Biographies of Leaders of Islam
- :Sayyid 'Ali Naqi Naqawi
Biographies of Leaders of Islam
Author : Sayyid 'Ali Naqi Naqawi
The Supreme Among The Prophets
Amir Al-Mu'minin Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib (A.S.)
Fatima Az-Zahra' The Sublime Among All Women
The Second Imam Al-Hasan Al-Mutaba (A.S.)
The Third Imam Sayyid Ash-Suhada' Al-Husain (A.S.)
The Fourth Imam Sayyid As-Sajidin, Zain Al-Abidin (A.S.)
The Fifth Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir Son Of Zain Al-Abidin
The Sixth Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (A.S)
The Seventh Imam Musa Al-Kazim (AS)
The Eighth Imam 'Ali Ar-Rida (AS)
The Ninth Imam Muhammad At-Taqi (AS)
The Tenth Imam Ali An-Naqi (AS)
The Eeleventh Imam Hasan Al-'Askari (AS)
The Twelfth Imam Sahib Al-'Asr Wa Al-Zaman
The sixth century of the Christian era was a period during which the flood of atheism rose to its apex. Worldwide, all countries were engulfed by the deluge of paganism surging in four directions. In china, the teachings, of Confucius were forgotten; India became the cradle of idolatry; Persia was exulted in fire-worship; Europe lay wrapped in the black shroud of the Dark Ages. Arabia was, likewise, in the grip of a number of idols which were worshipped by different tribes. All immoral practices and shameful sins prevailed in that peninsula, destroying social structures and wiping out moral values.
At long last, according to the laws of reaction, the darkness of atheism was shattered by the light of divine guidance. The sun of Monotheism shone again in all its brightness, discarding the clouds of apostasy, star-worship and other pagan doctrines. In Mecca, savior of humanity started a dramatic change in the history of man.
Endowed with his God-gifted power, he brought radical changes to the decadent society. Through the medium of wise preaching, he succeeded in convincing his people, and later the world at large, that image-worship was a senseless practice, and that they ought to believe in One Supreme Being Who is the Creator, Lord and Sustainer. Rising to the zenith of political power and prowess, this reformer later commanded the ignorant folks to abandon idolatry and gambling, give up usury, and abstain from wine-drinking.
As the greatest law-giver of all times, he set for mankind an everlasting code of ethics that ensured moral excellence. He released the poor from the grip of capitalist exploitation, relieved the oppressed from the clutches of the profiteers, and set such basic rules as would ensure the emancipation of slaves through the employment of terse and well calculated measures.
Muhammad was the name of this sage and reformer to whom all the moralists of the East and the West ought to pay homage. With incessant labor, and with the sacrifice of house and hearth, Muhammad revolutionized the moral and mental attitude of his wild-tempered, rough and unruly nation within the short span of twenty years. When he was finally called to God's mercy, he left this world satisfied and contented, having successfully and fruitfully fulfilled his mission.
He had also left behind him capable successors, from his own holy Progeny, who never ceased conveying his sacred teachings in the light of the holy QUR'AN and the exemplary SUNNAH. He had clearly and unambiguously declared that both the holy QUR'AN and his revered Progeny would survive in close connection with each other till the Day of Judgment. Indeed all moralists, rationalists, and historians of the East and the West ought to pay homage to that sublime reformer.
We feel it is our moral obligation to form an idea about the biographies of the holy Prophet and his revered descendants. This book is a humble effort to achieve this objective. We are morally bound to know as much about these sacred sages as can be by reviewing authentic and reliable sources. It is indeed a sad fact that the young generations of schoolboys and schoolgirls, as well as college students, are by far more familiar with other philosophers and reformers than with the holy Prophet and his true followers. It is a great intellectual gap the filling of which is badly needed now more than ever before.
The biographies of the Prophet and his sacred Progeny set a perfect standard of moral excellence for all humanity. In our daily life, we are doomed to encounter numerous odds. The theme of morality is to remember our duty in all circumstances, pleasant and unpleasant, however intolerable the latter may be. In order to attain this goal, it is incumbent upon us to study the biographies of individuals who exercised a complete control over their desires. These were especially blessed and guided by the Almighty. They were not ruled by sentiment; rather, they were always of their duties and moral obligations. They set the best examples in piety, perseverance, fortitude and sacrifice.
The biography of Muhammad and his sacred Progeny is a comprehensive book of morality each page of which narrates either feats of bravery and courage, or deeds of generosity, sacrifice, and self-denial. If one studies such biographies, he will come across some jewels of wisdom and knowledge. He will find in them storehouses of knowledge and theology. The pages of their biographies bring to his view sanguine scenes of battles fought against tyranny and oppression.
Those noble sages did not live their lives under the same circumstances. The bitter odds of life forced them to face various situations and fortunes, and they had to cope through various means and methods, each according to what best suited his own individual capacity and caliber. In order to learn the best methods to apply in various circumstances, we must read these biographies, one by one, so that we may go through all events and come to know of the best possible way to deal with them.
It is equally important to appreciate the lofty status they enjoy in numerous verses of the holy QUR'AN which refer to their sublime ethics and exemplary deeds. I would like here to quote only a few of them which is but a drop in the ocean:
On p. 244 of GHAYAT AL-MARAM, 'ALLAMA AL-BAHRANI quotes the FAQIH ABU AL-HASAN MUHAMMAD IBN ALI IBN SHADHAN as stated in AL-MANAQIB AL-MA'AHMIN TARIQ AL-AMMAH, quoting IBN 'ABBAS saying that he heard the Messenger of God (P.B.U.H.) say in a lengthy HADITH: "O people! Whoever is pleased to emulate me, let him accept the WILAYAT of ALI IBN ABU TALIB and the Imams from my offspring, for they are the storehouses of my knowledge". JABIR IBN 'ABD ALLAH AL-ANSARI stood and asked: "O Messenger of God! How many are these Imams?" He (P.B.U.H.) answered: "O JABIR! You have asked me, God bless you,
about Islam in its entirety!" then he added: "Their number is similar to the number of wells which gushed forth for MUSA IBN 'UMRAN when he struck the stone and twelve wells gushed forth". On p. 406-407, Vol. 2, of TAFSIR AL-BURHAN, 'ALLAMA AL-BAHRANI quotes IMAM ABU JA'GAR MUHAMMAD IBN JARIR from SHADHAN from SALMAN saying: "The Messenger of God (P.B.U.H.) said once to me: 'God the Almighty and Sublime never sent a prophet or a messenger without assigning twelve NAQIBS (representatives or deputies)'.
