Chapter IV: Ali As A Protector & Disciple Of The Prophet
 

Hijrat and the conspiracy to murder Muhammad

The Quraish, beholding with alarm the exodus of the followers of the Prophet and dreading the consequences of the new alliance of Muhammad and his followers with the people of Yathrib, formed a strong conspiracy to prevent his escape to Yathrib, under any circumstances. They kept close watch over the movements of the Prophet and took measures to secure his person in order to put him to death. They held council to discuss how they should do away with Muhammad. One opined that he should be imprisoned in a cell having but a little hole, through which he should be given scanty food till he dies. Another suggested that he should be banished. These proposals were rejected by others as too mild lest he should find means to escape and seek revenge. At length they decided to kill him by forcing into his dwelling in the night; they appointed one man from each of their families to join in the murderous attack upon Muhammad. This was a ruse to trap the Hashimites into avenging themselves on at least one family which would give their enemies enough provocation and justification for a fight.

This conspiracy was hardly at work when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet, informed him of the scheme against him, and communicated to him the permission of Allah to his Hijrat or emigration from Mecca to Yathrib 1 that very night. This is mentioned in the Quran thus:

"And when the Infidels plotted against thee, that they might detain thee (as prisoner) or put thee to death, or turn thee out; and they plotted (against thee) but God laid a plot (against them); and God is the best layer of plots. (i. e. God's watchfulness outwits the wicked in frustrating their designs against the virtuous)." Sura VIII-30.

Migration of the Prophet from Mecca

By the time the murderers began to assemble before the dwelling of the Prophet, he apprised his favourite cousin, Ali, of the impending danger, and of his intention to leave the house at once for good. He directed Ali to lie down on the bed in his place and cover himself with his (the Prophet's) well known green mantle. Unhesitatingly Ali carried out the instructions and Muhammad, repeating the ninth verse of Sura Ya Seen of the Holy Book, sallied forth unobserved by the assailants as if they were stricken with blindness.

"And We have set a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them; and We have covered them with darkness; wherefore they shall not see." Sura XXXVI-9.

His heart swelling with love and gratitude at being selected for such a dangerous task, Ali asked his Master,

________________________ 1 Yathrib changed its ancient name, and was henceforth styled Med inat un-Nabi, the City of the Prophet, or shortly, Medina, the city par excellence.

"If I sleep here in your bed in your stead, will you be safe?" "Yes," said the Holy Prophet. He then instructed Ali to remain behind at Mecca for some time in order to discharge for him certain trusts and charges and bequests which were incumbent on the Prophet. He instructed Ali to look after the women and children and send them to Medina quietly.

The task Muhammad entrusted to Ali was a major one, and no small an undertaking for a youth of hardly twenty three years; but the way in which he carried it out, showed Ali's astonishing capacity. He was called upon to deputise for Muhammad at the risk of his own life, for it was highly probable that the mob would kill Ali taking him to be Muhammad, or else would get furious at being foiled of their chief objective, and in that case would also kill him instead of the Prophet.

When all the assassins had been assembled, they (in the words of W. Irving) paused at the door and looking through a crevice, beheld, as they thought, Muhammad wrapped in his green mantle, and lying asleep on his couch. They waited for a while consulting whether to fall on him while sleeping or wait until he should go forth. At length they burst open the door and rushed towards the couch. The sleeper started up, but instead of Muhammad, Ali, son of Abu Talib stood before them. Amazed and confounded they demanded, "Where is Muhammad?" "I know not," replied Ali sternly, and walked forth, nor did any one venture to molest him.

John Davenport describes the incident in the following words : "After surrounding the house, the assassins then forcibly entered it, but finding instead of their purposed victim, the youthful Ali, calmly and resignedly awaiting the death intended for his Chief. So much devo tedness excited the pity even of those men of blood, and Ali was left unharmed."

Ali's Devotion

Ali's devotion to the Prophet without fear of running the risk of losing his own life was much appreciated by the All-knowing Judge of man, the merciful God, who sent down the angels Gabriel and Michael to guard him from the murderous mob; and informed the Prophet on his way to Medina of His approval of Ali's resignation to His Will, with the words contained in Verse 20$ of Sura II of the Quran.

"And of men there is one who selleth his soul for the sake of seeking the pleasure of God; and God is gracious unto His servants." Men of understanding and intelligence will ever admire Ali till the end of time for the tranquillity of mind displayed by him in the midst of this terrible struggle between life and death.

Also, they will marvel at the Prophet's wise selection of Ali for this night's dramatic performance.

Something in Ali's bearing, his intensely personal heroism, some magnetic quality of his demeanour, must have been responsible for his survival on this occasion. The mob held back and we know that Ali stayed behind in Mecca for some days to return the properties left in trust by the Holy Prophet to their rightful owners as directed.

