How did Imam Ali interact and deal with the three Caliphs? Part – 1

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Certain attitude and behavior toward an individual, a group, an action or an ideology is sufficient to outline the position adopted toward them, as in many occasions words and direct statement are not even required. Therefore, for some groups, individuals or even carriers of a certain ideology sealing and securing the approval and content of important personalities and figures is essential, as this approval can be viewed and considered as legitimacy. The Islamic history is filled with contradictions and some facts that are far from reality, or what actually happened, since history is usually written and recorded by the victorious sides. However, there are events and incidents in Islam, which have outlined and identified some of the most controversial issues in a way that was not accepted by the regimes and rulers of Islamic empire, but yet the enormity of transmission and narrating the actual event was inevitable.


The early events in Islamic history after the death of Prophet Mohammad, are the essence and main criteria that distinguish the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. The extortion of Caliphate from the rightful Caliph (Imam Ali), according to Shia Islam, is the reason behind the division within Islam, as the direct order of God and his messenger was abandoned and Muslims neglected their own Prophet. In addition, Sunni Islam believes that Prophet Mohammad did not appoint a successor and it was the responsibility of Muslims to choose the successor of Prophet from among them.

However, the question that arises alongside many other wonderings about this specific era is: if Prophet Mohammad did not appoint a successor, then why was it imperative for the first three Caliphs to seek the approval of Imam Ali and Prophet Mohammad’s holy household? In addition, the rejection of Imam Ali and his wife (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) daughter of Prophet Mohammad toward the decisions made by those groups was made public. Therefore, why would the household of Prophet Mohammad take that path, as if they were wrong the three Caliphs were not responsible for seeking their approval, and if they were right, then why did the three Caliphs take what was not theirs?


Mainstream Sunni Islam, has invented its own version of Prophet Mohammad’s household, and their history books have portrayed the household of Prophet Mohammad, as individuals, who were fully supporting the Caliphs and the decisions taken by them. There are numerous narrations by several Sunni scholars that claim, Imam Ali was fully cooperative with them, and he even let Omar marry one of his daughters. Nonetheless, there are several other narrations recorded by Shia and Sunni historians that completely neglect these claims and place a question mark around the notion of Imam Ali’s attitude, behavior and position toward those figures.

  • Lady Fatima Al-Zahra & her position toward Abu Bakr and Omar:

It is narrated by several Sunni and Shia sources that after the Door Incident, where Omar and his clan attacked the house of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, they (Abu Bakr & Omar) came to Imam Ali and asked him to arrange meeting with Lady Fatima. Lady Fatima Al-Zahra refused the notion, but she told Imam Ali: if you see any purpose in having them here, then I shall fulfill your wish and accept them. Abu Bakr and Omar came to Imam Ali’s house, and Lady Fatima Al-Zahra spoke to them from behind the wall and the conversation goes as follow:

Lady Fatima: Did you not hear my father (Prophet Mohammad) say that Fatima is a piece of my heart. Whomever harms her has harmed me and whomever harms me, has harmed Allah? They replied: we swear to Allah, we heard the messenger of Allah state that. Lady Fatima: I swear to Allah, you have infuriated me and harmed me. Therefore, I shall meet my father and Allah in the next world, and tell them about my afflictions caused by you.

This conversation and the narrations within it, which are accepted by all Muslims, clearly indicate that the daughter of Prophet Mohammad and wife of Imam Ali, left this world, while being dissatisfied by Abu Bakr and Omar. In addition, the famous Sunni scholar Al-Bukhari narrates that: She (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) passed away and she was dissatisfied from Abu Bakr and Omar.

  1. Lady Fatima Al-Zahra burial & Absence of Abu Bakr and Omar along with, whomever attacked the house of Imam Ali.

This notion is another fact that is accepted and acknowledged by all Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia, as everyone acknowledges that Imam Ali did not let Abu Bakr, Omar and many others to join the burial of his wife, Lady Fatima Al-Zahra. According to narrations by Salim Ibn Qias, who is one of the authors and historians of early Islamic era: The only people, who attended the burial of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra were five or seven, as only couple of Imam Ali’s close pupils and companions along with his children Imam Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein were present in those sad moments. According to narrations by Imam Ali, this was the command and final will of Lady Fatima herself, as she requested and told Imam Ali: Please bury me at night, when no one is present. Don’t let any of those who attacked my house and extorted your right join my burial. Don’t let anyone know about where my grave is.

In addition, other sources narrate, the following morning, when the Muslims realized Lady Fatima has been buried in secrecy, Abu Bakr and Omar decided to disinter the graves and rebury the daughter of Prophet Mohammad themselves. However, this attempt was stopped by Imam Ali, as he pulled his sword and said: whomever, touches one of the graves, that would be the last day in his life, as you all knew about the Prophet’s will that commanded me to stay calm in the face of all you have done. This time, there is no will and command, and I shall honor the will of Prophet’s daughter, and her grave will remain unknown.

These incidents also record some of the direct encounters between Imam Ali and the three Caliphs during the early stages of Islamic history, where he clearly expressed his rejection and refusal to accept their rule and derived any possible legitimacy they were seeking to attain from him.

To be continued

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