He is one of the superiors of the Ashâb al-kirâm and the leader of the path of wilâyat (one of the two paths in tasawwuf). On the path of wilâyat, the fayzes (invisible rays of spiritual knowledge) and ma’rifats (knowledge about Allahu ta’âlâ’s Dhât [Person] and Attributes) come from Hadrat Alî. He was Rasûlullah’s son-in-law and fourth Khalîfa (Caliph). He is the first and the greatest of the Ahl al-Bayt and the fourth son of our Prophet’s uncle, Abû Tâlib. He is also the fourth of the sahâbîs given the glad tidings of Jannah and the third of those who became Muslims, but the first one as a child.
His nickname was Ab’al-Husayn. Another nickname he had was given to him by our Prophet as a compliment, which was “Abû Turâb (the father of earth)”. Since he became a Muslim without ever worshipping an idol, he was given the nicknames “Karram-Allahu wajhah”, and because of his bravery and great courage and how he attacked the enemy again and again he was called “Karrâr” and “Asadullah al-gâlib”. He was also called “Murtazâ” because of his total contentment with the Divine Foreknowledge.
Hadrat Alî was born twenty-three years before the Hegira (AD 599) in Mecca. He passed away in Kûfa. He was martyred in hijrî 40 (AD 660) and buried in Najaf.
His mother was Fâtima bint Asad ibn Hâshim, who, after the demise of Abdulmuttalib, raised our Master, the Prophet like one of her own children with compassion and love. Hadrat Alî had eighteen sons and eighteen daughters. Three of his sons (Hasan, Husayn and Muhsin) and two of his daughters (Zaynab and Umm Gulthum) were from Hadrat Fâtima bint Rasûlullah.
Hadrat Alî was a wheat-coloured man with a long neck, broad chest and well-built body. He had a smiling face, medium height and large black eyes. He had a thick beard. He grew his beard longer than the sunnat during wartime, and it spread to his shoulders. In the last years of his life, his hair and beard were white like cotton. He was at the highest rank both in ilm (knowledge) and amal (ibâdats, worships). He constantly cried due to fear of Allah.
Hadrat Alî lived with Rasûlullah from the age of five; he was raised with His education and discipline and drank from the fayz of that vast treasure of wisdom. Hadrat Alî was ahead of everyone due to being from the same lineage as Rasûlullah, growing under His care and discipline, his bravery, devoutness, intelligence and how articulate he was.
Allahu ta’âlâ said to the Ahl al-Bayt, that is, Hadrat Alî, Hadrat Fâtima, Hasan and Husayn, in the Qur’ân al-karîm, “Allahu ta’âlâ wants to remove rijs, that is, all faults and smears from you and wills to cleanse you with a complete purity.” The Ashâb al-kirâm asked, “O Rasûlallah! Who are the Ahl al-Bayt?” At that moment, Hadrat Alî came. Rasûlullah took him under His coat. Fâtima-tuz-Zahrâ came; He took her under His coat, too. Imâm al-Hasan came. He took him to His side, as well. Imâm al-Husayn came. He took him to His other side and said, “Here, those are my Ahl al-Bayt.” Those blessed people are called Âl al-Abâ and Âl ar-Rasûl (ridwânullahi ‘alaihim ajma’în).
He was praised in âyat al-karîma. He was commended in various hadîth ash-sharîfs. Hadrat Alî is the darling of Ahl as-sunnat, the leader of the awliyâ (those who are loved by Allahu ta’âlâ), the treasure of karâmat (extraordinary states seen in awliyâ). He pledged loyalty to all three Khalîfas, gladly accepted them. He helped them greatly.
Among children, he was first to accept Muhammad ‘alaihis-salâm’s prophethood. He became a Muslim when he was ten years old at the second year of bi’that (when our Prophet was informed of His prophethood).
Here is how he became a Muslim: One day, when he was only ten years old, he saw Rasûlullah and Hadrat Khadîja performing namâz (prayer) together. After their namâz ended, he asked, “What is this?” Rasûl al-akram (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) answered, “This is the religion of Allah. I invite you to this religion. Allahu ta’âlâ is one, and He has no partner. I command you to abandon the idols named Lât and Uzzâ.” Alî (radiy-Allahu ‘anh) said, “I should consult my father first.” Upon this, Rasûlullah said, “If you don’t accept Islâm, don’t reveal this secret to anyone!” The next morning, Hadrat Alî came to Rasûlullah’s presence and became a Muslim after saying, “O Rasûlallah, tell me about Islâm.” He is the third of those who became Muslims.
