Abstract: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (599-661 CE) was the first cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad; the fourth of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs (al-khulafa’ al-rashidun); and the first of the Imams deemed by all Shi‘i Muslims to be appointed by divine mandate. The word Shi‘i itself is derived from the term shi‘at’ ‘Ali, which means “partisans of ‘Ali.” Few figures of nascent Islam had as pervasive and enduring an influence-both symbolic and actual­-on the unfolding of Islamic thought, culture, and spirituality as Imam ‘Ali. Referred to by the Prophet as the “gate” to the city of prophetic science, one of the most noticeable features of his legacy for medie­val Islam is indeed the range of disciplines - from theology and exegesis to calligraphy and numerology, from law and mysticism to grammar and rhetoric ­that are regarded as having been foreshadowed by Imam ‘Ali.


Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi

Founding editor of the Islamic World Report, Reza Shah-Kazemi studied International Relations and Politics at Sussex and Exeter Universities before obtaining his PhD in Comparative Religion from the University of Kent in 1994. 


Read more