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14 Infallibles

#4 - Imam al-Hasan b. Ali al-Mujtaba (AS)

Introduction

Al-Hasan b. ʿAli b. Abi Talib (a) (Arabic: الحسن بن علي بن أبي طالب) (b. 3/625 - d. 50/670), known as Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba, was the second Imam of the Shi'a (40-50/661-670), the fifth caliph of the Muslim community for seven months, and regarded by some Sunnis as the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs.


Al-Hasan b. Ali (a) was the first child of Ali (a) and Fatima (a) and the first grandson of the Prophet (s). It is reported that the Prophet (s) chose the name al-Hasan for him and that he greatly loved him. The first seven years of al-Hasan’s life were during the lifetime of the Prophet (s). He was present in the Allegiance of Ridwan and in the story of Mubahala between the Prophet (s) and the Christian delegate from Najran.


Shiite and Sunni sources contain numerous reports of al-Hasan's virtues. According to these reports, he was one of the People of the Cloak, about whom the Verse of Purity (Qur'an 33:33) was revealed. The verses 76:842:23, and 3:61 were also revealed about him, his parents, and his brother. He gave all his wealth to charity twice, and because of such acts of generosity, he came to be called "The Generous One of the Family of the Prophet (s)". He went to hajj twenty-five times barefoot.


There is not much information about his life during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar. It is reported that Umar appointed him as a witness in the six-member council that was to choose the third caliph. During the revolt at the end of Uthman's caliphate, he was tasked by Imam Ali (a) to protect the house of the caliph. During the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), al-Hasan (a) moved with his father to Kufa and was one of the commanders of his army in the battles of Jamal and Siffin.


On Ramadan 2140 AH/January 28661, and after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a), al-Hasan (a) became the Imam and successor of his father. More than forty-thousand men pledged their allegiance to him on the same day. However, Muʿawiya did not accept his caliphate, and launched a military expedition against him. Imam al-Hasan (a) sent an army under the command of 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas to confront Muʿawiya's army. The Imam (a) himself headed to Sabat with a group of soldiers. Muʿawiya tried to spread rumors among the Imam's (a) troops to prepare the ground for a peace-treaty. At the same time, one of the Kharijites tried to assassinate Imam al-Hasan (a), which resulted in the Imam’s (a) injury. The Imam (a) was taken to Madain to receive treatment. Simultaneously, a group of Kufan chiefs wrote a letter to Muʿawiya and promised him to either kill al-Hasan (a) or to surrender him to Muʿawiya. Muʿawiya sent their letter to Imam al-Hasan (a) and proposed a peace treaty to the Imam (a). Seeing no other choices before him, Imam al-Hasan (a) accepted the peace treaty and abdicated the caliphate with the condition that Muʿawiya should rule according to the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet (s) and should not appoint any successor for himself, and that no one, including the Shiites, should be persecuted. Muʿawiya did not abide by any of these conditions later. The peace treaty with Muʿawiya led to the dissatisfaction of a number of the Imam’s (a) companions, so much so that some of them called the Imam (a) the Humiliator of the Believers.


The Imam (a) returned to Medina after the peace treaty in 41 AH/661 and remained there until the end of his life. In Medina, he was as a religious and scholarly authority and had a high social status. When Muʿawiya decided to introduce his son Yazid as his successor and demanded that people pledge their allegiance to him, he sent one-hundred thousand dirhams to Ja'da bt. al-Ash'ath, Imam al-Hasan's wife, to poison the Imam (a). She did so and Imam al-Hasan (a) was martyred forty days after he was poisoned. According to a report, the Imam (a) had requested to be buried next to the grave of the Prophet (s), but Marwan b. al-Hakam and a group of the Umayyads did not let that happen. Thus, he was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery.


A collection of the sayings and writings of Imam al-Hasan (a), and the names of 138 individuals who transmitted his hadiths is published in Musnad al-Imam al-Mujtaba (a).

Biographical Snapshot

Teknonym

Abu l-Hasan, Abu Turab, Abu l-Sibtayn, Abu l-Rayhanatayn, Abu l-A'imma.

