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Ali ibn Abi Talib: The Spiritual Sibling to the Messenger of Allah

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In the intricate tapestry of Islamic history, the celestial brotherhood between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) and Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) emerges as a divine thread that binds their souls in an eternal bond. This sacred connection transcends earthly ties and illuminates the essence of spiritual kinship, as testified by numerous hadiths. As we embark on a journey through the radiant realm of these cherished traditions, we unveil the profound merit of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) as the brother of Prophet Muhammad.

The echoes of their spiritual affinity reverberate through the annals of time, narrating a tale of devotion, loyalty, and unwavering faith. The words inscribed on the gates of Paradise bear witness to their divine bond, proclaiming the message: “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Ali is the brother of the Messenger of Allah.” A testament to their eternal kinship, this declaration has been etched into the hearts of believers since time immemorial.

As we delve into the depths of these hadiths, we marvel at the celestial origin of their brotherhood, with its foundations laid even before the creation of the heavens and the earth. These hadiths shall illuminate the path for those who seek the truth, as they bear witness to the unique relationship between the Messenger of Allah and his spiritual sibling, Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS).

Through the study of these hadiths, we pay homage to the divine connection that has shaped the course of Islamic history and invite our readers to immerse themselves in the transcendent wisdom that emanates from the divine bond between Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). As we embark on this enlightening quest, we shall witness the unfurling of a celestial narrative that extols the virtues of an unparalleled spiritual brotherhood.

The Essence of Spiritual Brotherhood

In the rich tapestry of the Arabic language, the concept of brotherhood embodies the notion of regarding someone as a brother and treating them accordingly. The term إخاوة epitomizes the act of embracing someone as a brother.

Within the Islamic faith, brotherhood ascends to the pinnacle of social bonds, as it emanates from a profound conviction in the religion. This signifies that believers submit to the will of their Lord above all else, forging an indomitable and unifying emotion that encompasses all Muslims.

The Holy Quran elucidates this truth in the verse: {إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ} [Al-Hujurat: 10], translating to “The believers are but brothers.” Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also proclaimed: “A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim”, emphasizing the importance of nurturing the spiritual brotherhood that binds all believers together.

The Unification of Muhajirun and Ansar

Islamic tradition recounts that the act of forging brotherhood among the companions transpired on two separate occasions.

The initial instance took place in Mecca prior to the momentous migration (Hijra). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) would establish brotherhood between individuals and their counterparts. It is recorded that he formed bonds between Abu Bakr and Umar, Talha and Al-Zubair, Uthman and Abdur-Rahman bin Awf, and between himself and Ali.

The subsequent event unfolded after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions embarked on their migration. In Medina, he fostered brotherhood between the Muhajirun (emigrants from Mecca) and the Ansar (supporters in Medina). There, he united Abu Bakr with Kharjah bin Zuhair, Umar with Utban bin Malik, and others. Grasping Ali’s hand, he declared, “This is my brother.” Additionally, he established brotherhood between Hamza and Zaid bin Haritha, as well as between Ja’far bin Abi Talib and Mu’adh bin Jabal.

Through these powerful acts of brotherhood, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought together the Muhajirun and Ansar, strengthening the bonds of faith and unity among them.

The Brotherhood Established by the Prophet (PBUH) with Ali (AS)

In the sanctified annals of history, a moment of profound significance is etched upon the hearts of the faithful. It was in this tender scene that the venerable Prophet Muhammad, with wisdom and foresight, paired the devout Muslims in a sacred bond of brotherhood. Yet, amidst this harmonious union, the noble Imam Ali stood solitary and forlorn, his heart aching with uncertainty and sorrow.

As the revered Imam cast his eyes upon the serene faces of his brethren, doubt gnawed at the edges of his soul, leading him to wonder if he had committed an unfathomable transgression. With a heart heavy with trepidation, he approached the beloved Prophet, seeking solace and answers to the tormenting question that haunted his very being.

As the gentle breeze whispered through the air, the Prophet, with an expression of profound tenderness and boundless love, unveiled the divine purpose behind this enigmatic decision. He reassured the crestfallen Imam Ali, saying, “Fear not, for you are reserved for none other than myself. Amongst all those gathered here, there exists no soul equal to mine, save for yours. I have chosen you to stand by my side, as the last and the greatest of all, for our destinies are entwined for eternity.”

