Al? ibn Ab? ??lib, 13th Rajab, 24 BH – 21st Rama??n, 40 AH; approximately March 17, 599 or 600 – January 27, 661) was the cousin, son-in-law and one of the Ahl al-Bayt, people of the house, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, reigning over the Rashidun empire from 656 to 661. Sunni Muslims consider ?Al? as the fourth and final Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliph). Sh?‘a Muslims regard Ali as the first infallible Imam and consider him and his descendants as the rightful successors to Muhammad. This disagreement split the Muslim community into the Sunni and Sh?‘a branches.
Some sources record that ?Al? was the only person born in the Kaaba sanctuary in Mecca. 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, who himself was raised by Abu Talib. When Muhammad reported receiving a divine revelation, ?Al? was among the first to accept his message, dedicating his life to the cause of Islam.
?Al? migrated to Medina shortly after Muhammad. There Muhammad told Ali that he had been ordered by God to give his daughter, Fatimah, to Ali in marriage. For the ten years that Muhammad led the community in Medina, ?Al? was extremely active in his service, leading parties of warriors on battles, and carrying messages and orders. Ali took part in almost all the battles fought for Islam.
?Al? was appointed caliph by Muhammad\'s companions in Medina after the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan. He encountered defiance and civil war (First Fitna) during his reign. In 661, Ali was attacked while praying in the mosque of Kufa, dying a few days later.
Muslims greatly respect ?Al? for his knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty to Muhammad, equal treatment of all Muslims and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies. ?Al? 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. ?Al?\'s influence has thus continued throughout Islamic history.