There is no doubt among us that after our dear Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP), our twelve Imams (AS) are the most important figures of our religion. On that account, today we want to get to know more about our first imam and the first male convert of the religion birth matter and conditions.
The faithless say, ‘You have not been sent [by Allah].’ Say, ‘Allah suffices as a witness between me and you, and he who possesses the knowledge of the Book’
The Holy Quran (13:43)
And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants
The Holy Quran (2:207)
If the two of you repent to Allah... for your hearts have certainly swerved, and if you back each other against him, then [know that] Allah is indeed his guardian, and his supporters are Gabriel, the righteous among the faithful and, thereafter, the angels...
The Holy Quran (66:4)
If we seek the true meaning of these three verses above of our holy book, they all seek Ali (AS) as their primary target and guide us to some aspects of his life. our dear imam has been implicitly described by The Quran many times that shows us His great importance in our religion.
No one can fully describe the contributions of Imam Ali (AS) to his religion and the people and if anyone dares to do so, he can merely show a drop of the sea. That said we are about to speak about the first question that may occur to our mind: how was our first Imam born?
Thirty years after the “year of the elephant” (*) occurrence, in the 13th of Rajab (March 8), when Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP) was 30 years old, 10 years before our dear The Prophet (PBUH&HP) received the first revelation from the angel Gabriel and 23 years before the great migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina.
At this time, our dear imam's pregnant mother (Fatima Daughter of Asad) was praying at Kaaba. She felt an immense amount of delivery pain that she fled to Kaaba from that pain. Suddenly the wall of Kaaba has moved apart and given shelter to her for 3 whole days. After these days, she came out of Kaaba with her dear son, our first imam, Ali b. Abi Talib (AS). Imam’s delivery was a great honor that happened to no one And after yet; walls moving apart, mother’s presence in the holy site of Islam, and the unique birth in Kaaba were all the signs of the greatness of son of Kaaba.
Fatima Daughter of Asad was the second woman that converted to Islam (after Prophet’s wife, Khadija” SA”). She had the honor of taking care of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) from the age of eight until his youth in her (Abu-Talib) house. Their relation was as much close that Prophet (PBUH&HP) called she “mother” So we can see the early strings of Prophet (PBUH&HP) calling Imam Ali (AS) his brother.
1.Sheikh Mofid (died in 413th AH): our first imam, Ali b. Abi Talib (AS) was born on Friday the 13th of Rajab and thirty years after the year of the elephant in Mecca. No one ever has been born in Kaaba before and after him. His delivery was the great honor that God granted him to show his dignity over other men of his age.
2. Allamah Al-Hilli (died in 726th AH): Imam Ali (PBUH) was born on Friday the 13th of Rajab and thirty years after the occurrence of the year of the elephant. No one before and after him, was born in Kaaba at that time, The Prophet (PBUH&HP) was thirty years old.
Many of the Sunni scholars Believe that Imam’s birth routine was in Kaaba and some of them even think this matter exclusively was only for the Imam.
We will name some of them briefly and look at their point of view:
1. Al-Hakim al-Nishapuri (died in 658th lunar year): a lot of Consecutive narrations have pointed that Fatima bt. Asad have delivered Ali b. Abi Talib in the Kaaba.
2. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi Hanafi (died in 654th lunar year): It has been narrated that when Fatima bt. Asad was pregnant and doing tawaf around the Kaaba, she sensed an immense delivery pain that she fled to Kaaba from the pain; when suddenly Kaaba’s door got opened to her so she went into the Kaaba and gave birth to his child.
Syed Ismail Himayari (who died in 173th AH) was one of the greatest poets of Arabic literature. He wrote a poem about this unique birth:
His mother gave birth to him in God’s safe site; God’s house and masque was his birthplace
He was pure and noble; her mother, her child, and her birthplace too
In one of the darkest nights, he appeared with lunar purity
No child other than Amine’s child is honored like him
- Kitab al-Kafi (first Volume – page 452)
- Kitab al-Irshad (first Volume – page 5)
- I'lam al-Wara bi A'lam al-Huda (first Volume – page 306)
- Bihar al-Anwar (35th Volume – page 182)
- Description of Nahj al-Balagha (first Volume – page 6)
- Manaqib Ale Abi Talib (third Volume – page 307)
- Rawżat al-Vaeezin (page 81)
* In that year, Kaaba invaded by faithless king Abraha and his great elephant army and ironically saved by Allah himself with an army of birds carrying small stones by their pecks that penetrate the elephant's body and skull and all of them got killed, and Kaaba was saved.
Every day we meet several people at work, in the shops, at the university, in the neighborhood, or at parties and gatherings with whom we communicate and interact. Talking, telling jokes, shaking hands, touching or kissing usually happen in these interactions; but, is a Muslim allowed to do all these with whoever he/she wants? Or is he/she permitted to be exposed to such acts? These and many similar questions are answered in Islam.
To clarify and form the relations among people, Islam has presented the concept of Maharim and the two categories “Mahram” and “non-Mahram” which sometimes serve as conditions, requirements, or the basis of several Islamic laws. Regarding the Islamic rules on marriage, these categories define who a person can and cannot marry. Likewise, when dealing with the Islamic dress code, i.e., explaining whom one must cover specific parts of a body in front of, the concept of Maharim is required.
One’s Mahram is anyone whom it is permanently forbidden to marry because of blood ties, marriage ties or breastfeeding. However, a woman does not need to cover her hair and put on Hijab when she is in their presence. A woman's male Mahrams fall into three categories plus her spouse . Mahrams for a man are derived similarly. The Maharim for both, extracted from the verses of the Holy Quran (4:22-23) and (24:31), are listed below , and all other people and relatives are considered as non-Maharams.
