Ali

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Ali

(älē`) (Ali ibn Abu Talib), 598?–661, 4th caliph (656–61). The debate over his right to the caliphatecaliphate
, the rulership of Islam; caliph , the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place.
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 caused a major split in Islam into SunniSunni
[Arab. Sunna,=tradition], from ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jamaa [Arab.,=the people of the custom of the Prophet and community], the largest division of Islam. Sunni Islam is the heir to the early central Islamic state, in its ackowledgement of the legitimacy of the order of
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 and ShiiteShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
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 branches, and he is regarded by the Shiites as the first Imam, or leader: Shiite derives from the phrase shi-at Ali [Ar.,=the party of Ali]. He was the son of Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle, but was more closely related to the Prophet as the husband of FatimaFatima
, 616?–633?, daughter of Muhammad by his first wife, Khadija. Fatima was the wife of Ali, the mother of Hasan and Husein, and reputedly the ancestress of the Fatimids. She is revered by all branches of the Islamic faith and is the subject of many mysteries and legends.
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. He was one of the Prophet's first and most faithful followers. There are conflicting traditions on whether Muhammad intended Ali to be his immediate sucessor. In 656 he became the 4th caliph on UthmanUthman
or Othman
, c.574–656, 3d caliph (644–56), also known as Uthman ibn al-Affan; son-in-law of Muhammad. He belonged to the great Umayyad family and was selected as caliph after the murder of Umar.
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's death. He was strongly opposed by AishahAishah
, c.614–678, third and favorite of the nine wives of Muhammad the Prophet. Her father was Abu Bakr, who became first caliph after the Prophet's death. She was married to the Prophet soon after the Hegira, his only wife that was neither a widow nor a divorcee.
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, the Prophet's wife; MuawiyaMuawiya
, d. 680, 1st Umayyad caliph (661–80), one of the greatest Muslim statesmen; son of Abu Sufyan, a Koreish tribesman of Mecca. He submitted to Islam the year of the surrender of Mecca and became Muhammad's secretary.
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, who later founded the Umayyad dynasty; and dissatisfied ex-supporters, the Khawarijis. The Khawarijis succeeded in assassinating him in 661. His eldest son HasanHasan
, c.625–c.669; son of Ali and Fatima (daughter of Muhammad the Prophet). When Ali was killed in 661, Hasan became caliph, but he was not strong enough to withstand the threat of arms of the Umayyads and under pressure abdicated in favor of Muawiya.
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 (624–70) abdicated in favor of Muawiya. Ali and his second son HuseinHusein
or Husayn
, c.626–680, Muslim leader, second son of Ali and Fatima (daughter of Muhammad). With the assassination of his father in 661 and the acquiescence of his brother Hasan, the caliphate passed out of the Alid family, although many continued to
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 (626–80) are the great martyrs of the Shiites.

Ali

1. ?600--661 ad, fourth caliph of Islam (656--61 ad), considered the first caliph by the Shiites: cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed
2. Mehemet. See Mehemet Ali
3. Muhammad. See Muhammad Ali