¿ALÈ B. ABÈ T®AÚLEB (b. ca. 600, d. 40/661), cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Moháammad, first Shi¿ite Imam, father of the Imams H®asan and H®osayn by Fa@táema, and fourth caliph (35-40/656-61).
ii. ¿Al^ as seen by the community.
¿Al^'s life falls into three distinct phases: 1. from his birth until the death of the Prophet in 11/632; 2. until the murder of ¿Ot¯ma@n in 35/656; 3. from his election to the caliphate to his death. When ¿Al^'s father Abu@ T®a@leb, chief of the Banu@ Ha@Þem clan, became impoverished, ¿Al^ was adopted by Moháammad, who himself had been cared for by Abu@ T®a@leb as a child. When Moháammad was called by God to be a prophet, ¿Al^, though only ten years old, became one of his first followers (in al-S^rat al-nabaw^ya I, ed. M. Saqqa@, Cairo, 1936, pp. 262-64, Ebn HeÞa@m states that ¿Al^ was the first male to accept Islam; see also T®abar^, Cairo2, II, pp. 309ff.; Ebn Sa¿d, III/I, pp. 12ff.). The night Moháammad fled from Mecca to Medina, ¿Al^ risked his life by sleeping in his bed; he also carried out the Prophet's request to restore all the properties that had been entrusted to him as a merchant to their owners in Mecca. Only then did ¿Al^ leave for Medina; there he married Moháammad's daughter Fa@táema.
¿Al^'s courage during the military expeditions became legendary. Along with H®amza, Abu@ Doèa@na, and Zobayr, he was renowned for his charges against the enemy; at Badr he is said to have killed more than one third of the enemy army single-handedly. He stood firm and stoutly defended the Prophet at Oháod and H®onayn, while the Muslim victory at K¨aybar, where he used a heavy iron door as a shield, is attributed to his valor (Ebn HeÞa@m, al-S^ra II, pp. 298, 365ff., III, pp. 77f., 306, 349-50; Wa@qed^, Keta@b al-mag@a@z^, ed. M. Jones, London, 1966, I, pp. 68-69, 76, 145-52, 225-26, 228, 240, 244, 255-56, 259, 307-09, II, pp. 470-71, 496, 653-57, III, pp. 900-02). He was one of Moháammad's scribes and was chosen to lead several important missions. After the Hijra when the Prophet instituted brotherhood between the emigrants (Moha@èeru@n) and the helpers (Ansáa@r), he chose ¿Al^ as his own brother. The treaty of H®odayb^a was written down by ¿Al^. In 9/631 when Abu@ Bakr led the pilgrimage, ¿Al^ was delegated by the Prophet to proclaim the su@rat al-bara@÷a (Koran 9) to the pilgrims assembled at Mena@. He was chosen to destroy the idols worshiped by the Aws, K¨azraè, and T®ayy, and those in the Ka¿ba.
According to the Shi¿ites, the Prophet unequivocally nominated ¿Al^ as his successor at GÚad^r K¨omm while returning from his “farewell pilgrimage” to Mecca (the earliest historian to report the GÚad^r tradition seems to be Ya¿qu@b^, II, Naèaf, 1964, p. 102; see also Mas¿u@d^, Et¯ba@t al-wasá^ya le-¿Al^, Naèaf, 1955; Kolayn^, al-Ka@f^ I, Tehran, 1388/ 1968, pp. 292ff.; Qa@zμ^ No¿ma@n, Da¿a@÷em al-Esla@m I, ed. Fyzee, Cairo, 1963, pp. 14ff.; Shaikh Mof^d, al-ErÞa@d, Naèaf, 1962, pp. 91ff.; in al-GÚad^r fi÷l-keta@b wa÷l-sonna wa÷l-adab, Tehran, 1372/1952-53, ¿Abd-al-H®osayn Am^n^ has listed all the available sources and references to GÚad^r). The Sunnis reject this claim, maintaining that the Prophet died without naming a successor. All the early sources present the Medinan Muslim community behaving as if they had not learned about ¿Al^'s alleged designation.
At the Prophet's death the community split into groups contending for political succession. The Ansáa@r were about to proclaim Sa¿d b. ¿Oba@da caliph, but this was not acceptable to the Moha@èeru@n, who considered themselves closer to the Prophet in kinship. Among them was a group led by ¿Al^ and his supporters, i.e., Zobayr, T®alháa, ¿Abba@s b. ¿Abd-al-Motátáaleb, Meqda@d, Salma@n Fa@res^, Abu@ D¨arr GÚefa@r^, and ¿Amma@r b. Ya@ser, who viewed ¿Al^ as the Prophet's legitimate heir. Muslim historians agree that a crisis was averted by three prominent Moha@èeru@n: Abu@ Bakr, ¿Omar, and Abu@ ¿Obayda, who rushed to the gathering of the Ansáa@r and imposed Abu@ Bakr as caliph. Their success was facilitated by the jealousy between the Aws and the K¨azraè, the two main tribal factions of the Ansáa@r, and the inactivity of the Prophet's kinsmen in promoting their own cause (M. Shaban, Islamic History A.D. 600-750: A New Interpretation, Cambridge, 1971, pp. 16ff.; E. Shoufani, Al-Ridda and the Muslim Conquests of Arabia, Toronto, 1973, pp. 48ff.). When Abu@ Bakr's selection to the caliphate was presented as a fait accompli, ¿Al^ and the Hashimites withheld their oaths of allegiance until after the death of Fa@táema. ¿Al^ did not actively assert his own right because he did not want to throw the nascent Muslim community into strife (Menqar^, Waq¿a Sáeff^n, ed. ¿A. Ha@ru@n, Cairo, 1382/1962, p. 91). He retired to a life in which religious works became his chief occupation; the first chronologically arranged version of the Koran is attributed to him, and his knowledge of the Koran and the Sunna aided the caliphs in various legal problems (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b I, ed. M. H®am^dalla@h, Cairo, 1959, pp. 586-87; Ya¿qu@b^, II, pp. 125-26; Ebn Sa¿d, II/2, pp. 100-02; Shaikh Mof^d, al-ErÞa@d, pp. 107ff.). He did not participate in the wars of redda and conquest; his actions after becoming caliph seem to indicate that he did not approve of the policies of his predecessors. In contrast to ¿Omar he recommended that the entire revenue of the d^va@n be distributed without keeping anything in reserve (Bala@dòor^, Fotu@há III, ed. Sá. Monaèèed, Cairo, 1956, p. 549. Disagreement with policies of Abu@ Bakr and ¿Omar can be inferred from an evasive answer he gave to ¿Abd-al-Raháma@n b. ¿Awf at the Þu@ra@ when he was asked whether he would follow the Koran, the Sunna of the Prophet, and the s^rat al-Þaykòayn or the policies of Abu@ Bakr and ¿Omar; T®abar^, IV, p. 233; Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, p. 22).
In the period preceding ¿Al^'s caliphate ¿Ot¯ma@n was faced with problems arising from conflicts of interest between the traditional tribal and the new Islamic leadership (H. A. R. Gibb, “An Interpretation of Islamic History,” Studies on the Civilization of Islam, ed. Shaw and Polk, London, 1962, p. 7). The so-called qorra@÷, the original conquerors from minor clans, resented ¿Ot¯ma@n's tightening of central control and felt that their interests were threatened by the growing influence of the traditional tribal leaders, who were newcomers to the provinces. This was the common cause of opposition in all provinces except Syria, which was kept free from uncontrolled immigration and was held in firm control by Mo¿a@w^a, governor since 20/641. In mid-35/656 discontented provincial groups from Egypt, Ku@fa (led by Ma@lek AÞtar), and Basára arrived in Medina (S. M. Yu@sof, “The Revolt against ¿Uthma@n,” IC 27, 1953, pp. 1-7; Shaban, Islamic History, pp. 60ff.; M. Hinds, “The Murder of the Caliph ¿Uthma@n,” IJMES 3, 1972, pp. 450-69).
