Imam Ali s life from the First Year of Migration to Prophet s Demise

When the Holy Prophet (s) left his house at Mecca in the night and Imam Ali (a) was left to defend himself, the idolaters gave up the idea and dispersed in search of the Holy Prophet (s).

Imam Ali (a) by the orders of the Prophet, stayed three days at Mecca and handed back all the articles which were entrusted to the Holy Prophet (s) for safe custody, mostly by his enemies, secured their receipts. He was also entrusted by the Prophet (s) for a safe transport of Prophet's daughter, Lady Fatima, Hazrat Hamza's daughter another Fatima, his own mother -- a third Fatima, and his aunt, who was the daughter of Abdul Muttalib -- a fourth Fatima. The Quraish wanted to prevent the departure of these four ladies. Eight prominent people came out to fight. Ali (a) fought single-handedly with them. He killed Junah with a stroke of his sword and dispersed the rest and continued the journey. On account of scarcity of mounts, he had to travel on foot and thus he reached Medina with bleeding feet. Awaiting the arrival of Imam Ali (a) the Holy Prophet (s) had stopped at Quba, two miles away from Medina. When Imam Ali (a) reached Quba, on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, the Holy Prophet embraced him, dressed his bleeding feet and entered Medina along with him.

Before his migration to Medina, the Holy Prophet (s) had created a bond of brotherhood between the Muslims. He had fraternized Abu Bakr to Umar, Uthman to Abdul Rahman ibn Awf, Hamza to Zaid ibn Harith and Talha to Zubair. On that occasion, he had fraternized Imam Ali (a) to himself, saying "O Ali! You are my brother in this world as well as in the next". [35]

First Year of Migration

Five months after his arrival at Medina, the Prophet (s) fraternized the Muhajirs (immigrants) with the Ansar (the citizens of Medina). On that occasion again he called Ali (a) and said: "O Ali! You are my brother in this world and the Hereafter". Ibn Hisham says:

"The Holy Prophet (s) held the hand of Imam Ali and said, "He alone is my brother". Thus the Prophet of Allah, who was actually the leader of all the prophets as well as of all the pious men of the world and who had no parallel among human beings by fraternizing with Imam Ali (a) showed that Ali also had no parallel among mankind except the Holy Prophet (s)." [36]

Second Year of Migration

During this year, Imam Ali's marriage took place with the Holy Prophet's daughter, Lady Fatima. The Holy Prophet (s) was receiving many offers for his daughter from very rich people of Medina, from some of the Muhajirs and from chiefs of mighty clans of Arabia. He had refused even to consider these offers and sometimes felt annoyed at them and at the end, he closed the door by saying that he was awaiting the orders of Allah. A detailed account of these offers and the way of refusal by the Prophet (s) is narrated in "Usudul Ghabah fi Tamizis Sahaba". Some of the Ansar suggested to Imam Ali (a) to place a proposal for himself before the Holy Prophet (s). Imam Ali (a) visited the Prophet (s) modestly. This was the first time in his life that he talked reservedly to a man who was like a father to him and to whom he was like a dear son. When the Holy Prophet (s) heard the proposal he was so pleased that he smiled and said, "Ahlan wa Marhaba" (it is a welcome and happy proposal). [37]

The Holy Prophet (s) took the consent of Lady Fatima (a) for this proposal. The marriage ceremony was very simple and without pomp and ostentation. There was a sermon from the Holy Prophet (s) in which he praised Allah mentioning some of His attributes and citing verses of the Holy Quran and concluding with the remarks that he was ordered by Allah to give Lady Fatima (a) into marriage with Imam Ali (a). This was followed by a sermon from Imam Ali (a), praising Allah and the Holy Prophet (s) and desiring the gathering to witness his marriage with Lady Fatima. After the marriage ceremony, somebody reminded the Holy Prophet (s) of his late wife, Lady Khadija (a), the mother of Fatima. The Holy Prophet (s) said: "Khadija! Where is Khadija, who can be like Khadija, she testified me when the world was falsely accusing me as a liar, she relieved me of much of my weight, she was my partner in my work and she helped me when others were creating obstructions in my mission."

