Ali ibn Abi Talib (R) and his brief identity

Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA)

The fourth Caliph of Islam was Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA). Allah Ta’ala has given him keen intellect and wisdom. He was steadfast on the right path throughout his all life. And he continued to try to guide everyone on the right path until he died. Verily, Allah Ta’ala and His Messenger (peace be upon him) were satisfied with him. He was one of them who got good news of being a resident of Paradise while they were in this world. Of course, Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) always followed the Al-Quran and the sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him). And the Khawarij people hurt him a lot because he had called them to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). 

So I will present some information about Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) that will make his identity clear to you. And I will briefly describe some notable things from his biography with reliable references that will help you know a lot. So let’s first start talking about his name and early life.

Who is Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA.)?

His real name is Ali ibn Abi Talib, and his titles are Asadullah and Haider; his surname is Abu Al-Hasan and Abu Turab. And his father’s name is Abu Talib bin Abdul Muttalib, and his mother’s name is Fatima bint Asad. His parents both are of Quraish descent. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, volume 2, page 495]

Ali (RA) had three brothers. Their names are Talib, Aqil, and Jafar. They were all older than Ali (RA). Each of them was ten years apart in age. That is, Talib was ten years older than Aqil (RA), Aqil was ten years older than Jafar (RA), and Jafar was ten years older than Ali (RA). And Ali (RA) had two sisters. Their names are Umm Hani (RA) and Jumanah (RA). [Al-Bidayah Wan Nihayah, volume 7, page 222]

Ali (RA) was born in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to the Quraish lineage, and he was born ten years before the Prophet (peace be upon him) received his prophethood. He was the cousin of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). His (peace be upon him) uncle Abu Talib was very poor. So the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to his other uncle Abbas (RA);

O Abbas!

Surely your brother Abu Talib has a large family. And he is falling into famine. Let’s go and lighten the burden on his family. You will take one of his children and I will take one. Then we will take care of them. Abbas said, OK. Then they went to Abu Talib and informed him about this. Abu Talib said to them, “It would have been better if you had left Talib and Aqil for me.”


Then Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) took Ali (Ra) and kept him with him. And Abbas (RA) took Jafar (RA) and kept him with him. So Ali (RA) stayed with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) until Allah Ta’ala sent him as a prophet. Then Ali (RA) followed the Messenger of Allah, believed in him, and attested to him. And Jafar (RA) stayed with Abbas (RA) until he accepted Islam and became self-sufficient from him. [Sirat Ibn Hisham, volume 1, page 246]

Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA.)’s acceptation Islam

First of all, when the Salah was made obligatory, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Khadijah (RA) secretly performed two rak’ahs of Salah. Then the next day, Ali (RA) came to the house and saw that they were praying. Then Ali (RA) said, O Muhammad! What is it? Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “This is the religion of Allah which He has chosen for Himself. And He has sent His messengers (to the people) with this religion. (O Ali) So I call you to one Allah who has no partner. And I call you to worship Him and to deny Lat and Uzza.”

Then Ali said, It is a matter which I have never heard before today. So I will not make a decision on this matter until I will tell (my father) Abu Talib about it. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) disliked revealing the secret to Abu Talib before Islam was disclosed openly. So He (peace be upon him) said to Ali, “(O Ali) if you do not accept Islam, then keep it (i.e., the matter of prayer) a secret.”

Then Ali spent that night (in this state).

After that, Allah inserted Islam into Ali’s heart. Then Ali came to the Messenger of Allah in the morning and said, O Muhammad! What do you present to me? Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him, “You will bear witness that there is no (worthy of worship) deity but One Allah, and He has no partner. You will deny Lat and Uzza, and you will be free from all rivals.” So Ali (RA) did so and accepted Islam. And Ali (RA) kept his Islam secret for fear of Abu Talib and did not reveal it to anyone. [Al-Bidayah Wan Nihayah, volume 3, page 24]

Verily, Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) was the boy who accepted Islam first among the boys.

