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Calligraphic seal featuring Ali's name, on display in the Hagia Sophia
4th Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate
Reign 656–661
Predecessor Uthman ibn Affan
Successor Abolished position
Hasan ibn Ali (as caliph)
1st Shia Imam
Tenure 632–661
Predecessor Established position
Successor Hasan ibn Ali
Born c. 600 CE
Mecca, Hejaz, Arabia (present-day KSA)
Died c. 28 January 661
(c. 21 Ramadan AH 40)
(aged c.  60)
Kufa, Rashidun Caliphate (present-day Iraq)
Burial Imam Ali Shrine, Najaf
31°59′46″N 44°18′51″E / 31.996111°N 44.314167°E / 31.996111; 44.314167
  • Fatima bint Muhammad
  • Umama bint Abi al-As
  • Fatima bint Huzam
  • Asma bint Umais
  • Khawla al-Hanafiyya
  • Layla bint Mas'ud
  • Al-Sahba bint Rabi'a
  • Umm Sa'id bint Urwa
  • Muhayya bint Imru al-Qays
  • Descendants of Ali
  • Hasan
  • Husayn
  • Zaynab
  • Umm Kulthum
  • Muhsin
  • Muhammad
  • Abbas
  • Ruqayya
  • Abdullah
  • Ja'far
  • Muhammad al-Awsat
  • Uthman
  • Umar
  • Abu Bakr
  • Muhammad al-Asghar
Full name
  • Amir al-Mu'minin
  • Bâb-e Madînat-ul-Ilm
  • Al-Murtada
  • Mawla al-Muttaqin
  • Haydar
  • Asadullah
Tribe Quraysh (Banu Hashim)
Father Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib
Mother Fatimah bint Asad
Religion Islam
Signature Ali  عَلِيّ's signature
Arabic name
Personal (Ism) Ali
Patronymic (Nasab) Ali ibn Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf ibn Qusai ibn Kilab
Teknonymic (Kunya) Abu al-Hasan
Epithet (Laqab) Abu Turab

ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: عَلِيّ بْن أَبِي طَالِب; c. 600 – 661 CE) was the last of four Rightly Guided Caliphs to rule Islam (r. 656 – 661) immediately after the death of Muhammad, and he was the first Shia Imam.


Ali was born to Abu Talib and his wife Fatima bint Asad around 600 CE, possibly on 13 Rajab, the date also celebrated annually by the Shia.

Ali was a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, raised by him from the age of 5. In 610, when Ali was aged between nine to eleven, Muhammad announced that he had received divine revelations. Ali played a pivotal role in the early years of Islam while Muhammad was in Mecca and under severe persecution. After Muhammad's relocation to Medina in 622, Ali married his daughter Fatima. He fathered Hasan and Husayn, the second and third Shia Imams.

Muhammad called him his brother, guardian and successor, and he was the flag bearer in most of the wars and became famous for his bravery. He succeeded to Muhammad. This caused a major rift between Muslims and divided them into two major branches: Shia following an appointed hereditary leadership among Ali's descendants, and Sunni following political dynasties.

Shias believed that Ali was appointed by Muhammad to lead Islam. While Ali was preparing Muhammad's body for burial, a group of Muslims met and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Ali pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, after six months, but did not take part in the wars and political activity, except for the election of Uthman, the third caliph. However, he advised the three caliphs in religious, judicial, and political matters.

After Uthman was killed, Ali was elected as the next Caliph. His election coincided with the first civil wars between Muslims. Ali faced two separate opposition forces: a group in Mecca, who wanted to convene a council to determine the caliphate; and another group, who demanded revenge for Uthman's blood.

He defeated the first group; but in the end, his army was defeated in the Battle of Siffin. Ali himself was assasinated in the Grand Mosque of Kufa.

The Imam Ali Shrine and the city of Najaf were built around Ali's tomb and it is visited yearly by millions of devotees. In the eyes of his admirers, he became an example of piety and un-corrupted Islam. Several books are dedicated to his hadiths, sermons, and prayers, the most famous of which is Nahj al-Balagha.

After Ali's death, Kufi Muslims pledged their allegiance to his eldest son, Hasan, as Ali on many occasions had stated that only People of the House of Muhammad were entitled to lead the Muslim community.

Wives and children

Ali had fourteen sons and nineteen daughters from different women. His sons, Hasan, Husayn and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, played a historical role, and only five of them left descendants.

Ali had four children from Muhammad's youngest daughter, Fatima: Hasan, Husayn, Zaynab and Umm Kulthum. After Fatimah's death, he had other wives, including her niece Umamah bint Zainab, who bore for him Muhammad al-Awsat and 'Awn. His other well-known sons were Abbas, born to Umm al-Banin, and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, from a freed slave girl named Khawla al-Hanafiyya.