Birthplace

Imamate

From Safar 28, 11/May 25, 632(for 29 years)

Reign

656 – 661

Cause of Martyrdom

While performing morning prayer, he was struck with a sword by Abd al-Rahman b. Muljam al-Muradi and martyred from its injury two days later.

Burial Place

Successor

Al-Hasan (a)
(As the Second Imam of the Shia and Caliph, and As the Fifth of Rashidun Caliphate)

Brother(s)

Ja'far, 'Aqil, Talib

Spouse(s)

Fatima, Umama, Umm al-Banin, Layla, Asma', Sahba', Khawla

Daughter(s)

Descendants

Sayyid, 'Alawi

Detailed Information

Name


The Word “al-Hasan” in Arabic means good or beautiful. This name was chosen for Imam al-Hasan (a) by the Prophet (s).[1] According to a hadith, this name was chosen by God’s command,[2] and did not have a precedent in pre-Islamic history.[3]


According to some Sunni sources, before the Prophet (s) chose the name al-Hasan for his grandson, Imam Ali (a) had the names Hamza[4] or Harb[5] in mind, but he told the Prophet (s) that he would choose the name that the Prophet (s) would choose for his son.[6] Some Shiite scholars have rejected these reports for a number of reasons.[7]


His teknonym was Abu Muhammad or Abu l-Qasim,[8] and epithets such as al-Mujtaba (the Chosen One), al-Sayyid (Master), and al-Zaki (the Pure One) have been used for him.[9] There are a number of epithets that have been commonly used for him and for Imam al-Husayn (a), such as Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Janna (the Master of the Youths of Paradise), Rayhanat Nabi Allah (The Flower of the Prophet of God),[10] and al-Sibt (the Grandson).[11] According to a prophetic hadith, “Al-Hasan is a Sibt from the Asbat “pl. of sibt]”.[12] The word “sibt” in some Quranic verses and hadiths is regarded as meaning an Imam chosen by God from the descendants of prophets.[13]


Childhood


It is reported that Imam al-Hasan (a) used to attend the sessions of the Prophet (s) and would retell to his mother what was revealed in those sessions unto the Prophet (s).[14]


Sulaym b. Qays is reported to have said that after the demise of the Prophet (s), when Abu Bakr was chosen as the caliph, al-Hasan (a) would go together with his brother and his parents to the houses of the Helpers and call them to support Imam Ali (a).[15] It is also reported that he would object to Abu Bakr’s sitting on the minbar of the Prophet (s).[16]


Youth


There are few reports about Imam al-Hasan’s youth. It is reported, for instance, that Umar appointed him as a witness in the six-member council that was to appoint the next caliph.[17]


According to some Sunni sources, Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), participated in the Battle of Ifriqiyya in 26 AH/646 [18] and in the Battle of Tabaristan in 29 AH/649 or 30 AH/650.[19] Scholars disagree as to whether these reports are reliable. Considering problems in their chains of transmitters and taking into account the opposition of the Imams (a) to the conquests, Sayyid Ja’far Murtada regards these reports as unreliable. He refers as further evidence for his view to the fact that Imam Ali (a) did not allow Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) to participate in the Battle of Siffin.[20]


It is also reported that in this period, whenever people complained about Uthman‘s conducts to Imam Ali (a), he would send his son al-Hasan (a) to Uthman.[21] According to al-Baladhuri, during the revolt at the end of Uthman’s caliphate, when his house was besieged, al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) and a number of other people were commanded by Imam Ali (a) to protect Uthman’s house,[22] and, according to Qadi Nuʿman al-Maghribi (d. 363/973) to take water for him.[23] Some reports indicate that al-Hasan (a) was even injured in this episode.[24] Some Shiite scholars, such as Allama Amini, regard these reports as unreliable.[25] Al-Sharif al-Murtada also questions the authenticity of these reports and states that even if they were authentic, they only indicate that Imam Ali (a) was against murdering Uthamn and depriving his family of food and water, not that he opposed overthrowing him as the caliph.[26]


Children and Wives


Main article: Wives of Imam al-Hasan (a)