In Medina itself opposition came from three main groups. First, a number of prominent Moha@èeru@n accused ¿Ot¯ma@n of nepotism and deviation from Islamic principles, e.g., the alteration of the number of rak¿as to be prayed at Mena@ and ¿Arafa@t (T®abar^, IV, p. 267). Shortly before his death, ¿Abd-al-Raháma@n b. ¿Awf is said to have declared that Ot¯ma@n had departed from his promise to adhere to the Koran, the Sunna, and the s^rat al-Þaykòayn, and he requested that he should not be allowed to pray at his funeral (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, p. 57; Ebn A¿t¯am, al-Fotu@há II, Hyderabad, 1968-75, p. 151). ¿Abdalla@h b. Mas¿u@d, who seems to have been dismissed from the Kufan treasury, ejected from the mosque, and beaten for criticizing ¿Ot¯ma@n, is reported to have made the same request (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, pp. 36-37). Abu@ D¨arr GÚefa@r^, who was critical of ¿Ot¯ma@n and Mo¿a@w^a, was exiled from Medina (ibid., pp. 52-56; Mas¿u@d^, Moru@è II, ed. M. Moháy^-al-d^n, Cairo, 1964, pp. 348-51). ¿Amma@r b. Ya@ser was beaten for his criticism of ¿Ot¯ma@n (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, pp. 48, 83; Ebn A¿t¯am, al-Fotu@há II, pp. 154-55). The second group of Medinan opponents formed around T®alháa and became clearly distinguishable from the first only at the battle of the Camel. It included Zobayr and ¿AÚ÷eÞa, who were opposed to Omayyad domination but favored the QorayÞ. Both T®alháa and Zobayr had enormous income from their estates, mainly in Iraq, and their opposition stemmed from the strengthening of Omayyad power (Ebn Sa¿d, III/1, pp. 77, 157). T®alháa became vocal in his criticism of ¿Ot¯ma@n, used his influence on the people of Basára to encourage their opposition, and was active against ¿Ot¯ma@n at the time of the siege (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, p. 81; Ebn A¿t¯am, al-Fotu@há II, p. 229; T®abar^, IV, pp. 379, 405). ¿AÚ÷eÞa, who had also played her part in fomenting opposition, left for Mecca when ¿Ot¯ma@n was besieged, hoping that he would be killed and that T®alháa would became caliph (Bala@dòor^, Ansa@b V, p. 91; T®abar^, IV, p. 407). The Ansáa@r, who had lost their influence under ¿Ot¯ma@n, formed the third group. The appointment of H®a@ret¯ b. H®akam as market overseer in Medina added insult to injury; they felt impotent in their own town (Bala@dòor^, op. cit., V, p. 47).
In the meantime, ¿Al^ had acted as a restraining influence on ¿Ot¯ma@n without directly opposing him. Making this point, Ebn A¿t¯am states that ¿Al^ knew that ¿Ot¯ma@n would not dare to act against him (al-Fotu@há II, pp. 158, 164, 168, 184). On several occasions ¿Al^ disagreed with ¿Ot¯ma@n in the application of the háodu@d; he had publicly shown sympathy for Abu@ D¨arr and had spoken strongly in the defense of ¿Amma@r b. Ya@ser. He conveyed to ¿Ot¯ma@n the criticisms of other Companions and acted on ¿Ot¯ma@n's behalf as negotiator with the provincial opposition who had come to Medina; because of this some mistrust between ¿Al^ and ¿Ot¯ma@n's family seems to have arisen. He tried to mitigate the severity of the siege by his insistence that ¿Ot¯ma@n should be allowed water.
Following ¿Ot¯ma@n's murder most of the Omayyads fled Medina, thus leaving the provincial opposition in control of the situation. The strongest groups were the Egyptians, the Ansáa@r, and the prominent Moha@èeru@n. They invited ¿Al^ to accept the caliphate; reluctant, he agreed only after long hesitation, probably several days after ¿Ot¯ma@n's death. The sources suggest that before the murder of ¿Ot¯ma@n, the Basran opposition group at Medina considered T®alháa as its champion, while the Kufans supported Zobayr; later both groups supported ¿Al^ (T®abar^, IV, pp. 427ff.). Thus the situation in H®eèa@z and the provinces on the eve of ¿Al^'s election was far from settled. His brief reign was beset by difficulties attributable to the state of affairs that he inherited. Mog@^ra b. ˆo¿ba advised ¿Al^ against immediately removing all governors appointed by ¿Ot¯ma@n, especially Mo¿a@w^a; ¿Abdalla@h b. ¿Abba@s also counseled him to proceed slowly, but responding to the demands of his supporters, he replaced ¿Ot¯ma@n's governors with his own, thereby setting off a series of reactions which culminated in the battles of the Camel and Sáeff^n (T®abar^, IV, pp. 438ff.; Mas¿u@d^, Moru@è II, pp. 363-65).
The Battle of the Camel. Returning to Medina, ¿AÚ÷eÞa learned that ¿Ot¯ma@n had been murdered and that ¿Al^ was caliph. She turned back to Mecca and actively participated in a campaign against him; her grudge against ¿Al^ stemmed from the incident of the slander against her (cf. Koran 24:10-20), when ¿Al^ had advised the Prophet to divorce her (Ebn HeÞa@m, al-S^rat al-nabaw^ya III, pp. 313-14; Wa@qed^, Keta@b al-mag@a@z^ II, p. 430; Ebn Sa¿d, II/2, p. 29). Meanwhile, the Omayyads who had fled from Medina gathered in Mecca; they were joined by the deposed governors of Basára and Yemen, who had brought with them money appropriated from the public treasury. T®alháa and Zobayr, already frustrated in their political ambitions, were further disappointed by ¿Al^ in their efforts to secure for themselves the governorships of Basára and Ku@fa. When they learned that their supporters had gathered in Mecca, they asked ¿Al^'s permission to leave Medina on the pretext of making the ¿omra (lesser pilgrimage). They then broke with ¿Al^, placing the responsibility for ¿Ot¯ma@n's murder on him and demanding that he bring the murderers to trial; they were joined by the Omayyads, whose objectives, however, were different. Unable to muster much support in H®eèa@z, T®alháa and Zobayr decided to move to Basára with the expectation of finding the necessary forces and resources to mobilize Iraqi support. When ¿Al^ discovered this, he set out in pursuit but did not succeed in overtaking them. The rebels occupied Basára, killing many people. ¿Al^ raised support in Ku@fa and followed the conspirators to Iraq. After negotiations for a peaceful settlement failed, the rebels were defeated in the Battle of the Camel, so named because of ¿AÚ÷eÞa's presence at the center of the battle mounted on a camel (GÚala@b^, Waq¿at al-èamal, ed. M. AÚl Ya@s^n, Baghdad, 1970).
