Imam ali as biography – Life of Imam Ali (a.s)
imam Ali (a.s) is a key figure in the History of Islam. He was born in 598 C.E and was the cousin of the Holy Prophet, son of the Prophet’s Uncle Abu Talib. Yet the relationship between Imam Ali (a.s) and his cousin the Holy Prophet was a lot more than just that of a close cousin.
Imam Ali (a.s) was one of the first supporters of the Holy Prophet and it is clear according to a consensus of historians that Imam Ali (a.s) was the first person to accept Islam and declare the Shahada after the Proclamation of Prophethood by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
Imam Ali (a.s) is recognised as carrying more merits than any other companion of the Prophet and this is highlighted particularly in light of the numerous Qu’ranic verses that have been revealed in his honour.
Imam Ali (a.s) was selected by God personally for his marriage to the Holy Prophet’s daughter Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (a.s) and was also selected by God to be the first Leader of Islam and the direct successor to the Holy Prophet. Such declarations appear throughout the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, however, the Leadership of Imam Ali (a.s) was made most obvious during the event of Ghadir Khumm in which the Holy Prophet openly proclaimed that Imam Ali (a.s) would be his successor to lead the Muslims.
Sadly after the demise of the Holy Prophet in the year 11 A.H, Imam Ali (a.s) had his rights usurped, in addition to those of his wife. This resulted in him withdrawing from politics and focusing on offering religious guidance.
After the death of the third Caliph Uthman b. Affan, Imam Ali (a.s) was declared as Caliph and leader of the Muslims by the people. Sadly this period was rife with conflict, including three separate civil wars namely, Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan, instigated by his enemies.
The Imam was assassinated whilst praying during the morning of the 19th of Ramadhan of the year 40 A.H by the Khariji ‘Abdul-Rahman b. Muljim.
Imam Ali (a.s) was the first Imam of the Muslims and the successor to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He was born in the year 598 A.H, the son of Abu Talib and his wife Fatima b. Asad, and the cousin of the Prophet (s.a.w).
According to numerous traditions, Imam Ali (a.s) had a miraculous birth in which the Ka’aba opened up for his mother to enter prior to her delivery, giving Imam Ali (a.s) the honourable status of being the only individual born in the Ka’aba. At a young age, Imam Ali (a.s) came under the care of his cousin, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), who raised him like a son.
This clearly strengthened the relationship between the Prophet and Imam Ali (a.s) from an early age.This is reflected in the fact that after the Prophet began his mission of Prophethood, Imam Ali (a.s) joined him as his first follower.
During the period in which the Prophet secretly left the city of Makkah to migrate to the newly established state of Madinah, Imam Ali (a.s) slept in his bed, willing to sacrifice his own life to foil a plot in which the youths of the Quraysh had planned to stab the Prophet to death. However once the Quraysh realised that the one in the bed was Ali, their plans were ruined and Imam Ali (a.s) was able to escape safely.
Imam Ali (a.s) certainly enjoyed a much esteemed position to the Prophet. He was given the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah’s hand in marriage and also had the honour of representing the Prophet’s self during the Mubahala incident.
Prior to his passing, the Prophet openly declared Imam Ali (a.s) to be his successor at Ghadir Khumm. He also advised the Imam prior to his death to remain patient in the face of oppression and in the difficult times he was about to encounter.
Within six months of the Prophet’s death, Imam Ali (a.s) sadly lost his wife Fatimah (a.s), who fell victim to the regime which had denied him his right to succeed the Prophet, meaning he lost the two people closest to him within a short time.
However, after the death of ‘Uthman in the Year 656 C.E, the Muslim Ummah pledged allegiance to Imam Ali (a.s). Sadly, however, he was immediately dragged into three civil wars which resulted in the bloodshed of thousands of Muslims. He was forced to engage in these civil wars throughout the entire duration of his Caliphate, which lasted until 661 C.E.
