"The Voice of Human Justice", (Sautul Adalatil Insaniyah)
By George Jordac (2000)
Translator: M Fazel Haq
[ Edited ]
# Arabian Peninsula
The territory of Arabia is very wonderful and miraculous and it will retain this characteristic even in future. It contains very large deserts. If these deserts had not been devoid of rains and had been green and fertile this land would have fed the hungry and clothed the naked of the world. However, unfortunately Arabia has always remained a desert. It contains vast areas comprising mounds of sand, small and dry hills and stony tracts, which are neither cultivable nor habitable. If farming had been possible this region would have been thickly populated, but the position is otherwise. Although this territory is surrounded by sea on three sides, the rains are very scanty and it is very hot during summer.
It also rains in some areas which makes the atmosphere somewhat cool. However, when the scorching wind blows it is so hot that trees and plants become dry and even the animals die of heat.
The Arab poets liken zephyr, which always blows from the eastern side, with the breeze of Paradise.
There are no perennial rivers in Arabia. However, as and when rains come and the streams begin to flow, the people avail of the opportunity and store water by constructing dams. This water suffices only for some time.
Camel is the typical animal of Arabia which enjoys a distinguished position as compared with the animals found in other regions. The Almighty God has given it long legs so that it may cover long distance easily and may not get weary in the dreary deserts. Its hooves are also such that its feet do not get thrust into the sand. It also possesses sufficient stamina to cross the difficult and strong paths and can tolerate heat as well as thirst. God has given it an extraordinary stomach in which it can store water to suffice for many days and as and when water is not available its owner also takes out water somehow from its stomach for his personal use. The Arabs have given the camel thousands of names.
Vegetation is very rare in this territory. Some thorny bushes grow but they too are withered on account of shortage of water and severe heat. The dwellings of the people are usually tents which cannot protect them either from the scorching winds or from the heat of the sun. In fact there is no difference between living in these tents and living under the sky. For these reasons its population is scanty and scattered. The people of Arabia do not usually live at one place permanently but shift from place to place.
The staple food of the Arabs is dried palm-dates. To this is added the meat of the camels and the hunted animals. On account of their spending their lives permanently in the deserts warfare and bloodshed have become a part of their nature. It is so hot in the desert and valleys of the Arabian Peninsula that the earth accumulates sufficient heat to enable the people to roast the animals on the sand.
Similar deserts replete with sand, scanty and scattered population and uniformity of conditions are very tiresome things and make life unpleasant. Aspiration and hope which are the capital of happy life do not exist anywhere in this desert.
In such difficult circumstances and with such uniform life it was not possible for the nomadic Arabs to become acquainted with the vicissitudes of life and the various ways and manners of the other people of the world. Existence of righteousness and piety which make the heart of man accept faith cannot be imagined in a barren land. Such qualities develop in green and fertile lands and not in stony and dry areas. They develop in persons who are endowed with blessings of all kinds and not in the hearts
of those who are devoid of them.
A few small towns and settlements of those times were not very significant, firstly because their number was very small and secondly their position was no better than a few tents pitched in a barren desert, which had to suffer the onslaught of unfavourable winds. Of course, in taif and Madina better means of livelihood were available.
As regards Mecca it was an idol-temple. Its residents were tradesmen in whose eyes one dinar was more valuable than the life of a human being.
A life of poverty and indigence in a desert burning like hell with the present full of despair and the future without any hope- this was the condition of what was called the Arabian Peninsula.
What is surprising is this that although there are many lands adjacent to Arabia which are fertile and contain all amenities of life, there were people who ignored all these facilities and preferred to lead a miserable life in this barren land. They, therefore, never thought of stepping out of this desert. And what is more surprising is the people there considered their homeland to be superior to the entire remaining world. They neither wanted to leave it, nor desired to choose another place as their homeland. This was a miracle of the Arabian Desert even before the prophet of Islam was appointed to the prophetic mission.
However, if we compare all the cold and sweet springs, the fertile and green lands, the beautiful sceneries, the wealth and all other blessings available to various countries, other than Arabia, with the thing which appeared in that land, all those blessings and facilities appear to be of no value. The Arabian Desert, the land of miracles, produced something which is superior to all other blessings.
That magnanimous being was the great personality who showered his blessings on all human beings, who cleansed the springs of reality, because of whom the value of life became known, righteousness and deliverance became great things, and reality was elevated viz. Muhammad.
The birth of the cousin of Muhammad, Ali, in Arabia, where human life was not worth more than a dinar was the second miracle of this Desert.
# The coming of the prophet
With eyes as bright as the shining sun, a reality on the lips more brilliant than the light of the sun, a heart more fresh than the flowers of the gardens of Yathrib and Taif, habits and morals more decent than the moon- lit nights of the Hijaz, a mind more brisk than the strong winds, a bewitching tongue, a heart with heavenly light, firm determination like a trenchant sword and heavenly words on the tongue - such was Muhammad son of Abdullah, the prophet of Arabia, the prophet who destroyed the idols which had separated brothers from brothers. He did not break only the idols of wood and stone but also broke the idols of wealth, indecent habits and party-spirit.
The only thing which the cowardly Quraysh desired was money should be transferred from the hands of the nomadic Arabs to their own pockets. The only value which they attached to life was that in order to earn profit they should travel through the desert on the back of the camels undergoing extreme hardships and then return to their hometown Mecca - the same Mecca which was the city of idol-worship, and where money was the only thing which counted.
Suddenly they heard a voice which shook their nerves. Their hopes were shattered. The world turned away its face from them saying: "The value of man is not the same which you have assessed and the object of the creation of the nomadic Arabs is not the same which you think it to be".
....... This was the voice of Muhammad ........
Banu Asad and Banu Tamim were so foolish and
ignorant that they buried their daughters alive without any cause. There was no justification for their doing so except that it was a custom which had survived amongst them. They were opposed to the Divine will. They hated the beauty of nature. And then they heard a voice, which was expressive of deep love and sympathy for the people saying: "Don't bury your daughters alive. Daughters are as good a creation of God as the sons. No human being has a right to deprive others of life. It is only God who creates the people and makes them die".
........ This was the voice of Muhammad .......
The Arabs were always fighting. They fought and shed blood for years on account of very trivial things. They killed their own brothers and then rejoiced and glorified themselves on it. To sacrifice their lives for the sake of their own ignorance was something very ordinary for them. The children cried and screamed and grew up in conditions which were not conducive to the creation of love or sympathy for anyone in their minds.
In these circumstances they heard another voice which said: "What are you doing? You kill one another although you are all brothers because all of you have been created by God. Strife is something satanic. Peace and friendship are more beneficial for you. The blessing for which you fight can't be achieved except through peace".
........ This, too, was the voice of Muhammad .......
The Arabs were the most proud and egoistic people. They considered the non-Arabs inferior to themselves. Not only this but they did not consider the non-Arabs even human beings. Muhammad disliked this attitude of the Arabs very much. Addressing these proud people he said: "No Arab is superior to a non-Arab unless he is more pious. Whether you like it or not all human beings are brothers of one another".
There were oppressed, homeless and helpless persons whose faces had been scorched by the hot winds. The society had discarded them and made their lives miserable. They were more humble in the eyes of the people than the particles of sand and their life had become extremely
unenviable. And these were the true friends of the prophet of Islam, just as the indigent and outcasts of the society were the friends of Jesus Christ and other great men of the world. It was these very people for whose benefit the prophet of Islam endeavoured to prevent the establishment of dictatorship, disallowed slavery, freed man from the bondage of his fellow-men, and established the public treasury so that all might benefit from it without any discrimination. He directed the efforts of the people towards public welfare. He insisted on Quraysh, who were his kinsmen, at every step that they should improve their conduct, do good deeds, and keep their attention directed whole-heartedly to God, who has united the scattered creation into a single whole.
However, Quraysh instigated the ignorant persons as well as their own children to stone and ridicule him.
The helpless, oppressed and homeless slaves among whom one was Bilal, the Mu'azzin of the prophet, were overjoyed when they heard this: "All human beings are fed by God. He likes him most who is more helpful to his creatures".
........ This was the voice of Muhammad .......
Those who were his enemies and stoned and ridiculed him heard this animating voice: "If you (Muhammad) had been stern and hard-hearted they would all have deserted you a long time ago. Forgive them and ask God to forgive (their sins) and consult with them in certain matter. But when you reach a decision trust God. God loves those who trust Him".
........ This was the voice of Muhammad .......
The following pure words were imprinted on the minds of those who were endeavouring in the path of God for a better life, and were ready to support him (Muhammad) in his campaign against idol-worship and evil-doing, and were afraid lest their rights and good conduct might be wasted in the battle-field.
"Remember! Don't be treacherous. Don't commit breach of trust. Don't kill either a child or a woman or an old man or a monk in a monastery. Don't burn
a date-palm tree and don't cut any tree nor pull down a building".
........ This voice was the voice of Muhammad .......
The Arabs heard this heavenly voice from Muhammad and spread it in all the four corners of the world. They covered powerful rulers and kings with this voice, established brotherhood amongst human beings and strung them in one faith, and created relationship between man and God.
The shade of Muhammad spread so much that the entire Old World came under it and the land from the east upto the west began producing the fruits of goodness, knowledge, peace and friendship. The prophet of Islam stretched his hand and sowed the seeds of friendship and brotherhood throughout the world. That hand is still stretched and is busy sowing the seeds. Hence, there is no part of the world wherein the followers of Muhammad are not found. One of them may be in Pakistan and the other may be in Spain, but in spite of this both of them are treated to be under one and the same standard. The prophet provided honour and respect to the Orientals which is even now a shining crown on their heads.
This voice of the prophet, was a call for human brotherhood. It stopped the hands of the rulers from reaching the property of the subjects and gave equal rights to all human beings. In his religion there is no discrimination between a common man, a ruler and a subject and an Arab and a non-Arab, because all human beings are the slaves of God and it is He who provides sustenance to all of them.
This voice emancipated women from the oppression of men, freed the labourers from the injustice of the capitalists and delivered the servants from the degradation of submission to their masters. As opposed to Plato and other philosophers, who deprive the workers of their social rights on account of their mean occupation and have divided the society into many grades, the prophet of Islam made all human beings participate in the affairs of government. He also disallowed usury and exploitation of one
man by another.
After the prophet of Islam it was Ali bin Talib who called men to good morals
# A glance over history
If you lend ear to the history of the world you will hear the news of a great event the like of which has not happened even after a passage of more than ten centuries. If you reflect carefully about the various happenings in the world you will be fascinated by a grand personality before whose high thinking everything appears to be trivial. The world and its life, and the children, the kinsmen, wealth and rulership do not enjoy any importance in his eyes.
This personality is too great to be placed in the row of ordinary people and his insight is so keen that it resembles the reasoning of common people only in name.
If you hear with the ears of your heart, history will narrate to you that story of the martyrs in the path of truth and justice with whose blood the border of the sky is covered. If you look at the horizon you will observe two kinds of redness; one the natural redness and the other that of the blood of the martyrs in the path of truth and justice.
Have a look at the history of the East and find out that great power of comprehension and understanding which is the centre of every circle of high thinking, and the origin of every true reasoning and logic. Every modern research and new idea about the life of this world and the Hereafter is related to him. The opinions which may have come to your notice with regard to human system and laws, principles of civilization and rules of morality has originated from this spring. These rules and principles are based on the mutual relations, co-operation and partner-
ship of humanity. Which reflective power[*] has invented a new policy and a new method in philosophy and placed it at the disposal of the people who have passed it on to the posterity? Everyone has benefited from it according to his understanding, but none has so far reached its real philosophy and its depth. It is necessary that other brains and intellects should make new discoveries from what he has said.
Who is that enlightened person who himself is involved in suffering and pains but others are blessed and happy because of him? He who has prepared and continues to prepare the path for his friends as well as enemies! A scholar who is prepared whole-heartedly to explain things for others after discussing the cause and effect of everything!
Who is that subtle scholar who has pondered over everything and there is nothing about which he is not well-informed? So much so that he knows even those things which the people have not done but have only thought about them. He possesses such a powerful intellect that the knowledge which appeared in the East after him is also associated with him; in fact it is he who is the foundation and the fountain-head of all such sciences.
Have you ever observed so perfect an intellect as should. have recognized the greatest reality? And that reality is the basis for social relations, the cause for everyone pursuing his own particular path. It tells why one group follows the right path and the other wrong path.
This reality which was understood by Ali thirteen hundred years ago has been made the new subject of discussion by the scholars of the East and the West. By this I mean the need for the necessities of life, to acquire
 In fact the knowledge of Ali should not be treated to be the outcome of reflection because it was derived from divine inspiration and was communicated to his heart through the prophet. The knowledge which was possessed by him or even a small part thereof cannot be acquired by reflection and reasoning however profound and extraordinary it may be.
which the people are following different paths. One group has transgressed its limits. It has ignored the rules of justice and is endeavouring to mislead the people. In order to achieve their nefarious ends deception is being practised and illogical things are being spread by the capitalists to accumulate wealth, by government officers to get things done gratis and to keep the masses under control and by the innovators to collect obedient followers.
Do you recognize that great sage who established more than a thousand years ago a reality which superseded thousands of superstitions and extravagant ideas and said: "If a person starves it is due to the fact that his share has been taken by another" and added: "I have not seen any excessive bounty which is not associated with a right which has been violated".
As regards hoarding he wrote to one of his governors: "Prohibit the people from hoarding, because it is some thing which entails loss to the public and brings bad name to the rulers".
A great and enlightened person realized the real secret of humanity more than a thousand years ago and concluded that those persons who had no value in the eyes of the kings and the rulers were endowed with virtues and good morals, and every kind of oppression practised upon them was considered by them (i.e. by the rulers) to be permissible.
The Italian sculptor Rapheal prepared an image of the Virgin Mary in the shape of an Italian farmer woman and made all good human qualities visible in it. Tolstoy, Voltaire and Goethe also recommended and approved with their mental labour and imagination the same thing which had been indicated by Raphael in the image. However, Ali clarified this concept centuries ago. He campaigned against the aristocrats, the ruling class, the profiteers and the selfish persons, opposed their wrong and absurd way of thinking about the oppressed and said: "By God! I shall realize the right of the oppressed person from the oppressor and shall pull the oppressor to the fountain-head of truth by putting a cavessor in his nose, even though he may not like it".
