Biography of Alí Ibn Abu Talib (600-661)

Fourth Orthodox Caliph of Islam (656-661), cousin and son-in-law of Mahoma, whose daughter Fatima married, union of which were born al - Hassan and al-Hussayn. Born in lathe to the year 600, in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), and died in January of the year 661 in Kufa (Iraq), killed by a member of the Kharijite sect when he/she came out to pray in the mosque. After the wife of the Prophet, Hadiya, Ali was the second person that converted to Islam, fighting with honor in the first and hard moments of the spread of the new faith. Party of the sia, whose followers are known today as siies or Shiites, one of the two branches together with the Sunnis was created around his figure and political aspirations (literally the Orthodox) in which Islam has been divided to this day. The siies have always considered direct, by both Fatima and other women that are married, as the only legitimate successors of the Prophet in the direction of the Ummah (community of Muslim believers) Ali and his descendants.

Life and work.

Son of Abu Talib, uncle of Muhammad, Ali belonged to the noble clan of the hachemies of Mecca, integrated into the tribe of the qurays, the same one that belonged to Mohammed, who was to become his most faithful collaborator and ally in the fight against the infidels. Muhammad asked the destruction of idols meccans, at the same time who took part in all the military expeditions decreed by him, which gained a deserved reputation for his courage, bravery and Pietism overdone with the new faith. In the year 623, Ali married Fatima, link that become you the possible successor of the Prophet, although it never had in mind or refer in his whole life to the succession problem. After the death of Muhammad, the 8 of June of the year 632, his main companions have agreed to nominate Abu Bakr as Caliph of Islam, Ali decision did not recognize until six months later, going to then fill the post of personal adviser in accordance with his rank, occupation that repeated with the next Caliph Omar (634-644), but always hold military or political position of importance because nothing disguised cravings for the Caliphate. In this context, Ali began to unite around his person to a large group of supporters that were devoted to spread the news that the Prophet, on his deathbed, had expressed the desire that his son-in-law happens in the leadership of the umma, claim clearly admit, since Ali had just 32 years of age when Mahoma died and the delicacy of the situation required a person with great political talent, of greater age and experience, qualities that Ali had not certainly without therefore undermining their worth as a warrior and ardent defender of the new faith.

With the advent of the Caliphate of Otman (644-656), there were serious differences between this and Ali which led to first and foremost fitna (separation, traumatic division in Islamic sense) within the bosom of Islam. The choice of Otman as Caliph, although it was not an outstanding man of the stature of Omar and Abu Bakr, was in a way a logical fact as it had been developing and growing Islam. Otman belonged to the qurays most powerful aristocracy, dominant economic and social power in Makkah for centuries, that the Prophet never wanted to destroy, but on the contrary, attract her to the Islamic cause and thus further strengthen the union of Islam. In sum, the designation of Otman came to bear witness to that desired and mutual reintegration between blood brothers.

Reaffirming in a legitimist and demanding position, Ali continued claiming the Caliphate, to which began a ferocious propaganda campaign in order to discredit Otman, to which accused of falsifying the doctrine Islamic with substitutions and deletions made in the first official Edition of the written Quran which the Caliph sent copy to a Commission of scholars, to date transmitted to pieces and at the mercy of the collective oral memory of believers. Ali also took the delicate social and political situation that crossed the Islam during the Caliphate of Otman, victim of its own progress and territorial expansion, to undermine his power and put at the head of a powerful coalition. The evolution of customs as a result of the enrichment provided by conquests, the distribution of revenues from taxes among the provinces which were by annexing and the Mecca central Government, and, finally, the difficult management control of semi-autonomous governing occupied territories provincial bosses forcing Otman to make administrative changes that resulted in the cessation of illustrious Muslim Arab, comrades in arms since the beginning of Islam, by relatives of the Caliph, much better controlled and whose fidelity and richness were linked with the Caliph and his power or stability. Such practice of nepotism by Otman was flagrant with the appointment of his nephew, Muawiya, to the appointed Governor of the rich province of Syria with its capital in Damascus. With these practices, Otman helped unwittingly to Ali to form a powerful opposition party formed by such influential figures as Aixa, the favorite wife of the Prophet, the notable qurays Talha and Zubayr and defenestrated Governor of Egypt Amr.