His qualities

Ali (RA) was brave and fearless. And he had a deep knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah. He never backed down from the correct justice. He also was a wise judge. And he had many admirable qualities like fear of Allah, purity, shyness, patience, humility, correct justice, forgiveness, etc. Verily, Imam Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti (Rh) has mentioned in his book about Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) that:

“Ali (RA) was one of the ten people who received the good news of Paradise. He was the brother of the Messenger of Allah through brotherhood. By marrying Fatima (RA), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was her father-in-law. Ali (RA) was one of the first to accept Islam. He was one of the Allah-fearing scholars, famous heroes, notable apathetic people toward worldly matters, and well-known orators. And he was one of those who compiled the Qur’an.” [Tarikh Al-Khulafa, page 130]

He took part in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Bait-e-Rizwan, Khaibar, the conquest of Makkah, Hunayn, Taif, and all the battles with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). However, he could not take part in the battle of Tabuk. Because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had appointed him as his representative in Medina. He had renowned contributions in all wars. [Tahdhib Al-Asma Wa Al-lughat, volume 1, page 345]

His career

Ali (RA) used to earn halal money through physical labor. Verily, he fought against the enemies of Islam in the way of Allah all his life. By the grace of Allah, he won many battles. The soldiers used to get a share of the Ghanimah after the war, similarly, he also got a share of the Ghanimah. During the time of ruling Umar (RA), he introduced allowances for the soldiers. After the introduction of the allowance system, Ali (RA) also accepted the allowance.

After he became the caliph of the Islamic State, he continued to lead a simple life. He never took a large amount of money from the state treasury. But he used to accept as much as Muslims fixed for him. Imam Ibn Kathir (Rh) has mentioned many events about Ali (RA) in his book. One of them is

al-bidayah-wan-nihayah,-volume-8,-page 3

Marwan bin Antarah narrated from his father that his father said: I came to Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) in a place called Khawarnaq. He was wearing a woolen garment and was shivering in the cold. I said, O Leader of the believers! Surely Allah Ta’ala has made a portion of this wealth (i.e., the wealth of the state treasury) for you and your family. But you are shivering in cold. He said, “By Allah, of course, I do not spend anything out of your wealth unjustly. And this woolen garment; I brought it out of my house or of the Madina.” [Al-Bidayah Wan Nihayah, volume 8, page 3]

What did Allah’s Messenger say about Ali (RA.)?

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) has said many things about him. So I am quoting some of the sayings of the Messenger of Allah about Ali (RA).

Narrated Salama (RA), Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said during the battle of Khaibar, “I will give the flag (to a man), or tomorrow a man whom Allah and His Messenger love will take the flag,” or said, “(I will give the flag to) a man who loves Allah and His Messenger; and Allah will grant victory under his leadership.” Suddenly came Ali (RA) whom we did not expect. The people said, ‘This is Ali.’ Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) gave him the flag and Allah granted victory under his leadership. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 3702]

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah (RA), He said; I walked with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to (the house of) a woman. She slaughtered a goat for us. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “A man of Paradise must enter (the house).” Then Abu Bakr (RA) entered. After that, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said again, “A man of Paradise must enter (the house).” Then ‘Umar (RA) entered. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said again, “Surely a man of Paradise will enter (the house). O Allah, if you wish, make him Ali.” Then Ali (RA) entered. [Al-Mustadrak ala al-Sahihayn, volume 3, page 146]

It was narrated that Zirr said, Ali (RA) said: “The Unlettered Prophet (peace be upon him) made a covenant with me, that none but a believer would love me, and none but a hypocrite would hate me.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i, Hadith No. 5018]

Narrated Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA),

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent me to Yemen as a judge, and I asked: O Messenger of Allah! are you sending me when I am young and have no knowledge of the duties of a judge? He (peace be upon him) replied: “Allah will guide your heart and keep your tongue true. When two litigants sit in front of you, do not decide till you hear what the other has to say as you heard what the first had to say; for it is best that you should have a clear idea of the best decision.” Ali (RA) said: I had been a judge (for long), or he (RA) said: I have no doubts about a decision afterward. [Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith No. 3582]

Narrated Abu Sarihah (RA), or Zaid bin Arqam (RA) from the Prophet (peace be upon him), He (peace be upon him) said: “For whoever, I am his Mawla (Guardian) then ‘Ali is his Mawla.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 3713]

Wives of Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA.)

