Question:
Salaam, There is a debate going here between our aalims regarding the topic of Imam Ali. Some are saying that Imam Ali started offering namaz from the beginning as he was born a muslim and others are saying that he started offering namaz when he was 9 years old. What was his age when he started offering namaz and if possible please send a refrence. Thank you.

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Answer:
Dear Questioner, Salam Alaikum We thank you for your trust and communication with the Ahl al Bayt (Peace be upon them) World Assembly. At the outset it is necessary to take note of two key points: First point: No created being except the Honorable Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has worshipped God earlier than Imam Ali (peace be upon him) just as he had stated That: (1) ما عبد اللّه أحد قبلي إلا نبيه صلّى اللّه عليه و آله Perhaps this narrative attests to the creation of the Honorable Apostle of Islam (SAW) and the Commander of the Faithful Believers (AS). Thus, in Sunnah and Shiites sources it is mentioned that God created the brilliant gems of the world of existence several thousand years before creation of Adam and the earth and the heavens (2); rather, earlier than any other created being - even before Gabriel and Mikail and rest of the archangels - from His Own Special Light. It was while they were preoccupied with worship of God that Gabriel and the rest of the archangels and bearers of the ‘Arsh’ Divine Throne were created and learned cognition of God and manner of worship from the Messenger of Islam and Imam Ali (peace be upon him) (3). However, in the natural world and ordinary human life too, the Commander of the Faithful (AS) was the foremost person to have performed ritual prayer and worship with the Apostle of God (PBUH). Khwarazmi Hanafi has narrated from Zaid bin Arqam that: اوّلُ من صلی مع النبی صلی الله علیه و آله و سلم علی بن ابی طالب ع (4) Again, in both Sunni and Shiite sources it has been narrated that the Messenger of God (PBUH) had stated: For seven years the angels uttered salutations on me and Ali (AS) because in this period no man apart from Ali (AS) recited ritual prayer with me. Ibn Atheer and Ibn al Maghazali Shafeie have narrated from Abu Ayoub with these words: لَقَدْ صَلَّتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ عَلَيَّ وَ عَلَى عَلِيٍّ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ وَ ذَلِكَ أَنَّهُ لَمْ يُصَلِّ مَعِي رَجُلٌ غَيْرُهُ ،( 5) From Unce bin Malik and Abdullah bin Abbas it has been narrated from the Honorable Prophet of Islam (PBUH) with the same context and similar wordings (6) but in the transmitted narration of Abu Raf’a it is mentioned as seven years and few months (7). Second Point: Even though ritual prayer was something that was obligatory for all Apostles (8) – even his holiness Adam (AS) – but the question that arises is whether by ritual prayer and ‘salat’ is meant – as is mentioned in the vocabulary – simply prayer and act of worship and silent and confidential prayer and supplication to God for one’s needs or by ritual prayer is meant that same particular liturgical acts that at present we Muslims offer after certain preliminaries beginning with ‘niyat’ intention and inaugural phrase of “Allahu Akbar” and reciting the opening ‘al Hamd’ and a surah , bowing down and prostrating and finally ending it with ‘tashahud’ testifying to the unity of God and giving ‘salam’ ? If it means simply act of worship , supplication and invocation, then the Commander of the Believers was of the establishers of ritual prayers right from his birth because in a narration from Jaber bin Abdullah Ansari and Yazid bin Qa’nab it is written that: فَلَمَّا وُلِدَ سَجَدَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ يَقُولُ : أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ، وَ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ، وَ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ عَلِيّاً وَصِيُّ مُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ، بِمُحَمَّدٍ يَخْتِمُ اللَّهُ النُّبُوَّةَ ، وَ بِي‏ تَتِمُ‏ الْوَصِيَّةُ ، وَ أَنَا أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِين‏ (9 ) When the Commander of the Believers opened his eyes to the world he fell in prostration and uttered the above words. Whereas if by ‘namaz’ ritual prayer is meant the same particular act of worship that we perform at present, so far we have not found anything on this subject and with these specifications and details in the ‘hadith’ narrated traditions. However two points have been mentioned in narrations that to an extent clarify the issue. First Point: That establishing the five daily ritual prayers in five points in time (dawn, noon, evening, dusk and late evening) had existed from the time of His Holiness Adam (AS). Moreover, according to a number of narratives, just as we recite the ‘maghrib’ dusk prayer in three ‘rakat’ units, His Holiness Adam (AS) too recited it in three ‘Rakat’ units (10). Thereafter, His Holiness Gabriel (AS) taught His Holiness Adam (AS) the occasions and manner of ritual prayer and said to him that: “If your children and progeny too establish the five daily ritual prayers on five occasions they are cleansed of sins. فَقَالَ جَبْرَئِيلُ ع يَا آدَمُ- مَثَلُ وُلْدِكَ فِي هَذِهِ الصَّلَوَاتِ كَمَثَلِكَ فِي هَذِهِ الشَّامَةِ مَنْ صَلَّى مِنْ وُلْدِكَ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَ لَيْلَةٍ خَمْسَ صَلَوَاتٍ خَرَجَ مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِ كَمَا خَرَجْتَ مِنْ هَذِهِ الشَّامَةِ ( 11 ) Second Point: From the moment of his birth Imam Ali (AS) was placed under tutorship and training of the Honorable Messenger of Islam (SAW). The Commander of the Believers had stated: “When I was a child, the Messenger (SAW) would hold me in his bosom and put me to sleep in his own special bed. He would attach his body to my body and make me smell of his pure aroma and at times feed me food by the morsel. He never noticed an untruth in my statement or a mistake in my deed and I was always with the Messenger just as a child is always with the mother. Every day, the Messenger (peace and salutations of Allah on him and his household) would reveal to me a fresh sign of his good moral behavior and instruct me to emulate him (12). And when Imam Ali (AS) reached the age of six years, the hand of divine determination made Abu Talib’s poverty an excuse so that Ali (AS) relocate from his father’s home to the home of the Messenger of God (SAW) and be at the side of His Holiness day in and day out and be placed under his direct tutorship and upbringing and go every year with His Holiness to the Hara Cave for worship, invocation and supplication and therein be submerged in ritual prayer, worship and invocation away from social commotion. In the presence of that mentor, by gaining Gnostic knowledge as well as with ritual prayer and worship, this protégé succeeded in going so far as to witness the light of revelation and to inhale the aroma of revelation and to hear the voice of Gabriel and even perceive the groaning of Satan that arose from his throat at the time of the Prophet’s appointment to prophetic mission and to put it in one word, to be totally in contact with the Unseen World just as he himself states: أرى نور الوحي و الرّسالة، و أشمّ ريح النّبوّة. و لقد سمعت رنّة الشّيطان حين نزل الوحي عليه- صلّى اللّه عليه و آله- فقلت: يا رسول اللّه ما هذه الرّنّة؟ فقال: هذا الشّيطان قد أيس من عبادته‏ Finally, learning divine sciences and establishing ritual prayer and worship of God at home and in the Hara Cave created such a transformation in this child that addressing him, the Honorable Messenger (SAW) states: إنّك تسمع ما أسمع ، و ترى ما أرى إلّا أنّك لست بنبيّ؛ و لكنّك لوزير و إنّك لعلى خير (13 ) “You hear whatever that I hear and see whatever I see (just like my eyes and ears, your eyes and ears perceive the spiritual truths of the Unseen World) except that you are not an Apostle but you are a vizier placed in the tradition of goodness.” Therefore, it can be said that on the strength of the first meaning, the Commander of the Faithful Believers (AS) was from the time of his birth of those that established ritual prayer; and on the strength of the second meaning, from the time he was six years of age when he went to the Messenger’s (SAW) home, he recited ritual prayer in like fashion of His Holiness.

