Hazrat Ali Radiallahu Anhu – Biography
Hadrat Ali R.A was the son of Abu Talib, a prominent Quraish chief and custodian of the Holy Ka’bah. Abu Talib was so-called because he was the father of “Talib,” the eldest brother of Hadrat Ali. The real name of Abu Talib was ‘Abd Manaf.’ However, he was more popularly known by his surname than by his real name. Abu Talib was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Abdul Muttalib was also a surname, his real name being Shaybah. Abdul Muttalib was the son of Hashim. Hashim was a great man of his line, and his descendants came to be known as Hashimites.
The mother of Hadrat Ali was Fatima. She was the daughter of Asad who was a son of Hashim. Fatima was a cousin of Abu Talib. Thus, both the father and mother of Hadrat Ali were Hashimites, and that was a great honor.
ANCESTRY OF HAZRAT ALI AND THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD :
holy Prophet was the son of Abdullah who was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Abdullah and Abu Talib were real brothers. Abu Talib was thus the real paternal uncle of the holy Prophet of Islam. Hadrat Ali was the first cousin of the holy Prophet. The holy Prophet and Hadrat Ali had a common grandfather who was Abdul Muttalib.
Abdul Muttalib was the son of Hashim, who was the son of Abd Manaf, who was the son of Qusay, who was the son of Murrah, who was the son a Kaab, who was the son of Luayy, who was the son of Ghalib, who was the son of Fihr, who was the son of Malik, who was the son of Nadr, who was the son of Kannah. Beyond Kannah, the ancestry extended to Hadrat Ismail, and Hadrat Ibrahim, who flourished some 2,500 years earlier.
DATE OF BIRTH :
The exact date of birth of Hadrat Ali is not known with any degree of certainty. According to Traditions, Hadrat Ali was born on the 13th of Rajab in the 28th year of the Elephant era. The Elephant era, according to the annals of Arabia commenced when Abraha, the Christian Viceroy of Yemen, invaded Mecca with the intention of destroying the Ka’bah, and shifting the centre of pilgrimage to Yemen. The invasion failed, the Christian army had to beat a retreat without achieving its object. That marked the retreat of Christianity from the heartland of Arabia and paved the way for the rise of Islam.
The holy Prophet of Islam was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’. According to scholars, ‘The Year of the Elephant’ corresponds to the year 571 of the Christian Era [CE]. On this basis, the year of the birth of Hadrat Ali would have to be placed around 599 or 600 CE. In any case, Hadrat Ali was at the junction of two centuries, the sixth and the seventh.
BIRTH OF HADRAT ALI RADIALLAHU ANHU :
Hadrat Ali was born in unusual circumstances. On the 13th day of the holy month of Rajab, Fatima, the mother of Hadrat Ali, visited the Ka’bah to perform the pilgrimage. During the course of the pilgrimage and while circumambulating the Ka’bah, Fatima felt the pangs of childbirth. She retired to a secluded place in the precincts of the holy Ka’bah, and there Hadrat Ali was born. Hadrat Ali has thus had the unique honour to be born in the House of God. This unparalleled honour had endowed Hadrat Ali with a halo of sanctity that has become the subject of many legends. A hundred years later, Zain-ul-Abidin, a grandson of Ali (son of Hadrat Hussein), met an Arab woman at Najaf who told him that her grandmother had helped Fatima on the occasion of Hadrat Ali’s birth. She narrated that according to the account of her grandmother, the child was beautiful; a smile played on his lips; he did not cry like other children; and his birth did not cause any pain to his mother.
HIS NAME :
Fatima wanted to name her child “Asad” after her father and Abu Talib wanted to name him Zaid. When both mother and the child returned home, the holy Prophet, and Hadrat Khadijah came to see her newborn child. Since his birth, he had not opened his eyes, and that worried both Fatima and Abu Talib. However, when the holy Prophet took the child in his lap, then he opened his eyes. So the first person that Hadrat Ali saw after his birth was the holy Prophet. When the holy Prophet was asked whether he approved of the child being named either Asad or Zaid, he said that since the child was born in the House of God, he should be named Ali (the word Ali being a derivative of Allah). Hadrat Ali had thus had the distinction of being named after Allah. No one before him had ever been so named. Furthermore, the name acquired more sanctity because it was suggested by the holy Prophet.
HIS LIFE :
THE BIOGRAPHER AND HIS HERO :
A biographer can be considered the alter-ego of the hero, whose biography is written. There is a common bond between the biographer and the hero which transcends the considerations of time and space. In writing this biography of Hadrat Ali, I have had some communion with the soul of Hadrat Ali, and in some mysterious way, I had the necessary guidance in appreciating such events in the life of Hadrat Ali which were otherwise obscure. Just as a lover locks the image of his beloved in his heart, thus the biographer locks the image of his hero in his heart, and he can enter into a dialogue with such image.
