His mother was the Holy Fatema (AS), daughter of Asad bin Hashim bin Abd Manaf. She was also like a mother to the messenger of the God, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and indeed Muhammad (PBUH) was brought up under her care. The prophet was grateful for her kindness and she was among the first to believe in his message.
Imam Ali(AS) was born in the Sacred House (kabah). It was Friday 13th of Rajab 30 Amulfeel. Fatima binte Asad(AS), the wife of Hazrat Abu Talib entered the precincts of the kabah and prayed to Allah saying O’my protector ease my pain.’ All of a sudden the wall of the kabah opened up and she, as if by some unseen force went inside the kabah and the wall closed. His mother stayed in the Kabah for three days and, as the fourth day approached she went out from those confines carrying her new-borne baby in her arms. To her great surprise, she found the Holy Prophet (PBUH) anxiously waiting to receive the child.
The birth of Imam Ali(AS) in the holy Kabah is unique and he was brought up under the care and affection of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself.
When the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was receiving revelation from the mouth of the archangel Gabriel in the cave of Hira, Imam Ali(AS) was the first to witness the birth of the new message. At an early age, between ten, he became the first person to accept Islam, Imam Ali(AS) was at the right hand of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and was his bravest and most useful supporter.
The three persons seen in prayers in the Kaaba were Muhammad (PBUH), Khadija(AS) (wife of prophet Muhammad) and ‘Ali(AS) before anyone else accepted Islam. For 3 years people of Makka were accepting Islam secretly. The first open declaration came when the Qora’nic verse tells the Prophet to “come out openly and warn the people of your own clan.”
Invitations were sent to leaders of the Banu Hashim to come to the house of Muhammad (PBUH) for Dinner. Forty of them came, ate food and then heard Muhammad (PBUH) about his mission of ‘ No god but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) as the messenger of Allah and whoever offers his help to propagate this religion will be his deputy and successor.
No one stood up except ‘Ali (as) . After announcing this 3 times Muhammad (PBUH) declared that ‘Ali (as) will be his deputy to his mission and will be his successor after him. People thought it as a joke that a 13 year old boy was to be a deputy of this prophetic mission.
Even Abu Lahab jokingly told Abu Talib, go and obey your son to which AbuTalib smilingly accepted .Ali (as) promised to help Muhammad (PBUH) in his mission and kept this promise all his life.
The next thing which we see in the life of Ali (as) is the reflection of this promise he gave at this place in front of the leaders of the Quraish.
We see ‘Ali (as) protecting Muhammad (PBUH) from the abuses of the enemies of Islam. When Muhammad (PBUH) went to Taif a nearby town to preach Islam children of Taif hurled stones and it was ‘Ali (as) who protected the Prophet and drove the stone throwing children away from the Prophet.
The emigration, or Hijra , from Mecca to Medina was the first opportunity for the believers to escape from their opposition. The prophet decided to emigrate while the leaders of the Quraysh were planning to assassinate him in the dark of the night. Imam Ali(as) slept in the prophet’s bed so that the men stationed to kill the Messenger of God would think that he was still within their grasp. Thus, Imam Ali(as) provided sufficient time for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to escape to safety under the cover of darkness. Ali (as) slept on Muhammad’s bed without hesitation and when the non-believers entered the house of Muhammad (PBUH) to kill, they found ‘Ali (as) who was not afraid at all at the site of 40 swordsmen entering the house.
After the departure of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Ali(as) gave back to the people all the trusts and charges that they had left with him. Later, he left for Medina with his mother and the daughter of the Prophet, Fatema(as), and two other noble ladies. In Medina, Imam Ali was always in the company of the Holy Prophet both in private and in public. The Prophet gave Fatema(as) away in marriage –his sole , beloved daughter – to Imam Ali(as). Ali(as) was about 23 years old and Fatima(as) was 18. This was most happy and celebrated marriage. The distinctiveness of their respective characters blended so well with each other that they never quarreled and complained of one another and led a happy and most contended life.
Materially the couple did not possess much, spiritually they were at the highest level of assent. They had no worries if they go hungry or their clothes had patches. They would be more concerned if an orphan goes away from their door without receiving any food.
When the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was creating bonds of brotherhood among his companions, he selected Imam Ali(as) as his brother.
Ali(as) was kind, sympathetic, responsive and warmhearted person, qualities quite contrary to the other phase of his character and more suited to pious and God fearing persons.’Ali’s(as) bravery and piety both became legendry. Life in Madina while the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was alive was the busiest for ‘Ali(as). But he remembers these times as the best times of his life.
Ali(as) was present in all the wars in which the Prophet participated, except the Battle of Tabuk , when he was ordered to stay in Medina in the Place of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He did not retreat in any battle nor he did turn his face away from the enemy. He never disobeyed the Prophet and the Prophet said “Ali(as) is never separated from the truth nor the truth from Ali”.
When Muhammad (PBUH) was coming back from his farewell pilgrimage he stopped at Ghadhir Khum, on the 18th of the month of Dhul-Hijja (10th March 632 AD), in order to make an announcement to the pilgrims who had accompanied him from the Mecca. (We’re completely explain this event on ghadir article)
On the day of the demise of the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali(as) was thirty-three years old. Although he was foremost in religious virtues, and the most outstanding among the companions of the Prophet, he was pushed aside and was cut off from most public affairs. He retreated to his house where began to train competent individuals in the Divine Sciences, and in this way he passed twenty-five years of the caliphate of the first three caliphs. When the third caliph was killed, people gave their allegiance to Imam Ali(as) and beg for him to became their caliph. he subsequently became the fourth caliph.
The death of Imam Ali(as) occurred before dawn on Friday 21st of Ramadan, in the year 404AH. He was the victim of the sword of Ibin Muljuim al-Muradi , may God curse him, who attended the mosque of Kufa which he had come out of in order to wake the people up for prayers on the night of the nineteenth of that holy month. Muljim had been lying in there in wait for Imam Ali(as) from the beginning of the night. Imam Ali(as) woke him up too(it was pray time).
When Imam Ali(as) was praying, in the middle of salat (pray), suddenly, he sprang out and struck Imam Ali(as) on the top of the head with a sword which was poisoned. The Imam lingered on for nearly three days in a very poor state. Soon after, he died. His two sons, the Holy Imam Hasan (as) and Hussain (as) washed and shrouded him according to his own bequest. Then they buried him secretly and quickly in Najaf.
* it means:peace be up on him(p.b.u.h)
** it means:peace-health be up on him(AS)