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The Wise Mentor & the Enthusiastic Companion

Do you want to know the story of Ali ibn Abi Talib; cousin of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the youngest companion to embrace Islam and the 4th. Caliph in Islam?

This story cannot be told without narrating that of his cousin’s; Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the wise mentor who stood behind this young companion’s greatness.

Even before he was born, Prophet Muhammad’s father was already deceased and not many years later his mother followed him. His paternal Uncle Abu Talib took him as his own child and raised him among his many children.

Later, as an act of gratitude, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a family of his own, he too took an initiative to raise the youngest one of Abu Talib’s offspring: Ali ibn Abi Talib.

What better household could Ali ask for?

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It was indeed the dwelling of Alsadiq Alameen (the honest, trustworthy) the Seal of Prophets: Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace be upon him). Whom Allah praises in his Holy Book:

{And verily, you (O Muhammad (peace be upon you) are on an exalted standard of character.} (Al-Qalam 68:4)

The Wise Prophet & the Young Companion

Ali soon picked up Prophet Muhammad’s distinguished traits such as piety, wisdom, honesty, trustworthiness and courage.

Having the amazing honor and opportunity to be closely raised by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his spouse Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (she too known for her distinguished noble heritage and pious nature) he was able to maintain a balanced Islamic upbringing. Soon he too was excelling in piety, wisdom, honesty, trustworthiness and courage among his peers.

Youngest Companion to Embrace Islam

“When `Ali was 10, Muhammad received the first revelations. Seeing his cousin and Khadijah in prayer, the boy asked what they were doing.

“We were worshiping Allah, the One,” he was told, and Muhammad explained to him in a very simple way about Islam.

With wisdom that is rare for one of such tender years, `Ali replied that he needed to think this over, and he went away to ponder and reflect on what he had heard and seen. The next morning he returned with his mind made up and he accepted Islam.

“My eyes are sore and my legs are thin,” He said, “but I’ll stand by you, Messenger of Allah.”

So, not only was the young boy brought up in the Prophet’s house, but he also made the decision of accepting Islam on his own. He did not just do as he was told, as many boys of his age might do, but he embraced Islam with his mind and his heart.”

Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Courage

Prophet Muhammad raised a man of courage and strength with a clear mind set on his goals in life and a sincere heart filled with the love for Allah and the hereafter.

With the exception of the Battle of Tabuk, Ali took part in all the battles fought for the sake of Allah. He was a standard-bearer in every battle in which he took part.

On the eve of the campaign of Khaybar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“I shall give the standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger, and whom Allah loves and also His Messenger.”

Umar said: “I never liked to be entrusted leadership before that day.”

The next day the Prophet summoned `Ali and gave him the flag. (Al-Bukhari)

The most narrated story, handed down from generation to the other, is the one that both exemplifies his bravery, trustworthiness and his love for the Prophet (peace be upon him). Ali puts himself in a situation in which he is unable to defend himself, risking his own life. He tricks the enemy in making them believe he is Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and lays under the covers of his bed, to give Prophet Muhammad enough time to emigrate to Madinah.

He even stays in Makkah sometime after that incidence in an act of amanah (trustworthiness) returning trusts to their owners, the trusts that Prophet Muhammad had safeguarded for them.

Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Marriage to Fatimah

Prophet Muhammad brought Ali even closer to his family by giving him his most beloved daughter Fatimah in wedlock.

Soon they were blessed with their first child. “As soon as the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard the news, he went to his daughter’s house and asked for the baby in whose ears he recited the Adhan (call to Prayer) and Iqamah (call of readiness for Prayer).

On the seventh day, the Prophet asked Ali ibn Abi Talib:

“What name have you given the boy?”

“Harb,” said Ali (which means war).

“No, but he is Al-Hasan (the good and good-looking),” said the Prophet (peace be upon him).” (Al-Albani)

Prophet Muhammad, the wise mentor, was able to provide Ali with a wiser choice, calming down his enthusiastic inclination towards combat.

Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Words of Wisdom

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The most compassionate of my Community towards my Community is Abu Bakr; the staunchest in Allah’s Religion is Umar; the most truthful in his modesty is Uthman, and the best in judgment is Ali.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Among Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Words of Wisdom narrated by Abu Nu`aym with his chains: 

From `Abd Khayr:

“Goodness does not consist in having much property and children, but in doing many good deeds, increasing your gentle character, and adorning yourself before people with the worship of your Lord. Then, if you do well, glorify Allah; if you do ill, ask forgiveness of Him.

There is no good in the world except for two types of people: someone who sins and then follows up with repentance, and someone who races to do good deeds. What is done in God-wariness is never little, and how can something be little if accepted by Allah?”

From Abu al-Zaghl: “Remember five instructions from me in following which you shall sooner exhaust your camels than run out of their benefit:

Let no servant hope for anything except from his Lord; let him not fear anything except his own sin; let no ignorant person feel ashamed to ask about what he knows not; let no knowledgeable person, if asked about what he knows not, feel ashamed to say Allah knows best; and patience is in relation to belief like the head to the body, one has no belief if he has no patience.”

From Muhajir ibn `Umayr: “What I fear most is the hankering after idle desires and long hopes. The former blocks one from the truth and the latter causes forgetfulness of the hereafter. In truth the world has gone its way out, in truth the hereafter has come journeying to us and each of the two has its own sons.

Therefore be a son of the hereafter and do not be a son of the world! Today there are deeds without accounts, and tomorrow, accounts without deeds.” (‘Ali ibn Abi Talib)

Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Caliphate

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent Ali to Yemen the latter said:

“O Messenger of Allah, you are sending me to people who are older than me so that I judge between them!”

The Prophet said:

“Go, for verily Allah shall empower your tongue and guide your heart.”

Ali said:

“After that I never felt doubt as to what judgment I should pass between two parties.” (Ibn Majah)

Prophet Muhammad had raised Ali with the necessary tools for this vital mission. He was pious, wise, honest and courageous.

Ali became the fourth and last Caliph. However, his caliphate came in a very sensitive period as it followed Uthman ibn Affan’s assassination and other turbulent incidents in the Ummah.

Ali’s stance on this issue amongst other ones led to tumultuous opinions and hence divisions. His caliphate was short-lived (between 656 and 661 CE) ending in yet another tragic assassination of one of the most prominent leaders in Islam.

(From Discovering Islam archive)

About Suzana Nabil Saad, MA
Suzana Nabil Saad is the former Ask About Islam Editor. She has many years of experience in dawah work.She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Faculty of Languages, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She obtained her Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Gothenburg University, Sweden.She currently resides in Texas, USA with her husband, and three kids. When she is not editing or writing, she enjoys reading, ideally followed by nature excursions.