BIOGRAPHY AND HISTORY :
There are differences in the approach between a biographer and a historian. A biography is usually an exercise in hero worship and the biographer is prone to paint the picture of his hero in bright colours. On the other hand, the approach of a historian is for the most part objective and constructively critical. Every hero of a biographer may not necessarily be a great men from the viewpoint history. Where the hero is a great man in history, his biography has to be projected in the context of history. Hadrat Ali is indeed a great man in the history of mankind in general and the history of Islam in particular. In undertaking this study in the life of Hadrat Ali, I have had to act not only as a biographer, but as a historian as well. This means that besides narrating the main events in the Hadrat Ali’s life, I must examine the impact of such events on history. As such, I must critically examine the main events in Hadrat Ali’s life in order to ascertain their causes and effects. Of course such criticism has to be constructive.
GREATNESS OF HADRAT ALI :
Greatness is a phenomenon in which specially gifted persons who are endowed with extraordinary qualities appear on the world stage from time to time. History is the science which studies this phenomenon of greatness. Usually every person who scales the heights of greatness and acquires a place in history is a success from the worldly point of view. Here there is a peculiarity in the greatness of Hadrat Ali. He was great, indeed very great, but he was not a success from the worldly point of view in the conventional sense that the word ‘success’ is understood. We have thus to undertake a study to probe into the causes that militated against the success of Hadrat Ali from the worldly point of view in spite of his greatness. We will also have to consider how he is great when he did not succeed in the worldly sense.
PERIODS IN THE LIFE OF HADRAT ALI :
The life of Hadrat Ali can be divided into three distinct periods. The first period comprises the first 32 years of his life and extends from 600 to 632 CE. I call this period the period of the education and action. It was during this period that he received his education under the loving care of the holy Prophet; imbibed with values of Islam; and acquired all the attributes that contribute to greatness. In the post-Hijri years, he emerged as the greatest warrior of the age. He distinguished himself as a great warrior in the battles of Badr, Uhud and the Ditch. His crowning success was his conquest of the Khyber. In battle he killed more men [through hand-to-hand combat] than any other single man in history. All those who fought in the duels against him were invariably killed. He came to be known as the “Lion of God.”
He acted as a Justice, and acquired fame for his wise and well-reasoned judgments. He acted as the Governor of Yemen, and acquired a good deal of experience as administrator. He had the honour of announcing the verses of the Holy Qur’an about the “Declaration of Immunity” to the people on behalf of the Holy Prophet on the location of the Hajj. When the holy Prophet died, Hadrat Ali was in the prime of his youth and he was enlightened, experienced, wise, valiant — the embodiment of virtue. He had expected that because of his outstanding qualities and his relationship to the holy Prophet, he would be chosen as the Caliph. He was however, passed over, and this state of affairs continued for 24 years when the office of the caliphate was held by Hadrat Abu Bakr, Hadrat Umar and Hadrat Othman.
This period constitutes the second period of the life of Hadrat Ali. During this time, although Hadrat Ali acted as the Counsellor to Caliphs, he generally kept aloof from active politics. I call this period as the period of inaction and contemplation. It was a period of inaction from the political point of view, because he kept aloof from politics. It was the period of contemplation from the spiritual point of view, for this period was spent by Hadrat Ali mostly in prayer, religious exercises and dialogue with God. The further he went from the world, the nearer he got to God.
The third period began when Hadrat Ali was elected as Caliph. This period only lasted for five years. I call this period the period of frustration. Hadrat Ali found the caliphate to be a bed of thorns. During those five years, he fought three battles: (i) the Battle of the Camel, (ii) the Battle of Siffin, and (iii) the Battle of Nahrawan. All three battles were fought against the Muslims and led to considerable bloodshed. It was a matter of the great shock for him, that instead of fighting against non-Muslims, he had to fight against Muslims. During this period, Hadrat Ali had to suffer from frustration because of repeated and continuous betrayals, even by men close to him. At the outset of his caliphate, he was betrayed by Banu Umayya when Muawiyah defied him and accused him of involvement in the murder of Hadrat Othman. He was betrayed by the people of Medina who did not respond to his call to undertake ‘jihad’ against Muawiyah. He was betrayed by Talha and Zubair, who took the oath of allegiance [from] him and later defected. He was betrayed by Hadrat A’isha his mother-in-law, who took top arms against him. He was betrayed by the people of Basra who had taken the oath of allegiance [from] him but later defected. At Siffin he was betrayed by his own army who would not fight when the victory was in sight. In the matter of arbitration, he was betrayed by his umpire Abu Musa Ashari, who instead of defending his cause, deposed him. He had to face the succession of the Kharijites who had originally fought on his side at the battle of Siffin. He was betrayed by Khurrity b. Raashid who had been his ally, but later revolted against him, and created trouble in Basra. He was betrayed by his own brother Aquil who was not satisfied with the allowance that Hadrat Ali gave him, and joined Muawiyah who rewarded him handsomely. He was betrayed by his cousin Abdullah b. Abbas when he had appointed as the Governor of Basra, and who left his post after misappropriated heavy fines from the Bait-ul-Mal. The final active betrayal came when Hadrat Ali was married, by a fanatic Kharijite.
