From my friend Mirza Abbas:
The story of how the Iranians adopted a new religion for themselves: the Persians were not entirely Muslims even after imam Hassan and Husseins time. But as Islam started to spread in Persia, the Persians who were a mighty empire felt miffed that they were conquered by what they classed as “bedoins”. So the Persians decided to carve out a portion of the Islamic heritage and call it their own. And so started to emerge “شيعة علي” Ali’s Shia. Which means the group that belongs to Ali. Now when they started doing this, on the Arabic side you had muawiya, the Khalifa after imam Ali, who happened to have embraced Islam as a political move instead of a spiritual move, decided to alienate themselves from the Persian style of belief in Islam and started removing sayings of imam Ali.
Now imam Ali has a great reputation in history. He was a man who practiced “action with intention” to the other extreme. And so was an extremely spiritual man.
On a side note: there is a different between ritual and spiritual. One is going about the motions and the other is looking at the spirit of the motions.
What prophet mohammed was known to have, the sharia, the thariqah, the haqiqah.
Coming back to imam Ali, and example of his intentive action:
Imam Ali was about to strike his enemy in battle, and just before he struck the enemy, the enemy spat at his face. And imam Ali stopped his action to strike the man with his weapon. He explained it to others later, that initially he went to strike an enemy, then when the enemy had spat at him, his intent to kill became anger at being spat at as opposed to his original intent. He was following the spirit of the following Hadith:
إنما الأعمال بنيات
Surely your action is judged by the intent
And imam Ali was also famous for another thing, the prophet mohammed had said:
أنا مدينة العلم و علي بابها
I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate
So imam Ali and his reflections of Islam were slowly becoming scarce, while the Shia took him as their champion.
Thank you Mirza Abbas