I said: 'O Messenger of God! I have come to know that from the People of the two Books'. He said: 'O SALMAN! Did you come to know who are my NAQIBS and who are the twelve men God selected for the nation after me?" I said: 'God and His Messenger know best'. He (P.B.U.H.) said 'O SALMAN! God created me of the choice of His light and called upon me and I obeyed Him, and He created IMAM ALI out of my light and He called upon him and Ali obeyed Him, and He created Fatima of both myself and Ali, and He called her and she obeyed Him, and He created AL-HASAN of me, of Ali and of Fatima, and He called upon him and he obeyed Him,
and He created AL-HUSAIN of me, of Ali, of Fatima, and of AL-HASAN, and He called upon him and he obeyed him. Then He named us after five of His own Names: God is the Praised One (MAHMUD), and I am Muhammad; and God is the Sublime ('ALI), and this is 'Ali, and God is the Creator (FATIR; see Chapter 35 of the holy QUR'AN), and this is Fatima; and for God are all the attributes of bounty (IHSAN), and this is AL-HASAN; and God is the One Who grants (MUHSIN), and this is AL-HUSAIN. Then He created out of us and out of AL-HUSAIN nine Imams, and He called upon their souls, and they obeyed Him even before He created the heavens or the earth or the human species; for we have been but light raising God, listening unto Him, obeying Him'". SALMAN continues to say that he asked the Messenger of God (P.B.U.H.): "May both my parents be sacrificed for thy sake, what shall be the reward of those who know these Imams?
" He (P.B.U.H.) answered: "O SALMAN! Whoever knows them as they ought to be known and emulates them and befriends their friends and becomes the enemy of their enemy shall, by God, go where we shall go, and shall live where we live". SALMAN continued to ask the Messenger of God (P.B.U.H.): "O Messenger of God! Can Imam be acquired without knowing their names and lineage?" He (P.B.U.H.) answered: "No, SALMAN". Then SALMAN asked: "O Messenger of God! I would like to be one of their men, for I know them up to AL-HUSAIN", whereupon the Messenger of God provided him with the names of the rest of AHL AL-BAYT, saying, "Then the master of the worshippers ALI IBN AL-HUSAIN, then his son MUHAMMAD IBN ALI splitter of the knowledge of the early ones and the latter of the Prophets and Messengers, then JA'FAR IBN MUHAMMAD, God's truthful tongue (AS-SADIQ), then MUSA IBN JA'FAR who suppresses his anger perseveres for the sake of pleasing God, the Almighty and Sublime, then 'ALI IBN MUSA who accepts God's destiny (AR-RIDA), them MUHAMMAD IBN ALI who is chosen from the best of God's creation, then 'ALI IBN Muhammad who guides people to God's way (AL-HADI), then AL-HASAN IBN ALI who is the silent keeper of God's secret, then Muhammad IBN AL-HASAN the guide and the truly guided one who is the living articulator (AL-QAIM) of God's Rights". Then the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) continued saying, "You shall come to see him (AL-QA'IN, AL-MAHDI) upon his Return, and so shall everyone who is like you, and whoever accepts his sovereignty out of knowledge". SALMAN continues to describe is feeling of ecstasy at such glad tidings. This proves that all those who possessed the spiritual caliber of SALMAN, who believed in an emulated these saintly souls, will have the unique distinction and honor of being risen from death to witness the return of AL-HAHDI and enjoy the kingdom of God which he will INSHA-ALLAH establish on earth.
The first in the series of biographies of these illustrious sages is the biography of Prophet Muhammad, the Chosen One, the Seal of the Prophets, peace be upon him and his Progeny. His noble conduct is an ideal to be followed by every Muslim. Nay! Since the character of that great teacher was the climax of moral excellence, all humanity ought to proudly emulate him. Then we will narrate the biography of IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB. It is so comprehensive that not one group of men, or inhabitants of a particular region, but rather people of the whole world can find in it their ideal model. His career was so multi-faceted that we can see numerous models of cardinal virtues in that one individual. If we analyze the biographies of great men, we will find that each excelled in one virtue or two. Take, for example, Alexander the Great, napoleon, or Cromwell.
They can be taken as models of martial talents, men who maneuvered their armies skillfully in very precarious situations, winning astounding victories. But you cannot learn a lesson in sacrifice, humbleness or generosity from them. NAUSHERWON, Persian ruler, is renowned for his unparalleled justice, but he is a model for kings only. His life does not teach people how to live peacefully as good neighbors maintaining a social order. HATIM AL-TA'I is distinguished for generosity. But how to fight for the cause of righteousness and the interest of the nation cannot be taught by that Bedouin chief.
Names of RUSTAM, RICHARD LION-HEART and KHALID IBN AL-WALID shine brilliantly in the sky of bravery, but the will not demonstrate for us as to how we should deal with oppressive rulers patiently for the sake of the good-will of humanity, or how to relinquish our rights to avert the calamities of a civil war. Even the combination of three or four, or even five, of such "great" personalities will not form a model to guide us in various walks of our lives.
History nevertheless brings before our view one sublime figure whose character has acquired the combination of all virtues, one who has left his footprints to guide us in all circumstances. He prompts us to fare honorably in prosperity or adversity, in success and in failure, as a king or as a laborer, as a commander or as a soldier, as an orator or as a philosopher- in all phases of life. This is the personality of IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB who was the true successor of the holy Prophet and the living embodiment of his teachings. In the biography of IMAM ALI, one finds all aspects of human conduct which teach him how to lead his life in changing circumstances, and how to stand before the world as a model of moral perfection. It was IMAM ALI from whom humanity can seek guidance by scrutinizing the various facets of his life and career. Another personality to be particularly cherished by half the human race, I mean the fair sex, is that of FATIMA AZ-ZAHRA, the chaste daughter of the holy Prophet.
Islamic teachings are not confined to men only; they include women, too. The personality that can be a model exclusively for women is that of Fatima, the sublime among the ladies of the world. She can singly guide half the human race as successfully towards moral perfection as the thirteen Infallible ones can guide men. Then comes the prince of Peace, IMAM HASAN, who for the sake of the welfare of the Muslims, and for the sake of saving them from bloodshed, relinquished his right as Caliph of the Muslims and concluded a treaty with his opponent MU'AWIYA on such equitable and wise terms as would ensure, if implemented, the protection of the Divine Law, which was the ultimate objective of his life. He also provided chances to prepare the UMMA for JIHAD or for the great sacrifice which his younger brother HUSAIN performed on the blooded field of KARBALA. In order to attain moral excellences in a life full of hardships, a pious person has first to subdue his own desires and animal instincts. He has to tread upon and rise above his physical urges, and he has to struggle for the achievements of his principles in the light of reason and wisdom. He has also to fight external obstacles hindering his path towards the truth.
Environment, atmosphere, the pace of time and the forces of oppression, all unite to distract him from the path to righteousness. The floods of injustice, the storms of tyranny and downpour of troubles make it impossible for him to stand in their face. In such situations, it is not possible for everyone to lay down his life for the cause of defending the truth. Fortitude, forbearance, patience and courage are words written in dictionaries and are narrated as tales or legends or recorded in books of ethics.
But to demonstrate the actual meaning of these words during times of hardship, or advance bravely towards the valley of death, or to quicken the staggering legs towards a real challenge, we need a living guide who serves as a model of such caliber. We desire the presence of a seasoned and experienced hero who braves the storms of calamities, swims through the ocean of blood and calls upon the whole world to: "Come up and follow me to the zenith of truth, the apex of righteousness, and the heights of fortitude…!" Such a personality can undoubtedly be none other than HUSAIN IBN ALI.