Permanent or blood Mahrams, with whom one is Mahram through blood ties:
parents, grandparents, and further ancestors;
children, grandchildren, and further descendants;
siblings of parents, grandparents, and further ancestors (cousins and their children are not Mahram);
children and further descendants of siblings;
In-law Mahrams, with whom one becomes Mahram through marriage ties:
stepfather (mother's husband) if their marriage is consummated, stepmother (father's wife) even if their marriage is not consummated;
stepson (husband's son) even if their marriage is not consummated, stepdaughter (wife's daughter) if their marriage is consummated[i];
Rada or "milk-suckling Mahrams," with whom one becomes Mahram because of being breastfed by her. When a woman breastfeeds an infant that is not her child for a certain amount of time under certain conditions, she becomes the child's rada mother and everything concerning blood Mahrams apply here, such as rada father/mother, rada sister/brother, rada aunt/uncle and so on. In English, these can be referred to as milk-brother, milk-mother, etc. [ii].
It is forbidden (Haram) to marry Mahrams, but one can marry non-Mahrams who have reached puberty. As explained above, Married couples are Mahram to each other. But unlike other Mahrams, the limitations and rulings on looking and touching do not apply to them; i.e., married couples are the only ones allowed to touch and look at the whole body of one another; even the private parts.
Regarding social interactions, there are some rules according to the concept of Maharim:
Women and men are both required to keep their gazes downcast and should not stare at the other person when facing non-Mahrams or talk to them. Even Mahrams are not allowed to see certain parts of the body of each other (this will be discussed more under a separate topic “the Islamic rules on looking“);
When talking to non-Mahrams, the tone of voice should be serious, and the dialogues should be direct and as much as necessary. One should also avoid telling jokes and laughing loudly [iii];
Any physical contact (i.e., shaking hands, hugging touching) with non-Mahrams is forbidden (haram), except for curing patients. In this case, if a doctor of the same gender as the patient exists and can cure, then it is forbidden to refer to a non-Mahram doctor.
When being sole in a closed room (where no one else can enter, i.e., locked place), it is forbidden for a non-Mahram man to remain alone in the company of a non-Mahram woman. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) said: “No man is alone with a woman except that Satan is the third one present ” ;
It is required (Wajib) to cover specific parts of a body in the presence of a non-Mahram according to the Islamic dress code. For men, this includes from navel to knee. For women, the clothing should cover their hair and body, but covering the face and the hands, from the wrist to the fingers, is not mandated .
[i] sister-in-law and brother-in-law are not Mahram.
[ii] Refer to your source of emulation (Marja’ Taqlid) for more details and the rulings.
[iii] See the article on modesty.
- Mahram and non Mahram
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 131.
- A. Aroussi Howayzi, “Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn”, vol. 3/589, T. 105.
Generosity is such an important virtue in the religion of Islam that the holy Quran says with regard to it: “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, Allah indeed knows it” (3:92).
As perfect exemplars of this great ethical virtue, the holy prophet (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams (AS) always recommended their followers to be unconditionally kind and bountiful with people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) stated: “A generous person is closer to Allah, to the people and heaven” 
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“As for him who gives and is Godwary, and confirms the best promise, We will surely ease him toward facility” (92:5-7)
Generosity is one of the qualities of the soul which Allah bestows upon His beloved ones, who are not concerned about material wealth and willingly give to others to make the world a better place and reach God’s satisfaction.
In return, The Bountiful Allah has promised to provide the generous with ease and facility both in this world and the hereafter. Under God’s promise to generous people in the verse above, scientific studies also confirm the ease and happiness generosity would bring about. “A huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early” .
One of the most eminent characteristics of the holy infallible Imams was their generosity. It has been narrated that Imam Hassan (AS) granted his whole wealth twice in his lifetime to win Allah’s satisfaction and improve the life of his fellow human beings. He also divided his property with the poor three times, granting half his wealth to the poor altogether, including his own shoes . Money was only a means for him to help the needy. “Once, he was asked: ‘We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?’
He replied: ‘I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit.’” 
This implies the verse of the holy Quran that says:
“Be good [to others] just as Allah has been good to you” (28:77)
It is noteworthy, however, that the infallible Imams never sought excessive asceticism. Neither did they ordain absolute abstinence from worldly delights [i]. Although they were sometimes rich, they willingly wanted to lead the life of the poorest people in the society. So that they could sympathize with them, and show the nothingness of the perishable earthly wealth compared with other eternal values.
But does it mean that Muslims have to give all their wealth away generously like their leaders? In fact, this kind of behavior mostly suits the leaders of a community. What Islam expects from the rest of the people is moderation in generosity.
Along with the social and individual benefits of the generosity in Islam for the giver proven by the researchers, ranging from a better outlook on life to having a lower risk of early death, the Quranic verses also name some more spiritual effects of this act of benevolence:
Generosity and charity make us receive the unlimited, immeasurable blessings and mercy of God:
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:262)
God has guaranteed multiplied reward as the replacement of donation and generosity in this world and the hereafter:
“… and He will repay whatever you may spend, and He is the best of providers’” (34:39)
“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah enhances several fold whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing” (2:261)
God showers his endless blessings upon generous people. He makes it easy for them to follow the path of obedience and charity until they are granted a life free from any fears or difficulties:
“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:274)
“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, expect a commerce that will never go bankrupt” (35:29)
“Those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode” (13:22)
In the next part of this article, we will introduce 6 Etiquettes of Generosity and Almsgiving.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “there is no monasticism in Islam” .