The caliphal crisis erupted in all its glory at the beginning of the year 656, when Otman was brutally murdered while praying in the mosque of Mecca. Without that it was possible to determine the part of Ali guilt in the murder, the truth is that this not disapproved it keeping in addition to spin some of the perpetrators even at the expense of appearing before the public opinion as an accomplice. After the murder of Otman and the flight of all direct relatives of Muawiya to Syria for fear of possible reprisals, Ali was finally declared Caliph of Islam. But, imposed by a party as opposed to his predecessors, its designation, as it was logical to think, was not recognized by all the Ummah. The unclear circumstances of the murder of Otman turned against her and made bloom to the surface the displeasure of his former allies. The remarkable qurays Talha and Zubayr, supported by Aixa, who deeply hated Ali, dragged large populations against Ali. On the other hand, all those who, according to Arab tradition, demanding revenge for the shed blood of the murdered Caliph, were grouped around the Governor of Syria, Muawiya, who had the advantage of having enormous material resources of its rich province to cover the opposition armed against Ali and being a man with a great political stature, repeatedly quite pragmatic.

The first revolt was easily crushed by Ali in the battle of the camel, carried out on December 9, the year 656, developed in the vicinity of Basra (Iraq), so called because it was conducted around the camel that was riding Aixa. After this battle, Ali said its domination over the Iraq, transferring the capital of Islam to Kufa, where he/she had more followers than in Mecca, a city which ended up becoming the center of the alidas propaganda for generations.

The second revolt, far worse that the previous split of Syria, Muawiya where continued to recognize the Caliphate of Ali while it shall not deliver the murderers of Otman, pretext that at the bottom of the issue all that entailed was a clash between two divergent and irreconcilable conceptions in such thorny issues as the implement a policy for the entire Islamic communitythat not stop growing while the expansionist military successes, and the role that should play the various territories that were part of Islam.

To convince Ali that the posture of Muawiya was unyielding and more settled each day that passed, decided to attack it head-on at the battle of Siffin, in the summer of the year 657, city located in the middle course of the Euphrates, between Syria and Mesopotamia. Amid the heat of battle, with an undecided outcome for both parties, the armies of Muawiya, in a pious gesture that became famous, hoisted leaves of the Quran at the tip of their spears, gesture that intended to mean the scandal of a fratricidal struggle and imperative submitted to the judgment of Allah, i.e. trust decision to some referees of Islamic law. So outrageous fact, Ali was forced by his lieutenants to engage in a dispute in which it would study the behavior of Otman and it would judge whether his murder could be admitted and, consequently, also if the rebel stance of Muawiya was valid or not. This circumstance resulted in immediate protest from a group of partisans of Ali, claiming that it was sacrilegious to put in the hands of men a trial that only corresponded to wing and that it was necessary, in accordance with a verse from the Koran, continue fighting the rebels. While waiting for the settlement of the dispute, these partisans of Ali, carried by the pure logic of its reasoning, were isolated from the two parties to create a third group, which was given the name of khaarijis (literally "those who should come out of something or somewhere"), training with the passage of time became the first sect as such in Islamwith little success, but always disturbing in their struggle and protest against the Sunnis and siies.