OPPOSITION OF THE QURAISH :
The Quraish had played the leading role in the extension of the Muslim dominion. Although Hadrat Ali was a Quraish, he could not win their support. In his book Ali, the Superman, Dr. Mohyuddin observed the following about the Quraish’s opposition to Hadrat Ali:
“Hadrat Ali hoped to establish a world-Islamic Empire, a kingdom of God on earth, where peace was to reign supreme and mankind could move steadily towards perfection. That he failed so completely, is one of the and enigmas of Islamic history. The student is perplexed, and indeed despondent, when he discovers that the entire tribe of the Quraish gave wholehearted support to the first two Caliphs, Abu Bakr (who belonged to the tribe of Banu Adi, but not to their two successors, who also belonged to the Quraish tribe). It is baffling indeed that they obeyed Abu Bakr and Umar blindly, but deserted Othman and Ali, whom they bitterly opposed and finally murdered. From the moment that Ali came to power, he was resisted and obstructed by the Quraish in spite of the fact that the aristocratic Quraish knew that Ali had noble blood in his veins, blood which had flowed in the veins of the holy Prophet, and that in addition he had those personal traits of character, which made him unique amongst all the people of his age. Ali’s knowledge, piety, bravery, generalship, services for the propagation of Islam, and his achievements on the battlefield for the defence of Islam, made him superior to the first two Caliphs. He was superbly equipped to fill the office of the Caliph, yet the entire race seems to have taken up arms against him. In spite of his qualities of mind and spirit, he seems to have been sacrificed to the prevailing tribal spirit of his countrymen. Perhaps it was his superiority more than anything else which led to his downfall. He knew himself to be superior to his contemporaries and he hated the petty tribal chiefs of the Quraish who were interested only in their self aggrandizement. What is more, he let them know his contempt for them, and frequently acted independently of them in defiance of established custom.”
HADRAT ALI, THE MAN – PHYSICAL APPEARANCE :
Hadrat Ali was of medium-high height. He had a superb head with a face as noble as the man himself. His nose was straight, and his mouth was beautifully formed. His eyes were most commanding, being full of light and luster. There was an note of music in his voice. There was an aura of spirituality and a strong personal magnetism about him. In his youth he was handsome and full of fiery vigour. When he was older he became corpulent and bulky. His gray hair gave way to baldness. His beard, however, remained thick and luxuriant, and he often dyed it red. He was stout, genial, charitable, meditative, reserved, and he was a man who towered high above the people around him because of his intellectual and spiritual attainments.
HADRAT ALI R.A, THE MAN :
Hadrat Ali was endowed with all the qualities that make a man great. He was not only great, he was regarded as a superman, an ideal man. He was the paragon of virtue. He enjoyed fame for his piety and religious devotions. He was the embodiment of Islamic values. In his love of God and His Messenger, he was second to none. When praying to God, his absorption was so intense that he often lost consciousness. His mind was so sure that he could hold communion with God. He had learned the Holy Qur’an by heart, and he could quote appropriate verses to suit every occasion. He was most truthful and honest. He was most humble. He was simple in his habits. He avoided display and luxury. He lived the life of an ascetic. Even when he was Caliph he lived in an ordinary house. The door of his house remained open to everyone at all times. He was most generous. He was most liberal in giving charity. He always came to the help of those who were distressed and involved in any difficulty. He looked after widows and orphans as if they were members of his own household. He was a warrior, a general, and a man conspicuous for his bravery and valour. Indeed he was braver than any other man in history. He fought hundreds of duels in his lifetime, and in all such encounters his rivals were worsted. In the various battles, he killed a record number of enemies. He was skilful swordsman and his sword never missed its mark. In the various battles that he fought, he never turned his back. In the battle of Uhud, he received so many wounds that the nurses were unable to dress them. He bore the pain with great patience. The people around him misunderstood him, yet he did not lose patience. He was most chivalrous, and forgiving. He would forgive even his worst enemies. He was a great scholar. His book Nahj ul-Balagha is a living proof of his scholarship and erudition. There was a sense of humour about him, and sometimes he said things in a lighter vein to bring home the point he had in mind. He was a master of the simile and metaphor, and when bringing home a point he always illustrated it with appropriate metaphors and similes. He was a great philosopher, and there was great depth in his thoughts which were expressed in his writing. He was known for his wisdom. He was indeed wiser than Solomon. Most of his wise sayings have attained the dimensions of proverbs. He was a great orator. His sermons were most impressive. He was a master of rhetoric. He is regarded as the father of Islamic learning. He has left a deep mark on Islamic theology. He was the founder of Arabic grammar. He was a great poet. He was the father of Sufism. He was the father of Islamic jurisprudence. He was in impartial judge and his famous judgments are the most valuable assets of Islamic jurisprudence. He was a skilful administrator. He introduced numerous reforms. He was an eminent political thinker for his political thought had an air of modernity about it. The greatness of Hadrat Ali as a man is multi-dimensional in character, and after the holy Prophet, he was the greatest Muslim whose memory is honoured by Muslims all over the world.