Among the Fourteen Infallibles, tall stands IMAM ZAIN AL-ABIDIN, IMAM ALI son of HUSAIN, the embodiment of patience and devotion. He was strong enough to undergo the hardships of fetters, shackles and imprisonment in the way of God on one hand, while, on the other hand, we find him given to worshipping his Lord in the loneliness of dark nights. These days, the human race is stooping into materialism, forgetting the Creator, living in a world where the mighty and powerful wish to trample upon the weak and the meek, the majority desiring to crush the minority. It was always needed, and it is now needed more than ever before, to cultivate in our hearts a feeling for devotion and worship since a true worshipper will never shrink from serving humanity.
A true devotee of God will always serve His fellow human beings. If he is strong, he will not abuse his strength by oppressing the weak; rather, he will protect them with his God-given strength. This feeling will obligate the majority to defend the minority instead of crushing it. in order to cultivate this feeling in our hearts, we ought to narrate the biographies of those purified persons who, even during times of extreme desperation and dismay, did not forget their Lord.
When composed and enjoying all conveniences, one can enjoy the freedom of worship. But when the clouds of calamity and misery rest heavily on the mind, and the heart-rending shocks of the massacre of a whole family overwhelms the soul, worshipping the Lord so sincerely as to receive the title "ZAIN AL-ABIDIN", that is "chief of the prostrates", is the task of none but IMAM ALI son of HUSAIN.
IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-BAQIR and IMAM JA'FAR AS-SADIQ were scholars who revived the passion for learning and the pursuit for knowledge. The highway of the Divine Law, paved by Prophet Muhammad, the last Messenger of God, was blocked by doubts, fallacies and superstitions. Yet every individual among the Prophet's Descendants attempted to preserve the message of God and offered while doing so precious sacrifices, but alas the grip of political persecution always choked his voice and in the end brought him to an untimely death. IMAM AL-BAQIR and IMAM AS-SADIQ, however, had the chance to present to the world the sacred teachings of the Prophet which can ensure the reform of ht sinful human race. IMAM MUSA AL-KAZIM suffered the hardships of prison cells while upholding the banner of truth. IMAM AR-RIDA was appointed as the heir-apparent to the 'ABBASIDE monarch during the hey-days of the dynasty. He was surrounded by the elites, princes and ministers of the most significant and powerful empire of its time.
But he always sought to please his Lord, ignoring the pomp and power bestowed upon him even against his own will. He kept his escutcheon stainless, spotless, and he demonstrated how to perform that noble duty for which man was placed on earth. IMAM MUHAMMAD AT-TAQI lived the shortest span of life among the Imams, yet he demonstrated that when a person is resolved to be the model of moral perfection, he can leave an immortal impression of his conduct on the human mind.
Such a life, in spite of its short span, can be as important in moral history as any other of a longer duration. The biographies of IMAM ALI AN-NAQI and IMAM HASAN AL-'ASKARI are characterized with the same virtues which were the legacy of this household of Prophet-hood Although both Imams lived in exile and imprisonment, they incessantly continued to propagate the teachings of the Prophet, braving all odds.
It is a fact that the religion of Islam is not merely a collection of doctrines. Islam came to bear the torch and shed the light on the zigzag of the human life. This is the way which may be described as 'thinner that hair and sharper than the sword'. One method, considered right at one time, may become wrong at another. It was, therefore, necessary to set up before the world different models of behavior to be emulated at every possible turn in the ever-bending path of life. Such cross-roads are usually met in man's journey. At every bend, it is possible that the traveler might take the wrong road and thus strays. The study of the biographies of these Infallible Leaders viz. the Prophet and his holy Progeny, consisting of Fatima and the twelve Imams from her descendants, is now available to the discreet reader on the pages of this book. Its size could not permit comprehensive details; therefore, we had to be satisfied with narrating the basic events only. May God render our humble effort the means of recognizing the real legacy of the holy Prophet and his true successors. ALLAHOMMA AMIN.
MUHAMMAD THE CHOSEN ONE (PEACE BE UPON HIM AND HIS PROGENY)
NAME AND LINEAGE
Prophet Abraham, the Friend of God, had two sons: ISHAQ (ISAAC), whose descendants included BANI (children of) Israel, Moses, Jesus and many other prophets arising from his tribe, and also Samuel (Ishmael) who had twelve sons one of whom was QAYDAR whose offspring inhabited HIJAZ (northern Arabia). Among his other sons was 'ADNAN who earned a high reputation. Prophet Muhammad's family tree reaches up to 'ADNANA as follows: He is Muhammad son of 'ABD-ALLAH son of 'ABD AL-MUTTALIB son of HASHIM son of 'ABDU MANAF son of QUSAY son of KILAB son of MURRA son of KA'B son of LUAYY son of GHALIB son of FEHR son of MALIK son of NADR son of KANANA son of KHUZAYMA son of MUDRIKA son of ILYAS son of MUDAR son of NEZAR son MA'AD son of 'ADNAN.
The descendants of NADR son of KANANA were known as QURAYSH. Prophet Muhammad's mother was 'AMINA daughter of WAHAB son of 'ABD MANAF son of ZUHRA son of KILAB son of MURRA. This shows that on both maternal and paternal sides, the Prophet belonged to the distinguished tribe of QURAYSH.
In 570 A.D., ABRAHA AL-ASHRAM, then vice-gerent of Yemen on behalf of the ABYSSINIAN king the NEGUS, was a staunch Christian who had built a magnificent cathedral in SAN'A' and had ordered the Arabs to go there for the pilgrimage instead of Mecca. He had marble brought to it from one of the derelict palaces of the Queen of SHEBA. In it, he set up crosses made of gold and silver, and pulpits of ivory and ebony. He wrote to his master the NEGUS saying: "I have built thee a church, O King, the like of which was never built for any king before thee; and I shall not rest until I have diverted unto it the pilgrimage of the Arabs". Not only was his order totally ignored, and man from KINANAH, a relative tribe of QURAYSH, went to SAN'A' to deliberately defile the church, which he did one night, returning safely to his people.
ABRAHA'S fury knew no bounds and he vowed to raze the KA'BA to the ground in revenge. He advanced with a large army in the van of which he placed an elephant, hence the Year of the Elephant which started a whole era of reckoning. That system of reckoning continued to be followed until the days of UMAR IBN AL-KHATTAB, the second caliph, when, upon the suggestion of IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB, the era of the HIJRI calendar was introduced. It was on a Friday, the 17th of RABI' AL-AWWAL in that year (corresponding to April 28, 570 A.D.) that the holy Prophet was born in Mecca, the main metropolis of HIJAZ. Earth received the greatest blessings from Heaven and mankind was exalted by the advent of its greatest Law-giver ever.
But this great child, destined to be the supporter of the poor, the helpless and the orphans, could not enjoy the bliss of his father's love.