Arbitration, held in the city of Adruh, acquitted completely Otman of charges that the siies amputaban him, so Ali met automatically delegitimized as Caliph, occasion which took Muawiya to be proclaimed the true Caliph in Damascus. Ali, before combat to Muawiya, decided to retire to Kufa, where he/she organized a powerful army that massacred without mercy to the khaarijis refugees in Nahrawan, action which resulted to the long point entirely fruitless for its plans, since it failed to end the Kharijite opposition, while which contributed to his discredit to the umma and the definitive rise of his mortal enemy Muawiyawho wouldn't win land and followers in Egypt and in the Hejaz, areas hitherto of alida predominance. Finally, with all lost support, Ali was assassinated in January of the year 661 paradoxically in circumstances very similar to the Otman, as he/she left the praying in the mosque of Kufa, victim of the rancour accumulated by a Kharijite partisan. His death ensured the triumph of the Umayyad family, which was Chief Muawiya.

With the death of Ali not desapreció, not far the movement kysymys. His son major al - Hassan succeeded him for six months, to end up disappearing voluntarily from the political scene by accepting their inferiority to Muawiya, after receiving a significant amount of money and land that could live comfortably the rest of his days. Al - Hussayn, the second son of Ali, tried to organize an army in Kufa that recover the Caliphate that corresponded to their family tradition alida. But, not having the minimum qualities to hold the head and much less spiritual leader, just relying on the legitimate Justice of its cause, was left to surprise with a small detachment in Kerbala, where was massacred along with all fellow adventure by Umayyad armies. Even being so unimportant, militarily speaking, the tragedy of Karbala, where a grandson of the Prophet had found martyrdom fighting the usurpers, deeply moved the sensitivity of many people, supporters or not cause alida, conferring to the movement of the sia an aura of suffering that has been missing up to then to Islam. Over time, and place of martyrdom of al - Hussayn, Kerbala became the main city of the siies, even ahead of al - Najaf (Iraq), where was found the tomb of Ali, converted today into the nerve center of a huge cemetery sii.

Significance of the figure of Ali and the siismo in Islam.

Emblematic and gigantic figure its proportions during the first moments of gestation and subsequent triumph of Islam, Ali is respected by all Muslims for one reason or another. Sunni, holders of orthodoxy, Revere Ali for his unquestionable role as a warrior of the faith, as a model of piety and scholarship in religious matters, transmitter of a good number of Hadith (traditions) of the facts and sayings of the Prophet in life, role which, without a doubt, contributed in a decisive way the degree of relationship so close that it was between the two. In relation to Sufism and its adherents, religious movement within Islam aimed at access to the presence and direct knowledge of wing and whose members behaved as ascetics and mystics (following the example of their Christian counterparts), Ali was revered as producer of a rich doctrinal source of esoteric nature; his sayings and sermons, collected in the book the trail of eloquence (NAHJ al - Balaga), served for a long time model to follow for the proper use of the Arabic language. But, where the figure acquired and continues acquiring the exact proportions of a myth is, without a doubt, the sii world, is considered to be the first mahdi (literally "guided by Allah"), a magnet, i.e. an intermediary between Allah and man, the only one that holds, along with their descendants, the legitimacy of succession of the Prophet of Islam and the Ummah. A magnet impeccable and infallible, and here lies the main difference with the Sunni who conceive the Caliph as a temporal sovereign responsible of protecting religion and do comply and accept the provisions of the Act. The figure of Ali is immensely popular in Islam because of its double quality of Saint and warrior, and also by his unfortunate fate. He/She was able to create a movement of tremendous political, religious and historical importance that with the elapse of time led to different branches or sects around his person: (very close to the sunnismo) zaydies, the duodecimanos (the main sect) and the septimanos or Ismaili, the latter subdivided into Druze and Nizari, nusayries, etc, all of them with their particular idiosyncrasies or set accessor element. Finally, it was also by Ali and his descendants that the sherifs asserted its position eminent and illustrious as descendants of the Prophet, while the Quran preached the equality of all Muslims, when it comes to hold State positions or make with Thrones to throughout the history of Islam, such as for example with the current alawite dynasty reigning in Morocco since the year 1668.

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Carlos Herraiz García.