- This article is about a religious title. For Imam 'Ali (a), see Imam 'Ali (a).
|'Ali b. Abi Talib|
1st Shi'a Imam
11 October 599 CE |
(Rajab 13, 23 BH)
|Beginning of Imamate||From Safar 28, 11/May 28, 632|
|Duration of Imamate||29 years|
|Reign||656 – 661|
31 January 661 (aged 61) |
(Ramadan 21, 40 AH)
|Place of Burial||Najaf, Iraq,|
(As the Second Imamof the Shia and Caliph, and As the Fifth of Rashidun Caliphate)
|Father||Abu Talib b. 'Abd al-Muttalib|
|Mother||Fatima bt. Asad|
|Brother(s)||Ja'far, 'Aqil, Talib|
|Spouse(s)||Fatima, Umama, Umm al-Banin, Layla, Asma', Sahba', Khawla|
|Son(s)||Al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Muhsin, 'Abbas, 'Abd Allah, Ja'far, 'Uthman, 'Ubayd Allah, Abu Bakr, Muhammad, 'Umar, ...|
|Daughter(s)||Zaynab, Umm Kulthum, Ruqayya, ...|
'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, al-Sajjad, al-Baqir, al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Taqi, al-Hadi, al-'Askari, al-Mahdi
ʾAmīr al-Muʾminīn (Arabic: أمیرالمؤمنین) literally means the ruler or governor of Muslim believers. It is a title that Shiites find to be specific to Imam 'Ali (a). According to hadiths, the title was used for 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) at the time of the Prophet (s). Shiites maintain that it is not permissible to use this title for Rashidun Caliphs and others. What is more, they even hold that it is not permissible to use the title for other Twelve Imams (a) either. The title has, however, been commonly used by other Muslims with a political and religious connotation. Sunni Muslims use "Amir al-Mu'minin" for all Rashidun Caliphs, Umayyad Caliphs and Abbasid Caliphs.
The word "Amir al-Mu'minin" literally means the ruler, governor or leader of Muslim believers.
On its literal meaning, the phrase applies to the Prophet (s), since he was the leader of all Muslims. With the same literal connotation, the word has been used for Rashidun Caliphs as well as Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs. In Islamic sources the title was commonly used among Muslims with political and religious implications.
Shiites believe that the title was used for 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) in the period of the Prophet (s) too, appealing to hadiths cited in Shiite and Sunni sources. For example, Ibn 'Asakir is quoted Abu Burayda al-Aslami as saying that
- "The Prophet (s) ordered that we greet 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) as Amir al-Mu'minin".
In another hadith, Abu Burayda is also quoted as saying that
However, Sunni Muslims believe that after the demise of the Prophet (s), 'Umar was the first Caliph who used the title of "Amir al-Mu'minin" for himself. Ibn Khaldun took 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh to be the first person who gave the title to 'Umar, but some others took 'Amr b. al-'As or Mughira b. Shu'ba to be the first people who gave the title to 'Umar. However, 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh died before the caliphate of 'Umar, and so he cannot be the one who gave the title to 'Umar.
For Shiites and Sunnis
According to Shiite hadiths, however, "Amir al-Mu'minin" is considered as a privileged, specific title of Imam 'Ali (a). In these hadiths, the word has a particular meaning that implies an immediate succession or Khilafa of the Prophet (s), and such a position is specific to Imam 'Ali (a), since according to Shiites, he was the only one who truly deserved the position. According to some hadiths, even at the time of the Prophet (s), the title was used for 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a). The specification of the title to Imam 'Ali (a) can only be grounded in the idea that the title implies the immediate succession of the Prophet (s), that is, the idea that he should have been the ruler of Muslims immediately after the demise of the Prophet (s). This is perhaps why the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying that:
- Dāʾirat al-maʿārif tashayyuʿ, vol. 2, p. 522.
- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 37, p. 334; Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 14, p. 600.
- Ibn Khaldūn, Dīwan al-mubtadaʾ wa l-khabar, vol. 1, p. 283.
- Ibn Khaldūn, Dīwan al-mubtadaʾ wa l-khabar, vol. 1, p. 283.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 1, p. 48; Ibn ʿUqda al-Kūfī, Faḍaʾīl Amīr al-Muʾminīn, p. 13; Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Dimashq, vol. 42, p. 303, 386; Abū Nuʿaym, Ḥilyat al-awlīyāʾ wa ṭabaqāt al-aṣfīyaʾ, vol. 1, p. 63.
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- Ibn ʿUqda al-Kūfī, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad. Faḍaʾīl Amīr al-Muʾminīn. Edited by ʿAbd al-Razzāq Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ḥirz al-Dīn. Qom: Dalīl-i Mā, 1379 Sh.
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