Ali ibn Abi Talbi- 4th Caliph of Islam

In a hadith reported by Imam Al-Bukhari, it is narrated that once the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was looking for Ali in Fatima’s house, but could not find him there. Thus, he asked Fatima, where is Ali? She said that there was a quarrel between them. Thus Ali had left the house. The Prophet ﷺ started to look for him elsewhere, until he found that Ali is sleeping in the Mosque, with half of his body covered by dust. The Prophet ﷺ started to clean the dust from him, and told him, “Get up! O Aba Turab. Get up! O Aba Turab” [1].


Word Abu Turab literary means “Father of dust”. From first sight, it does not seem like the best nickname to be called by, but as we know from another wording of the same narration, “There was no name dearer to `Ali than his nickname Abu Turab” [2].


Why this nickname was the most beloved to Ali? Didn’t he have other nicknames, such as Abu al-Hasan (the Father of Hasan), or Abu as-Sibtain (the Father of two grandsons (of the Prophet ﷺ))? Why did he use to feel specifically happy when he was called the Father of dust?


This nickname was the most beloved to him not because it was the most excellent way to be called by, but because it was the only nickname which was given to him by the Prophet ﷺ himself. It shows us the incredible love that Ali had for the Prophet ﷺ.


This love, which he had to him, made Ali the first young man to accept Islam, and to stay as one of the closest companions of the Prophet ﷺ from the beginning of the prophethood, when he was hated and rejected, until the end of his mission, when Islam was spreading rapidly in the Arabian Peninsula.


Because of this extreme love and closeness to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, Ali became one of the best Muslims and the fourth of Four Righteous Caliphs. In this article, we will discuss how his biography brings us a notable example of how we should love the Prophet ﷺ to achieve success in this life and the hereafter and to be from amongst the most righteous of human beings, just like Ali was.


In this article, we will discuss how his biography brings us a particular example, how we would love the Prophet in order to be successful in this life and in the hereafter and to be among the most righteous of human beings. , just like Ali was.  


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Ali’s steadfastness and strong will



One of the most significant events in Ali’s life that show to us how much he loved the Prophet ﷺ, and how he was willing to do everything for him, has happened the day before Hijrah when Quraysh leadership have met in Dar an-Nadwah and plotted to kill the Prophet ﷺ. To trick them, Messenger of Allah ﷺ told Ali to stay in his bed so that killers would think that he was sleeping while he would be running away from Mecca.


How courageous was Ali to stay in the Prophet’s bed when he knew that assassins were coming to kill him? We can learn from it the dedication of Ali for the service to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as it was his own life which he offered for his protection. At the same time, it shows us how the Prophet trusted Ali to give him an important task and entrust his own life.


After the risky mission to impersonate the Prophet ﷺ, Ali was given a duty to return the trusts which were entrusted to him ﷺ and then to migrate to Madinah on foot and alone. Due to heat during those days, he travelled only by night time which made travel even harder. When his journey had finished and he reached Madinah, his feet were bloated, and his skin was broken [3].


Considering all of these difficulties, risks, and challenges that Ali had to endure while obeying orders of the Prophet ﷺ, we have to take a note to the fact that there is no recorded narration that would show any sign of Ali’s displeasure with the tasks that were given specifically for him, even when they could be given to somebody else.


Instead of complaining about his situation, Ali endured it patiently and fulfilled all of the tasks given by the Prophet ﷺ. We can deduct from it the fact, that Ali unconditionally loved the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and that in return he was unconditionally trusted by him ﷺ, even concerning his own life!


Probably because of this reason, the Prophet has chosen Ali as the main flagbearer for several battles, explicitly mentioning that “I will give the flag to a man with whose leadership Allah will grant (the Muslim) victory” [4]. The flagbearer must be from the strongest and bravest persons in the ranks, who will carry it by whatever means and lead other soldiers around to the enemy. Ali’s love for the Prophet made him exactly such a person.


Ali’s wisdom derived from the Quran



Ali ibn Abi Talib has accepted Islam in his childhood, and since that time, he was able to spend most of his time with the Prophet ﷺ. Also, he was one of the Arabian people in Arabian society who could read and write, which shows us that he was an educated man with a special love for knowledge [5]. Because of these reasons combined, he not only learned directly from the Messenger of Allah but was keen on learning and able to achieve great success in such education.