Ali hastened to Medina

Having satisfactorily accomplished these responsibilities entrusted to him and having arranged for the safe departure of the Prophet's family members to Medina, Ali hastened forward on foot to Medina, travelling only in the night and hiding himself in the day, lest he should fall into the hands of the Quraish. He reached Qoba three days after the arrival of the Prophet, with his feet sorely lacerated and bleeding. The Prophet, overjoyed at seeing him, received him with open arms, and finding him tired and exhausted, shed tears manifesting his fondness and affection for him; he subsequently applied the moisture of his mouth to the wounds of Ali's feet with his own hands and prayed for him. This produced instantaneous relief.

The converts at Qoba desired the Prophet to lay the foundation stone of a mosque for them. The Prophet asked some of his companions to ride on his camel and to make a circuit round the place. It was his intention to build a mosque in the place where the camel stopped. Some of his companions mounted on the back of the camel, but it refused to budge. Then the Prophet asked Ali, his vicegerent, to make the attempt. As soon as Ali set foot in the stirrups, the camel stood up and the Prophet directed Ali to let the animal go by itself without guiding it. Ali let loose the rein, and the camel went round a small piece of ground and came back to its starting point and knelt down. The Prophet marked the site and fixing the position of Qibla, he laid the foundation stone for the mosque. There is a mention of this mosque in the Quran vide Sura IX-109 last portion.

This was the last halt of the Prophet before he set out for Medina. Qoba is situated only two miles to the south of Medina, and is remarkable for its beauty and fertility.

The Holy Prophet left Qoba on Friday the 16th Rabi I., corresponding (according to Mr. Caussin de Perceval) with the 2nd of July 622 1.

Boreida b. Al Hasib with his seventy neophytes (new converts) formed a procession, carrying as standard his lance with a piece from his turban fastened to its upper end.

It being Friday, the Prophet stopped at Raanawna, a place midway between Qoba and Medina, and performed his Friday Prayers, followed by a sermon to the Muslims present. This Friday Service and the Sermon were the first, to be observed always thereafter.

When the Prophet after the Service, was proceeding to Medina, the whole spectacle with its ceremonial solemnity looked really grand, like a triumphal procession headed by a monarch, increasing in its majestic grandeur as it approached the City, where thousands of spectators had assembled to have a look at the great Prophet of Islam. History of the world records no greater example of the triumph of truth.

Each tribe, which he passed through, desired the honour of his presence and requested him to take up his abode with them. The Prophet, refusing all these offers, said that the camel, which he rode on, was inspired and would take him to the proper quarter. The camel proceeded on to the eastern sector and knelt down in the open courtyard of the Banu Najjar, near the house of Khalid b. Zaid, known in history as Abu Ayyub Ansari, the then head of the Banu Najjar family-the family to which Muhammad's grand father Abd-al-Mottalib's mother Selma belonged. He was delighted to be fortunate to have the honour of the Prophet's presence. ________________________

1 Caussin de Perceaval Vol. iii. pp. 17-20; Ibn-Hisham p. 335. 18

After his arrival in Medina, one of the first acts of the Holy Prophet was to establish the brotherhood, individually between the people of Medina (known as AnsarsHelpers) and the emigrants of Mecca known as Mohajirs, and_to lay the foundation of the Prophet's mosque known as Masjid-e-Nabavi.

The Prophet inculcated the fundamental principle that brotherhood depended not on blood but on faith alone. The rights of family inheritance within Islam, were expressly valid and sacred. These mandates resulted in a considerable extension of the Muslim community.

His own brotherhood the Prophet bestowed upon Ali, his cousin, as previously he had done in Mecca, declaring according to Suyuti, "Thou art My Brother in this world and in the next".

The Muslims were sympathetic and considerate to one another after the brotherhood was enjoined. They were so zealous in their faith that nothing else came before Islam; and anything outside of it was looked upon as unholy. In fact, they were animated with a strange spirit of firmness in their adherence to the Prophet and of cohesiveness to hold together. Gibbon gives the account in the following words : "To eradicate the seeds of jealousy. Muhammad judiciously coupled his principal followers with the rights and obligations of brethren; and when Ali found himself without a peer, the Prophet tenderly declared that he would be the companion and brother of the noble youth. The expedient was crowned with success; the Holy fraternity was respected in peace and war, and the two parties vied with each other in a generous emulation of courage and fidelity." W. Smith's p. 460. The ordinance of brotherhood is given thus in the Quran :

"Verily those who believe and have emigrated and have tried with their substance and their souls for the cause of God, and those who have given them shelter and been helpful, shall be near of kin (heirs) the one to the other." Sura VIII-73 1.

