named. Members of this clan are referred to by the Anglicised version of their name as Hashemites, or Huseini or Hasani...

, an important branch of the powerful Quraysh tribe. He was also an uncle of Muhammad. Ali's mother, Fatima bint Asad, also belonged to Banu Hashim, making Ali a descendant of Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

, the son of Ibrahim or Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

.

Many sources, especially Shia ones, attest that during Mohammad's time Ali was born inside the Kaaba
People reported to be born in the Kaaba
Muslim sources report of an early Muslim being born in the Kaaba, the cubical structure that is the focus of a Muslim's daily prayers and the holiest structure in Islam.-Introduction:The reports differ in nature...

 in the city of Mecca, where he stayed with his mother for three days. According to a tradition, Muhammad was the first person whom Ali saw as he took the newborn in his hands. Muhammad named him Ali, meaning "the exalted one"
Ali (name)
Ali is a male Arabic name, derived from the Arabic root which literally means "high". It is a common name in Arabic countries and the rest of the Muslim world....

.

Muhammad had a close relationship with Ali's parents. When Muhammad was orphaned and later lost his grandfather Abdul Muttalib
Shaiba ibn Hashim
Shaiba ibn Hashim , better known as or Abd al-Muttalib, since he was raised by his uncle Muttalib, was the grandfather of Islamic prophet Muhammad.-Early life:...

, Ali's father took him into his house. Ali was born two or three years after Muhammad married Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
Khadījah bint Khuwaylid or Khadījah al-Kubra was the first wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. She was the daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad and Fatimah bint Za'idah and belonged to the clan of Banu Asad. She is important in Islam as Muhammad's first wife, and one of the "mothers of the believers"...

. When Ali was five or six years old, a famine occurred in and around Mecca, affecting the economic conditions of Ali's father, who had a large family to support. Muhammad took Ali into his home to raise him.

Acceptance of Islam



The second period of Ali's life begins in 610 when he declared Islam at age 10 and ends with the Hijra
Hijra (Islam)
The Hijra is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. Alternate spellings of this Arabic word are Hijrah, Hijrat or Hegira, the latter following the spelling rules of Latin.- Hijra of Muhammad :In September 622, warned of a plot to...

 of Muhammad to Medina in 622. When Muhammad reported that he had received a divine revelation, Ali, then only about ten years old, believed him and professed to Islam. According to Ibn Ishaq
Ibn Ishaq
Muḥammad ibn Isḥaq ibn Yasār ibn Khiyār was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer...

 and some other authorities, Ali was the first male to embrace Islam. Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

 adds other traditions making the similar claim of being the first Muslim in relation to Zayd or Abu Bakr. Some historians and scholars believe Ali's conversion is not worthy enough to consider him the first male Muslim because he was a child at the time.

Shia doctrine asserts that in keeping with Ali's divine mission, he accepted Islam before he took part in any pre-Islamic
Pre-Islamic Arabia
Pre-Islamic Arabia refers to the Arabic civilization which existed in the Arabian Plate before the rise of Islam in the 630s. The study of Pre-Islamic Arabia is important to Islamic studies as it provides the context for the development of Islam.-Studies:...

 Meccan traditional religion
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

 rites, regarded by Muslims as polytheistic
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 (see shirk
Shirk (polytheism)
In Islam, shirk is the sin of idolatry or polytheism. i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything other than the singular God, or more literally the establishment of "partners" placed beside God...

) or paganistic
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

. Hence the Shi'a say of Ali that his face is honored — that is, it was never sullied by prostrations before idols. The Sunnis also use the honorific Karam Allahu Wajhahu, which means "God's Favor upon his Face."

The reason his acceptance is often not called a conversion, is because he was never an idol worshipper like the people of Mecca. He was known to have broken idols in the mold of Abraham and asked people why they worshipped something they made themselves. Ali's grandfather, it is acknowledged without controversy, along with some members of the Banu Hashim clan, were Hanif
Hanif
Hanif is a term that refers to those who maintain the pure monothestic Muslim beliefs of the patriarch Ibrahim. More specifically, in Islamic thought it refers to the people during the period known as the Age of Ignorance, who were seen to have rejected idolatry and retained some or all of the...

s
, followers of a monotheistic belief system, prior to the coming of Islam.

After declaration of Islam


For three years Muhammad invited people to Islam in secret, then he started inviting publicly. When, according to the Qur'an, he was commanded to invite his closer relatives to come to Islam he gathered the Banu Hashim clan in a ceremony.

According to al-Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

, Ibn Athir
Ali ibn al-Athir
Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad, better known as Ali 'Izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari was a Kurdish Muslim historian from the Ibn Athir family...

 and Abu al-Fida, Muhammad announced at invitational events that whoever assisted him in his invitation would become his brother, trustee and successor. Only Ali, who was thirteen or fourteen years old, stepped forward to help him. This invitation was repeated three times, but Ali was the only person who answered Muhammad. Upon Ali's constant and only answer to his call, Muhammad declared that Ali was his brother, inheritor and vice-regent and people must obey him. Most of the adults present were uncles of Ali and Muhammad, and Abu Lahab laughed at them and declared to Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

 that he must bow down to his own son, as Ali was now his Emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 This event is known as the Hadith of Warning
Hadith of warning
The warning hadith , also known as "invitation of the close families" is a famous Islamic hadith, that is recorded in all Muslim books through different chain of narration, which is considered to be mutawatir and sahih...

.

During the persecution of Muslims
Persecution of Muslims by the Meccans
In the early days of Islam at Mecca, the new Muslims were often subjected to abuse and persecution.-Overview:Some were killed, such as Sumayyah bint Khabbab, the seventh convert to Islam, who was tortured first by Abu Jahl...

 and boycott of the Banu Hashim in Mecca, Ali stood firmly in support of Muhammad.

Migration to Medina



In 622, the year of Muhammad's migration to Yathrib (now Medina), Ali risked his life by sleeping in Muhammad's bed to impersonate him and thwart an assassination plot so that Muhammad could escape in safety. This night is called Laylat al-Mabit. According to some hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, a verse was revealed about Ali concerning his sacrifice on the night of Hijra which says, "And among men is he who sells his nafs
Nafs
Nafs is an Arabic word which occurs in the Qur'an and means self, psyche, ego or soul. In its unrefined state, "the ego is the lowest dimension of man's inward existence, his animal and satanic nature." Nafs is an important concept in the Islamic tradition, especially within Sufism and the...

(self) in exchange for the pleasure of Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

"

Ali survived the plot, but risked his life again by staying in Mecca to carry out Muhammad's instructions: to restore to their owners all the goods and properties that had been entrusted to Muhammad for safekeeping. Ali then went to Medina with his mother, Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and two other women.

During Muhammad's era



Ali was 22 or 23 years old when he migrated to Medina. When Muhammad was creating bonds of brotherhood among his companions
Brotherhood among the Sahaba
Brotherhood among the Sahaba refers to the time after the Hijra when the Islamic prophet Muhammad instituted brotherhood between the emigrants, Muhajirun, and the helpers, Ansar, and he chose Ali as his own brother.A list includes:-Medina:...

, he selected Ali as his brother.
For the ten years that Muhammad led the community in Medina, Ali was extremely active in his service as his secretary and deputy, serving in his armies, the bearer of his banner in every battle, leading parties of warriors on raids, and carrying messages and orders.
As one of Muhammad's lieutenants, and later his son-in-law, Ali was a person of authority and standing in the Muslim community.

Family life



In 623, Muhammad told Ali that God ordered him to give his daughter Fatimah Zahra to Ali in marriage. Muhammad said to Fatimah: "I have married you to the dearest of my family to me." This family is glorified by Muhammad frequently and he declared them as his Ahl al-Bayt in events such as Mubahala
Mubahala
Mubahala literally meaning 'mutual prayer' or Li’an but in Islamic tradition it refers to a form of resolving religious disputes. When the argumentations from both sides fail to resolve a religious issue, the parties jointly pray Allah to cast His curse on whichever of the two parties is false...

 and hadith like the Hadith of the Event of the Cloak. They were also glorified in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 in several cases such as "the verse of purification
The verse of purification
The verse of purification is part of the 33rd verse of Surah al-Ahzab of Qur'an, which says,This verse has especial importance for Muslims due to giving information about Ahl al-Bayt of Muhammad...

".

Ali had four children born to Fatimah, the only child of Muhammad to have surviving progeny. Their two sons (Hasan
Hasan ibn Ali
Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib ‎ is an important figure in Islam, the son of Fatimah the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and of the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. Hasan is a member of the Ahl al-Bayt and Ahl al-Kisa...

 and Husain) were cited by Muhammad to be his own sons, honored numerous times in his lifetime and titled "the leaders of the youth of Jannah" (Heaven, the hereafter.)

At the beginning they were extremely poor. For several years after his marriage, Fatimah did all of the household work by herself. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen and the hand with which she worked the handmill to grind corn were often covered with blisters. Fatimah vouched to take care of the household work, make dough, bake bread, and clean the house; in return, Ali vouched to take care of the outside work such as gathering firewood, and bringing food. Their circumstances were akin to many of the Muslims at the time and only improved following the Battle of Khaybar
Battle of Khaybar
The Battle of Khaybar was fought in the year 629 between Muhammad and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar, located from Medina in the north-western part of the Arabian peninsula, in modern-day Saudi Arabia....

 when the wealth of Khaybar
Khaybar
Khaybar is the name of an oasis some 153 km to the north of Medina , Saudi Arabia. It was inhabited by Jews before the rise of Islam, and was conquered by Muhammad in 629 AD.-Pre-Islamic Khaybar:...

 was distributed among the poor. When the economic situations of the Muslims become better, Fatimah gained some maids but treated them like her family and performed the house duties with them.