He married Fatima (RA), the youngest daughter of the Messenger of Allah. As long as Fatima was alive, he did not get married to another woman. Verily, he earned multiple marriages after her death. Some of them died in his lifetime, and he divorced some of them. And at the time of his death, he had four wives under him.

The names of the women he married after Fatima (RA)’s death are 2. Khawlah bint Ja’far, 3. Laila bint Mas’ud, 4. Umm Al-Banin bint Hijham, 5. Asma bint Umais, 6. Al-Sahba Umm Habib bint Rabi’ah, 7. Umamah bint Abul A’as, 8. Umm Sa’id bint Urwah 9. Muhayyah bint Imrul Qa’is. 

His offspring

Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) had fourteen sons. Their names are: 1. Hasan bin Ali, 2. Husain bin Ali, 3. Ibn Al-Hanafiah Muhammad bin Ali, 4. Ubaidullah bin Ali, 5. Abu Bakr bin Ali, 6. Al-Abbas Al-Kabir bin Ali, 7. Uthman bin Ali, 8. Jafar Al-Kabir bin Ali, 9. Abdullah bin Ali, 10. Muhammad Al-Asghar bin Ali, 11. Yahyah bin Ali, 12. Awun bin Ali, 13. Umar Al-Kabir bin Ali, 14. Muhammad Al-Awsat bin Ali.

Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) had nineteen daughters. Their names are: 1. Zainab Al-Kubra bint Ali, 2. Umm Kulsum Al-Kubra bint Ali, 3. Ruqayah bint Ali, 4. Umm Al-Hasan bint Ali, 5. Ramla Al-Kubra bint Ali, 6. Umm Hani bint Ali, 7. Maymunah bint Ali, 8. Zainab Al-Sugra bint Ali, 9. Ramla Al-Sugra bint Ali, 10. Umm Kulsum Al-Sugra bint Ali, 11. Fatima bint Ali, 12. Umamah bint Ali, 13. Khadiza bint Ali, 14. Umm Al-Kiram bint Ali, 15. Umm Salamah bint Ali, 16. Zumanah bint Ali, 17. Umm Jafar bint Ali 18. Nafisah bint Ali, 19. Ali (RA) had a baby girl whose name is not known. She died before maturity. She’s mother name is Muhayyah bint Imrul Qays.

Ali (RA)’s lineage has spread from only five children. Their name is Hasan, Husain, Ibn Hanafia Muhammad, Abbas Al-Akbar, and Umar Al-Akbar. [At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, volume 3, page 14]

Number of narrated hadiths

Ali (RA) has narrated many hadiths from the Messenger of Allah. In this regard, Imam Abu Zakaria Yahya Ibn Sharaf An Nawawi (Rh) has mentioned in his book that,


Ali (RA) has narrated about 586 hadiths from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). Of these, Imam Bukhari (RA) and Muslim (RA) agreed on twenty hadiths (i.e., Imam Bukhari (RA) and Muslim (RA) both have narrated twenty hadiths together). Imam Bukhari (RA) has narrated nine hadiths alone and Imam Muslim (RA) has narrated fifteen hadiths alone. Ali (RA)’s three sons Hasan, Husain and Muhammad ibn Hanafiah, Ibn Mas’ud, Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas, Abu Musa, Abdullah bin Jafar, Abdullah bin Zubair, Abu Saeed, Zayd bin Arkam, Jaber bin Abdullah, Abu Umamah, Suhaib, Abu Rafi, Abu Hurairah, Jaber bin Samurah, Huzaifah bin Usaid, Safina, and others have narrated the hadiths from Ali (RA). [Tahdhib Al-Asma Wa Al-lughat, volume 1, page 345]

Also in the famous hadith book Musnad Ahmad, about 800 hadiths are narrated in his source.