The Holy Prophet took up his temporary residence in the house of Abu Ayub Ansari for seven months, until the Masjid-e-Nabavi, with proper quarters for himself, was built in the courtyard where the camel had stopped.

The construction work was distributed among the Mohajirs and the Ansars-the Prophet, too, had his share of the work. But he was seldom allowed to work, as Ammar Yasir used to accomplish the Prophet's share of work in addition to his own. Ammar Yasir was the first and foremost to begin the foundation of the mosque, and Ali was the first to offer his services as a labourer working alongside with the other members of the fraternity, shovelling the earth when the foundations were being laid and later carrying on his shoulders, baskets of mortar and brick which he passed on to the masons. While thus labouring, Ali used to recite the following verse :

Whosoever builds a mosque
And works whether sitting or standing
Puts up with the pain of labour
While others shirk work
For fear of dust and pain
Both of these verily Cannot equal each other.

________________________ 1 Taliquat Ibn-e-Saad Vol. III page 13, Riazunnazarah Vol. II page 1, Usdul Ghalia Vol. I page 269, Muntakheb Kanz-ul Ummal page 145, Kunuz-ul-Haquaiq page 20.

When the mosque and residential houses were ready, the Prophet and Ali, (his chosen companion) shifted from their temporary residence to the permanent ones.

CLOSING OF THE DOORS OPENING INSIDE THE PROPHET'S MOSQUE.

Later on, some companions of the Prophet also built their houses close to the Mosque with doors opening into the courtyards. Sometime afterwards, while they were leisurely sitting in the Mosque, a voice was heard : "Ye people! Close your doors opening into the Mosque." The people were struck with wonder to hear the voice, but they sat dumb without stirring to carry out the Command, till they heard again the injunction to close the doors on pain of Divine Wrath. Terrified at this warning, they all approached the Prophet, who was in his apartment. Ali also came out of his apartment which was adjacent to the Prophet's rooms since the day of Fatima's marriage with him. He stood by the Prophet when he ordered that all the doors opening into the Mosque, excepting that of Ali and his own, should be closed. People began to murmur. The Prophet was angry at their attitude and addressed them thus : "Verily, God ordered His apostle Moses to build a holy Mosque, and he allowed Moses, Aaron and the two sons of Aaron, viz. Shabbar and Shabbir, to live therein. I was likewise ordered to construct a holy mosque wherein myself and my brother Ali and his two sons, Hasan and Husain are allowed to live. Verily, I do only what I am ordered to do. I never undertake to act on my own wish. Certainly I have not ordered of my own accord to close your doors or to let Ali's door open. It is God who granted Ali an abode in the Holy Mosque." Consequently, the companions, whose houses skirted the quadrangle of the Mosque, closed their doors.

It is recorded on the authority of Sa'd, that the Apostle of God said to Ali : "It is not lawful for any to be in the Mosque while under the obligation of performing a thorough ablution except for me and for thee," Major Jarret's translation of Suyuti's His. p. 175.

Omar b. Al-Khattab said : " Verily, Ali hath been endowed with three qualities, of which had I but one, it would be more precious to me than were I given high bred camels." It was asked of him what they were? He replied : "His marriage with Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet; his remaining in the Mosque while that is permitted to him which is not lawful for me; and carrying the Standard on the day of Khaibar." Major Jarret's translation of Suyuti's His. p. 175. Tirmizi Mishkath 463, Nasai page 9, Riazunnazarah Vol. II page 192, Ibn-e-Maghazili and Kanzul-Ummal page 29.

CHAPTER V: ALI'S MARRIAGE WITH FATIMA THE DAUGHTER OF THE HOLY PROPHET

During the second year of Hijrat, Hazrat Ali's marriage with Fatima, the only daughter of the Holy Prophet, took place. Muhammad had received many offers for her hand from very rich families in Medina, as also from the chiefs of mighty clans in Arabia but he declined to consider these offers. He said he was awaiting the order of God for the person to whom his daughter should be wedded.

Some one then suggested to Hazrat Ali that he should place a proposal for himself before the Holy Prophet. Ali approached the Prophet feeling shy and modest, but when Muhammad heard the proposal he was so pleased that he smiled and said, "Ahlan wa Merhaban" (It is a welcome and happy proposal.)

Muhammad took the consent of his daughter for this proposal. The betrothal of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, to his cousin and faithful disciple, Ali, took place in the month of Ramazan 2 A.H., but the nuptial ceremonies were performed two months later in Zilhajj. This alliance - as revealed to the Prophet-was ordained by God, Who, he said to Fatima, had informed him of his choice from the noblest on the earth of two blessed men, one being her father (himself) and the other her husband (Ali); and that he had decreed his (the Prophet's) lineal descendants to spring forth from the couple (Ali and Fatima) and not direct from himself.