¿Al^ entered Basára and divided the money found in the bayt al-ma@l (public treasury) equally among his supporters. This act may be taken as an indication of his policy to give equal value to the Muslims who served Islam in its early days and to the later Muslims who played a role in the conquests. He appointed ¿Abdalla@h b. ¿Abba@s governor of Basára, and went to Ku@fa in order to gain support against Mo¿a@w^a. He succeeded in forming a broad coalition which brought two more groups into his camp, the qorra@÷, who saw in him their last hope of regaining influence, and the traditional tribal leadership, attracted by his equal division of the booty. The successful formation of such a diverse coalition—comprised of men like ¿Amma@r b. Ya@ser (Moha@èer), Qays b. Sa¿d b. ¿Oba@da (Ansáa@r^), Ma@lek AÞtar (qorra@÷ group), and AÞ¿at¯ b. Qays Kend^ (a former redda leader who had emerged as a tribal leader in Ku@fa)—seems to be due to ¿Al^'s remarkable character.
The Battle of Sáeff^n. ¿Al^ opened negotiations with Mo¿a@w^a with the hope of regaining his allegiance. Mo¿a@w^a insisted on Syrian autonomy under his own leadership, but ¿Al^ maintained that all the provinces should share equally in problems facing the Muslim community. Mo¿a@w^a replied by mobilizing his Syrian supporters and refusing to pay homage to ¿Al^ on the pretext that his contingent had not participated in his election. Furthermore, as ¿Ot¯ma@n's wal^ (near relative), he demanded the surrender of ¿Ot¯ma@n's murderers. ¿Al^ rejected Mo¿a@w^a's demands, asserting that he was duly elected by the people, who had the right to exercise their judgment, and that ¿Ot¯ma@n had been killed because people were outraged at his arbitrary actions; hence they were not liable for punishment (Menqar^, Waq¿at Sáeff^n, pp. 29-32, 81-82, 86-91, 200-01).
Toward the end of 36/657 the two armies met on the plain of Sáeff^n. The confrontation lasted three months, most of the time being spent in negotiations. Finally, a week of combat was followed by a violent battle known as laylat al-har^r (the night of clamor); the Syrians were on the point of being routed when ¿Amr b. ¿AÚsá advised Mo¿a@w^a to have his soldiers hoist masáa@háef (either parchments inscribed with verses of the Koran, or complete copies of it) on their spearheads in order to cause disagreement and confusion in ¿Al^'s army. Aware of the divisions within the ranks of ¿Al^'s camp, Mo¿a@w^a exploited the situation. As the main purpose of raising the masáa@háef was to bring about the cessation of hostilities, it is worth noting that the call for peace was addressed not to ¿Al^ but to the ahl al-¿Era@q (people of Iraq) who formed the bulk of ¿Al^'s army, thereby isolating ¿Al^ from his followers by appealing to their regional interests. ¿Al^ saw through the stratagem, but only a minority was in favor of continued fighting; the most powerful tribal leader of Ku@fa, AÞ¿at¯ b. Qays Kend^, insisted on accepting Mo¿a@w^a's call, reportedly telling ¿Al^ that not a single man from his camp would fight for him if he did not accept the proposal for settlement (Menqar^, Waq¿at Sáeff^n, p. 482; Ya¿qu@b^, Moru@è II, p. 178). This refusal of the largest bloc in his army to fight was the decisive factor in ¿Al^'s acceptance of the arbitration. With the majority of the qorra@÷ also favoring a settlement, ¿Al^ stopped the fighting and sent AÞ¿at¯ b. Qays to ascertain Mo¿a@w^a's intentions. Mo¿a@w^a suggested that each side should choose an arbiter, who together would reach a decision based on the Koran; this decision would then be binding on both parties.
At this time Mo¿a@w^a seems to have made no specific reference to his earlier insistence on vengeance for ¿Ot¯ma@n's blood or return to Þu@ra@. Most of the people in ¿Al^'s camp, now satisfied, turned to the designation of the háakam (arbiter) who would meet ¿Amr b. ¿AÚsá, the Syrian representative. The question as to whether the arbiter would represent ¿Al^ or the Iraqis (mainly the Kufans) caused a further split in ¿Al^'s army. AÞ¿at¯ b. Qays and the qorra@÷ rejected ¿Al^'s own nominees, ¿Abdalla@h b. ¿Abba@s and Ma@lek AÞtar, and insisted on Abu@ Mu@sa@ AÞ¿ar^, who was opposed by ¿Al^, since he had earlier prevented people from supporting him. Abu@ Mu@sa@ was favored by the qorra@÷ because he had stood for provincial autonomy, while AÞ¿at¯ b. Qays hoped to prolong the deadlock between ¿Al^ and Mo¿a@w^a in order to check ¿Al^'s power and regain his own former influence. ¿Al^ finally accepted Abu@ Mu@sa@.
The drafting of the agreement proceeded only after ¿Al^ had agreed to be referred to by name and not as am^r al-mo÷men^n; Mo¿a@w^a objected that if ¿Al^ were indeed caliph, he would not have fought him. The main terms of the agreement were: 1. The Koran was to decide between the two sides; 2. the task of the arbiters was to reach a binding agreement; 3. the arbiters would be guided by the Koran, but failing to find guidance they would resort to al-sonnat al-¿a@delat al-èa@me¿a g@ayr al-mofarreqa (see M. Hinds, “The Sáiff^n arbitration agreement,” Journal of Semitic Studies 17, 1972, pp. 93-129). With the drafting of this agreement, ¿Al^'s coalition began to collapse. The question of having recourse to the Sunna seems to be the main cause of the reaction of the qorra@÷. They had agreed to the arbitration because it was a call for peace and application of the Koran; the terms of the agreement had not yet been settled and there was no indication that ¿Al^ would not be regarded as am^r al-mo÷men^n. More serious was that extending the authority of the arbiters beyond the Koran to the vague Sunna compromised the authority of the Koran; it was thus tantamount to tahák^m al-reèa@l fi÷l-d^n (or f^ keta@b Alla@h). Thus they raised the cry la@ háokm ella@ lella@h (the jurisdiction rests with Allah alone). By this time the Syrians claimed that the document was an agreement that the Koran should be consulted as to whether ¿Ot¯ma@n had been killed justly or unjustly, though the qorra@÷ had no doubts that he had been killed justly. The raising of the question of ¿Ot¯ma@n's murder by Mo¿a@w^a at this critical stage should be viewed in conjunction with his earlier evasiveness on the issue. The whole affair looks like a skillfully organized attempt to destroy ¿Al^'s coalition. The qorra@÷ told ¿Al^ that if he did not repent of his acceptance of the arbitration, as they had done, they would declare themselves dissociated (bara@÷a) from him. On the army's return to Ku@fa some of the qorra@÷ stopped at H®aru@ra@÷, but ¿Al^ succeeded in reconciling them, probably by making concessions. Only after returning to Ku@fa did ¿Al^ make it clear that he would not infringe on the arbitration. At this time those who had protested against the arbitration seceded from ¿Al^'s camp (hence known as K¨awa@reè) and gathered at Nahrawa@n.
The first meeting of the arbiters appears to have taken place at Du@mat al-Ôandal around Ramazµa@n, 37/February, 658, as stipulated in the agreement. The conclusion was reached that the acts of which ¿Ot¯ma@n was accused were not arbitrary (aháda@t¯), thus implying that he had been killed unjustly and that Mo¿a@w^a had a right to claim vengeance. The verdict was not made public, but both parties came to know about it (L. Veccia Vaglieri, “Il conflitto ¿Al^-Mu¿a@w^ya e la secessione kha@regita riesaminati alla luce di fonti ibadite,” AIUON, 1952, pp. 1-94; idem, “¿Al^ b. Ab^ T®a@lib,” EI2 I, p. 384). ¿Al^ protested, stating that it was contrary to the Koran and the Sunna and hence not binding. Then he tried to organize a new army, but only the Ansáa@r, the remnants of the qorra@÷ led by Ma@lek AÞtar, and a few of their clansmen remained loyal. He left Ku@fa with his new army to engage Mo¿a@w^a, but first turned to Nahrawa@n to deal with the dissidents. He tried to enlist their support by declaring that he would fight Mo¿a@w^a, but they persisted in their demand that he first confess his sin in accepting the arbitration; after promising quarter to those who would submit, ¿Al^ attacked. The resulting massacre was widely condemned, and defections from his army forced him to return to Ku@fa.