There are various reports about the number of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) children and wives. Although historical sources do not mention the names of more than eighteen women[27] as the wives of the Imam (a), some of them claim that the Imam (a) had 70,[28] 90,[29] 200,[30] or 250 wives.[31] It has been claimed that Imam al-Hasan (a) was mitlaq (one who marries and divorces numerous women)[32] and that he had many concubines, with some of whom he had children.[33]



This claim has been subjected to much criticism in past and recent scholarly works.[34] According to Madelung, the first person to have spread the rumor that Imam al-Hasan (a) had ninety wives was Muhammad b. al-Kalbi, and the number was made up by al-Madaʾini (d. 225/839). However, al-Kalbi himself mentions only the names of eleven women as the Imam’s wives, and from these eleven, five were arguably not the Imam’s wives.[35] Al-Qurashi maintains that these reports were fabricated by the Abbasids to tarnish the reputation of the descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a) who led several revolts against them.[36]


There is disagreement as to the number of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) children. According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, they were fifteen,[37] but al-Tabrisi considers them sixteen, among whom was Abu Bakr who was martyred in the event of Karbala.[38]

Imam al-Hasan (a) was present in the five-year caliphate of his father beside him in all situation.[39] It is reported that when the people pledged their allegiance to Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) went on the minbar at his father’s request and delivered a speech to the people.[40] It also appears that al-Hasan (a) was with his father since the first days of the latter’s residence in Kufa.[41]


The Battle of Jamal


Al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022) reports that Imam al-Hasan (a), together with Ammar b. Yasir and Qays b. Sa’d b. ‘Ubada, was tasked with calling the Kufans to join the Imam’s (a) army.[42] In Kufa, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech in which he mentioned his father’s virtues and high status in Islam and Talha‘s and Zubayr‘s betrayal of their allegiance, and then called the people to support Imam Ali (a).[43]


During the battle, when Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr accused Imam Ali (a) of murdering Uthman, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech and mentioned the role of Talha and Zubayr in Uthman’s murder.[44]


It is also reported that after the battle, Imam Ali (a) became sick, so he tasked al-Hasan (a) with leading the Friday prayer for the people of Basra. In his sermon there, he emphasized the significance of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the consequences of failing to respect their rights.[45]


The Battle of Siffin


Nasr b. Muzahim (d. 212 AH/827) reports that prior to the beginning of the expedition of Imam Ali’s army to Siffin, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech and encouraged the people to jihad.[46] It is said that in this battle, the right wing of the army was under the command of al-Hasan (a) and his brother al-Husayn (a).[47]


According to al-Iskafi (d. 240/854), when, during the battle, al-Hasan (a) confronted one of the commanders of the Syrian army, the latter refused to fight with him and said, “I saw the Prophet (s) on a camel while you were sitting in front of him. I don’t want to meet the Prophet (s) while having your blood on my hands.”[48]


It is also reported that Ubayd Allah b. Umar (the son of the second caliph) met al-Hasan (a) during the battle and proposed that al-Hasan (a) should take over the caliphate, because the Quraysh hold grudges against his father.” In response, Imam al-Hasan (a) said, “By God, this will never happen.” Then, he told Ubayd Allah, “It is as if I see that you will be killed today or tomorrow, and Satan has deceived you.” This prophecy was fulfilled and Ubayd Allah was killed in the same battle.[49]


The Battle of Nahrawan


According to al-Istiʿab, al-Hasan (a) participated in the Battle of Nahrawan as well.[50]


It is also reported that Imam Ali (a), toward the end of his life, appointed al-Hasan (a) as the commander of an army of ten-thousand troops to confront Mu’awiya another time.[51]

Al-Hasan b. Ali (a) is the second Imam of the Shiʿa. He became the Imam after the martyrdom of his father on 21 Ramadan40 AH/January 28661 CE.[52] His imamate lasted for ten years. In al-Kafial-Kulayni (d. 329/940-1) has collected the hadiths related to the appointment of al-Hasan (a) to imamate. According to one of these hadiths, before his martyrdom, Imam Ali (a) gave his books and weapon (from the Trusts of Imamate) to al-Hasan (a) in the presence of his children and some prominent Shiite figures, and announced that the Prophet (s) had commanded him to appoint al-Hasan (a) as the executor of his will. According to another hadith, when Imam Ali (a) was going to Kufa, he left some of the Trusts of Imamate with Umm Salama, and al-Hasan (a) received them from her when he returned from Kufa.