According to Dailami in Firdous-ul-Akhbar, Khuiar Zamin Manaqib and Yousuf Kanji in Kifayat-ut-Talile, the Holy Prophet announced that Gabriel had brought the good news that God had performed the marriage of Fatima and Ali in Heaven and the Prophet should perform the same on earth.

All the Muhajireen and Ansar of Medina assembled in the mosque, while Hazrat Ali was seated before the Holy Prophet with all the modesty of a bridegroom. The Holy Prophet first recited an eloquent sermon and then announced, "I have been commanded by God to get Fatima wedded to Ali, and I do hereby solemnize the matrimony between Ali and Fatima on a dower of 400 Misquall." Then he asked Hazrat Ali, "Do you consent to it 0 Ali?" "Yes, I do, 0 Holy Prophet of God." Then the Holy Prophet raised his hands in supplication and prayed thus : "O my God ! Bless both of them, sanctify their progeny and grant them the keys of Thy beneficence, Thy treasures of wisdom and Thy genius; and let both of them be a source of blessing and peace to my people." Then Ali prostrated himself before God. After a service of thanksgiving in which the Holy Prophet asked God for His blessings on the couple, praying, "O Almighty Lord! Bless them both and better their endeavours and give them noble children". The marriage was then performed. Addressing Ali, the Holy Prophet then said, "O Ali, lucky art thou indeed! Of all the virtuous women of the world, your wife is queen." Then turning towards Fatima the Holy Prophet said, "Of all the virtuous men of the world your husband is the king. May God keep you pious and chaste and bless your children. Verily I am a friend to him who befriends you both and an enemy to him who is your enemy."

From this marriage, Ali and Fatima had two sons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain, and two daughters, Janab-e-Zainab and Janab-e-Umme Kulsoom.

The wedding ceremony of the only daughter of Muhammad well demonstrates the ideal simplicity with which it was conducted. The wedding feast was of dates and olives; the nuptial couch was a sheepskin; the ornaments, the general outfit and the articles of necessity for the bride consisting of only a pair of silver armlets, two shirts, one head tiara, one leather pillow containing palm leaves, one grinding mill, one drinking cup, two large jars and one pitcher. This was all, compatible with the circumstances of the Prophet Muhammad and his son-in-law Ali, who had to sell his coat of mail to raise the dowry required.

It may be recalled that Fatima's mother was that generous lady Khadija whose fabulous wealth was spent by the Prophet on the widows and orphans of Muslims, and who was content even when nothing was left for her daughter.

The true grandeur of the marriage lay not in the ostentations, but in the blessings of Heaven for which the marriage is the most memorable in the annals of Islam. The couple tied in matrimonial alliance by God-were destined to be the parents of an illustrious progeny termed the sons of the Prophet, who are distinguished from, the rest of the Muslim world as divinely commissioned Imams or the Commanders of the Faithful, and the rightful successors of the Apostle of God. They are universally acknowledged by Muslims as the fountain-head of piety and wisdom. Hasan and Husain, the sons of Ali and Fatima, played in the lap of the Prophet, who showed them proudly from his pulpit and called them the Chiefs of the youths of Paradise. The parents themselves were as exalted as their children. The Prophet used to say, "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate." Ali, the gallant hero as he proved himself on all occasions of undaunted valour, had won for himself the title of 'Lion of God' from the Prophet. Fatima, who possessed the love and confidence of the Prophet and God, was ranked as one of the four ladies 'Perfect in Faith' with whom God had deigned to bless this earth, viz. 1 Asia, the wife of Pharaoh, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Khadija, the wife of Muhammad, and Fatima, the wife of Ali.

1 It is related that Asia, the daughter of Mozahem, because she believed in Moses, her husband cruelly tortured her, fastening her hands and feet to four stakes, and laying a large millstone on her breast; her face, at the same time was exposed to the scorching heat of the sun; her anguish, however was alleviated by the angels shading her with their wings and the view of the mansion prepared for her in paradise, which was revealed to her on her

________________________ 1 'Sale' from Jalaluddin-al-Zamakhshari.

pronouncing the prayer in the text: at length God received her soul; or, as some say, she was taken up alive into paradise, where she eats and drinks.

The Holy Prophet called Fatima the Chief of the women of Paradise and superior to all of them, and according to Bokhari, Muslim, Tirmizi, Dailami, Tibrani, Hakim, Abu Nayeem and a host of commentators, the Holy Prophet enjoined that Fatima is a part and parcel of himself and whoever caused the slightest grief to her, caused grief to the Prophet and to God Himself and that God is pleased with those with whom Fatima is pleased and God is angry on those who have incurred the wrath of Fatima.