By now ¿Al^ and Mo¿a@w^a were no longer a caliph and a rebel governor, but two rivals for the caliphate. It seems that the arbiters and other eminent persons, with the exclusion of ¿Al^'s representatives, met at Adòru@há in ˆa¿ba@n, 38/January, 659 to discuss the selection of the new caliph. ¿Amr b. ¿AÚsá supported Mo¿a@w^a, while Abu@ Mu@sa@ preferred his son-in-law, ¿Abdalla@h b. ¿Omar, but the latter refused to stand for election in default of unanimity (Mas¿u@d^, Moru@è II, p. 408). Abu@ Mu@sa@ then proposed, and ¿Amr b. ¿AÚsá agreed, to depose both ¿Al^ and Mo¿a@w^a and submit the selection of the new caliph to a Þu@ra@. In the public declaration that followed Abu@ Mu@sa@ observed his part of the agreement, but ¿Amr b. ¿AÚsá declared ¿Al^ deposed and confirmed Mo¿a@w^a as caliph.
Meanwhile, Mo¿a@w^a had followed an aggressive course by making incursions into the heart of Iraq and Arabia. By the end of 39/660 ¿Al^, who was regarded as caliph only by a diminishing number of partisans, lost
control of Egypt and H®eèa@z. Early one morning while praying in a mosque at Ku@fa, he was struck with a poisoned sword by a Kharijite, ¿Abd-al-Raháma@n b. Molèam, intent on avenging the men slain at Nahrawa@n. Two days later, on 19 (or 21) Ramazµa@n 40/27 January 661, ¿Al^ died at the age of sixty-three and was buried near Ku@fa. The burial was kept secret, but in the time of Ha@ru@n al-RaÞ^d his tomb was identified a few miles from Ku@fa and a sanctuary was established around which a town called Naèaf grew up. Of his fourteen sons and nineteen daughters by nine wives and several concubines, H®asan, H®osayn, and Moháammad b. H®anaf^ya are well known. ¿Al^'s political discourses, sermons, letters, and sayings were collected by ˆar^f Razμ^ in a book entitled Nahè al-bala@g@a (“The road of eloquence”), well known in Arabic literature; the most famous of its commentators is Ebn Abi÷l-H®ad^d (ˆarhá Nahè al-bala@g@a, ed. M. Abu÷l-Fazµl, Cairo, 1965); a d^va@n is also attributed to ¿Al^.
Since the conflicts in which ¿Al^ was involved were perpetuated in polemical sectarian historiography, biographical material is often biased. But the sources agree that he was a profoundly religious man, devoted to the cause of Islam and the rule of justice in accordance with the Koran and the Sunna; he engaged in war against “erring” Muslims as a matter of religious duty. The sources abound in notices on his austerity, rigorous observance of religious duties, and detachment from worldly goods. Some authors have pointed out that he lacked political skill and flexibility.
His position among the Shi¿ites. The Shi¿ites maintain that the Prophet designated ¿Al^ as his successor by God's command; on reaching GÚad^r K¨omm from the “farewell pilgrimage,” the Prophet announced a congregational prayer. As the people gathered he took ¿Al^ by the arm and made him stand next to him, and said: “O people, know that what Aaron was to Moses, ¿Al^ is to me, except that there shall be no prophet after me, and he is my wal^ to you after me. Therefore, he whose master (mawla@@) I am, ¿Al^ is his master.” Then he lifted ¿Al^'s arm and said: “O God, be affectionate to him who is devoted to ¿Al^, show enmity to him who is his enemy, give victory to him who helps ¿Al^ and forsake him who forsakes ¿Al^. May the truth encompass ¿Al^ to the end of his life” (Kolayn^, al-Ka@f^ I, pp. 286ff.; Qa@zμ^ No¿ma@n, Da¿a@÷em al-Esla@m I, pp. 14ff.; see also Tabr^z^, MeÞka@t al-masáa@b^há III, ed. M. Alba@n^, Damascus, 1961-62, pp. 242-47). This tradition, which is accepted by the Sunnis but interpreted differently by them, epitomizes the Shi¿ite veneration of ¿Al^ and their doctrine of the imamate (see “Ema@ma”).
The imamate of ¿Al^ is a cardinal principle of Shi¿ite faith. Through wala@ya (devotion to ¿Al^ and the Imams) true knowledge of Islam can be obtained. The first three caliphs had usurped ¿Al^'s right and the majority of the early community had apostatized because they deviated from the rightful Imam. According to a saying attributed to ¿Al^ himself, those who fought against him in the battle of the Camel were “breakers of allegiance” (na@ket¯u@n), those who opposed him in the battle of Sáeff^n were “wrongdoers” (qa@setáu@n), and those who fought against him in the battle of Nahrawa@n (the K¨awa@reè) were “deviators” (ma@requ@n). Only the Batr^ya among the early Zayd^s upheld the imamate of Abu@ Bakr, ¿Omar, and ¿Ot¯ma@n, on the grounds that ¿Al^ did not oppose them. Considering him the most excellent man (fa@zμel) after the Prophet, they permitted the imamate of the less excellent (mafzμu@l). But from the 3rd/9th century onward the views of the Ôa@ru@d^ya, who rejected the imamate of the first three caliphs, prevailed among the Zayd^s. ¿Al^, the wasá^ of the Prophet, was specially instructed and authorized by him on God's command to assist him in his task. The Prophet brought the revelation (tanz^l) and laid down the Þar^¿a, while ¿Al^, the repository of the Prophet's knowledge, provided its interpretation (ta÷w^l). During the Prophet's lifetime ¿Al^'s position was next to his and after him he succeeded him as the next most excellent man. He was divinely guided, infallible (ma¿sáu@m), purified from all defilement, and could not commit any sin, minor or major. He is the disposer of heaven and hell and the dispenser of drink (sa@q^) at the celestial pool of Kawt¯ar. He will intercede with God on the Day of Judgment on behalf of his followers; he is the Guide for mankind, the Proof (háoèèa) of God's existence to His creatures, and the Gate of His mercy. Salvation is reserved solely for those who declare their belief and devotion to him (Qa@zμ^ No¿ma@n, ˆarhá al-akòba@r MS; Ebn Ba@bu@ya, Resa@lat al-e¿teqa@da@t, tr. Fyzee, London, 1942; H®ell^, ˆarhá al-ba@b al-háa@d^ ¿aÞar, tr. Miller, London, 1958; Maèles^, Beháa@r al-anwa@r, Tehran, 1376/1956, VII, pp. 326-40, VIII, pp. 16-63, XV, pp. 1ff., XXVII, pp. 1ff., XXXV-XLII, passim). Some extreme Shi¿ite groups (g@ola@t) even attributed divinity (robu@b^ya) to ¿Al^. Thus the imamate, the heart of Shi¿ism, is closely connected with ¿Al^. His personality not only provided this doctrine with historical perspective but also served as a point of departure for the highly sophisticated philosophical speculations on the imamate which evolved over the centuries (Mof^d, al-Efsáa@há f^ ema@mat ¿Al^, Naèaf, 1950; Kerma@n^, al-Masáa@b^há f^ et¯ba@t al-ema@ma, ed. M. GÚa@leb, Beirut, 1969; W. Madelung, “Ima@ma,” EI2).