After reaching Medina, the Holy Prophet (s) with Imam Ali (a) stayed in the house of Kulthum ibn Hadam for seven months. When the Prophet (s) finished the construction of the mosque, he built houses for his wives around it and in the center of them, he built a house for Imam Ali (a). [38] Following his example, many of his companions except Abu Bakr built their houses around the mosque. Caliph Abu Bakr was staying in the locality of Bani Abd Awf where the marriages of both of his daughters took place and later on he shifted to Sukh. [39] The doors of all the houses built around the mosque opened in the mosque. One day the Holy Prophet (s) ordered that except the doors of his house and that of Ali, all the other doors should be claimed. Some of the companions requested him to allow them to keep a small window open. He replied, "No, not a pin-hole, Allah so willed it".[40]

Third Year of Migration

The first child to Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) was born and he was named Hasan (a) by the Holy Prophet (s). In the same year, the Battle of Uhud took place which was followed by despatch of expeditionary force to Hamara'ul Asad under Imam Ali (a).

Fourth Year of Migration

Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) had the second child Husain (a), who was also named the by Holy Prophet (s). In the same year a battle took place with Bani Nazir and Imam Ali (a) brought it to a successful end and Bani Nazir were forced to vacate their fortress.

Fifth Year of Migration

Three battles took place, battle with Bani Mustaliq, Battle of Khandaq and battle with Bani Khansa. In all three of them, Ali (a) was the commander of the Muslim army. Most important of them was the Battle of Khandaq.

Sixth Year of Migration

An expedition to Fadak was sent under the command of Imam Ali (a) and without a battle or skirmish, he brought the whole province under control of the Holy Prophet (s).

In the month of Ziqad, the Holy Prophet (s) alongwith 1400 Muslims left for Mecca with the intention of pilgrimage. He had no desire to fight and had left all the armaments at Medina. When Quraish came to know about this intending pilgrimage, they refused to allow the Holy Prophet (s) to enter Mecca. Khalid bin Walid came out with a force of well-equipped 200 cavalry-men to obstruct the Holy Prophet and if necessary to fight over the issue. At an oasis called Hudaybiya, the opponents faced each other. A chieftain named Urwa from Quraish came out to discuss the situation with the Prophet (s) and instead of a battle, a treaty was arranged, which was written by Imam Ali (a). The last clause of the treaty was that the present intention of the pilgrimage should be given up but next year the Holy Prophet (s) and the Muslims can come for Umra.

Seventh Year of Migration

The Battles of Khaybar and the Wadi'ul Qura' took place. The more important of them was Khaybar. In the same year, the Holy Prophet (s) along with the Muslims went to Mecca to perform Umra, it was a very peaceful mission. The Holy Prophet (s) and many of the Muslims had their wives and children with them. The Umra was performed peacefully.

Eighth Year of Migration

This year had some important events in its fold. The first of them was the fall of Mecca. The terms of the treaty of Hudaybiya were dishonoured by the Quraish. Within two years of the treaty they killed twenty persons of the tribe of Bani Khuza'a without rhyme or reason. Representatives of the clans came to the Holy Prophet (s) asking for his promised support, he was annoyed at this flagrant dishonouring of the Treaty and said, "I may not be helped if I do not help them."

The arrangement for the invasion of Mecca was being carried on by the Muslims, in the meanwhile, Hatab, a companion of the Prophet (s) informed them of the intention of Muslims. The espionage, under orders of the Holy Prophet (s) was detected by Imam Ali (a) and he brought this letter to the Prophet (s). It was being sent through an Abysinnian slave-girl. Hatab confessed his crime and was mercifully pardoned by the Holy Prophet (s). [41]

When all the arrangements were ready, the army of about 10,000, as an advance party, marched towards Mecca. Sa'd ibn Ubada Ansari, the commander of the army entering Mecca, said, "Today is going to be a great day, a day of retaliation, a day when Mecca will be looted." Abbas, the uncle of the Holy Prophet (s), hearing this, came to the Holy Prophet (s) and said, "O Prophet of Allah! Sa'd has very severe intention against Quraish. He may carry on a massacre." The Holy Prophet (s) called Imam Ali (a) and said, "O Ali! Go and take the command from Sa'd. He would not be unhappy in handing over the command to you." Imam Ali (a) took over the command of the expedition and entered the city, declared perfect amity and peace and waited for the Prophet (s). When the Prophet (s) entered Mecca, he went straight to Ka'ba and started removing the idols. Some of them were placed on a very high platform where his hands could not reach, he asked Ali (a) to mount on his shoulders and remove the idols.

