Amir al Momenin (Imam of believers), Imam Ali (PBUH)

(Shia view: Successor of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Sunni view: Fourth rightly guided Caliph)

Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) (Arabic: علي بن أبي طالب) was the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Ali (PBUH) was also the first man who accepted Islam. Sunnis consider Imam Ali the fourth and final Caliph , but Shia – according to the prophet’s will- believe Ali (PBUH) is the first Imam (leaser, successor) after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Prophet Muhammad, all of whom are members of the Ahl Al-Bayt. This disagreement split the Ummah (Muslim community) into the Sunni and Shia branches.

Many sources, especially Shia ones, record that Imam Ali (PBUH) was the only person born in the sacred sanctuary of the Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest place in Islam that was built by the prophet Abraham (PBUH) and his son Ishmael. His father was Abu Talib and his mother was Fatima bent Asad, but he was raised in the house of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who himself was raised by Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle and Ali’s father. When Prophet Muhammad reported receiving a divine revelation, Ali (PBUH) was the first male to accept his message and first to convert to Islam at the age of 10, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.

Imam Ali (PBUH) migrated to Medina shortly after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. It was there that Prophet Muhammad told Ali (PBUH) that Allah had ordered him to give his daughter, Lady Fatimah (PBUH), to Ali (PBUH) in marriage. For the ten years that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led the community in Medina, Ali (PBUH) was extremely active in his service, leading parties of warriors in battles, and carrying messages and orders. Imam Ali (PBUH) took part in the early caravan raids from Mecca and later in almost all the battles fought by the nascent Muslim community. He encountered defiance and civil war during his Caliphate. In 661, Imam Ali (PBUH) was attacked one morning while praying in the Great mosque of Kufah, and martyred two days later.

In Muslim culture, Imam Ali (PBUH) is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Prophet Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies. Imam Ali (PBUH) retains his stature as an authority on Quranic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and religious thought. Imam Ali’s influence has been important throughout Islamic history.

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