Al-Hasan’s (a) imamate is also supported by such prophetic hadiths as “These two sons of mine are two Imams, whether they rise or sit” and the Hadith of the Twelve Caliphs.


Imam al-Hasan (a) also succeeded his father as the caliph of the Muslim community and held this position for about seven months.

Ali (a) had an influential role in the Ghazwas (battles in which the Prophet himself was also present), save for the Battle of Tabuk.in which he remained in Medina as the deputy of the Prophet (s). He was the main Standard-bearer of the Islamic army in many Ghazwas. He remained with the Prophet (s) in the battles that other Muslims escaped, and continued to fight.


Battle of Badr


Main article: Battle of Badr


The Battle of Badr was the first battle between the Muslims and the idolaters of Mecca. It took place on Friday, the Ramadan 17, 2/March 13, 624 along the wells of Badr. In this battle, the Muslims killed seventy of the idolaters, including a few influential chiefs like Abu Jahl and Utba b. Rabi’a.


It was an Arab custom to precede the general battle with a few one-on-one combats. So, Utba b. al-Rabi’a, his son, Walid, and his brother, Shayba came forward and wanted the Prophet (s) to send a few worthy opponents to the battlefield to fight with them. The Prophet (s) sent Ali (a), Hamza and Ubayda b. Harith. Ali (a) struck Walid quickly, as did Hamza to Utba, killing them quickly. They then went on to help ‘Ubayda against Shayba, killing him too.


In this battle, Ali (a) killed many combatants, including prominent figures of the Meccan army such as Walid b. Utba, Nawfal b. Khuwaylid (whom the Prophet (s) had cursed), Hanzala b. Abi Sufyan, ʿAs b. Saʿid.


Battle of Uhud


Main article: Battle of Uhud


In this battle, after the victory of the polytheists, many Muslims fled the battleground and left the Prophet (s) alone. Ali (a) was one of the few ones who did not leave the Prophet (s) and defended him. The Imam (a) is reported to have said, “The Immigrants and Helpers were fleeing to their houses, but, despite having seventy wounds, I [stayed and] defended the Messenger of God.”


Paying tribute to the dedication that Ali (a) showed, the archangel Gabriel, in praise of Ali’s self-sacrifice, said to the Prophet (s): “This is the ultimate devotion that ‘Ali has shown.” The Prophet (s) agreed with Gabriel and said, “I am from ‘Ali and he is from me.” A voice then echoed in the sky, saying, “La fata illa ‘Ali, la sayf illa Dhu l-faqar” which means “There is no youth like ‘Ali (a), and there is no sword like Dhu l-Faqar (the sword of ‘Ali (a))”


Battle of Khandaq


Main article: Battle of Khandaq


In the Battle of Khandaq (trench), as suggested by Salman al-Farsi, the Muslims dug a trench around Medina in order to keep the enemy away from the city.


For several days, the two armies confronted each other on opposite sides of the trench. They would sometimes fight, throwing stones and arrows. Finally, ‘Amr b. ‘Abd Wad (from the army of the polytheists), along with a few others, jumped over the trench at its narrowest part and managed to reach the other side. ‘Ali (a) asked the Prophet (s) to give him permission to fight ‘Amr, and the Prophet (s) accepted. After fighting with ‘Amr, ‘Ali (a) knocked him down and killed him.


After the battle the Prophet (s) said, “The hit of Ali (a) [to ‘Amr] during this battle, is more valuable than the worship of all jinns and human beings.”