Their marriage lasted until Fatimah's death ten years later. Although polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 was permitted, Ali did not marry another woman while Fatimah was alive, and his marriage to her possesses a special spiritual significance for all Muslims because it is seen as the marriage between two great figures surrounding Muhammad. After Fatimah's death, Ali married other wives and fathered many children.

In battles



With the exception of the Battle of Tabouk
Battle of Tabouk
The Battle of Tabouk was a military expedition, which, according to Muslim biographies, was initiated by the Prophet Muhammad in October, AD 630. Muhammad led a force of as many as 30,000 north to Tabouk in present-day northwestern Saudi Arabia, with the intention of engaging the Byzantine army...

, Ali took part in all battles and expeditions fought for Islam. As well as being the standard-bearer
Standard-bearer
A standard-bearer is a person who bears an emblem called an ensign or standard, i.e. either a type of flag or an inflexible but mobile image, which is used as a formal, visual symbol of a state, prince, military unit, etc.This can either be an occasional duty, often seen as an honour , or a...

 in those battles, Ali led parties of warriors on raids into enemy lands.

Ali first distinguished himself as a warrior in 624 at the Battle of Badr
Battle of Badr
The Battle of Badr , fought Saturday, March 13, 624 AD in the Hejaz region of western Arabia , was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca...

. He defeated the Umayyad champion Walid ibn Utba
Walid ibn Utba
Walid ibn Utbah was the son of Utba ibn Rabi'ah and brother of Hind bint Utbah of the Quraysh. He was a fierce Meccan warrior who was killed by Ali in the traditional 3 champions' combat duel on the day of the Battle of Badr before the full battle began...

 as well as many other Meccan soldiers. According to Muslim traditions Ali killed between twenty and thirty-five enemies in battle, most agreeing with twenty-seven.

Ali was prominent at the Battle of Uhud
Battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud was fought on March 19, 625 at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud, in what is now northwestern Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca, the town from...

, as well as many other battles where he wielded a bifurcated sword known as Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar
Zulfiqar "bifurcated" is the sword of the Islamic leader Ali. In Arabic the name is commonly transliterated as Dhu al-Fiqar, Thulfeqar, Dhulfiqar, Zoulfikar etc. The name Zulfiqar means which divides exactly in two parts....

. He had the special role of protecting Muhammad when most of the Muslim army fled from the battle of Uhud and it was said "There is no brave youth except Ali and there is no sword which renders service except Zulfiqar." He was commander of the Muslim army in the Battle of Khaybar
Battle of Khaybar
The Battle of Khaybar was fought in the year 629 between Muhammad and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar, located from Medina in the north-western part of the Arabian peninsula, in modern-day Saudi Arabia....

.
Following this battle Mohammad gave Ali the name Asadullah, which in Arabic means "Lion of Allah" or "Lion of God".
Ali also defended Muhammad in the Battle of Hunayn
Battle of Hunayn
The Battle of Hunain was fought between Muhammad and his followers against the Bedouin tribe of Hawazin and its subsection the Thaqif in 630 in a valley on one of the roads leading from Mecca to al-Ta'if. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Muslims, who captured enormous spoils...

 in 630.

Missions for Islam


Muhammad designated Ali as one of the scribes who would write down the text of the Qur'an, which had been revealed to Muhammad during the previous two decades. As Islam began to spread throughout Arabia, Ali helped establish the new Islamic order. He was instructed to write down the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah is the treaty that took place between the state of Medina and the Quraishi tribe of Mecca in March 628CE .-Background:...

, the peace treaty between Muhammad and the Quraysh in 628. Ali was so reliable and trustworthy that Muhammad asked him to carry the messages and declare the orders. In 630, Ali recited to a large gathering of pilgrims in Mecca a portion of the Qur'an
At-Tawba
Surah At-Tawbah also known as al-Bara'ah "the Ultimatum" in many hadith is the ninth chapter of the Qur'an, with 129 verses. It is one of the last Madinan Suras. It is the only Sura of the Qur'an that does not begin with the bismillah...

 that declared Muhammad and the Islamic community were no longer bound by agreements made earlier with Arab polytheists. During the Conquest of Mecca
Conquest of Mecca
Mecca was conquered by the Muslims in January 630 AD .-Background:In 628 the Meccan tribe of Quraysh and the Muslim community in Medina signed a 10 year truce called the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah....

 in 630, Muhammad asked Ali to guarantee that the conquest would be bloodless. He ordered Ali to break all the idols worshipped by the Banu Aus
Banu Aus
The Banū Aws or simply Aws was one of the main Arab tribes of Medina. The other was Khazraj, and the two, constituted the Ansar after the Hijra.Aws and Khazraj were known as Banū Qayla in pre-Islamic era.-Etymology:...

, Banu Khazraj
Banu Khazraj
-Early history:Abu Muhammad Al-hasan Ibn Ahmad Al-hamdani mentioned that The Banu Khazraj along with Banu Aws settled the area of Yathrib around the 2nd century ad as part of the PreIslamic Exodus of Yemen due to the Great Dam damage....

, Tayy
Tayy
Tayy is a large and ancient Arabian tribe belonging to the southern or Qahtanite branch of Arab tribes. Their original homeland was the area of the two mountains Aja and Salma in north central Arabia , though, like all Qahtanite tribes, it is believed they originally moved there from Yemen...

, and those in the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

 to purify it after its defilement by the polytheism of the pre-Islamic era. Ali was sent to Yemen one year later to spread the teachings of Islam. He was also charged with settling several disputes and putting down the uprisings of various tribes.

The incident of Mubahala


According to hadith collections, in 631 an Arab Christian
Arab Christians
Arab Christians are ethnic Arabs of Christian faith, sometimes also including those, who are identified with Arab panethnicity. They are the remnants of ancient Arab Christian clans or Arabized Christians. Many of the modern Arab Christians are descendants of pre-Islamic Christian Arabian tribes,...

 envoy from Najran
Najran
Najran , formerly known as Aba as Sa'ud, is a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. It is the capital of Najran Province. Designated a New town, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom; its population has risen from 47,500 in 1974 and 90,983 in 1992 to...

 (currently in northern Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 and partly in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

) came to Muhammad to argue which of the two parties erred in its doctrine concerning Jesus. After likening Jesus' miraculous birth to Adam's creation, Muhammad called them to mubahala
Mubahala
Mubahala literally meaning 'mutual prayer' or Li’an but in Islamic tradition it refers to a form of resolving religious disputes. When the argumentations from both sides fail to resolve a religious issue, the parties jointly pray Allah to cast His curse on whichever of the two parties is false...

(conversation), where each party should bring their knowledgeable men,women and children,and ask God to curse the lying party and their followers. Muhammad, to prove to them that he is a prophet, brought his daughter Fatimah,Ali and his grandchildren Hasan and Husayn. He went to the Christians and said this is my family and covered himself and his family with a cloak. According to Muslim sources, when one of the Christian monks saw their faces, he advised his companions to withdraw from Mubahala for the sake of their lives and families. Thus the Christian monks vanished from the Mubahala place. Allameh Tabatabaei
Allameh Tabatabaei
Allameh Seyyed Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei was one of the most prominent thinkers of philosophy and contemporary Shia Islam...

 explains in Tafsir al-Mizan
Tafsir al-Mizan
Al-Mizan fi tafsiri'l-Qur'an, popularly known as Tafsir al-Mizan ,is a Shi'a Muslim tafsir written by Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Tabataba'i....

that the word "Our selves" in this verse refers to Muhammad and Ali. Then he narrates Imam Ali al-Rida, eighth Shia Imam
Twelve Imams
The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver or Ithna-‘ashariyyah branch of Shī‘ah Islam....

, in discussion with Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
Abū Jaʿfar Abdullāh al-Māʾmūn ibn Harūn was an Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813 until his death in 833...

, Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliph, referred to this verse to prove the superiority of Muhammad's progeny over the rest of the Muslim community, and considered it the proof for Ali's right for caliphate due to Allah made Ali like the self of Muhammad.

Ghadir Khumm


As Muhammad was returning from his last pilgrimage
The Farewell Pilgrimage
The Farewell Pilgrimage was the last and only Hajj pilgrimage the Islamic prophet Muhammad participated in, in 632 CE .-Preparations:...

 in 632, he made statements about Ali that are interpreted very differently by Sunnis and Shias. He halted the caravan at Ghadir Khumm
Ghadir Khumm
Wadi Rabigh is a wadi situated inland of the town of Rabigh, extending along the border of the Al Madinah and Makkah provinces of Saudi Arabia....

, gathered the returning pilgrims for communal prayer and began to address them:

This quote is confirmed by both Shi’a and Sunni, but they interpret the quote differently.