On the 19th of Ramadhan, whilst in the Masjid for morning prayers in the city of Kufa, the Imam was struck with a poisoned sword on his head by Abd al-Rahman b. Muljim, al-Khariji. The Imam passed away two days after this attack, appointing Imam al-Hassan (a.s) as his successor.
Imam Ali (a.s) is noted for his unique qualities as the foremost knight of Islam. Imam Ali’s (a.s) bravery and knowledge is a continuation of the knowledge of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He left behind numerous speeches, sayings, sermons, letters and guidance that has been collected in a book called Nahjul Balagha (The Peak of Eloquence) that Muslims refer to continuously.
One of the most significant figures in Shi’a Islam is the first Imam and immediate successor to the Holy Prophet, namely his cousin and son-in-law, Ali b. Abi Talib
There are countless books about Imam Ali (a.s) which detail his achievements, struggles, teachings and merits. As one of the most documented figures within Islam, Imam Ali (a.s) has been entrenched in history as “The Voice of Human Justice.”
He is also known as the first true spiritual knight in the legacy of the religion of Islam.
Imam Ali (a.s) was born into a lineage of nobility, from the Bani Hashim clan of the tribe of Quraysh . His great-grandfather was Hashim, the most honourable person through whom the clan’s name was derived. He also shared with the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), the grandfather Abd al-Muttalib (Shaybat al-Hamd: The Praised Grey-haired One), and his father was Abu Talib, through whose sacrifices helped the religion of Islam survive during the early period.
Imam Ali (a.s) was the son of two pure Monotheists, namely Fatima b. Asad and Abu Talib.
Imam Ali (a.s) was born in the year 598 or 600 C.E, on the thirtieth of Rajab, ten to twelve years prior to the annunciation of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet. The circumstances surrounding his birth were unique, in that he was the first and only person born within the Ka’aba – the most sacred structure built for the worship of Allah (s.w.t).
Fatima b. Asad, whilst pregnant knew that her son was to be of great stature. For this reason, she rushed to the Ka’aba and just as she was about to give birth, she hung onto the curtains of the Ka’aba and cried out:
“Oh Lord, I do believe in you, in the messengers and the books that have been brought from you. I also give full credence to the words of my fore-father, Abraham who built this house. I now beseech you in the name of he who built this house and in the name of the foetus whom I am carrying to make easy my deliverance”
It is said that the walls of the Ka’aba began to tremble and with full confidence, Fatima entered into the structure and shortly afterwards gave birth to Imam Ali (a.s).
Due to the responsibilities carried by Abu Talib in caring for the orphans and the poor and the pilgrims to Makkah, his financial situation became very difficult and he faced shortage in feeding his own family. Other family members, including the Holy Prophet, offered their assistance by taking in his sons into their homes to alleviate the financial burden on Abu Talib. The Prophet took Imam Ali (a.s) into his care declaring that “I have chosen the one whom God has chosen for me”.
From that time forth, Imam Ali (a.s) was like a son to the Holy Prophet, raised in the house of the great Messenger.
The Imam describes this great privileged position in one of his sermons:
“Certainly, you know my position of close kinship and special relationship with the Prophet of Allah- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his descendants. When I was only a child, he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and lay me beside him in his bed, bring his body close to mine and make me smell his smell. He used to chew something and then feed me with it. He found no lie in my speaking, nor weakness in any act. I use to follow him like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother.”
(Sermon 192, Nahjul Balagha)
‘Ali the First Muslim
There is a consensus amongst historians and scholars that the first to accept the religion of Islam, after the first revelation, was Imam Ali (a.s). It is agreed that as a young boy, under the age of 10, Imam Ali (a.s) accepted the message of the Holy Prophet and thus joined the ranks as the Prophet’s earliest supporter.
Imam Ali (a.s) remained a steadfast supporter of the Holy Prophet in Makkah, and was loyal in every instance the Prophet was challenged or faced hardship.
On several occasions, Imam Ali (a.s) rose to defend the Holy Prophet and supported his message in front of antagonists from the Prophet’s extended family. In return, the Prophet would refer to the unique position of Imam Ali (a.s) as his deputy and successor.