The hallowed bond of brotherhood between two kindred souls is a connection of immeasurable depth and sanctity, particularly when it is forged under the divine guidance of the esteemed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Among the myriad spiritual ties that have graced the annals of history, one stands as a beacon of unparalleled significance – the sublime union between the Prophet and his cherished cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS).

In his magnum opus “Al-Ghadeer,” the illustrious scholar al-Amini casts a brilliant ray of enlightenment upon this extraordinary relationship, meticulously documenting fifty Hadiths from the venerated Sunni tradition that speaks to the inimitable nature of this divine brotherhood. Through al-Amini’s meticulous research, it becomes unequivocally apparent that this sacred bond was reserved solely for Ali, and any who dare to claim it in his stead shall be branded as naught but a fabricator of untruths.

This exalted brotherhood transcends the confines of mere appellations and sobriquets; it is a legacy that reverberates through the ages, invoked in heartfelt discourse, wielded in impassioned debate, and immortalized in the poignant verses of poets throughout the sands of time.

Though a plethora of Hadiths bears testament to this awe-inspiring bond, we shall endeavor to illuminate but a handful, that they may serve as a testament to the indelible connection that flourished between Prophet Muhammad and the venerable Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS).

  1. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) established brotherhood between his companions, pairing Abu Bakr with Umar, and others with their respective counterparts. Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) came to him and said, “You have established brotherhood between your Companions, but you have not paired me with anyone.” The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “You are my brother in this world and the Hereafter.”

Source: Refer to Jami’ at-Tirmidhi 2, p. 213, Masabih al-Baghawi 2, p. 199, Mustadrak al-Hakim 3, p. 14, Al-Isti’ab 2, p. 460. The hadith of brotherhood is considered a well-established tradition.

In this regard, in the book “Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib” by Professor Abdel Fattah Abdel Maqsoud, it is stated on page 73:

“Even though Abu Bakr was the truthful minister of the Prophet of Allah, Ali was like his inseparable shadow, never leaving his side, except when Muhammad sent him to be his eyes among his enemies or as the vanguard for his men. This was the case even at the beginning of the time when the Messenger of Allah was establishing his small kingdom and connecting the Muhajirun and the Ansar in Medina. He did not miss the opportunity to favor Ali over the others by establishing brotherhood between them. He paired his companions who had migrated with him with the people of the town who had sheltered them. He chose Ali to be his brother in faith, and he did not establish brotherhood with Abu Bakr, Umar, or Hamzah, his lion and the lion of Allah. Instead, he chose this spiritual brotherhood after the blood relationship with his close relative. Thus, he favored him over every distant and close beloved.”

2. Zaid ibn Abi Awfa narrated: When the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) created brotherhood between his companions and made Abu Bakr and Umar brothers, Ali said:

 “My spirit has departed, and my back has been broken when I saw what you did with your companions, but not with me. If this is due to your anger towards me, then I seek your forgiveness and generosity.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) said: “By the one who sent me with the truth, I have not delayed you except for myself. You are to me like Aaron to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me, and you are my brother and heir.”

Ali asked: “What will I inherit from you, O Messenger of Allah?!”

He replied: “What the Prophets before me have inherited.”

 Ali asked: “And what did the Prophets before you inherit?!”

He replied: “The Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet. You will be with me in my palace in Paradise along with my daughter Fatima, and you are my brother and companion.” Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) recited, “As brethren, they will be on couches facing one another.”

Source: Manaqib of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Riyad al-Nadira, vol. 2, p. 209, History of Ibn Asakir, vol. 6, p. 201, Tadhkirat al-Sibt, p. 14 (he authenticated it and said, “Its narrators are trustworthy.”), Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 6, p. 390, Kifayah al-Shanqiti, pp. 35, 44

3. Jabir ibn Abdallah and Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib narrated: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) created brotherhood between his companions, and Abu Bakr, Umar, and Ali remained. He then established brotherhood between Abu Bakr and Umar, and said to Ali, “You are my brother and I am your brother. If anyone denies you, say: I am a servant of Allah and the brother of the Messenger of Allah. No one can claim this after you except a liar.”

