The Prophetic Cultural Features of Imam Ali (a.s.)
The main axes of the subject:
1- Ali (a.s.) inside the house of the beloved (s.a.a.w.)
2- In the lap of the beloved (s.a.a.w.)
3- Ali (a.s.) under the custody of the prophet (s.a.a.w.)
4- The influence of the prophetic custody on Ali (a.s.)
We will explain the prophetic custody of Ali (a.s.); and the unprecedented in-teraction of Ali (a.s.).
Exporting the Subject:
Commander of the faithful (a.s.) spoke of the prophet (s.a.a.w.) saying: “Every day he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits and commanded me to follow it.”1
Anyone who tracks the news on the special relationship that ties the personal-ity of the greatest prophet (s.a.a.w.) with Imam Ali (a.s.) will realize that the relationship that tied them together was unprecedented and never will exist anything similar. Besides, this relationship was not a new issue in the earthly world; rather, it was a stable connection that was noted by the sheets of the first genesis. They both lived together in this world and both will be joined to-gether in the afterworld differently from the rest of the human beings.
We will present only a fraction of that relationship that tied them together. The prophet (s.a.a.w.) who was thirty years older than his cousin took him into his custody and took care of his livelihood and upbringing inside the matrimonial house since his father Abu Talib became a man of several children with lack of money and times of poverty.
Into the home of the beloved (s.a.a.w.):
Ibn Hisham in his bibliography, al Tabari in his history, and Ibn Abi al Hadid in his explanation of Nahjul Balagha as well as others, all quoted Mujahid as saying: “One of the graces of Allah (The Exalted) that was bestowed upon Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.) coupled with what Allah has ordained for him of goodness was that the tribe of Quraish was struck by a sever crisis. Abu Talib had sev-eral children. Hence, Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) said to Abbass – one of the richest of Hashim sons – O Abbass, your brother Abu Talib has several chil-dren, and we both know of the crisis that struck the people. Let us go and help him by lessening his children (burden); I take one into my custody and you take one into yours, and we will spare him their upbringing. Hence, they went and Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) took Ali (a.s.) and embraced him whereas Abbass took Jaafar (a.h.m.s.) and embraced him. As a result, Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.) remained under the custodian care of Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) until Allah commissioned him with prophecy. Ali (a.s.) followed him, believed and admitted his message.”2
In addition, Al Tabari quoted Muhammad Bin Isaac as saying: “Whenever it was time for praying, Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) would exit to the val-leys of Makkah, and Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.) would exit with him secretly from his uncle Abu Talib and the rest of his uncles and members of his tribe; and both would pray together in them. In the evening, they would return together and stay in this condition as long as Allah desired for them.”3
– In the lap of the beloved (s.a.a.w.):
The aforementioned stories prove a tradition of an unprecedented culture and corroborate the fact that the force of certainty with which the soul of Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.) had filled encouraged the prophet (s.a.a.w.) to expose to him what he has been exposed to from the issue of inspiration. It also rendered this ju-venile boy the first to believe in the message and the first to pray seven years before the people with the prophet (s.a.a.w.). Ibn Abi al Hadid quoted al Taba-ri who Quoted al Minh’al Bin Amro as saying: “I heard Ali (a.s.) saying: ‘I am the servant of Allah and the brother of his messenger. I am the greatest sincere; anyone who says it after me is nothing but a fabricator of lies; I prayed seven years before the people did’.”4
– The Prophetic Custody:
The prophet (s.a.a.w.) used to deal with his lad Ali (a.s.) form the time when he took his first step into his home. He would treat him exactly like the pas-sionate, caring and loving mother. The Imam or commander of the faithful (a.s.) described this issue in Nahjul Balagha in a sermon known as “al-Khutbah al-Qáasi`ah”. He (a.s.) said:
“Certainly, you know my position of close kinship and special relation-ship with the Prophet of Allah – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants. When I was only a child he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and lay me beside him in his bed, bring his body close to mine and make me smell his smell. He used to chew something and then feed me with it.”5
This prophetic custody showed – in the sermon – that the nature of the rela-tionship between the prophet (s.a.a.w.) and commander of the faithful (a.s.) did not resemble any other. It went beyond the familiar brotherhood. It even went beyond the familiar paternity. Rather, it was more sublime. It was some-thing unexplainable and can never be explained through the different positive relationships that ever existed between the human beings.