WIVES AND CHILDREN OF HADRAT ALI :
The principal wife of Hadrat Ali was Hadrat Fatima Radiallahu Anha, the favourite daughter of the holy Prophet Muhammad. During the lifetime of Hadrat Fatima, Hadrat Fatima Radiallahu Anha was the mother of three sons and two daughters. The sons were Hasan, Hussain, and Mohsin. Mohsin died during childhood. The daughters were Zainab and Umm Kulsum.
AFTER THE DEATH OF HADRAT FATIMA R.A, HADRAT ALI R.A MARRIED A NUMBER OF WIVES. THEY WERE:
(1) Umm-ul-Bunian who was the daughter of Hazam b. Khalid. Hadrat Ali had five sons from her, namely: Abdullah, Jafar, Abbas, Othman, and Umar. All of them except Abbas were martyred in the battle of Karbala along with Hadrat Hussain.
(2) Khaula was the daughter of Jafar Hanfiyah. She was the mother of the son known as Muhammad b. Hanfiyah.
(3) Umm Habib who was the daughter of Rabiah. She gave birth to a son Umar, in the daughter Ruqiya.
(4) Asma who was the daughter of Umais. She was in the first instance married to Hadrat Jafar, an elder brother of Hadrat Ali. On the death of Hadrat Jafar, Hadrat Abu Bakr married her. After the death of Hadrat Abu Bakr she married Hadrat Ali. She had to sons from Hadrat Ali, namely: Yahya and Muhammad Asghar.
(5) Laila who was the daughter of Masud. She was the mother of two sons, namely Ubaidullah and Abu Bakr.
(6) Umama who was a daughter of Abi Al Aa’s and Hadrat Zainab and elder sister of Hadrat Fatima. Her son from Hadrat Ali bore the name of Muhammad Awsat.
(7) Umm Saeed who was a daughter of Urwa. She bore Hadrat Ali two daughters, namely: Umm-ul-Hasan and Rumia.
(8) Muhyat was a daughter of the famous Arab poet Imra-ul-Qais. She gave birth to a daughter who expired in infancy.
Hadrat Ali married nine wives in all including Hadrat Fatima. The number of wives at a time however did not exceed four. He had a few slave girls of whom Humia and Umm Shuaib bore him 12 daughters, Nafisa, Zainab, Ruqiya, Umm-ul-Karaam, Humaira, Umm Salma, Sughra, Khadija, Umm Hani, Umm Kulthum Jamana and Maimuna. Hadrat Ali was, in all, the father of 15 sons and 18 daughters. [total = 33 children]
MAN OF MANY DISTINCTIONS :
Hadrat Ali was a man of many distinctions. He owed his distinctions to his relationship with the holy Prophet, his valour, his knowledge and his spiritual attainments.
HIS BIRTH :
* He had the distinction of being a Hashimite both on the side of his father as well as his mother.
* He had the distinction of having a name which was derivative of the name of Allah. No other person before him bore the name of Ali.
HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY PROPHET PEACE BE UPON HIM :
* On opening his eyes after his birth, the first person who he saw was the holy Prophet.
* The holy Prophet gave him his name.
* As an infant he had the honour of sucking the tongue of the holy Prophet.
* He was the first cousin of the holy Prophet. He became a ward of the holy Prophet, and was brought up as a family member of the household of the holy Prophet.
* He received his training under the loving care and guidance of the holy Prophet.
* When the holy Prophet declared his mission, he was the first teenager to be converted to Islam.
* Hadrat Khadijah and Hadrat Ali were the first two persons to pray behind the holy Prophet.
* When the holy Prophet invited the Hashimites to a dinner, and aked them to aid him in his mission, Hadrat Ali was the only person to respond to the call of the holy Prophet.
* He risked his life for the sake of the holy Prophet and slept on his bed when the holy Prophet left for Medina and the Quraish youth besieged the house with a view to killing the holy Prophet.
* When the holy Prophet left for Medina, he entrusted to Hadrat Ali the task of returning the belongings of the people. They had placed their belongings in the custody of the holy Prophet for safekeeping.
* When the holy Prophet joined the Muhajirs and the Ansars in fraternity in Medina, he allied himself in fraternity with Hadrat Ali.
* The holy Prophet married his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra to Hadrat Ali.
* He was commissioned by the holy Prophet to write the agreement which came to be known as the Hudaybia Pact.
* After the conquest of Mecca, he had the unique distinction of standing on the shoulders of the holy Prophet and destroying the idols in the Ka’bah.
* He was entrusted by the holy Prophet with the special mission of announcing the Quraish Sura “Al Bara’at” (Immunity) to the people on the occasion of the pilgrimage.
* He was the only person to whom the holy Prophet referred to as the “Maula” [Master] of the Ummah
* When the holy Prophet proposed “Mubahala” [a special kind of debate] with the Christians and the Najran, he chose Hadrat Ali as his “second man.”
* The progeny of the holy Prophet descends through Hadrat Ali.