Imam Ali’s (a.s) greatest sacrifice for the Holy Prophet in the Makkan period came on the night of migration to Madinah. The elders of the Quraysh had developed an elaborate plan to assassinate the Holy Prophet in his bed by sending youths from numerous clans to siege his house and kill him simultaneously to avoid any potential repercussions being directed to an individual clan. The Prophet being a messenger of God, was made aware of the plot, and was instructed to migrate that same night to the City of Yathrib (Madinah), whose leaders had arranged to welcome him previously.
He asked Imam Ali’s (a.s) to sleep in his bed in order to divert their attention from the Prophet’s escape. Imam Ali (a.s) agreed, and upon finding him in the bed instead of the Prophet, the Qurayshi aristocracy were furious and set off in pursuit of the Prophet.
In light of the great sacrifice made by Imam Ali (a.s), a Qur’anic Ayah was revealed namely:
“And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is affectionate to the servants” (al-Baqarah, 207)
Imam Ali (a.s) was entrusted by the Holy Prophet to return any possessions which had been left as trusts, to their rightful owners. He was also instructed to bring the 3 Fatimahs (Fatimah b. Muhammad, Fatimah b. Asad and Fatimah b. Hamzah) with him and proceed to Madinah to join the Holy Prophet .
In Madinah the Prophet again distinguished Imam Ali (a.s) from others, by selecting him as the “Brother of the Holy Prophet” after he had commanded the Muhajirs and Ansars to select from each other a brother for themselves.
The Holy Prophet could have selected anyone, particularly a new Madinan convert, yet it seems to be for a reason that Imam Ali’s (a.s) was chosen:
“Oh Alī, You Are My Brother in This World and The Next!”
Imam Ali’s (a.s) The Warrior
During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali (a.s) played a significant role, and was known for both his devotion to the Holy Prophet as well as his chivalry and absolute bravery on the battlefield. As Imam Ali (a.s) led a long and eventful life, it will suffice to mention a few of his immense contributions to the spread of Islam.
The first battle which arose between the newly established Prophetic State and the Pagans was “The Battle of Badr,” during which Imam Ali (a.s) displayed his bravery by taking on dozens of individuals in one-to-one combat. Referring to the battle, historian Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi states “The majority of human casualties were killed by the sword of Imam Ali (a.s).”
Since “The Battle of Badr” (624 C.E) Imam Ali (a.s) and his unique sword known as “Dhu’l Fiqar” have become distinctive symbols of hope associated with bravery and the conduct of a true chivalrous knight concerned with divine justice.
During “The Battle of Uhud” (625 C.E), in which circumstances unfortunately did not go as well for the Muslims as the Battle of Badr, the loyalty of the Prophet’s followers was tested. Many individuals, who were once thought to be loyal and devoted to the Prophet, heard a false rumour that the Prophet had been killed, and immediately turned on their heels and ran. Imam Ali (a.s), on the contrary, remained extremely close to the Holy Prophet and stood by his side defending him against every enemy that came forward.
“The Battle of Khandaq” (627 C.E), is the battle which historically distinguished Imam Ali (a.s) and shall perhaps be remembered as one of his finest moments on the battlefield.
Amongst the enemy combatant side was a famous Arab warrior known throughout Arabia for his skill. His name was “‘Amr b. ‘Abd al-Wudd al-‘Amiri” who was of very large physique and terrified all who faced him in battle. Challenging the Muslims and drawing upon their fear, ‘Amr stood right in front of them and called out:
“Oh Men of Muhammad! Is there amongst you anyone to fight me?!”
None of the companions were prepared to volunteer to fight ‘Amr out of fear, with the exception of Imam ‘Ali (a.s), he rose and stated “Oh Messenger of Allah, I will fight him”. The Prophet did not give him the go ahead initially, he waited to see if any other companion would respond to the challenge, after three challenges were answered with silence he gave Imam ‘Ali permission to fight.