Abul Fadl Bin al Abbass Bin Abdul Muttalib narrated saying: I asked my father about the sons of Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.), which one among them was mostly beloved by Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.)? He said: Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.). And I said: I asked you about his very sons. He said: He was more be-loved to him than his own sons and was mostly lenient with him. They never separated from each other not even one day since he was a child unless it was a journey for Khadijah. We never saw a father who was more devoted to a son than him to Ali nor did we see a son who was more devoted to a father than Ali to him.”6
– The influence of the prophetic custody:
Now we know that Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) took extreme care of his lad. He did not spare any mean unless he used it in order to corroborate the dog-matic bonds in his upbringing of Ali (a.s.).
Some of the cultural tools that the prophet (s.a.a.w.) employed are:
1- Showing great affection: Ali (a.s.) said: “… my position of close kinship and special relationship…”
– “… When I was only a child he used to press me to his chest…”
– “… Lay me beside him in his bed…”
– “… Make me smell his smell…” (His sweet odor).
– “…He used to chew something and then feed me with it…”
In addition, al Hussein Bin Zayd Bin Ali Bin al Husayn said: “I heard my fa-ther Zayd (a.s.) saying: Allah’s messenger used to chew meat and dates until they soften and would place them inside Ali’s mouth while he was young in his lap.”7
2- The good paradigm: Al Fadl narrated the following:
– The prophet (s.a.a.w.) loved Ali (a.s.) even more than all his children and was mostly lenient with him.
– We never ever saw him separated from him since he was a child.
– We never saw a father who was more devoted to a son than him to Ali.
– I used to follow him like the cub that follows the tracks of its mother.
– Every day he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits and commanded me to follow it:
The cultural influence, which we can see in Ali (a.s.) from the prophetic cus-tody added to the immortal influence of the character of this great Imam with all its dimensions, can be quoted from his words and from several stories.
He (a.s.) says:
– “He never discovered a lie in any saying or a mistake in any act.”8
– He (a.s.) started praying seven years before the people.
– “I see the light of the inspiration and message as well as smell the odor of prophecy.”9
– “I hear what Allah’s messenger hears and I see what he sees.”10
He (a.s.) said: “Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) taught me one thousand chapters on Halal and Haraam; taught me what happened and what is going to happen until the Day of Judgment. Each chapter opens into one thousand chapters, the sum of a thousand of one thousand chapters, to the point where I learnt the science of fatalities, calamities and the art of speech.”11
1- Nahjul Balagha, SERMON 191, Known as “al-Khutbah al-Qáasi`ah”
2- Al Sirah al Nabawiya (Prophetic bibliography), by Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, P. 262. Also Al Kamil fil Tarikh (The complete history), by Ibn Athir, Vol. 2, P. 58. Also Tarikh al Tabari, Vol. 2, P. 213.
3- Sharh (Explaining) Nahjul Balagha, by Ibn al Hadid al Moatazili, Vol. 13, chapter 7, P. 127-128.
4- Sharh (Explaining) Nahjul Balagha, by Ibn al Hadid al Moatazili, chapter 7, P. 138.
5- Nahjul Balagha, SERMON 191, Known as “al-Khutbah al-Qáasi`ah”.
6- Sharh (Explaining) Nahjul Balagha, by Ibn al Hadid al Moatazili, chapter 7, P. 138.
7- Sharh (Explaining) Nahjul Balagha, by Ibn al Hadid al Moatazili, chapter 7, P. 138.
8- (The mistake that happens from hastening), SERMON 191, Known as “al-Khutbah al-Qáasi`ah”.
9- SERMON 191, Known as “al-Khutbah al-Qáasi`ah”.
10- Same source.
11- Al Khisal (merits) book, by scholar al Saddouq, Vol. 4, P. 414.