The nucleus of the Islamic State started at the beginning of the Hijrah. The birth of this state was a unique prototype in the history of man. We do not know before Islam any state that was established on a brotherhood springing from the belief in the oneness of God and His universal justice which denies all clannish national and racial discrimination.
As a matter of fact it is difficult to find in history a clear example other than the early Islamic State in which a government was established as a spontaneous outcome of people's sharing spiritual and worldly ideals.
However this general brotherhood may remain an abstract idea if no tangible example of it is realized. The Messenger wanted to give the Muslims a tangible example through small brotherhoods a special relation between two Muslims in which each one becomes to the other a brother in God and treats the other as he treats his brother who was born from his parents.
The Holy Prophet issued and announced individual brotherhoods during the first year after the Hijrah but one was established ten years before the Hijrah. This was the one which he initiated between himself and ‘Ali at the conference which took place at the Prophet's house in Mecca.
It is recorded in Al-Seerat Al-Halabeyah that the Prophet issued a brotherhood between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar; between Abu Bakr and Kharijah Ibn Zayd; between ‘Umar and Atban Ibn Malik; between Abu Ruwaim Al-Khath-ami and Bilal; between Oseid Ibn Hudheir and Zayd Ibn Haritha; between Abu Obeidah and Saad Ibn Maath; between Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and Saad Ibn Al-Rabi.
Then he held the hand of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib saying: This is my brother. Thus the Messenger of God and ‘Ali became brothers.1
Ibn Hisham in his "Seerah" (Biography of the Prophet) reported the following: "The Prophet after the Hijrah said to the Muslims: Be brothers in God. Every two should be brothers.
Then he held ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib's hand and said: This is my brother. Thus the Messenger of God the leader of the Messengers the Imam of the righteous the one who has no equal among the servants of God (he) and ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib became brothers. Al-Hamzah Lion of God and of His Messenger and Zayd Ibn Haritha became brothers and Abu Bakr and Kharijah Ibn Zuhair became brothers. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Atban Ibn Malik became brothers.... 2
This type of brotherhood may serve at least one of the two following purposes:
1. It substitutes the blood relationship with a spiritual relationship. When two persons are from two clans tribes or communities their brotherhood in principles and beliefs take the place of brotherhood by birth. This makes the two brothers in religion ready to co-operate in promotion of their religion. Both brothers become immune to hostility if some misunderstanding takes place between one of the two brothers and the relatives of the other.
The brotherhood between two persons from two tribes or clans makes each one of them a friend to the members of the clan or tribe of the other. Each one of the two brothers loves the other and each has relatives with whom he reciprocates love.
These relatives through this brotherhood become indirectly tied to the spiritual brother of their relative. Thus the religious brotherhood becomes an extension of the blood relationship and the blood relationship becomes an extension of the religious brotherhood.
2. When it is by the Prophet's selection this kind of brotherhood is an evidence of a mutual spiritual resemblance between the two brothers. The Prophet knew about his companions more than they knew about themselves.
Two companions may not be aware of their spiritual resemblance as much as he is. Thus when he makes two of them brothers their brotherhood should enhance their cooperation and develop in proportion to their sincerity towards their religion.
Looking at the brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali before and after the Hijrah we find that their brotherhood does not serve the first purpose namely: Creation of a close relationship between two persons from two clans tribes or communities. The Messenger and ‘Ali were not from two cities or tribes or clans. They were first cousins.
The Messenger did not "brother" anyone before or after the Hijrah except ‘Ali. From this we can infer that the purpose of the brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali was to announce their mutual spiritual resemblance.
The brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali is a well known fact in the history of Islam. It was reported through many channels. This brotherhood was meaningful and highly important in the eyes of the Messenger.
Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak reported in two ways that the Messenger of God said to ‘Ali: "You are my brother in this world and in the Hereafter."3
The Messenger came out while his face was glittering.
Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf asked him: What is the good news? The Messenger said: "A good tidings came to me from my Lord concerning my brother and cousin and my daughter. That God had married ‘Ali to Fatimah."4
"You are my brother my companion and my associate in Paradise."5
He said to him on another occasion: "As to you ‘Ali you are my brother and the father of my children. You are from me and to me."6 At another time the Messenger told ‘Ali: "You are my brother and my minister you pay my debt and fulfill my promise...." 7
When Fatimah was moved to the house of her husband ‘Ali the Messenger said to Om Aiman: "Call for me my brother." She said (jokingly): He is your brother and you marry him your daughter?" He said: "Yes Om Aiman. She called ‘Ali for him and he came...."8
When the Messenger was on his deathbed he said: "Call for me my brother. They called ‘Ali and he came.
He said: "Come close to me " and ‘Ali did. The Prophet reclined on ‘Ali and kept speaking to him until his holy soul departed his body.9
These hadiths are only a few out of many others about the brotherhood of ‘Ali to the Messenger. They clearly indicate that the Messenger chose him as a brother because he was next to him in purity and character. ‘Ali should have been an unexpected choice. He was thirty years younger than the Prophet. Obviously he chose him because lie was the only one who deserved this unique honor.