Ali obeyed the order; while removing the idols, the Holy Prophet (s) asked, "O Ali! How do you find yourself?" Imam Ali (a) replied, "O Prophet of Allah! I find myself on such an eminent place that I feel as if my hand is resting on the Empyrean of Allah the Almighty". Thereupon, the Holy Prophet (s) said: "O Ali! How fortunate you are, doing the work for the cause of Allah, and how fortunate I am that I am bearing your burden." [42]

Regarding the above event, a poet composed the following verses in praise of Imam Ali (a):

"I am asked to praise Ali in verses, 
Because recital of his praises will 
Release a man from Hell. 
I replied to them, how can I praise, 
A man whose attributes are so sublime 
That men got confused over these attributes 
And started apotheosising him. 
He has placed his foot at such an eminent 
Place, that according to the Holy Prophet, 
It is the place on which, on the night of Me'raj (Divine ascension), 
Allah has placed His Hand of Grace and Mercy."

Hearing these poetic verses, the Holy Prophet (s) rewarded the poet handsomely.

The second important event was the massacre of Bani Jazima by Khalid ibn Walid and reparation carried by Imam Ali (a) under orders of the Holy Prophet (s).

The month of Shawwal this year witnessed the Muslims facing certain powerful tribes of Arabs on the battlefield of Hunain. Imam Ali (a) again got a victory over them. Hunain was followed by an expedition to Ta'if under command of Imam Ali (a). Those who had fled Hunain and now gathered at Ta'if wanted to measure their strength once again. The commander of their army who was the chief of Bani Zaygham clan was killed by Imam Ali (a), which broke their influence and various parties of hostile clans started dispersing. Seeing this the Holy Prophet (s) lifted the siege and brought the expedition to an end.

In the same year, Imam Ali (a) was sent to Yemen on a missionary service, he carried on this work so successfully and his speeches there proved so effective that the tribe of Bani Hamdan unanimously embraced Islam.

Ninth Year of Migration

Four important incidents relating to Imam Ali (a) took place in this year.

The first was the expedition to Zatus Salasil. Imam Ali (a) brought it to a successful end, defeated the clans gathered there to invade Medina and brought the happy news to the Holy Prophet (s). The Prophet of Allah, came out of Medina to welcome the brave and staunch warrior. Imam Ali (a) was riding a horse at the head of his army, saw the Holy Prophet (s) walking towards him, jumped from his horse. The Prophet (s) told him, "Keep on riding, don't dismount, Allah and His Prohpet are really pleased with your services" and made him remount his horse and he walked along with the horse.

The second event was the Prophet's expedition to Tabuk.

The third important even in the life of Imam Ali (a) and in the history of Islam was the recitation of the ninth chapter of the Holy Quran, Surah al-Bara'at (Tawbah) before the infidels of Mecca. This chapter declares that Allah and His Prophet in future will have nothing to do with the infidels and polytheists. All the treaties which existed till then are now annulled and cancelled. No polytheist or infidel will in future be allowed to enter the city of Mecca, or the precincts of Ka'bah.

"The Holy Prophet (s) first ordered Caliph Abu Bakr to carry this chapter to Mecca and to recite it at the Ka'bah but immediately after him, he sent Imam Ali (a) to replace Abu Bakr on the mission. When Abu Bakr complained about this change, the Prophet of Allah replied, "I have done it under the orders of Allah which came explicitly that either I should perform this duty myself or somebody who is like me". [43]

The fourth important event which took place during this year was the event of "Mubahila" (imprecation).