Some Sunni and all Shi'a sources report that then he called Ali ibn Abu Talib
Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

to his sides, took his hand and raised it up declaring
Shia's regard these statements as constituting the investiture of Ali as the successor of Muhammad
Succession to Muhammad
The Succession to Muhammad concerns the various aspects of successorship of Muhammad after his death, comprising who might be considered as his successor to lead the Muslims, how that person should be elected, the conditions of legitimacy, and the role of successor...

 and as the first Imam; by contrast, Sunnis take them only as an expression of Muhammad's closeness to Ali and of his wish that Ali, as his cousin and son-in-law, inherit his family responsibilities upon his death.
Many Sufis
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 also interpret the episode as the transfer of Muhammad's spiritual power and authority to Ali, whom they regard as the wali
Wali
Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

 par excellence.

On the basis of this hadith, Ali later insisted on his religious authority superior to that of Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr was a senior companion and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death...

 and Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

.

Succession to Muhammad


After uniting the Arabian tribes
Tribes of Arabia
Tribes of Arabia refers to Arab clans hailing from the Arabian Peninsula.Much of the lineage provided before Ma'ad relies on biblical genealogy and therefore questions persist concerning the accuracy of this segment of Arab genealogy...

 into a single Muslim religious polity in the last years of his life, Muhammad's death in 632 signalled disagreement over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. While Ali and the rest of Muhammad's close family were washing his body for burial, at a gathering attended by a small group of Muslims at Saqifah
Saqifah
The Saqīfah , also known as Saqīfah banī Sāˤidat , was a roofed building used by the tribe called the banū Sāˤidat of the faction of the banū Khazraj tribe of the city of Medina in the Hejaz, northwestern Arabia.- Significance of Saqifah :...

, a close companion of Muhammad named Abu Bakr was nominated for the leadership of the community. Others added their support and Abu Bakr was made the first caliph. The choice of Abu Bakr disputed by some of the Muhammad's companions, who held that Ali had been designated his successor by Muhammad himself.

Later when Fatimah and Ali sought aid from the Companions in the matter of his right to the caliphate, they answered, O daughter of the Messenger of God! We have given our allegiance to Abu Bakr. If Ali had come to us before this, we would certainly not have abandoned him. Ali said, 'Was it fitting that we should wrangle over the caliphate even before the Prophet was buried?'

Following his election to the caliphate, Abu Bakr and Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

 with a few other companions headed to Fatimah's house
Umar at Fatimah's house
Umar at Fatimah's house refers to the controversial event where Umar came to the house of Fatimah, the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, in order to get the allegiance of Ali and his followers or burn her house down...

 to force Ali and his supporters who had gathered there give their allegiance to Abu Bakr. Then, it is alleged that Umar threatened to set the house on fire unless they came out and swore allegiance with Abu Bakr. Fatimah
Fatimah
Fatimah was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca...

, in support of her husband, started a commotion and threatened to "uncover her hair", at which Abu Bakr relented and withdrew. Ali is reported to have repeatedly said that had there been forty men with him he would have resisted. Ali did not actively assert his own right because he did not want to throw the nascent Muslim community into strife. Other sources say that Ali accepted the selection of Umar as caliph and even gave one of his daughters, Umm Kulthūm, to him in marriage.
This contentious issue caused Muslims to later split into two groups, Sunni and Shi'a. Sunnis assert that even though Muhammad never appointed a successor, Abu Bakr was elected first caliph by the Muslim community. The Sunnis recognize the first four caliphs as Muhammad's rightful successors
Rashidun
The Rightly Guided Caliphs or The Righteous Caliphs is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the first four Caliphs who established the Rashidun Caliphate. The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the Abbasid Dynasty...

. Shi'as believe that Muhammad explicitly named Ali as his successor at Ghadir Khumm and Muslim leadership belonged to him which had been determined by divine order.

Ali himself was firmly convinced of his legitimacy for caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 based on his close kinship with Muhammad, his intimate association and his knowledge of Islam and his merits in serving its cause. He told Abu Bakr that his delay in pledging allegiance (bay'ah
Bay'ah
Bay'ah , in Islamic terminology, is an oath of allegiance to a leader. It is known to have been practiced by the Islamic prophet Muhammad...

) as caliph was based on his belief of his own prior title. Ali did not change his mind when he finally pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr and then to Umar and to Uthman but had done so for the sake of the unity of Islam, at a time when it was clear that the Muslims had turned away from him. Ali also believed that he could fulfill his role of Imam'ate without this fighting .

According to Shi'a historical reports, Ali maintained his right to the caliphate and said:

Inheritance


After Muhammad died, his daughter Fatimah asked Abu Bakr to turn over their property, the lands of Fadak
Fadak
Fadak was a garden oasis in Khaybar, an tract of land in northern Arabia; it is now part of Saudi Arabia. Situated approximately thirty miles from Medina, Fadak was known for its water-wells, dates, and handicrafts. When the Muslims defeated the people of Khaybar at the Battle of Khaybar; the...

 and Khaybar
Khaybar
Khaybar is the name of an oasis some 153 km to the north of Medina , Saudi Arabia. It was inhabited by Jews before the rise of Islam, and was conquered by Muhammad in 629 AD.-Pre-Islamic Khaybar:...

. Abu Bakr refused and told her that prophets
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 did not have any legacy and that Fadak belonged to the Muslim community. Abu Bakr said to her, "Allah's Apostle said, we do not have heirs, whatever we leave is Sadaqa." Together with Umm Ayman, Ali testified to the fact that Muhammad granted it to Fatimah Zahra, when Abu Bakr requested her to summon witnesses for her claim. Fatimah became angry and stopped speaking to Abu Bakr, and continued assuming that attitude until she died.

After Fatima's death Ali again claimed her inheritance during Umar's era, but was denied with the same argument. Umar, the caliph who was famous as Umar Sanni (second Umar), did restore the estates in Medina to sons of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, as representatives of Muhammad's clan, the Banu Hashim. The properties in Khaybar and Fadak were retained as state property.

Life after Muhammad



Another part of Ali's life started in 632 after death of Muhammad and lasted until assassination of Uthman Ibn Affan, the third caliph in 656. During these years, Ali neither took part in any battle or conquest
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

. nor did he assume any executive position. He withdrew from political affairs, especially after the death of his wife, Fatima Zahra. He used his time to serve his family and worked as a farmer. Ali dug a lot of wells and planted gardens near Medina and endowed them for public use. These wells are known today as Abar Ali ("Ali's wells").

Ali compiled a complete version of the Qur'an, mus'haf, six months after the death of Muhammad. The volume was completed and carried by camel to show to other people of Medina. The order of this mus'haf differed from that which was gathered later during the Uthmanic era. This book was rejected by several people when he showed it to them. Despite this, Ali made no resistance against standardized mus'haf.

Ali and the Rashidun Caliphs


Ali did not give his oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr until some time after the death of his wife, Fatimah. Ali participated in the funeral of Abu Bakr but did not participate in the Ridda Wars
Ridda wars
The Ridda wars , also known as the Wars of Apostasy, were a series of military campaigns against the rebellion of several Arabian tribes launched by the Caliph Abu Bakr during 632 and 633 AD, after prophet Muhammad died....

.

He pledged allegiance to the second caliph Umar ibn Khattab and helped him as a trusted advisor. Umar particularly relied upon Ali as the Chief Judge of Medina. He also advised Umar to set Hijra as the beginning of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

. Umar used Ali's suggestions in political issues as well as religious ones.

Ali was one of the electoral council to choose the third caliph
The election of Uthman
Uthman ibn Affan, the third caliph, was chosen by a council meeting in Medina, in northwestern Arabia, in .The second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, was stabbed by an angry Persian slave named Feroz...

 which was appointed by Umar. Although Ali was one of the two major candidates, but the council's arrangement was against him. Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas and Abdur Rahman bin Awf who were cousins, were naturally inclined to support Uthman, who was Abdur Rahman's brother-in-law. In addition, Umar gave the casting vote to Abdur Rahman. Abdur Rahman offered the caliphate to Ali on the condition that he should rule in accordance with the Quran, the example set by Muhammad
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

, and the precedents established by the first two caliphs. Ali rejected the third condition while Uthman accepted it. According to Ibn Abi al-Hadid's Comments on the Peak of Eloquence Ali insisted on his prominence there, but most of the electors supported Uthman and Ali was reluctantly urged to accept him

Siege of Uthman


Uthman Ibn Affan, expressed generosity toward his kin, Banu Abd-Shams, who seemed to dominate him and his supposed arrogant mistreatment toward several of the earliest companions such as Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
Jundub ibn Junādah ibn Sakan , better known as Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī was an early convert to Islam. When he converted, Muhammad gave him a new name, Abdullah. He belonged to the Banu Ghifar, the Ghifar tribe. No date of birth is known...

, Abd-Allah ibn Mas'ud and Ammar ibn Yasir
Ammar ibn Yasir
ʻAmmār ibn Yāsir al-Ansi was one of the companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was one of the Muhajirun, and referred to as by Shia Muslims as one of the Four Companions....

 provoked outrage among some groups of people. Dissatisfaction and resistance openly arose since 650–651 throughout most of the empire. The dissatisfaction with his rule and the governments appointed by him was not restricted to the provinces outside Arabia. When Uthman's kin, especially Marwan
Marwan I
Marwan ibn al-Hakam was the fourth Umayyad Caliph, who took over the dynasty after Muawiya II abdicated in 684. Marwan's ascension pointed to a shift in the lineage of the Umayyad dynasty from descendants of Abu Sufyan to those of Hakam, both of whom were grandsons of Umayya...

