Ali ibn Abi Talib

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Definition

Ali ibn Abi Talib, or simply Ali, (l. 601-661 CE) was among the first Muslims, a cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (l. 570-632 CE), and later reigned as the fourth Caliph of Islam from 656 CE to 661 CE, when he was murdered. Much of his tenure was spent bringing the empire to order during the first civil war of the Islamic Empire or the First Fitna (656-661 CE). A faction of the Islamic community, known as the Shia Muslims, consider him as the sole legitimate heir of Muhammad's temporal position, and the first in a long series of their spiritual leaders or imams. Sunni Muslims, another faction within the community, hold him with special reverence but also consider his three predecessors, Abu Bakr (r. 632-634 CE), Umar (r. 634-644 CE) and Uthman (r. 644-656 CE) as equally rightful leaders of the early community and collectively term the four as the Rashidun Caliphate (632-661 CE).

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