'ABD-ALLAH passed away in the full bloom of youth only a few months before Prophet Muhammad (P) was born. Some historians say that 'ABD-ALLAH died from an unidentified sickness only two months before the birth of his son Muhammad. The sadness of the situation is yet further aggravated when we learn that at the age of six he was deprived of his mother's affection as well. Providence had perhaps decided that he who would one day encompass every creature of the world in his affection, would have to taste the bitterness of the loss of his parent's affection in the tender years of childhood. As was the custom, a good-natured nurse of the tribe of BANI SA'D was appointed as a foster-mother to nurse Muhammad in the healthy climate of her desert village.
After weaning, he came back to Mecca to live with his mother 'AMINA. After her death, his grandfather ABD AL-MUTTALIB took him into his personal care and brought him up with fatherly affection. But after two years, this noble family-head also died. In the last days of his life, his major concern had been the safe upbringing of that child who he thought would grow up into a great personality. While breathing his last, he called his son ABU TALIB and entrusted Muhammad to his care. Other sons, older in age, stood by, but the far-sighted chief could see that none would look after his grandson as sincerely as ABU TALIB. History tells us that right up to his last breath, ABU TALIB fulfilled the promise which he had made to his respected father at the time when the life's lamp of the latter flickered.
In fact he extended the same love to Prophet Muhammad (p) as he did to his own children. He fostered him from the young age of eight years up to the time when he was a ripe, seasoned man of fifty-three, protecting him at the obvious risk of jeopardizing both his own life and that of his dear sons. His wife Fatima daughter of ASAD, too, was so affectionate to him that the Prophet tasted the flavor of maternal love from her. It was, therefore, only natural that when that noble lady died, Prophet Muhammad (p) uttered sorrowfully: "She was a mother to me after my real mother".
FIRST TRIP TO SYRIA
When Muhammad was twelve years old, ABU TALIB undertook a trade trip to Syria. Being an ambitious boy, he accompanied him. It was during this journey that BUHAIRA, a Christian hermit, met him and observed the signs of which he had read in previous Scriptures, and predicted: "This boy is destined to be a Prophet of great power and prestige". It was a very brief and fleeting encounter. They never stayed with BUHAIRA as some people mistakenly suggest.
PARTICIPATING IN THE 'LEAGUE OF THE INTERVENERS'
When Muhammad was twenty years old, the elders of the tribe of QURAYSH, headed by ZUBAIR son of ABD AL-MUTTALIB, drafted a covenant which they called "HILF AL-FUDUL", that is, "the league of the interveners", promoting chivalric principles. In the aftermath of 'ABD AL-MUTTALIB'S death, the Arabian tribes took to lawlessness. The anarchy and chaos reached such a level that the lives and property of strangers were no longer safe in Mecca. Resenting this situation, the HASHEMITES, the Prophet's clansmen, called upon the tribes of ZOHRA and TAYM to suppress the shameful disorder. They assembled at the house of 'ABD-Allah son of ADNAN and took an oath that: "We will always defend the oppressed, redress the grievances at all cost, and cooperate with one another to achieve this noble cause". Muhammad was one of the participants, and he held this agreement in high esteem. Even in the hey-day of Islam, when all other covenants of the Days of ignorance had been cancelled, he held himself bound by the said agreement and used to say: "If somebody were to appeal to me today in the name of that charter, I would surely respond to his appeal".
Yet in spite of such noble efforts, the vicious circle of evil was in full rotation. Women were regarded as inferior creatures; many of them were reduced to prostitution. Drinking, gambling, idolatry, adultery and usury were the order of the day. Murder, inter-tribal feuds and endless chains of revenge incidents were devastating the land. Life was neither safe nor peaceful. These were the moral and social conditions which the sensitive youth Muhammad was watching with very profound concern.
The Prophet was twenty-five years old when he made a journey to Syria to sell KHADIJA'S merchandise there. The trip was so successful that KHADIJA obtained twice the profit she usually accrued every year.
KHADIJA daughter of KHUWAILID was deeply impressed by the moral excellence, honesty, and respectable personality of Prophet Muhammad (p) He, too, admired her fair dealing and noble character. So when an intermediary suggested that he should marry her, Muhammad reflected upon it and said, "She is a wealthy lady while I am too poor to be considered by her". But when he was assured of her agreement should he propose, he gladly made the forma request. KHADIJA acceded to it and a date was fixed for the marriage ceremony. AMR IBN ASAD acted as the trustee of his niece KHADIJA. ABU TALIB, on behalf of his nephew Muhammad, recited the marriage sermon and paid the matrimonial dower. Thus, the most sacred wedlock was executed. Although she was senior in age, Prophet Muhammad (P) esteemed her so much that he never thought of taking another wife during her lifetime.
EXCELLENCE OF CONDUCT
The MECCANS had seen and tested the Prophet from boyhood to youth. They were so much impressed by his honesty and righteousness that they called him "the truthful" and "the trustworthy". They entrusted their cash and precious articles to him with full confidence. His opinion was eagerly sought in disputed affairs of contending tribes.
Muhammad was forty years old when, on the 27th of RAJAB (July, 610 A.D.), the revelation commanded him to deliver the Message of God. He was now to preach in the capacity of the Final Prophet. He first conveyed the divine message to his spouse KHADIJA. She expressed her sincere belief in it. His cousin IMAM ALI, who had always accompanied him and was for long an eye-witness to his angelic majesty, bore testimony to his prophet-hood. The divine message then reached some other people who believed in it though in single numbers. But time was not yet ripe to proclaim it openly. Even those who embraced Islam were told to carry out their religious duties secretly and not to make the matter public.
FEAST OF THE RELATIVES
Having carried on the religious mission secretly for three years, Prophet Muhammad (p) was commanded by the Almighty to proclaim the message among members of his family according to verse 214 of Chapter 26 of the holy QUR'AN. He asked Ali to arrange a feast to which all prominent members of the tribe were invited. When everybody had finished eating, Prophet Muhammad (p) stood and addressed them thus: "Noble men! Will you believe me if I tell you that hostile army is lying in ambush behind the hill of SAFA?" All bore testimony to his truthfulness. He then warned them: "Your deeds and creeds are not virtuous. They will bring you disaster in this life and the life hereafter. I have been commanded by God to call His servants to worship Him only and to do good deeds. Who among you is prepared to assist me in this mission and be my companion, trustee and successor?" All remained silent. Then a boy, young in age but advanced in courage and faith, stood up and said, "I shall help you in this mission, O Messenger of God". This boy was ALI IBN ABU TALIB. He was already assisting the Prophet and was now declaring his faith publicly. The Prophet put his hand on Imam Ali's shoulder and declared: "This is my companion, trustee and successor".
HARDSHIPS AND AGONIES
Six years after the beginning of his mission, the Prophet was ordered by the Almighty to start preaching his mission in public. Accordingly, the began to publicly condemn idol-worship and preach the worship of one God. The infidels resolved to harass him but could not do so in face of his sheltering guardian ABU TALIB. Their persecution was so intense that the Prophet said: "No other Prophet was harmed the way I have been". At last their chiefs, headed by UTBA IBN RABI'A, ABU SUFYAN'S father-in-law, came in a group to ABU TALIB and complained bitterly about his nephew Muhammad, requesting him to either restrain his nephew or give up his guardianship so that they could deal with him on their own. First, their message was; "If Muhammad wants power and prestige, we will nominate him the over-lord of Mecca. If he desires marriage in a big family, we offer the hand of the fairest maiden in the land. If he desires hoards of gold and silver, we shall provide him with all these and more".