It has purified his heart and soul, illuminated his mind, and made him into a person who derives his values and morals from the Quran. He was one of those who have collected the Quran during the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ. He was so keen on learning the Words of Allah. It is narrated that he knows all of the times and reasons when and why verses of the Quran have been revealed [6].


An outcome of it was extraordinary deep wisdom that Ali had and expressed in his own words: “In the Book of Allah, there are stories of those who came before you, foretelling what will happen after you […]. Whoever among tyrants neglects it, Allah will destroy him; whoever seeks guidance in anything else, Allah will send him astray. […] Whoever quotes it speaks the truth, whoever acts upon it will be rewarded, whoever judges according to it will be, and whoever calls people to it will be guided to a straight path.” [7].


Today we see how many tyrants neglect the Quran, how many people seek guidance in other sources and become misguided, and how its abandonment negatively affects our lives. Ali had the wisdom to understand all of these adverse outcomes of negligence and the positive effects of leading lives in the Quran and summarise them in one paragraph!


Ali’s love to the Messenger of Allah


The fact that Ali was willing to take the risk and to disguise himself as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ during the hijrah already showed to us how much he loved him ﷺ to take up such task. However, there are other instances by which we can elaborate this love and deepen our understanding of how the Prophet ﷺ has to be loved.


First of all, this love has to be expressed through emotion and attachment to him ﷺ, as Ali has said: “He, by Allah, was dearer to us than our wealth, our children, our fathers, our mothers and cold water when one is thirsty.” [8]. This type of love is only to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and indeed it is his right to be loved like that.


However, only emotion and feeling is not enough. Like any other type of love, it has to be expressed through action. If one would tell their Father that indeed he is the most beloved person, and then would reject him, and do something that he hates, then we would say that such person is a liar and has no real love for their Father.


Similarly, our love to the Prophet ﷺ must be expressed by doing things which he loves and avoiding things which he hates. The best example for it we can see in the words of Ali when he said: “Follow the guidance of your Prophet ﷺ, for it is the best of guidance; follow his Sunnah, for it is the best of ways.” [9].


Ali knew that the real love to the Prophet ﷺ is expressed by adhering to his Sunnah. And the primary reasons for our adherence to it must be this love, and not something else, such as our desires or intellect, which would tell us if this Sunnah is worth for implementation or not. Ali has said concerning this issue: “If religious matters were based on opinions, then it would be more appropriate to wipe the bottom of the sock than the top (while performing wudu).” [10].


Thus, Ali’s attachment to the Prophet ﷺ was turned into love, and this love was turned into correct following and knowledge. Consequentially, it exalted Ali’s status, and not only allowed him to become the Fourth Righteous Caliph but to take an extraordinary and unique place for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ who has said concerning him: “Will you not be pleased from this that you are to me like Aaron was to Moses?” [11].




It has been discussed how Ali’s love to the Prophet ﷺ made him into the bravest soldier, and how it allowed him to increase his knowledge of the Quran and correct understanding of Sunnah. From this example, we should understand that religion’s essence and the beginning is this love to the Messenger and Allah.


Thus, if we want to be successful in the implementation of Islamic principles in our lives, to live following the teachings of the Quran, and to build strong will and brave character, then we have to start it by the love to the Prophet ﷺ, and with correct knowledge of how this love has to manifest in our lives. Ali, the bravest Muslim, the Fourth Righteous Caliph, and the Aaron of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the living example of such manifestation.


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[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 441

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari 6280

[3] Ali M. Sallaabee, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (International Islamic Publishing House, 2010), p. 83.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari 3701

[5] Ali M. Sallaabee, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (International Islamic Publishing House, 2010), p. 113.

[6] Ibid, p. 92.

[7] Ibid.

[8] نثر الدر في المحاضرات”، (1 / 204)، وكتاب الشفا، (2 / 20)، “وروضة المحبين ونزهة المشتاقين”، (1/ 418).

[9] ابن كثير، البداية والنهاية، (دار الفكر: 1407ه/1986م)، ج7، ص307.

[10] Sunan Abi Dawud 162

[11] Sahih al-Bukhari 3706

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