, gained control over him, the noble companions including most of the members of elector council
The election of Uthman
Uthman ibn Affan, the third caliph, was chosen by a council meeting in Medina, in northwestern Arabia, in .The second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, was stabbed by an angry Persian slave named Feroz...

, turned against him or at least withdrew their support putting pressure on the caliph to mend his ways and reduce the influence of his assertive kin.

At this time, Ali had acted as a restraining influence on Uthman without directly opposing him. On several occasions Ali disagreed with Uthman in the application of the Hudud
Hudud
Hudud is the word often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behaviour and the punishments for serious crimes...

; he had publicly shown sympathy for Abu Dharr al-Ghifari and had spoken strongly in the defense of Ammar ibn Yasir. He conveyed to Uthman the criticisms of other Companions and acted on Uthman's behalf as negotiator with the provincial opposition who had come to Medina; because of this some mistrust between Ali and Uthman's family seems to have arisen. Finally he tried to mitigate the severity of the siege
Siege of Uthman
The Third Rightly Guided Caliph, Uthman, was assasinated at the end of a Siege. When the rebels besieged the house of Uthman, the siege was not severe at the early stage. The rebels merely hovered around the house of Uthman, and did not place any restrictions on the movements of Uthman. Uthman went...

 by his insistence that Uthman should be allowed water.

There is controversy among historians about the relationship between Ali and Uthman. Although pledging allegiance to Uthman, Ali disagreed with some of his policies. In particular, he clashed with Uthman on the question of religious law. He insisted that religious punishment
Hudud
Hudud is the word often used in Islamic literature for the bounds of acceptable behaviour and the punishments for serious crimes...

 had to be done in several cases such as Ubayd Allah ibn Umar and Walid ibn Uqba
Walid ibn Uqba
Walid ibn Uqba was one of the companions of Muhammad.-Family:He was the son of Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt, a man who tried to kill Muhammad and finally died as a non-Muslim, and thus the brother of Umm Kulthum bint Uqba...

. In 650 during pilgrimage
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

, he confronted Uthman with reproaches for his change of the prayer ritual. When Uthman declared that he would take whatever he needed from the fey', Ali exclaimed that in that case the caliph would be prevented by force. Ali endeavored to protect companions from maltreatment by the caliph such as Ibn Mas'ud. Therefore, some historians consider Ali one the leading members of Uthman's opposition, if not the main one. But Wilferd Madelung
Wilferd Madelung
Wilferd Ferdinand Madelung is a scholar of Islam. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where he completed his early education at Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium....

 rejects their judgment due to the fact that Ali did not have the Quraysh's support to be elected as a caliph. According to him, there is even no evidence that Ali had close relations with rebels who supported his caliphate or directed their actions.
Some other sources say Ali had acted as a restraining influence on Uthman without directly opposing him. However Madelung narrates Marwan
Marwan I
Marwan ibn al-Hakam was the fourth Umayyad Caliph, who took over the dynasty after Muawiya II abdicated in 684. Marwan's ascension pointed to a shift in the lineage of the Umayyad dynasty from descendants of Abu Sufyan to those of Hakam, both of whom were grandsons of Umayya...

 told Zayn al-Abidin, the grandson of Ali, that
No one [among the Islamic nobility] was more temperate toward our master than your master.

Caliphate




Election as Caliph


Ali was caliph between 656 and 661, during one of the more turbulent periods in Muslim history, which also coincided with the First Fitna.

Uthman's assassination meant that rebels had to select a new caliph. This met with difficulties since the rebels were divided into several groups comprising the Muhajirun
Muhajirun
Muhajirun are the early, initial Muslims who followed Muhammad on his Hijra . The early Muslims from Medina are called the Ansar .-List:*Muhammad*Ali*Umar *Abu Bakr .*Salman the Persian*Bilal ibn Ribah...

, Ansar
Ansar (Islam)
Ansar is an Islamic term that literally means "helpers" and denotes the Medinan citizens that helped Muhammad and the Muhajirun on the arrival to the city after the migration to Medina...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ians, Kufans and Basntes. There were three candidates: Ali, Talhah and al-Zubayr. First the rebels approached Ali, requesting him to accept being the caliph. Some of Muhammad's companions tried to persuade Ali in accepting the office, but he turned down the offer, suggesting to be a counselor instead of a chief.

Talhah, Zubayr and other companions also refused the rebels' offer of the caliphate. Therefore, the rebels warned the inhabitants of Medina to select a caliph within one day, or they would apply drastic action. In order to resolve the deadlock, the Muslims gathered in the Mosque of the Prophet
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi , often called the Prophet's Mosque, is a mosque situated in the city of Medina. As the final resting place of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, it is considered the second holiest site in Islam by Muslims and is one of the largest mosques in the world...

 on June 18, 656 to appoint the caliph. Initially Ali refused to accept simply because his most vigorous supporters were rebels. However, when some notable companions of Muhammad, in addition to the residents of Medina urged him to accept the offer, he finally agreed. According to Abu Mekhnaf's narration, Talhah was the first prominent companion who gave his pledge to Ali, but other narrations claimed otherwise, stating they were forced to give their pledge. Also, Talhah and Zubayr later claimed they supported him reluctantly. Regardless, Ali refuted these claims, insisting they recognized him as caliph voluntarily. Wilferd Madelung
Wilferd Madelung
Wilferd Ferdinand Madelung is a scholar of Islam. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where he completed his early education at Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium....

 believes that force did not urge people to give their pledge and they pledged publicly in the mosque.

While the overwhelming majority of Madina's population as well as many of the rebels gave their pledge, some important figures or tribes did not do so. The Umayyads, kinsmen of Uthman, fled to the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 or remained in their houses, later refusing Ali's legitimacy. Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas was absent and Abdullah ibn Umar abstained from offering his allegiance, but both of them assured Ali that they would not act against him.

Reign as Caliph


Since the conflicts in which Ali was involved were perpetuated in polemical sectarian historiography, biographical material is often biased. But the sources agree that he was a profoundly religious man, devoted to the cause of Islam and the rule of justice in accordance with the Quran and the Sunna
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

; he engaged in war against erring Muslims as a matter of religious duty. The sources abound in notices on his austerity, rigorous observance of religious duties, and detachment from worldly goods. Thus some authors have pointed out that he lacked political skill and flexibility.

Ali inherited the Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

—which extended from Egypt in the west to the Iranian highlands
Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...

 in the east—while the situation in the Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 and the other provinces on the eve of his election was unsettled. Soon after Ali became caliph, he dismissed provincial governors who had been appointed by Uthman, replacing them with trusted aides. He acted against the counsel of Mughira ibn Shu'ba
Mughira ibn Shu'ba
al-Mughīrah ibn Shuʿbah ibn Abī ʿĀmir ibn Masʿūd ath-Thaqafī was one of the more prominent companions of Muhammad.-Muqawqis:Mughira had a dialogue with both Muqawqis, Vicegerent of Egypt and Caesar.Mughira was impressed by the dialogue with Muqawqis...

 and Ibn Abbas, who had advised him to proceed his governing cautiously. Madelung says Ali was deeply convinced of his right and his religious mission, unwilling to compromise his principles for the sake of political expediency, and ready to fight against overwhelming odds. Muawiyah I, the kinsman of Uthman and governor of the Levant refused to submit to Ali's orders; he was the only governor to do so.

When he was appointed caliph, Ali stated to the citizens of Medina that Muslim polity had come to be plagued by dissension and discord; he desired to purge Islam of any evil. He advised the populace to behave as true Muslims, warning that he would tolerate no sedition and those who were found guilty of subversive activities would be dealt with harshly. Ali recovered the land granted by Uthman and swore to recover anything that elites had acquired before his election. Ali opposed the centralization of capital control over provincial revenues, favoring an equal distribution of taxes and booty amongst the Muslim citizens; He distributed the entire revenue of the treasury
Bayt al-mal
Bayt al-mal is an Arabic term that is translated as "House of money" or "House of Wealth." Historically, it was a financial institution responsible for the administration of taxes in Islamic states, particularly in the early Islamic Caliphate. It served as a royal treasury for the caliphs and...

 among them. Ali refrained from nepotism
Nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

, including with his brother Aqeel ibn Abu Talib. This was an indication to Muslims of his policy of offering equality to Muslims who served Islam in its early years and to the Muslims who played a role in the later conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

.

Ali succeeded in forming a broad coalition especially after the Battle of Bassorah
Battle of Bassorah
The Battle of Bassorah was a battle that took place at Basra, Iraq in 656 between forces allied to Ali ibn Abi Talib and forces allied to Aisha , who wanted justice on the...

. His policy of equal distribution of taxes and booty gained the support of Muhammad's companions especially the Ansar who were subordinated by the Quraysh leadership after Muhammad, the traditional tribal leaders, and the Qurra or Qur'an reciters that sought pious Islamic leadership. The successful formation of this diverse coalition seems to be due to Ali's charismatic character. This diverse coalition became known as Shi'a Ali, meaning "party" or "faction of Ali". However according to Shia, as well as non-Shia reports, the majority of those who supported Ali after his election as caliph, were shia politically, not religiously. Although at this time there were many who counted as political Shia, few of them believed Ali's religious leadership.