* He was the only person to whom the holy Prophet imparted “inward knowledge.”
* The holy Prophet conferred many appellations on Hadrat Ali such as Hidar-iKarrar, Abu Turab, Asad-ullah, Syedul Arab, etc.
* The holy Prophet declared his relationship to Hadrat Ali as that of Moses and Aaron.
* When the holy Prophet died, Hadrat Ali washed him and prepared his dead body for burial.
HIS VALOUR :
* He participated in all the wars of early Islam which were fought under the command of the holy Prophet.
* In all the battles, Hadrat Ali was the flag-bearer for the forces of the Muslims.
* He was the greatest 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 who nobody could match.)
* During his lifetime, he killed over 1000 enemies. In the Battle of Badr alone killed two dozen people.
* He fought over a hundred duels and in all the duels, his adversaries, however strong, were killed.
* He was the conqueror of the Khyber.
HIS KNOWLEDGE :
* He was the most learned man of his age. He was a living encyclopaedia 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 a grammar of the Arabic language.
* Among the early Muslims, he was the only person whose collections of writings have come down to us and this collection [is] preserved 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 a 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.
HIS SPIRITUAL ATTAINMENTS :
* He was the first person to learn the Qur’an by heart.
* According to the commentators, there are at least 300 verses in the holy Quran which have an implied reference to Hadrat Ali
* After the holy Prophet, he was the Chief Judge among the early Muslims. He is regarded as the “father of fiqh.” [jurisprudence]
* He is 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 Tasawwuf [authentic Sufism] trace their origin to him.
HIS APPELLATIONS :
Because of his multidimensional greatness and outstanding qualities, Hadrat Ali is known by many appellations, and each appellation illuminates one particular aspect of his excellence.
SOME OF THESE APPELLATIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS :
(1) Murtada – he with whom God is pleased
(2) Maula – the master
(3) Haidar-i-Karrar- the brave warrior against whom no one could stand
(4) Asad Allah – the lion of God
(5) Al-Ghalib – the victorious
(6) Sher-i-Yazdan – the bravest man of the age
(7) Mushkil Kusha – wine whom resolves the difficulties of the people
(8) Shah-i-Awlia – the king of saints
(9) Shah-i-Mominin – the king of the pious
(10) Abu Turab – father of the earth
(11) Amir-ul-Momineen – leader of the faithful
(12) Amin-ul-Momineen – the trustee of the faithful
(13) Imam-ul-Muttaqeen – the leader of the God-fearing
(14) Sayyid-ul-Arab – the chief of the Arabs
(15) Al Wasi – the beneficiary under the Prophet’s ‘testamentary statement’
(16) Al Hadi – the guide
(17) Al Zahid – the chaste
(18) Al Abi – the pious
(19) Al Salah – the reformer
HADRAT ALI IN THE HOLY QUR’AN :
REFERENCES TO HADRAT ALI IN THE QURAN :
According to the commentators of the Holy Quran, there are numerous verses in the Holy Quran which have implied references to Hadrat Ali. According to the Shi’ah commentators there are as many as 300 verses in the Holy Quran which have an implied reference to Hadrat Ali. According to the Sunni commentators this number is much smaller. According to the consensus of commentators, some of the verses which refer to Hadrat Ali are as follows:
Verse 33, Sura 33
“Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing.”
Hadrat Ali is obviously included in the expression “Folk of the Household.”
Verse 61, Sura 3
“And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie.”
This verse alludes the deputation of the Christians of Najran who came to Medina to hold a discussion with the holy Prophet about the truth of Islam. In this verse, the reference to “our sons, and our women” includes references to Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Fatima, Hasan and Hussain.
Verse 3, Sura 9
“And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve.”
In pursuance of this verse, the holy Prophet commissioned Hadrat Ali to go to the ‘Greater Pilgrimage’ to announce the verses of the Sura “Immunity” wherein God absolved the Muslims from all obligations under treaties previously concluded with the idolators.
Verse 23, Sura 42
“Say O Muhammad to mankind: ‘No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.’ “
According to Traditions, when the holy Prophet was asked as to who were the relatives alluded to in the verse, the holy Prophet said, “Verily, the reference is to Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Hussain.”
Verse 21, Sura 45
“Do those who commit evil deeds suppose that We shall treat them like those who believe and do good deeds – that their lives and their deaths shall be equal.No, bad is their judgment.”
According to Ibn Abbas, “the doers of good” cited to in this verse, refer to to to Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Hamza and Hadrat Ubaydah b. Harith.
Verse 17, Sura 11
“Is he to be counted equal with those who rely on a clear proof from his Lord and the witness from Him recites it, and before it was the Book of Moses, and example and a mercy? Such believe therein. Whoso disbelieves therein, the Fire is his appointed place. So be not you in doubt concerning it. Lo, it is the truth from your Lord, but most of mankind believe it not.”
One day, in one of his sermons, Hadrat Ali said that there was hardly a man from among to the Quraish who had not been referred to in the Holy Qur’an. Hadrat Ali was asked to recite some verse which alluded to him. Thereupon he recited the above verse.
