Raised in the bosom of the Prophetﷺ, Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) never inclined to worldly affairs. Consequently his life was an example of Islamic solidarity and altruism.
The Prophetﷺ once said, “When Allah blesses His servant, He opens the way for that servant to serve humanity.” (Suyuti, II, 4/3924)
Reflecting on this great divine favor, Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) replied, “There are two blessings, and I cannot say which one makes me happier. The first is when someone comes to me for help with the hope that I will provide him with what he wants from me.The second is when Allah helps that person through me. I prefer helping a Muslim to a world made of gold or silver.”(*)
One day Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) said to his noble wife Fatima (Alaiha Salaam), “I’m starving. Have we got anything to eat?” Hadrat Fatima (Alaiha Salaam) answered that they had nothing to eat, but there were six dinars in the house. Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) took that money and went to the bazaar.
On the way to the bazaar he heard one man scolding another. The first man was demanding that the second man pay what he owed; he was threatening to take him to court. The borrower asked more time from the lender, but the lender rejected his plea.
Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) interrupted and asked, “How much money are you fighting about?” The two responded that it was six dinars. Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) paid the lender the whole amount, and headed home with nothing. On the way back he wondered what he would tell Hadrat Fatima (Alaiha Salaam). In the end he decided, “She won’t be angry with me. She is the chief of women, and the daughter of the Prophet! She’ll be tolerant of what I’ve done.”
When he told Hadrat Fatima (Alaiha Salaam) what had happened, she said, “That is a noble act. May Allah be praised! You saved a Muslim from imprisonment. Allah is enough for us.” She was upset, though: both their blessed sons were crying out of hunger. Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) sensed her state, and was upset himself. He went to visit the Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam), thinking that he would forget what had happened once he entered that spiritual presence.
On the way to the Prophet’s house, he saw a man approaching, accompanied by a camel. The man said, “I’m selling this camel. Would you like to buy it?” Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) told him that he had no money. The man kept pressing him, however, and finally Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) bought the camel for a hundred dinars, on credit. Then he moved on.
As he continued, another man approached him and offered to buy the camel. He offered Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) three hundred dinars, and the deal was done. With part of the money from the sale of the camel, Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) bought some food and went home. He told Hadrat Fatima (Alaiha Salaam) what had happened; they ate, fed the children, and thanked Allah.
Afterwards Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) went on to see the Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam). The Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam) asked him, “O Ali! Do you know from whom you bought the camel and to whom you sold it?”
Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) replied, “Allah and His messenger know the best.”
The Prophet (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam) said, “The seller was the Angel Gabriel, and the buyer was the Angel Israfil, who will blow the trumpet of summons on the last day of the world. That camel came from Paradise. You helped a Muslim in distress, and Allah gave you many times your investment in return. No one knows what He will give you in the Hereafter.”(**)
(*)Ali al-Muttaqi, al-Kanz al-`Ummal, VI, 598/17049.
(**)Ramazanoğlu Mahmud Sami, Hz. Aliyyu’l-Murtaza, 119-122.
`Ata (May Allah have mercy with him) narrates from Ibn`Abbas (RadiAllahu Anhu): “Hadrat Ali (karam Allahu wajhu) agreed to irrigate a date orchard in return for a certain amount of barley when the work was done. In the morning he got what was owed him and came home. With a third of the barley the family cooked a meal called hazira. Just as the food was ready, a poor person came to the door, asking for something to eat. Ali and Fatima (Alaihimus Salaam) gave their meal to that poor person. They cooked another meal with another third of the barley. Just as the food was ready, an orphan came to the door, asking for something to eat. They gave that meal to the orphan. Then they cooked another meal with the last third of the barley. Just as the food was ready, a prisoner of war came to the door, asking for something to eat. They gave that meal to the captive, and spent the day hungry.
Another narrative of Hadrat Ali and Fatima (Alaihimus Salaam) relates that during one Ramadan, for three days in succession the couple gave their fast-break food to a poor person, an orphan, and a captive, and themselves broke their fast with water alone. It is in relation to this noble act that the following verses are said to have been revealed:
And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks. Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day. Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness (Insan/76: 8-11).(***)
Because of this noble morality, Prophet Muhammad (SalAllahu Alaihi Wa Aalihi Wassallam) gave Hadrat Ali (karamAllahu Wajhu) the title Master of the Bountiful.
(***)al-Wahidi, al-Asbab al-Nuzul, 470; al-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf, VI, 191-192; al-Razi, XXX, 244.