The things which he said about the people of his time go to show that he had understood them very well. They consisted on the one hand of the worthless aristocrats and others who were holding high positions notwithstanding their inefficiency, and on the other hand of persons who were helpless and oppressed and who had no alternative but to obey. He therefore, said briefly: "Your down trodden are honourable and your powerful ones are base and mean". [*]
By these words he means that the subordinate people cannot display their good morals and talents due to their helplessness and oppression by the powerful class and the persons holding high position keep their defects hidden under their costly dress.
He told the people that truth and virtue are established and eternal things which have always been and will remain for ever. In the heart of his hearts every human being believes in this, although different persons may interpret it in different ways. Even the oldest nations have flourished under the protection of this belief although they may not have known it. They have inherited their views and beliefs from their ancestors and adopted them because by doing so they have been saved from the trouble of investigation and research. Imitation has thus become their second nature.
The basis of all the beliefs and thoughts is this that there is an absolute reality which should be the starting point of all discussions and opinions.
 Here the Commander of the Faithful has referred to the trouble which was created during the period of his caliphate and which did irreparable harm to the Muslim nation. Although these words do not carry the meaning inferred by the writer still it is an established fact and is evident from his other remarks.As a matter of fact the greatest object of the appointment of the prophets to their mission and the means of their success was this that they introduced freedom of the individual and freedom of thought as opposed to the policy of the tyrants like Nimrud and Pharaoh who controlled the lives and property of the people and kept their power of thinking paralysed.
The qualities of his head and heart enabled Ali to realize this fact and he believed whole-heartedly that anything which is based on truth does not become shaky. He was a perfect specimen of steadfastness and found himself successful in the event of victory as well as defeat. In the battlefield as well as in the arena of politics it was immaterial for him to win or lose, because he knew that the reality was with him and it was he himself who was the standard for distinguishing between truth and falsehood.
Throughout the history of the world it is not possible to find a man with such a firm determination that he should not waver in any circumstances and the flames of revolt should not make him tremble. No other thing can shake the faith of a man than this that the enemies should be accusing him of worst offences and even deviation and heresy. And nothing can make a man more unsettled than the threat of death or attack on one's faith which is worse than death. However, Ali did not waver in any circumstances and nothing could make him deviate from his path. He did not give up his efforts for the enforcement of Islam and did not crave for wealth or position as a reward for these efforts. His only reward was the success of the faith.
Have you seen in the history of the world a magnani mous person with a kind and loving heart encircled by greedy, rebellious and revengeful, stone-hearted persons, keen to exploit one another, but he may be inviting them to peace and welfare and they may still be joining hands to fight against him?
There are many sayings which people repeat verbally or in writing and every person selects one of them according to his nature to serve as his motto. However, have you seen any other person who may be the embodiment of purity and modesty in its true sense?
Amongst the great personalities of the world Ali was foremost in the matter of love and sincerity.
Sincerity was his habit and nature, and his heart and soul were imbued with it. He loved the people but
did not associate love with his own self. He kept his promises. Sincerity was the essence of his being. By his natural and profound intelligence he found out that freedom is the most sacred thing. The entire world craves for it and does not consider any other blessing to be equal to it. [*]
Only the free persons possess power of correct thinking and good habits, and true love and pure sincerity are also not possible without freedom. He, therefore, said: "The worst brother is he with whom you have to observe formalities". Hence, the best man is he who is not of this type.
Do you know any ruler who never ate his fill because many persons amongst his subjects did not get sufficient food to fill their bellies, or did not wear fine clothes because many persons wore coarse dress, or did not accumulate wealth because there were many poor and needy persons?
Ali recommended to his children and friends to follow in his footsteps. He declined to give as much as one dinar to his brother, because he was not entitled to it. He took severe action against his companions, subordinates, and officials, if they took even a loaf of bread as bribe. He warned a person against breach of trust in respect of public property in these words: "I swear by God that if you commit breach of trust in respect of public property I shall take such severe action against you that you will become poor, burdened and disgraced". And he addressed another person in these eloquent words: "I have been given to understand that you have swept the earth clean, have appropriated whatever was under your feet and have spared nothing. You should, therefore, send your account to me".
[*] Man loves freedom. In case, therefore, a person is put in a prison and all amenities of life are provided to him he will even then prefer freedom to the prison life. The prophets campaigned against the tyrants and succeeded, because they declared that man is entitled to possess control on his own activities and property whereas the despotic rulers deprived the people of this right and subjected them to all sorts of torture and tyranny.
He also admonished in these words a person who became rich by taking bribes: "Fear God and return the property of the people to them. If you do not do so and God provides me hold over you I shall perform the duty which I owe to God with regard to you and shall strike you with the sword which has despatched to Hell every one whom it has struck".
Have you ever heard about a monarch who used to grind the grains with his own hands and prepared for himself the bread, which could be broken only by pressing it with the knee? He who mended his shoes himself? He who did not accumulate any worldly wealth, because he had no object in view except to help the afflicted and the oppressed, so that he might realize their rights from the oppressors and make them happy?
He who never cared for his food and never thought of sound sleep, because some persons in his country had to starve. He who uttered this eloquent sentence: "Should I content myself with this that people call me 'Commander of the Faithful' and I should not share the hardships of life with them?"
If government and sovereignty do not serve the purpose of establishing truth and eliminating falsehood they are the worst things of the world in the eyes of Ali.
Which person out of those who are famous for their justice is such that even if all the inhabitants of the world combine against him it must be said that he is truthful and all his opponents are false. It was Ali who possessed this qualification, because his truthfulness and justice were not acquired but inherent and from them others learnt lessons. His laws were not formulated on account of the exigencies of government and polities but government and polities were based on those laws. He purposely did not adopt a path which might lead him to rulership, but adopted that which might enable him to make his place in the pure hearts. Justice was a part of his soul and was ingrained in his heart and it had combined other virtues also with itself. It was not possible for him to deviate from justice and from the demands of his nature. Justice was an
element which was entwined in his entire body and ran in his Veins like blood.
Have you seen any brave man in the pages of history who was oppossed by a group of self-seekers which also included his kinsmen and then a battle took place, and those persons were victorious and he was defeated, and even then he dominated over them? It so happened in the case of Ali and he dominated over them, because they were devoid of human qualities and had risen in the capacity of oppressors using the weapons of deceit, bribery, covetousness and fraud, whereas he sacrificed all gains and even his life in the path of human excellence, justice and protection of the rights of others. It was for this reason that the victory of his enemies was in fact their defeat and his defeat was a great success for human virtues.
Have you come across a great warrior in the pages of history who should love even his enemies and wish to see them endowed with human qualities. Ali was such a person. He was so kind to his enemies that he recommended to his companions: "Do not take the initiative in fighting with them. When they are defeated by the will of God do not pursue or kill those who run away. Do not kill the helpless and the wounded and do not molest the women''.
The army of the enemy consisting of eleven thousand persons, who were keen to shed his blood blocked his approach to water so that he might die of thirst. However, when he regained control over water he said to them: "We are quenching our thirst with water. The birds are also availing of it. You too should come and carry away water to meet your needs".
Imam Ali used to say: "If a person is killed while performing jihad in the path of God his spiritual reward is not more than one who can take revenge, but refrains from doing so, because such a person is one of the angels of God''.
When a wicked person struck on his head and as a result of it, he was departing from the world he said to his companions: "In case you forgive him your action will be nearer to piety and virtue''.
He was a great warrior, who had combined his valour
with kindness. He reproved only verbally the enemies, who had gathered to oppose him, although he could curb their power with his sword. Even when he went to admonish them he was bare-headed and without any armour whereas they were armed so heavily that their faces could hardly be seen through their helmets and coats of mail. Then he reminded them of old brotherhood and friendship and wept much on account of their having adopted the wrong path. However, even when he realized that the advice was not having any effect on them and they were bent upon shedding his blood he did not commence fighting himself but delayed it till they themselves started it. At that moment he drew his sword for the sake of the oppressed and launched an attack which scattered them like the particles of sand in the desert. After the spiteful oppressors who openly displayed enmity and rebellion were killed and he himself gained victory he wept on their dead bodies, notwithstanding the fact that they had met this fate on account of their selfishness and worst greed.
Have you heard about any king who was well- equipped with all means of sovereignty and wealth which were not available to others, but he chose sufferings and pains for himself? Of course, Ali made such a choice. He was of noble descent but he said: "No dignity is greater than humility and meekness''.
He said to some persons who loved him: "Whoever loves me should prepare a robe of poverty for himself''.
A group of persons went to the extreme in the matter of love for him. Thereupon he said: "Persons of two kinds got involved in destruction in connection with me - the friends who went to the extreme, and the spiteful enemies''.
Ali severely punished a group which considered him to be their deity. He advised like brothers a group of persons who were inclined favourably towards him. Some persons abused him. His adherents did not tolerate this and abused those people in reply. Thereupon he said: "I do not like that you who are my friends should become persons who use abusive language''.
Some people were inimical to him. They harmed and slandered him and rose in opposition to him. In spite of this he used to say: "Punish your brother with goodness and improve his nature with prizes and honours''. Ali also said: "Your brother is not more powerful than you in breaking the bonds of love and friendship, provided that you try to cement them, and is not quicker than you in doing harm if you behave well with him''.
Some persons suggested to him to behave towards the oppressors kindly and leniently so that his government might be strengthened. He said in reply: "Your friend is he who prevents you from doing evil, and your enemy is he, who induces you to do evil''. He also said: "Adopt truth even though it may be harmful to you and refrain from telling lies even though you may derive benefit from it''.
Ali had done good to a person. Once the same person came to fight with him. Ali then said addressing himself: "If a persoh is not thankful to you for your goodness this should not mean that you should discontinue your goodness''.
Once the blessings of the world were being discussed in his presence. Ali said: "Out of the worldly blessings good morals are sufficient blessings''.
When some persons suggested to him to use all possible means like the kings to achieve victory Ali said: "A person whose heart is overcome by sin is not a victor, and he who dominates by means of bad deeds is actually the vanquished person''.
Ali overlooked those bad deeds of his enemies of which only he was aware and said repeatedly: "The best habit of a manly person is that he should treat what he sees to be unseen''.
If his enemies or the simpletons among his friends said something which he did not like he used to say: "If you hear something from someone and there is a possibility of its being good do not be suspicious about it''.
Do you know any religious leader who has given directions to his officials in these words: ''The people
are either your brethren-in-faith or equal to you in the matter of creation. You should, therefore, overlook their shortcomings in the same manner in which you wish God to overlook yours''.
Do you know any king who may have forsaken his kingdom to establish truth? And have you seen any wealthy person who may have contented himself with only a loaf of bread to sustain his life, and life in his eyes should mean doing good to mankind and he should have told the `world' not to deceive him but someone else?
Amongst the monuments of the East have you read Nahj al-Balaghah (The English version of the glorious book has been published by Islamic Seminary) and seen how eloquent and impressive its sentences are? It deals with various matters and also provides information about the other world. It is like the events of the world which cannot be altered, and if even one word is removed from its place the entire purport will undergo a change.
This book will continue to remain attractive so long as man and his intellect and sentiments exist. Its eloquence surpasses every other eloquence. It contains all the attributes of the Arabic language which existed at that time and were introduced later. Hence, it has been said that it is lower than the word of God and higher than that which has been said by God's creatures.
Great wisdom, knowledge of the highest standard, unparalleled eloquence, perfect valour and unlimited love and kindness were all combined in Ali. If a person possesses even one of these attributes it is sufficient to dazzle others and when they are combined in one person his greatness is evidently beyond comprehension.
At times it so happened that this philosopher, man of letters, scholar, administrator, ruler and commander sequestered himself from the world, and did not have any dealings with others. He then desired only to stimulate human qualities and rouse the sentiments, and made these nice and pure words, which are the proof of love and intense feelings, reach the ear of the hearts gently:
"To lack friends is tantamount to poverty''.
"Do not express joy on the adversity of others''.
"Bring people nearer to you by means of gentleness and munificence''.
"Forgive one who oppresses you''.
"Do not deprive of your munificence a person who deprives you of his munificence''.
"Establish new relations with the person who cuts off his relations with you''.
"Be friendly towards one, who is inimical towards you''.
He was a great man, who surpassed the philosophers of the world in high thinking, the righteous of the world in beneficence, the scholars of the world in the matter of vast knowledge, the researchers of the world in the matter of deep insight, all the philanthropists as regards love and kindness, all the pious persons in the matter of abstemiousness, and all the reformers of the world in the matter of reformatory views. He shared the sorrows of the helpless and helped the oppressed in their distress. He taught the literary persons of the world the art of literature and trained the brave men in the methods of warfare. He was always prepared to sacrifice his life for the establishment of truth. He went higher than the highest stage of human virtue and perfection. He displayed these qualities equally in his words and actions. He was so great that the domination of his enemies over him was meaningless and their victory carried no importance, because at that time everything had turned upside down. The right hand was on the left side and the left hand was on the right side. High and low, light and darkness, the earth and the sky, had all assumed a reverse shape.
It makes no difference in the position of Ali whether or not history recognizes him and whether his eminence appears greater or lesser. Notwithstanding this, history has testified that he was the deepest stage of human thought. He sacrificed his life for the sake of truth and reality. He was the father of the martyrs and the proclaimer of justice. He was the unique man of the East, who will live for ever!
# The prophet and Abutalib
If we leave aside the details and cast a glance not at the apparent conditions but at the reality, it appears that the conditions and the adventures of life of Ali son of Abu Talib were similar to those of the prophet Muhammad and the attitude of his companions towards Mu'awiya and his associates was similar to that of the prophet and the Muslims towards Abu Sufyan, Abu Jehl and other Quraysh. The difference between them was this that the prophet acquired necessary strength to establish a state and to subdue the chiefs of Quraysh whereas the circumstances and conditions had changed in the days of Ali and he did not succeed in overpowering his opponents.
Although Ali could not rule over the people like Bani Umayyah he was not deprived of ruling over the pure hearts of the virtuous people. And he was so well-quipped with the qualities of a perfect man that he deserved to rule the hearts.
Before we begin our discourse about Ali it is necessary to throw some light on the relationship which associated him with Muhammad son of Abdullah. This relationship existed in the detailed adventures of their lives as well as in their spiritual qualities which had come together in one family. The prophet was the most perfect person and the son of Abu Talib followed in his footsteps and was the most perfect person next to him and excelled all others.
When the prophet was deprived of the love of his parents his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, who was the grandfather of Ali as well, assumed his guardianship. His grandfather was very fond of him. Many times it so
happened that he fixed his eyes on his grandson and said to those present: "This child is very honourable''.
He accorded Muhammad great respect even though he was a child yet, and in the general assemblies he made him sit at a place in the shade of the Ka'bah where even his brothers could not aspire to sit.