First Fitna


A'isha, Talhah, Al-Zubayr and Umayyad especially Muawiyah I
Muawiyah I
Muawiyah I was the first Caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. After the conquest of Mecca by the Muslims, Muawiyah's family converted to Islam. Muawiyah is brother-in-law to Muhammad who married his sister Ramlah bint Abi-Sufyan in 1AH...

 wanted to take revenge for Uthman's death and punish the rioters who had killed him. They attacked Ali for not punishing the rebels and murderers of Uthman. However some historians believe that they use this issue to seek their political ambitions because they found Ali's caliphate against their own benefit. On the other hand, the rebels maintained that Uthman had been justly killed, for not governing according to Quran and Sunnah, hence no vengeance was to be invoked. Historians disagree on Ali's position. Some say the caliphate was a gift of the rebels and Ali did not have enough force to control or punish them, while others say Ali accepted rebels argument or at least did not consider Uthman just ruler.

Under such circumstances, a schism took place which led to the first civil war in Muslim history. Some Muslims, known as Uthmanis, considered Uthman a rightful and just Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 (Islamic leader) till the end, who had been unlawfully killed. Thus his position was in abeyance until he had been avenged and a new caliph elected. In their view Ali was the Imam of error leading a party of infidels. Some others, who are known as party of Ali, believed Uthman had fallen into error, he had forfeited the caliphate and been lawfully executed for his refusal to mend his way or step down, thus Ali was the just and true Imam and his opponents are infidels. This civil war created permanent divisions within the Muslim community regarding who had the legitimate right to occupy the caliphate.

The First Fitna, 656–661, followed the assassination of Uthman
Uthman
Uthman ibn Affan was one of the companions of Islamic prophet, Muhammad. He played a major role in early Islamic history as the third Sunni Rashidun or Rightly Guided Caliph....

, continued during the caliphate of Ali, and was ended by Muawiyah's assumption of the caliphate. This civil war (often called the Fitna) is regretted as the end of the early unity of the Islamic ummah (nation). Ali was first opposed by a faction led by Talhah, Al-Zubayr and Muhammad's wife, Aisha
Aisha
Aisha bint Abu Bakr also transcribed as was Muhammad's favorite wife...

 bint Abu Bakr. This group, known as "the disobedient ones" (Nakithin) by their enemies, gathered in Mecca then moved to Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 with the expectation of finding the necessary forces and resources to mobilize people of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. The rebels occupied Basra, killing many people. They refused Ali's offer of obedience and pledge of allegiance. The two sides met at the Battle of Bassorah (Battle of the Camel) in 656, where Ali emerged victorious.

Ali appointed Ibn Abbas governor of Basra and moved his capital to Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

, the Muslim garrison city in Iraq. Kufa was in the middle of Islamic land and had strategic position.

Later he was challenged by Muawiyah I, the governor of Levant and the cousin of Uthman
Uthman
Uthman ibn Affan was one of the companions of Islamic prophet, Muhammad. He played a major role in early Islamic history as the third Sunni Rashidun or Rightly Guided Caliph....

, who refused Ali's demands for allegiance and called for revenge for Uthman. Ali opened negotiations hoping to regain his allegiance, but Muawiyah insisted on Levant autonomy under his rule. Muawiyah replied by mobilizing his Levantine supporters and refusing to pay homage to Ali on the pretext that his contingent had not participated in his election. The two armies encamped themselves at Siffin for more than one hundred days, most of the time being spent in negotiations. Although, Ali exchanged several letters with Muawiyah, he was unable to dismiss the latter, nor persuade him to pledge allegiance. Skirmishes between the parties led to the Battle of Siffin
Battle of Siffin
The Battle of Siffin occurred during the First Fitna, or first Muslim civil war, with the main engagement taking place from July 26 to July 28. It was fought between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muawiyah I, on the banks of the Euphrates river, in what is now Ar-Raqqah, Syria...

 in 657. After a week of combat was followed by a violent battle known as laylat al-harir (the night of clamor), Muawiyah's army were on the point of being routed when Amr ibn al-Aas advised Muawiyah to have his soldiers hoist mus'haf (either parchments inscribed with verses of the Qur'an, or complete copies of it) on their spearheads in order to cause disagreement and confusion in Ali's army. Ali saw through the stratagem, but only a minority wanted to pursue the fight.

The two armies finally agreed to settle the matter of who should be Caliph by arbitration. The refusal of the largest bloc in Ali's army to fight was the decisive factor in his acceptance of the arbitration. The question as to whether the arbiter would represent Ali or the Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

ns caused a further split in Ali's army. Ash'ath ibn Qays and some others rejected Ali's nominees, 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas and Malik al-Ashtar, and insisted on Abu Musa Ash'ari, who was opposed by Ali, since he had earlier prevented people from supporting him. Finally, Ali was urged to accept Abu Musa. Some of Ali's supporters, later were known as Kharijites
Kharijites
Kharijites is a general term embracing various Muslims who, while initially supporting the authority of the final Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, then later rejected his leadership...

 (schisma
Schisma
In music, the schisma is the ratio between a Pythagorean comma and a syntonic comma and equals 32805:32768, which is 1.9537 cents...

tics), opposed arbitration and rebelled and Ali had to fight with them in the Battle of Nahrawan
Battle of Nahrawan
The Battle of Nahrawan was a battle between Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Kharijites.After the unsatisfactory conclusion to the Battle of Siffin, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib returned with his army back to Kufa on the 13th of Safar 37 A.H...

. The arbitration resulted in the dissolution of Ali's coalition and some have opined that this was Muawiyah's intention.

In the following years Muawiyah's army invaded and plundered cities of Iraq, which Ali's governors could not prevent and people did not support him to fight with them. Muawiyah overpowered Egypt, Hijaz, Yemen and other areas. In the last year of Ali's caliphate, the mood in Kufa and Basra changed in his favor as Muawiyah's vicious conduct of the war revealed the nature of his reign. However the people's attitude toward Ali differed deeply. Just a small minority of them believed that Ali was the best Muslim after Muhammad (صلی الله علیھ وآلہ وسلم ) and the only one entitled to rule them, while the majority supported him due to their distrust and opposition to Muawiyah.

Policies


What shows Ali's policies and ideas of governing is his instruction to Malik al-Ashtar, when appointed by him as governor of Egypt. This instruction which is considered by many Muslims and even non-Muslims as the ideal constitution for Islamic governance involved detailed description of duties and rights of the ruler and various functionaries of the state and the main classes of society at that time.

Ali wrote in his instruction to Malik al-Ashtar:
Since the majority of Ali's subjects were nomads and peasants, he was concerned with agriculture. He instructed to Malik to give more attention to development of the land than to the collection of the tax, because tax can only be obtained by the development of the land and whoever demands tax without developing the land ruins the country and destroys the people.

Death


On the 19th of Ramadan, while worshipping in the Great Mosque of Kufa, Ali was attacked by the Khawarij Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam
Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam
Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam al-Sarimi Arabic:عبدالرحمن بن ملجم السريمي was the Kharijite assassin of Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad.-The Plot of Ali's murder:...

. Ali ordered his sons not to attack the Kharijites, instead stipulating that if he survived, ibn Muljam would be pardoned whereas if he died, ibn Muljam should be given only one equal hit (regardless of whether or not he dies from the hit).

The wound Ali received by ibn Muljam's poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Fajr prayer resulted in his death in Kufa a few days later on February 28, 661 (21 Ramadan 40 A.H). Thus, Hasan fulfilled Qisas
Qisas
Qisas is an Islamic term meaning "retaliation," and follows the principle of an eye for an eye, or lex talionis, first set forth by Hammurabi, and subsequently included in the Old Testament and later legal codes...

 and gave equal punishment to ibn Muljam upon Ali's death.

Burial




According to Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Ali did not want his grave to be desecrated by his enemies and consequently asked his friends and family to bury him secretly. This secret gravesite was revealed later during the Abbasid caliphate by Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, his descendant and the sixth Shia Imam. Most Shi'as accept that Ali is buried at the Tomb of Imam Ali in the Imam Ali Mosque
Imam Ali Mosque
The Imām ‘Alī Holy Shrine , also known as Masjid Ali or the Mosque of ‘Alī, located in Najaf, Iraq, is the third holiest site for some of the estimated 200 million followers of the Shia branch of Islam. ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib, the cousin of Muhammad, the fourth caliph , the first Imam is buried here...

 at what is now the city of Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

, which grew around the mosque and shrine called Masjid Ali.

However another story, usually maintained by some Afghans, notes that his body was taken and buried in the Afghan city of Mazar-E-Sharif at the famous Blue Mosque or Rawze-e-Sharif.

Aftermath



After Ali's death, Kufi Muslims pledged allegiance to his eldest son Hasan without dispute, as Ali on many occasions had declared that just Ahl al-Bayt of Muhammad (صلی الله علیھ وآلہ وسلم ) were entitled to rule the Muslim community.
At this time, Muawiyah held both the Levant and Egypt and, as commander of the largest force in the Muslim Empire, had declared himself caliph and marched his army into Iraq, the seat of Hasan's caliphate.