Bibliography : See also Ebn ¿Abd Rabbeh, al-¿Eqd al-far^d, ed. A. Am^n, Cairo, 1948-53, IV, pp. 310-61, V, pp. 90-102. Ôa¿far b. Mansáu@r Yaman, al-ˆawa@hed wa÷l-baya@n MS. Edr^s ¿Ema@d-al-d^n, ¿Oyu@n al-akòba@r II-III MS. Bharu@±^, Keta@b al-azha@r VI MS. Am^n, A¿ya@n al-Þ^¿a, Beirut, 1960, III, pt. 1 and 2. L. Caetani, Annali. E. Petersen, ¿Al^ and Mu¿a@w^ya in Early Arabic Tradition, Copenhagen, 1964. The following recent biographies are worth noting: T®. H®osayn, al-Fetnat al-kobra@, Cairo, 1954. Ô. Ôorda@q, al-Ema@m ¿Al^: Sáawt al-¿ada@lat al-ensa@n^ya, Beirut, 1958. ¿A. ¿Aqqa@d, ¿Abqar^yat al-ema@m ¿Al^, Cairo, 1961. M. K¨al^l^, Zendaga@n^-e hazμrat-e ¿Al^, Tehran, 1342 ˆ./1963. ¿Abd-al-Fatta@há, al-Ema@m ¿Al^, Cairo, n.d. ¿A. K¨atá^b, ¿Al^ b. Ab^ T®a@leb: Baq^yat al-nobu@wa wa kòa@tem al-kòela@fa, Cairo, 1966. K¨. M. K¨a@led, F^ reháa@b ¿Al^, Cairo, 1980. A. Oways and M. AÚÞu@r, Ra@be¿ al-ra@Þed^n ¿Al^, Cairo, 1981. M. GÚorayb, K¨ela@fat ¿Al^, Cairo, 1982.
(I. K. Poonawala)
ii. ¿Al^ as seen by the Community
In popular thought. ¿Al^'s position in popular religion and thought is second only to that of Moháammad himself. Generations of admirers, not all of them Shi¿ites, embellished the traditional biographical data with anecdotes stressing his outstanding physical, moral, and spiritual qualities. According to popular ¿Alid belief, ¿Al^ was not only the first person to have embraced Islam; he also surpassed all other Companions in his devotion to the Prophet and in his bravery, generosity, humility, and piety. (Abu@ Bakr may be called al-Sáedd^q and ¿Omar al-Fa@ru@q, but ¿Al^ is both al-Sáedd^q al-Akbar and al-Fa@ru@q al-A¿záam.) He is said to have participated with the Prophet in the ascension (me¿raè) to heaven, and to have sat by him whenever a revelation came down; he wrote down each verse together with its hidden meaning, and this then became the mosáháaf ¿Al^. Like Moháammad, ¿Al^ was given many names and honorific appellations: Three hundred of these are said to be found in the Old and New Testaments and more especially in the Koran (where numerous terms, such as sab^l, m^za@n, sáera@tá and ne¿ma are interpreted as referring to him); others are preserved in heaven. ¿Al^'s title, am^r al-mo÷men^n, was bestowed on him by God before the creation of Adam.
Of ¿Al^'s various exploits during Moháammad's lifetime, his encounters with demons became a favorite subject among story-tellers. He was said to have fought with Ebl^s, whom he would have killed but for Moháammad's intervention. On another occasion he was sent by Moháammad to the valley (wa@d^) of the jinn after Gabriel had informed the Prophet of a plot being hatched there against him; ¿Al^ was victorious over the jinn, converted many of them to Islam, and appointed one of them as his representative (kòal^fa) in charge of propagating of faith among the infidel jinn. It was from one of the believing jinn that ¿Al^ learned about the Yemeni tyrant Ôodòa@m (or Hozμa@m) b. H®aèèa@f; his journey to combat this infidel provides the framework for a series of miraculous events which confirm ¿Al^'s supernatural powers: He walked so fast that no one could keep pace with him; he could jump across a lake 12 dòera@¿ wide; when attacked by large numbers of the enemy he slew them all single-handedly. Similar motifs appear to be prevalent in the Mag@reb: ¿Al^ is said to have been encircled by a Christian army somewhere in North Africa, but to have been saved by opening a passage in the mountains with one stroke of his sword. Stories circulating in Iran (modeled perhaps on the feats of the legendary Rostam) dealt especially with ¿Al^'s adventures in the company of Ma@lek AÞtar and Abu@ Meháèan and his successful wars against the Sasanian king Qoba@dò (Kava@dò) and against dragons and demons.
¿Al^'s entire life is in fact seen as a series of miraculous events, from the time the earth lit up on the night of his birth until, at the moment of his death, the stones around the Jerusalem temple were covered with blood. The miracles attributed to him, many of which are also ascribed to Moháammad, are so numerous that only a few typical ones can be mentioned here. ¿Al^ understood the language of animals and plants, as well as all human tongues. He could order the plants to do his bidding: A dried-up tree turned green and bore fruit at his behest. Inanimate objects also obeyed him. At Sáeff^n, he ordered a rock to move; abundant water was found underneath it, with which his supporters quenched their thirst; the rock then returned to its original position. On another occasion, ¿Al^ lowered the waters of the Euphrates with his stick, thus averting the danger of a flood. Pebbles turned to gold in his hand; the waters of a wa@d^ turned to stones over which ¿Al^ then walked (a Jew who witnessed that miracle adopted Islam). On at least three occasions (in Mecca, K¨aybar, and Iraq) the sun was turned back, or brought to a standstill, to enable ¿Al^ to pray at the prescribed time. He could heal the sick and bring the dead back to life: When he addressed the people of the cave (ahl al-kahf) they returned to life and answered his questions.
Some of the miracles associated with ¿Al^ serve to show that he was the object of God's special love: Gabriel is said to have brought the Prophet a citron (otroèèa) from heaven; when opened, it was found to contain a piece of silk from Paradise with an inscription that this was a present from God to ¿Al^. Another present from God was a shirt which had belonged to Aaron (a reference to the wide-spread tradition that ¿Al^ holds the same rank with respect to Moháammad as does Aaron with respect to Moses, except that ¿Al^ is not a prophet). ¿Al^ also possessed Adam's shirt, Moses's rod, and Solomon's ring. ¿Al^ was born circumcised (like some of the prophets), could see from behind as well as from the front, and did not cast a shadow; his excreta were never seen (since by God's command the earth immediately swallowed them), and he exuded a fragrance more pleasing than musk.
These and similar anecdotes were spread among the populace by popular preachers and story-tellers, and poems (usually in the form of qasá^das) extolling ¿Al^'s virtues and exploits are known to have been recited in the bazaars by professional mana@qeb-kòúa@na@n at least from the 4th/10th century. As Goldziher has shown, many ¿Alid fables provided a convenient means for preserving pre-Islamic traditions: Thus the celebration of Nowru@z was said to be legitimate because on this day Moháammad had appointed ¿Al^ as his successor. Attempts to combine Persian and Muslim traditions are evident in legends such as that of the marriage of ¿Al^'s son, H®osayn, to the daughter of Yazdegerd, the last Sasanian king.