When the prophet's grandfather breathed his last his guardianship was assumed by his uncle Abu Talib, the father of Ali. The prophet led a very comfortable life under the guardianship of his uncle, and benefited from his love and excellent manners and morals, which he had inherited from Abd al-Muttalib. The good morals, which were characteristic of the family of Abd al-Muttalib were inherent in the soul of Muhammad and were manifest in his words and actions. It might be said that when God chose His messenger from the family of Bani Hashim He also chose his magnanimous uncle to train him. It appears that a messenger-angel had informed Abu Talib about the mystery related to his nephew of which others were not aware.
Once during a period of famine and drought this child was requested by his uncle to pray to God for rains with his back resting on the wall of the holy Ka'bah. The child complied with his uncle's wish and pointed to the sky with his finger. There was no cloud in the sky at that moment. However, the clouds gathered suddenly from all sides, and it rained heavily so that the fields were filled with water and the earth gained a new life.
The people asked Abu Talib, "Who is this boy?'' He replied: "He is my nephew Muhammad about whom I have said: He is the white-faced one. By means of his bright face water is sought from the clouds. He is the refuge for the orphans and the protector of the widows''.
This narrative indicates the fervent mutual love and affection of the uncle and the nephew. Abu Talib always attended to the needs of the child very meticulously and was extremely kind to him.
Once when Abu Talib went to Syria he also took with him his nephew (Muhammad) who was then about fourteen years of age. After having crossed Madyan, the
Valley of Oara the land of Samud they came near the gardens of Syria. They enjoyed different scenes and observed therein the secrets of nature.
The views of Abu Talib about Muhammad were confirmed by the monk Bahira when he told him that his nephew would become a towering personality in the future. From then onwards he took greater care of his nephew because he became aware that a mystery was linked with his person.
When Abu Talib heard the people of Mecca calling Muhammad with the title of 'Amin' (the honest) he was very much pleased, and the tears of joy began to flow down from his eyes.
Khadijah, the chief of the woman of Quraysh, herself proposed marriage to Muhammad although she had already rejected the suit of rich Qurayshite noblemen. The only confidant and true adviser of Muhammad was Abu Talib. He therefore, consulted him in the matter. Abu Talib was well aware of the nature and morals of Muhammad and knew that he was not inclined towards anything except goodness. He supported this alliances because what his nephew had enquired about was exactly the same thing which he (Abu Talib) himself had wished from the core of his heart.
After the Quranic verses were revealed to Muhammad in the Cave of Hira the first persons to express faith in him and to offer prayers with him were his wife Khadijah and his cousin Ali. When Abu Talib came to know about the embracement of Islam by Ali he said to him: "My son! What act do you perform?" Ali replied: "Dear father! I have adopted the religion of the prophet of God, confirm what he has brought and follow him in offering prayers". Abu `falib said: "Dear son! Be obedient to him always, because he will never invite you to anything except goodness and virtue".
When the prophet of Islam ordered the Muslims to migrate to Ethiopia he made Ja'far son of Abu Talib the chief of the migrants, and of all those persons he loved his cousin most.
Abu Talib was the first person in Islam who composed verses eulogizing Muhammad and exhorted the people to support him. Once a group of Quraysh came to Abu Talib and asked him to surrender Muhammad to them. He replied to them: "So long as all of us are not finished we shall neither surrender him to you nor withhold assistance from him".
Throughout his life Abu Talib did not forget even for one moment that Muhammad was a great person and his (i.e. Abu Talib's) brother Abdullah and his father Abd al-Muttalib were also great personalities.
When the time of Abu Talib's death drew near he called a large number of persons belonging to his family by his bedside, and said to them: "I exhort you to behave well with Muhammad because he is known as 'honest' among Quraysh and is famous among the Arabs for his truthfulness, and all these qualities are combined in his person. I can imagine very well that the indigent and the nomads have gathered round him and have accepted his invitation and confirmed his words. Their movement has become strong. The chiefs and elders of Quraysh have been humiliated. The weak persons have become honourable. Those who were opposed to him most are most obedient to him and those who were more apart from him are profiting more by remaining in his service.
O Quraysh! Support and reverence him. I swear by God that whoever follows his path will be saved and whoever acts on his advice will become prosperous. If I had lived and death had granted me respite I would have defended him from the calamities of time because he is truthful and honest. Accept his invitation, co-operate with one another in supporting him and fight against his enemies, because so long as the world lasts he is the capital of dignity and honour for you".
Abu Talib rendered support to the prophet for forty two years. He opposed Quraysh for his sake and supported his declaration of prophethood till he breathed his last.
After Abu Talib's death the prophet felt that he had been deprived of his great supporter who used to defend
him against harm by Quraysh. Abu Talib was the chief of the family in which the prophet had been brought up, and was his supporter against his enemies. He loved him ardently and warded off the mischief of the obstinate Quraysh against him. The prophet himself said: "So long as my uncle Abu Talib lived the people could do me no harm".
As we all know Muhammad was very patient and self-possessed, and notwithstanding the fact that his enemies were numerous and his friends were fewer, he believed firmly that he would succeed in his mission. The question therefore, arises as to the reason for his being so much grieved at the death of his uncle. In fact the reason was their great mutual love, because a person loves one who is kind to him and supports him. His flowing tears showed that the prophet was feeling that he had lost something which was as dear to him as his own life.
# The prophet and Ali
A very good and pure spirit existed in the family of Abu Talib. It looked at the world in a peculiar manner and saw all things connected and united with one another.
This spirit was very strong in the prophet and Ali and a very firm relationship existed between them, because Ali had been brought up by the prophet from his childhood till he grew up to be a youth. When we admit that it is possible that good morals should become firm naturally in a heart and a soul we have also to say that Ali was born with perfect faith in the prophethood of Muhammad and support for him, because the qualities and virtues of the Family of Abu Talib in which the prophet was brought up were transferred to his cousin from his birth.[*]
The personality of Ali developed with the virtues of his family. It was this place where he heard Muhammad speak and the call to Islam also started from here.
Ali was quite young when the prophet attached him with himself and called him his brother.
In his sermon entitled "Qase'a" Ali mentions the attention paid to him by the prophet and says: "Do you know, that due to my relationship and on account of my worth and merit, what were my relations with the prophet.
[*] The correct position is this that Abu Talib and the members of his family or the ways and manners of the time or the environments had no influences on the prophethood of Muhammad or the Imamate of Ali. These things were related with divine inspiration and neither Abu Talib nor the members of this family shared the secrets of prophethood and Imamate.
From the very beginning of my life he loved me and I loved him. He took me in his lap when I was a baby and thence I was always with him, he often kept me embraced to his heart, he used to make me sleep next to him; we used to be so close to each other that I felt the warmth of his body and smelled the fragrance of his breath.When I was a baby, he fed me with his hands often chewing hard bits for me. He never found me lying nor weak and wavering. From the time of his babyhood God had appointed the Holy Ghost to be always with him and this archangel was leading him towards exemplary qualities and high moral values and I followed the prophet step by step as a baby camel follows its mother. Daily he used to place before me a fresh standard of efficiency and used to order me to follow it. Every year he used to stay in a grotto of the Hira Mountains for sometime, and nobody used to be with him but I. None could then see or hear him or be near him but I. During those days Islam was the religion of only the prophet and his wife Khadijah, I was the third of the trio (the prophet, Khadijah and Ali himself). Nobody else in this world had accepted Islam I even then used to see the divine light of revelation and prophethood and smell the heavenly fragrance of prophethood. When the prophet received the first revelation Satan lamented loudly. I asked the prophet "Who is lamenting and why". He replied, "It is Satan who had given up hopes of acquiring complete sway over human mind. In this disappointment he is lamenting over the chance lost. Verily, Ali, you also hear whatever is revealed to me and you also see whatever is being shown to me. With this difference that you are not entrusted with prophethood, but you will be my successor, helper and vi zier, and you will always uphold truth and justice".
Childhood is the age when one is fully capable of acquiring good qualities. Ali spent a good deal of his life with the prophet alone. He imitated the prophet's conduct and remained separated from his community which was leading a miserable life and was firmly bound with the chains of hereditary customs.
For years Ali lived in a pure atmosphere by the side of his cousin and was loved very much by him. None of the companions and followers of the prophet could develop such a close relationship with him. Ali opened his eyes on the path which had been opened for him by his cousin.
He learnt how to worship God from Muhammad's prayers. He enjoyed the prophet's love, kindness and brotherhood. His relationship with Muhammad was similar to the one between Muhammad and Abu Talib. When Ali first felt the sentiment of love in his mind he loved Muhammad. When he spoke for the first time he spoke with Muhammad. On the very first occasion when he was required to display manliness and valour he showed readiness to support Muhammad. Muhammad's friends were friendly with him and his enemies also respected his personality. Ali was such a protege and disciple of the prophet that he became his soul and a part of his limbs.
In the early days of the prophetic mission of the prophet some elders amongst Quraysh who hated worship joined him. The slaves and helpless persons came round him in expectation of justice and freedom. And after he was successful and victorious a third group also joined him, because those people had no alternative left. They wanted to benefit from the new situation and most of Bani Umayyah belonged to this group. These different groups embraced Islam on different occasions and although they resembled one another in the matter of obedience to the prophet the degrees of their faith differed. However, as Ali was born and brought up in the lap of prophethood, his faith was natural and innate, and he emerged from the body of his mother with this faith in his heart. His faith had nothing to do with age or the vicissitudes of time. He offered prayers and testified the prophethood of Muhammad at an age when a child cannot even express his thoughts. And he did all this without obtaining any order or advice from anyone. Most of the persons who embraced Islam in the early days of Muhammad's prophethood had worshipped the idols in previous days. However, when Ali prostrated
for the first time it was before the Allah of Muhammad. This was the quality of the faith of the person who was destined to grow up as a supporter and well-wisher of the prophet, to lead the faithful after the prophet, and to save the people from the calamities of time.
# Ali is my brother
In order to indicate at which level spiritual brother hood existed between the prophet and Ali, to what extent Ali inherited the virtues of the prophet, how Ali's soul acquired the colour of prophethood, how much he was loved by the prophet and to what extent he respected and honoured the prophet with his heart and tongue, it is necessary that a few traditions may be quoted. Only then we can conclude that in accordance with the sublime rules which became the source of strengthening the religion of Islam, the prophet was paving the way for the caliphate of Ali. And he was doing so, because he could see his own face in the mirror of the person of Ali and the good qualities possessed by him were also possessed by Ali as will be explained later.
Tabrani has quoted Ibn Mas'ud as saying that the prophet said: "Looking at Ali's face amounts to worship". And Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqas quotes the prophet as saying: "Whoever hurts Ali hurts me".
Ya'qubi has quoted in parts of his history that when the prophet was returning to Madina from the "Farewell pilgrimage" he stopped on the 18th day of Zil-Hajj at Ghadir al-Khum near Johfah, delivered a sermon and then held the hands of Ali and said: "Of whomsoever I am the master, Ali too is his master. O God! Love him who loves Ali and be inimical towards him who is inimical towards Ali".
Fakhruddin al-Razi has quoted in Tafsir al-Kabir that thereafter Umar son of Khattab greeted Ali and said to him: "O Ali! You have become my master as well as of every Muslim man and woman".
This hadith has been quoted from sixteen companions of the prophet by the ulema and historians like Tirmizy, Nasa'iand Ahmad bin Hanbal, and has also been verified by many poets, the foremost among them being Hassan bin Thabit Ansari. He says: "On the day of Ghadir the prophet called the people at Khum and made his voice reach the ears of all and said: Who is your chief and master? The people did not feign ignorance and said: Your God is our master and you are our prophet and we are not disobedient to you". Then the prophet said to Ali: "Rise; for certainly I have chosen you to be the Imam and the guide after myself. Hence, of whomsoever I am the master this Ali, too, is his master. You should, therefore, be his true friends and supporters".
Abu Tamam Tai is one of the poets who have mentioned the event of that day. Another poet Kumait Asadi has given a detailed account of it in his al-Qasidab al-Ainiyya. He says inter alia: "In the ground of Ghadir al-Khum the prophet made an announcement about his caliphate. I wished that the prophet's decision had been accepted. I never saw a day as important as the day of Ghadir and I never saw such a right being violated".
Abu Sa'id Khudari has been quoted in Kitab Aal lbn Khalwiyya as having said that the prophet said to Ali "Love for you is faith and enmity towards you is hypocrisy" "Your friend will be the first person who will enter Paradise and your enemy will be the first person who will be thrown into Hell".
The narrators believe that the prophet looked at the face of Ali time and again, and said: "This is my brother".
Abu Huraira has been quoted to have said that the prophet addressed his companions saying: "If you want to see the knowledge of Adam, the determination of Noah, the habits of Abraham, the supplications of Moses, the peity of Jesus and the guidance of Muhammad combined in one person look at the man who is coming towards you". When the people raised their heads they saw that it was Ali".
Once a man complained against Ali before the prophet.
The prophet said in reply: "What do you want from Ali? What do you want from Ali? what do you want from Ali? Ali is from me and I am from Ali and after me he is the master of all believers".[*]
The prophet sent Ali to Yemen. Some of his com-
[*] The prophet sent two detachments of the soldiers to Yemen - one under the command of the Imam and the other under the command of Khalid son of walid and said that if both the contingents reached there together, the command would rest with Ali. Khalid who was perfectly imbued with the habits and sentiments of the age of ignorance was very much annoyed at this. After the completion of the assignment, therefore, he sent some persons to the prophet to complain against Ali.
The companion Buraidah, the bearer of the letter says: "I placed before the prophet the letter which I had brought and it was read out for him. The prophet was so much annoyed that I observed the signs of anger on his face. Then I said: "O prophet of God! I seek refuge in you. The letter has been sent by Khalid and he ordered me to bring it to you. As he has been my commander, I obeyed his orders. The prophet said: "Do not talk ill of Ali. He is from me and I am from him and he is your master and man of authority after me". (Al-Musnad-Ahmad bin Hanbal, vol.5, p.356, Al-Khasais-Nasa'i, p. 24).
In one of the texts of Hadith, an addition to the above- mentioned Hadith is available and it is that when Buraidah saw the behaviour and the extreme anger of the prophet he entertained doubt in his mind about his own faith and, therefore, said to the prophet: "I administer you an oath of the rights of companionship which exist between us that you may stretch out your hand so that I may take an oath of allegiance de novo and my sin may be forgiven". (Majma al-Zawaid by vol.9, page 128).