War ensued during which Muawiyah gradually subverted the generals and commanders of Hasan's army with large sums of money and deceiving promises until the army rebelled against him. Finally, Hasan was forced to make peace and to yield the caliphate to Muawiyah. In this way Muawiyah captured the Islamic caliphate and in every way possible placed the severest pressure upon Ali's family and his Shi'a. Regular public cursing of Imam Ali in the congregational prayers remained a vital institution which was not abolished until 60 years later by Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. Muawiyah also established the Umayyad caliphate which was a centralized monarchy.
Madelung writes:
Umayyad highhandedness, misrule and repression were gradually to turn the minority of Ali's admirers into a majority. In the memory of later generations Ali became the ideal Commander of the Faithful. In face of the fake Umayyad claim to legitimate sovereignty in Islam as God's Vice-regents on earth, and in view of Umayyad treachery, arbitrary and divisive government, and vindictive retribution, they came to appreciate his [Ali's] honesty, his unbending devotion to the reign of Islam, his deep personal loyalties, his equal treatment of all his supporters, and his generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies.

Knowledge


Ali is respected not only as a warrior and leader, but as a writer and religious authority. Numerous range of disciplines from theology
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

 and exegesis
Tafsir
Tafseer is the Arabic word for exegesis or commentary, usually of the Qur'an. Ta'wīl is a subset of tafsir and refers to esoteric or mystical interpretation. An author of tafsir is a mufassir .- Etymology :...

 to calligraphy and numerology
Numerology
Numerology is any study of the purported mystical relationship between a count or measurement and life. It has many systems and traditions and beliefs...

, from law and mysticism to Arabic grammar
Arabic grammar
Arabic grammar is the grammar of the Arabic language. Arabic is a Semitic language and its grammar has many similarities with the grammar of other Semitic languages....

 and Rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

 regarded as having been first adumbrated by Ali.
According to Hadith which is narrated by Shia and Sufis, Muhammad(صلی الله علیھ وآلہ وسلم ) told about him "I'm the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate..." Muslims regard Ali as a major authority on Islam. Ali himself gives this testimony:
Not a single verse
Ayah
Ayah or Aayah is the Arabic word for sign or proof:"These are the Ayat of Allah, which We recite to you with truth...

 of the Qur'an descended
Wahy
Wahi is the Arabic word for revelation. In Islamic context, it refers to the revelations of God to his prophets, for all humankind. In Islam, the Qur'an is considered a wahi given to Muhammad.-Awha:...

 upon (was revealed to) the Messenger of God which he did not proceed to dictate to me and make me recite
Qira'at
In Islam, Qira'at, which means literally the readings, terminologically means the method of recitation. Traditionally, there are 10 recognised schools of qira'at, and each one derives its name from a famous reader of Qur'an recitation....

. I would write it with my own hand
Mushaf
A mus'haf is a codex or collection of sheets . The Qur’an, which Muslims believe to have been revealed at various times and in various ways during the 23-year period at the end of Muhammad's life, was collected into a codex under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan..The Islamic term al-Qur’ān...

, and he would instruct me as to its tafsir (the literal explanation)
and the ta'wil (the spiritual exegesis), the nasikh (the verse which abrogates) and the mansukh (the abrogated verse), the muhkam and the mutashabih (the fixed and the ambiguous), the particular and the general...


According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Seyyed Hossein Nasr is an Iranian University Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, and a prominent Islamic philosopher...

, Ali is credited with having established Islamic theology
Kalam
ʿIlm al-Kalām is the Islamic philosophical discipline of seeking theological principles through dialectic. Kalām in Islamic practice relates to the discipline of seeking theological knowledge through debate and argument. A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim...

 and his quotations contain the first rational proofs among Muslims of the Unity of God
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

. Ibn Abi al-Hadid has quoted
As for theosophy and dealing with matters of divinity, it was not an Arab art. Nothing of the sort had been circulated among their distinguished figures or those of lower ranks. This art was the exclusive preserve of Greece whose sages were its only expounders. The first one among Arabs to deal with it was Ali.


In later Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

, especially in the teachings of Mulla Sadra
Mulla Sadra
Ṣadr ad-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī also called Mulla Sadrā was a Persian Shia Islamic philosopher, theologian and ‘Ālim who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century...

 and his followers, like Allameh Tabatabaei, Ali's sayings and sermons were increasingly regarded as central sources of metaphysical knowledge, or divine philosophy. Members of Sadra's school
Transcendent Theosophy
Transcendent theosophy or al-hikmat al-muta’li , the doctrine and philosophy developed by Persian philosopher, Mulla Sadra, is one of two main disciplines of Islamic philosophy that is currently live and active....

 regard Ali as the supreme metaphysician of Islam.; According to Henry Corbin, the Nahj al-Balagha may be regarded as one of the most important sources of doctrines professed by Shia thinkers especially after 1500AD. Its influence can be sensed in the logical co-ordination of terms, the deduction of correct conclusions, and the creation of certain technical terms in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 which entered the literary and philosophical language
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 independently of the translation into Arabic of Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 texts.

Ali was also a great scholar of Arabic literature
Arabic literature
Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

 and pioneered in the field of Arabic grammar and rhetoric. Numerous short sayings of Ali have become part of general Islamic culture and are quoted as aphorisms and proverbs in daily life. They have also become the basis of literary works or have been integrated into poetic verse in many languages. Already in the 8th century, literary authorities such as 'Abd al-Hamid ibn Yahya al-'Amiri pointed to the unparalleled eloquence of Ali's sermons and sayings, as did al-Jahiz
Al-Jahiz
Al-Jāḥiẓ was an Arabic prose writer and author of works of literature, Mu'tazili theology, and politico-religious polemics.In biology, Al-Jahiz introduced the concept of food chains and also proposed a scheme of animal evolution that entailed...

 in the following century. Even staffs in the Divan
Divan
A divan was a high governmental body in a number of Islamic states, or its chief official .-Etymology:...

 of Umayyad recited Ali's sermons to improve their eloquence. Of course, Peak of Eloquence (Nahj al-Balagha) is an extract of Ali's quotations from a literal viewpoint as its compiler mentioned in the preface. While there are many other quotations, prayers (Du'as), sermons and letters in other literal, historic and religious books.

In addition, some hidden or occult sciences such as jafr, Islamic numerology
Numerology
Numerology is any study of the purported mystical relationship between a count or measurement and life. It has many systems and traditions and beliefs...

, the science of the symbolic significance of the letters of the Arabic alphabet
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, are said to have been established by Ali through his having studied the texts of al-Jafr
Al-Jafr (book)
Al-Jafr is a mystical Shia holy book compiled, according to Shia belief, by Ali and inherited by him from Muhammad. Al-Jafr is composed of two skin boxes in which were kept various books of the past Prophets and the books inherited from Muhammad, Ali and Fatimah to the Ahl al-Bayt, with each new...

 and al-Jamia
Al-Jamia
Al-Jamia is a sacred and secret Shia text, the words of which were dictated by Muhammad to Ali, who then wrote down these words...

.

Works


The compilation of sermons, lectures and quotations attributed to Ali are compiled in the form of several books.
  • Nahj al-Balagha (Way of Eloquence) contains eloquent sermons, letters and quotations attributed to Ali which is compiled by ash-Sharif ar-Radi(d. 1015). Reza Shah Kazemi states: "Despite ongoing questions about the authenticity of the text, recent scholarship suggests that most of the material in it can in fact be attributed to Ali" and in support of this he makes reference to an article by Mokhtar Jebli. This book has a prominent position in Arabic literature
    Arabic literature
    Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

    . It is also considered an important intellectual, political and religious work in Islam. Masadir Nahj al-Balagha wa asaniduh written by al-Sayyid ‘Abd al-Zahra' al-Husayni al-Khatib introduces some of these sources. Also Nahj al-sa'adah fi mustadrak Nahj al-balaghah by Muhammad Baqir al-Mahmudi represents all of Ali's extant speeches, sermons, decrees, epistles, prayers, and sayings have been collected. It includes the Nahj al-balagha and other discourses which were not incorporated by ash-Sharif ar-Radi or were not available to him. Apparently, except for some of the aphorisms, the original sources of all the contents of the Nahj al-balagha have been determined. There are several Comments on the Peak of Eloquence by Sunnis and Shias such as Comments of Ibn Abi al-Hadid
    Comments on the Peak of Eloquence (Ibn Abu al-Hadid)
    Comments on the Peak of Eloquence is a commentary written by Ibn Abi al-Hadid on the Peak of Eloquence.-Editions:*Ibn Abi al-Hadid. Sharh Nahj al-balagha, ed. M. A. Ibrahim, 20 vols. Cairo, 1959-1964....

     and comments of Muhammad Abduh
    Peak of Eloquence with comments (Muhammad Abduh)
    Sharh Nahj al-balaghah is a book authored by the Shaykh Muhammad 'Abduh.-Overview:Shaykh Muhammad 'Abduh, the former mufti of Egypt, edited and published the Peak of Eloquence with a brief commentary and for the first time introduced this book to the Egyptians.He said that he had no knowledge of...