Some of his exhortations

  • Whoever ruins the trust and is satisfied with treachery, surely is free from the piousness.
  • He who is arrogant towards people is humiliated.
  • There are two types of patience. 1. Patience on disliked subjects and 2. patience on liked subjects.
  • The death of a righteous person is peace for himself, and the death of a bad person is peace for people.
  • Two people are never satiated. 1. Knowledge seeker, 2. Resource (money-wealth) seeker.
  • Self-restraint is the beauty of the poor, and gratitude is the beauty of the rich.
  • He who forgets his own sins, thinks the sins of others are large.

When and how did Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA.) die?

Three Khawarij person, Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim, Al Barak bin Abdullah and Amr bin Bukair, gathered in Makkah. They promised each other that they would kill the three Companions of Allah’s Messenger, Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan (RA), and Amr bin Al-As (RA). Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim said, I will kill Ali (RA),, Al Barak bin Abdullah said, I will kill Muawiyah (RA) and Amr bin Bukair said, I will kill Amr (RA). They also promised each other that they would not back down without doing their action and that they would do this heinous act on the night of the 17th of Ramadan. Then each of them set out for the city where they had their targeted person. Then Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim arrived in Kufa. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, volume 2, page 537]

Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim kept the matter of killing Ali a secret from all the Khawarij people in the city of Kufa. Among the Khawarij people came a woman named Katam bint al-Sajnah, who was very beautiful. She used to sit in one corner of the mosque and worship. Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim was impressed by her and proposed marriage to her. The woman demanded him three thousand dirhams, a slave, a maid, and to kill Ali. Then Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim agreed to it. After he married Katam bint al-Sajnah, she repeatedly persuaded him to kill Ali (RA) and hired a man named Wardan as an associate of Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim. Then Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim appointed another person as his collaborator named Shabib bin Najdah.

Shabib at first

refused to be an accomplice of Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim to kill Ali (RA). After persuading him by Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim, he agreed to be his collaborator. Then on the night of the 17th of Ramadan, the three of them, Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim, Wardan, and Shabib bin Najdah, armed with swords and weapons, sit in front of the door through which Ali (RA) used to come out to wake up the people and call them to (Fajr) Salah. Ali (RA) used to say: As-Salah, As-Salah (before the Fajr’s obligatory Salah every day). [Al-Bidayah Wan Nihayah, volume 7, page 326]

Then suddenly two men attacked Ali (RA). One of them hit Ali (RA) and said: Allah’s decision, O Ali! You have no helpers. Then another struck Ali (RA) with a sword. When Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim struck Ali (RA) with his sword, his sword fell from the face to the top of his head. And the sword reached the brain of the head. When Shabib bin Najdah struck Ali (RA) with the sword, the sword did not fall on Ali (RA). Rather it fell on the door. Ali (RA) told the people: Let not handless the man (attacker) definitely. And the people surrounded them on all sides. Wardan was killed while fleeing from their arrest, and Shabib bin Najdah escaped and went out of people’s reach. And Abdur Rahman bin Mulzim was arrested. He was severely punished and put to death.

Ash’as (Rh) said that

Ali was in a severely injured state until Friday and Saturday night. Then he died on Sunday, the 21st of Ramadan in the year 40 AH. Hasan (Rh), Husain (Rh), and Abdullah bin Jafar (Rh) gave him a bath. And he was shrouded in three garments, without any shirt.   

Hasan (RA) led the Funeral Salah of his father Ali (RA). He was buried next to a mosque at Rahbah in Kufa. He was 63 years old at the time of his death. His caliphate period was 4 years and 9 months. [At-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, volume 3, page 27]

Our Dua

May Allah Ta’ala gives us all the grace to live our lives according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. And He gives us more grace to keep ourselves away from the evil deeds and keep others away from them. Ameen. 


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