Nobody before or after him has ever been born in the House of God, the Most High. It was a mark of him being honored by God, the Most High, may His name be exalted, and of his position being dignified in its greatness.
His mother was Fatima, daughter of Asad Ibn Hashim Ibn Abd Manaf, may God be pleased with her. She was like a mother to the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, and he (the Apostle) was brought up under her care.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib
Father: Abu Talib bin Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim.
Mother: Fatimah bint Asad bin Hashim bin Abd Munaf.
Kunniyat (Patronymic): Abul Hasan and Husayn, Abu Turab
Laqab (Title): Al-Wasi, Amir al-Mu’minin, Al-Murtaza
Birth: He was born in the Ka’ba, in thirty ‘Am al-Fil (the year of the elephant).
Martyrdom: He was martyred at the age of 63, by the Khwariji assassin named Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam at Kufa during the month of Ramadhan on Monday, the 21st Ramadan 40 A.H, while leading the morning prayers and is buried in Najaf on the outskirts of Kufa.
Imam Ali (RA) Unique Birth
When Imam Ali (AS) mother, Fatima bint-e-Asad, came to Kaaba, she felt weighed down by intense pain of pregnancy. She knelt down before the Holy structure and prayed humbly to God.
Abbas, son of Abdul Muttalib, saw Hazrat Ali’s mother praying to God.
No sooner had she raised her head from supplication, then the wall of the sacred House split by a solemn miracle. Fatima entered the Kaaba and that portion returned to its normal position.
Abbas and his companions flocked at the gate of the Sacred House which was locked, and tried to open it, but in vain. They then decided to give it up, considering the miraculous nature of the event and the Divine will in action. The news of this miraculous incident soon spread like wildfire in Mecca.
Hazrat Ali was born within the Kaaba with his eyes closed and his body in humble prostration before the Almighty. Fatima stayed in the Kaaba for three days and as the fourth day approached she stepped out, carrying her gem in her arms. To her surprise, she found the Holy Prophet awaiting to receive the newly-born child in his anxious arms. Imamat feeling the subtle touch of Prophethood, Hazrat Ali opened his eyes and saluted the Divine Prophet “Assalamo Alaika Ya Rasoolallah (Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah).”
Imam Ali’s birth in the Kaaba is unique in the history of the world. Neither a Prophet nor a Divine Saint was ever blessed with such an honour.
Imam Ali (RA) Upbringing
He was brought up under the care of and affection of the Holy Prophet. As Hazrat Ali says:
“The Holy Prophet brought me up in his own arms and fed me with his own morsel. I followed him wherever he went like a baby camel following its mother. Each day a new aspect of his character would beam out of his noble person and I would accept it and follow it as a command.” (Nahj-ul-Balagha)
Ten years in the company of the Holy Prophet had kept him so close and inseparable, that he was on with him in character, knowledge, self-sacrifice, forbearances, bravery, kindness, generosity, oratory and eloquence.
From his very infancy, he prostrated before God along with the Holy Prophet. AS he himself said, “I was the first to pray to God along with the Holy Prophet.”
“Hazrat Ali persevered in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet,” says Allama Masoodi, “all along his childhood.”
God created him pure and holy and kept him steadfast on the right path. Through Imam Ali is indisputably the first to embrace Islam when the Holy Prophet called up his listeners to do so, yet by the very fact that since his infancy he was brought up with the Holy Prophet and followed him in every action and deed including prostration before God, he can be said to be born a Muslim.
Hazrat Ali, at all times, accompanied the Holy Prophet to help and protect him from his enemies. He used to write down the verses of the Holy Quran and discuss them with the Prophet as soon as they were revealed by the Holy Messenger, the Angel Gabriel. He was so closely associated with the Holy Prophet that as soon as the verse was revealed to him during the day or night, Imam Ali was the first to hear it.
The Prophet has said to Hazrat Ali:
“O Ali, you are my brother in this world as well as the Hereafter”.
“I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate.”
“Nobody knows Allah except I and Ali.”
“Nobody knows me except Allah and Ali.”
“If you want to see the knowledge of Adam, the piety of Noah, the devotion of Abraham, the awe of Moses, and the service and abstinence of Christ, look at the bright face of Ali.”
Imam Ali (RA) Marriage
Under Divine instruction, the Apostle of Allah married his beloved daughter Fatima to Ali, though others vainly tried for her hand.
Among their children, Imam Hassan, Imam Hussain, Janab-e-Zainab, and Ume-Kulsum have left their marks on the history of the world.
After the death of Janab-e-Fatima, Imam Ali married Ummul Banin. Hazrat Abbas was born out of this wedlock and was so handsome that he was fondly called Qamar-e-Bani Hashim. He personified loyalty and bravery and proved it in the battlefield of Karbala.
Imam Ali (RA), the most prominent figure of Islam
He remained in the company of the Holy Prophet (SAW) since his childhood. He became a ward of the Holy Prophet and received his training under the loving care and guidance of the Holy Prophet.