Battle of Khaybar


Main article: Battle of Khaybar


The Battle of Khaybar occurred in Jumada I 7/September, 628, when the Prophet (s) issued a command to attack the Jewish fortresses due to their threats. After a few men, like Abu Bakr and Umar, could not conquer the forts, the Prophet (s) said, “Tomorrow I will give the flag to a man who loves God and His prophet, and God and His prophet also love him.” The next morning, the Prophet (s) called Ali (a) and gave the flag to him. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid reports that in the Battle of Khaybar Imam Ali (a) proceeded towards the fort’s door, tore it off, and used it as his shield until the end of the battle.


Conquest of Mecca


Main article: Conquest of Mecca


In the beginning of Ramadan in 8/630, the Prophet (s) traveled to Mecca from Medina with the intention of conquering Mecca. After Sa’d b. ‘Ubada, one of the standard bearers, chanted slogans about revenge; the Prophet (s) sent Ali (a) to take the flag from Sa’d and chant a slogan about mercy. After the Conquest of Mecca, the Prophet (a) entered Ka’ba and broke the idols in it, then ‘Ali (a) climbed onto the shoulders of the Prophet (s) and threw down the idol of Khuza’a tribe.


Battle of Hunayn


Main article: Battle of Hunayn


This battle took place in Shawwal, 8/January, 630, and Ali (a) was a flagbearer in it. During the battle, the polytheists conducted a sudden raid, and most of the Muslims fled to save their lives. Only Ali (a) and a few others remained and defended the Prophet (s).


Battle of Tabuk


Main article: Battle of Tabuk


The battle of Tabuk was the only battle led by the Prophet (s) in which Ali (a) did not participate. He stayed in Medina at the Prophet’s command in order to protect the city in the Prophet’s (a) absence against the plots of the hypocrites.


Soon after the Prophet (s) left for war, the hypocrites began to spread rumors about the Prophet (s) being not pleased with Ali that he didn’t want him to go. In order to put a quick end to the vicious rumors, Ali (a) immediately rushed towards the Prophet (s) who was outside of the city and informed him of the matter. It was here that Hadith al-Manzila (‘the hadith of position’) was narrated by the Prophet (s). He stated, “My brother, Ali! Return to Medina, since nobody except me or you, has the competence to handle these affairs. Thus, you are my vicegerent and successor amongst my Ahl al-Bayt and my people. Are not you pleased [to know] that you are in the same position (Manzilah) to me as that of Aaron to Moses, except that after me there will be no other prophet?”


Saraya

Saraya (plural of sariyya) are the battles which took place during the time of the Prophet (s) but in which the Prophet (s) himself was not present. Ali (a) led the following saraya:


  1. 1. The Sariyya of Ali (a) to Fadak to confront Banu Sa’d in Sha’ban, 6/December, 627
  2. 2. The Sariyya of Ali (a) to destroy an idol’s temple called Fals belonging to the tribe of Banu Tayy in Rabi’ II, 9/July, 630.
  3. 3. The Sariyya of Ali (a) to Yemen in Ramadan, 10/December]], 631.

Mission to Yemen

After the conquest of Mecca and the victory in the Battle of Hunayn in 8/630, Prophet Muhammad (a) decided to expand his mission. He sent Mu’adh b. Jabal to Yemen, but Mu’adh was not completely successful. Then, the Prophet (s) sent Khalid b. Walid, who did not succeed either and thus returned to Medina after six months. Afterwards, the Prophet (s) sent Ali (a) to Yemen with a letter which he wrote for the Yemenites. Ali (a) read the Prophet’s (s) letter for the people and called them to Islam. As a result of Ali’s (a) efforts, the tribe of Hamdan embraced Islam. Ali (a) informed the Prophet (s) of Hamdan’s conversion; the news made the Prophet (s) happy, and he prayed for the Hamdanids. In some sources, a conflict is reported between Ali (a) and the tribe of Madhhij. According to these reports, Ali (a) went to their land and called them to Islam. They rejected him, and a battle broke out, in which Madhhij was defeated. Ali (a) collected the spoils of the battle and delivered them together with the zakat of the people of Najran to the Prophet (s) during the Farewell Pilgrimage. The Prophet (s) also appointed Ali (a) as a judge in Yemen and prayed for him to have sound judgments. Instances of these judgments are reported in historical sources.

