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The Upbringing of Imam Ali (A.S.) in the House of the Prophet (PBUH)

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Ali (peace be upon him) accompanied the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) from his earliest years. When life became difficult for Abu Talib, and circumstances grew tight, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) proposed to Abu Talib’s brothers that they take some of his children into their homes to ease his burden. By the divine will of Allah, Ali (peace be upon him) was placed in the house of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), who took on the task of raising him from a young age.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) loved this young child, embracing him, smelling his fragrance, feeding him, and caring for him moment by moment, infusing him with divine lights. Thus, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was nurtured in the lap of prophethood, drawing from its pure virtues, spending his days closely bonded to it as a shadow to its source.

When the first rays of revelation dawned, Ali (peace be upon him) wholeheartedly believed in the prophetic message, his soul having already intertwined with that of the Prophet. Thus, he was the first to believe in him (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).

In the eloquent and lofty sermon of “Al-Qasi’a,” we find the most beautiful depiction of this companionship, highlighting the role of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) in Ali’s upbringing and preparation, his love for him, and how Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was illuminated through this companionship.

In The Hadit

1. From “Kashf al-Yaqin” by Yazid ibn Qanab: Fatimah bint Asad gave birth to Ali when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was thirty years old. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) loved him deeply and said to her, “Place his cradle near my bed.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took care of most of his upbringing. He would cleanse Ali during his bath time, feed him milk[1], rock his cradle when he slept, speak to him when he was awake, and hold him on his chest[2].

2. From “Sharh Nahj al-Balagha” by Hussain ibn Zayd ibn Ali ibn Hussain (peace be upon them): I heard Zayd, my father, say: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) used to chew meat and dates until they were soft and place them in Ali’s mouth (peace be upon him) when he was a small child in his lap [3].

3. From “Ansab al-Ashraf”: They said: Abu Talib had little and was in need, so the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took Ali to lighten his burden, and thus he grew up with him[4].

4. From “Majalis Thalab” by Ibn Salam: When Abu Talib was in straitened circumstances[5], the Banu Hashim said: Let us each take one of your children. He said: Do as you wish as long as you leave Aqil for me. So, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took Ali, and he was the first to accept Islam among those who were closely associated with him[6][7].

5. From “Maqatil al-Talibiyyin” by Zayd ibn Ali: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took Ali from his father when he was young during a year[8] when Quraysh was affected by drought. Hamza took Ja’far, and Abbas took Talib to lessen the burden on their father. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took Aqil due to his affection for him. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said: “I have chosen whom Allah has chosen for me among you; Ali”[9].

6. From “Al-Mustadrak ala al-Sahihayn” by Mujahid ibn Jabr Abu al-Hajjaj: Among the blessings of Allah upon Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) was what Allah prepared for him and intended for his good. When Quraysh was struck by a severe crisis, and Abu Talib had many dependents, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said to his uncle Abbas, who was one of the wealthiest of Banu Hashim: “O Abu al-Fadl, your brother Abu Talib has many dependents, and the people are suffering from this crisis. Let us go to him and lighten his burden by taking some of his children. I will take one of his sons, and you take one.” Abbas agreed, and they went to Abu Talib and said: “We want to lighten your burden until the crisis passes.” Abu Talib said: “If you leave Aqil with me, do as you wish.” So, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) took Ali and brought him to his home, while Abbas took Ja’far. Ali stayed with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) until Allah sent him as a prophet, and he followed him and believed in him. Abbas took Ja’far, who stayed with him until he embraced Islam and became independent[10].

7. From Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in his sermon known as “Al-Qasi’a”: “I grew up breaking the idols of the Arabs and smashing the horns of Rabi’a and Mudar. You know my close kinship to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) and my special position. He placed me in his lap when I was a child, held me close to his chest, shared his bed with me, touched his body to mine, and let me inhale his fragrance[11]. He would chew food and then feed it to me. He never found a lie in my words or a mistake in my actions.

Allah had paired him (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) from the time he was weaned with the greatest of His angels, guiding him on the path of noble traits and virtues of the world, night and day. I followed him as a young camel follows its mother, witnessing each day his elevated manners and being commanded to emulate him. He used to retreat to Hira annually, where I saw him, and no one else did. At that time, no house in Islam included anyone except the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), Khadija, and myself as the third. I saw the light of the revelation and inhaled the scent of prophethood[12].

8. From “Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah” by Ibn Ishaq: Among the blessings Allah bestowed upon Ali ibn Abi Talib was that he was raised in the care of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) before Islam[13].

9. From “Sharh Nahj al-Balagha” by Al-Fadl ibn Abbas: I asked my father about the male children of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), which of them he loved the most. He said: Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him). I said to him: I asked you about his sons! He said: Indeed, he loved him more than all his sons and was more compassionate towards him. We never saw a day pass without him being close to him, except when he was on a journey for Khadijah. We never saw a father more affectionate towards his son than the Prophet towards Ali, nor a son more obedient to his father than Ali was to him.

Jubayr ibn Mut’im narrated: My father, Mut’im ibn Adi, said to us when we were boys in Mecca: “Do you not see the love of this boy—referring to Ali—for Muhammad and his following him instead of his father? By al-Lat and al-Uzza! I wish my son had the qualities of the young men of Banu Naufal!”[14].

Source: Encyclopedia of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in the Book, the Sunnah, and History by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Rayshahri.


[1] (1) Wajartu al-Dawa: Put it in his mouth (Lisan al-Arab: 5/279).

[2] (2) Kashf al-Yaqin: 32/12.

[3] (3) Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 13/200; Bihar al-Anwar: 38/323.

[4] (4) Ansab al-Ashraf: 2/346.

[5] (5) Am’ara: Became poor (Al-Nihaya: 4/342).

[6] (6) Al-Khibta: A piece of houses and people (Lisan al-Arab: 7/284).

[7] (7) Majalis Thalab: 1/29.

[8] (8) As-Sanah: Drought, it is said: They were taken by the year: If they suffered drought (Al-Nihaya: 2/413).

[9] (9) Maqatil al-Talibiyyin: 41, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 1/15 and similar.

[10] (10) Al-Mustadrak ala al-Sahihayn: 3/666/6463, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hisham: 1/262, Tarikh al-Tabari: 2/313, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh: 1/484, Tarikh al-Islam by Al-Dhahabi: 1/136, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah by Al-Bayhaqi: 2/162, Manaqib by Al-Khwarizmi: 51/14, Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya: 3/25 and the last four similarly; ‘Ilal al-Shara’i: 169/1, Manaqib by Ibn Shahr Ashub: 2/179, I’lam al-Wara: 1/105 both similarly, Rawdat al-Wa’izin: 98.

[11] (11) Al-Arf: The scent… and it is mostly used for the pleasant scent (Taj al-Arus: 12/375).

[12] (12) Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 192.

[13] (13) Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hisham: 1/262, Tarikh al-Tabari: 2/312, Tarikh al-Islam by Al-Dhahabi: 1/136, Usd al-Ghabah: 4/89/3789 and it says “raised in his care,” Dala’il al-Nubuwwah by Al-Bayhaqi: 2/161, Manaqib by Al-Khwarizmi: 51/13, Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya: 3/24; Rawdat al-Wa’izin: 98.

[14] (14) Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 13/201; Bihar al-Anwar: 38/324.

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