Imam Ali (A.S.) II
Imam Ali was born in the Sacred House, the Holy Kaaba, in Makkah in 600 A.D. The place of his birth was a sign of his position in the eyes of Allah and no one else has ever been born in the Holy Kaaba.
Just before he was born, his mother Fatima binte Asad came to the Holy Kaaba. As she stood there, she felt the intense pain of pregnancy and knelt down to pray. As she raised her head from her prayers, the wall of the sacred building split by a miracle. Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib and some of his companions watched in amazement as she walked into the building which closed behind her. As the door was locked, nobody could get in. Soon the news of this miraculous event had spread round Makkah.
Fatima binte Asad stayed in the Holy Kaaba for three days and on the fourth day she stepped out holding her baby in her arms. The child had squeezed its eyes tightly shut and had not opened them since its birth. As she came out of the Holy Kaaba she saw that the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) was anxiously awaiting to receive the newly born child. He knew that this child would grow up to strengthen the cause of Islam and prove to be his right hand in the great mission that lay ahead. As he came into the arms of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.), Imam Ali (a.s.) opened his eyes for the first time to look upon the blessed face of Prophethood.
In Nahjul Balagha Imam Ali (a.s.) says, "The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) brought me up in his own arms and fed me his own morsel. I followed him wherever he went like a baby camel following its mother. Each day a new part of his character would become known to me and I would accept and follow it as a command."
His childhood was spent in the company of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) was similar in his character, knowledge, self-sacrifice, patience, bravery, kindness and eloquence. From his infancy, he prostrated to Allah with the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.), and when the message of Prophethood was declared, he was the first man to become a Muslim.
After the declaration of Prophethood, Imam Ali (a.s.) was always ready to serve the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and defend him from his enemies. He used to write down the verses of the Holy Qur'an and discuss them with the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) as soon as they were revealed to him. His matchless devotion lasted up to the day when the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) passed away in 11 A.H. The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) has said of Imam Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali, you are my brother in this world and the Hereafter."
"I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate."
"Nobody knows Allah except I and Ali. Nobody knows Ali except Allah and I. Nobody knows me except Allah and Ali."
"If you want to see the knowledge of Adam, the piety of Nuh, the devotion of Ibrahim, the awe of Musa and the service and devotion of Isa, look at the bright face of Ali."
The Virtues and the Qualities of Imam Ali (a.s.)
Imam Ali (a.s.) was a man who possessed and displayed the greatest character that a human being is capable of achieving. In all fields he has left for his followers a model on which to base their own lives. The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said to Imam Ali (a.s.), "O Ali, you will be engaged in disputes but you will overcome them because of seven qualities that you have which no one else has: you are the first of those who believed in me, the greatest of them in war, the most knowledgeable of them in the signs of Allah, the one of them who is most loyal in keeping the covenant (Ahd) of Allah, the most compassionate of them towards people, the most capable of giving equal treatment and the greatest of them in distinction before Allah." Hereunder, we attempt to list some of his outstanding merits.