Main article: Event of Ghadir


In 10/632, the Prophet (s) decided, for the first time after migration, to perform hajj al-tamattu’. He informed the Muslims of his decision, and many of them decided to accompany him on the pilgrimage. The Prophet (s) also wrote a letter to Ali (a), who was on an expedition to Yemen, and called him to hajj.


When the hajj ended, on the way back to Medina, in an area called Ghadir Khumm, where people would part and go to their respective towns, God commanded the Prophet (s) to stop and proclaim to the people the message that He had given him.


The Prophet (s) performed the noon prayer and then delivered a sermon. In his sermon, he asked the Muslims, “Do you not know that I am closer to the believers than their own soul?” The people said, “Yes indeed, we know.” Then the Prophet (s) raised the hand of Ali (a) and stated, “For whomever I am the master, Ali will be his master. O God! Support whomever supports him, and be the enemy of whomever shows enmity to him.” It is reported that some of the Companions asked the Prophet, “Is this the command of God and His Prophet (s)?” and the Prophet answered, “Yes, this is the command of God and His messenger.” When Prophet Muhammad (s) finished his sermon, a number of Companions, such as Umar b. al-Khattab, congratulated Ali (a).


According to Shiite and some Sunni commentators, the verse “Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion” (Qur’an 5:3) was revealed on this day.


After the demise of the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a) reminded the people of this event on several occasions and of the sayings of the Prophet (s) in Ghadir Khumm to emphasize his right to caliphate. Considering the context and the details of this event and other evidence (including the subsequent conversations and poems related to the event), the Shia believe that the message that the Prophet (s) delivered on the day of Ghadir was clearly the appointment of Imam Ali (a) as his successor by God’s command.

Main article: Incident of Saqifa


After the demise of the Prophet (s), while Ali (a) and Banu Hashim were busy with the burial rituals and ceremony, the Helpers (Ansar) gathered in the Saqifa Bani Sa’ida to choose a successor for the Prophet (s) from themselves. They were afraid that the Quraysh might seek to revenge for their casualties and knew that the Prophet’s (s) command regarding his successor would not be accepted. When Abu Bakr and Umar were informed of this gathering, they headed toward Saqifa together with Abu Ubayda al-Jarrah, Abd al-Rahman b. Awf, and Uthman b. Affan. After heated debates, those who had gathered at the Saqifa chose Abu Bakr as the caliph and successor of the Prophet (s), with no regard for the Prophet’s commands regarding the succession.


The Background of the Disfavor for Imam Ali (a)


The lifetime of Imam Ali (a) was replete with extremely sensitive and influential events, especially during his caliphate which witnessed vast conflicts in the Muslim community. According to Abd al-Rahim Qanawat, the origin of many conflicts in the time of the Prophet (s) and Imam Ali (a) was tribal rivalries among the members of the Quraysh and the descendants of Abd Manaf. Considering the disagreement between the children of Abd Manaf over who should hold the high social positions in Mecca, Qanawat mentions the declining status of Banu Hashim against Banu Umayya after Abd al-Mutallib and states that the opposition of Mu’awiyah to Imam Ali’s (a) marked the peak of the enmity of the Umayyads towards Banu Hashim. The Umayyads even questioned Abu Talib‘s faith and accused him of polytheism.


Moreover, during the Battle of Badr Imam Ali (a) inflicted substantial casualties on the Meccan army: 22 men according to al-Waqidi, 35 according to Ibn Abi l-Hadid, and 36 according to al-Mufid, thirteen of whom are said to have been prominent figures of the Quraysh, such as Abu Jahl. This great loss significantly tarnished the reputation of the Qurayshite polytheists and made them hold grudges against the Imam (a), which persisted even after they converted to Islam, leading them to encourage the people to break their allegiance to Ali (a) and oppose him.


In addition, the envy of some fellow-Muslims towards him because of his braveries and other merits and because of the Prophet’s (s) love for him also contributed to the intensification of disfavor for the Imam (a).


