Ali (RA) (The Fourth Caliph)
Ali (RA) was born some thirty years after the birth of Rasulullah (SAW). He belonged the most respectable family of Quraish, the Banu Hashim. His father Abu Talib was the real uncle of Rasulullah (SAW) who brought him up after the death of Rasulullah (SAW) grandfather. Ali’s mother was Fatimah bint Assad, who belonged to Banu Hashim. Ali’s patronymic name was “Abul Hasan”. Rasulullah (SAW) gave him another name, “Abu Turab” which was most liked by Ali (RA). Rasulullah (SAW) took Ali in his childhood from his father, Abu Talib, and brought up him like his own son. When Rasulullah (SAW) started revelations Ali (RA) was about 10years old. Rasulullah (SAW) disclosed his mission before Ali and he accepted it immediately, thus he became the first youth to enter the folds of Islam. When Rasulullah (SAW) started to preach openly, he invited all of his family members to a feast and announced his mission before them. Nobody listened to him, but young Ali stood up and said. “Though my eyes are sore, my legs are thin and I am the youngest of all those present here yet I will stand by you, 0 Messenger of Allah.” Hearing this all the leaders of Quraish laughed but Ali proved his words to be true after supporting Rasulullah (SAW) in his mission from the beginning till the end. Rasulullah (SAW) loved him very much. The night when Rasulullah (SAW) was migrating to Medina, his house was surrounded by the bloodthirsty tribesmen, who had plotted to assassinate him. They were ready to kill any person who came out of the house. In such a situation, Rasulullah (SAW) asked Ali (RA) to sleep in his bed. He followed the command gladly and immediately jumped in the bed.Although the Meccans did not accept his mission, they considered Rasulullah (SAW) the most trustworthy man of Mecca and continued keeping their trusts (cash and gold etc.) with him. It was Ali (RA) to whom Rasulullah (SAW) gave the deposits to return to the owners, when he was leaving Mecca for Medina. Ali (RA) migrated to Medina after returning the deposits. Ali (RA) was very close to Rasulullah (SAW), and the closeness was changed to a permanent relationship when he married his most beloved daughter, Fatimah (RA) to Ali (RA). Ali (RA) also had the distinguished honour that the progeny of Rasulullah (SAW) continued through Ali’s (RA) sons from Fatimah (RA) namely Hasan (RA) and Husain (RA). The two children were the most beloved of Rasulullah (SAW)
The Title Of Asadullah
Because of his bravely Ali (RA) was popularly called “Asadullah”(The Lion of Allah). In the battle of Khaibar against Jews, the Muslims tried to conquer the strongest Jewish fort, Qumus, but were not successful in the beginning. Then Rasulullah (SAW) said, “I will give the command and the standard tomorrow to such a brave person who loves Allah and His Prophet and whom Allah and His Prophet love. Everybody desired to be that fortunate man. The people were rather surprised when the next morning Rasulullah (SAW) called Ali who was sick and his eyes were sore. Rasulullah (SAW) applied his finger, wet with his saliva, over the eyes of Ali (RA) and they were cured immediately. Then he gave the standard, and advised him. “First of all call them towards Islam. Even if one man is guided towards Islam because of you, it would be better than red camels.” Following the advice of Rasulullah (SAW) Ali (RA) invited the Jews towards Islam. Instead of accepting the Right Path they sent their commander Marhab, the great warrior of Arabia and one of the bravest men of his time. He challenged Ali (RA) to fight. Ali (RA) accepted the challenge and slew him in one attack. His famous sword cut Marhab’s body into two pieces. He showed great bravery in each and every battle he fought and earned fame. He was counted as one of the great warriors of Arabia. Ali (RA) was not only a great warrior but a great scholar as well. Rasulullah (SAW) said about him, I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.” He was one of the great jurists among the Companions. Rasulullah (SAW) appointed him as the Qadi (Judge) of Yemen during his life time. He was a master of Arabic and his writings were as effective as his speech. Ali (RA) had taken pledge of loyalty on the hands of all the three past Khalifah’s. However he was late in taking pledge at the hand of Abu Bakr (RA). The reason why he was late in taking pledge on the hands of Abu Bakr (RA) was the serious illness of his beloved wife, Fatima (RA) and that he was busy in collection of the Qur’an. It is mentioned in the famous history book, Tabaqat ibn Sa’d: When Abu Bakr (RA) enquired of Ali (RA) why he was so late in taking pledge of loyalty and whether he disliked his “Khilafat”, Ali (RA) replied, “I do not dislike your leadership but the fact is that I had taken an oath after the death of Rasulullah (SAW) not to put on my sheet (i.e. not to engage in any work) except for performing Salaat until I have collected all