ABU TALIB had to convey their message to his nephew Prophet and explain the gravity of the situation to him. His reply was: "By God, Uncle, even if they put the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left in order to persuade me to renounce my mission, I will never desist from proclaiming the world of God till He makes His cause manifest".
The harassment was intensified and was extended to include those poor men who had accepted Islam through the Prophet's efforts.
The atrocities of the infidels against the Muslims increased in the fifth year of Prophet-hood. Prophet Muhammad (p) advised his followers to migrate to ABYSSINIA (Ethiopia) and a good number of them migrated under the supervision of JA'FAR AL-TAYYAR son of ABU TALIB. Having come to know about their migration, QURAISH sent a deputation with 'AMR IBN AL-'AS and 'AMARA IBN RABI'A to NEGUS, the good king of ABYSSINIA, demanding the deportation of the emigrants back to Mecca. The deputies tried to prejudice the king against the emigrants. Asked to explain their position, JA'FAR, who represented the group, delivered his defense of its faith at the royal court quite eloquently. He addressed the king thus:
"O King! We were plunged into the depths of ignorance and barbarism. We adored idols. We lived in immorality. We ate dead animals and we uttered abominations. We disregarded every feeling of humanity and discarded the duties of hospitality. We knew no law except that of the strong. Then God raised among us a man of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty and integrity we were aware, and he called us to the unity of God and taught us not to associate anything with Him. He forbade us from worshipping idols, and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to respect the rights of neighbors. He forbade us from speaking ill of women or confiscating what belongs to the orphans. He ordered us to flee from vices, abstain from evil, offer prayers, render alms and observe the fast. We have believed in him. We have accepted his teachings and injunctions to worship God and not to associate anything with Him. For this reason, our people have risen against us and persecuted us in order to force us to forego the worship of God and return to the worship of idols of wood and stone. They have tortured and injured us. Having found no safe haven among them, we have come to your country and hope you will protect us from their oppression".
The king and courtiers were profoundly impressed. The Muslims thus obtained the opportunity to stay there and worship peacefully.
Then came even harder times. When the infidels heard that the emigrants were comfortably accommodated in ABYSSINIA, their grudge and hostility knew no bounds. Unanimously they resolved to boycott the whole clan of BANI HASHIM (the HASHEMITES), prohibiting trade and marriage with its members, including a ban on food and water supplies. ABU TALIB was compelled to take his nephew and all members of his household to his dwelling in a ravine of the mountain of HUJUN which was called SHI'B ABU TALIB. There were forty adults among them, while all the rest were children. The situation grew so tense that their own existence was in jeopardy. At times, they had nothing but the leaves of trees to sustain them. For three long years, beginning in the ninth year of Prophet-hood, these people lived in that lonely, ominous place where there was always the danger of a night-attack. In order to protect the Messenger, ABU TALBI used to let the holy Prophet Muhammad (p) sleep in different beds of his own sons, accommodating them by turn in the bed of Prophet Muhammad (p). his plan meant that even if the enemy traced the Prophet's sleeping place and lanced a night attack, the Prophet of God would still be saved even if this meant that one of his own sons, such as JA'FAR, AQIL, or ALI, would be killed in such maneuvering. Thus IMAM ALI (AS) repeated the practical lesson of sacrificing his life later in the blooming days of his youth.
During the boycott, Prophet Muhammad (p) and all the HASHEMITES had to suffer untold hardships. There were only 40 adults among them. HAKIM IBN HIZAM, a nephew of KHADIJA, used to secretly supply them with provisions whenever he could for if any of their relatives sent them food, and the news leaked out, that relative would be publicly insulted and defamed. For three long years, they were beleaguered: it had begun in MUHARRAM of the seventh year of BI'THA (commencement of the prophetic mission), and it continued till the beginning of the tenth year. Only twice a year did they dare to come out: in RAJAB and DHU AL-HIJJA. When, according to ancient Arabian customs, all types of violence were taboo. QURAISH used to express its pleasure upon hearing the cries of hungry children.
One day, the holy Prophet (p) said to ABU TALIB: "I have been informed by Allah that the agreement of QURAISH has been eaten away by insects and that no writing is left therein except the name of Allah". ABU TALIB never doubted any saying of the holy Prophet (p), therefore, he came out at once and went to MASJID AL-HARAM where QURAISH had gathered.
There, as luck would have it, the subject of discussion was the same boycott. HISHAM IBN AMR, AZ-ZUBAIR IBN ABU UMAYYA, and a few others who were related to KHADIJA and the clans of HASHIM and MUTTALIB, and who lived near the SHI'B of ABU TALIB and thus used to hear the cries of the children day and night, were condemning the cruel attitude of their infidel kinsmen and they were persuading them to abrogate the agreement. The arguments were very heated and had reached a climax when they saw ABU TALIB approaching. ABU JAHL and others who opposed the idea of abrogating the boycott said, "ABU TALIB is coming. It seems that now he is tired and he wants to hand Muhammad over to us. The boycott will thus end to the satisfaction of all of us. Keep silent and listen to what he wants to say".
But ABU TALIB went there to challenge them, not to surrender. He stood before the gathering and said, "May son says that the agreement which you had written has been eaten away by insects and that nothing remains in it except the name of Allah. Now look at that paper. If the news given by my son is correct, you must end your injustice and high-handedness, but if the news is wrong, we will accept that you were right and we were wrong". The agreement was brought out and opened and, lo, there was nothing left of it except the name of Allah in one place. Now ABU TALIB thundered condemning their tyranny. Those who wanted the boycott to be terminated said that now there was no agreement at all to be adhered to. ABU JAHL and others tried to outwit them but they failed, and the boycott ended with a total moral victory for Islam, and the HASHEMITES were allowed to return to Mecca.
TWO GRAVE EVENTS
These noble souls enjoyed peaceful life for only two months when in the twelfth year of Prophet-hood, ABU TALIB, the greatest benefactor of Islam, died. Thirty-five days after this loss, KHADIJA also passed into God's Mercy. Prophet Muhammad was so deeply shocked by these two deaths that he called that year "the year of grief".