Verse 4, Sura 66
“Now if both of you turn to Allah repentant, it will be better for you as your hearts are already so inclined. But if you backup each other against him, surely Allah is his helper, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers, and furthermore, all other angels too are his helpers.”
According to Ibn Abbas, the holy Prophet said that the “righteous men” alluded to as “helper” in this verse, refers to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 18, Sura 32
“Is he who is a believer like him who is an evil doer? Verily they are not equal.”
According to Ibn Abbas, “believer” in this verse refers to Hadrat Ali, and “evil doer” refers to Walid b. Utba.
Verse 54, Sura 25
“And He it is Who created man from water, and has appointed for him kindred by blood, and kindred by marriage, and your Lord is all powerful.”
According to the Traditions, “kindred by blood and kindred by marriage” refers to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 36, Sura 24
“The lamp of light is lit in houses which Allah has allowed to be exalted so that His name be remembered in them. Therein He is glorified in the mornings and evenings.”
According to the Traditions, the holy Prophet said that be “houses” referred to in this verse include the house of Hadrat Ali and Hadrat Fatima.
Verse 55, Sura 5
“Your friend is only Allah and His Messenger, and the believers who observed prayer and pay the poor rate.”
According to the Traditions, “the believers” referred to in this verse includes a reference to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 12, Sura 58
“O ye who believe! When you consult the Messenger in private, give alms before your consultation. That is better and purer for you. But when you do not find the wherewithal, Lo! Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
According to the Traditions, when this verse was revealed the holy Prophet wanted to fix an amount which every person who consulted the holy Prophet should pay. Hadrat Ali contended that since the people were generally poor no amount should be fixed and the option should rest with the person concerned, to pay whatever alms he could.
Verse 181, Sura 7
“And of those We have created, there are people that guide men in the truth, and do justice therewith.”
According to the Traditions, the reference to “people that guide men with truth” includes a reference to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 57, Sura 43
“And when the son of Mary is cited as an example, lo, the people jeer thereat.”
According to the Traditions, the holy Prophet is said to have told Hadrat Ali that one day his example would be like that of Jesus Christ. A section of the people would love him so much that they would willingly die for him, whereas there would also be other people who would fight against him.
Verse 29, Sura 48
“Muhammad is the Apostle off God. And those with Him are firm against the disbelievers, and Merciful amongst themselves. Thus see them bowing down, and prostrating themselves in prayer, seeking grace from Allah and His pleasure. Their mark is upon their faces, being the traces of prostrations. Such is their description in the Torah. And their description in the gospel is like a seed that sends forth its sprout, then makes its strong; it then becomes thick, and stands on its stem, delighting the sowers, and causing the disbelievers to burn with rage at the sight of them. Allah has promised to those of them who believe and do good works, forgiveness and a great We reward.”
According to the commentary of Imam Abu Musa, this verse was revealed in favour of Hadrat Ali
Verse 43, Sura 13
“And those who disbelieve say ‘you are not a Messenger’ say to them, ‘sufficient is Allah as the witness between me and you, and so is he who possesses knowledge of the Book.”
According to commentators, the phrase “whosoever has the knowledge of the Book” alludes to Hadrat Ali.
Verse 64, Sura 8
“O Prophet! Allah is sufficient for you and for such of the followers as follow you.”
According to commentators, the phrase “such of the followers as follow you” alludes to Hadrat Ali.
ASSESSMENT OF HADRAT ALI BY EMINENT MUSLIMS :
Abdullah b. Masud used to say that throughout Arabia there was not a more impartial judge than Ali. He also said that Hadrat Ali was the founder of Arabic grammar.
Abu Saeed Khudiri held that he could easily detect a hypocrite by his enmity towards Ali.
Allama Iqbal In his poem “Asrar-i-Khudi,” Allama Iqbal paid tribute to Hadrat Ali in the following terms:
“Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet was a man of many qualities.
He gave fresh vigour to Faith.
And brought honours to the community of the faithful.
He developed self-disciplines and killed avarice.
A person who knows and controls himself rules the world.”
ASSESSMENT OF HADRAT ALI BY WESTERN SCHOLARS :
Philip Hitti In his book History of the Arabs, Professor Hitti assessed the character of Hadrat Ali as follows: “Valiant in battle, wise in council, eloquent in speech, true to his friends, magnanimous to his foes, Ali became both the paragon of Muslim nobility and chivalry, and the Solomon of Arabic tradition around whose name, poems, proverbs, sermonettes and anecdotes innumerable have clustered. He had swarthy complexion, large black eyes, bald head, a thick and long white beard, and was opulent and of medium stature. His sabre Dhul Fiqar, which was wielded by the Prophet on the battlefield of Badr, has been immortalized in the words of this verse found engraved in many medieval Arab records, “no sword can match Dhul Fiqar, and no young warrior can compare with Hadrat Ali.” A later Fidayan movement which developed ceremonies and insignia savouring of medieval European chivalry and the modern scouts movement, took Ali for its father and model. Regarded as wise and brave by all the Islamic world, as the idealistic and exemplary by many Fidayan and dervish fraternities, as sinless and infallible by his partisans, and even held to be the incarnation of the deity by the Ghulah (extremists) among them, he whose worldly posthumous influence was second only to that of the holy Prophet himself. The throngs of pilgrims that still stream to his Mashhad at Najaf and to that of his son Husain, the Shi’iah arch-saint and martyr at nearby Karbala, and the passion-play enacted annually on the tenth of Muharram through the Shi’iah world, testify to the possibility that death may avail a Messiah more than life.”