the parts of the Qur’an.” The Ali (RA) took pledge of loyalty on the hand of Abu Bakr (RA) and helped him throughout his Khilafat. He was very active during the time of Umar (RA) and also married his daughter, Umm-i-Kulthum to him. In the matter of Uthman’s (RA) election he voted in his favour as has been mentioned before. Ali (RA) was one of the very important members of “Shura” (Advisory Council) during the time of the first three Khalifah’s. He was also the great jurist (Mufti) of Medina during the time of past Khalifah’s. He was among the panel of six persons who had to select the Khalifah amongst them after Umar (RA). Uthman (RA) had great regard for him and consulted him in all the matters. His sons were the main guards at Uthman’s residence when the rebels laid siege to his house.
We conclude that Ali (RA) gave his fullest possible support to all of his predecessors.The insurgents’ shameful act of assassination of the Khalifah could never have been imagined by Ali (RA) or any other eminent Companion at Medina. It came as a total surprise to Ali (RA) whose two sons, Hasan (RA) and Husain (RA) were guarding the gate of Uthman’s residence. The insurgents after climbing the back wall of the residence had assassinated the Khalifah. The assassination of Uthman (RA) was really due to creation of faction among the Muslim Community which was the goal of ‘Abdullah Bin Saba and his followers (the insurgents), and they achieved it. After the assassination of Uthman (RA), the insurgents virtually controlled the Capital, Medina for several days. The Muslims were frightened and sat behind closed doors. After the assassination of Uthman (RA) an unprecedented calamity had fallen on the Muslims and for three days, Medina was without any government. The insurgents approached Ali (RA) to be the Khalifah. Egyptians led by Ibn Saba and Ghafqi were the main group of insurgents behind the proposal for the Khilafat of Ali (RA). Ali (RA) first declined to bear the responsibility of this great office. But the insurgents pressed him to accept it. As a matter of fact Ali (RA) wanted to approach Talha (RA) and Zubair (RA) who were included in the panel of the six persons appointed by Umar (RA) to select a Khalifah. He wanted to take pledge of loyalty at the hands of any of these two gentlemen. But at the end, pressed by the threats of the regicides he decided to put the matter before Muslim public in the Mosque of Rasulullah (SAW). Most of the Companions in Medina considered him, to be the fittest person for “Khilafat” after Uthman (RA). He then agreed to take the responsibility and gave his consent. On 21st Dhul-Hijjah 35 A.H. pledge of loyalty took place at the hands of Ali (RA). First of all the leading insurgents took the pledge of loyalty on his hands, followed by the general public, at Medina. Talha (RA) and Zubair (RA) did not want to take a pledge until the case of Uthman (RA) assassination was decided. Before that Ali (RA) had offered the office of Khilafat to both of them but they had declined. However under the threats of insurgents they took the pledge of loyalty at Ali’s (RA) hands, on the condition: “You (i.e.’ Ali) have to decide matters according to the Qur’an and Sunnah (ways of Rasulullah (SAW)) and would punish the guilty according to Islamic Law.” Ali (RA) agreed to their conditions. Sa’d bin Waqqas (RA) said that he would take pledge when all the Muslims had done so. Following Companions did not take pledge at the hands of Ali (RA): Muhammad bin Muslimah, Usamah bin Zaid, Hassan bin Thabit. Ka’b bin Malik, Abu Sa’id Khudri, Numan bin Bashir, Zaid bin Thabit, Mughira bin Shu’bah and ‘Abdullah bin Salam. Most of the members of Banu Ummayyah (Uthman’s family) also did not take pledge of loyalty at Ali’s (RA) hands. Some of such persons who did not take Bay’at went to Syria. However the majority of the Muslims in Medina took pledge at the hands of Ali (RA). According to “Ahli Sunnah wal Jama`ah”, Ali (RA) was the most suitable and the fittest person for Khilafat after Uthman (RA). If some of the Companions did not take pledge on his hands, because of the political situation of that time, it did not mean that his Khilafat was not accepted by the Muslim majority. Besides Ali (RA) nobody including Mu’awiyah (RA) claimed to be the Khalifah at that time. The difference between them was the question of punishment to the assassins, which took the shape of various battles. As it would be seen afterwards Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) declared his Khilafat only after the death of Ali (RA). Ali (RA) was declared to be the Khalifah not only by the insurgents but by the Muslim public as well including the leading Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajirin (Emigrants). This could also be noticed with the fact that in the first battle which took place between Ali (RA) and Aisha (RA) (and her group) about 800 of those Companions who had participated in