Who Is Imam Ali

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Imam Ali (a.s.):
His Personality and knowledge

There are some people whom if you mention their names, you feel yourself entering the caves of history while holding a candle to know them and be introduced to their thought and life. But whenever you say Ali (a.s.), you feel this name is traversing time, rising in wide horizons, showing you the infinity, and taking you all around the world. You will even search for something which he did not talk about …, but you find nothing. Whereas, if you enter his mind, you will find it brilliant and different from many others' minds which when you enter them you can hardly realize their powers.

There are some people whom if you mention their names, you feel as if they are taking you to abstraction far away from life…, while on the contrary, there are others whom if you mention their names, you feel as if they are touching the abstract with their minds and bringing it down to reality.

Ali (a.s.) is the man who spent his life near Allah and was spiritually with Him. His life was not a Sufi one; it was an open one that makes you live with people to feel their pains and sufferings and to create a new thought in their minds by Allah's inspiration.

{And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah ; and Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotee} (2:207).

{Your (real) friends are (no less than) Allah, His Messengers, and the Believers, those who establish regular prayers and pay Zakat and they bow down humbly (in worship)} (5:55).

These two verses talk about the good conduct of Imam Ali (a.s) … The first one was revealed in the first night of Al-Higra, when Ali (a.s) slept in the Prophet's (p.) bed to cover his leaving of Mecca. So, Allah witnessed the Imam's loyalty to His Messenger being also a loyalty to Allah.

The second verse was revealed when Imam (a.s) was praying in the mosque and a beggar entered. Ali (a.s.) gave him his ring as a Zakat (almsgiving) without breaking his prayers.

He (a.s.) served God in all his actions. Even his fight against the enemies and his bravery was devoted to Allah and not for his own interests.

His bravery and heroism were not a personal matter. He devoted his arms to Allah and did not use his sword unless he was commanded by Allah through His Prophet (p.). He fought only in battles where he would gratify Allah, and left any battle, which did not serve the Islamic interests.

Therefore, if we study the Imam's wars, starting from his war beside the Prophet (p.) in Bader, until his last war against the separatists, we realize that he fought in conformity with the juristic principles. His aim through his wars lied in the interests of God and Islam and not in satisfying his personal pride and pleasures.

This was how Imam Ali's (a.s) personality in peace and war was demonstrated. He did not reconcile with his enemies for his own interests, but for the Islamic interest. For that reason, he used to say: "I will keep the peace as long as the Muslims 'affairs are secured."

From the beginning of his life, Ali (a.s) did not look at any person as an important one, because he believed in the glorification of Allah only. Therefore, he did not fear of any one except Allah.

He is Ali (a.s.), the brave man who had never retreated. That was what the Prophet (p.) had affirmed when he said: "Tomorrow, I will give the banner to a man who loves Allah and His Prophet (p.) and whom Allah and His Prophet (p.) love." This man attacks but never flees. He does not come back from a battle, until he achieves victory by Allah's Blessings.

Imam Ali (a.s) before the Prophet's (p.) mission.

The Prophet (p.) had raised Ali (a.s.) before the mission. He took him from his uncle Abi-Talib to educate him and help his uncle in fostering his children, so, Ali (a.s.) was the Prophet's foster son. The Prophet (p.) used to contemplate in Allah's creation of the Universe, and opened his mind to Allah before the mission. He also made the Imam (a.s.) share him his contemplations to strengthen his moral values. So, the honest and the trusty Prophet taught Ali (a.s) how to be honest and trustworthy like him.

Imam Jaafar Al-Sadiq (a.s.) talked about the education which Ali (a.s.) has learned from the Prophet (p.). When one of Al-Sadiq's companions asked him(a.s.) to teach him something in order to reach a high degree in his (a.s.) view, Al-Sadiq answered: "See what Imam Ali (a.s.) has done to reach a high degree in the Prophet's (p.) view. That was due to Ali's honesty and faithfulness".

Because of being honest and loyal to Allah, Ali (a.s.) was very close to truth and never deviated from it. He upheld the Islamic responsibility because he considered that Allah had entrusted him with this responsibility which lies in all his relations with the reality and all his life stages. That was Ali (a.s.) who lived spiritually with Allah.

He was barely ten years old, when the mission was revealed to the Prophet (p.). Yet, he directly responded to the Prophet's (p.) call to embrace Islam.

Some historians stated that Ali was the first boy to embrace Islam and some tried to say that his decision was not a rational one, whereas, when the Prophet (p.) called him to embrace Islam he knew that Ali (a.s.) has had a mind of a rational man. Otherwise, why would he ask him to do so?

Imam Ali (a.s) after the Prophet's mission.

Ali (a.s.) embraced Islam and started his life with the Prophet (p.). He lived with him in his house and heard the inspiration revealed to him through Jobraeil (the angle who delivered the message to the Prophet (p.)). He learned from the Prophet (p.) how to be patient in delivering the message, how to act when the message requires movement, power and tolerance. He was characterized by the Prophet's (p.) morals. Thus, when Najran's Christians came to the Prophet (p.) to pray earnestly with him and invoke Allah's curse on those who lie, the following Verse was revealed: {If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: "Come! Let us gather together, our sons, and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray. And invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!"} (3:61)

The Prophet (p.) came with his two grandsons Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein (a.s.), his daughter Fatima Al-Zahraa (a.s.), and Imam Ali (a.s.). He said: "Ali is me". That was not because Ali (a.s.) was his relative, for the Prophet (p.) had many cousins, but because Ali (a.s.) had a profound religious personality. The Prophet (p.) educated Ali (a.s.) from the depth of his heart, and taught him his own morals.

Ali's (a.s) trade with God:

Ali (a.s) was a pious Muslim in all his life's stands. His thought, feelings and emotions were characterized by the Islamic morals. We understand from his conduct, words, and feelings that: to him, the meaning of Islam was to sell one's self to Allah. One can not be a real Muslim if he attaches importance to any one other than Allah, or prefers anyone's interest or relations, to Allah's ones. Therefore, a real Muslim must devote all his life for Allah:

{Behold! His Lord said to him: Submit (thy will to Me): He said: "I submit (my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe". (2:131).

{Say: Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the worlds. * No partner hath He: This I am commended and I am the first of those who submit to His Will} (6:162-163).

After he had embraced Islam, Ali (a.s.) dedicated his life to pave for us the path of truth. Allah spoke to us about him in the following Holy Verse: {And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah} (2:207).

Ali (a.s.) wanted to win himself and he knew that he can not do so, unless he dedicated his soul to Allah.

Therefore, when the Prophet (p.) asked him to sleep in his bed during the night Mohammad (p) left Mecca, Ali accepted immediately without hesitation in spite of the imminent danger. The only thing which he was worried about was the safety of the Prophet's (p.) life and message. So, he asked the Prophet (p.): "Messenger of Allah. Will you be safe?" The Prophet (p.) answered: "Go and you will be guided by Allah". And, he slept in the Prophet's (p.) bed.

Without Ali's (a.s.) sacrifice, the Prophet (p.) would not have been able to cover his withdrawal. So, when the enemies came they thought that the one who was sleeping in the bed was the Prophet (p.).