Hazrat Ali (R.A) was born in nearly 600 A.D, some 30 years after the birth of the Messenger ﷺ of God, to a well known family of Qureyshi tribe, Bani Hashim, in Makkah. His father, named Abu Talib, was a custodian of the Holy Kaaba and his mother was Fatima, both of whom were Hashimites. Abu Talib, son of Abdul Muttalib, was a brother of Abdullah who was father of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Therefore, Hazrat Ali (R.A) had a great honor of being the first cousin of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ and was also brought up under His kind and inspiring supervision for most of the time of his life.
Hazrat Ali (R.A) was the very first among youth to believe in Allah`s commandment. He was only 10 years old when Rasulullah ﷺ received the earliest Revelation from the Almighty. One night he saw the Apostle ﷺ and His wife, Hazrat Khadija (R.A) in a state of Sajdah (prostration) in front of Allah SWT. He enquired about their action, upon which he was told by Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ that they were praying to the Creator of the universe and that Ali (R.A) should also acknowledge Islam. He, at first, hesitated to agree to it and informed them that he would ask his father, but the next day he assured them of his willingness towards serving the Religion of Peace.
Acceptance Of Islam At Tender Age Of 10
Hazrat Ali (R.A) was only 10 years old, when the Messenger ﷺ of God received the very first Revelation from the Almighty Lord. He ﷺ was directed to start preaching of Islam from His own family.
Therefore, Rasulullah ﷺ invited His relatives for a collective meal. After that, He rose and asked them all, “Who will join me in the cause of God?” The entire gathering remained silent, but the little Ali (R.A) stood up with great courage and made his firm belief in the Word of Righteousness known in front of all. Thereupon, the invited guests started ridiculing the Holy Prophet ﷺ and young Ali (R.A), for they thought of it as unwise to leave the way of life of their ancestors.
This shows the great valor and insight of Hazrat Ali (R.A), who did not care about mockery of the non believers and had tremendous amount of understanding of right and wrong at a very minute age.
Risking His Life For The Messenger PBUH Of Allah
The time of migration from Makkah to Madina was a great test for all the believers. The heads of the tribe of Qureysh had decided to kill (God forbids) Rasulullah ﷺ at that time. He ﷺ could not also leave without returning the belongings of people that He was carrying with Himself as trusts. Therefore, at night, the Apostle ﷺ asked Hazrat Ali (R.A) to hand over the entrusted possessions to their owners, as He ﷺ had prepared to leave Makkah along with Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) as directed by Allah SWT. Hazrat Ali (R.A) risked his life just for the sake of the Almighty and His Messenger ﷺ as he knew that the disbelievers might slay him while he was resting in the bed of Rasulullah ﷺ that night. This shows the remarkable and unmatched fearlessness of Hazrat Ali (R.A) who was not concerned about his own life, rather committed his existence to serving the Holy Prophet ﷺ as he successfully returned all trusts to those they belonged the very next day, and then migrated to Madina.
Marrying Fatimah (R.A), the Youngest Daughter Of The Holy Prophet PBUH
Hazrat Ali (R.A) was much loved and very close to the Messenger ﷺ, Who personally knew about his great personality characteristics. In the 2nd year of Hijrah (migration), Rasulullah ﷺ was receiving a lot of marital proposals for His most beloved daughter, Hazrat Fatimah (R.A). But He rejected all of them and finally decided to marry her to Hazrat Ali (R.A) with mutual consent. This highly increased the overall standing of Hazrat Ali (R.A) who finally got the honor of being called the Son in Law of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ and transforming their ever close relationship into a family bond. Both Hazrat Ali (R.A) and Bibi Fatimah (R.A) lived a well contented life and had 5 children, namely: Hassan (R.A), Hussain (R.A), Zainab (R.A) and Umm Kalthum (R.A), and Mohsin (R.A), who died in his early childhood. His son, Hazrat imam Hussain (R.A) had the credit of having the greatest service to the Religion of Islam by standing firm against the unjust ruler, Yazid and sacrificing his life in this cause.
Great Honor Of Hazrat Ali (R.A) Near The Apostle PBUH of God
Imam Ali (R.A) spent most of his time under the supreme direction of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, from Whom he got the inspiration and learned about many aspects of life. Due to his vast knowledge of various matters, especially his courage and authority, Rasulullah ﷺ used to appoint him as his deputy.
Reported by Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (R.A):
“The Apostle (PBUH) of God left ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib behind him (as he proceeded) to the expedition of Tabuk, whereupon he (‘Ali) said: Allah’s Messenger, are you leaving me behind amongst women and children? Thereupon He (the Holy Prophet PBUH) said: Aren’t you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there would be no prophet after me.” (Muslim)
Such was the great standing of Hazrat Ali (R.A) near the Apostle ﷺ of Allah that he was compared to the Prophet Haroon A.S (Aaron) who was the brother of Messenger Musa A.S (Moses), and acted as leader of his people in the absence of Hazrat Musa (A.S).
Fighting In Battles With Great Courage
Hazrat Ali (R.A) was highly recognized for his guts and boldness while fighting the infidels. Apart from Ghazwa (battle of) Tabuk, he (R.A) participated in almost all the early clashes against non believers with great distinction. He always used to accept the challenges of his opponents courageously.
In the very first combat with the Makkan disbelievers, Ghazwa Badr, he was among three Muslims alongside Hazrat Hamzah (R.A) and Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (R.A) who started the fight in Arab tradition. He caught the eye of everyone with his terrific warfare skills from that encounter.
He also got the charge of holding the Islamic Flag during the battle of Uhud after the martyrdom of Hazrat Mus`ab bin Umair (R.A). Then, he acknowledged the dare of Abu Sa`d and defeated him with one swift stroke of his blade.
