Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) was the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad (saw), and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661. Sunni Muslims consider Ali the fourth and final of the Rashidun (rightly guided Caliphs), while Shi’a Muslims regard Ali as the first Imam and consider him and his descendants the rightful successors to Muhammad (saw), all of which are members of the Ahl al-Bayt (people of the house of Muhammad (saw)).
During Muhammad’s (saw) time, Ali was the only person born in the Kaaba sanctuary in Mecca, the holiest place in Islam.His father was Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib and his mother was Fatima bint Asad,but he was raised in the household of Muhammad (saw), who himself was raised by Abu Talib, Muhammad’s (saw) uncle. When Muhammad (saw) reported receiving a divine revelation, Ali was the first male to accept his message, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.
Ali (ra) migrated to Medina shortly after Muhammad (saw) did. Once there Muhammad (saw) told Ali that God had ordered Muhammad (ra) to give his daughter, Fatimah (ra), to Ali in marriage.For the ten years that Muhammad (saw) led the community in Medina, Ali was extremely active in his service, and in the protection of the young Muslim community.
Ali was appointed Caliph by the Companions of Muhammad (saw) (the Sahaba) in Medina after the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan.He encountered defiance and civil war during his reign. In 661, Ali was attacked one morning while worshipping in the mosque of Kufa, and died a few days later.
In Muslim culture, Ali is respected for his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies, and therefore is central to mystical traditions in Islam such as Sufism. Ali retains his stature as an authority on Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and religious thought.Ali holds a high position in almost all Sufi orders which trace their lineage through him to Muhammad. Ali’s influence has been important throughout Islamic history.
Ali did not want his grave to be desecrated by his enemies and consequently asked his friends and family to bury him secretly. This secret gravesite was revealed later during the Abbasid caliphate by Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, his descendant and the sixth Shia Imam.Most Shi’as accept that Ali is buried at the Tomb of Imam Ali in the Imam Ali Mosque at what is now the city of Najaf, which grew around the mosque and shrine called Masjid Ali.
However another story, usually maintained by some Afghans, notes that his body was taken and buried in the Afghan city of Mazar-E-Sharif at the famous Blue Mosque or Rawze-e-Sharif.