Upon Imam Ali’s (a.s), advancing to ‘Amr, the Holy Prophet declared “Faith in all its entirety is going to face disbelief in all its entirety”
The Quran has referred to the fear of the companions by stating,
When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when eyes grew wild and hearts reached to the throats, and ye were imagining vain thoughts concerning Allah.
There the believers were tried and they were shaken with severe shaking. (33:10-11)
Despite all odds suggesting that Imam Ali (a.s) would lose the battle against this experienced fighter, Allah (s.w.t) protected the Imam and he was victorious.
The Companion of the Holy Prophet, Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman commented on this victory; “If the Virtue of Imam Ali (a.s) killing ‘Amr that day were to be distributed amongst all Muslims, it would cover all of them.”
“The Battle at Khaybar” (628 C.E), a year later, is another incident where Imam Ali (a.s), displayed his bravery. His opponent was a Jewish warrior called “Marhab,” who like ‘Amr was a formidable threat. He overcame Marhab in hand to hand combat after defeating several other notable fighters and then with his bare hands dislodged and threw aside the Gate of the Fortress of Khaybar, a massive, heavy object which mesmerised his enemies on that day.
Imam Ali (a.s) The Prophet’s Successor
Imam Ali’s (a.s) role in the religion of Islam was much greater than merely that of a military general. He also served as a scribe for revelation, being one of the few who had the ability to read and write. He was also a diplomat, as shown by his expedition to Yemen in which he was able to convert many of the inhabitants to Islam through his clear form of teaching, using only the teachings of the Prophet.
As the Prophet reached the end of his life, increasingly more announcements were made to the Muslims, regarding the state of the Ummah, and other areas such as who would succeed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).
The Prophet began making numerous statements which clearly and explicitly referred to Imam Ali’s (a.s) role as “The Leader and Guide after the Holy Prophet’s departure.” These have been discussed in depth in the entry surrounding Imamate and hence shall be recounted briefly here.
During the tenth year after the migration to Madinah, the Holy Prophet took the Muslims on what became known as the farewell Pilgrimage in which he instructed them on general moral issues and taught them how to perform Hajj.
During the Pilgrimage the Prophet informed the pilgrims it would be his last pilgrimage with them and then proceeded to offer them guidance.
One of those explicit teachings was:
“Oh people, I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, the Book of Allah and my Progeny”.
The term “progeny” in this statement is interpreted in light of the Prophetic Sunnah, which has specified that the “Prophetic Progeny” are the “Ahl Bayt al-Risalah,” namely the individuals who are encompassed in the verse of Purification and made quite explicit in other events such as the Mubahala.
The fact that these ‘two weighty things’ do not separate is also understood to refer specifically to the fact that the Progeny of the Messenger intended for the Muslims to take both as absolute sources of guidance that were not to be utilised separately.
Upon the return of the Holy Prophet from the final pilgrimage, he called all pilgrims to stop at a place named Johfah. Whilst there, the Ayah 67 of Surah 5 was revealed:
“Oh Messenger, Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do not do, then you have not delivered his message, and Allah will protect you from the people, surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people”
(Al-Maida, Verse 67)
After which the Holy Prophet declared Imam Ali (a.s), his successor by openly proclaiming:
“Whoever I am the Master of, then Ali is his Master”
Imam Ali’s (a.s) eulogy of the Holy Prophet:
“May my father and my mother shed their lives for you. O’ Messenger of Allah! With your death the process of Prophethood, revelation and heavenly messages has stopped, which had not stopped at the death of others (Prophets). Your position with us (members of your family) is so special that your grief has become a source of consolation (to us) as against the grief of all others; your grief is also common so that all Muslims share it equally. If you had not ordered endurance and prevented us from bewailing, we would have produced a store of tears and even then the pain would not have subsided, and this grief would not have ended, and they would have been too little of our grief for you. But this (death) is a matter that cannot be reversed nor is it possible to repulse it. May my father and my mother die for you; do remember us with Allah and take care of us.”
(Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 233)
Opposition to Imam Ali (a.s),
Sadly for Imam Ali (a.s), the loss of the Holy Prophet, who had been a brother, a father and a guide was not the final trial which the Imam would be forced to face. Despite the great role that Imam Ali (a.s) played in the success and spread of Islam and the message of Islam, there was an open hatred towards him by some who carried grief for pagan family members killed by Imam Ali (a.s) in the early battles.
This led to a decision by some members of the community to marginalise the Hashimites, with some arguing that since Prophethood came to the Bani Hashim, that it had no right to wield the Imamate also.
However, the Shi’a consider his appointment as successor to the Prophet to be by Divine Will. Whilst Imam Ali (a.s) was busy performing the Ghusl of his beloved Messenger, others were fighting over who should rule the Muslims after the Prophet.
Eventually a coup ensured that a certain party assumed power, and they attempted to force all to pledge allegiance to them. It was at this point that Imam Ali (a.s) withdrew himself from political life and focused on teaching the religious sciences, concerning himself particularly with the compilation of the Qur’an according to the order of revelation as well as with the commentary explaining everything.
Imam Ali’s (a.s) was further pained by the sudden death of Sayyeda Fatimah al-Zahra, the daughter of the Holy Prophet, and his strength and support in the trying period after the Prophet’s death.
Interestingly enough, during the period of wars led under the dynasties of the first three Caliphs, Imam Ali (a.s) wasn’t active either physically or politically. What is confirmed is that the Imam was certainly referred back to as a source of guidance for religious matters, with some of the Caliphs even testifying to just how crucial he was.
Imam Ali’s (a.s) Reign
Imam Ali (a.s) finally came to power after the death of Uthman b. Affan (656 C.E), the third Caliph. During this time the people surrounding the Caliphate were begging for Imam Ali (a.s) to take charge of the Ummah.
Despite being the rightful leader Imam Ali (a.s) cared not the aspirations of worldly power nor politics and hence may have come across a man who renounced the world in favour of a deep spiritualism.
This would however be an incorrect reading of Imam Ali’s (a.s) motivations and intentions behind refusing to accept the people’s offers to take up power.
Rather, if one takes into account how Imam Ali (a.s) was treated during the years of the first three Caliphs, and how the authority bestowed upon him at Ghadir Khumm was not recognised, then it explains why Imam Ali (a.s) learnt not to take the words and promises of people at face value.
Unfortunately for the Imam, immediately after coming into the office of Caliphate, Imam Ali (a.s) was faced with calls for his removal and confronted by rival threats to the authority of the state. The first movement was led by two prominent Sahaba and former allies of Imam Ali (a.s) namely Talha and Zubayr, as well as Ayesha, the wife of the Holy Prophet, all of whom were unhappy at his taking up office as Caliph.
Unfortunately the “Battle of the Camel” (al-Jamal) (656 C.E) led to thousands of deaths and though Imam Ali (a.s) was victorious he was very saddened about the sad turn of events that lead to physical confrontation that he wished to avoid.
Battle of Siffin faced another serious crisis at the hands of the son of Abi Sufyan namely, Mu’awiya b. Abi Sufyan who also rose the banner under the cries of revenge for the killing of ‘Uthman b. Affan. The rivalry between Imam Ali (a.s) and Mu’awiya is not something which disappeared and unfortunately due to the economic power of Mu’awiya, many Sahaba and others who were once loyal to Imam Ali (a.s) found themselves slowly being financially convinced to change their allegiance.
This rivalry and power struggle led to “The Battle of Siffin,” which took place in the year 657 C.E. The close proximity of the wars carried out under the Caliphate of Imam Ali (a.s) clearly demonstrates the unfortunate period in which he lived. Many claim that history shows a close proximity between the Companions of the Prophet, the sad reality shows a struggle for power between them, to the extent that the one declared by the Holy Prophet at Ghadir Khumm to be the Mawla of the believers was fought.