the Treaty of Hudaibiyah were with Ali (RA) besides other Companions. Ali (RA) was the most popular figure at that time and was the most appropriate person to be the fourth caliph.The period of Ali’s (RA) Khilafat extending to four years and about nine months, was marked by civil war. His rule was characterized by a series of revolts for the first time in the history of Islam. He was elected as the Khalifah in the most critical period of Islamic history. The martyrdom of Uthman (RA) was an extraordinary event about which the Rasulullah (SAW) had already prophesied. Ali (RA) was in a very difficult situation. On the one hand the assassins and the insurgents were creating endless trouble for him, and on the other hand Banu Ummayyah (Uthman’s family) fled to Syria and incited Amir Mu’awiyah to stick to his demand for avenging Uthman’s (RA) assassins. Ali (RA) faced these problems and difficulties with extraordinary courage and presented before us an exemplary character. He never had full support even from his friends in Kufa but still remained firm in his position. As it has been described before, he could never locate the real assassins of Uthman (RA) and this could not be achieved until peace was established. Therefore his first task was to create an atmosphere of peace in the state. But the insurgents never wanted peace. They worked on both sides. On the one side they made it difficult for Ali (RA) to find out the assassins, and on the other hand they sent their agents to Syria to incite the people (especially Umayyad’s) against Ali (RA). Their main aim was to let the Muslims fight among themselves so that they might prosper. Ali (RA) knew all this but he was unable to take any firm action because of the civil war. The third problem faced by Ali (RA) was the Kharijite movement. They were extremists and misled a number of innocent Muslims. They did not hesitate to use sword against persons who do not agree with them. They developed many beliefs foreign to Islam, although they appeared to be very pious but very politically, they were corrupt. Ali (RA) dealt with them with an iron hand. He realized that if they were not wiped out in the beginning they would mislead future generations. He was successful in destroying their strong hold. However some of them, who escaped, went underground but they were never in a strong position. Ali (RA) tried his utmost to unite the Muslims and bring them back on one platform but he was not successful. The tragic death of Uthman (RA) signal for blood shed among the Muslims. The Companions were not to be blamed for it at all. This was caused by anti-Islamic elements in the form of insurgents, (‘Abdullah ibn Saba and his followers). Historical facts bear it out that Abdullah ibn Saba became the greatest enemy of Islam. It was he who shattered the unity of Muslims forever. After completing their mission the insurgents made pretence of being Ali’s (RA) friends but they never helped him nor the cause of Muslim Unity. No sooner had Ali (RA) assumed Khilafat than a group of the same miscreant Sabaites who had brought about the cold-blooded assassination of Uthman (RA) began to demand due retribution for the murder of the Khalifah and started to incite Muslims only to create division among them. Thus they played a double role. A group of them showed themselves as friends of Ali and another group (much smaller than the first) went to Syria and other parts of Islamic State to incite the Muslims against Ali (RA). Ali (RA) faced all these problems with courage and never lost heart. He was a man of strong will power and determination and was quite right in his decisions. Ali (RA) was a model of simplicity and self denial. He led a simple life from the cradle to the grave, and was a true representative of Rasulullah (SAW). Ali (RA) had neither a servant nor a maid when Fatima (RA) the most beloved daughter of Rasulullah (SAW) was married to him. She would grind corn with her own hands. Purity of motives and selflessness were the keynote of his life. He was a wise counselor, a true friend and a generous foe. He did not have a desire for the Khilafat after Uthman’s (RA) assassination, but when he was selected he tried his best to fulfill his responsibility. He was very honest and trustworthy. His trustworthiness can well be imagined from the fact that Rasulullah (SAW) entrusted to him all the cash and other things, he was having in his trust, at the time of his migration to Medina so that Ali (RA) would return them to the owners. Once some oranges came to Bait-ul Mal, Hasan (RA) and Husain (RA) took one orange each. When Ali (RA) saw them having the oranges he took the fruit away from them and distributed them among the poor. Whenever any booty came to be distributed according to the Islamic law, he distributed it very honestly. Once he distributed all the revenue of the Bait-ul Mal (Public Treasury), then broomed it and offered two rakaat Salaat in the room.