When Hadrat Alî started performing namâz, he wouldn’t notice if the world ended. In a battle, an arrow was stuck in his foot; when they removed the arrow in namâz, he didn’t even feel it.
Hadrat Alî was very selfless. The self-sacrifice he showed for the sake of Rasûl al-akram and his choosing Him over himself is beyond every praise. He was a living example of beautiful ethics. He was Allahu ta’âlâ’s lion. His bravery, hardiness and courage were unrivaled, and he never overstepped the mark.
After accepting Islâm, Hadrat Alî stayed in the presence and service of our Master, the Prophet during the entire Mecca era, which lasted for thirteen years. He attained Rasûlullah’s love and praise. He became one of the closest helpers of our Master, the Prophet, enduring every torment and persecution of the Meccan polytheists. When Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was given permission to migrate (make hegira), he accepted all the risks and laid in His bed instead of Him without fearing anyone. The next day, he returned everything he was entrusted with to their owners and set off from Mecca al-muqarrama and reached our Master, the Prophet in Qubâ.
He made a great effort in the building of Masjid an-Nabawî. He joined Badr, Uhud, Trench and all the other ghazâs and showed extraordinary effort and bravery. He received wounds to sixteen different places on his body only in the Ghazâ of Uhud. In many of the ghazâs, Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) gave the banner to Hadrat Alî.
Hadrat Alî was given the duty of writing the terms of peace in the Treaty of Hudaybiya. He joined the Ghazâ of Khaybar, spectacular bravery. In this battle, he used a heavy iron gate as his shield.
Hadrat Alî, who showed great heroism in the Ghazâ of Hunayn, couldn’t join the Ghazâ of Tabuk because our Master, Rasûlullah left him on duty in Medîna. Later, He made him the commander of the army in the Battle of Yemen. When Mecca al-muqarrama was conquered, He gave the duty of demolishing the idols in Kâ’ba to Hadrat Alî.
When our Master, the Prophet passed away, Hadrat Alî washed and shrouded Him. This last blessed duty fall to him, Hadrat Abbâs, Usâma ibn Zayd, Fadl and Qusam.
After the burial, he pledged loyalty to Hadrat Abû Bakr (radiy-Allahu ‘anh), who was chosen as the Khâlifa, helped him in the matters of state and held the position of a judge. He pledged loyalty to the caliphate of Hadrat ‘Umar as well and became his advisor and judge. Hadrat ‘Umar even said, “If it weren’t for Hadrat Alî, ‘Umar would have perished.” He also pledged loyalty to the caliphate of Hadrat ‘Uthman and became his vizier in the matters of caliphate.
Before Hadrat ‘Uthman was martyred, Hadrat Alî took the necessary measures to protect Hadrat ‘Uthman either himself or with his sons. When he heard that Hadrat ‘Uthman was martyred, he said to his sons with great grief, “How could you let him be martyred when you are alive?”
Hadrat Alî was chosen as the Khalîfa at the month of Dhu’l-hijja on the 35th year of Hegira in Medîna al-munawwara after the harrowing martyrdom incident that he couldn’t prevent no matter how hard he tried.
His first khutba: Hadrat Alî, when the pledge of loyalty to him was completed (after he was chosen as the Khalîfa), went up to the minbar. After saying hamd (praise and gratitude) to Allahu ta’âlâ and salawât to our Master, the Prophet, he continued, “There is no doubt that Allahu ta’âlâ, Who is the Most Glorious, has sent a book that will lead mankind to salvation. In this book of His, he explained good and evil, so cling on to the good and abandon the evil. Perform the fards (obligatory duties) for Allah so that they will take you to Jannah. Allahu ta’âlâ values ikhlâs (sincerity, doing things for the sake of Allah) and the unity and solidarity of Muslims. Muslim is a person whom, other than circumstances where it is deserved, people are safe from his hand and tongue (that is, from physical and verbal harm). Hurting Muslims is only halâl in circumstances where it’s wâjib (almost as compulsory as fard). Rush to help people. Especially, do the last service to your dead. For, from the front people, from the back the qiyâmat (doomsday) surround you. Do not cause difficulty so that your faults will stay concealed. For, people look at others, refrain from mistreating Allahu ta’âlâ’s born slaves. Fear Him. You are responsible for the animals and the soil on which you stand. Obey Allahu ta’âlâ and do not rebel against Him. When you see goodness take it; when you see evil abandon it. Remember that once you were few and weak on this earth.”