Najran was a city in the province of Yemen. It was the center of Christian Missionary activities in Southern Arabia. The Holy Prophet (s) had written to Harith, the chief priest of the city to realize the blessings of Islam. In reply he wrote that he would like to discuss personally the teachings of this new religion. He was invited and came with a retinue of fourteen priests. These priests stayed at Medina as guests of the Holy Prophet (s). Long discussions about monotheism versus trinity took place and it was realized that these priests were not open-minded, on the contrary were prejudiced against Islam. The Almighty Lord ordered the Holy Prophet (s) to explain to them that:

"To Allah, the case of Jesus is as that of Adam whom He created from the earth and then said, "Be and he came into existence". This is the truth from Your Lord; be not therefore one of those who doubt; and whoever shall dispute with you after the knowledge which has been given you, say to them, come let us call together our sons and your sons, our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves; then let us make imprecations and lay the curse of Allah upon those who lie." (Surah Ale Imran, 3:59-61)

According to Amir ibn Sa'd and Ummul Momineen Ayesha, when the above verses were revaled to the Prophet of Allah, he called Imam Ali, Lady Fatima, Hasan and Husain, and said, "Lord! This is my family and progeny (Ahlul Bait)." [44]

Fakhruddin Razi says that when the above verses were revealed, the Prophet of Allah covered himself with a black mantle, took in it Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said, "Lord! This is my progeny, my household and my family (Ahlul Bait)". Thereupon the Prophet of Allah received the revelation, [45]

"People of the house, Allah wants to protect you from all kinds of uncleanliness and to purify you thoroughly." (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:33)

Hearing the glad tidings of the Divine purification, sanctification and consecration, the Holy Prophet (s) decided to take only these four persons along with him for the ceremony of trail by imprecations as ordered by Allah; that is Imam Ali (a) representing the "selves" as mentioned in the above verses, Lady Fatima representing "Women" and Hasan and Husain representing "sons".

The Christian priests were then informed of these orders by Allah. Rev. Sale says: "They agreed next morning to abide by the trial as a quick way of deciding which of them were in the wrong. Muhammad met them accordingly accompanied by his daughter Fatima, his son-in-law Ali and his two grandsons Hasan and Husain and desired them (the Christian priests) to wait till he had performed his prayers. But when they saw him kneel down, their resolution failed them and they dared not venture to curse him and his party, but agreed to sign a treaty and pay tribute to him."

Ahlul-Bayt, people of the household of Muhammad (s) is the designation usualy given to Fatima, Ali and their children and descendants. This is the name by which Ibn Khaldun invariably designate them, and followers and disciples, Shi'as or supporters of the "People of the House". Sanai, the famous Sufi poet whom Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi praises, represents the general feeling with which the descendants of Muhammad (s) were regarded in the following poetic verse:

"Excepting the Book of Allah and his family (the Chosen Descendants) nothing has been left by Ahmad the Prophet; Memorials such as these can never be obtained till the Day of Judgement." [46]

While discussing this event, and the Quranic verses referred above, the Holy Prophet (s) by indicating the word "selves" for himself and Ali, the word "women" for Fatima and the words "sons" for Hasan and Husain, have shown to the Muslims the estimation in which these four persons were held by Allah and by himself, and that they and they alone are his Ahlul Bait, who deserve the Divine purification, sanctification and consecration. [47]

Tenth Year of Migration

During this year, Ali was sent once gain on a propagation mission to Yemen and thence on an expedition against Amr ibn ma'di Karib. He performed both the duties successfully.

"From the latter expedition, Khalid ibn Walid sent a letter containing complaints of Imam Ali to the Holy Prophet (s). This letter was carried by Buraida, a companion of the Holy Prophet (s). On receipt of this letter, the Prophet of Allah was annoyed and got angry and said, "You are fabricating lies and fictitious complaints against Ali, he is from me and I am from him, he is your guardian (Wali) after me. Wheover annoys him actually annoys me and whoever forsakes him, forsakes me. He is made of the same material that I am made of and I am made of the same material that Abraham is made of and my status before Allah is superior to that of Abraham". [48]

In the end of 10 A.H., the Holy Prophet (s) performed the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hijjatul Wida) and while returning from there, he designated Imam Ali as his vicegerent.