¿Al^'s shrine. Several places are mentioned as ¿Al^'s shrine (maÞhad). Some authorities claim that it is located at the Baghdad quarter of Karkò or at H®ella, while others place it in various spots outside Iraq, including Medina, Damascus, Ray, and Maza@r-e ˆar^f (in Afghanistan). Among the Shi¿ites, a minority believes it to be in Ku@fa proper—in the palace, the mosque, the public square, or the house of ¿Al^'s nephew Ôa¿da b. Hobayra. But most Shi¿ite scholars are in agreement that ¿Al^ was buried at GÚar^, west of Ku@fa, at the site of present-day Naèaf. These scholars explain the discrepancies among the various reports by maintaining that ¿Al^ himself requested to be buried in a secret place so as to prevent the Kharijites and other enemies from desecrating his grave. Legend has it that both the location and the manner of ¿Al^'s burial were preordained by God : The camel carrying his body knelt down and refused to budge when it reached the site of the appointed shrine, where a wooden tablet was then found bearing a Syriac inscription announcing that the grave had been dug for ¿Al^ by Noah 700 years before the Deluge. According to Shi¿ite tradition, ¿Al^ is buried in the same tomb as Adam and Noah.
¿Al^'s resting-place remained secret throughout the reign of the anti-¿Alid Omayyads. The ¿Abbasid Da@wu@d b. ¿Al^ is said to have ordered a small structure built over the grave in 133/750-51. According to other reports, Ha@ru@n al-RaÞ^d was the first ruler who discovered its location when he accidentally stumbled upon it during a hunting expedition; thereupon a tomb was erected and people began to settle in the vicinity. The geographer Ebn H®awqal reports that the Hamdanid governor of Mosul, Abu÷l-Hayèa@÷ (d. 317/929), was responsible for the restoration of the tomb: He built a dome on four columns and adorned the shrine with carpets and hangings. The Buyid ruler ¿Azμod-al-dawla (d. 372/983) took the two sanctuaries of ¿Al^ in Naèaf and H®osayn in Karbala@ under his special protection; he built a new mausoleum over ¿Al^'s grave, around which a defensive wall was constructed by H®asan b. Fazµl (d. 414/1023-24). The mausoleum was burned down in 443/1051-52 during anti-Shi¿ite riots, but was restored before 479/1086. ¿Al^'s tomb was spared from destruction during the Mongol invasion of Iraq. The Il-khanid Ölèeytü (d. 716/1316), after embracing Twelver Shi¿ism in 710/1310, even entertained the idea of transporting the remains of ¿Al^ and H®osayn to his capital Soltáa@n^ya, but did not live to realize this scheme. Ebn Batátáu@táa, who visited Naèaf in 726/1326, describes the walls of the mosque where ¿Al^'s tomb was shown as convered with enameled titles; four gates led to the shrine, each curtained and having a silver doorstep. The shrine seems to have escaped the devastation wrought on Iraq during T^mu@r's raids. The extremist Shi¿ite rebel and leader of the MoÞa¿Þa¿ movement, ¿Al^ b. Moháammad b. Fala@há, plundered it after conquering Naèaf in 857/1453, but no permanent damage appears to have been inflicted.
When the shrine came under Safavid occupation it became the focus of much devoted attention, exemplified in the pilgrimage made by Shah Esma@¿^l I (d. 930/1524) to Naèaf and Karbala@. Not to be outdone, Solayma@n the Magnificent also visited the sanctuaries (in 1534), after the first conquest of Iraq by the Ottomans. In 1803 the shrine at Naèaf had to endure yet another attack, this time by the Wahha@b^s, but it stood firm. Today a gold-plated dome rises above ¿Al^'s tomb. The interior is decorated with polished silver, mirror work, and ornamental tiles. Over the grave itself is a silver tomb, and the courtyard has two minarets.
The importance of a pilgrimage to Naèaf is emphasized in all Shi¿ite works on z^a@ra@t. The occasions especially recommended for visits are the anniversaries of ¿Al^'s birth and death, the GÚad^r K¨omm festival, the Prophet's birthday, and the 27th day of Raèab, traditionally the date of the beginning of Moháammad's prophetic mission. The recitation of special prayers over ¿Al^'s grave is considered particularly beneficial in view of ¿Al^'s role as intercessor on the Day of Judgment. Sunni polemists have often accused the Shi¿ites of preferring pilgrimages to the tombs of ¿Al^ and the other Imams over the háaèè to Mecca.
Among extremist Shi¿ites. One of the basic differences between Ema@m^ Shi¿ism and the various Shi¿ite branches known collectively as g@ola@t concerns the question of the respective roles of ¿Al^ (and the other Imams) on the one hand, and Moháammad on the other. Ema@m^ Shi¿ism shares with Sunni Islam the belief that Moháammad, as seal of the prophets, was the last to have received revelation (waháy). Classical Ema@m^ Shi¿ite doctrine holds that ¿Al^ and the other Imams were the recipients of inspiration (elha@m) and were thus moháaddat¯u@n (“those addressed by angels”), but that they were subordinate to Moháammad. In contrast, some of the g@ola@t believed that ¿Al^ was equal or even superior to Moháammad, while others went so far as to claim that ¿Al^ was the locus of the divine.
The gamut of g@ola@t thinking on the subject is illustrated by the following examples (which must, however, be treated with some caution as they are found mostly in hostile sources): Some of ¿Al^'s followers (often identified as the adherents of ¿Abdalla@h b. Saba÷) believed in ¿Al^'s divinity, while others maintained that he had not died and would return to earth to restore justice. The GÚora@b^ya believed that Moháammad resembled ¿Al^ more closely than one raven (g@ora@b) another; when Gabriel was dispatched by God with a revelation for ¿Al^, he was (or pretended to be) misled by the great similarity between ¿Al^ and Moháammad, and handed the revelation to the latter. The Mansáu@r^ya (followers of Abu@ Mansáu@r ¿Eèl^) claimed that ¿Al^ was the stone (kesf) which had fallen from heaven (cf. Koran 34:9, 52:44), and that he was the second person whom God created (the first being Jesus). Some adherents of the Ra@wand^ya maintained that the divine spirit had lodged in Jesus, then in ¿Al^, and later in the other Imams, while Ôa@ber Ôo¿f^ supposedly identified ¿Al^ with the eschatological “beast of the earth” (da@bbat al-arzμ) (cf. Koran 27:82). One sub-sect of the K¨atátáa@b^ya (the disciples of Abu÷l-K¨atátáa@b) reportedly believed that ¿Al^ (and all other Imams) were prophets and apostles, and that Moháammad was the speaking apostle (na@táeq) while ¿Al^ was the silent one (sáa@met). The ¿Alya@÷^ya (or ¿Elba@÷^ya) maintained that Moháammad was the apostle, or even the slave, of ¿Al^; they not only believed in ¿Al^'s divinity but also condemned Moháammad for claiming authority for himself (whence their appellation D¨amm^ya). According to a different report, the ¿Alya@÷^ya believed in the divinity of both Moháammad and ¿Al^, but gave preference in divine matters to ¿Al^. They are therefore also known as ¿Ayn^ya, and are distinguished from the Moháammad^ya (or M^m^ya) and the S^n^ya, who deify Moháammad and Salma@n Fa@res^ respectively. The ¿Alya@÷^a share with other g@ola@t (known collectively as Mokòammesa) a belief in the infusion (háolu@l) of the divine spirit in the bodies of five person: Four of these are generally held to be the “people of the cloak” (ahl al-kesa@÷ [See AÚl-e ¿Aba@], i.e., ¿Al^, H®asan, H®osayn, and Fa@táema), while there is disagreement as to whether the fifth is Moháammad or Salma@n. The Mokòammesa are also said to have argued that each of the five had his opposite (zμedd) in whom the evil principle of the divine was revealed (a doctrine attributed specifically to ˆar^¿^ and ˆalmag@a@n^ [executed in 322/934]), and that God had delegated (fawwazμa) the creation of the world to Moháammad, who in turn transferred responsibility for its management to ¿Al^.
