Religious Leader. He was born in the Kaaba sanctuary, the holiest place in Islam, and raised in the household of his cousin, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). When Muhammad received his divine revelation, Ali was among the first to acknowledge it. He married Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and was Muhammad's trusted lieutenant for the ten years that he led the Muslims in Medina, taking part in almost all the battles fought to defend the new faith. After Muhammad's death his mantle of leadership passed successively to his close followers Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and Uthman ibn Affan. After Uthman's assassination, Ali succeeded to the leadership, or caliphate. As Caliph, he began to overcome the upheaval prevalent among Muslims after Muhammad's death and started to form a broad coalition, especially after the Battle of Bassorah. However, the disputes over who should be Caliph did not abate, and Ali was assassinated while praying in the mosque at Kufa (modern Iraq) during Ramadan, receiving a wound from a poisoned sword and dying two days later. Ali was buried secretly in Najaf to prevent the desecration his grave. It was later revealed by Ali's descendant Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, and a shrine was built over the location. The disagreement over Ali's successor split Muslims into Sunni and Shia, with Shia regarding Ali as the true inheritor of Muhammad's leadership. Shia regard Ali's sons Hasan and Husayn as his successors, and view their successors as the legitimate leaders of Islam. Ali's shrine is the third holiest Shia site after Mecca and Medina.
Bio by: Bill McKern