    .
  • Supplications (Du'a), translated by William Chittick
    William Chittick
    William C. Chittick is a leading translator and interpreter of classical Islamic philosophical and mystical texts. He is best known for his groundbreaking work on Rumi and Ibn 'Arabi, and has written extensively on the school of Ibn 'Arabi, Islamic philosophy, Shi'ism, and Islamic...

  • Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim (Exalted aphorisms and Pearls of Speech) which is compiled by Abd al-Wahid Amidi(d. 1116) consists of over ten thounsads short sayings of Ali
  • Nuzhat al-Absar va Mahasin al-Asar, Ali's sermons which has compiled by Ali ibn Muhammad Tabari Mamtiri
  • Divan-i Ali ibn Abu Talib
    Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
    Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

    (poems which are attributed to Ali ibn Abu Talib
    Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
    Abi Tlib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib also known as Abu Talib ibn al-Muttalib.Talib was in reality the elder son of Abd Munāf and elder brother to Ali Ibn Abd Munāf. He was an head of Bani Hashim clan of Quraysh tribe of Mecca in Arabia. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of the...

    )

Descendants


Ali initially married Fatimah, who is his most beloved wife. After she died, he got married again. He had four children with Fatimah, Hasan ibn Ali
Hasan ibn Ali
Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib ‎ is an important figure in Islam, the son of Fatimah the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and of the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. Hasan is a member of the Ahl al-Bayt and Ahl al-Kisa...

, Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib ‎ was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah Zahrā...

, Zaynab bint Ali
Zaynab bint Ali
Zaynab bint Ali was the daughter of the Rashid Caliph and first Shi'i Imam, Ali and granddaughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah....

 and Umm Kulthum bint Ali. His other well-known sons were al-Abbas ibn Ali born to Fatima binte Hizam
Fatima binte Hizam
Fatima bint Hizam al-Qilabiyya, commonly known as Umm ul-Banin , married Ali , after the death of his first wife Fatimah. Ummul Banin and Ali had four sons, of which the eldest was Al-Abbas ibn Ali . Also Uthman ibn Ali who was martyred at the battle...

 (Um al-Banin) and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah surnamed Abu'l-Qasim was an early Muslim leader. He was a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shi'ite Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph.-Biography:...

. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah is Ali's son from another wife from Hanifa clan of Central Arabia named Khawla bint Ja'far.

Hasan, born in 625 AD, was the second Shia Imam and he also occupied the outward function of caliph for about six months. In the year 50 A.H., he was poisoned and killed by a member of his own household who, as has been accounted by historians, had been motivated by Mu'awiyah.

Husayn, born in 626 AD, was the third Shia Imam. He lived under severe conditions of suppression and persecution by Mu'awiyah. On the tenth day of Muharram
Muharram
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year in which fighting is prohibited...

, of the year 680, he lined up before the army of caliph with his small band of followers and nearly all of them were killed in the Battle of Karbala
Battle of Karbala
The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 of the Islamic calendar in Karbala, in present day Iraq. On one side of the highly uneven battle were a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Husain ibn Ali, and on the other was a large military detachment...

. The anniversary of his death is called the Day of Ashura
Day of Ashura
The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.It is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10...

 and it is a day of mourning and religious observance for Shi'a Muslims. In this battle some of Ali's other sons were killed. Al-Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

 has mentioned their names in his history. Al-Abbas ibn Ali, the holder of Husayn's standard, Ja'far, Abdallah and Uthman, the four sons born to Fatima binte Hizam. Muhammad and Abu Bakr. The death of the last one is doubtful.
Some historians have added the names of Ali's others sons who were killed in Karbala, including Ibrahim, Umar and Abdallah ibn al-Asqar.

His daughter Zaynab—who was in Karbala—was captured by Yazid's army and later played a great role in revealing what happened to Husayn and his followers.

Ali's descendants by Fatimah are known as sharif
Sharif
Sharīf or Chérif is a traditional Arab tribal title given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land. In origin, the word is an adjective meaning "noble", "highborn". The feminine singular is sharifa...

s
, sayeds or sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

s
. These are honorific titles in Arabic, sharif meaning 'noble' and sayed or sayyid meaning 'lord' or 'sir'. As Muhammad's only descendants, they are respected by both Sunni and Shi'a, though the Shi'as place much more emphasis and value on the distinction.

Muslim views


Except for Muhammad, there is no one in Islamic history about whom as much has been written in Islamic languages as Ali.
Ali is revered and honored by all Muslims. Having been one of the first Muslims and foremost Ulema
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

 (Islamic scholars), he was extremely knowledgeable in matters of religious belief and Islamic jurisprudence, as well as in the history of the Muslim community. He was known for his bravery and courage. Muslims honor Muhammad, Ali, and other pious Muslims and add pious interjections after their names.

Shi'a



The Shi'a regard Ali as the most important figure after Muhammad. According to them, Muhammad suggested on various occasions during his lifetime that Ali should be the leader of Muslims after his death. This is supported by numerous Hadiths which have been narrated by both Sunnis and Shias, including Hadith of the pond of Khumm
Hadith of the pond of Khumm
The Hadith of the pond of Khumm refers to the saying about a historical event crucial to Islamic history. This event took place on 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah of 10 AH in the Islamic calendar at a place called Ghadir Khumm, which is located near the city of al-Juhfah, Saudi Arabia and was a place...

, Hadith of the two weighty things
Hadith of the two weighty things
The Hadith al-Thaqalayn refers to a saying about al-Thaqalayn, which translates to "the two weighty things." In this hadith Muhammad referred to the Qur'an and Ahl al-Bayt as the two weighty things...

, Hadith of the pen and paper
Hadith of the pen and paper
The Hadith of the pen and paper is a famous Hadith in Islam about an event when the Islamic prophet Muhammad was prevented from writing out his will...

, Hadith of the Cloak, Hadith of position
Hadith of position
Hadith al-Manzilah is a Hadith in Islam.It is one of the primary hadiths used by the Shia to justify Ali's right in the Succession of Muhammad. The Sunnis however, interpret it otherwise....

, Hadith of the invitation of the close families, and Hadith of the Twelve Successors
Hadith of the Twelve Successors
The Hadith of the Twelve Successors is a famous hadith in Islam, in which the Islamic prophet Muhammad speaks about twelve Muslim rulers succeeding him...

.

According to this view, Ali as the successor of Muhammad not only ruled over the community in justice, but also interpreted the Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 Law and its esoteric meaning
Esoteric interpretation of the Qur'an
An esoteric interpretation of the Qur'an is an interpretation of the Qur’an which includes attribution of esoteric or mystic meanings to the text by the interpreter. In this respect, its method is different from the conventional exegesis of the Qur’an, called tafsir...

. Hence he was regarded as being free from error and sin (infallible), and appointed by God by divine decree (nass
Nass (Islam)
Nass is an arabic word meaning "a known, or clear, legal injunction". In Twelver Shi`ah Islam, nass is used to reference the nomination of an Imam by a previous Imam....

) through Muhammad. Ali is known as "perfect man" (al-insan al-kamil
Al-Insan al-Kamil
In Islamic theology, al-Insān al-Kāmil , is a term used as an honorific title to describe Muhammad...

) similar to Muhammad according to Shia viewpoint.

Shia pilgrims usually go to Mashad Ali in Najaf for Ziyarat
Ziyarat
Ziyārah is an Arabic term literally means "visit", used to refer to a pilgrimage to sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants , his companions, or other venerated figures in Islām, such as the Prophets, Sufi saints and Islāmic scholars...

, pray there and read "Ziyarat Amin Allah" or other Ziyaratnamehs. Under the Safavid Empire, his grave became the focus of much devoted attention, exemplified in the pilgrimage made by Shah Ismail I to Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 and Karbala
Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

.

Sunni



Sunni Muslims
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 regard Ali with great respect as one of the Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

 and the last of the Rashidun caliphs, as well as one of the most influential and respected leaders in Islam. Also, he is one of the Al-Asharatu Mubashsharun, the Ten Companions of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 whom the Prophet of Islam promised Paradise.

Sufi


Almost all Sufi orders trace their lineage to Muhammad through Ali, an exception being Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi
Naqshbandi is one of the major Sufi spiritual orders of Sufi Islam. It is considered to be a "Potent" order.The Naqshbandi order is over 1,300 years old, and is active today...

, who go through Abu Bakr. Even in this order, there is Ja'far al-Sadiq
Ja'far al-Sadiq
Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq was a descendant of Muhammad and a prominent Muslim jurist. He is revered as an Imam by the adherents of Shi'a Islam and as a renowned Islamic scholar and personality by Sunni Muslims. The Shi'a Muslims consider him to be the sixth Imam or leader and spiritual...

, the great great grandson of Ali. Sufis believe that Ali inherited from Muhammad the saintly power wilayah
Wali
Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

that makes the spiritual journey
Sulook
Sulook or Suluk , as a noun, means pathway, and specifically refers to a spiritual pathway. As a verb, it means to walk a spiritual pathway.-Sulook in relation to Islam and Sufism:...

 to God possible.
Sufis recite Manqabat
Manqabat
A Manqabat is a Sufi devotional poem, in praise of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law of Muhammad, or of any Sufi saint.In Qawwali, manqabats are sung to music. The most well known of the qawwali manqabats is "Man Kunto Maula", written by Amir Khusrau in praise of Ali...