Hazrat Ali himself described the prophet’s love for him in the following words: “I was still a new born baby when the Holy Prophet took me from my parents. I used to cling to him and he used to feed me.
To me, he was like a guiding star and I used to follow his actions and deeds carefully.
I was attached to him like a foal of camel attached to its mother.
He used to place before me high values of morality, and used to advise me to follow them; every year, he would spend some days at the grotto of the mount Hira and I used to be with him.
I was his only companion then and none else could meet him at Hira, there I used to see the light of revelation, and use to smell the fragrance of the Prophethood.
Once Holy Prophet told me: Ali! You have attained a very imminent place. You see what I see and you hear what I hear.
”(Nahjul Balagha sermon 190).
Ali (AS) is also admired for his unmatched bravery.
He participated in all the wars of early Islam fought under the command of the Holy Prophet. In all the battles, Ali was the flag bearer of the forces of the Muslims.
He was the bravest man among the Muslims. For his unusual bravery, he won such titles as “Asad Allah,” the lion of God, or “Haidar e Karrar” the warrior whom nobody could match. During his lifetime he killed over a thousand persons of the enemy.
Ali (AS) also held remarkable distinctions in the realm of knowledge and wisdom. He was the most learned man of his age. He was a living encyclopedia of knowledge and learning.
After the Holy Prophet, he was the most eloquent person of the age. Because of his knowledge and wisdom, he is known as the “Second Solomon”.
His wise sayings and aphorisms have attained the status of classical proverbs. He was the first person to write the grammar of the Arabic language.
Among the early Muslims, he is the only person whose collections of writings have come down to us under the title of Nahj-ul-Balagha.
He was a distinguished poet. He enjoys fame as the “Father of Rhetoric”.
He was an authority on Mathematics. He was a master of the science of Physics. He had deep medical knowledge.
After the Holy Prophet he is regarded as the greatest philosopher of Islam. He was a calligrapher and wrote in a beautiful hand.
Spiritually, he was also second to none. He was the first person to learn the Quran by heart.
According to commentators, there are at least three hundred verses in the Holy Quran which have an implied reference to Ali.
After the Holy Prophet, he was the chief judge among the early Muslims.
He is regarded as the “Father of Fiqh”. He was the first revivalist among the Muslims.
He interpreted the doctrines of Islam and systematized them. He is regarded as the “Father of Sufism”. All schools of Tasawwuff trace their origin to him.
Syed Amir Ali, a famous Muslim scholar and jurist assessed the achievements of Ali in the following terms: “His bravery won him the title of the “Lion of God”, and his learning that of the “Gate of Knowledge”.
The Successorship of Imam Ali (RA) at Ghadir Khumm
Ghadir Khumm is a location some miles from Makkah on the road to Madinah. When the Prophet (s) was passing by this place on 18 Dhu’l Hijja (10 March 632) on his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage, the verse “O Messenger, Proclaim what has been sent down…” (Qur’an, 5:60) was revealed.
He therefore stopped to make an announcement to the pilgrims who accompanied him from Makkah and who were to disperse from that junction to their respective destinations. By the orders of the Prophet (s) a special pulpit made of branches of trees was erected for him. After the noon prayer the Prophet (s) sat on the pulpit and made his last public address to the largest gathering before his death three months later.
The highlight of his sermon was when, taking Imam ‘Ali (a) by the hand, the Prophet (s) asked his followers whether he was superior in authority (awla) to the believers themselves. The crowd cried out in one voice: “It is so, O Apostle of Allah”
He then declared: “He of whom I am the master (mawla), of him ‘Ali is also the master (mawla). O God, be the friend of him who is his friend, and be the enemy of him who is his enemy.”
Immediately after the Prophet (s) finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favor upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion. (Qur’an 5:3)
After his speech, the Prophet (s) asked everybody to give the oath of allegiance to ‘Ali (a) and congratulate him. Among those who did so was ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, who said: “Well done Ibn Abi Talib! Today you became the master of all believing men and women.”
An Arab, having heard of the event of Ghadir Khumm, came up to the Prophet (s) and said: “You commanded us to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah. We obeyed you. You ordered us to perform the prayers five times a day and we obeyed. You ordered us to observe fasts during the month of Ramadhan and we obeyed. Then you commanded us to offer pilgrimage to Makkah and we obeyed. But you are not satisfied with all this and you raised your cousin by your hand and imposed him upon us as our master by saying ‘Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla.’ Is this imposition from Allah or from you?” The Prophet (s) said : “By Allah who is t he only deity! This is from Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious.”
On hearing this reply the man turned back and proceeded towards his she-camel saying:
“O Allah! If what Muhammad said is correct then fling on us a stone from the sky and subject us to severe pain and torture.” He had not reached his she-camel when Allah flung at him a stone which struck him on his head, penetrated his body and left him dead.
It was on this occasion that Allah, the exalted, caused to descend the following verses:
A questioner questioned about the punishment to fall. For the disbelievers there is nothing to avert it, from Allah the Lord of the Ascent. (Qur’an 70:1-3)