Sir William Muir In his book, The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall, Sir William Muir paid his tribute to Hadrat Ali in the following words: “In the character of Ali, there are many things to commend him for. Mild and beneficent, he treated Basra when prostrate at his feet with a generous forbearance. Towards theocratic fanatics, who wearied his patience by incessant intrigues and senseless rebellion, he showed no vindictiveness. Excepting Muawiyah, the man of all others whom he ought not to have estranged, he carried the policy of conciliating his enemies to a dangerous extreme. In compromise indeed and in procrastination lay the future of his caliphate. With greater vigour, spirit, and determination, he might have averted the schism which for a time threatened the existence of Islam, and which has never ceased to weaken it. Ali was wise in counsel and many an adage and astute proverb have been attributed to him. But like Solomon, his weakness was for others more than himself.
Charles Mills In his book A History of Muhammadanism, Charles Mills assessed Hadrat Ali as follows: “As the chief of the family of Hashim, and as the cousin and son-in-law of him whom the Arabians respected almost to idolatry it is apparently incredible that Ali was not raised to the caliphate immediately after the death of Muhammad p.b.u.h. In the advantage of his birth and marriage was added the friendship of the Prophet. The son of Abu Talib was one of the first converts to Islam, and was Muhammad’s favourite appellation of him, the Aaron of a second Moses. His talents as an orator, and his intrepidity as the warrior commanded to a nation in whose judgment courage was virtue and eloquence was wisdom. But the pride and loftiness of his spirit endured not to caution inseparable from the schemes of policy, and continually precipitated him into rashness. His opposition to Abu Bakr would not have ceased if Fatima had lived. But upon her death, six months after that of her father, the Companions of Muhammad relaxed in their friendship to his family. In the reign of Abu Bakr, Umar and Othman, a dignified independence was preserved by Ali. On the invitation of the Caliphs, he assisted in the councils of Medina, but he was principally occupied in the tranquil pursuits of domestic life and the various duties of his religion. On the murder of Othman the Egyptians who were at Medina offered him the caliphate. Indignant that the power of nomination should be usurped by the strangers, Ali declared that the suffrages of the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina alone could be available. The public voice soon echoed the opinion of the murderers, and the scruples of Ali were soon removed. In apprehension of the enmity of A’isha, his relentless fall, and of the whole family out of Muawiyah, he declined to receive in private the proffered allegiance of the chiefs. With his accustomed simplicity, he proceeded to the mosque clad in a cotton gown, a coarse turban on his head, his slippers were in one hand, and a bow instead of a staff, occupied the other.”
Professor Nicholson In his book A Literary History of the Arabs, Nicholson remarked: “Ali was a gallant warrior, a wise counsellor, a true friend and generous foe. He excelled in poetry and in eloquence. His verses and sayings are famous throughout the Muhammadan East, though few of them can be considered authentic. He can be compared with Montrose and Bayard in the fineness of spirit. He had no talent for the stern realities of statecraft and was overmatched by unscrupulous rivals who knew that war is the game of deceit. Thus his career was in one sense a failure – his authority as Caliph was never admitted while he lived, by the whole community. On the other hand he has exerted down to the present-day a posthumous influence only second to that of Muhammad himself. Within a century of his death, he came to be regarded as the Prophet’s successor jure divine; as a blessed martyr, sinless and infallible, and even by some as an incarnation of God. The Ali of the Shi’ite legend is not a historical figure glorified, rather he symbolizes in a purely ethical fashion, the religious aspirations and political aims of a large section of the Muslim world.”
John J. Pool In his book Studies in Muhammadanism, John J. Pool observed: “The fact is that Ali was too mild a man for the stirring times in which he lived. He was too slow to resolve and too undecided in action. At any time he preferred compromise and delay to energy and promptness, and with fatal results. The death of Ali was an epoch-making event. We come now to the parting of ways. Henceforward the Commanders of the Faithful ceased to be elected by the votes of the people of Medina and Mecca. Arabia was no longer to be the seat of temporal power. For the future, in Islam, might was to take the place of right.”