On the seventeenth of Ramadân ash-sharîf on Friday, in the 40th year of the Hegira (AD 660), the Kharijite Abdurrahmân ibn Muljam struck him on the head with a poisoned sword while Hadrat Alî was conducting the morning namâz. Two days later, he passed away as a martyr at the age of sixty-three. His last words as he passed away were “Lâ ilâha illallah Muhammadun rasûlullah.” After he was washed and shrouded by his son Hadrat Hasan and his namâz was performed, he was buried at Najaf, which was considered to be the cemetery of Kûfa.
He knew the language of the Qur’ân al-karîm better than everyone else. His understanding of the eloquence, rhetoric and the essence of the Qur’ân al-karîm was matchless.
And again, Hadrat Alî knew the sunnat of our Master, the Prophet better than everyone else because he was one of the Ahl al-Bayt.
He narrated 585 hadîth ash-sharîfs. 20 of them are in both Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh al-Muslim. Other than those, 9 hadîth ash-sharîfs are in Bukhâri, 15 hadîth ash-sharîfs are in Muslim, and all of them are in Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s book named “Musnad”.
Hadrat Alî was one of the greatest scholars of fiqh (knowledge dealing with what Muslims should do and should not do: actions, ibâdats) in Ashâb al-kirâm. Unresolvable issues were referred to him. The rules about fiqh that he reported were published under the name “Mawsûat (Encyclopedia of) Fiqh of Alî ibn Abî Tâlib”.
He was praised by many hadîth ash-sharîfs. Some of the hadîth ash-sharîfs about Hadrat Alî:
“Alî is my brother both in this world and in the âkhirat.”
“Alî shines like the morning star in Jannah.”
“I am the city of knowledge, and Alî is the gate of that city.”
“Alî is from me, and I am from Alî; all Muslims love him.”
“Looking at Alî is an ibâdat. He who hurts Alî hurts me.”
“I gave the best of the women to the best of the men.”
“The love of these four people doesn’t gather in the heart of munâfiqs (hypocrites): Abû Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and Alî (radiy-Allahu ‘anhum).”
Some of the hadîth ash-sharîfs Hadrat Alî (radiy-Allahu ‘anh) narrated from our Prophet (‘alaihis-salâm):
“If a person who has fard debt performs a nâfila (supererogatory) without making the qadâ of it, he is working pointlessly. Until that person fulfils his debt, Allahu ta’âlâ won’t accept his nâfila namâzes.”
“Give the zakât of your properties. Know that those who do not give their zakâts, who do not accept it as a duty, do not have namâz, fast, hajj and jihâd nor îmân.”
Some of the valuable words of his which affect the heart are:
“People are enemies to what they don’t know.”
“I swear to Allahu ta’âlâ that only Muslims love me and only munâfiqs hate me.”
“Takwâ (piety) is to stop repeating the same mistake, to stop being deceived.”
“I would be the slave of anyone who teaches me a letter (even something as small as a letter, that is how important knowledge is).”
“The best of you are those who truly repent to their sins a lot.”
“The way to stay away from all evil is holding one’s tongue.”
“No one’s life on earth is forever. Both its brutality and blessings are both fleeting.”
“You can’t reach the right without consulting (istishâra).”
“Laziness age people before their time.”
“Making an orphan cry is cruelty.”
“Honesty is the pillar of Islâm, the support of îmân (belief).”
“The envious are always sick; the stingy people are always poor.”
“Being contented is better than the humiliation of bowing down (to others).”
“Îmân and hayâ (virtue) are a whole that can’t be separated.”
“Îmân and ilm are like twins and friends who don’t part.”
“Stupidity is a problem that has no solution and an illness that has no remedy.”
“A person who invites to the path of Allah without performing the ibâdats is like a bow without an arrow.”
“A born slave should only have hope in his Rabb (Allahu ta’âlâ) and fear only his sins.”
“Refraining from harâms is the glory of the wise and the nature of the honourable.”
“World is a beautiful, deceptive and fleeting mirage; it’s a support that crumbles fast.”
“When you decide to do a good deed, make haste so that your nafs can’t defeat and deter you.”
“Silence gives you dignity and saves you from the trouble of apologizing.”
“Passion is the sultan of the shaytâns (devils) in the heart of those who are remiss (of Allahu ta’âlâ’s commandments and prohibitions).”
“For Muslims, the world is a prison, death is a gift, and Jannah is the destination.”
“Among people, the person who knows Allah best is the one who loves Him deeply and respects Him completely.”
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