He did not leave his simplicity even though he was the Khalifah and the ruler of a vast state. Once a person named ‘Abdullah ibn Zarir had an opportunity to take meals with him. The meal was very simple. ‘Abdullah asked, “0 Amir Ul Muminin, don’t you like the meat of birds?” Ali (RA) replied, “The Khalifah has a right in Muslim (Public) property only to the extent sufficient for him and his family.” Ali (RA) was a very generous Muslim. He never refused a beggar. Sometimes he gave all of his property to the poor and sold his arms to get food. Once he said during his lecture, “I went to sell my sword. I swear Allah, had I only that amount of money for which I could buy a “Sirwal” (i.e. a trousers), I would never have sold my sword.” Hearing this one person stood up and said, “I give you a loan.” There are many stories about his generosity which for lack of space are not being mentioned. Ali (RA) was a great worshipper and used to offer long Salaah. He was Hafiz of the Qur’an. He was so punctual for the “Tasbeeh” (Tasbeeh-i-Fatima) i.e. remembrance of Allah that he never left it, even during battles. He was very kind to others. He showed his kindness even to his enemies. Once one of his enemies fell down naked because of his attack. Seeing his condition he did not kill him and left him so that he might not be ashamed of his nakedness. After the battle of “Jamal” against Ayesha (RA), he treated Ayesha (RA) very respectfully. He himself went to see her and when she told him that she would like to go to Medina he asked her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr to escort her. He never mistreated his enemies. During the time of Rasulullah (SAW) once he overcame a Jew in a fight, and sat on his chest to kill him. The Jew spat at his face. Ali (RA) at once left him. Seeing this the Jew was very much surprised and asked the reason. Ali (RA) said, “I was killing you for Allah’s sake but when you spat on my face, my sincerity was endangered because of the personal feelings.” Hearing this the Jew immediately accepted Islam. His character and morals were so high that even Amir Mu’awiyah praised them. Once Amir Mu’awiyah asked Dirar Asadi, one of his friends, to tell some of Ali’s high quality. Dirar Asadi refused first but when Amir Mu’awiyah insisted Dirar said, “He was a man of strong will power and determination. He always gave a just judgment, and was a fountain of knowledge. His speech was full of wisdom. He hated the pleasure of this world and loved the darkness of night to cry before Allah. His dress was most simple and he liked simple meals. He lived like a common man and when anybody put any question before him, he replied with outmost politeness. Whenever we asked him to wait for us he waited like a common man. Although he was very near to us because of his high morals, we were afraid of him sometimes of his grandeur – and eminence due to his nearness to Allah. He always respected a pious man and a scholar. He was nearest to the poor. He never allowed a powerful man to take advantage of his power. The weak were never disappointed of his justice. I bear witness that in many battles he woke up during the night and took hold of his beard and started to cry and weep before Allah as though he was in a state of commotion and exclaimed: “O World! Do not try to betray me. I have divorced (left) you long ago. Do not have any desire for me. I hate you. Your age is short and your end is despised. 0! The provision is very little and the journey is too long (i.e., the journey to hereafter), and way is full of danger …..” Hearing this Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) started to weep and cry and said, “May Allah bless Abul Hasan (i.e. Ali). I swear by Allah he was a person of the character, you described.” At this point it should be noted that the differences of the Companions were not like that of us. They differed with each other for the sake of Allah but always admired each other’s good habits. Although Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) was having differences with Ali (RA), he admired the excellence of Ali (RA) throughout his life and often said that he could never be equal to Ali (RA). As a matter of fact the degree of their sincerity could not be imagined. We think every thing in terms of worldly benefit, they considered every matter in terms of love with Allah, love with the Prophet of Allah and the success in the hereafter.