Source: Manaqib of Ahmad, History of Ibn Asakir, Kifayah al-Kinji, pp. 82-83, Tadhkirat al-Sibt, p. 14 , Al-Mirqat fi Sharh al-Mishkat, vol. 5, p. 569

In the narration of Amir al-Mu’minin and Ya’la ibn Murrah: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “I have left you for myself, you are my brother and I am your brother. If anyone disputes with you, say: I am a servant of Allah and the brother of the Messenger of Allah. No one can claim this after you except a liar.”

Source: Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 6, pp. 154, 399 (from Hafiz Abi Ya’la in his Musnad)

4. Muhammad ibn Ishaq said: The Messenger of Allah created brotherhood between his companions from the Muhajireen (Emigrants) and the Ansar (Helpers), and said, as far as we know and we seek refuge in Allah from saying what he did not say: “Take each other as brothers for the sake of Allah, two by two.” Then he took the hand of Ali ibn Abi Talib and said, “This is my brother.” So, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the master of the messengers and the leader of the righteous, and the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds, who has no equal or rival among the servants, and Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) was his brother.

Source: History of Ibn Hisham, vol. 2, p. 123, History of Ibn Kathir, vol. 3, p. 226, Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, vol. 2, p.101, Al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyyah, p. 42,

5. Amir al-Mu’minin (Ali) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to him: “You are my brother, my companion, and my associate in Paradise.”

Source: History of al-Khatib, vol. 12, p. 268, Kanz al-Ummal, vol. 6, p. 402

Also in the book (Encyclopedia of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (AS) in the Book, Sunnah, and History), He narrated hadiths from the Prophet in this regard to show the high status of Imam Ali (AS):

1- Narrated by the Prophet (PBUH) said: “I saw written on the door of Paradise: There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Ali is the brother of the Messenger of Allah”.

Source: Fada’il al-Sahaba by Ibn Hanbal: 2/665/1134; History of Damascus: 42/62/8403; Al-Firdaws: 2/257/3195, all from Jabir.

2- Also narrated by him (PBUH): “Written on the door of Paradise: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Ali is the brother of the Messenger of Allah before the heavens were created by two thousand years”.

Source: Fada’il al-Sahaba by Ibn Hanbal: 2/669/1140; Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat: 5/343/5498; History of Baghdad: 7/387/3919; History of Damascus: 42/59/8399; Hilyat al-Awliya’: 7/256; Al-Manaqib by Ibn al-Maghazili: 91/134; Al-Firdaws: 4/123/6380; Al-Manaqib by Al-Kufi: 1/357/282, in which it says “two million” instead of “two thousand”; Al-Khisal: 638/11, all from Jabir, with the addition of “and the Earth” after “the Heavens.”

3- Narrated by him as well (PBUH): “On the Day of Resurrection, it will be called from within the depths of the Throne: What a great father your father Ibrahim, the Friend (of Allah), and what a great brother your brother Ali ibn Abi Talib” (4).

Source: History of Damascus: 42/58/8397, from Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Aamir; Al-Manaqib by Ibn al-Maghazili: 67/96, from Ahmad ibn Aamir, both from Imam Al-Rida from his forefathers (peace be upon them); Kanz al-Ummal: 11/487/32297, quoting from Al-Rafii from Imam Ali (peace be upon him) from him (peace be upon him and his family); Uyun Akhbar Al-Rida: 2/30/39, from Ahmad ibn Aamir, Ahmad ibn Abdullah, and Dawud ibn Sulaiman from Imam Al-Rida from his forefathers (peace be upon them) from him (peace be upon him and his family); Al-Mahasen: 1/287/566, from Ali ibn Abi Ali Al-Lahabi, attributing it to the same source; Sahifat Imam Al-Rida (peace be upon him): 133/83; Illal Al-Shara’i: 184/2; Uyun Al-Mu’jizat: 57, with the addition of “and your minister” after “your brother,” both similar; Al-Manaqib by Ibn Shahr Ashub: 2/186, and the last three are from Ibn Abbas.

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