A man of faith, courage, austerity and knowledge in the way of the Prophet (SAWS) was Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (KW).
Imam Ali was born in Makkah in the Ka’bah during the Era of Ignorance. His father was Abu Talib, the protector of the Prophet (SAWS) in Makkah, and his mother was Fatimah bint Asad (RA), the woman who also raised the Prophet (SAWS) like a son. He was described by one of his descendants, Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (SA), as being very dark (adam shahid al-udmah), which is the same description given about him in Tarikh Al-Khulafa by As-Suyuti. Other sources such as Al-Masabih Fi As-Sirah by Imam Abu Al-Abbas Ahmad bin Ibrahim (SA) described him as brown (samrah).
Ahmad bin Hanbal stated that there were no more virtues narrated about any from among the companions than Imam Ali. He is an imam of Sunni and Shi’i muslims alike, and his opinions and sayings are even quoted in madhhab Ibadi, a school of thought practiced in Oman, Tanzania and parts of North Africa that is mistakenly referred to as modern day Khawarij. Moreover, every spiritual order (At-Tijaniyyah, Al-Ba’Alawiyyah, An-Naqshabandi, etc) traces its knowledge through the chain of Imam Ali.
A few aspects from the life of Imam Ali are:
- He was raised in the household of the Prophet (SAWS), which includes before and after the revealing of the Qur’an.
- He was the first male to accept Islam and the first to pray with the Prophet (SAWS).
- He lied in the bed of the Prophet (SAWS) the night that the Prophet (SAWS) left Makkah to Al-Madinah. Quraysh then beat him up because he spoiled their plot to murder the Prophet (SAWS).
- When the Prophet (SAWS) paired off companions in Al-Madinah to be best friends, he left Imam Ali for himself and said, “You are my brother in the dunya and the next-life.”
- When the Prophet (SAWS) left Imam Ali in charge of the affairs of Al-Madinah before heading off to Ghazwah Tabuk, he told him, “You are to me in the position of Harun to Musa though there is no prophet after me.”
- Upon the passing of the Prophet (SAWS), Imam Ali performed the ghusl as well as the funeral prayer.
- During the governments of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, Ali gave them the wisest of council. Umar famously said, “’Umar would have been ruined if it were not for Ali.”
- During the revolt against ‘Uthman while he was the khalifah, Imam Ali sent his sons to his home to protect him. During a siege, ‘Uthman was later killed.
- Imam Ali was the fourth khalifah and given allegiance by the majority of the Ummah including the People of the Hijaz, Yemen and Iraq.
- He is credited with being the first to systematize the grammar of the Arabic language and was the teacher of the top scholars of the second generation of Muslims including Abu Al-Aswad Ad-Duwali, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Mujahid bin Jabr.
- He was martyred during Ramadan at the time of fajr prayer in Al-Kufah, Iraq by the khariji takfiri named Abdur Rahman bin Muljam.