Ali bin Abi Talib took part in all the battles of Muhammad's time, save the Battle of Tabuk, as standard bearer. He also led parties of warriors on raids into enemy lands, and was an ambassador. Ali's fame grew with every battle that he was in, due to his courage, valour and chivalry, as well as the fact that he, single-handedly, destroyed many of Arabia's most famous and feared warriors.Many people acknowledge him as the greatest warrior of all time.
Four of Ali's distinctionsEdit
Ibn Abbas said: Ali has four distinctions no one shares with him; He was the first male who prayed with the Messenger of God. He was the bearer of his banner in every battle and he was the one who stayed with him at the Battle on the Day of Al-Mihras (the Battle of Uhud, where there is gathered water called Al-Mihras ), and he is the one who washed his blessed body and laid him in his tomb. (Al Hakim, al Mustadrak, vol 3 p 111)
The Battle of BadrEdit
Muhammad did not know that an army had left Mecca, was marching toward Medina to protect the caravan of the Quraysh, and to challenge the Muslims. When Muhammad arrived in the environs of Badr, he sent Ali to reconnoiter the surrounding country. At the wells of Badr, Ali surprised some water-carriers. In reply to his questions, they told him that they were carrying water for an army which came from Makkah, and which was encamped on the other side of the nearby hills.
Ali brought the water-carriers before Muhammad. From them he learned that the caravan of the Quraysh had already escaped, and that the Muslims, at that very moment, were confronted by the army of Mecca.
On reaching the neighborhood of Badr, Muhammad sent forward Ali, with a few others, to reconnoiter the rising ground above the springs. There they surprised three water-carriers of the enemy, as they were about to fill their sheepskins. One escaped to the Coreish; the other two were captured and taken to the Moslem army. From them Muhammad discovered the proximity of his enemy. There were 950 men; more than threefold the number of the Moslem army. They were mounted on 700 camels and 100 horses, the horsemen all clad in mail. (Sir William Muir, The Life of Mohammed, London, 1877)
The youngest pair engaged first, Ali stepping forward to meet Waleed. After a few moments of fencing, Waleed fell by the sword of his Muslim opponent. Then Hamza engaged Otba and cut him down. Ubaida ibn Harith, the third Muslim champion, received a fatal wound from Shaiba. Ali and Hamza hastily dispatched Shaiba, carrying Ubaida to die in the Muslim lines.
By noon the battle was over. The Quraysh fled. Forty-nine of the enemy had fallen and Ali had killed twenty-two, either alone or with the help of others. An equal number was captured. The believers had lost fourteen men on the field of battle.
Ali first distinguished himself as a warrior in 624, at the Battle of Badr. He defeated the Umayyad champion Walid ibn Utba as well as many other Meccan soldiers. According to Muslim traditions he killed at least twenty people and at most thirty five, but most of them agree with twenty seven.
The Battle of UhudEdit
One year after the battle of Badr, the new army of the idolaters of Mecca was ready to take the field against the Muslims. In March 625 AD, Abu Sufyan left Mecca at the head of three thousand seasoned warriors. Most of them were foot soldiers but they were supported by a strong contingent of cavalry. Also accompanying the army, was a band of warlike women. Their duty was to wage "psychological warfare" against the Muslims by reading poetry and by singing amatory songs to spur the courage and the will-to-fight of the soldiers. They knew that nothing held such terror for the Arabs as the jibes of women for cowardice, and they also knew that nothing was so efficacious to turn them into utterly reckless fighters as the promise of physical love. These amazons included the wives of Abu Sufyan and Amr bin Aas, and the sister of Khalid bin Walid.
Killing the Pagans Standard BearersEdit
The Meccans, generously assisted by the women who had brought their timbrels, flung insults at the Moslems. These were alternated by Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, who led triumphant choruses as she danced round the idol which perched on the camel.
Talha, the hereditary standard-bearer of the Koreishites, was the first Meccan challenger. As he stepped out of Abu Sufyan's ranks, Ali stepped out of Muhammad's. The two men met in the middle of 'no man's land.' Without words or preliminary flourishes the duel began. Talha never stood a chance. Ali's scimitar flashed in the morning sun and the head of the standard-bearer leaped from his shoulder and rolled away on the sand.