During Ghazwa Khandaq (Trench), the famous Arab warrior Abdwood challenged Muslims to fight him. Hazrat Ali (R.A) stepped forward upon which the Holy Prophet ﷺ warned him, but he (R.A) remained persistent on combating that infidel. Thereupon, the Messenger ﷺ gave him His own sword “Dhulfiqar” and put a turban on his head. Hazrat Ali (R.A) managed to beat that accursed disbeliever in no time.
Achieving the Title of “Asadullah – Lion of God”
None of the Arab had ever witnessed a spectacular spectacle of valor and heroism before they saw that of Hazrat Ali (R.A) at the occasion of Ghazwa Khaibar. It was among the toughest of the battles that Rasulullah ﷺ fought, where Muslims tried to capture the strong Jewish Fort at Khaibar. The Messenger ﷺ of God announced that He would give the charge to that person who loves Allah and His Prophet ﷺ and they also love him. The next day, the authority was awarded to Hazrat Ali (R.A) upon which everybody was amazed as he looked pale and sick. But Rasulullah ﷺ believed in his unmatched combating ability and gave him the Muslim command. Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ directed him first to call them towards righteousness and if they do not correspond positively, then he had the right to fight them. Jews not only rejected his invitation to Islam but also sent their well known and bravest combatant, Mahrab in front, who challenged Hazrat Ali (R.A) to fight him. There, the Arabs witnessed the unbelievable force and power of Hazrat Ali (R.A), who killed Mahrab through vigorous blow of his sword. Then, the Holy Prophet ﷺ gave him the title of “Asadullah”, which means “Lion of Allah”.
Living a Life In Austerity And Being Humble And Grateful To Allah
Throughout his life, Hazrat Ali (R.A) never wished for collecting wealth and worldly possessions. He (R.A) lived a very simple life, spent most of the days in a state of hunger because of his belief about the temporariness of this life. He (R.A) always remained modest in his life, never complained for scarcity of prosperity and always was thankful to the Almighty. In short, he (R.A) had the essential personality characteristics of a true Muslim.
Being a Great Scholar of Arabic Language And Quran
Hazrat Ali (R.A) had an incredible amount of command over the teachings of Islam, especially in the Holy Quran. He was regularly consulted by the first three Caliphs, Abu Bakr (R.A), Umar (R.A) and Usman (R.A) during their time in power. Hazrat Umar (R.A) also made him deputy at Madina while being outside the city himself. Hazrat Ali (R.A) had a great insight in the Arabic literature, rhetoric and grammar. He (R.A) also had fabulous abilities in public speech and sermons, writing letters, and recording his sayings which are well preserved and followed by the Muslim world till date. He (R.A) once said:
“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.”
There is a great lesson in this proverb of Hazrat Ali (R.A), in which he (R.A) emphasizes on spending one`s life in modesty during happiness and being patient in times of sadness.
Being Fourth Caliph In Islamic History
In the year 35 A.H, the martyrdom of Hazrat Usman (R.A) led to worsening of situation, when the rebels wanted Hazrat Ali (R.A) to take charge, but he (R.A) was reluctant to do so because of influence of the insurgents. But on the advice of the closest companions, he (R.A) finally took charge and became the fourth Ameer (Leader) of the Muslims. The mutineers kept on working against the Caliph despite giving the nod over his authority. This was a great testing time for Hazrat Ali (R.A) as he had to work not only against the rebellions but also had to maintain peace in the territory. He (R.A) also had to change the Muslim capital to Kufa, in Iraq, because of great support he has over there.
Some of the major contributions of Hazrat Ali (R.A) in the service of Islam include:
1. Fighting and destroying the Kharijite (dissidents) movement, who were trying to mislead Muslims by imposing false Islamic beliefs
2. Trying his best to unite the Muslims in common direction but unfortunately he was not successful in that
3. Facing all the obvious problems caused by rebels who were followers of Abullah ibn Saba and who also assassinated Hazrat Usman (R.A), with great courage without losing his heart defeating the Umayyads during the Battle of Nahrawan
4. Introducing and implementing reforms especially in taxes and collection of revenues
Therefore, the overall reign of Hazrat Ali (R.A) last for almost 5 years with facing a lot of resistance not only from the fake Muslims but also from rulers of his state like Muawiya of Syria, who demanded direct assassination of the killers of Hazrat Usman (R.A). However, both had peace in the end after a short battle with rule of Amir Muawiah was preserved in Syria as it is.
Martyrdom Of Hazrat Ali (R.A)
In the year 40 A.H, the rebellion group called Kharijites, declared the rule of the Caliph, Hazrat Ali (R.A), Amir Muawiah in Syria and Amr bin al-Aas in Egypt was not authentic and that there should be no Khilafat after Hazrat Umar (R.A). They dispersed with a view to kill all three of them. They could murder Muawiah and Amr, but one of the rebels, known as Ibn-e-Muljim, managed to martyr Hazrat Ali (R.A) using a poisoned sword while he (R.A) was performing Salah in the mosque on 20th of Ramadan, in 40 A.H.
In short, Hazrat Ali (R.A) was the very first among the youth to accept Islam and was always very close to the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He (R.A) had unmatched combating skills and was well known for his bravery during battles against the non believers. He also possessed the necessary personality traits of firm belief in Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, humbleness, gratefulness, and true insight of the Quranic Instructions. He had to go through tough periods of high resistance from so called Muslims and others during his Caliphate, but he (R.A) remained resolute on reestablishing peace in the Muslim society. To conclude, Hazrat Ali (R.A) spent his entire life in the great service of Islam.