Eleventh Year of Migration

This year was the saddest year of Imam Ali's life. He lost two of his best companions. One of whom he loved and venerated like a father, like a master and like the dearest friend, the Holy Prophet (s) who died during the early months of this year. His demise was followed by the demise of Imam Ali's dearest companion, his wife, Fatima, the Lady of the Light.

The last year of the Holy Prophet's life was spent at Medina. An envoy of his was killed by the Syrians and he had ordered an expedition against the Byzantines under Usama bin Zaid and he had ordered all his companions except Imam Ali (a) to join this expedition, and had ordered the troops to be encamped outside the city. [49]

Though he was ill, yet in spite of his weakness he came out, arranged the standard (the insignia of the command) with his own hands and handed it over to Usama. He felt that people were not willing to join this expedition, because of the young age of Usama, he got annoyed and said, "Curse of Allah be on those who forsake the army of Usama". [50]

The cause of the Prophet's illness was the poison which had been given to him and it had slowly penetrated into his body and had now begun to show its effect, and it became evident that he would not live long. The news of his approaching end led to the stoppage of the expedition.

"At the last stage of illness, the Holy Prophet (s) was staying at the house of Ummul Momineen Ayesha. From there he came out for the last time to lead the prayers. He was so weak that he was carried there by the sons of Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib. He, himself led the prayers." [51]

This exertion proved too much for the Prophet of Allah and when he returned home from the mosque, he fainted. His condition was very serious at that time and fainting-fit was of long duration. His children, members of family and his companions started weeping and lamenting. He came out of the swoon and looked at those tear-sprinkled faces around him and said, "Bring pen, ink and paper so that I may write a will for you that will keep you on the straight path"

Some of his companions wanted to offer the pen and paper while Umar ibn Khattab was of the opinion that he was talking insanely on account of the intensity of illness; they have the Holy Quran with them which would suffice them. This discussion took a serious turn and people started contention. The Prophet of Allah got annoyed at this and asked them to go away and to leave him alone." [52]

It was Sunday the 27th of Safar, 11. A.H. The Prophet of Allah after the above incident, called Imam Ali and said: "Ali! You will be the first to meet me on the fountain of Kauthar. After me, when hardships and reverses face you, then do not lose patience and when you find people running after worldly gains then you busy yourself in the way of truth and Allah." [53]

Next day, Monday, the 28th of Safar, the Prophet of Allah passed away to the realm of Allah's Grace, Blesings and Majesty.

Ibn Sa'd relates that, "During the regime of Umar, once the famous Jew, Ka'bul Ahbar (who later embraced Islam) asked of the caliph, "Sire! Please tell me what were the last words of the Prophet (s)". The caliph told him to ask Imam Ali (a) about it. Ka'b came to Imam Ali and asked him the same question. Imam Ali (a) replied: "During the last moments of the Holy Prophet his head was resting on my shoulder and his words were al-Salat al-Salat (prayers, prayers)".

Ka'b declared, "Verily the last moments of Prophets have always been thus, they are ordained for it and they carry the message even with their last breath."

Then Ka'b returned to Caliph Umar and asked him, "Sire! Who performed the bathing of the Prophet after his death?" The caliph told him to ask Imam Ali about that also. He again came to Imam Ali and repeated the question. Imam Ali replied: "The Prophet of Allah had willed that none but I should perform at his bathing ceremony, because if any other person looked at his nude body, he would get blind. A curtain was hanged and from the other 

side of the curtain, Fazl ibn Abbas and Usama, blind-folded were handing over water to me and I was performing the washing." [54]

These facts that Imam Ali was the only person to be with the Holy Prophet (s) at his last moments and to have performed the last rites, are recorded in authentic historical Books. [55]

After the last rites of bathing and shrouding the august body of the Prophet of Allah as per his will, first Imam Ali (a) offered "Salatul Mayyit" (prayers for a dead body) alone and then Muslims in groups came and offered the prayers without any leader (Imam). Allama ibn Abdul Barr in Isti'ab says that after Imam Ali (a) offered his "Salatul Mayyit" alone then Bani Hashim, the immigrants and then the Ansar offered the prayers.