On the basis of this narration the Imam is the supervisor, man of authority and guardian of the Muslims, after the prophet. Viz. he enjoys exactly the same guardianship, over the life and property of the people, in the capacity of the successor of the prophet as the prophet himself and, of course, exercises this authority for their material and spiritual benefit as the exigencies of the circumstances demand.
panions requested him to give them the camels received as alms to mount so that their own camels might take rest. Ali did not accede to their request. When all of them returned to Madina the persons whose request had been rejected by Ali complained against him to the prophet. S'ad son of Malik Shaheed acted as their spokesman. He said that Ali had been harsh towards them and also made a mention of the relevant incident. While he was speaking the prophet struck his thigh with his hand and said loudly. "O Sa'd! Stop complaining against Ali. You should know that he is dedicated to the path of God".
It appears from the above mentioned traditions as well as from many others which have not been quoted here that the prophet considered Ali to be his brother, and Ali, too, was very much pleased with his brotherhood.
Moreover, the prophet used to invite the attention of the people to the attributes and virtues which had concentrated in the personality of Ali so that they might know that he was the best person to carry on the lslamic mission after him. Some instances have been quoted in authentic traditions, which go to show that the natural conditions also helped in creating harmony between Muhammad and Ali, and shaped the events and the environments in such a way that Ali displayed the attributes which were not shared with him by any one.
One of those attributes was that he was born in the Ka'bah, which is the "Qibla" of the Muslims and his birth took place at a time when the Islamic call was about to be given by Muhammad and he had not made it public. In those days he resided in the house of Ali's father Abu Talib. When Ali opened his eyes he saw Muhammad and Khadijah offering prayers. He was the first man who expressed faith in Muhammad although he was not yet fully grown up. When the people reproved him for embracing Islam without the permission of his father he replied at once: "God created me without seeking Abu Talib's agreement. Then why should I obtain my father's permission to worship God".
For quite a long time the religion of Islam remained
confined in the house of Muhammad and there were then only four Muslims in the world: namely, Muhammad, his wife Khadijah, his cousin Ali and his slave Zaid bin Harith.
On the day when Muhammad invited his kinsmen to a feast and wished to address them and communicate the message of Islam to them, his uncle Abu Lahab interrupted him and incited those present against him. Consequently all of them stood up and left Muhammad's house. The prophet invited them once again and said after meals were over: "I do not know any person in Arabia who may have brought a present which is better than the one which I have brought for you. Who from amongst you will help me?" The persons present declined to commit themselves and wanted to leave the house as before, but in the meantime Ali, who was still a boy and had not attained the age of manhood stood up and said: "O prophet of God! I shall assist you and shall fight against anyone who opposes you". Members of Bani Hashim family laughed out and then went away ridiculing Abu Talib and Ali.
In every battle Ali was the standard-bearer of the prophet. He dedicated his valour, blood, heart, tongue and his very life for his cousin, the prophet, and for the success and victory of Islam. He crushed the enemies of Muhammad and showed his mettle as and when the occassion demanded. At the time of the Battle of the Ditch when the companions of the prophet were worried and perplexed on account of the fear of the enemy, Ali stood like a rock before the chiefs of Quraysh and displayed such feats of valour that the Muslims became hopeful of their victory, and the Quraysh and their allies had to suffer defeat.
In the Battle of Khaybar Ali performed a jihad, which was astonishing. The forts of Khaybar, although very strong, were conquered at his hands. This was notwith- standing the fact that very brave and experienced soldiers were assembled there and the companions of the prophet were afraid of them. In short the siege of the fort by the Muslims was prolonged. The soldiers within were defending themselves courageously, because they knew that if they were defeated by Muhammad their power in the Arabian
Peninsula would come to an end and their business and authority would go.
The prophet sent Abu Bakr to conquer the fort. He displayed his efficiency in his own way and came back without achieving the success. On the following day he sent Umar son of Khattab, but he also returned like Abu Bakr without achieving any success and could not overcome the lofty fort and the armed soldiers. The prophet then called Ali and ordered him to conquer the fort. Ali gladly proceeded to perform this duty for the sake of Islam. When he approached the fort, and its inmates came to know that this time Ali son of Abu Talib, who had not sustained defeat in any campaign, had come to join the battle, many squads of theirs came out from the fort all at once, and one of their soldiers attacked so forcefully that the shield fell down from the hand of Ali. He immediately pulled out the gate of the fort and continued to fight, using it as a shield, till the fort was conquered. And the fort was not conquered till a number of soldiers were killed, the first among whom was Harith son of Abi Zainab. At this stage we come across a strange phenomena. In the history of our ancestors we come across many champions who fought battles for the sake of their beliefs, but in the heart of their hearts they desired peace and wished that the problem had been solved without resorting to warfare. Besides them we also know many brave men who met martyrdom to achieve their objective. However, such battles and martyrdoms are mostly without any fore- thought. There are sudden occurrences which usually take place owing to eruption of enthusiasm and ardour in the presence of the onlookers. However, the case of Ali son of Abu Talib is most surprising, because in order to defend the faith of Muhammad and his own, and for the sake of brotherhood, and in the path of God he exposed himself to the gravest danger. It is an event which is unparalleled in history and abundantly proves the unity and harmony of these two great personalities.
When persecution by Quraysh reached its maximum limit and they were planning to kill Muhammad and destroy
Islam, the prophet went to the house Of Abu Bakr and toId him that as Quraysh were conspiring to kill him he had decided to migrate. Abu Bakr expressed his desire to accompany the prophet and the latter acceded to his request. When both of them decided to migrate, they were certain that the Quraysh would pursue them. Muhammad therefore proposed to follow a deviated path and should leave their houses at a time at which they could not normally be expected to do so. On the very night during which Muhammad decided to. migrate, the Quraysh had decided to kill him and had posted a group of experienced warriors round his house so that he might not escape under the cover of darkness. however, Muhammad asked his cousin Ali confidentially to sleep in his bed and to cover himself with his green sheet. He also asked him to stay on in Mecca till he had restored to the people the things which they had deposited with him. (i.e. with Muhammad ).
As usual Ali obeyed the orders of the prophet very gladly. As mentioned above Quraysh had besieged the house of the prophet. They peeped through the holes and saw a man sleeping in the bed of the prophet. Thev were therefore, satisfied that the prophet had not escaped. In the latter part of the night when the enemies imagined that the prophet was sleeping in his bed he was actually in the house of Abu Bakr, wherefrom both of them proceeded to the Cave of Thour. On finding a clue the Quraysh reached this place also, but God kept them hidden from the eyes of the enemies.
The examples of self-sacrifice set by Ali are very rare. One wavers between life and death and reflects whether one should sacrifice high morals, which are the capital of one's life, for the sake of the base and transitory comforts of worldly life. If, on such an occasion a person chooses martyrdom, it is a proof of the fact that in his eyes real life is eternal life and not temporary mudane life.
Of course, such devotion and self-sacrifice is very rare in the world. If Socrates and others like him welcomed death gladly, Ali son of Abu Talib also placed his life at the disposal of the prophet of his own free will. However,
to go into the battlefield and court death or to drink a cup of poison is easier as compared with the heroic act performed by Ali. Just imagine how difficult it is for a person to sleep in the bed of one whom his enemies are bent upon to kill and it is not possible to escape from their hands, especially when they may be watching him from a distance of a few steps and making signs for a murderous attack and he may be observing their movements and hearing their words and seeing their blood thirsty swords flashing on his head and may spend the entire night in this condition.
At this dangerous stage Ali imitated the prophet and displayed the power of resistance which he had acquired by his association with his illustrious cousin. His sleeping in the bed of the prophet was a specimen of his jihad and effort for the promotion of the faith propagated by him. This dangerous fact unveils the nature of the Imam that his actions were not tainted with artificiality and resembled the coming out of a pearl from a shell. It also shows his strong intellect and matchless insight, because it is not possible for any other person to understand fully the reality of the Islamic call at such a young age.
This fact also shows many other traits of Ali. It shows that he did not attach any importance to worldly life. He was very faithful and sincere. He did not prefer himself to others. He was prepared even to lay down his life for the sake of the oppressed, so that they might be relieved of the oppression, and the prophetic mission of the prophet might succeed. Fidelity, manliness, righteousness valour and all other good qualities were concentrated in this person. The self-sacrifice displayed by him at this stage was an introduction of the heroic acts performed by him in future.
There existed a firm relationship of love and brotherhood between Muhammad and Ali and they assisted each other in connection with the Islamic call. This co-operation commenced from the time when Muhammad recognized Abu Talib and Ali recognized Muhammad i.e. from the time when these three illustrious personalities were living together in a house which was founded on piety and virtue. It was one of the characteristics of the house of
Abu Talib that it was there that Ali and Abu Talib were able to realize the greatness of Muhammad. As a result of this Abu Talib bestowed his love and kindness on Muhammad and Ali displayed obedience and devotion to him. This very recognition prepared Ali for supreme sacrifices. The prophet also realized this reality fully well. He loved Ali beyond measure. He did not only love Ali himself but endeavoured to make others also love him, so that he might assume the responsibilities of the caliphate after him. He wished that people might become fully aware of the qualities of Ali so that after his own death they should see in Ali the person of Muhammad himself as if Muhammad were still alive. Hence, they should select him with love and kindness of their own free will, and not because he belonged to the Family of Bani Hashim and was the cousin of the prophet. This was so because the prophet himself opposed such discriminations and had strictly prohibited them. It was for this reason that just as he had himself avoided material benefits, he also kept Bani Hashim away from governmental offices which might bring worldly benefits. [*]
[*] The prophet had declared zakat, which formed a large part of the assets of the public treasury, to be unlawful for Bani Hashim, so much so that he did not even send them to collect zakat so that the people might become aware that it was not utilized by the prophet's Family, and was collected only to assist the indigent persons and to meet common needs of the Muslims.
# The attributes of Ali
Out of the persons who have narrated the attributes of Imam Ali son of Abu Talib the author of Zakhair_ al-Uqba writes thus: "His stature was moderate and slightly short. His skin was of wheaten colour and his beard was white and long. His eyes were large and black. He had a cheerful face and was good-natured. His neck was long like a goblet made of silver. His shoulders were broad. The joints of his hands were like those of a roaring lion, because his hands and wrists were completely joined with each other and distinction could hardly be made between them. His hands and fingers were strong, moderately fat and fleshy. His calves were fleshy and their lower part was thin. His arms were also fleshy in a similar manner. He walked calmly like the prophet. However, as and when he proceeded to give a fight he walked briskly and did not turn his head to see anything else. His bodily strength was unimaginable. He usually picked up the fighters whom he laid his hands on and threw them on the ground without any difficulty or effort, as if they were small children. And if he held the arm of any warrior in his hand the latter could not even breathe. It is well-known that he did not fight with anyone whom he did not vanquish, even though he might have been very strong and a renowned champion. At times he picked up a big gate which a number of strong persons could not even close or open, and used it as a shield to defend himself. On some occasions he threw away with one hand, a stone, which could not even be shaken by a number of men. At times he roared in the battlefield so loudly that the bravest men got frightened although
their number might be quite large. He possessed such a great power to bear hardships that he did not fear any harm from heat or coldness. He used to wear summer clothes in winter and winter clothes in summer''.
Once a man lodged a complaint against Ali with Umar who was then the caliph. Umar summoned both of them and said: "O Abul Hasan! Stand side by side with the other party. Signs of displeasure appeared on the face of Ali. Thereupon Umar asked him whether he did not wish to stand by the side of the other person. Ali replied: "No. That is not so. However, I have observed that you have not maintained equality between me and my opponent. You have addressed me with my Kuniyah and thus shown me respect whereas you have not meted out the same treat- ment to him''. [*]
It is very difficult to explain fully the nature and habits of human beings and especially of great personalities because personal qualities of men are related with one another and everyone of them influences others. Every quality is related with another quality and every habit is the cause of another habit and the result of a third one, or two of them are effect of another and so on and so forth. Hence, I propose to study a few of the personal qualities of Ali from different angles and to compare them within one and the same personality so as to arrive at some conclusions by means of this intellectual analysis. In the first instance I shall briefly present the various qualities of Ali by deducing them from his simple dealings and well-known actions so that his nature, habits and disposition are known and our detailed discussion in the following chapters may be limited to those qualities and characteristics.
We now commence the discussion with reference to his acts of worship.
Ali was well-known fot his piety and continence. He
[*] The Arabs did not consider it proper to address the respectable persons with their real names. In case, therefore, they wished to accord respect to someone they addressed him with his Kuniyah.
did many things for his own self as well as for his own people and others, as he was extremely pious. I believe that Ali's piety was not the outcome of circumstances like that of other pious persons, who engage themselves in worship on account of the weakness of their souls, or to escape the vicissitudes of life and to keep aloof from the people, or in imitation of their ancestors, and the effects of the events of life confirm it, because as a rule people accord respect to ancestral customs and traditions. [*]
The fact is that the piety of the Imam Ali was based on a firm footing and was linked with the mutual tie which exists in all parts of the creation and has bound the sky and the earth with each other. His worship was in fact a continuous effort and a campaign against mischief for the sake of human life and prosperity. He fought against all aspects of evil and wickedness. On the one hand he fought against hypocrisy and selfishness and on the other hand against dastardliness, abjectness meanness, helplessness and other bad qualities which had been acquired by the people during those evil days. According to Ali the essence of piety is to sacrifice one's life for the sake of truth and justice. He has said: "Your faith should be at such a level that you should prefer truth to falsehood even though it may cause you loss and falsehood may bring you gain''.
His piety was of the same type as defined by him. He was martyred on account of this very truthfulness, and if it be possible to give the title of "Martyr'' to living persons it may be said that even while alive he was a martyr in the path of truth and righteousness.
If a person studies the piety of the Imam carefully it will become known to him that even in politics and
[*] According to the Christians `worship' consists of sequestered and monastic life. However, monasticism is not permissible in Islam. It was for this reason that the pious Muslims neither avoided effort in life nor kept aloof from other human beings. On the other hand at times they heroically staked their very lives even when it was expedient to remain silent (and they do so even in these times).
government, he had a special method in the matter of worship which he pursued firmly. When he stood before the Almighty God he made his supplications with full attention, just as a poet is lost in the beauties of nature. The following remark of Ali is very instructive for those who worship God and observe piety: "One group worships God to be favoured with His blessings. This is the worship of the tradesmen. Another group worships Him on account of His fear. This is the worship of the slaves. A third group worships Him by way of thanksgiving. This is the worship of the free man''.
