It must also be noted that the Prophet [saw] had made far greater praise in support of Ali ibn Abi Talib and this should have been something the majority of those in Medina would have heard or known about. Calling him his friend was not as strong as praise he had previously used. There in fact, was no need to remind anyone that Ali was his friend, given the people he preached to would naturally have consisted a large bulk of those of Medina who had heard the following strong words of praise for Ali ibn Abi Talib:
“…The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I will give the flag tomorrow, or tomorrow the flag will be taken by a man who is loved by Allah and His Apostle , and (Khaibar) will be conquered through him, (with Allah’s help)” While every one of us was hopeful to have the flag, it was said, “Here is `Ali” and the Prophet (ﷺ) gave him the flag and Khaibar was conquered through him (with Allah’s Help).”
Reference: Saheeh Bukhari 4209, Book 64, H249, / V5, Book 58, H 520 ENG. Many other sources also narrate this, but are far too numerous to include.
“”Are you not pleased to have the position (manzilah) in relation to me as that Aaron had in relation to Moses?””
Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 3706 Book 62, Hadith 57/ Vol. 5, Book 57, Hadith 56.
“May God’s mercy be upon Ali. My God, keep the Haqq (truth, righteousness, justice) always with Ali.”
Reference: Book 49, Hadith 4079 / Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3714 ENG
“…when the (following) verse was revealed: “Let us summon our children and your children.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) called ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family.”
Reference :Sahih Muslim 2404 Book 44, Hadith 50/ Book 31, Hadith 5915 ENG]
‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) went out one norning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Hasan b. ‘Ali. He wrapped hitn under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatima and he took her under it, then came ‘Ali and he also took him under it and then said: “Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying)”
Reference: Sahih Muslim 2424, Book 44, Hadith 91 / Book 31 Hadith 5955 ENG
“The Prophet after the Hijrah said to the Muslims: Be brothers in God. Every two should be brothers.Then he held ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib’s hand and said: This is my brother.” [And he was the only Muhajir to be made brother to another Muhajir]
Reference: Ibn Hisham Part 1 p.505 as well as the Seerah of Ibn Ishaq and other sources.
“The Prophet [SAW] made a covenant with me that none would love me but a believer, and none would hate me but a hypocrite.”
Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 5022, Book 47, Hadith 38/Vol. 6, Book 47, Hadith 5025 [ENG] declared saheeh (darusalalam)
He was the hero of Khandaq, Khaybar, remained steadfast when many fled in Uhud and Hunayn, and no-one can forget his heroics in Badr. The tales of Ali ibn Abi Talib lifting the gate of Khaybar when forty men could not lift it after words and bringing enormous relief to the muslims by slaying men who drove fear into the hearts of the companions were spread far and wide , such that all were aware of his merits and virtue and closeness to the Prophet [saw]. We find the Prophet [saw] even being attributed to have alluded to the heroics of Ali ibn Abi Talib when some complained about what Ali had done in Yemen:
“The Prophet (ﷺ) dispatched two armies and put ‘Ali bin Abi Talib in charge of one of them, and Khalid bin Al-Walid in charge of the other. He said: “When there is fighting, then (the leader is) ‘Ali.” He said: “So ‘Ali conquered a fortress and took a slave girl. So Khalid sent me with a letter to the Prophet (ﷺ) complaining about him. So I came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and he read the letter and his color changed, then he said: ‘What is your view concerning one who loves Allah and His Messenger, and Allah and His Messenger love him.'” He said: “I said: ‘I seek refuge in Allah from the wrath of Allah and the anger of His Messenger, and I am but a Messenger.’ So he became silent.”
Indeed, the problem with the percentage among the small battalion who had gone to Yemen was not of the closeness the Messenger of Allah [swt] had with Ali ibn Abi Talib, for he had given far stronger praise before and this relationship and his virtue was well known. The problem that a small number had was his dealing with the Khums, and merely stating that Ali ibn Abi Talib was his friend would not change the minds of those who thought he had acted unjustly. What would is to directly address the claim made against him – which the Prophet did almost two weeks prior before starting hajj, and closed the matter there and then.