Refrence:

1. Noman bin Muhammad bin Hayoun Maghrebi died circa year 980 A.D., “Sharh al Akhbar fee Fada’il al A’immatah al At’har (AS), research by Mohammad Hossein Hosseini Jalali, Publisher, Qum, Teachers Association, circa year 1989, vol. 1, page 451; “Sharh Nahj al Balaghah”, Ibn Abel Hadid al Sahfeie al Mu’tazila, vol. 4, page 104. 2. Sheikh Ibrahim bin Muhammad al Hamouyani al Hanafi, “Fara’id al Samteen”, research by Mohammad Baqer Mahmoudi, vol. 1, pages 41 to 44, Hadith nos 5, 6, 7 & 8 and Mir Mohammad Saleh Kashfi Tarmidhi Hanafi, “Munqib Murtadawiyah,” research by Kourosh Mansouri, publisher: Tehran, Rowzaneh Publications, pages 75 & 76. 3. Sheikh Sadouq, “Uyoun Akhbar al Rida (AS),” research by Mahdi Lajevardi, publisher: Tehran, Nashre Jahan, circa year 1959, vol. 1, page 262; Ali bin Muhammad Khazzaz Razi died circa eleventh century A.D., “Kifayatah al Athar,” research by Abdul Latif Hosseini, Publisher: Qum, Bidar, page 158. 4. Al Khwarazmi al Makki al Hanafi, “Al Munaqib,” research by Al Sheikh Malek al Mahmoudi, publisher: Qum, Moassisah al Nashr al Islamiyah, second edition, page 56 5. Ali bin Muhammad Waseti Shafeie famously known as Ibn Maghazali, “Al Munaqib” research by Mohmamd Baqer Behboudi, Publisher, Tehran, Al Maktabatah al Islamiyah, page 14; Ibn Atheer , “Asad al Ghabah,” Publisher, Beirut, Dar al Kutub al Arabi, vol. 4, page 18. 6. Al Khwarazmi al Makki al Hanafi, “Al Munaqib la Ibn Maghazali,” page 14. 7.Hakem Haskani, “Shawahid al Tanzeel,” research by Mohamamd Baqer Mahmoudi, Publisher, Tehran, al Tabatah li Wizaratah al Thaqafatah wal Irshad al islami, vol. 2, page 185. 8. Sheikh Sadouq, “Man la Yahdar al Faqih,” vol. 1, pages 212 to 214. 9. Muhammad bin Ali ibn Shahr Ashoub died circa year 1200 A.D., “Manaqib Aal Abi Talib (AS)”, publisher, Qum, Allameh Publishers, circa year 1960, vol. 2, pages 172 & 173; Sheikh Horr Ameli, “Ithbat al Huda”, Publisher: Beirut, A’lami publishers, circa year 1994, vol. 3, page 522. 10. Sheikh Sadouq, “Man la Yahdar al Faqih,” vol. 1, pages 212 & 213, Hadith no. 643. 11. ibid, page 214, Hadith no. 644 12. Ibn Abel Hadid Shafeie Mutazali, “Sharh Nahj al Balaghah, research by Ebrahim Muhammad Abolfazl, Publisher, Qum, Maktabah Ayatollah al Mar’ashi al Najafi, vol. 13, page 197; Sobhi al Saleh, “Sharh Nahj al Balaghah,” sermon no. 192, Publisher, Qum, Hijrat Publishers. 13. ibid. ----------------------------- www.abp-miftah.com


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