Edward Gibbon In his book Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon observed the following about the assassination of Hadrat Othman and the succession of Hadrat Ali: “A tumultuous anarchy of five days after the martyrdom of Othman was appeased by the inauguration of Ali. His refusal would have provoked a general massacre. In this painful situation, he supported the becoming pride of the chief of the Hashimites; declared that he would rather serve than reign; rebuked the presumption of the strangers and required the formal, if not the voluntary, assent of the chiefs of the nation. He has never been accused of promoting the assassination of Othman, though Persia indirectly and secretly celebrates the festivals of that holy martyr. The quarrel between Othman and his subjects was assuaged by the early mediation of Ali, and Hasan, the eldest of his sons, was insulted and wounded in the defence of the Caliph.”
While commenting on the failure of Hadrat Ali and matters pertaining to statecraft, Gibbon observes as follows: “A life of prayer and contemplation had not chilled the martial activity of Ali, but in a mature age, after a long experience of mankind, he still betrayed in his conduct the rashness and indiscretion of youth.”
Thomas Carlyle In his book On Heroes and Hero Worship, Thomas Carlyle observed: “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, truth and affection worthy of Christian knighthood. He died by assassination in the mosque at Kufa, death occasioned by his own generous fairness, confidence in the fairness of others. He said: if the wound proved not unto death, they must pardon the assassin, but if it did, they must slay him straightaway, so that the two of them in the same our might appear before God, and see which side of that quarrel was the just one.”
Dr. Henry Stubbe In his book An Account of the Rise and Progress of Muhammadanism, Dr. Henry Stubbe observed: “Ali was of a brown complexion, a little man with a somewhat large belly, 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 exceedingly quick wit, and of an ingenuity that was not common. He was exceedingly learned, not only in those sciences that terminate in speculation, but those which extend to practice.”
Major Price In his book Memoirs of the Principal Events of Muhammadan History, Major Price observed: “His virtues and extraordinary qualities have been the subject of voluminous panegyrics, and his war-like exploits from his youth upwards have been particularly celebrated in the “Khawer Nama,” a poem well-known in the East and which may perhaps contend in extravagance with the wildest effusions of European romance. With his acknowledged talents and magnanimity, it is however, difficult to account for the train of civil mischief and perpetual discontent which continued to disturb him for the whole of his reign. His gallant spirit was probably incapable of bonding to the ordinary shifts of political craft, and it is perhaps true that the Arabian chiefs were not yet sufficiently disciplined to see the sovereign authority quietly monopolized by any particular family.”
J.J. Saunders In his book A History of Medieval Islam, J.J. Saunders observed:”His moral qualities were respectively recognized. He was a brave fighter and an eloquent orator and a loyal friend. Many things of his are quoted to prove his mastery of proverbial wisdom, a gift highly honoured among the Semites. He displayed towards his foes a patience and magnanimity expressive of a humane and generous disposition. His religion was founded on genuine piety. He was shocked by the growing luxury and corruption of the age, and to his many doubts whether Othman was an upholder or a violator of the law may be attributed to the hesitating and ambiguous attitude he adopted towards the regicides, which proved so fatal to his rule and reputation. As his temper was indolent, he drifted rather than led. He was easily outmatched by the astute and the forceful, and he lacked the commanding personality to impose his will on a turbulent society. His authority was challenged by the political shrewdness of Muawiyah, and the furious zealotry of the Kharajites, his inability to overcome either delivered Islam to schism and grave believers were driven to see in a reunion of the Empire under the Umayyads the only escape from tribal and sectarian anarchy. Yet he has been raised by a powerful sect little below that of Muhammad himself, the Shi’ah or party of Ali laid down as an article of faith that he was designated by God and the Prophet to be the lawful Caliph and Imam of the Islam, his three predecessors being treated as usurpers, and that Divine Revelation continued to be interpreted by his descendants, and his supposed grave at Najaf, a sandhill on the edge of the desert six miles west of Kufa, is annually visited by thousands of devout pilgrims who curse his supplanters and revere him as the friend of God and the first of Imams.”
THE SAYINGS OF HADRAT ALI :
Hadrat Ali was the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the Sayings of Hadrat Ali, which breathe wisdom and have attained the dimension of aphorisms are on record. Some of these are:
* Fear God and you will have no cause to fear anyone.
* The Word of God is the medicine of the heart.
* Lead such a life that when you die people will mourn you, and while you are alive they long for your company..
* The most happy is he to whom God has given a good wife.
* Do not sell your conscience for anything but heaven.
* The disease of the heart is worse than the disease of the body.
* To fight against one’s desires is the greatest of all fights.
* The strongest among you is he who subdues himself.
* Wealth and greed are the roots of all evil.
* Knowledge enlivens the soul.
* The learned lives although he dies.
* The sum total of excellence is knowledge.
* Generosity hides shortcomings.
* Desire is one’s most inveterate enemy.
* He who trusts the world, the world betrays him.
* Life consists of two days, one for you one against you. So when it’s for you don’t be proud or reckless, and when it’s against you be patient, for both days are test for you.
* The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.
* Woman is a delicate creature with strong emotions who has been created by the Almighty God to shoulder responsibility for educating society and moving toward perfection. God created woman as symbol of His own beauty and to give solace to her partner and her family.
* You must be humble, as it is one of the greatest [forms of] worship