'Allahu Akbar!'(Allah is the greatest) echoed from the eagerly watching Muslims. (R.V.C. Bodley, The Messenger, the Life of Mohammed, New York, 1946)
When Ali ibn Abu Talib killed the carrier of the Meccan flag, Talhah ibn Abu Talha, it was immediately raised again by Uthman ibn Abu Talha. And when Uthman fell at the hands of Hamzah, it was raised again by Abu Sa'd ibn Abu Talhah. At the moment he raised the Meccan flag he shouted at the Muslims. "Do you pretend that your martyrs are in paradise and ours in hell? By God, you lie! If anyone of you truly believes such a story, let him come forward and fight with me." His challenge attracted Ali who killed him on the spot. The Banu Abd al Dar kept on carrying the Meccan flag until they lost nine men. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad)
Ali alone had killed eight standard-bearers of the idolaters of Mecca.
Ibn Athir, the Arab historian, writes in his 'Tarikh Kamil' "The man who killed the standard-bearers (of the pagans) was Ali.
The General OffensiveEdit
Ali ibn Abu Talib pressed on undismayed into the enemy ranks – it was Badr again; the Muslims were invincible. (Sir John Glubb, The Great Arab Conquests, 1963)
Ali and Hamza had broken the ranks of the Quraysh, and he was already deep inside their lines. Unable to resist his attack, they began to yield ground. Between them, they were grinding back the army of Quraysh.
The Flight of the MuslimsEdit
The death of the bearers of the banner heightened the morale of the Muslims, who pursued the enemy headlong. This however resulted in complacency, with some of the Muslim soldiers beginning to claim war spoils for themselves whilst the battle had not yet been fully won. This allowed the pagans to launch a counter-attack, which dismayed the Muslim army and sent it into headlong retreat. Muhammad remained stranded, with only a few soldiers left to defend him against the attacks of Khalid ibn Waleed. It is recorded that 'Ali alone remained, fending off the assaults of Khaleed's cavalrymen. According to Ibn Atheer, "The Prophet became the object of the attack of various units of the army of Quraish from all sides. Ali attacked, in compliance with Muhammad's orders, every unit that made an attack upon him and dispersed them or killed some of them, and this thing took place a number of times in Uhud."
...when somebody raised the cry that Muhammad was killed, chaos reigned supreme, Muslim morale plunged to the bottom and Muslimzsoldiers fought sporadically and purposelessly. This chaos was responsible for their killing of Husayl ibn Jabir Abu Hudhayfah by mistake, as everyone sought to save his own skin by taking flight except such men as Ali ibn Abu Talib whom God had guided and protected. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, 1935, Cairo)
The first of the Quraish to reach the Prophet's position was Ikrimah. As Ikrimah led a group of his men forward the Prophet turned to Ali and, pointing at the group, said, "Attack those men." Ali attacked and drove them back, killing one of them. Now another group of horsemen approached the position. Again the Prophet said to Ali, "Attack those men." 1 Ali drove them back and killed another infidel.
A regiment arrived from Kinanah in which four of the children of Sufyan Ibn Oweif were present. Khalid, Abu AI-Sha-atha, Abu Al-Hamra, and Ghurab. The Messenger of God said to Ali: "Take care of this regiment." Ali charged the regiment, and it was about fifty horsemen. He fought them while he was on foot until he scattered them. They gathered again and he charged them again. This was repeated several times until he killed the four children of Sufyan and added to them six more ... (Ibn Abu Al Hadeed, in his Commentary, vol 1 p 372)
It was said that during 'Ali's defence of the Prophet, a call was heard, as follows: "There is no soldier but Ali, and there is no sword save Dhulfiqar)."
The Battle of the TrenchEdit
After the battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan and the other pagan leaders realized that they had fought an indecisive action, and that their victory had not borne any fruits for them. Islam had, in fact, resiled from its reverse at Uhud, and within an astonishingly short time, had reestablished its authority in Medina and the surrounding areas. Again Ali proved to be an invincible warrior by killing Amr ibn wod al ameree who was one of the most feared warriors at the time. After Ali dropped Amr ibn wod al ameree off his horse, Amr spat at Ali. Ali got angry, and so he walked away for a moment and then got back after he calmed down, he told Amr ibn wod al ameree "If i killed you then i would have satisfied myself and not god's will" and then he killed Amr. The Muslim ranks roared and were happy. The prohpet said "Ali's strike on the day of the trench, is worth the worship of al thaqalain"
The Battle of KhaybarEdit
The campaign of Khaybar was one of the greatest. The masses of Jews living in Khaybar were the strongest, the richest, and the best equipped for war of all the peoples of Arabia. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad)
- Encyclopaedia of Islam. Ed. P. Bearman et al., Leiden: Brill, 1960-2005.
- Jafri, S.H.M. The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam. Longman;1979 ISBN 0-582-78080-2
- (In Arabic)