Ali's Islam Kept Secret
In the early days of prophethood culture attitudes created a distrust for anything that could jeopardize the power and control of the Quraysh. Islam in particular was met with severe hostility and the Muslims were regularly mistreated to dissuade anyone else from leaving the religion of their fathers for this new way of life. Even those with the strongest tribal allegiances recognized the threat and kept their acceptance of divine guidance a secret. This was not for lack of conviction regarding their Islam nor was it out of fear for their personal safety, but it was out of concern for the safety of the Prophet (ﷺ) and their fellow companions, particularly those who were not in prominent position with in the community.
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) accompanied by Ali ibn Abi Talib would retreat to a pass in the mountains surrounding Makkah to perform prayer. Allah allowed them to conceal this practice for a time, praying their daily prayers then returning in the evening. One day the secret was revealed when Abu Talib discovered them and questioned the Prophet (ﷺ) and then his son Ali, "O' my son, what is this religion that you follow?" Ali replied, "O my father, i believe in Allah and the Messenger of Allah, and I believe what he has brought. I prayed with him to Allah, and I follow him." Abu Talib replied, "He is calling you to something good, so follow him.
- Islam is first and for most based on but not exclusively on ones belief in Allah, His angels and His Messengers
- Concealing ones Islam even from family is permissible particularly due to necessity (possibility of harm)
- Ibn Hisham: as-Seerah an-Nabawiyyah, 1/246; al-Murtada, p. 35
- Ali ibn Abi Talib, by Dr. Ali M. Sallabi Ch. 2.3, pg.70