Although the Isma¿ilis are not generally viewed as belonging to the g@ola@t, some Isma¿ili doctrines on ¿Al^ are clearly influenced by extremist ideas. In the Fatimid Isma¿ili hierarchy, ¿Al^'s position as asa@s (fundament) means that he is superior to all other Imams (hence the Isma¿ili Bohra community of India does not consider him an Imam); this position is also generally taken to mean that he is subordinate to Moháammad, though some writers argue that Moháammad's superiority is only valid during his terrestrial life. In the Neza@r^ Isma¿ili doctrine of the Q^a@ma, with its emphasis on a perennial Ema@m-e Qa@÷em, ¿Al^ is made to appear as Imam with a rank notably higher than that of Moháammad; the imamate is then seen as the source of prophethood.
A combination of extremist Shi¿ite doctrines and non-Islamic pagan elements is apparent in the Nosáayr^ deification of ¿Al^. For the Nosáayr^s (see ¿Alaw^), ¿Al^ is the incarnation of the universal soul and an emanation of God. Thus ¿Al^ has not begotten and has not been begotten (cf. Koran 112:1); he has always existed and is unique and immortal. According to the Esháa@q^ya branch of the Nosáayr^s, ¿Al^ is God, who appeared in every generation in a different guise: Once as H®asan, then as H®osayn. ¿Al^ sent Moháammad to the world as prophet; Moháammad is the veil (háeèa@b) under which ¿Al^ was hidden. ¿Al^'s symbol is the meaning (ma¿na@), while that of Moháammad is the name (esm).
Extremist criticism of ¿Al^ appears to be limited to the early Ka@mel^ya or Komayl^ya) sect, whose members reportedly branded him an unbeliever for letting himself be supplanted by the first three caliphs; but he and his followers returned to the fold of Islam when he became caliph and waged wars against his opponents. In the writings of H®amza b. ¿Al^, the founder of the
Druze religious doctrine, ¿Al^ plays a negative, albeit negligible, role: He and Moháammad, Abu@ Bakr, ¿Omar, and ¿Ot¯ma@n are all ministers of evil. Such a hostile view was apparently not shared by the Druze writer Esma@¿^l Tam^m^ (fl. early 5th/11th century): According to writings attributed to him, ¿Al^, one of the five fundaments, is master of the esoteric aspect; “uniqueness” is to be claimed only for him. During the me¿ra@è Moháammad noted someone looking like ¿Al^: It was an angel created to look like him because of the angels' deep longing for him.
The influence of g@ola@t attitudes can be traced to modern times. The leader of the 7th/13th-century Ba@ba@÷^ movement, Ba@ba@ Esháa@q, allied himself to extremist forms of Shi¿ism prevalent in Irano-Turkish popular circles. The above-mentioned ¿Al^ b. Moháammad b. Fala@há believed in ¿Al^'s divinity and claimed that the spirit of ¿Al^ had been infused into his own body. Similar views are found in the unexpurgated version of the D^va@n of Shah Esma@¿^l I. Shaikh Ahámad Ahása@÷^ (d. 1241/1826), founder of the ˆaykò^ya movement, is said to have seen in ¿Al^ an incarnation of the divine and to have maintained that God had delegated the power of creation to ¿Al^ and the other Imams. And members of the Persian Ahl-e H®aqq sect, though they do not accord ¿Al^ a central position in their doctrine, nevertheless believe that it was in his person that the second of seven successive manifestations of the divinity was made.
Among Sufis. In early circles of zohha@d ¿Al^ was especially renowned for his piety and poverty. He is said to have dressed simply, mended his own clothes and footwear (whence his sobriquet K¨a@sáef al-na¿l “sewer of the shoe”), worked as a day laborer, and often to have had to sell whatever few belongings he possessed, such as the sword with which he had defended the Prophet, in order to feed his family. He is also described as the most knowledgeable of the Companions of Moháammad, as regards both theological questions and matters of positive law. Typical is the view of Ôonayd (d. 298/910), who considered ¿Al^ as “our master in the roots and branches (of religious knowledge) and in perseverance in the face of hardship.”
With the growth of Sufi doctrine in the 4th/10th and 5/11th centuries, increasing emphasis was placed on ¿Al^'s possession of secret or esoteric knowledge (¿elm-e ladon^) transmitted to him by the Prophet; many considered it virtually boundless, since he was believed to have even been granted participation in the g@ayb (e.g., by being granted knowledge of future events and knowledge of seventy-two of the seventy-three letters of the Greatest Name of God). While ¿Al^'s position among the early Sufis was thus assured, he was sometimes regarded, in what may be seen as an echo of Sunnite-Shi¿ite rivalry, as less excellent than Abu@ Bakr, or as having to share the position of greatest excellence with the first three caliphs.
¿Al^'s position in the Sufi world was reinforced by a number of developments. There was, first, the reorganization of the Sufi-dominated fotu@wa during the reign of the Caliph Na@sáer (575-622/1180-1225), with its attendant emphasis on ¿Al^ as sayyed al-fetya@n, the epitome of courage, generosity, and selflessness. This view was associated with the saying la@ fata@ ella@ ¿Al^, which had allegedly been uttered by a divine voice during the battle of Oháod. Second, ¿Al^ often occupied a central position in the Sufi orders, which were established from the 5th/11th century onward. For instance, the NaqÞband^ya (who do not consider themselves Shi¿ites) believe that the Prophet transmitted the method of vocal dòekr to ¿Al^, whereas the silent dòekr was transmitted to Abu@ Bakr. Other, distinctly Shi¿ite, orders regarded ¿Al^ as their patron and traced their descent back to him through different chains of transmission (selsela). One of the best known of these orders is the Turkish Bekta@Þ^ya, whose secret doctrine is imbued with extremist Shi¿ite ideas. The Bekta@Þ^s believe, for example, that ¿Al^'s death should be construed in a symbolic rather than a physical sense. They hold that ¿Al^ is united with God and Moháammad in a trinity; at times ¿Al^'s superiority to Moháammad is clearly implied, as in the belief that the Prophet was healed at Oháod when he prayed for ¿Al^'s help, or that Moháammad reached the state of al-fana@÷ fi÷lla@h (annihilation in God) because he rendered homage to ¿Al^. The Bekta@Þ^s also claim that ¿Al^ as a boy had the appearance of a lion (as his name H®aydara implies), and that he defeated the giant creature D^v, releasing him only after he had become a Muslim and promised not to eat men again. H®oru@f^ influence on the Bekta@Þ^ya can be seen in calligraphic sentences connected with ¿Al^ worked into the shape of a lion; pictures of him are often drawn by combining letters of his name.
Other Shi¿ite orders flourish in modern Iran. Members of these orders address each other with ya@ ¿Al^; some of them maintain that ¿Al^ is greater than the Prophet (since the latter was sent to prepare men for the former), and that Moháammad himself expressed the wish that ¿Al^ should be venerated above him. This is why ¿Al^, and not the Prophet, was born in the middle of the Ka¿ba. Some of these Sufis believe that each p^r received his knowledge directly from ¿Al^. For many others, the investment with the cloak (moraqqa¿a) as a symbol of the transmission of spiritual powers is closely associated with ¿Al^: According to an often-quoted tradition, the two most precious things shown to Moháammad during the me¿ra@è were spiritual poverty and a cloak. After his return to earth he was ordered by God to place the cloak on ¿Al^, from whom it passed to the other Imams.