Wives And Children
1) Ali’s (RA) first wife was the most beloved daughter of Rasulullah (SAW), Fatimah (RA). He got three sons (Hasan, Husain and Muhsin), and two daughters (Zainab and Umm-i-Kulthum) from her. The youngest son, Muhsin died in childhood.
After the death of Fatimah (RA) he married a number of wives from time to time:
2) Umm al-Banin bin Hizam from whom he got ‘Abbas, Ja’far, ‘Abdullah and Uthman. All of these except Abbas were martyred at Karbala.
3) Saila bint Mas’ood who gave birth to ‘Ubaidullah and Abu Bakr. They were martyred at Karbala.
4) Asma bint Umais who gave birth to Yahya and Muhammad Asghar.
5) Sahba bint Rabi’a who gave birth to Umar and Ruqayyah.
6) Amamah bint Abil ‘As: She was daughter of Zainab (RA), daughter of Rasulullah (SAW). Ali (RA) got Muhammad Aswat from her.
7) Khaulah bint Jalfar who gave birth to Muhammad ibn
8) Umm-i-Sa’id who gave birth to Ummul Hasan and Ramlah Kubra.
9) Mahyah bint Ummul Qais, she gave birth to a daughter who died in childhood.
Ali (RA) also had a number of slave girls from whom he bore the following daughters:
Umm-i-Hani, Maymoona, Zainab Sughra, Ramlah Sughra, Umm-i-Kulthum Sughra, Fatimah, Umamah, Khadijah, Umm-i-Salama, Umm-i-Ja’far, Jamanah and Nafisa, According to Ibn-i-Jarir, Ali had 17 daughters and 14 sons. His family continued through five sons: Imam Hasan, Imam Husain, Muhammad ibn Ali, Umar bin Ali, and ‘Abbas ibn Ali.
Assassination Of Ali (RA)
After the battle of Nahrwan the “Khwarij” had gone underground. As a matter of fact they were as much against. Ali (RA) as they were against Mu’awiyah (RA). They were still working against the Khilafat and they were greatly disgusted with the civil war that seemed endless. To end this state of affairs, they worked out a dangerous plot. According to them Muslims were divided because of differences between Ali (RA) and Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). They also disliked ‘Amr ibn ‘As and considered him as chief planner for Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). They decided, therefore, to assassinate all the three of them. It was planned that the three personalities would be struck at the same time on the same day. Three persons, appointed to assassinate Ali, Mu’awiyah, and ‘Amr ibn ‘As (RA) was Abdur Rehman Muljam, Bark ibn ‘Abdullah, and ‘Amr ibn Bark respectively. Early hours of the 17th of Ramadhaan, 40 A.H., was fixed for the assassination. After the Fajr Salaat of the 17th Ramadhaan in the year 40 A.H. (661 A.D.) the three appointed Kharljis struck the three men. Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) escaped with a scratch, Amr ibn ‘As did not turn out for the Imamat because he was sick that day thus was unhurt, Ali (RA) was mortally wounded with the poisoned sword of Ibn Muljam. He passed away in the evening of Ramadhaan 20, 40 A.H. Ibn Muljam was caught by the people after he had struck Ali (RA). Ali (RA) asked the Muslims to slay him if he died. At the same time of his death Ali (RA) called his sons and advised them to serve Islam and to be good with the Muslims. When somebody asked him should the Muslims take pledge of loyalty at the hands of his elder son, Hassan (RA), he replied, “I leave this decision to the Muslims.” He also advised people not to kill any person other than the assassin to avenge him.
He was 63 years old at the time of his death and had ruled for four years and nine months as the Khalifah. According to a number of historians his real grave is not known because his son Hasan (RA) took out his body from the grave after he was buried because of the fear of Kharijis and buried him at an unknown place.