A TRIP TO TAA'IF
After ABU TALIB'S death, the infidels intensified their hostilities. The paradise of the native town of Mecca turned into a hell. Prophet Muhammad (p) now looked for some other place suitable for the propagation of the divine message. At the end of the twelfth year, he made a trip to TA'IF. Without provisions and accompanied only by ZAID IBN HARITHA, he reached there and stayed for ten days in that green, fertile town, conveying the teachings of Islam to one person after another. But even this town refused to listen to the heavenly message. Instead of welcoming Prophet Muhammad (p), its residents refused to let him stay there and even hurled stones at him. Deeply dismayed, he returned to Mecca without being deterred by such hardships from advancing his mission. In such desperate situation he prayed thus to God:
"Lord! Make my complaint unto Thee out of my own feebleness and the vanity of wishes. I am insignificant in the sight of men. O Thou Most Merciful, Lord of the weak! Thou art my Lord: do not forsake me. Do not leave me a prey to strangers nor to my enemies. If Thou art not offended, I am safe. I seek refuge in the light of Thy Countenance by which all darkness is dispersed and peace comes here and hereafter. Let not Thy anger descend upon me. Solve my difficulties as it pleases Thee. There is no power, no help, but from Thee…"
MEETING THE ANSARS (SUPPORTERS)
Two commercial fairs of MAJINNA and 'UKAZ were held every year in Mecca. Tribes from every direction came to participate in their social activities; traders sold their merchandise and poets recited their poems. The holy Prophet (p) also went there to deliver the message of God and invite people to support the sacred cause. But the voice of truth is heeded only by those who have an aptitude for virtue. Most tribes, instead of helping, jeered at him and tried to harass him. However, a group of the inhabitants of YATHRIB (as Medina was called before Islam) was impressed by the Prophet's speech and embraced Islam, pledging to help the Apostle of God. This was the first batch of YATHRIBITE ANSARS who were enlightened by the rays of the new faith. In YATHRIB, they propagated the new religion, and some people were converted to Islam. In the following year, twelve of them visited the Prophet (p) to learn the teachings of Islam. One year later, seventy persons came and were admitted into the new religion. By and by, Islam became popular in Medina and people began accepting it in groups. Most of them welcomed the call to truth although they had not yet seen the Apostle of God.
MIGRATION TO MEDINA
Having heard the news of the success of Muslims in propagating the faith in Medina, the MECCAN infidels grew more furious. They began to inflict intolerable atrocities on the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (p) allowed the believers to migrate to YATHRIB (Medina), and gradually most Muslims left Mecca. Only the Prophet (p), Imam Ali (as) and a few other Muslims remained there. The infidels now clearly saw that the Prophet (p) would command great power in that city. They, therefore, assembled at their counsel chamber to discuss the gravity of the situation. It was finally decided that they would collectively besiege the Prophet's house at an appointed night and put him to death.
The Prophet (p) was forewarned by God about their mischievous plan, and he decided to let Imam Ali (as) sleep in his bed and, thus dodging the infidels, leave his dear home town and set out to Medina. Imam Ali (as), who realized the risk he was taking, accepted it with courage and fortitude, and he slept in the holy Prophet's bed in order to fool the infidels into thinking that the Prophet (p) was sleeping there; and so did he sleep thus soundly. The Prophet (p) managed to set out for Median (which, upon his migration, was renamed "MEDINAT AN-NABI", that is, city of the Prophet (p), or simply Medina), obscured from hostile eyes. This important event which took place on the night of twelfth/thirteenth of September of 622 A.D. is known as HIJRA (HEGIRA, the Migration) which marks the beginning of the lunar Islamic calendar.
THE PROPHET'S MOSQUE
The first task which the Prophet (p) undertook was to build a mosque. Along with his followers, he took part in its construction. It was simply an enclosure of medium height. When the congregation complained about the heat of the sun, long branches of trees interlaced with mud were spread across the walls; no elaborate roof was built yet. The mosque was surrounded by small houses which he instructed to have built for his relatives and the needy. Later on came the divine ordinance that their doors and windows overlooking the mosque be closed except those of Imam 'Ali's and of the Prophet's. The admission to the prayer yard was, thus, open from only one external side.
When the infidels came to know that Prophet Muhammad (p) was safe in Medina, out of their reach, and that his religion was spreading speedily, they started desperately preparing for war. The first encounter was at BADR where three hundred and thirteen Muslims, all on foot, had to face the overwhelming onslaught of one thousand infidels on horse-back and on toot. 'UBAYDAH and HAMZA fought bravely. Six UMAYYAD chiefs who were all relatives of ABU SUFYAN, the arch-enemy of the Prophet (p), fell to the sword of Imam Ali (as). The infidels fled after having suffered heavy losses. The year was the second HIJRI year which corresponded to 624 A.D.
In order to avenge this defeat, ABU SUFYAN raised the next year (3 A.H.) an army of three thousand strong and marched towards Medina. A bloody battle raged all day long at the foot of the mountain of UHUD from which both parties had to withdraw after suffering heavy losses. The fighting was so severe that at a time, all Muslims had to flee for their lives except a few closely related to the Prophet (p). Here, too, the sword of Imam Ali (as) held the enemy at bay. ABU SUFYAN, commander of the infidels' camp, returned to Mecca with his pride deeply wounded. The next year, i.e. 4 A.H.
(626 A.D.), he invaded Medina again after winning over some of the Jews of Medina to his side. SALMAN AL-FARISI, the great companion of the Prophet (p), suggested that the Muslims must dig a moat on the unprotected side of Medina. Muslims were divided into parties of ten and each party was allotted ten yards to dig. The holy Prophet (p) himself participated in the task. The KHANDAQ (moat) was completed in just three days before the host of the enemies reached Medina. The Muslims could muster no more than three thousand men to face the army raised by twenty Jewish leaders in Medina belonging to BANU AN-NADIR and their MECCAN allies numbering fifty QURAISHI leaders in addition to enforcements which came from other tribes friendly to those QURAISHI leaders and belonging to the tribes of BANU GHATFAN, BANU ASAD, BANU ASLAM, BANU ASHJA', BANU KINANA and BANU FIZARA. It was probably the largest army raised to annihilate the Muslims. Many Muslims were extremely terrified as the number of the enemy army kept increasing day by day. The gravity of the situation is portrayed best by this passage from the holy QUR'AN:
"When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes were turned dull and the hearts reached the throats, and ye even imagined about God diverse thoughts. There, the believers were tried, and they were shaken tremendously". [QUR'AN: 33: 10-11]
The matchless bravery of Imam Ali (as) was greatly appreciated by the Prophet (p). Young Ali faced AMR IBN ABD WUDD, the MECCAN infidel whose courage was proverbial and who was said to equal a thousand on the battlefield. When Ali came out to challenge him, the holy Prophet (p) said: "The whole faith has come out to fight the whole infidelity". Ali was able to kill his foe, and the excitement of the Prophet (p) was quite obvious when he said commenting: "Verily one attack by Ali in the Battle of KHANDAQ is superior to the worship of all human beings and JINNS till the Day of Resurrection".
The prolonged confrontation caused the Muslims to suffer an acute shortage of provisions, so much so that event the Prophet (p), who was used to hunger, had to tie a stone on his stomach to lessen the pang of hunger, and whatever provisions were the Mosque of Victory (MASJID AL-FATH) now stands and prayed to God. A fierce storm raged and uprooted the tents of the enemies, causing their pots and belongings to fly in all directions. An unbearable terror was cast in their hearts, and both MECCANS and all others had to flee. The first to flee was ABU SUFYAN who, being too upset to think rationally, tried to ride his camel without first untying his rope. The Muslims again won a victory. The event is known as the Battle of the Trench (KHANDAQ).
