The Life of the Commander of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abu Talib (A.S)

The Life of the Commander of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abu Talib (as)

(This part gives) an account of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, the first of the Imams of the believers, of the rulers (wulat) of the Muslims and of God's (appointed) successors in religion after the Apostle of God, the truthful one and the trusted one, Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah, the seal of the Prophets, blessings on him and his pure family.

(He was) the brother of the Apostle of God and his paternal cousin, and his helper (wazir) in his affair, his son-in- law (being married) to his daughter, Fatima the chaste, mistress of the women of the universe. (The full name of) the Commander of the faithful is ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib Ibn Abd al Muttalib Ibn Hashim Ibn Abd Manaf. (He was) the Lord of the testamentary trustees of authority (wasiyyin), the best of blessing and peace be on him. His kunya was Abu al-Hasan.

He was born in the Sacred House (i.e. the Kaba) in Mecca on Friday, the thirteenth day of the month of Rajab, thirty years after the Year of the Elephant (c.570). 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.

He was grateful for her kindness and she was among the first to believe in him and she emigrated with him in the group of the emigrants. When she died, the Prophet shrouded her with his own shirt in order to protect her from the insects of the earth, and he laid her to rest in her grave in order that, through that, she might be protected from (the crushing pressure of) the narrow space within the grave.

She dictated him her last words (which were) the statement of the authority (wilayah) of her son, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, so that at the examination after burial, she would be able to reply with those words. He singled her out with this great favour because of her position with God, may He be magnified and exalted, and with him, peace be on him. The report of that is well known.

The Commander of the faithful, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, peace be on him, and his brothers were among the leading members of the second generation of descendants of Hashim. In this way he gained two marks of nobility, through his growing up under the care and education of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family.

He was the first of the family of the House and of the Companions to believe in God and His Apostle. He was the first male whom the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, summoned to Islam and who answered. He never ceased to support the religion and to strive against the polytheists. He constantly defended the faith and fought against those who supported deviation (from the truth) and despotism. He spread the teachings of the sunnah (the practice of the Prophet) and the Qur'an, judged with justice and enjoined (people) to do good.

He was with the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, twenty-three years after the (coming) of the (prophetic) mission. Of these, thirteen years were in Mecca before thc migration when he shared with him all the persecutions and bore most of his hardships. Then there were ten years in Medina after the emigration when he defended him against the polytheists and strove with him against the unbelievers. He protected him with his own life from the enemies of religion until the time God, the Exalted, took (the Prophet) to His heaven, raised him to the highest place in heaven and bestowed His blessings and peace on him and his family. On that day the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was thirty-three years of age.

On the day of the death of the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, the community differed over his Imamate. His Shia who were all the Banu Hashim, Salman, Ammar, Abu Dharr, al-Miqdad, Khuzayma Ibn Thabit - the man who is known as the possessor of two testimonies - Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Jabir Ibn Abd Allah al-Ansari Abu Said al-Khudri and people like them among the important emigrants and Ansar, (all these) maintained that he was the successor (khalifa) after the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, and the Imam.

(They did this) because of his outstanding merit (fadl) above all mankind, through the fact that there were gathered in him the qualities of outstanding merit, judgment and perfection, such as him being the first of the community to enter the faith, his superiority over them in knowledge of the laws, his precedence over them in fighting (jihad) and the distinction which set him apart from them in the extent of his piety, asceticism and righteousness.

Furthermore he had been specially singled out by the Prophet from among (all) his relations because of (the qualities) which no other relation, apart from him, shared with the Prophet and because of the nomination (nass) of his authority (wilaya) by God, may God be magnified and exalted, in the Qur'an where He, may His name be exalted, says:

إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ

“Your authority (wali) is God and His Apostle and those believers who perform the prayer and pay alms (zakat) while they are bowing (in prayer).......” [ 5:55 ]

It is known that no one except him paid alms while bowing (in prayer).

It has been established in language that wali means "the most appropriate for authority" (awla), without there being any opposition (to this definition). If the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was, by the stipulation of the Qur'an, more appropriate for authority among the people than themselves because of his being their wali according to the textual nomination (nass) in the Clear Explanation (i.e. the Qur'an, tibyan), it was obviously necessary for all of them to obey him, just as obedience to God, the Most High, and obedience to His Apostle, peace be on him and his family, was required because of the information about their authority (wilaya) over creatures which is given in this verse with clear proof.

(Another reason for their support for the Commander of the faithful was) because of what the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, said on the day (of the assembly) at his house. He had especially gathered the Banu Abd al-Muttalib there in order to make the (following) solemn pledge:

Whoever helps me in this matter will be my brother, my testamentary trustee (wasi) my helper (wazir), my heir and my successor after me.

Then the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, stood up before him among all the gathering of them, and on that day he was the youngest of them, and he said:

O Apostle of God, I will help you.

Then the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, said:

Sit down, you are my brother, my trustee, my helper, my inheritor and successor after me.

This is a clear statement about the succession (after the Prophet).

In addition, there is also what (the Prophet), peace be on him and his family, said on the day of Ghadir Khumm. The community had gathered to listen to the sermon (in which he asked):

Am I not more appropriate for authority (awla) over you than yourselves?

Yes, they answered.

Then he spoke to them in an ordered manner without any interruption in his speech:

Whomsoever I am the authority over (mawla), ‘Ali is also the authority over.

Thus he (the Prophet) required for him (‘Ali), through laying down obedience to him and his authority (over them), the same authority as he had over them, and which he made them acknowledge and which they did not deny. This is clear (evidence) of the nomination (nass) of him for t