Diraar al-Kinaanee said: “I bear witness by God that on many occasions in the middle of the night I saw him swaying from side to side in his mihraab (prayer niche) holding his beard, in a disturbed and restless state, and weeping like a bereaved person.”
In these words, Diraar has given us a glimpse of the worship, the fear of Allah, and the desire for the hereafter of a man named Ali ibn Abi-Talib. Ali—may Allah be pleased with him—was the cousin and a close companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and Allah’s blessings). When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and Allah’s blessings) began to tell others about the message of Islam in the early days of his prophethood, in the city of Makkah, Ali was one of the first few people to accept Islam—even though he was only a child at the time.
From that time onwards, his whole life was spent in the service of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam). His virtues and good characteristics are too many to describe in detail in a few paragraphs. He used to live very simply, and his focus in life was to gain the pleasure of Allah (by doing good deeds, worshipping Allah much, and by serving and fighting for Islam). The temporary life of this world did not hold any attraction for Ali, because he knew that this world is nothing in comparison to paradise, and that the more good deeds one does in this life, the more blessings one will receive in the next life, by Allah’s grace and mercy.
Ali also had a very deep knowledge of Islam and Islamic law. He was one of the most knowledgeable of all the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam), and was often consulted about religious questions and to judge between people. He had collected many ahadith (sayings) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) into a book that he kept with himself. According to Imam Bukhari (the famous scholar of hadith), this book contained many rules and regulations about zakah, inheritance, the rights of non-Muslim residents of an Islamic country, etc.
After hearing about this deep learning and knowledge of Ali, you may think that Ali was just a man of knowledge and studies, and that this was his only interest, but this impression would be totally mistaken. The great and amazing thing about Ali is that he was not only a man of learning and knowledge, but also a man of action. He fought in the battle of Badr when he was a very young man, and in many battles thereafter. His leadership in the battle of Khaibar resulted in the capture of one of the strongest fortresses of the Jews.
It is a tragedy that this brave, knowledgeable, pious and devoted worshipper of Allah was assassinated in the city of Kufa (where he was serving the Muslim nation as the Ameer-ul-Mominin—the leader of the believers) by an evil and wretched person. Diraar said the following when asked about his grief for Ali: “My grief (for Ali) is like the grief of a mother... Her tears will never dry up and her grief will never subside.” This is how beloved Ali was to his disciples and followers.