Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib(as) was born on Friday, 13th of rajab, 30 Amulfeel. His father’s name was Abu Talib, the uncle of Prophet Mohammad, and his mother was Fatima Binte Asad, The pious woman that has brought up Prophet. His title was Murtada.
Imam Ali was born in Kabba. This event has been mentioned in books “Izalatul Kholafa” of Shah Waliullah, Mohadith-e-Dehlvi, Mustadrak of Imama Hakim part 3, page 438, Muruj el Zahab of Masoodi and Tazkeratul Khawas ul Umma page 7.
After his birth Imam Ali was adopted by Prophet. Prophet took Imam Ali everywhere with him, even in Hira mountain where Prophet had used to go for meditation. Because of this closeness the first man which has accepted Prophets massage was Imam Ali (as). And when the revelations were revealed to Prophet, Imam Ali was the first to hear them.
After Allah’s permission for declaring Islam message in public, Prophet invited leaders of the Banu Hashim to come to his house. Forty of them came and heard Muhammad (S) message which was ‘ No god but Allah and Muhammad (S) as the messenger of Allah and whoever offers his help to propagate this religion will be his deputy and successor’. Prophet has repeated this sentence three times but each time no one except for ‘Ali (as) answered to this question. After that Muhammad (S) declared that ‘Ali (as) will be his deputy to his mission and will be his successor.
On the night of the emigration to Medina (Hijrah) when the enemies had surrounded the house of the Prophet and planned to invade the house at the end of the night and kill Prophet, while he was in bed. 'Ali slept in place of the Prophet while the Prophet left the house to Medina. This way he destroyed the infidels plan to kill Prophet Mohammad.
After departure to Medina Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between Muslims and made Ali his own brother. After a while Ali (as) married Fatimeh(s), the daughter of Prophet, and became his son in law.
Ali (as) took part in battles of Badr, Ohud, Khandaq, Khyber and many other battles which had took place in the early years of Islam.
Prophet Mohammad has declared Imam Ali (as) as his successor in different occasions, although this has been ignored by some of the prominent companions of Prophet after his demise.
The first occasion as we have mentioned before was when Prophet declared Islam in public based on Allah’s order. When he has repeated the sentences‘No god but Allah and Muhammad (S) as the messenger of Allah and whoever offers his help to propagate this religion will be his deputy and successor’ three times and no one except for ‘Ali (as) answered to this question, Muhammad (S) declared that ‘Ali (as) will be his deputy to his mission and will be his successor.
The other occasion in which prophet has referred to Imam Ali (as) successorship was the event of Qadir in the last pilgrimage of prophet to Mecca on 18th of Zilhijja, tenth of Hijrah. In this event prophet asked the pilgrims to stop and asked those others that had past to came back in order to deliver Allah’s message to the them. There he has started by this verse:
"O’ Prophet; proclaim the whole of that which hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord, for if thou dost it not, it will be as if thou hast not at all performed the duty of His Prophethood. And God will protect thee from evil men, verily God guideth not the unbelievers.”
After that the Prophet asked people, "Do you not testify that there is no God but Allah, that Muhammad is His creature, His servant, and His messenger, that there is the Heaven and the Hell, that death will overtake every one of you, that you will be brought back from your graves. that the Day of Judgment will surely dawn and human beings will be resurrected from their graves to account for their deeds.”
The whole crowd answered in unison, "We believe and testify all this." Then the Prophet continued, "I am leaving amongst you two most important things worthy of obedience, the Qur’an and my progeny (Ahlul Bayt). Take care how you treat them, they will not separate from each other till they reach me at the fountain of Kauser.”
Then he said, “The Almighty God is my Lord (Maula) and I am the Lord of all Muslims and have more right and power on their lives than they themselves. Do you believe in this assertion of mine?" They all in one voice replied “Yes O’Messenger of God.” Three times he asked the same question and three times he received the same affirmative reply.
At this solemn affirmation he said, “Hear and remember that to whomever I am Lord or Maula, ‘Ali is the Lord and Maula to him. He is to me what Aaron was to Musa. The Almighty God is a friend to his friends and a foe to his foe, help those who help him and frustrate those who betray him.”
While saying this he raised ‘Ali High over his shoulders in order to be seen by all the Muslims assembled there. Thereupon the Holy Prophet received the final revelation:
"This day I have perfected your religion for you and have filled up the measure of my bounties upon you and I am pleased with Islam to be your Deen,"
After this the Holy Prophet ordered to erect a tent. In this ‘Ali (as) was made to take his seat and all Muslims were ordered to pay homage to him and address him as Amirul Momeneen (Lord of the faithful) The first person to congratulate and address him as such was Omar Ibne Khattab saying, “I congratulate you, O’’Ali, today you have become my Maula and Lord and Lord of every Muslim man and woman.
In eleventh of Hijrah Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) had departured. While Ali (as) and all Bani Hashim where taking part in Prophets funeral, only a few hours after Prophet’s death, the news was given to ‘Ali (as) about the events at the Saqeefa that Abubakr was made Caliph. Despite some people asked him to fight against Abubakr, Ali (as) knew that any action would destroy the unity among Muslim and would eradicate the roots of Islam which was a young tree.
“Your authority (wali) is God and His Apostle and those believers who perform the prayer and pay alms (zakat) while they are bowing (in prayer).......”
[ 5:55 ]
After the demise of Prophet and Abubakr’s caliphate, Imam Ali (as) started collecting all the explanations of the various verses, reasons behind their revelation and their full context. This job of his was ignored by ruling party so the original remained with ‘Imam Ali (as) and then passed on to his son Imam Hasan (as) and then to Imam Husayn (as) which then continued with the infallible Imams. It is now with the 12th Imam (as).
In the time of three caliphs, Imam Ali (as) had no official place, but in cases they asked him for any advices which was to the interest of Islamic community, he did not hesitate.
When the third caliph was killed, people gave their allegiance to Imam Ali and he was chosen as Caliph. During his caliphate of nearly four years and nine months, 'Ali followed, exactly, the way of the Prophet and gave his caliphate the form of a spiritual movement and renewal and began many different types of reforms. Naturally, these reforms were against the interests of certain parties that sought their own benefit. As a result, a group of the companions made a pretext of the death of the third caliph to raise their heads in opposition and began to revolt and rebel against 'Ali (A.S.).
Imam Ali (AS) was murdered at the age of 63, on Monday 21st of Ramadan 40 AH in in Kufah ( Iraq ). He was buried in an-Najaf al-Ashraf.