The ideal environment that Hazrat Ali ibne Abi Talib had was his singular privilege. He opened his eyes in the lap of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.), had his upbringing under his tutelage and spent his youth in his august company. He benefited from the Prophet ( s.a.)’s fountainhead of learning and grew up under his care asHazrat Fatima binte Asad says:

“When Ali (a.s.) was born, the Prophet (s.a.) Gave him this name and made him suck his tongue. He dropped his saliva in the mouth of the baby and put his tongue in his mouth. Sucking the tongue, the baby slept. On the second day we searched for a foster mother (Daaya), But Ali (a.s.) took away his mouth from the bosom of the women. We thought of Mohammed (s.a.). He put his tongue in the mouth of the baby who then slept soundly. “” This went on till Allah desired it to be so. Ref: Seerat e Nabawia Dahlan, Page 176

Although during the period of fosterage Hazrat Ali (a.s) had his mother’s care, but after weaning the Prophet (s.a.) took up the responsibility. He used to give him the bath and spend hours taking him round in his arms. While awake, he used to sing lullabys to him. He took more care than the parents in the upbringing of Hazrat Ali (a.s.). At the age of six years Hazrat Ali (a.s.) formally came under the care of the Prophet (s.a.). The parents were relieved of his responsibility. The apparent reason of his coming totally under the tutelage of the Prophet (s.a.) was that Makka was passing through one of its worst droughts and Hazrat Abu Talib had difficulty of maintaining his large family. The Prophet (s.a.), realizing his uncle’s straitened financial position felt that he needed to be helped. He discussed the matter with his other uncle, Abbas. He told him that Abu Talib will not express about the difficulties himself. He said that Allah had endowed Abbas with wealth and he could provide his brother some relief by sharing the burden along with the others in the family. Abbas agreed with the suggestion and both of them went to Abu Talib for a discussion. They suggested to him that they came to him with a proposal that they would share the burden of maintaining some of his children. In the beginning he was hesitant, but in the end he yielded. They decided that Aqeel would remain with Abu Talib, and said that Abbas was free to take other sons with him. Therefore Abbas took charge of Talib, Hazrat Hamza agreed to take up guardianship of Jafar and the Prophet (s.a.) himself requested his uncle to allow him to take the responsibility of Ali (a.s.). The fact is that from the Day of Creation (Azl) Ali (a.s.) had been earmarked for him!

The drought came as a blessing in disguise for Hazrat Ali (a.s.) that he came under the direct tutelage of the Prophet (s.a.). Ibne Jareer Tabari writes:

“It was Allah’s Blessing for Ali (a.s.) that the Qureish suffered one of the worst droughts at the time. This way Allah accompliashed what He had planned for Ali (a.s.)”

Ref: Tareeq e Tabari, Vol 2, Page 57

It is natural that children do not want to be separated from their parents. But the Prophet (s.a.)’s love and affection didn’t let Ali (a.s.) feel much for the separation from his father and mother. He found his father’s affection in the affectionate looks of the Prophet (s.a.). He received a wealth of joy and happiness under his loving care. The Prophet (s.a.) used to feed the child with his own hands, made him sleep near himself. He took care of the child day and night and attended to all his needs himself. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) himself says about his upbringing:

“I was still a child that the Prophet (s.a.) took the responsibility of my upbringing. He used to keep me close to his chest. He made me sleep near him and made me smell his fragrance. He used to chew some food and then feed it to me. Ref: Nahjal Balagha

This was an example of Hazrat Ali (a.s.)’s physical upbringing. But since the Prophet (s.a.) was created by Allah for the moral uplift of the entire world, one can imagine the attention and training that he would provide to the one who has been specifically earmarked for his personal tutelage! On the one hand he was Ali (a.s.)’s benefactor and on the other he was the Mentor for the Entire World. In these circumstances, definitely Ali (a.s) would receive the best of training and upbringing imaginable! Therefore the prophet (s.a.) paid utmost attention to the development of the intellectual and moral development of his ward. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says about his moral training thus:

“I used to trail the Prophet (s.a.) the way a she-camel’s little one trails it! Eery day he used to raise the flags of good morals for me.and used to order me to follow them!”

Ref: Nahj al Balagha

This upbringing played sucha role in the development of his personality that he was a replica of the Prophet (s.a.) in morals, knowledge and action and was recognized as the reflection of his mentor’s qualities and excellence. Therefore, because of Divine Blessing and the august company of the Prophet (s.a.), Hazrat Ali (a.s.) was endowed with extraordinary qualities.

In his own words, Hazrat Ameer al Momineen (a.s.) has described thus: “In my chest is the knowledge that
has been fed to me as a bird feeds
Its little ones!”

This allegory of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has lot of meaning and delicacy in it. As a bird, feeds the food stored in its beak to its off spring, the Prophet (s.a.) transmitted all the knowledge, be it on Sharia, wisdom, Quran, Sunna, Morals and statesmanship, evident and hidden, current or past, to Hazrat Ali (s.a.)’s chest. After completion of this training the Prophet (s.a.) said “Aalam ammati” and “Ana Madinat al Ilm wa Aliun Babaha – I am the city of Knowledge and Ali is its Gate!”. The Prophet (s.a.) very clearly indicated now that anyone desirous of acquiring his knowledge had compulsorily to
go through Hazrat Ali (a.s.). Isn’t it a fact that entry to any city has to be made through its gate! Ali (a.s.) is a personality whose knowledge is directly acquired from his mentor, the Prophet (s.a.), and the Prophet (s.a.)’s knowledge is the direct Endowment from Allah!


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