When the prayers for the dead body were offered, Imam Ali, Abbas, Fazl ibn Abbas and Usama ibn Zaid got busy with the burial ceremonies of the Prophet of Allah and at the request of Ansar, Aws bin Khawli Ansari who was also a Badri, was allowed to join them. Usama dug the grave in the house of Ummul Momineen Ayesha. Aws got into the grave and Imam Ali lifted the august body in hands and lowered it into the grave. He stayed in the grave for sometime, he was weeping bitterly,

Usama says, "I have never seen Ali weeping like that before or after this occasion", and then he came out of the grave and lifting his hands said, "Lord! He was your first creation, he lifted the gloom prevailing before the creation started, he was a proof of Your Glory and Benevolence, he had come to us from the realm of Your Love and Glory, and was our guide towards that realm. His soul was the emblem of Your Supreme Might, his body was the masterpiece of Your creation and his mind was Your treasure house". Then he closed the grave.

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References

[34] The remarks of Imam Ghazali about this event and the inferences he has drawn are instructive readings. The following is the list of some out of the famous 153 historians and books which contain the above event: Ibn Shihab Zuhari (125 AH); Muhammad ibn Ishaq (152 AH); Ibn Rahuya (238 AH); Musnad, Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal vol. V, p. 281 (243 AH); Jarir Tabari (310 AH); Hakim Tirmizi (320 AH); Mustadrak, Imam Hakim (400 AH); Sirrul Alamin, Imam Ghazali (505 AH); Sibt ibn Jawzi (654 AH); Ibn Subbaq Maliki (855 AH); Suyuti (911 AH); Shaykh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlavi (1052 AH); Shah Waliyullah (1176 AH); Allama Muhammad Mu'in (1280 AH).

[35] Tarikh Khamis, vol. I, p. 398

[36] Seerah ibn Hisham, vol. II; Abul Fida, vol. I, p. 127; Mustadrak Hakim, vol. III; Fathul Bari, commentary on Sahih Bukhari, vol. VII, p. 211.

[37] Tarikh Khamis, vol. I, p. 407; Tabaqat Ibn Saad, vol. VIII, pp. 11-12; Usudul Ghabah fi Tamizis Sahaba.

[38] Sahih Bukhari, para 14, p. 387.

[39] Bukhari, Vol. I

[40] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hambal; Mustadrak Hakim; Khasais Nisai.

[41] Sahih Bukhari

[42] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hambal, Vol. I, p. 151.

[43] Mustadrak Hakim, vol. III, p. 32; Riyazun Nuzrah, vol. II, p. 203; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hambal, vol. I, p. 331; Isaba-fi-Ma'arifatis Sahaba, vol. IV, p.270; Izalatul Khifa, Shah Waliyullah Dehlavi, section 2, p. 261.

[44] Sahih Bukhari, part VII, p. 77; Sahih Muslim, vol. II, p.278; Jame' Tirmizi, p. 421; Mishqat Sharif, vol. VIII, p. 129

[45] Tafsir Kabir, vol. II, p.701 (printed in Egypt); Tafsir Kashshaf, vol. I, p. 308.

[46] The Spirit of Islam, p. 313; note.

[47] Kanzul Ammal, vol. VI, p. 159; Tafsir Kashshaf, vol. I, p.308; Mawaddatul Qurba, Ali Hamdani; Sawaiq Muhriqa, Allama ibn Hajr Makki.

[48] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hambal, vol. V, p. 356; Khasa'is Nisai; Sawa'iq Muhriqa, Allama ibn Hajar Makki, chap. II.

[49] Tarikh Tabari; Tarikh Kamil ibn Athir; Tabaqat ibn Saad; Seerah Halabiya and Madarijun Nabuwwah, vol. II, p. 766.

[50] Al-Milal wan-Nahal, Allama Shahristani;

[51] Fathul Bari, commentary on Sahih Bukhari, para 3, p. 372.

[52] For details of this event, refer to Sahih Bukhari, para 12, p. 126, para 8, p. 100, para 23, p. 384; Minhajus Sunnah, Allama ibn Taymiya; Sharh-e-Sahih Muslim, Allama Nudi.