A Brief Biography of Imam Ali A.S

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THE FELICITOUS BIRTH 

“Allah has rated Ka`bah as an honorable abode.”(Quran 5:97)  `Ali (a.s) was born at this felicitous place on the thirteenth of Rajab, Friday, thirty years after `am al-fil. This privilege of taking birth in the holy place went to none before him and anyone after him! The chroniclers of the traditions and the biographers of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) have recorded this as a very important event in his life. Therefore, al-Hakim al-Nayshabūri writes: “It is proved from continuous narrations that Amir al-Mu’minin was born at the center of Ka`bah from the womb of Fatimah bint Asad.”[1]( [1] Mustadrak, Vol 3, Page 483). 

NAME, APPELLATION AND FILIAL APPELLATION 

Abū-Talib named him Zayd after his ancestor, Qasi ibn Kalab. Fatimah bint Asad named him Haydar after her father Asad. Asad and Haydar both the words mean a tiger. Therefore, in the battle of Khaybar, while reciting the martial poetry combating with Marhab, he said,  “I am that whose mother has named him Hayder!”  The Prophet (a.s), under divine inspiration called him with the name of `Ali (a.s). There is another opinion that Abū-Talib himself gave him the name of `Ali (a.s). As a proof, they present the following couplet of Abū-Talib:  “I have given him the name of `Ali that eminence and success always follow him. Respectability is the only wealth that remains forever.”  This name, literally meaning greatness and high status, proved most appropriate for `Ali (a.s). Although the Umayyads tried their level best to play down his name and the kunyah, they could not succeed in doing it. Therefore, Abū-Na`im al-Isfahani writes in Hilyat al-Awliya’ that the son of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas was `Ali and kunyah Abul-Hasan. One day `Ali ibn `Abdullah went to Abd al Malik who said that he could not tolerate his name and kunyah. He did not change his name but changed his kunyah to Abū-Muhammad! With this bent of mind, for centuries no Muslim ruler by the name `Ali was there. But today, in the Muslim population anywhere, after Muhammad, the most popular name is `Ali. Despite centuries of suppression and oppression, the name (`Ali) spread all over the world with the spread of Islam!  

  EDUCATION AND UPBRINGING

At the age of six years `Ali (a.s) formally came under the care of the Prophet (a.s).The parents were relieved of his responsibility. The apparent reason of his coming totally under the tutelage of the Prophet (a.s) was that Makkah was passing through one of its worst droughts and Abū-Talib had difficulty of maintaining his large family. The Prophet (a.s), realizing his uncle’s straitened financial position, felt that he needed to be helped. He discussed the matter with his other uncle, `Abbas. Prophet (a.s) himself requested his uncle to allow him to take the responsibility of `Ali (a.s). The fact is that from the Day of Creation `Ali (a.s) had been earmarked for him! 

  THE FIRST TO ACCEPT THE FAITH OF ISLAM

Ahmad ibn Zainy Dahlan writes: “`Ali was never under the influence of polytheism because he was under the care and supervision of the Prophet (a.s) like his own son. He emulated him in all matters.” After the Annunciation, the Prophet (a.s) started his campaign of propagation of the Faith from his home only. It is quite natural that the best persons to vouch for the honesty and integrity are the immediate members of his family. Therefore, when the Voice of Islam had not yet left the four walls of the Prophet’s home Khadijah and `Ali (a.s), who was eagerly waiting the felicitous moment, embraced Islam. Neither `Ali (a.s) doubted the veracity of the claims of the Prophet (a.s), as some others did later on, nor did he express surprise over his claims. These two personalities were the closest to the Prophet (a.s) and had precedence over all the others in embracing the True Faith! Amir al-Mu’minin says: “At that time Islam was not there in any place outside the four walls of the Prophet (a.s) And Khadijah’s home. However the third Person in their group was I.”  Martyrdom  In the 40th year of Hijra, in the small hours of the morning of 19th Ramazan, Imam Ali (a.s) was struck with a poisoned sword by a Kharejite while offering his prayers in the Mosque of Kufa. He died on the 21st day of Ramadan, and was buried in Najaf al-Ashraf. He was born in the House of God, the Holy Ka'aba and martyred in the House of God, the Mosque of Kufa. The Lion of God, the most brave-hearted and gentle Muslim that ever lived, began his glorious life with devotion to Allah and His Apostle and ended it in the service of Islam. "And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive but you do not perceive." (Quran)

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