During the month of Ramadan, Al Arabiya English is publishing a series of profiles on prominent historical figures in Islamic history.
In a glimpse into the life of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth of the Rightly Guided Caliphs in Islam, one can learn how he embraced significant assets of leadership while in power.
Ali is widely known among Muslims for his courageous personality, noble character, simplicity, and for being a symbol of justice and fairness.
Muslims recognize him as the first child to accept Islam, and the paternal cousin of Prophet Mohammed, as they both shared grandfather Abdul-Mutalib ibn Hakim.
By joining Islam at a very young age, Ali was one of the few people in Makkah who had never worshipped idols. Thus, the Arabic expression “Karamma-llahu Wajhahu (May Allah honor his face) is often said upon mentioning his name.
Following the death of his father Abu Talib, Ali grew up in the household of Prophet Mohammed. He later married the prophet’s daughter, Fatima, and had together four children, among them are Hassan and Hussain.
Ali lived a very simple life, at the time he was brought up in the prophet’s household, and even after he married Fatima. They lived on basic foods, and at times, they went for days without food.
Even as a caliph, Ali maintained the same level of austerity and simplicity. It is narrated that he used to have light meals, saying that a Caliph was entitled to two dishes, one for his family and the other for the poor.
A short story between a Christian man and Ali during the time of his caliphate was among many stories that reflected the imam’s just nature.
It is narrated that Ali’s shield went missing after the battle of Siffin. He later found it with a Christian man by recognizing it through its distinctive decorations.
And although he was a caliph at the time, it is narrated that Ali took the man to the judge to decide on the matter. The judge was to decide on whether the shield belonged to Ali or the Christian man.
The judge asked the Christian man to respond to the allegation of Ali that the shield belonged to him, while referring to Ali as “Amir al-Mu’minin” (Commander of the Faithful Ones). The man claimed that the shield was his, but also that Ali was not a liar.
Ali then replied that the judge had no right to refer to him as “Amir al-Mu’minin” when he was appearing before the judge as a normal citizen.
Ali went on to say that the Christian man was right because he had no evidence with him. The judge ruled in favor of the man, who took the shield and left.
It is narrated that the man later said: “I bear witness what I saw now is the justice of Messengers and Prophets. And the Amir Al Mu’minin went to the judge to take his rights from me! I bear witness there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
He then explained that he took the shield from Ali after following the Muslim army in one of the battles.SHOW MORE