Unlike many persons the Imam's worship was not on account of fear, and it was also not a tradesman-like worship with the hope of acquiring Paradise. On the other hand when great men stand before the Almighty God they find themselves meek and obliged to consider themselves His worst slaves. The basis of this worship is reason, conscience, and spiritual perfection.
One who accords the same position to worship as was accorded by Ali will certainly view life in the same manner in which it was viewed by Ali. Such a person does not seek life for wordly gains and transient pleasures. On the other hand he seeks it to attain high morals and to achieve the ends which are compatible with his nature. It was for this reason that Ali chose piety in the world and did not seek fame and ostentation. He was true in the matter of piety in the same way in which he was true in the matter of his actions, words and intentions. He was disinclined towards the pleasures of life in the same way in which he was disinterested in rulership, and other things, which were so much coveted by others. He lived with the members of his family in a hut which was also his seat of government. His rulership was not in the form of kingship but in the form of caliphate. He ate barley bread prepared from the flour ground by his wife. Of course his governors and officials availed of the luxuries which became available from Sy, Egypt and Iraq. Often he did not make his wife take the trouble of grinding the mill and did this job himself. Although he was the
Commander of the Faithful he ate bread which was so dry and hard that it could be broken by pressing it with the knee. When it was very cold during winter he did not have any clothes for that season and contented himself with thin summer clothes.
Haroon son of Antara relates thus from his father: "I went in the presence of Ali in Khurnaq Palace in winter season and saw that he was wearing an old cloak and was trembling with cold. I said to him: O Commander of the Faithful! God has fixed a share for you also in the public treasury and in spite of that you are living in this condition''. He replied: "I swear by God that I do not take anything out of your (i.e. public) property and this cloak is the same which I brought from Madina''.
He spent his days in the small house with perfect con- tentment till he was martyred at the hands of lbn Muljim. Although he was the caliph there was none amongst the Muslims who lived as simple and contented a life as he did.
In fact this lack of interest on his part in worldly comforts was related with his valour. Some persons think that these two qualities are apart from each other, but this view is not correct. Really speaking his valour consisted of the greatness of his soul and his efforts to achieve great objects and to help the poor and the needy without caring for his own benefit. The fact is that he was not prepared to enjoy the pleasure of life while living in a city in which many helpless and indigent persons were also residing.
Umar son of Abdul Aziz was a caliph of the family of Bani Umayyah. This family was inimical towards Ali, slandered him and abused him from the pulpit. In spite of this he was obliged to remark thus keeping in view the sublime conduct of Ali: "The most chaste and pious person in the world was Ali son of Abu Talib''.
It is said that Ali did not place either a stone on a stone or a brick on a brick and did not also join a reed with a reed. In other words he did not construct for himself even a house made of reeds. Although the White Palace had been constructed for him he did not occupy
it because he did not wish to live in a house which was better than the huts made of wood occupied by the poor people. The manner in which Ali led his life is reflected in his well-known remark: "Should I content myself with this that the people call me the Commander of the Faithful and I should not share the vicissitudes of life with them?''
lbn Athir has narrated that when Ali married the prophet's daughter Fatima their bed consisted only of the hide of a sheep. They used it as a mattress during night and placed fodder on it during the daytime to feed their camel. They did not have more than one servant. During the caliphate of Ali some property was received from Isfahan. It was divided by him into seven parts. It also included a loaf of bread and he broke that also into seven pieces.
Manliness was incarnated in Ali in all respects and included every quality necessary for it. Broad mindedness and forgiveness are the necessary concomitants of manliness and they were ingrained in the Imam's nature. It was on this account that he did not even think of harming any person although he might have harmed him, and did not oppress a person about whom he knew that he wanted to kill him. Bani Umayyah abused and slandered him but he did not retaliate in the same manner because magnani- mous persons do not abuse a person who abuses them. Imam Ali prohibited his own companions from abusing Bani Umayyah. At the time of the Battle of Siffin he was informed that some of his companions were abusing Bani Umayyah, upon this he said: "I do not like that you should be one of those who use abusive language. However, if you mention their misdeeds and their behaviour you will be justified in doing so and will be pronouncing an ultima- tum. In reply to their abuses you should say: "O Lord! Protect our blood as well as theirs. Relieve our and their hearts of deviation, and guide us so that he who has not recognized the truth should recognize it, and he who is involved in injustice and deviation should forsake it''.
He has no peer in history in the matter of forgiveness and connivance, and there are innumerable incidents which
throw light on these qualities of his. It is said in this connection that on the occasion of a battle he gave inter alia the following instructions to his soldiers: "Don't kill an enemy who runs away. Don't withhold assistance from one who is helpless and wounded. Don't strip any one. Don't take the property of anyone by force".
At the conclusion of the Battle of the Camel he offered funeral prayers for the enemies who had been killed and prayed to God for their forgiveness. When he gained control over his fell enemies like Abdullah son of zubayr, Marwan son of Hakam, and Sa'id son of Aas, he forgave them, behaved with them kindly and prohibited his companions from punishing them although he was in a position to give them a harsh treatment, and they too did not hope that they would be set free. Another example of his connivance is this that when he gained the upper hand on Amr Aas he turned his face aside and let him go, although he was by no means a lesser danger for Ali than Mu'awiya and remained inimical towards him even after this kindness. When he saw Zulfiqar (Ali's sword) on his head he committed a particular act and hoped that if he did so Ali would shut his eyes and leave him. [*] If Ali had killed Amr bin Aas at that time fraud would have been eliminated and Mu'awiya's army, too, would have been destroyed.
In the Battle of Siffin Mu'awiya and his supporters decided to overcome Ali by subjecting him and his companions to thirst. For some days, therefore, they blocked his way to the Euphrates and threatened that they would not allow his army to utilize the water and would make them die of thirst. However, Ali's army launched an attack and gained control of the bank of the river. But Ali behaved with Mu'awiya in a different manner. Notwithstanding the
[*] It is said that when Amr b. Aas came to fight against Ali in the Battle of Siffin he was very much afraid. He could think of no other alternative except that he should lie on the ground and uncover his private parts so that Ali might shut his eyes, and he himself might escape. He, therefore, did so and thus saved his life.
fact that he could stop supply of water to the Syrian army as a measure of retaliation he allowed them to utilize water in the same way in which his own men were utilizing it.
Once he was given to understand that two persons were accusing Ayesha of having started the Battle of the Camel and of plotting to kill him. He ordered that each of them might be administered one hundred lashes by way of punishment.
After achieving victory in the Battle of the Camel he sent Ayesha back to Madina with due honour and respect. He accompanied her upto a few miles distance and also sent some persons with her so that they might serve her on the way, and she might reach Madina comfortably.
In spite of his being so brave Ali avoided being oppressive. The narrators and historians are agreed that he hated warfare and did not resort to it except when no other alternative was left. He always tried that matters might be settled with the enemies without bloodshed and fighting. He used to advise his son Hasan not to invite anyone to fighting. He was always sincere in what he said and followed the policy which he recommended to his son till he was obliged to act otherwise.
For example when Kharijites were equipping themselves for warfare the companions of Ali suggested to him that he should attack them (i.e. Kharijites) before they became ready to wage a war. Ali, however, replied: "I shall not start fighting till they begin the battle themselves". His faith and human attributes compelled him to keep the people from deviation by means of advice. One day he was delivering a sermon to a gathering and many Kharijites who considered him to be an infidel were also presnt and were hearing him. One of them who was wondering at his sweet language and eloquence said: "May God kill this infidel! How wise and intelligent he is!" The followers of Ali wished to kill that man. He, however, said to them: "He has done something wrong with his tongue. You should, therefore, either take revenge from him with the tongue or forgive him":
We have already mentioned above that Mu'awiya's
army blocked the path of Ali's army to the Euphrates so that they might surrender on account of thirst but when Ali gained control of the bank of the river he did not stop Mu'awiya's army from utilizing the water. Many other similar incidents took place so far as Mu'awiya was concerned, but it is not possible to give their details here.
All these events show that as demanded by his angelic soul he was kind even to his enemies and was just and magnanimous to all. A historian narrates thus with reference to the Battle of Siffin: "A man named Kareez son of Sabah Humeri came out of Mu'awiya's army into the battlefield and said standing between the armies. Is there anyone who may come and fight with me? One of the soldiers of Ali's army went to combat with him and was killed. He again asked for an adversary. Another man went but he too was killed and still another person also met death at the hands of Kareez. When he demanded an adversary for the fourth time none went to oppose him. The men in the first row stepped back. Ali felt that there was a danger of his army becoming demoralized. He, therefore, went himself to give a fight to Kareez and killed him. Then he killed another man and thereafter a third man also met the same fate. After having killed three warriors Ali said loudly these words which were heard by all: "If you had not started the battle we would not have fought with you". Having said this he returned to his place".
It is also related in connection with the Rattle of the Camel that when the enemies gathered for an attack, Ali also arrayed his troops but said to them: "Don't throw an arrow nor make an attack with a spear or a sword until we have first invited them to peace". He did not wish that a battle should take place resulting in blood shed and loss of life. After a moment some one belonging to the opposite army shot an arrow which struck a com- panion of Ali and killed him. Ali said: "O Lord! Bear witness" . Then another arrow came and killed another man. He said again: "O Lord! Bear witness". Then an arrow struck Abdullah son of Badil and his brother brought
him before Ali. Ali again said "O Lord! Bear witness". And then the battle started.
To shun cruelty and oppression was a moral principle of Ali and formed part of his nature and disposition. He never broke covenants and was not inimical towards his former friends unless they themselves broke the covenants and showed enmity in reply to kindness.
The best form of friendship and the meaning of fidelity is that a warrior, while standing in the battle- field should look at the former friends who may have come to fight in the capacity of enemies, with the same brotherly eye, should invite them to peace and remind them of former love and friendship, so that they may possibly refrain from breach of covenant and treachery, or should take away the arms from their hands and solve the difficult problems by negotiations and peace talks. Fighting with a former friend should not be started all at once, because it is possible that he may be reminded of former relations and may refrain from fighting and opposition.
If keeping promises and regard for former friendship had not dominated the spirit of Ali he would not have depended on them for warding off the enemies.
The Imam's firmness in keeping the promises is evident from the treatment which he meted out to Zubayr son of Awam and Talha son of Ubaidullah. These two persons separated the Imam's friends and helpers from him and took them to his enemies. They also misguided Ayesha and made her come up as opponent of Ali.
Those who were present on the spot whether they were friends or enemies, have reported that when Talha and Zubayr decided to fight against Ali, broke the oath of allegiance and displayed their evil intentions in the Battle of the Camel, Ali went to them bare-headed and without wearing any armour or coat of mail, meaning thereby that he had come with peaceful intentions. He then called Zubayr saying: "O Zubayr! Come to me". Zubayr came fully armed. When Ayesha heard about it she cried: "What a pity it is that there should be a combat"!
She said this because she knew that whoever went to fight against Ali would be killed, however brave and strong he might be. And it may be said with certainty that Zubayr could not have saved himself if he had fought with Ali. However Ali embraced Zubayr. Ayesha and her supporters were very much upset to see this. Ali said in a tone of love: "O Zubayr! Why have you come to fight against me?" Zubayr replied: "To avenge the murder of Uthman". Ali said: "May God kill that person who has been responsible for the murder of Uthman".
Then Ali reminded Zubayr of past companionship and brotherhood and wept a number of times while talking. However, Zubayr was bent upon fighting and opposed the Imam till he (i.e. Zubayr) was killed. Ali, who attached great importance to the tie of friendship, was very much grieved when Zubayr met his death. Ali did not withhold his suggestions from the former caliphs and assisted them in their words and actions. [*]
Although this magnanimous person was steadfast in his friendship, his friends did not accord due respect to his friendship, because they did not expect that he would act contrary to his nature and let their hands loose to usurp the rights of others.
Imam Ali has been reported to have said: "Even if all the seven regions of the world and whatever is under the sky is offered to me so that I may disobey God and take away unjustly the husk of barley from an ant I shall not do so. In my eyes this entire world is inferior to a leaf which may be pressed in the mouth of a locust". In this matter Ali's words and actions conformed with each other. He was not like others who indulge in tall talk which their actions belie. He was prompted to say these words by his nature which formed the basis of his character. Ali was more kind to the people than anyone else and refrained from harming any person. He became
[*] Ali assisted the caliphs because every action of his was for the sake of the benefit of Islam and he did not let the interests of the religion suffer in order to acquire his own right.
oblivious of his own self in order to assist others and considered this self-abnegation to be a part and parcel of his life. His entire life was dedicated to the support of the oppressed and the helpless so that he might realize their rights from the tyrants who considered themselves entitled to usurp the rights of others on account of noble descent and racial discrimination.
Ali opposed the Quraysh and fought with them, because they coveted the caliphate for the sake of personal gain and in order to acquire position, wealth and rulership. He renounced the caliphate and even the worldly life and forsook everything because he could not act like worldly persons and could not agree to allow them to exploit the weak and the helpless.
Ali was so kind to the common man that when his brother Aqeel requested him to give him something more from the public treasury than his due share, he turned down his request and as a consequence thereof Aqeel went away to Mu'awiya. Ali tolerated separation from his brother but did not agree to give him anything from the public treasury of the Muslims without entitlement.
Ali was like a kind father for all human beings. He gave directions to the officers and governors to behave with the people gently. He behaved harshly with those who oppressed the people and warned them of severe consequences. The following directions given by him reached the ears of the governors continuously: "Redress the grievances of the people and meet their needs because you derive your capital from them. Do not deprive anyone of what he needs, and do not obstruct him from attaining his object. Do not sell the summer or winter dress of anyone to realize revenue. Do not take away from any person a quadruped which is required by him for his business and do not whip a person for even a penny.
Ali was the person who wrote an excellent testament for Malik Ashtar Nakha`i at the time of appointing him the governor of Egypt and the adjoining areas. He wrote: "Do not live with people like ferocious animals, and do not treat their sustenance to be war booty, because the Egyptians fall
under one of the two categories: either they are your brethren-in-faith from the point of view of religion or your equals because of their being human beings. Ignore their shortcomings and forgive their mistakes, just as you hope that God will forgive your crimes and sins. Do not regret your forgiving a person and do not insist upon awarding punishment".
He added: "Prohibit hoarding". Ali strictly forbade hoarding, which was the main reason for Mu'awiya and his party opposing him, because they wanted the country, the wealth and the war booty for themselves whereas Ali wanted them for all human beings.
Ali was so kind to human beings that, as we shall mention in detail later, he ordered that his murderer, the wicked Ibn Muljim might be treated kindly.