Staying true to the teachings of the Holy Prophet, numerous loyal companions, including ‘Ammar b. Yassir, fought alongside Imam Ali (a.s) until death, something which was prophesised by the Holy Prophet in the narration:
“Ammar will be killed by a rebel party”
After thousands of casualties, the war ended with the call for peaceful arbitration initiated by the Army of Mu’awiya who displayed the Qur’an on top of their spears. Unfortunately, due to the corrupted nature of many of the Imam’s army, who were tired of war, the Imam was forced against his will to settle for arbitration which resulted in Mu’awiya ruling over Syria and Egypt and Imam Ali (a.s) ruling over the rest of the Muslim territories.
The Assassination of Imam Ali (a.s)
Unfortunately, Imam Ali’s (a.s) Caliphate faced the last civil war against the extremists of the day known as the Khawarij (those who rise up) in a skirmish known as “The Battle of Nahrawan,” which only occurred after Imam Ali (a.s) had attempted to explain to the Khawarij the failings of their extremist readings of scripture.
Imam Ali (a.s) warned the people of Nahrawan prior to the battle, however, in 658 C.E the battle commenced at the Canal of Nahrawan (in present day Iraq) in which 12,000 of the Khawarij were reduced to less than 2,000. These individuals all retreated from battle with a great grudge against the Imam, swearing to carry out their revenge.
Sadly, Imam Ali (a.s) was attacked by a man from the Khawarij, namely ‘Abd ar-Rahman b. Muljim, two years after the Battle of Nahrawan, whilst performing the morning prayers in the Masjid of Kufah.
This attack led to the death of Imam Ali (a.s) approximately 2 days later.
Prior to his death on the 19th of Ramadan, in the Year 40 A.H, Imam Ali’s (a.s) left his final will for his son Imam al-Hassan and in many ways for the rest of the Ummah:
“I advise you to fear Allah, do not go after this vicious world though it may try to entice you, do not seek it though it may seek you and do not grieve over and pine for things which this world refuses you.
Let the eternal Reward and Blessings of Allah be the prompting factors for all that you say and do. Be an enemy of tyrants and oppressors and be a friend and helper of those who are oppressed and tyrannized.
To you, to my other children, to my relatives and to all who acquire this will of mine, I advise to fear Allah and to be pious, to have fair and honest dealings with one another and improve mutual relations because I have heard your grandfather, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) saying, “To remove mutual enmity, ill-feeling and hatred is better than recommended prayers and fasting”.
Fear Allah when the question of helpless orphans arises. You should never let them starve. So long as you are there to guard and protect them they should not be ruined or lost. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) had always advised, cautioned and reminded us of this responsibility, so much so that we often thought that the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w) might on the next occasion assign them a share from our heritage.
Fear Allah in respect of the Holy Qur’an, lest others should excel and surpass you in following its tenets and in acting according to its orders. Fear Allah so far as prayers are concerned because prayers are pillars of your faith. Fear Allah in the matter of His Holy House (Kaa’ba). Let it not be deserted because if it is deserted, you (the Muslims) will be lost.
Do not forget Allah, struggle in His cause with your tongue, with your wealth and with your lives.
Develop mutual liking, friendship and love and help one another. Take care that you do not spurn and treat one another badly and unsympathetically.
Exhort people to do good and abstain them from evil, otherwise the vicious and the wicked will be your overlord and if you willingly allow such persons to be your rulers then your prayers will not be heard by Allah.
O’ sons of Abdul MutṬalib! Let there be no retaliation for the act of my murder, do not roam about with a drawn sword and with the slogan: “Amir al-Mu’minin is killed” and do not start the massacre of my opponents and enemies.
See to it that only one man, that is my assassin, is killed, as the punishment of the crime of murder is death and nobody else is molested. The punishment to the man who attempted the murder shall take place only when I die of the wound delivered by him and this punishment shall be only one stroke of sword to end his life. He should not be tortured before his death, his hands and feet should not be amputated because I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) saying: “Do not amputate hands and feet of anybody, be it a biting dog”.