In addition to such Sufi orders there flourished, particularly in Mongol and Safavid Persia, individual scholars who united in their thought Shi¿ite speculative theology and Sufi mysticism. One of the earliest representatives of this trend is ¿Al^ b. M^t¯am Bahára@n^ (d. 679/1280-81), who saw in ¿Al^ the original shaykh and wal^ of the Sufis, and who (in his ˆarhá nahè al-bala@g@a) imbued ¿Al^'s utterances and speeches with a Sufi coloring. Other writers include H®aydar AÚmol^ (d. after 794/1391-92), who does not conceal his indebtedness to Ebn al-¿Arab^ for many of his ideas; Raèab Bors^ (d. after 843/1439); Ebn Ab^ Ôomhu@r Ahása@÷^ (d. after 90l/1496); and Molla@@ Sáadra@ ˆ^ra@z^ (d. 1050/1640). Some of the views of these writers have been the subject of recent research, but there is much about their thought which requires further study. For all their individual differences, it is probably correct to say that all of them agree in seeing the Islamic imamate as the hidden, secret aspect of prophethood. ¿Al^, who combines in his person the role of Imam and wal^, thus embodies the esoteric aspect of Moháammad. The Islamic imamate incorporates the imamate (i.e., the ba@táen) of all previously revealed religions; hence ¿Al^ embodies the principle of esoteric religion as a whole. As such he existed before all mankind; he was sent secretly with each prophet, and openly with Moháammad (this is the idea underlying utterances ascribed to ¿Al^ such as “I carried Noah in the ark, I am Jonah's companion in the belly of the fish . . . I am K¨azμer, who taught Moses, I am the teacher of David and Solomon, I am D¨u÷l-qarnayn”). ¿Al^ is the seal of the absolute wala@ya (wala@ya motálaqa), while the Qa@÷em is the seal of the restricted, or particular, wala@ya (wala@ya moqayyada). Moháammad and ¿Al^ were created of the same light substance (nu@r) and remained united in the world of the spirits; only in this world did they separate into individual entities so that mankind might be shown the difference between prophet and wal^. ¿Al^ represents the Greatest Name of God. He and Moháammad are reflections of God's attributes; since God can only be known through His attributes (His essence remaining hidden from mankind), it is through them that God may be known. “I am the dot underneath the ba@÷” is a favorite statement ascribed to ¿Al^, referring to the belief that all secrets are contained in the dot underneath the fist letter of the basmala. This is the dot through which the vertical alef of the pure Being of God assumed the horizontal form of the ba@÷, representing the first stage of multiplicity.
Bibliography : Popular thought: Practically every Ema@m^ Shi¿ite collection of traditions contains some material of a popular nature on ¿Al^. Many of these traditions are conveniently assembled in Maèles^, Beháa@r al-anwa@r, Tabr^z, 1303-05/1886-88, esp. IX (the chapters dealing with ¿Al^'s biography): Of the numerous works which devote special sections to ¿Al^'s miracles, the following may be mentioned: Hebatalla@h b. H®osayn Ra@wend^, Keta@b al-kòara@÷eè wa÷l-èara@÷ehá, Bombay, 1301/1883-84, pp. 16-21, 82-87, 129-44. Moháammad b. H®asan H®orr ¿AÚmel^, Et¯ba@t al-hoda@t be÷l-nosáu@sá wa÷l-mo¿èeza@t, ed. H. Rasu@l^, Qom, 1379/1959-60, IV; V, pp. 2-121. Abu@¿Abdalla@h Ôa¿far b. Moháammad Rab¿^ Neza@r^, al-Anwa@r al-¿alaw^ya, Naèaf, 1343/1924-25, p. 93ff. See also Ahámad b. ¿Abdalla@h Bakr^ Basár^, GÚazwat ¿Al^ b. Ab^ T®a@leb ma¿a Ôodòa@m b. al-H®aèèa@f, Yale MS. Arabic 274 (cf. Brockelmann, GAL S. I, p. 616). ¿Abd al-Ôal^l Qazv^n^, Keta@b al-naqzμ, ed. Ô. H®osayn^, Ormav^, Tehran, 1952, esp. pp. 33-37, 39-40, 342-52, 469-72, 556, 559-64, 570-72, 576-91. Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien, Halle, 1889-90 (tr. C. R. Barber and S. M. Stern, Muslim Studies, London, 1967-71), II, pp. 288, 297, 330-32. D. Sáafa@, H®ama@sa-sara@÷^ dar Èra@n, Tehran, 1324 ˆ./1945, pp. 355-65. H. Masse‚, “H®ama@sa,” EI2. Sezgin, GAS II, pp. 278-79.
Shrine: Ebn H®awqal, p. 215. Herav^, Keta@b al-eÞa@ra@t, ed. J. Sourdel-Thomine, Damascus, 1953, pp. 46, 47, 76, 77. Ebn ˆahra@Þu@b, Mana@qeb a@l Ab^ T®a@leb, ed. by a committee of Naèaf scholars, Naèaf, 1376/1956-57, II, pp. 171ff. ¿Abd-al-Kar^m b. T®a@wu@s, Farháat al-g@ar^, Naèaf, 1368/1948-49. Ebn Batátáu@táa, tr. Gibb, pp. 81-83. Maèles^, Beháa@r al-anwa@r XXII, pp. 35ff. Idem, Toháfat al-za@÷er, Tehran, 1314/1896-97, pp. 60-114. Le Strange, Lands, pp. 76-78. S. H. Longrigg, Four Centuries of Modern Iraq, Oxford, 1925, pp. 25, 90, 216-17, 229, 288. E. Honigmann, “Nadjaf,” EI1. D. M. Donaldson, The Shi¿ite Religion, London, 1933, pp. 54-65. R. Kriss and H. Kriss-Heinrich, Volksglaube im Bereich des Islams I, Wiesbaden, 1960, pp. 230, 242-03. S. Ma@her Moháammad, MaÞhad al-ema@m ¿Al^ fi÷l-Naèaf, Cairo, 1969.
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Sufism: Sarra@è, Keta@b al-loma¿, ed. ¿A. Mahámu@d and T®. ¿A. Soru@r, Cairo, 1960, pp. 179-82. Abu@ No¿aym Esáfaha@n^, H®elyat al-awl^a@÷ I, Cairo, 1932, pp. 61-87. H®aydar AÚmol^, Ôa@me¿ al-asra@r, ed. H. Corbin and O. Yaháya@, Tehran and Paris, 1969, index. Raèab Bors^, MaÞa@req anwa@r al-yaq^n, Beirut, n.d. Ebn Ab^ Ôomhu@r Ahása@÷^, Keta@b al-moèl^, Tehran, 1329/1911. Mona@w^, al-Kawa@keb al-dorr^ya I, Cairo, 1357/1938, pp. 38-45. W. M. Miller, “Shi¿ah Mysticism (the Sáufis of Guna@ba@d),” Moslem World 13, 1923, pp. 343-63. J. K. Birge, The Bektashi Order of Dervishes, London, 1937, pp. 132-48. K. M. ˆayb^, al-Sáela bayna÷l-tasáawwof wa÷l-taÞayyo¿, Baghdad, 1382-83. J. S. Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, London, 1971, index. H. Corbin, En Islam iranien, Paris, 1971-72, index. S. H. Nasr, Sufi Essays, London, 1972, pp. 104-20. A. Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Chapel Hill, 1975, index. A. Hartmann, an-Na@sáir li-D^n Alla@h (1180-1225), Berlin and New York, 1975, index. R. Gramlich, Die schiitischen Derwischen Persiens. Zweiter Teil: Glaube und Lehre, Wiesbaden, 1976, index.