In the recommendations made by him to his sons Hasan and Husayn he said: "Be enemies of the oppressors and supporters of the oppressed". He also said: "Be enemies of the oppressor even though he may be your near relative and support the oppressed person even though he may not be related to you and may be a stranger". He always endeavoured to punish the oppressors and relieve the people of their wickedness. To achieve this purpose he used his heart, tongue, sword and blood. He always re- mained a helper of the oppressed and an enemy of the oppressors. Following this path he never relaxed till the end of his life.
One should not be surprised that Ali was just. It would have been a matter of surprise if he had not been just. The instances of his justice which have been narrated are the most valuable assets in human history and man should be proud of them.
His brother Aqeel asked him to grant him a special pension out of the public treasury, but he refused to accedetohis request saying: "It is not my personal property that I may give it to anyone I like. There are also other helpless and needy persons, who are more deserving than you are, and I must be mindful of them". Aqeel said: "If you do not allow me a pension out of this property I shall
go to Mu'awiya".
However, Ali did not care for what he said, and did not revise his decision.
His brother went away and joined Mu'awiya and used to say: "Mu'awiya is better for my world", Mu'awiya's treatment satisfied him, because the public treasury was a tool in his hands with which he strengthened his kingdom, achieved his objects and wanted to revive the past politics and importance of Bani Umayyah.
The Imam did not claim any privileges vis-a-vis his subjects and appeared in the courts as their equal. This was so because the spirit of justice had penetrated into the depth of his heart.
Once Ali saw his coat of mail in the possession of a Christian. He took him in the court of a judge named Shurayh so that he might give a decision regarding its ownership. When both of them appeared before the judge Ali said: "This coat of mail is mine. I have neither sold nor gifted it to anyone". The judge asked the other person: "What have you to say about the claim made by the Commander of the Faithful?" The Christian said: "This coat of mail is mine. In spite of this, however, I do not consider the Commander of the Faithful to be a liar". Then the judge Shurayh turned to Ali and said: "Can you produce any witness who should depose that this coat of mail is yours?" Ali smiled and said: "Shurayh is right. I cannot produce any such witness".
The judge gave a judgment in favour of the Christian who took the coat of mail and departed. The Commander of the Faithful kept looking at him from behind. After having gone a few steps, however, he returned and said: "I testify that such an order resembles the order of the prophets, because one who is the Commander of the Faithful has appeared along with a person like myself in the court of the judge who is also his subordinate and the judge has given a judgement against him". [*] Then he
[*] In the free countries of the modern world the court and judges Contd...
added: "O Commander of the Faithful! I swear by God that this coat of mail is yours and my claim was false".
Later the people saw that Christian serving in the army of Ali as a faithful soldier and he fought most enthusiastically against Kharijites in the Battle of Nahrawan.
Ibn Abi Rafe' has narrated thus: "I was the adminis- trator of the public treasury during the period of the caliphate of Ali and was also his scribe. The property received from Basra for the public treasury included a pearl necklace. The daughter of Ali sent word to me saying: "I understand that there is a pearl necklace in the public treasury which is controlled by you. Send that necklace to me on loan so that I may wear it on Eid al-Azha day. Thereafter I shall return it".
I sent the necklace to her on the conditions that she would be responsible if It was lost or damaged, and that she would return it within three days. She accepted these conditions.
By chance the eyes of the Commander of the Faithful fell on the necklace and he recognized it. He asked his daughter as to where she had obtained it from. She replied: "I have taken it on loan from Ibn Abi Rafe' the incharge of the public treasury to wear it on Eid al-Azha day and have promised to return it to him within three days".
The Commander of the Faithful summoned me and said; "Do you consider it lawful to commit breach of trust with the Muslims?" I replied: "May God forbid that I may commit treachery with the Muslims". Thereupon he said: "Then why did you lend such and such necklace to my daughter without obtaining my permission and without the concurrence of the Muslims?"
I replied: "O Commander of the Faithful! She is your daughter. She borrowed it to adorn herself and
(Footnote Continued) have been made permanent and none can remove them from their office. This has been done, so that they may take decision without any fear or favour, and may give judgment against influential persons and even against the members of government.
guaranteed its safe return so that I might restore it to its proper place". Ali said: "Take it back today and do not do so in future otherwise I shall punish you".
When Ali's daughter came to know about it she said to him: "O father! I am your dear daughter. Who else is more entitled to wear this necklace?"
Ali replied: "O daughter of Abu Talib! Don't deviate from the right path. Can you tell me how many Muhajir and Ansar women adorn themselves with such necklaces?" Eventually I took back the necklace from the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful and restored it to its proper place.
Ali observed justice even in small and insignificant matters. If it became necessary for him to divide something with others he gave the right of selection to the other party so that people might not think that discrimination was being made in the matter of division between the persons in authority and the subordinates.
One day he went to the shop of a draper named Abu al-Nawar accompanied by his slave and purchased two dresses. Then he asked his slave to choose one out of the two dresses. The slave picked up one of them and Ali retained the other.[*]
All the orders and letters which he sent to the governors and other officials rotate on the pivot of justice.
Ali's near ones as well as others joined hands in opposing him. It was on account of the fact that he did not give them preference from the point of view of equity and justice, and did not grant any concession to his relatives. He was not influenced by anyone and accepted only the right things from others.
When Uthman son of Affan became caliph, he gave full freedom to his relatives, friends and associates to
[*] Such incidents show that the leaders of the faith were very mindful of the rights of their subordinates. Those who make a show of supporting the helpless persons, and accuse religion of being an impediment in the matter of weak persons getting their due rights have not done as much for their subordinates as Imam Ali did.
accumulate wealth, and he followed those who gave him wrong advice. Marwan had the greatest influence on him. He did not benefit from the wise recommendation which Abu Bakr had made to Umar. Abu Bakr had said: "Don't be in proximity to those persons who are eager to fill their bellies and acquire position and wealth. Don't be enamoured of the fact that they have associated with the prophet and served him. Assess the nature of every person and find out what sort of man he is".
Ali hated such greedy persons. Hence when he became the caliph he decided to deal with them justly. He, therefore dismissed some of them and checked the greed of others for position and wealth.
There was a group of persons who wanted to give the principles of Islam a new form and make them a means of acquisition of position and wealth and to treat the Islamic territories a hereditary property of their family. Ali fought against them and said to them in loud words: "I know what can keep you from rebellion and mischief, but the thing which is a source of happiness for you is the means of evil for me". The stage at which Ali's dealing with such people reached is well-known. When the oppressors were defeated they resorted to deceit and the spirit of justice succeeded in the hearts of Ali and his followers, although apparently they were the sufferers. When Ali met martyrdom at the hands of Ibn Muljim, a Nakh'ii woman named Ummul Haisham wrote an elegy for him. A verse of that elegy, goes to show the opinion of the people about his character and justice: "He established truth and entertained no doubt about it. He behaved justly with his kinsmen as well as strangers". Sincerity and intrepidity are the qualities of great men and they were possessed by Ali par excellence.
Sincerity, truthfulness, intrepidity and manliness and all other similar qualities are inter-connected. Hence he did not express anything which was opposed to his real intention and determination. He did not practise deceit, although he knew very well that by doing so he could get rid of the mischief of the enemies.
What has been said above about the truthfulness and character of the Imam fully proves his sincerity and intrepidity.
One of his principles and morals consisted of simplicity in everything. He hated formality very much and used to say: "The worst brother is he for whom one has to involve onself in trouble". He also used to say: "If a believer observes formality with his brother it means that he has separated himself from him. If he expressed an opnion or tendered an advice or gave some present, then this act of his was not tainted with ostentation. This habit was so much ingrained in his nature that the selfish people could not make him act according to their wishes, and the flatterers should not hope to attract his attention. These people used to say that the Imam was hard-hearted, ill-natured and proud. - However, the Imam was neither hard-hearted nor ill-natured nor proud. On the contrary, as demanded by his nature, he said whatever he had to say without any formality or deceit.
A large number of persons who gathered around him coveted personal gains. Ali became suspicious about them and did not conceal his misgiving. Expression of his views about them cannot be called pride or rudeness.
Ali hated pride and was absolutely free from egotism. He also forbade his children, companions and officials to show pride and practise egotism. While giving them advice he used to say: "Shun egotism. You should know that egotism is a bad quality and a calamity for reason''. He hated formality. He also restrained the people from going to the extreme while praising him and told them: "I am lesser than what you say".
At times it so happened that he considered the person concerned to be his enemy. On such occasion he did not refrain from mentioning the mental condition of that person of which he was aware and told him: "I am better than what you believe about me in your heart".
Ali disliked some of his friends exalting him too much in the same manner in which he disliked his being belittled by his enemies. He has said: "Persons of two
types have been destroyed on account of their attitude towards me. The friends who have exaggerated my qualities and the spiteful enemies". He neither showed pride nor humiliated himself unnecessarily. He presented himself as he was. He was free from affectation and hypocrisy. It is difficult to find a straightforward man like him. He pur- chased a bagful of palm-dates and was carrying them home. Some persons observed this and volunteered to carry the bag for him. He, however, told them frankly that the head of the family was more responsible to carry it.
It is said erroneously that artificial humility and meekness constitute good qualities. In fact it is falsehood and mere affectation that one should pose to be inferior to what one actually is. Ali was not humble in that sense and he was also not proud. He displayed himself as he actually was without any meekness or pride, because these two things are not the qualities of manly persons. The writer of "Abqari'atu'l Imam" says: "Ali entered the battlefield bare-headed to fight against the enemies where as they were completely covered with steel and iron. How can it be said that this action of his was based on hypocrisy?
Another attribute of Ali was his noble disposition. He did not entertain grudge in his heart against anybody, even though he might be his fell enemy. As we have already mentioned he directed his sons and friends not to kill his murderer (Ibn Muljim). Although Talha had come as an enemy to kill him, he wept on his dead body and recited a heart-felt elegy for him. Although the Kharijites were his deadly enemies and had fought against him, and his murderer was also one of them, and in fact they had not given him lesser trouble as compared with Mu'awiya and Amr bin Aas, but he advised his friends and followers not to fight against them. He gave this direction because he knew that those people had fallen prey to misunderstanding and had been misguided. They were seekers of truth but had been mistaken in the matter of its assessment as opposed to Mu'awiya and his com- panions who were seekers of falsehood and succeeded in acquiring it.
Nothing can be seen in the biography of Ali which may go to show that he was revengeful. In all circumstances he showed truthfulness, honesty, straightforwardness and swords-man-ship.
Magnanimous persons are not revengeful and do not also tolerate injustice and oppression. They get annoyed with one Who oppresses others.
Although Ali did not entertain any grudge in his heart against anyone, he had to face a spiteful group. His meaningful words show how grieved he was. His grief was such as arose from sympathy and kindness. He was greived to see that people harmed themselves.
Another quality which distinguished him from others and was complementary to his other attributes was his perfect faith in his actions and beliefs, and whenever he did anything he believed in its correctness and in his being on the right path. When he decided to fight against Amr son of Abdawudd, the famous champion of Arabia he was warned by the prophet and his companions about the consequences. He however, decided to fight because besides being brave he possessed enthusiasm to support Islam.
We repeat that when the enemies had encircled Ali from all sides he busied himself in offering prayers without there being any guard to protect him from the mischief of those enemies, and consequently lbn Muljim succeeded in wounding him with his poisoned sword. This very thing is a great proof of the fact that he was certain of the correctness of what he did, because a righteous person does not fear anything.
All the words and acts of Ali go to prove that he had perfect and firm faith in his actions. This was so because all his actions emanated from wisdom and capability.[*]
When the people were divided into two groups in their attitude towards him (i.e. friends and enemies)
[*] Its reason was that Imam Ali was infallible and he said and did everything in accordance with the inspiration and traditions of the prophet of Islam. Hence, he did not entertain any doubt about his views and actions.
he did not become afraid of the enemies and did not lay down arms before them, because he had perfect faith in his own truthfulness and justice and correctness of his actions. It was in this context that he said: "Even if I strike on the nose of a believer so that he may become my enemy he will not become my enemy and even if I shower all the bounties of the earth on him so that he may become friendly towards me he will not become my friend". He has also said in this behalf. "I am not afraid of fighting against these people alone even though the entire world may join their army".
When he came to know that a group of the people of Madina had joined Mu'awiya he wrote to Sehl son of Hanif the governor of Madina: "I understand that a group of the inhabitants of your city has secretly joined Mu'awiya. However, you should not be worried on this account that some persons will leave you and will not assist you. I swear by God that these persons have not forsaken injustice and oppression and have not stuck to equity and justice.
# Knowledge and sagacity of Ali
Ali was matchless so far as power of perception is concerned. The Islamic learning rotates on the pivot of his intellect. He was the fountain head of knowledge. There is no branch of science in Arabia which was not founded by him or in the foundation of which he was not the chief figure. We shall write in detail later about his great skill in social sciences, because this topic deserves to be discussed separately. In this chapter I propose to deal only briefly with his knowledge of jurisprudence, scholasticism and Arabic litrature, as well as his judicial acumen. I shall be brief because many others have written on this subject and some of them have conducted deep research.I shall, therefore, narrate briefly those facts which they have dealt with in detail, and shall narrate those things in detail which they have dealt with only briefly.
I begin with the Qur'an and the Hadith (tradition) and shall write about other sciences later so that it may become known as to how far the following words of the prophet proved to be true about Ali.
"I am the city of knowledge and Ali is itS gate"
Ali was brought up by his cousin. He became his disciple and adopted his habits and conduct. The prophet's heritage became implanted in his heart and brain. He reflected over the Qur'an with the intellect and eye of a sage and learnt its latent realities. The circumstances provided him ample time to reflect over the Qur'an. So long as Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman remained busy with the caliphate, he kept his attention directed towards the Qur'an. He mastered its words and meanings. His
tongue could recite it eloquently and his heart was immersed in it. His knowledge of the traditions of the prophet was such that none else could compete with him in the matter. And there is nothing surprising about it, because he was always associated with the prophet and benefited from him more than any other companion or Mujahid did. Whatever heard by others was heard by him and whatever was heard by him was not necessarily heard by others. It is a well-known fact that Ali did not narrate any Hadith from anyone except from the prophet. This was so because he was certain that not even a word of the traditions of the prophet was hidden from his ears and heart. He was asked: "How is it that you are superior to all other companions in the matter of the knowledge of Hadith?" He replied: "It is so because the prophet told me whatever I enquired from him, and if I did not enquire about anything he himself made it known to me"
Ali was superior to all others in the matter of jurisprudence and Islamic learning just as he acted upon them in a better way than others. Those who were his contemporaries did not find a greater jurist and a greater judge than him. Abu Bakr and Umar always approached him for the solution of difficult problems. These two caliphs benefited much from his knowledge and wisdom. Other companions of the prophet also consulted him for the solution of their problems. None could put forth better arguments than him with regard to legal problems.