The Prophet bestowed a unique honor upon ‘Ali by choosing ‘Ali to be his son-in-law. He married him to his daughter Fatima Al-Zahra (the Lady of light) for whom her father testified that she is the leader of the women of Paradise or the leader of the women of the believers.10 He also said: "Fatima is a portion of me whoever exasperates her exasperates me."11
Ayeshah wife of the Prophet also said about Fatima: "I have never seen a more resemblant to the Prophet in manner of speaking than Fatima daughter of the Messenger of God. Whenever she came to him he used to welcome her stand for her kiss her take her hand and seat her in his place."12
Ayeshah said also about Fatima: "I never witnessed a person truer than Fatimah after her father."13
Outstanding companions wooed the hand of Fatima but the Prophet rejected them saying: "I am waiting for a Directive concerning her." (He meant that he was waiting for an order from God.) When ‘Ali wooed her hand the Prophet welcomed him and ‘Ali married her in the first year after the Hijrah. She was moved to him in the following year after the Battle of Badr.
This marriage was destined to be unique in its consequences. Of its fruits were the two gems of this nation: Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein about whom the Holy Prophet said: "An Angel came from Heaven to give me the good tidings:
That Fatima is the leader of the women of Paradise and that Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are the leaders of the youth of Paradise."14
By their birth the most honorable family was formed.
For this family the Messenger ordered the Muslims to pray whenever they pray for him. This is the family whose members the Muslims are urged to follow.
In all of what the Holy Prophet spoke about ‘Ali and the members of his family he was speaking with a Divine authority and in reliance on the order of God and His revelation.
The Almighty revealed eighteen consecutive verses about the sacrifices of this family its love of God and the place of its members in Paradise.
Al-Wahidi in his book Al-Baseet; Imam Razi in his extensive commentary on the Holy Qur'an; Al-Zamakh-Shari in his Kashaf and Nizamul-Deen Al-Nisayburi in his commentary "Gara-Ibul Qur'an15 and Al-Shiblenji in his book Noorul-Abssan16 recorded that Ibn Abba said that: Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein became ill. ‘Ali and Fatima vowed to God the fast of three days of thanks if their two sons would be cured. The two sons also followed them in their vows and so did their maid Fiddah. The two children were cured and the family fasted three consecutive days.
There was no food for the family in the three days except small amounts of barley bread. When the time of breaking the fast came (in the evening) a needy person came to their door seeking food. The family gave him all they had. On the following evening an orphan came asking for food and the family did what it had done the first night.
On the third evening a captive came asking for food. The family did what it had done the first two days. About this event the Almighty revealed the chapter of "Time" or "Man" in which we find the following verses:
"The righteous shall drink of a cup whereof the mix- ture is Kafur a spring wherefrom the servants of God drink making it gush for them abundantly. They fulfill the vow and fear a day where the evil is wide-spreading. And feed with food for the needy wretch the orphan and the captive for love of God. (saying): We feed you for the sake of God only: We look for no reward nor thanks from you: we fear from our Lord a day of frowning and of fate. Therefore God has ward- ed off from them the evil of that day and has made them find brightness and joy. And has awarded them for all that they endured a Paradise and a silk attire...." The Qur'an Chapter 76 verses 5-12.
It is worthy to note that no hadith ever mentioned that the members of this family said aloud to those whom they gave their food: "We feed you for the sake of God looking for no reward nor thanks from you." These words were in their hearts not on their tongues but God stated openly in His Book what they kept secretly in their hearts.
The Holy Qur'an does not contain any testimony of this kind pertaining to any other Muslim family. This is because no other family offered what this family offered of sacrifices.
We know of no other family that was so unselfish that all its members gave to others for the love of God their necessary food for three consecutive days.
This family however was expected to surpass all other families in sacrifices. For ‘Ali was the brother of the Messenger: his wife was the daughter of the Messenger; and their two children by the testimony of the verse of "Mubahalah " are called sons of the Messenger.
The members of this family were the ones whom the Messenger brought with him when the Almighty God commanded him to invite the Christian delegation of Najran for "Mubahalah" (prayer by two opposite parties ask- ing God to punish their wrong side).
Presenting them on that occasion was a shining evidence that they were the highest among the Muslims in righteousness and presenting ‘Ali particularly showed that the relation between the Messenger and ‘Ali had passed the boundary of brotherhood and reached the degree of unity.
- 1. ‘Ali Ibn Burhanudeen Al-Halabi Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.97.
- 2. Ibn Hisham Part 1 p.505.
- 3. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 14 Sharaful-Deen Al-Murajaat p. 130.
- 4. Ibn Hajar Assawa-iq Al-Muhriqah p. 403 (conveyed by Sharaful Deen Al-Murajaat p. 130.
- 5. Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi Kanzul-Ummal hadith No. 6105.
- 6. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 217.
- 7. Al-Tabarani in his Big Majmaa of hadith (conveyed by Al- Muttaqi Al-Hindi in his Muntakhab (Selected) of Kanzul- Ummal published on the margins of Imam Ahmad's Musnad Part 5 p. 32.
- 8. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 159.
- 9. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 263.
- 10. Al-Bukhari reported it through his channel to ‘Aisha in his Sahih in the section of the Beginning of the Creation in the chapter of the Evidences of the Prophethood Part 5 p. 25.
- 11. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Chapter of Virtues of the Relatives of the Messenger and Virtues of Fatimah.
- 12. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.154.
- 13. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 160.
- 14. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan (of the 6 Authentics) Part 2 p. 306.
- 15. Nizamuddeen Al-Nisaboori in his Gharai-Ibul-Qur'an printed on the Margin of Al-Tabari's Commentaries on the Qur'an Part 29 pp. 112-113.
- 16. Sayed Al-Shiblenji Noorul-Absar pp. 112-114.