Lesson 17: The Second Infallible Figure, Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib
‘Ali was born on Rajab 13, thirty years after the destruction of the elephants, in the House of God, Ka’bah. He was ten, when the great Prophet was appointed and during the twenty three years of his mission, he always stood by him and spared no sacrifice in the cause of God and the great Prophet. His sacrifices and his efforts in the cause of Islam especially at times when Islam was seriously threatened on all sides are unforgettable.
On the night, when the infidels had plotted to raid the house of the Prophet and kill him, the Prophet told ‘Ali, “The infidels have decided to break into my house and kill me and God has commanded me to leave Mecca and ask you to sleep in my stead. Are you ready to do so?”
‘Ali said, “If I sleep in your bed, will you be safe?”
The great Prophet replied, “Yes.”
‘Ali prostrated himself to thank God and said, “May my life be sacrificed to yours, I willingly comply with whatever you command and pray God for success.”
In all battles, he span around the Prophet like a butterfly and faced many dangers to keep him safe.
In every way, he was identical to the great Prophet as if he were his reflection in the mirror.
The great Prophet has said, “I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is like the gate to this city and anyone who seeks entry to acquire knowledge must do so through ‘Ali.”
The great Prophet has also observed, “‘Ali is with truth, and truth is with ‘Ali and these two will never part from one another and whatever ‘Ali says is truth and whatever way he specifies is the path of truth.”
Although he was inalienably entitled to succeed the Prophet1 following the demise of the Prophet his undeniable right to succession was violated, nevertheless to preserve the foundation of Islam, ‘Ali never, during the twenty years when he was robbed of his right, did anything that might divide the Muslim community and thus afford Islam’s foes the opportunity to destroy it but rather he did his best to help Islam and Muslims and did not withhold his guidance on important occasions. Finally people pledged allegiance to him as the ruler in the year 35, and his rule lasted five years until in the Ramadhan of the year 40, he was martyred at the mosque of Kufah. May God bless him! His holy shrine is located in Najaf which is one of the cities of Iraq.
Excerpts from the Commander of the Faithful’s recommendations to his son, Imam Hasan (‘a).
Say your prayers on time and pay your alms taxes (zakat) punctually and under any circumstances, whether you feel pleased or angry or furious, observe the golden mean. Be friendly to the needy and consort with them.
O my son! Endeavor in the cause of God and don’t quit recommending decency and forbidding indecency. Behave in a brotherly manner toward your fellow-Muslims for the sake of God. Remember God all the time. Be kind to children, and respect the elderly. Don’t eat any food unless you have already given some part of it away to the needy. 2
After the martyrdom of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) Sudah, the daughter of ‘Ammarah called on Mu’awiyah (May God’s curse be upon him) to complain about their governor who was appointed by him. Mu’awiyah did not heed her protest and threatened to send her to the same ruler to be at his mercy.
Sudah bowed her head for a while and then raised it and recited this verse,
“May God bestow His blessing upon the body which when it was placed in the grave, justice was buried simultaneously, too.”
“The one who was allied with truth and was inextricably linked to faith and truth.”
Mu’awiyah said, “Perhaps you mean ‘Ali.”
She said, “Yes, I mean ‘Ali (‘a)”. Then she recounted her memory of that Imam, “During his rule, we were oppressed by one of his appointees, we expressed our discontent to ‘Ali. Having listened to our complaint, he started crying and said, “O God you bear witness that I have never told them to wrong people.” And he immediately sacked that oppressive appointee. 3