As regards jurisprudence Ali's knowledge was not limited to text and orders. He was more adept than his contemporaries in other branches of learning also, as their knowledge is necessary for a jurist (for example mathematics).
Abu Hanifa is called 'the grand Imam' in the capacity of a jurist. He was a pupil of Ali, because he learnt juris- prudence from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq and the chain of his teachers when taken upwards, ended with Ali. In the same way Malik son of Anas was a pupil of Ali through a few intermediaries. Malik learnt jurisprudence from Rabiya. He learnt it from Akrama. He learnt it from Abdullah and
Abdullah learnt it from Ali.
Abdullah son of Abbas, who was the preceptor of all others, was asked: "What is the ratio of your knowledge to that of your cousin i.e. Ali. He replied: "The ratio is the same as exists between a drop and the ocean".
The companions have unanimously quoted the prophet as saying: "The best judge amongst you is Ali". Ali excelled all other persons of his time in matters of law, because he knew the Qur'an and religious rules and regulations better than all others, and in Islam correct judgements depend on these two things.
He possessed such intelligence, wisdom and power of thinking that in the event of dispute he could give the most rational judgement. His conscience was so strong that he was capable of giving a conscientious and just decision after examining and understanding various aspects of a matter.
Umar ibn Khattab has been reported to have said: "O Abul Hasan! May that problem be not auspicious for the solution of which you are not available".
While giving his judgement Ali had regard for the claimants as well as for the nation and the general public. This double consideration and regard on his part was inter-dependent. He was the first judge who proved the rights of the people from philosophical point of view and said that it is the duty of the rulers to pay due consideration to these rights. Besides in the case of claimants it is also necessary to observe justice in the case of all persons in the matter of general administration. People are under obligation to perform certain acts for the reformation of the society in which they live.
There is mutual relationship between the human beings, and the public laws have joined them with one another. It is necessary to respect these laws for the reformation of the nation and not only for achieving personal ends.
Ali established public laws and national unity, and treated all the individuals as one person in the matter of rights and responsibilities. In his orders and judgements
he fully observed this principle which is being followed strictly by the civilized people of the present times.
One night Ali heard some afflicted person crying for help. He ran towards him at once and said: "The rescuer has come". He saw that one man was holding another man by his collar. When he saw Ali he left his opponent. Then he said addressing Ali: "I sold a piece of cloth to this man for nine dirhams and did not also violate any condition of the bargain. He gave me base coins and when I asked him to give me good ones instead he abused and slapped me".
Ali asked the buyer to take back the base coins and give the seller the good coins. Then he enquired from the other person whether he had any witness to comfirm that the buyer had slapped him. He produced the requisite evidence. Thereupon Ali asked the buyer to sit down and told the other man to take revenge. He, however, forgave him.
When Ali saw that the claimant had forsaken his right and forgiven the other person he did not press him to take revenge. He, however, kept this point in view in connection with this incident that it was necessary to take care of the rights of the common people and it was his duty to punish the oppressors so that the link of justice might remain firm amongst the people, and the rights of the nation might not be violated. He also kept in view the fact that in every community there are many powerful and cruel persons who usurp the property and rights of the weak, and the latter cannot take back or demand their rights on account of weakness or fear, although it is only appropriate that their rights should not be encroached upon. He, therefore, thought within himself: "Who is there besides myself who should support them and claim their rights so that they may lead a peaceful social life and should rest assured that there is no distinction between the individuals in respect of social rights, and their rights are safe?"
In the case mentioned above, therefore, Ali let go the person who had been beaten but caught the agressor
by the hand and slapped him nine times in the presence of the other person saying: "This is the right of the ruler".
Ali was not contented with the outward appearance of anything and was keen to go deep into all matters. He pondered over the Qur'an and the religion sagaciously in the same way in which other thinkers ponder over worldly matters.
No doubt a person possessing celestial power like Ali does not content himself with the apparent orders of the religion, the carrying out of prescribed duties and the formalities of worship. Mostly the people look at the religion and the orders relating to transactions and judgements in a superficial manner. However, Ali looked at their interior and realities also. He made these things the subject of his reflection and research, and proved that religion is based on the principles which are linked and related with one another. This led to the establishment of the science of scholasticism and Islamic philosophy. Ali was the first scholastic ('Arif) and founder of scholas- ticism. (For details see "On Ilmul Kalam wal Irfan, ISP 82)
The ancient scholastics drank deep from this foun- tainhead, because they acquired the elements and principles of scholasticism from him. The later scholastics also admit him to be their leader, because they also acquired guidance from him.
Wasil son of 'Ata was the chief and the central figure of Mu'tazila sect. This was the first sect in Islam which introduced reason into religion and advocated that the religious precepts should conform with the principles of logic, and the correctness of religion should be proved by means of reason.
Wasil son of 'Ata was the pupil of Abu Hashim son of Muhammad son of Hanafiya and his father Muhammad was the pupil of Ali.
The samething can be said about the Asha'ira, because they were the pupils of the Mu'tazila, who acquired knowledge from Wasil son of 'Ata, and he acquired it through some intermediaries from Ali.
The source and basis of Sufism lies in Nahj-al-Balaghah.
Before becoming aware of the Greek philosophy the Muslim sufis had acknowledged the sayings of Ali to be the source of their ideas, because till that time Greek philosophy and Persian philosophy had not yet been transferred to the. Arabic language.
The Almighty God willed that as in the case of religious knowledge Ali should be the pillar and centre of Arabian learning. Not even one person in his time could compete with him in the matter of Arabic literature.
With his perfect knowledge of syntax, eloquent tongue and great power of thinking he formulated the rules and principles of correct Arabic language. He confirmed it with logical reasoning and arguments. His skill in logical reasoning can be realized from the fact that he laid the foundation of Arabian sciences and paved the way for others to promote them.
History shows that Ali was the founder of the science of syntax. One day Abu'l Aswad, who was one of his companions came and saw that Ali's head was bent down and he was reflecting about something. He said: "O Commander of the Faithful! What are you thinking about?" Ali replied: "In your city (i.e. Kufa) I have heard something which was expressed by the speaker in a wrong manner. I have, therefore, decided to write an elementary book on the principles of the Arabic language".
He then handed over a paper ro Abu'l Aswad on which it was written that the words are of three kinds noun, verb and preposition.
This incident has also been narrated in another way and it has been said that Abu'l Aswad complained before Ali that the people usually spoke incorrect language, because since the time the Arabs had mingled, after their conquests, with the non-Arabs,incorrect phrases had penetrated into their conversation.
The Imam reflected a little and then asked Abu'l Aswad to write down what he was going to dictate. Abu'l Aswad procured a pen and a sheet of paper and then Ali said: "The Arabic language is composed of noun verb and preposition. Noun tells about the things which
bears that name, verb tells about the motion and action of that thing and preposition conveys a meaning which is neither noun nor verb. "Things are of three kinds viz. a patent thing, a latent thing and a thing which is neither patent nor latent". (Some scholars of syntax say that by the third kind of things Ali meant 'demonstrative pronoun').
Then he asked Abu'l Aswad to expand and complete the subject according to the same 'nehv' (i.e. method or manner). From that day onwards this branch of learning began to be called 'Nehv' (syntax).
One of the other attributes of Ali was his sharp intelligence and quick understanding. Often it so happened that whether it was an assembly of friends or a gathering of enemies he uttered extempore wise words, which became proverbs and passed from one tongue to another. Difficult mathematical problems which were enigmas for others were solved by him in no time. It is said that a woman came in the presence of Ali and complained that her brother had died leaving behind six hundred dinars, but out of that money she had been given only one dinar. Ali replied: "Perhaps the heirs of your brother consist of one widow, two daughters, mother, twelve brothers and yourself". And the position turned out to be the same as was mentioned by the Imam.
One day while Ali was delivering a sermon from the pulpit, one of those present said: "A man has died and he has left behind his widow, father, mother and two daughters". Ali replied at once: "The one-eighth share of the widow will be changed into one-ninth. As the Imam gave this judgement while he was occupying the pulpit the problem began to be called". "Obligation of the Pulpit".
Ali was the philosopher of Islam. Philosophy comes into existence by means of wisdom and intelligence and strong power of perception and inference. A philosopher is he, who mentions a number of important matters in a brief narrative and endeavours to live according to his words.
Ali occupies the highest position not only among the philosophers of Islam, but also among the unique personalities of the human race.
It is very difficult to find a person like Ali who may infer theoretical and rational matters with the power of his intellect, and state them in beautiful and brief sentences in such a way that the time may preserve them, and they may become proverbs. Islamic sciences and learning absorbed the colour of humanity in their paintings by means of celestial philosophy and their fountain- head were the two personalities viz. Muhammad and Ali.
The Imam looked philosophically at the secrets of creation, human life and society and numerous sayings with regard to the Oneness of God, divine matters, and metaphysics, are available. We have already remarked above that he was the founder of scholasticism and theology. He was a preceptor, whose skill and leadership has been admitted by every person, who came after him with his own view or remark. In Nahj al-Balaghah he has strung so many pearls of wisdom that, time, has made him stand in the first row of the philosophers of the world. Muhammad in fact referred to Ali when he said: "The scholars among my followers are like the prophets of descendants of Israel".
# Human rights and Ali
A Difficult Test
By God! I admit the truth myself before any evidence is given against me.
Our matter is very difficult. Our words can be understood only by the honest hearts and the far-sighted intellects. (Imam Ali).
Ali formulated such firm rules and presented such solid views for the rights of the human beings and the welfare of the human society, that their roots penetrate into the depths of the earth and their branches extend upto the heavens. All the social sciences which are prevalent at present mostly confirm these views and principles. Although these modern social sciences may be given many names, and may be presented in various forms, their object is one and one only that the human being should be protected from oppression and there should be formed a society, which should protect human rights in a better way -a society in which human dignity should be respected and the freedom of word and action should be safe to such an extent that none should be hurt.
The conditions and circumstances of time have a great effect on the creation of social sciences. It is these very conditions and circumstances which present social sciences in one shape at one time and in another shape at another time.
When we study history and come across various events we come to know that there has been a conflict between two different groups of human beings and two different views and ideas. One group has been keen to be despotic
and to usurp the rights of the common man and to eliminate his freedom, whereas the other group has been desirous of justice, democracy, preservation of the rights of the people and their freedom. During the past all useful movements were started by the oppressed and the reformers always rose from amongst them so that they might put an end to oppression and injustice and establish governments on the foundation of equity and justice which should accord with reason as well as the conditions and circumstances of the society.
Ali enjoys a very high position in the history of human rights. His views were linked with the thinking of Islam. The central point of his views was that despotism should come to an end, and class discrimination should be eliminated from amongst the people. Whoever has recognized Ali and heard his remarks and understood his beliefs and views about human brotherhood knows that he was a sword drawn on the necks of the tyrants. His entire attention was directed towards the enforcement of the rules of equity and justice.
His thoughts and manners and his government and polities were all dedicated to the achievement of this purpose. Whenever any oppressor encroached upon the rights of the people or treated the weak in a humiliating manner or ignored their welfare and threw his own burden on their weak shoulders, Ali gave him a tough fight.
The mental upbringing of the Imam took place with this thinking that equity and justice should be enforced in such a way that equality should be established and one class should not enjoy any supremacy over another class and every person should receive that to which he is entitled. His voice remained loud continuously for the enforcement of justice, and his mace always remained active to achieve this end. He elevated man and always remained ready to protect him. His government was the best specimen of administration during that period. It was a government which was just and the protector of human rights, and one, which achieved its end by all possible means.
The Imam realized it clearly that the society of that
time was based on fraud, deceit and harmful activities, and its reformation was necessary. He also knew well how that society could be reformed and how much time it would take to do so. Although he thought of the welfare of the people in all respects, the things to which he paid his attention most was their reformation. Nothing could stop him from making efforts in this behalf. What he desired most was to establish truth and destroy falsehood and none else could be more capable of making distinction between truth and falsehood.
Ali assessed things correctly and engaged himself in his task fearlessly according to his calculations. He never entertained any doubt with regard to anything related to public welfare. As and when any officer or governor oppressed the subjects Ali neither sat quiet nor connived at their actions. He never displayed slackness when he found that some persons had formed a group against the true government. At times his plans to achieve his ends were opposed not only to the wishes of his enemies but to those of his friends as well, but he did not mind this.
All this was done by him so that the right of every person to lead a peaceful life might be ensured, and the people should not be divided into two groups, one of whom should be very happy and the other should be very much grieved.
Ali had clearly understood that it will be very dangerous to divide the people into two classes and to prefer one of them to the other. This will retard the intellects, create malice in the spirits, and introduce oppression and injustice in the judgements and transactions, and all sorts of mischiefs and corruptions will appear. The result will be that ambition for life will die and the people will become pessimistic and will entertain ill-will towards one another. Consequently the society will be ruined. So long as these two classes exist in a society a conflict between them is inevitable and it will involve the loss of many lives. During the last days of the caliphate of Uthman the dignitaries of the state and especially the members of the Umayyad family, who were the kinsmen
and relatives of the caliph had made it a practice that they openly opposed the Islamic rules and regulations. They humiliated the people, treated them like slaves and made them so much afraid of the ruler that they could not pick up courage to stand before him and mention their grievances. They played with their lives in the same manner in which they played with their property. They did not refrain from shedding the blood of the people for their personal benefit and none could dare take revenge. They were not afraid of taking bribes or looting the property of others.
Their continuous activities, conditions and circum- stances showed what their intentions were. It was clear that they were going to besmear their hands with the blood of the people, to trample upon their rights and to change the caliphate into kingship and the Islamic democracy into despotism and dictatorship of an individual. The position of the members of this party, between the very just conduct of Ali and their personal avarice, was that of gamblers. On the one hand Ali was determined to enforce equity and justice with all his might, and on the other hand these persons were keen to have the reins of government in their own hands and to possess as much wealth and property as possible. Between these two conditions they acted like gamblers, hoping to seize an opportunity to bring about a revolution and consequently to appropriate all benefits themselves. Entertaining the worst passions and desires in their minds.