Ali's descendants from Fatima are known as Sharif or Sayyid. They are revered by Shias and Sunnis as the only surviving generation of Muhammad. Ali had no other wives while Fatima was alive. Hasan was the eldest son of Ali and Fatima, and was the second Shia Imam. He also assumed the role of caliph for several months after Ali's death. In the year AH 50 he died after being poisoned by a member of his own household who, according to historians, had been motivated by Mu'awiya. Husayn was the second son of Ali and Fatima, and the third Shia Imam. He rebelled against Mu'awiya's son, Yazid, in 680 AD and was killed in the Battle of Karbala with his companions. In this battle, in addition to Husayn, six other sons of Ali were killed, four of whom were the sons of Umm al-Banin. Also, Hasan's three sons and Husayn's two children were killed in the battle.

Ali's dynasty considered the leadership of the Muslims to be limited to the Ahl al-Bayt and carried out several uprisings against rulers at different times. The most important of these uprisings are the battle of Karbala, the uprising of Mukhtar al-Thaqafi with Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, and the uprising of Zayd ibn Ali and his son Yahya against the Umayyads. Later, Ali's descendants also revolted against the Abbasids, and the most important of these uprisings were those of Shahid Fakhkh and Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya. While none of these uprisings were successful, the Idrisians, the Fatimids, and the Alawites of Tabarestan were finally able to form governments comprising Ali's descendants.


The Mushaf of Imam Ali
A manuscript of the Mushaf of Ali, a Qur'an that is believed to be written by Ali ibn Abi Talib. This page is the first verses of surah al-Buruj, 85:1–3.

Most works attributed to Ali were first delivered in the form of sermons and speeches and later committed to writing by his companions. Similarly, there are supplications, such as Du'a Kumayl, which he taught his companions.

  • Nahj al-Balagha, which has become one of the most popular and influential books in the Islamic world.
  • Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalimthat consists of over ten thousand short sayings of Ali.
  • Mus'haf of Ali is said to be a copy of the Qur'an compiled by Ali, as one of the first scribes of the revelations.
  • Kitab Ali, a collection of Muhammad's sayings written down by Ali.

Ali is the first transmitter of several hundred hadiths, attributed to Muhammad, which have been compiled in different works under the title of Musnad Ali, often as part of larger collections of hadith, such as Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, a canonical Sunni source. There are also multiple diwans that collect the poems attributed to Ali, though many of these poems are composed by others.


In person, according to Veccia Vaglieri, Ali is represented (in Sunni sources) as bald, heavy built, short-legged, with broad shoulders, a hairy body, a long white beard, and affected by eye inflammation. Shia accounts about the appearance of Ali are markedly different. Ali is featured heavily in Shia and Sufi artworks. In manner, Veccia Vaglieri writes that Ali was rough, brusque, and unsociable. Other sources, in contrast, describe Ali as cheerful, gentle, and generous. Encyclopaedia Islamica suggests that nearly all sects of Islam hold Ali up as a paragon of the essential virtues, above all, justice.

Names and titles

Mirror writing2
18th century mirror writing in Ottoman calligraphy. Depicts the phrase 'Ali is the vicegerent of God' in both directions.

In the Islamic tradition, various names and titles have been attributed to Ali, some of which express his personal characteristics and some of which are taken from certain episodes of his life. Some of these titles are Abu al-Hasan (lit. father of Hasan, his oldest son), Abu Turab (lit. father of the dust), Murtaza (lit. one who is chosen and contented), Asadullah (lit. lion of God), Haydar (lit. lion), and especially among the Shias, Amir al-Mu'minin (lit. prince of the faithful) and Mawla al-Mottaqin (lit. master of the God-fearing). For example, the title Abu Turab might be a reference to when Muhammad entered the mosque and saw Ali sleeping covered by dust, and Muhammad told him, "O father of dust, get up." Veccia Vaglieri, however, suggests that this title was given to Ali by his enemies, and interpreted later as an honorific by invented accounts. Twelvers consider the title of Amir al-Mu'minin to be unique to Ali.

In Muslim culture

Ali's place in Muslim culture is said to be second only to that of Moḥammad. He is regarded as a founding figure for Arabic rhetoric (balagha) and grammar. In Muslim culture Ali is respected for his courage, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, magnanimity, and equal treatment of all Muslims.

Ali is also remembered as a gifted orator.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ali Ibn Abi Tálib para niños

  • Outline of Islam
  • Glossary of Islam
  • Index of Islam-related articles
  • Alevism
  • Ali in Muslim culture
  • Al-Farooq (title)
  • Ghurabiya
  • Hashemites Royal Family of Jordan
  • Idris I The First King of Morocco Founded 788
  • List of expeditions of Ali during Muhammad's era
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