The Life of the Commander of the Faithful
The Life of the Commander of the Faithful
Ali b. Abu Talib
(This part gives) an account of the Commander of the faithful, peace
be on him, the first of the Imams of the belicvers, 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 b. 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 b. Abi Talib b. Abd al Muttalib b. Hashim b. 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 honoured 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 b. Hashim b. 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. He dictated
to her her last words (which were) the statement of the authority (wilaya) 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 hinn.
The report of that is well known.
The Commander of the faithful, Ali b. 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 sunna (the
practice of thc Prophet) and the Qur'an, judged with justice and enjoined (people) to do
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 thc 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 b. Thabit - the man who is known as the
possessor of two testimonies - Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Jabir b. 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, judgement 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
Your authority (wali) is God and His Apostle and those believers who
perfrom the prayer and pay alms (zakat) while they are bowing (in prayer). [ V 55 ]
It is known that no one except him paid alms while bowing (in
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
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
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
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 the Imamate and for succession to his position.
Furthermore there is (the Prophet's), peace be on him and his
family, statement to him at the time of setting out to Tabuk:
You are in the same position with respect to me as Aaron (Harun) was
to Moses (Musa) except that there is no prophet after me.
Thus he required him (to have) the office of helping (i.e.
administering) and to be characterised by love and outstanding merit over everyone. (He
also required) his deputising for him both during his life and after his death. The Qur'an
gives evidence for all that coming to Aaron (Harun) from Moses, peace be on them, when
God, may He be magnified and exalted, said in giving a report of what Moses, peace be on
Make Aaron, my brotherly a helper for me from my family. Give me
support through him and make him participate in my affair so that we may glorify You much
and we may remember You frequently in that You have been a watcher over us. [ XX 29-35]
God, the Most Exalted said:
Your request is granted Moses. [ XX 36 ]
This (verse) confirmed that Aaron had a share with Moses in
prophecy, and in helping in delivering the message and his support was strengthened
through him by his aid. (Moses) also told him of deputising for him (when he said):
Deputise for me among my people. Act for (their) benefit and do not
follow the path of the corrupters. [ VII 142 ]
This confirms his succession by the precise statement of revelation.
Therefore when the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, gave all the ranks
which Aaron had from Moscs to the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, in the same
extent, except for prophecy, (all such things) were required of him as helping the
Apostle, giving him support, outstanding merit and love, because these qualities were
definitely required by that. Then by the clear statement there is his deputising for him
during his life and "after the prophethood" which (gives evidence of his
succession) by specification of the exception, (of Prophethood) when he excludes him from
it by mentioning "after".
The Imamate of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was
for thirty years after the Prophet, may God bless him and his family. For twenty-four
years and six months of these he was prevented from administering the laws (of the office)
(and had to) exercise precautionary dissimulation (taqiyya) and withdrawal. For five years
and six months of these, he was troubled by wars against the hypocrites, those who broke
their pledges, the unjust and those who deviated (from the religion) and he was plagued by
the seditions of those who had gone astray. In the same way the Apostle of God, may God
bless him and his family, had been prevented from (administering) the laws (of his office)
through fear and through being spied upon, and through being a fugitive and through being
exiled, so that he had no power to fight the unbelievers and no means of defending the
believers. Then he emigrated and for ten years after the emigration he remained making war
on the unbelievers and being troubled by the hypocrites until the time that God, may His
name be exalted, took him unto Himself and made him dwell in the gardens of Paradise.
The death of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him occurred
before dawn of Friday, the twenty-first of the month of Ramadan, in the year 40 A.H. He
was a victim of the sword. Ibn Muljam al-Muradi, may God curse him, killed him at the
mosque of Kufa, which he had come out to in order to wake the people for the dawn prayer
on the night of the nineteenth of the month of Ramadan. He had been lying in wait for him
from the beginning of the night. When he (the Commander of the faithful) passed by him
while the latter was hiding his design by feigning sleep amid a group of people who were
asleep, he (Ibn Muljam) sprang out and struck him on the top of his head with his sword
which was poisoned. He lingered through the day of the nineteenth and the night and day of
the twentieth and the first third of the night of the twenty-first. Then he, peace be on
him, died a martyr and met his Lord, Most High, as one who has been wronged. He, peace be
on him, knew of that before its time and he told the people of it before its time. His two
sons, al- Hasan and al-Husayn, peace be on them, performed (the tasks) of washing him and
shrouding him according to his bequest. Then they carried him to al-Ghari at Najaf in Kufa
and they buried him there. They removed the traces of the place of his burial according to
his bequest which was made about that to hath of them by him, because of what he, peace be
on him, knew about the regime of the Umayyads (which would come) after him, and their
hostile attitude towards him. (For he knew) the evil action and abuse to which they would
be led by their wicked intentions if they had been able to know that (place). His grave,
peace be on him, remained hidden until al-Sadiq Jafar b. Muhammad, peace be on them,
pointed it out during the Abbasid regime. For he visited it when he came to visit Abu
Ja'far (al-Mansur) while the latter was in al-Hira. Then the Shi'a knew of it and they
began from that time to make visitation to his (grave), peace be on him and on his pure
On the day of his death he was 63 years of age.
Kitab al Irshad - Pages 1 - 6
The Book Of Guidance
By Shaykh al Mufid
Translated by I.K.A Howard
Imam Ali (as) First in many Fields
He was the only man to be born in the Kabah (The house of God)
He was the first to offer homage to the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF)
He was the first to offer prayers after the Holy Prophet
He was the first to offer his services for Jihad.
He was the first to receive religious instructions from the Holy
He was the first to compile and codify the Quran
He was the first to be styled as "brother" by the Prophet
(PBUH&HF) and on every occasion
He was the first to give burial to the Prophet (PBUH&HF)
He was the first to offer to sleep in the Prophet's (PBUH&HF) bed
on the night of his emigration to Medina
He was the first to be appointed commander in all those battles in
which the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF) didnot participate personally
The honor of the propagation of the Quranic Sura, "al
Bara'at" fell to Imam Ali's (as) lot
He was the only man to be titled as the "Second Aaron" by
the Prophet (PBUH&HF)
The honor of owning a house which opened into the courtyard of the
Prophet's (PBUH&HF) mosque was reserved for Imam Ali (as) alone
He was the first to have the honor of being nominated by the Holy
Prophet (PBUH&HF) as his succesor, testator and vice regent.
... and many many more
Imam Ali and the Ancient Prophets
God gave Adam the knowledge of His names, while Ali held the entire
knowledge of the Book of Allah.
Adam was married with Eve in the Garden of Paradise, while God
married Imam Ali (as) with Fatima (as) in heaven
God styled Noah as a "Grateful Creature" and he was called
the Second Adam, while Imam Ali (as) was styled as "Abu'l Ummah"
God made Abraham the "Imam" or the "Leaders of
men", while Imam Ali (as) was the Imam of all creation, men and Jinnis
Moses was brought up in the house of Pharoah, while Imam Ali (as) was
brought up in the house of the Prophet (PBUH&HF)
Moses threw his rod which became a serpent, whereas Imam Ali (as),
while still in the cradle, cleaved the snake into two
Moses name has been mentioned 230 times in the Quran, while Imam
Ali's (as) has been referred to in 300 places in the Quran
... and many many more
Contributed by Br. Ali Abbas, firstname.lastname@example.org