The Prophet (p) personally commanded the Muslim forces in what are known as GHAZAWAT. The battles in which the Muslim forces were sent under the command of one of his companions were called SARIYYAS. They are thirty-six in number. The most famous of these is the SARIYYA of MU'TA in which his cousin JA'FAR AT-TAYYAR was martyred.
THE TREATY OF HUDAYBIYYA
After the battles of BARD, UHUD and the Trench (KHANDAQ), the infidels avoided further military encounters. The Prophet (p), therefore, decided to perform the 'UMRAH in the sixth year A.H. (628 A.D.). As the head of a host of the believers, he marched towards Mecca. When the infidels saw their approach, they flocked outside the city to check the Prophet's advance and forbid him from entering the city. Seeing them bent on aggression, the peace-making Apostle arranged a written treaty with them wisely drafted by Imam Ali (as): its conditions which soon proved to be very beneficial to the cause of Islam were as follows:
1- The Prophet (p) and his followers shall return to Mecca without performing the pilgrimage that year.
2- There shall be a ten year truce.
3- If any of the infidels of Mecca wished to join the Muslims, he or she would have to be returned to Mecca.
4- Contrariwise; if a Muslim wished to join the infidels, he would not be returned to Medina.
5- The tribes of Arabia shall be free to make an alliance either with the Prophet (p) or with the MECCANS.
6- The Muslims shall be allowed to perform the pilgrimage in the next year and they shall be allowed to stay there for three days only.
7- The Muslims shall be allowed in the next visit to carry light weapons only, i.e. swords in their sheaths.
Some Muslims were very much annoyed about these rough-sounding terms. Some prominent companions even doubted Prophet (p) Muhammad's Prophet-hood altogether, but the Messenger of God concluded the treaty and returned to Medina so that he would not be accused of aggression. In the next year, in accordance with the terms, he went to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. As agreed, he remained there for three days after which he returned to Medina.
CONQUEST OF MECCA
Shortly thereafter, the MECCANS violated the terms of the treaty. The tribe of BAKR, which allied itself with the infidels, killed several men belonging to the tribe of KHUZA'A which was allied with the Prophet (p). When the Prophet (p) knew about it, he set out to help the oppressed ally. As the head of a force of ten thousand men strong, he camped near Mecca. The infidels were now too weak to wage a battle and thought it would be wise to surrender. So in the month of Ramadan of the year 8 A.H. (January 630 A.D.), he entered Mecca victoriously.
Now came the time when the benevolence and mercy of that Apostle of God could well be assessed. All those who had harassed and hurt him, those who had forced him to leave his home and hearth, were indiscriminately pardoned. At that victorious moment, when thousands of MECCANS thronged around him, he asked them: "What do you expect I would do to you?" "We except good from you; you are a generous brother, and the son of a generous brother", they replied.
The MECCANS' amazement was beyond description when they saw that the Prophet (p) pardoned all of them-even ABU SUFYAN and his wife HIND who arranged to have her slave WAHSHI kill the Prophet's uncle HAMZA in exchange for setting him free. Seeing HAMZA'S corpse lying on the ground, she cut it open, took out his liver, and savagely chewed it. The Prophet (p) pardoned WAHSHI, too. He overlooked the atrocities of 'IKRAMA son of ABU JAHL and of so many others who had inflicted great tortures on him and who now reluctantly accepted the faith. He stayed there for one month and a half and passed such rules of administration as may be proudly adopted by the most civilized among the nations of the world today.
THE LAST PILGRIMAGE
In 10 A.H. (632 A.D.), the Apostle performed the last pilgrimage most magnificently, accompanied by thousands of believers. Some estimates run as high as almost half a million pilgrims. On the return journey, he delivered his historical sermon at GHADIR KHUMM in which he hinted at the probability of his approaching death and asked the whole gathering if he had delivered to them the message of God completely. When they bore testimony to this, he called upon God to bear witness to that. The Prophet (p) then directed them to adhere to the faith and to desist from plundering or killing their Muslim brethren and from committing other sins. Next he asked them if he held more authority on them that they themselves did. All eagerly affirmed that he had complete authority over their bodies and souls. At this point he took 'Ali by the hand and raised it before the surging multitude and proclaimed: "Whosoever I have been his master, this Ali (henceforth) is his master; O Almighty God! Be the friend of whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever antagonized him; support whoever supports him, and betray whoever betrays him". Thus it was on the 18th of THU AL-HIJJA of 10 A.H. (March 16, 632 A.D.), and exactly at a swamp known as GHDIR KHUMM, that the Prophet (p) proclaimed his successor who was warmly congratulated by the leading companions on such an auspicious proclamation. Since that day, 'ID AL-GHADIR has always been celebrated by followers of AHL AL-BAYT.
TEACHINGS, CONDUCT AND CHARACTER
The focal point of the teachings of the Prophet (p) was to deliver the human race from the clutches of materialism and lift it spiritually to the highest level of moral excellence. He preached the Unity of God and the compassion towards His creatures. These were the foundations on which the whole ethical structure stands. In the history of man, he was the first to grant people the first Charter of Human Rights. Prior to him, nobody preached regarding the basic human rights condemning discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, sex or financial status. He set aside all former standards of who is honorable and who is distinguished as the holy QUR'AN stated: "The most honored among you in the sight of God is he who is most pious', (QUR'AN, 49: 13) and the holy Prophet (p) said: "The best is he who performs his duties best".
The Prophet (p) placed a great deal of emphasis on moral excellence. He used to say: "I have been sent to bring the ethical code to its perfection". His character and conduct, too, reflected his aforesaid objective. Being the head of a state and a formidable religious power did not hinder him from associating with the poor and the destitute, inviting them to whatever simple food he preferred for himself. During the dead of the night he adored his Maker till his legs swelled. The next morning he was busy meeting with delegations and heads of the tribes who came to see him, solving problems and settling disputes. And English historian, BOSWORTH SMITH, writes: "We do not find in the pages of history a man like Muhammad who performed triple duties at the same time. He founded a nation, a religion and a new government system. Nowhere else can we find such a reformer". In spite of all this, the Prophet (p) never liked to be considered as a king. He despised the mere suggestion.
Once a person began to shudder at the Prophet's majestic dignity upon approaching him. The Apostle appeased him by comparing his own life with that of the poorest among the poor. He was quite a simple man in his manners and norms of living. While building his house, he worked side by side with other laborers. He shopped for his family and for his neighbors as well. Forgiveness was the salient feature of his character; fortitude, determination, sacrifice and compassion were his conspicuous virtues. His actions agreed with what he taught and his teachings are reflected in his deeds. His speech was comprehensive. His short sentences contained such principles and suggestions as could guide humanity in every phase of life.
It is the divine Scripture which contains a complete legal code, a treasure-house of knowledge and wisdom, and a perfect code of morals to the human beings revealed to the Messenger of God. Since its revelation till this day, a period of 1400 years, billions have sought the light of guidance from it. Adherents of other religions, too, who studied it admitted the heights of thought and moral teachings contained therein. It comprises 114 chapters in a volume of about 300 pages.
