Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib), b. c.600, d. Jan. 24, 661, fourth caliph of the Muslim community, is regarded by Shiite Muslims as the only legitimate successor of the Prophet Muhammad. The first cousin of Muhammad and husband of the Prophet's daughter Fatima, Ali was passed over in the caliphal succession until 656, when he received the office after the murder of Uthman, the third caliph.
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Ali, in Arabic, Ali ibn Abi Talib (600?-661), fourth caliph of Islam and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. He was born in Mecca, the son of Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle. Ali was one of the first converts to Islam and one of the most faithful followers of the Prophet. He married Muhammad's daughter Fatima, who bore him two sons, Hasan and Husayn. In 632, when Muhammad died, Ali claimed the right of succession. He was preceded in the caliphate, however, by Abu Bakr, Umar I, and Uthman ibn Affan, and did not become caliph until 656.
In the first year of Ali's reign he was forced to deal with a rebellion led by Aisha, whom Muhammad had married after the death of Fatima's mother and who bitterly opposed Ali's claim of succession. Although the rebellion was suppressed in late 656, disputes over Ali's right to the caliphate were not resolved. Muawiyah I, a member of Uthman's family, refused to recognize Ali as caliph and claimed the caliphate himself. This dispute continued until 661, when Ali was murdered at Al Kûfah by a member of the Kharijite sect; Muawiyah I was then acknowledged caliph.
Dissension between Ali's adherents and his opponents continued to shake the Muslim world. This conflict led to the first and most important schism in Islam, between the Shiites (adherents of Ali) and the Sunnites (orthodox Muslims). Ali is the ancestor of the Fatimid line of caliphs, who traced their descent from Ali and Fatima.
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any scholarly texts on this subject which have yet been translated into English. We know that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add higher quality texts to this presentation.
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