Ali in the praise of Ali (Maula Ali), after Hamd
Hamd
A Hamd is a poem or song in praise of Allah. A hamd is usually written in Arabic, Persian, Punjabi, or Urdu. The word "hamd" comes from the Qur'an, which Muslims believe to be Allah's Word; its English translation is "Praise"....

and Naat
Naat
A Na`at is a poetry that specifically praises the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Many of the famous scholars in the earlier days of Islam wrote Naat. People who recite Naat are known as Naat-Khua'an or Sana'a-Khua'an.-History:...

in their Qawwali
Qawwali
Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, particularly in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan, Hyderabad, Delhi, and other parts of northern India...

.

As a deity



Some groups such as the Alawis believe that Ali is a deity in his own right or he was God incarnate
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

. They are described as ghulat (Ar
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

: غُلاة) "exaggerators" by the vast majority of Islamic scholars. These groups have, in traditional Islamic thought, left Islam due to their exaggeration of a human being's praiseworthy traits. Ali is recorded in some traditions as having forbidden those who sought to worship him in his own lifetime.

Non-Muslim views


Person Quote
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 (British 18th century historian)
The zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by any recent proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist,in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valour. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the apostle was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses.
Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 (American author and essayist)
He was of the noblest branch of the noble race of Koreish. He possessed the three qualities most prized by Arabs: courage, eloquence, and munificence. His intrepid spirit had gained him from the prophet the appellation of The Lion of God, specimens of his eloquence remain in some verses and sayings preserved among the Arabs; and his munificence was manifested in sharing among others, every Friday, what remained in the treasury. Of his magnanimity, we have given repeated instances; his noble scorn of everything false and mean, and the absence in his conduct of everything like selfish intrigue.
Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher during the Victorian era.He called economics "the dismal science", wrote articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, and became a controversial social commentator.Coming from a strict Calvinist family, Carlyle was...

 (Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer)
As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble-minded creature, as he shows himself, now and always afterwards; full of affection, of fiery daring. Something chivalrous in him; brave as a lion; yet with a grace, a truth and affection worthy of Christian knighthood
Sir William Muir
William Muir
Sir William Muir, KCSI was a Scottish Orientalist and colonial administrator.-Life:He was born at Glasgow and educated at Kilmarnock Academy, at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, and at Haileybury College. In 1837 he entered the Bengal Civil Service...

 (Scottish scholar and statesman)
Endowed with a clear intellect, warm in affection, and confiding in friendship, he was from the boyhood devoted heart and soul to the Prophet. Simple, quiet, and unambitious, when in after days he obtained the rule of half of the Moslem world, it was rather thrust upon him than sought
Dr. Henry Stubbe (Classicist, polemicist, physician, and philosopher) He had a contempt of the world, its glory and pomp, he feared God much, gave many alms, was just in all his actions, humble and affable; of an exceeding quick wit and of an ingenuity that was not common, he was exceedingly learned, not in those sciences that terminate in speculations but those which extend to practice
Simon Ockley
Simon Ockley
Simon Ockley was a British Orientalist.-Biography:Ockley was born at Exeter. He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1697, MA. in 1701, and B.D. in 1710. He became fellow of Jesus College and vicar of Swavesey, and in 1711 was chosen Adams Professor of Arabic in the...

 (British Orientalist and Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge)
One thing particularly deserving to be noticed is that his mother was delivered of him at Mecca, in the very temple itself; which never happened to any one else.


However, Henri Lammens
Henri Lammens
Henri Lammens was a prominent Belgian-born Jesuit and Orientalist.Born in Ghent, Belgium of Catholic Flemish stock, Henri Lammens joined the Society of Jesus in Beirut at the age of fifteen, and settled permanently in Lebanon. During his first eight years there Lammens mastered the Arabic...

 held a negative view of Ali.

The poet Khalil Gibran
Khalil Gibran
Khalil Gibran Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān,Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān, or Jibrān Xalīl Jibrān; Arabic , January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) also known as Kahlil Gibran, was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer...

 said of him: "In my view, ʿAlī was the first Arab to have contact with and converse with the universal soul. He died a martyr of his greatness, he died while prayer was between his two lips. The Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s did not realise his value until appeared among their Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 neighbors some who knew the difference between gems
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

 and gravel
Gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

s. "

Historiography



The primary sources for scholarship on the life of Ali are the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and the Hadith, as well as other texts of early Islamic history
Historiography of early Islam
The historiography of early Islam refers to the study of the early origins of Islam based on a critical analysis, evaluation, and examination of authentic primary source materials and the organization of these sources into a narative timeline....

. The extensive secondary source
Secondary source
In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed; a primary source can be a person with direct...

s include, in addition to works by Sunni and Shī‘a Muslims, writings by Christian Arabs, Hindus, and other non-Muslims from the Middle East and Asia and a few works by modern Western scholars. However, many of the early Islamic sources are colored to some extent by a positive or negative bias towards Ali.

There had been a common tendency among the earlier western scholars against these narrations and reports gathered in later periods due to their tendency towards later Sunni and Shī‘a partisan positions; such scholars regarding them as later fabrications. This leads them to regard certain reported events as inauthentic or irrelevant. Leone Caetani
Leone Caetani
Leone Caetani , Duke of Sermoneta , was an Italian scholar, politician and historian of the Middle-East....

 considered the attribution of historical reports to Ibn Abbas
`Abd Allah ibn `Abbas
Abd Allah ibn Abbas was a paternal cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He is revered by Muslims for his knowledge and was an expert in Tafsir , as well as an authority on the Islamic Sunnah.-Family:...

 and Aisha as mostly fictitious while proffering accounts reported without isnad by the early compilers of history like Ibn Ishaq. Wilferd Madelung has rejected the stance of indiscriminately dismissing everything not included in "early sources" and in this approach tendentious alone is no evidence for late origin. According to him, Caetani's approach is inconsistent. Madelung and some later historians do not reject the narrations which have been complied in later periods and try to judge them in the context of history and on the basis of their compatibility with the events and figures

Until the rise of the Abbasid Caliphate, few books were written and most of the reports had been oral. The most notable work previous to this period is The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays
The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays
The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays is a Hadith collection, collected by Sulaym ibn Qays who entrusted it to Aban ibn abi-Ayyash.According to the Shi'a, the book "has received endorsement from five Infallible Imams." The author researched and verified events before he penned them so that their...

, written by Sulaym ibn Qays
Sulaym ibn Qays
Sulaym Ibn Qays was one of the purported Companions of Ali but he "is widely considered an anti-Umayyad polemical invention" by Sunni scholarship. He has a well-known book known as The book of Sulaym ibn Qays...

, a companion of Ali who lived before the Abbasid. When paper was introduced to Muslim society, numerous monographs were written between 750 and 950 AD. According to Robinson, at least twenty-one separate monographs have been composed on the Battle of Siffin. Abi Mikhnaf is one of the most renowned writers of this period who tried to gather all of the reports. 9th and 10th century historians collected, selected and arranged the available narrations. However, most of these monographs do not exist anymore except for a few which have been used in later works such as History of the Prophets and Kings by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

 (d.932).

Shi'a of Iraq actively participated in writing monographs but most of those works have been lost. On the other hand, in the 8th and 9th century Ali's descendants such as Muhammad al Baqir and Jafar as Sadiq narrated his quotations and reports which have been gathered in Shia hadith books. The later Shia works written after the 10th century AD are about biographies of The Fourteen Infallibles
The Fourteen Infallibles
The Fourteen Infallibles are Twelver Shī‘ah Islam religious figures from between the 6th and 9th century whom Twelvers believe are infallible, i.e. "divinely bestowed [with] freedom from error and sin". This quality of infallibility is known as Ismah...

 and Twelve Imams
Twelve Imams
The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver or Ithna-‘ashariyyah branch of Shī‘ah Islam....

. The earliest surviving work and one of the most important works in this field is Kitab al-Irshad by Shaykh Mufid (d. 1022). The author has dedicated the first part of his book to a detailed account of Ali. There are also some books known as Manāqib which describe Ali's character from a religious viewpoint. Such works also constitute a kind of historiography.

See also


  • Wali
    Wali
    Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

  • Shia Ali
  • ‘Alawi
  • Alevi
    Alevi
    The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

  • List of Muslim reports
  • Ahl al-Bayt
    Ahl al-Bayt
    Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

  • Utbah ibn Ghazwan
    Utbah ibn Ghazwan
    Utbah ibn Ghazwan was a well known companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was the seventh person to convert to Islam and participated in the hijra to Abyssinia, but returned to stay with Muhammad in Mecca before making the second hijrah to Medina...


External links


  • The Secret of Imam Ali's Force of Attraction
  • Ali ibn Abi Talib by I. K. Poonawala
    Ismail Poonawala
    Ismail Kurbanhusein Poonawala is a professor of Arabic at the UCLA department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of over 30 years. Poonawala was born in 1937 in Godhra, India....

     and E. Kohlberg in Encyclopædia Iranica
    Encyclopædia Iranica
    Encyclopædia Iranica is a project whose goal is to create a comprehensive and authoritative English language encyclopedia about the history, culture, and civilization of Iranian peoples from prehistory to modern times...

  • Ali, article in Enyclopaedia Britannica Online


Some of his most famous sermons and letters

Shī‘a biography

Sunni biography