It was a sad Monday, the 28th of SAFAR of the year 11 A.H. when Prophet Muhammad (p), the greatest of all those who are great, after a short illness, passed into the mercy of God. According to his will, his cousin and successor Imam Ali (as) arranged for his funeral and burial. The Green Dome, built over his tomb in Medina, is a very sacred shrine for the Muslims of the world. They visit it before or after performing the pilgrimage (HAJJ). Adjoining it stands the presently graceful and elaborately decorated mosque where he used to worship, preach, and administer the state affairs.
NAME AND PARENTAGE
From the family of Abraham and the tribe of QURAISH, IMAM ALI, a descendant of HASHIM, was the illustrious son of ABU TALIB son of ABD AL-MUTTALIB, the latter being the grandfather both of IMAM ALI and Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). Ali father ABU TALIB is the person who raised Prophet Muhammad (p), and Ali's mothers is Fatima daughter of ASAD, also a lady of the HASHEMITE clan. She treated Prophet Muhammad (p) so affectionately that the Prophet considered her as a second mother.
BIRTH AND TITLES
IMAM ALI enjoyed the unique honor of being born within the precincts of the KA'BA, on the thirteenth of RAJAB, thirty years after the Invasion of the Elephant (May, 600 A.D.), twenty-three years before the HIJRAH. His parents, ABU TALIB and Fatima daughter of ASAD, were overjoyed by such a blessing of God, and Prophet Muhammad (p), then 30 years old, was very anxious to see his newborn cousin. Probably he read in the babe's face that he would strengthen the Cause of Islam and provide his right hand in the sacred mission ahead. Due to his accomplishments, he earned several titles the most famous of them include: AMUR AL-MU'MININ (Commander of the Faithful), AS-SIDDIQ AL-AKBAR (The Greatest Testifier), IMAM AL-MUTTAQIN (Leader of the Righteous), AL-FARUQ AL-A'ZAM (The Greater Distinguisher between Right and Wrong), YA'SUB AL-MUSLIMIN (The Elite among the Muslim),
AL-MURTADA (The One whom God Pleased), AL-WASI (The Vicegerent) WALIIALLAH (The Friend of God), SAYYID AL-WASIYYIN (Master of the Successors of Prophets), QASIM AN-NAR WAL-JANNAH (Distributor of Hell and Paradise), WARITH RASUL-ALLAH (Heir of the Messenger of God), KHALIFAT RASULLALLAH (Successor of the Messenger of God), HAIDER AL-KARRAR (The Oft-charging Knight), KHATAM AL-WASIYYIN (The Seal of the Successors of Prophets), AS-SAFI (The Pure), SAQI AL-KAWTHAR (Waiter of the Pool of KAWTHAR), YADALLAH (The Hand of God), ASADALLAH AL-GHALIB (The Victorious Lion of God).
UPBRINGING AND INSTRUCTION
IMAM ALI was brought up and instructed under the direct care of the Prophet (p) who spent most of his time imparting knowledge and teaching the principles of morality to his young cousin. IMAM ALI (A.S.) himself said: "I followed the Prophet (p) like the little one of the camel following its mother". Ali was a gifted child, with physical and mental potentials. Contrary to the common custom prevailing then, Imam Ali never prostrated before an idol; this is why Muslims say "KARRAMA-ALALHU WAJHAHU" that is, Allah safeguarded his face against prostrating before idols, after mentioning his name. The instruction of the Prophet (p) soon turned him into an accomplished, learned and highly intellectual youth. At the age of ten, he was wise enough to bear testimony to the Prophet-hood of Prophet Muhammad (p) and to promise him his full assistance.
But the occasion was not all merry. Prophet Muhammad (p) was to bring such radical changes in the prevailing religion, culture, society and thinking that none could be expected to help him in his mission. The environment, age, atmosphere, his nation - all were hostile to him. It was only Ali who bore testimony to his claims and promised to support his cause. The Prophet (p), too, declared that 'Ali was his minister and the executor of his will. He enjoined on all the believers to obey 'Ali. The second person to support his mission was his wife KHADIJA, the first lady of Islam, who promoted the cause of the faith through her wealth for a long time.
HARDSHIPS AND AGONIES
As soon as Prophet Muhammad (p) declared his mission of Prophet-hood, all the town residents turned against him. The same MECCANS who, until then, called him "truthful" and "trustworthy", now began to label him as "mad", "magician", "insane", and the like. They jeered and hurled stones and rubbish at him. In those days of misery and misfortune, it was Imam Ali (as) who did not shrink from helping and protecting the Messenger of God.
During the Battle of UHUD, the tables were turned and the victory turned into a defeat. MUS'AB IBN UMAYR, the Muslims' standard-bearer who bore facial resemblance to the Prophet (p), was killed, and the cry went that the Prophet (p) was killed. Most Muslim combatants were disheartened and they ran away for their lives, yet Imam Ali (as) remained to protect the Prophet (p) who had fallen into a pothole after 'ABDALALH IBN QAMI advanced towards him and struck him with his sword on the head with such force that two links of his own helmet were stuck in his face. Two of the Prophet's upper teeth were broken by the stone of another infidel. It was Imam Ali (as) who dashed like a lion to fight ABDALLAH IBN QAMI and all others alone and subdue them. When the Prophet (p) saw such a sacrificing spirit of Imam Ali, he asked him why he did not flee like others. Imam Ali (as) replied: "should I become KAFIR after accepting Islam?" The fighting was so intense that Imam Ali's sword broke down under the weight of the battle, and the Prophet (p) gave him his own sword "DHU AL-FIQAR". It was then some eye-witnesses reported, that a voice was heard from above saying: "LA FATA ILLA ALI; LA SAYFA ILLA DHU AL-FIQAR", that is, "There is no brave youth like 'Ali; there is no sword like DHU AL-FIQAR".
After three years of painful exile in the ravine of SHI'B ABU TALIB, ABU TALIB died in Mecca. The death of such an affectionate and sacrificing protector passed very heavily on the Prophet's heart and he resolved to migrate to Medina. The enemies came to know about his intention and they planned to assassinate him after besieging his house at night. It was decided by the pagan MECCAN clans that every clan should provide one man and that they should collectively assault the Prophet (p) as soon as he came out of is house. The Prophet (p) was apprised of the danger and he explained the situation to Imam Ali (as) asking him to stay behind. Sleep in his bed, wrap himself in his green covering-sheet, in order to fool the blood-thirsty foes and thus provide the Prophet (p) with the chance to safety. When Imam Ali (as) heard that his life was to be the ransom for the holy Prophet's life, he at once prostrated to God to thank Him for this unique honor.
It was the first SAJDAH of SHUKR (prostration of thanks) in Islam. Imam Ali (as) hated to part with the Prophet (p), so he asked him why he decided to let him stay in Mecca and not accompany him. The Prophet (p) said: "Are you not pleased that you are to me like Aaron to Moses, except that there will be no Prophet after me?" Imam Ali (as) slept soundly on the bed of the Prophet (p) while the Pr
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