Imam Ali’s (a) Standpoint


On the day of Saqifa, Ali (a) did not pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr, and there is disagreement among the scholars as to whether and when the Imam (a) pledged allegiance. It is reported that Imam Ali (a) had a calm but lengthy and straightforward debate with Abu Bakr, in which he denounced the latter for his misdeed in the Event of the Saqifa and for neglecting the right of the family of the Prophet (s). According to this report, the sayings of the Imam (a) affected Abu Bakr such that he was about to pay his allegiance to Ali (a), but he changed his mind when he consulted with some of his companions. On different occasions, Ali (a) objected to the decision at the Saqifa and reminded the people of his right to caliphate. Al-Shiqshiqiyya Sermon is one of the most well-known sermons in which the Imam (a) refers to that event.


Moreover, it is reported that after the Event of Saqifa, Ali (a) and his wife Fatima (a) would go to the houses and gatherings of the Helpers, reminding them of Ali’s (a) right to caliphate. In response, the Helpers would say, “O Daughter of the Prophet! We have pledged our allegiance to Abu Bakr. Had Ali asked us for allegiance, we would not have rejected him.” And the Imam (a) would respond, “Did you expect me to compete for caliphate before burying the Prophet?!”


Another important occasion on which Imam Ali (a) emphasized his right to succeed the Prophet (s) was when the Imam (a) asked the Companions in a gathering to testify and relate what they had heard from the Prophet (s) regarding succession. According to Allama Amini, many Shiite and Sunni sources report that this event took place in Ruhba in 35/655—that is, in the beginning of the Imam’s (a) caliphate. Shiite sources report another such request from the Imam (a) in the six-member council that was appointed by Umar to choose his successor. The Imam (a) reportedly mentioned a list of events in which his right to succession was proclaimed by the Prophet (s) and then asked the members of the council whether they remembered the Prophet’s (s) sayings in those events, and the members answered in the positive.

Under the governance of first three caliphs, which lasted 25 years, Imam ‘Ali (a) did not alienate himself from the affairs of the Muslim community. In fact, he contributed to many scholarly endeavors and social services. This included activities like the compilation of the Qur’an (Mushaf of Imam ‘Ali), and advising the three caliphs with regards to religious issues, conquests, and governance. He continued to give extensive charity to the poor and the orphans, and bought and freed a thousand slaves. He would farm and plant trees, dig canals, build mosques (like the Fath mosque in Medina, a mosque near the grave of Hamza, in Miqat, in Kufa, and in Basra). He would also dedicate (waqf) real estates and places for religious causes, whose annual income was 40,000 dinars.[165] Some of the most important historical events of the period is as follows.

Main article: Caliphate of Imam Ali (a)


After the assassination of ‘Uthman in 35/656, a group of the companions came to Imam Ali (a) and said, “we do not know anyone better than you for the caliphate“. He responded by saying, “it is better for me to be your helper as opposed to your leader.” They said, we will not accept anything short of pledging our allegiance to you as the next caliph.” However, he said that this allegiance would have to be given to him publicly in the mosque, as opposed to secretly.[191] Except for few, all of the Ansar pledged allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (a). But he did not make the opposition to allegiance.[192]

On the morning of Ramadan 19, 40/January 26, 661, (during the days in which ‘Ali (a) was mobilizing an army for Siffin), he was struck with a sword by Abd al-Rahman b. Muljam al-Muradi and martyred from its injury two days later.[217] After the Battle of Nahrawan, ‘Ali (a) tried again to mobilize the Iraqis for a battle against Mu’awiya. However, none except a few accompanied him. On the other hand, Mu’awiya, who was aware of the situation in Iraq and their passivity, invaded regions under ‘Ali’s control (a) and attempted to debilitate his power by invading Iraq.[218]

Historical accounts have reported the collaboration of three Kharijites in an attempt to kill three individuals: ‘Ali (a), Mu’awiya, and ‘Amr b. al-‘As. Ibn Muljam was the one who chose to kill Ali (a). Some accounts have also mentioned the role of a woman named Qatam in this assassination, however, this seems to be more of an embellishment as opposed to fact.[219]

Sourced from Wikishia.

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