Advanced search
Last Updated: 2014/07/10
Summary of question
Did Imam Ali (AS) fight all innovations when he was in power?
Did Imam Ali (AS) order Muslims to stop folding their hands during prayer, a practice introduced to them by the second caliph? Did he also order the call to prayers to be reversed to its mode?
Concise answer
It was only 25 years after the demise of the Prophet of Islam (S) that the Muslim caliphate got back on its original track. After coming to power and becoming apparently a caliph, Imam Ali (AS) vowed to do away with all the innovations that had come into being until then.  But this long period was enough for Muslims to get used to the manners and etiquettes which were introduced to them in the name of the Messenger of Allah (S) and his successors.
During this time period, the Islamic government developed and expanded extensively and these innovations found their way into the entire Islamic territories and lands. Nevertheless, Imam Ali's efforts to eliminate innovations did not stop. At times, for a larger interest of the Islamic society and to prevent discord and sedition, he would not embark on any action.
One of the innovations (bid'ah) promoted during the time of the second caliph and which was initiated by him was 'folding hands during prayers'.[1] As well, the sentence "al-Salat khayrun min an-Nawm" (prayer is better than sleep) was added to the Fajr Adhan and the declaration "Hayya 'alaa khairil 'amal" was removed from it.[2]
Allamah Majlisi (ra) has dedicated a section of his book to this topic explaining why the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS) did not reverse some of the innovations in his time.[3] He points out some of the hindrances and obstacles to the combat against the innovations.
Late Kulayni (ra) makes mention of a lengthy narration and narrates Imam Ali's sermon about the innovations and why he did not take action to change them. The narration is interesting to read:
"The caliphs before me deliberately opposed the Messenger of Allah doing things that led to alteration of his tradition (sunnah). Should I embark on stopping people from what they have innovated and make them adopt the tradition of the Prophet (S), no army will remain for me, except myself and a few of followers…".
Thereupon, Imam Ali (AS) makes mention of most of the innovations and concludes:  Did you see that when I stopped them from performing Taraweeh (mustahab prayers which Sunnis perform in jama'at), some of those who fought alongside me in my army shouted, "O Muslims, Umar's tradition is gone" and the army was going to fall apart and follow the leaders of misguidance.[4]
This is Imam Ali's grievance and complaint which somehow give us an illustration into the Muslim society of his time as well as of Muslims who knew nothing about the difference between tradition and innovation nor about those who deliberately embarked on derailing the prophetic society and putting it on a wrong track. The Ummah (people) of his time identified themselves largely as a nation practicing those innovations and made no difference between Ali (AS) and those before him; rather they preferred the previous caliphs over him because of their temporal precedence.
Therefore, Imam Ali (AS) fought all the innovations; he stood up against them and his opposition to those innovations have been documented in history. His special friends and companions also did not act upon those innovations as far as they could; they rejected the innovations and denied them but a large segment of the society did not follow suit. Not only they did not accompany the Commander of the Faithful in the fight against the innovations but they also opposed him.

[2] See: "Hayya 'alaa Khairil 'Amal", question 20111.
[3] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.34, p.167, Beirut, Al-Wafa Institute, first edition, 1410 A.H.
[4] Kulayni, Muhammad bin Ya'qub, al-Kafi, researched and edited by Ali Akbar, Akhundi, Muhammad, vol.8, p.58, Tehran, Dar al-Kotob al-Islamiyyah, fourth edition, 1407 A.H.
Please enter the value
Example : Yourname@YourDomane.ext
Please enter the value
Please enter the value

Thematic Category

Random questions


  • Why are shrimps halal and crabs haram? What makes one of them halal and the other halal despite the fact that both of them are from the same category?
    67368 Philosophy of Religion and Law 2012/03/18
    Although all Islamic laws are a result of the benefits or disadvantages and harms that back them, and there is a particular reason behind each and every one of them, discovering the exact reason in detail for every one of them is extremely difficult. The most we ...
  • What is the definition of "Muslim" according to the Quran?
    61314 Exegesis 2010/04/06
    According to the Quran a Muslim is one who has absolutely surrendered to Allah and his commands and believes in pure Tawhid (the oneness of God) that isn't tainted with any Shirk and this is why the Almighty has introduced Prophet Abraham as a true ...
  • Why hasn’t Imam Ali (a.s.) been mentioned in the Holy Quran?
    59776 Exegesis 2008/05/11
    One should be aware that although the imam’s names, )especially Imam Ali’s(, haven’t been mentioned in the Quran, nevertheless, their names, )especially Imam Ali’s(, can be found in the Prophet’s sayings. One very good example is the hadith of Ghadir which is considered the official announcement of the appointment of ...
  • Is lobster, clam, oyster and octopus halal?
    57960 Laws and Jurisprudence 2012/02/18
    Eating lobster, clam, oyster and octopus is haram. According to religious resources regarding halal and haram meat, there are general rulings and numerous standards; for instance, a set of rulings has been given for land animals, sea creatures, birds and so on.The condition for halal meat sea ...
  • What is meant by Sidratul-Muntaha that the Quran has mentioned?
    46062 Exegesis 2010/04/07
    This question doesn’t have a brief answer. Please click on the detailed answer. ...
  • How do you prove that Imam Ali (as) was imam and khalifa after the Prophet (pbuh)?
    36520 Traditional 2008/07/21
    There is no doubt that in order for Islam to survive, it needs a keeper and guardian and individuals to deliver and express the teachings and guidelines of religion for the people, and carry them out. Since one of the reasons of creation is the ...
  • Why do we the Shia pray at three times while the Quran tells us to pray at five times?
    32181 Laws and Jurisprudence 2010/08/14
    The reason the Shia perform their prayers in three times is the Quranic verses and traditions on the matter. Although the Quran has mentioned that prayer is wajib several times and hasn’t gone into the details, it has spoken of its times: “Maintain the prayer from the sun's ...
  • Which animals and insects have been named in the Quran?
    30574 Exegesis 2009/12/16
    Approximately 35 animals have been named in the Quran; the birds and insects of which are:Salwa (سلوی)=The quail (Baqarah:57), Ba’uth (بعوض)=Mosquito (Baqarah:26), Dhubab (ذباب)=Fly (Hajj:73), Nahl (نحل)=Honeybee (Nahl:68), Ankabut (عنکبوت)=Spider (Ankabut:41), Jarad (جراد)=Grasshopper (A’raf:133), HudHud (هدهد)=Hoopoe (Naml:20), Ghurab (غراب)=Crow (Ma’idah:31), Ababil (ابابیل)= probably ‘Swallow’ (Fil:3), Naml (نمل)=Ant ...
  • What are the rewards and benefits of wearing rings with valuable stones on them?
    30181 Laws and Jurisprudence 2008/08/20
    Wearing a ring of aghigh, firoozah, yaqut and…is permissible for men and according to hadiths, wearing them has thawab and rewards, and wearing them in prayer causes one’s prayers to be of higher virtue and of more rewards, given that the ring isn’t made of gold (for men ...
  • What is the Maqam Ibrahim? What is its purpose?
    28634 Traditional 2010/02/14
    One of the clear signs in Makkah (as a verse in the Quran tells us) is the Maqam Ibrahim where Prophet Ibrahim stood.Regarding the meaning and interpretation of “Maqam Ibrahim”, some believe that it is equal to all of Hajj. Others ...