Imam Ali (a.s) in the Qur’an
There are numerous verses which were revealed specifically in honour of Imam Ali (a.s) (be it him as an individual or within a small select group). It shall suffice to recall but a few of them in this entry:
Chapter 2 Verse 207:
“And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is affectionate to the servants” (al-Baqarah, 207)
It is unanimously agreed upon that this verse was revealed in honour of Imam Ali (a.s) whilst he sacrificed himself by sleeping in the Prophet’s bed, during an attempted assassination by the enemies in Makkah.
Chapter 3 Verse 61
“And unto him who dispute with thee therein after the knowledge hath come unto thee, Say! ( O’ Our Apostle Muhammad!) (Unto them) come ye, let us summon our sons, and (ye summon) your sons, and (we summon) our women and (ye) your women, and (we summon) ourselves and then let us invoke the curse of God on the liars!” (Aal Imran, 61)
This verse was revealed as part of a much larger narrative in which a delegation of Christians had challenged the Holy Prophet over his beliefs in regards to the Prophet Jesus. In terms of the challenge itself, the Prophet brought the Hassanain (Imams Hassan and Husayn) as his sons, Fatimah al-Zahra as his women and lastly Imam Ali (a.s) as his own pure self. Upon seeing the great power and conviction within the faces of the Ahlulbayt, the Christians backed away from the challenge.
Chapter 5- Verses 55-56
“Only Allah is your Guardian and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while Bowing. And whoever takes Allah and His Apostle and those who believe as his guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant.” (Al-Maida, 55-56)
According to the vast majority of interpretations, this verse was revealed specifically after Imam Ali (a.s) had given away his ring to a beggar whilst bowing in (Rukoo’) in his prayer. This verse is most commonly referred to as the Ayah of Walayah.
Chapter 33, Verse 33:
“Allah desires to keep away uncleanness from you, People of the House and make purify you with a thorough purification” (Al-Ahzab, 33)
This verse was revealed specifically in reference to the Holy Prophet, and the companions of the cloak namely Imam Ali (a.s), Sayyeda Fatimah al-Zahra, Imam Hassan (a.s) and Imam al-Husayn (a.s). Further details of this narrative can be viewed in the renowned Hadith al-Kisa’a.
This verse is known specifically as the verse of Purification and is used as a proof alluding to the Infallibility of the Holy Prophet and the Ahlulbayt.
Imam Ali’s (a.s) Wives and Children
Imam Ali’s (a.s) first marriage to the Holy Prophet’s daughter, Sayyeda Fatimah al-Zahra is viewed by Muslims as a perfect example of marriage, and declared according to tradition in the heavens by God himself.
This marriage occurred in the year 623 A.H and despite Imam Ali (a.s) being one of many individuals who had proposed to the Prophet’s daughter, the Prophet announced that God had ordered him to marry his daughter to Imam Ali (a.s).
From this Marriage, Imam Ali’s (a.s) had 5 children in total:
- Imam al-Hassan (a.s) b. Ali
- Imam al-Husayn (a.s) b. Ali
- Zaynab bint Ali
- Umm Kulthoom bint Ali
- Mohsin b. Ali (died in the womb)
Despite the marriage duration of Imam Ali (a.s) and Fatimah (a.s) being of relatively short time, it clearly served as the defining marriage for the Imam, which no future marriage could ever replace. This is particularly evident from the fact that despite polygamy being a perfectly normal practice employed by many of the Companions of the Prophet, Imam Ali (a.s)never once contemplated marrying another woman whilst Fatimah was still alive.
This can be seen as a reflection of the Prophetic Sunnah in which the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) never married another woman in the lifetime of his wife Khadijah and even after her death would recall her with fondness and sorrow over her passing. In both cases, Imam Ali (a.s) and the Holy Prophet never married another woman during the lifetime of their unique beloved favourite wives.
After Sayyeda Fatimah’s passing, Imam Ali (a.s) did marry numerous other women and through them had a range of other children.