There is no doubt about the fact that the responsibility assumed by Ali was very difficult and onerous. Various reasons and intricate circumstances had made Ali face many difficulties which could not be overcome easily. The world of that time was topsy turvy, the conditions were revolutionary and the events were frightening and the responsibilities of Ali were so great and burdensome that the caliphate and the religion of Islam depended on them. By solving these problems and overcoming these difficulties Ali performed a task which made his qualities known to the world. The world came to know how mindful he was
of public rights, how determined he was to promote individual and collective virtues, and with what patience and perseverance he achieved his objects.
Ali's difficulties were just like the difficulties experienctd by the prophet when he made known to Quraysh that he had been appointed to the prophetic mission and they had turned against him. On the one side there was truth and justice and equity and equality, and on the other side there was treachery, profiteering and egotism. The prophet wanted to introduce truth, justice, equity and equality whereas the Quraysh were bent upon practising treachery, profiteering and egotism.
Ali had also to face a similar difficulty. However, it was viewed to be a difficulty by others. So far as Ali was concerned even the greatest difficulty could not make him deviate from his object. If another person possesses the strength and perseverance which Almighty God had given to Ali every difficulty will become easy for him as well. What was intolerable for Ali was that he should sit in seclusion and not enforce equity and justice - that he should crush the spirit of freedom and not sow the seeds of virtue.
The prophet blew a voice in the ears of Abu Suffyan, Abu Lahab, Umm Jamil, Hind - the liver-eater, and the Quraysh tradesmen, on account of which the foundations of their plans were demolished, their structure was broken and their roofs came down on the ground. However, this very voice was a good tidings and a message of happi- ness for the Muslims and the helpless people. He said to Abu Talib: "Dear Uncle! Even if these people place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left hand so that I may abandon the invitation to Islam I shall not do so till Almighty God makes this religion victorious or I lay down my life".
One day the elders of Quraysh said to Muhammad: "If you have introduced this new religion in order to accumulate wealth we shall place so much wealth at your disposal that you will become the richest person amongst us. If your object is to acquire high position, we are
prepared to acknowledge you to be our chief. And if you want to become a king we are ready to accept you as our king". He said in reply: "My object in inviting people to Islam is not to acquire wealth or position, nor am I desirous of becoming your king. I extend this invitation because God has sent me to you in the capacity of a prophet and has revealed the Book to me. He has ordered me to warn you of His torture and to give you good tidings of Paradise. I have conveyed God's message to you. If you accept it you will be prosperous in this world as well as in the Hereafter, and if you reject it I shall remain patient till God gives His judgement about you and myself".
What did Ali do? What was his attitude towards the son of Abu Sufyan and Hind, the liver-eater, and towards the traders, who bought and sold positions and offices, and towards the soldiery, who blindly sacrificed their lives for the benefit of others, and towards those, who had sold their religion and beliefs at the hands of falsehood. Ali also blew a voice in their ears which demolished the foundations of their designs, and made their structures and roofs collapse. And this very voice became the good news of happiness and message of comfort for the righteous and pious persons. He said: "Your powerful are weak and your weak are powerful. So long as the stars revolve in the sky I shall not at all give a judgement opposed to justice. By God I shall do justice so far as the oppressor and the oppressed persons are concerned. I shall put a cavessor in the nose of the oppressor and pull him towards truth even if he may dislike it most. I swear by God that I admit the truth before any evidence is given against me. I do not care whether I myself am walking -towards death or death is coming towards me".
One day some persons said to Ali "We are respectable members of the community". He said to them: "An abject person is respectable in my eyes till I recover his right and the respectable person is weak in my eyes till I recover the right (of the weak person) from him".
We shall now examine how far Ali put these words of his into practice and how he dealt with the people.
# Poverty and its consequences
Ali looked at the world intently. He looked at every aspect of it without any exception. He kept the individual as well as the collective rights of the people in mind and did not ignore anything. He invited the people to look at the beauty of the world and the wonders of creation and simultaneously informed the individuals as well as the society of their rights so that they might acquire the greatest bliss and prosperity. He explained the rights of the individuals and the society so that the individuals should help one another by mutual co-operation and endeavour for the permanence and prosperity of the society and may benefit from it in their individual capacity.
Man is composed of three things viz. spirit, body and sentiments. Body is the material part of man. It also enjoys a right which must be respected.
Ali whose efforts were centred on the refinement of the self and good morals also endeavoured to lay the foundation of the society on equity and justice and to enact just laws for the material and worldly life of man.
It was also the object of Ali to guide the people to the purity of heart and the acquisition of good conduct, and to nurture and train their conscience in such a way that they might shun bad habits of their own accord and adorn themselves with good qualities. However, it is not possible to develop good habits until one has food to eat and dress to wear and the people cannot acquire means of livelihood until justice prevails. Hence the program of reformation and refinement should commence with the provision of necessities of life like food, dress etc. The
people can become interested in the refinement of self and good morals only after these necessities have been provided. This was the object of desire of Ali before as well as after he attained to caliphate.
How can a labourer, who works hard throughout the day, enjoy the sceneries of the world and ponder over the signs of the Might of God when he does not get his full wages and is exploited by the profiteers and the money-lenders? How can he become inclined to virtues and good morals when he is fed up with his very life?
How can those helpless persons understand the meaning of refinement of self who weep when whipped by their rulers and consider their lives useless - whose very lives are owned by the rulers, who are expected to serve and assist them but who actually exploit them?
There are many indigent persons who do not possess even a penny. However, the collector of revenue confiscates whatever property they possess so as to fill the treasures of the pleasure loving rulers. They do not have even a loaf of bread to eat and their lives and property are also not safe. However, if they utter even a word against the rulers their very lives become subjected to trouble. How can such poor people reflect over the secrets and mysteries of the universe and make efforts to refine their conduct? When indigence has estranged a person from every goodness and has destroyed his peace of mind, and he has lost interest in everything, and tyrants have tied his hands and feet, and it is not at all possible for him to regain freedom, how is it possible for him to be truthful, pure-hearted and virtuous, and to be free from envy and grudge, and not to deviate from the path of goodness and piety?
When hunger has inflamed a fire in the heart of a person which consumes every drop of his blood and eliminate his faith, how can he enjoy life, and believe in the justice of the people, sympathize with his brothers, and live kindly with his kinsmen and relatives?
How can a person love others when his hands and feet are tied with inferiority complex and servitude, and when he has no interest left in life and considers it to be useless?
A person who does not have anything to eat cannot possess the qualities of goodness and piety, because food is the first support for every class and the means of peace of mind. It is food which enables a person to reflect, and makes him adopt good morals, and show good behaviour towards others.
Freedom from indigence is the thing which extricates man from abjectness and affliction and elevates him to the top of prosperity. Indigence slackens human sentiments. Poor and helpless persons consider themselves to be strangers in their own city. They feel that their city is not their city and their relatives are not their relatives and they themselves are good-for-nothing.
As the indigent and needy persons do not consider themselves to be fit for good deeds and excellent qualities, they can get rid of this inferiority complex only when they become safe from poverty. Only at that time can they believe that they too can become good citizens and can free their hearts from the feelings of envy and grudge.
There were some hypocrites who used to say that the only means of maintaing law and order was that the people should remain divided into two groups - those who were satiated, and those who were hungry. According to them it was not necessary for the satiated to submit before the exigencies of life - the life which is loved by all - nor was it necessary for them to desire any change in their own condition or that of others. They wanted that status might be maintained in the world. According to these hypocrites the hungry were also not entitled to claim their usurped right nor could they cry for the loaf which had been snatched away from them and placed on the dinner table of the capitalists.
If a hungry person claimed his rights and protested against bread being pulled out of the mouth of his children, he was styled to be an infidel and a mischief-monger, who disturbed the people leading a peaceful life.
These hypocrites resorted to new devices every now and then to protect the means of their lives of enjoyment and pleasure and to keep the indigent persons enslaved.
They used various weapons in the remote as well as the near past, to achieve these ends. Their main weapon was the wrong interpretation of the religious orders. This policy has not been peculiar to the Muslims. It has been adopted by all hypocrites claiming to profess Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam.
The most simple weapon, of which the hypocrites took advantage, was their claim that the prophets have invited the people to abstemiousness, insisted upon forsaking worldly pleasures and affluence, preferred indigence and poverty, and encouraged the life of contentment and inaction instead of making any effort.[*]
[*] As much has been said about the excellence of the renouncement of the world and piety it is possible that some persons may think that the acquisition of worldly things is totally prohibited in Islam. It is, therefore, necessary to clarify that there are different stages of piety and the duties and responsibilities of the prophets, saints and the other chosen servants of God are also different from the common people. So far as the common people are concerned the definition and the limits of piety recommended to them have also been specified clearly. Imam Ali said: "The essence of piety has been mentioned in the Qur'an in two sentences. Almighty God has said: "You may not grieve for what you have missed, nor rejoice in what God has given you". By following this verse one attains perfect piety".
God says: "O you who believe! Do not make unlawful for yourselves the things which God has made lawful for you, and do not transgress the limits. God does not like those who transgress".
God also says: "(O Prophet!) Ask them as to who has made unlawful the ornamental things and the pure edibles which God has created for his slaves ?"
The verses quoted above go to show that just as it is not permissible to treat lawful the things which God has declared unlawful, it is not permissible to treat unlawful - the pure things and means of adornment declared lawful by God, and it is also not allowed to make a vow not to use lawful things. Such a vow is not enforceable in religious law.
Imam Ali says: "Piety in the world means diminishing one's
The hypocrites give much publicity to their above- mentioned views and desire that the common man should accept them as correct, so that others may remain deprived, and they themselves may continue to be rich and may enjoy the pleasures of life.
It is necessary that to counteract their false propaganda we should clarify the true position. It is only by doing so that we can find out the foundation on which the policies of Ali and the orders given by him were based.
It is true that the world was removed from under the feet of Muhammad and spread under the feet of others. All the worldly pleasures and adornments were prohibited for him. He was an extremely abstemious person. He never ate his fill and whatever food he ate was not very rich. He left the world in the manner as mentioned by Abu Zar: "The prophet never ate two kinds of food during one day. When he ate dates he did not eat bread. Often it so happened that food was not cooked in his house for many months consecutively".
It is also true that Ali considered only two sheets
(Footnote continued) desire, thanking God for His blessings and abstaining from things made unlawful by God". (Jame` al-Sa`adat)
Ali says: "Piety in the world does not mean that property should be destroyed or lawful things should be treated to be unlawful. On the contrary it means that you should not depend more on the worldly things which you possess as compared with that which is with God". (jame' al-Sa'adat)
Ali also says: "If one acquires possession of everything on earth and his object by doing so is to acquire the pleasure of God he is a pious person, and if he forsakes the entire world but his object in doing so is not divine pleasure, he is not pious".
Some one asked Imam Ali: "What is piety?" He replied: "To avoid unlawful things of the world". In short the goodness or badness of worldly things depends on one's intention. If the inten- tion is good and the worldly things are acquired to serve as means of happiness in the Hereafter, one's action is praiseworthy, otherwise it deserves to be condemned.
of cloth to be sufficient for himself and also contented himself with only two loaves of bread per day. His house also resembled the house of the poor people. The instances of his abstemiousness and contentment are numerous and so well known that it is not necessary to recount them here.
It is also true that his companions like Abu Zar contented himself with dry barley bread. He as well as the members of his family ate such bread and were quite happy and contented with it.
All these things are true and correct. However, there is something else also which is also correct. All of them were responsible for the education and guidance of the people and held the high office of `guide' and `leader'. Realizing the responsibility attached to their office they considered a very small quantity of food and other necessities to be sufficient for themselves and remained contented. However, every person cannot be like them and cannot endure the hardships which were endured by them, nor can that light, which illuminated their hearts and made them active, kindle in every heart. Furthermore, they were so much concerned about the welfare of their followers that they did not pay much heed to their own food, dress and comfort. [*]
[*] In order to keep the morals and mentality of the indigent persons high the representatives of the Islamic government have been directed to lead simple lives. They should keep themselves at the level of the indigent and associate freely with them as was the method of the prophet.
It has been reported in connection with the ways and manners of the prophet that he said: "I shall not abandon five things till my death viz. taking meals along with the slaves, sitting on earth, milking the sheep with my own hands, wearing woolen clothes, and saluting the children, so that it should become a general tradition after me".
Imam Ali has said: "God has made me the Imam of the people and has made it obligatory for me to reduce my personal comfort and food to such an extent that my standard of living should become equal to that of the indigent, so that the indigent may follow the example of my way of life, and the rich may not become rebellious on account of their wealth".
Those, who have studied the lives of these leaders of the world, must have realized in the very first instance that they were the standard-bearers of revolution, and their objects were associated with the revolution. What- ever they did was for the welfare of the people and they did it with the help of the people. In order to make the revolution successful they adopted the methods which were suited to their country. Some of the leaders of the revolution were those who were killed, for example Ali son of Abu Talib and some were those, whom the enemies could do no harm, for example the prophet Muhammad.
It was not possible for the leaders of the revolution to live a life of luxury and pleasure, because the nature of the revolution did not permit them to do so. Peace of mind is a pre-requisite for a life of pleasure and such peace of mind was not enjoyed by these leaders.
The second thing is this that the first target of the enemies of revolution is the leader of the revolution. Until and unless the revolution suceeds his life remains constantly in danger, and he remains subjected to oppression and persecution. Now how can it be possible for a man, whose life is constantly in danger, to enjoy the worldly bounties and pleasures? This can be possible for him only if his revolution succeeds or he abandons the revolution.
However, it is also a fact that the leaders of the revolution were free to lead the type of life they liked and to be contented with such necessities of life as they considered to be sufficient. None could object to their selecting or not selecting a particular thing for themselves. They had themselves adopted the life of abstemiousness and contentment, but had not compelled others to adopt it.
Besides all other things, was Jesus Christ not accused by the Romans of instigating the people to rise against Kaiser, and stopping them from paying him the taxes, as a consequence of which he (Christ) was tried and sentenced to death?
Why did Christ stop the people from paying the taxes to the Kaiser? Was it not on account of the bread
which Kaiser and his officials snatched away from the indigent, the hungry and the orphans? Did not the Jewish priests of Jerusalem tell the representative of Kaiser in order to support the Kaiser's system of government accord- ing to which the poor were exploited and the capitalists became rich that if he did not crucify Jesus Christ he was not a friend of the Kaiser?
It was Muhammad, the brother of Christ who rose against the oppressive society of that time, wherein there was a great friction between the oppressors and the oppressed. The Qur'an addresses the people through him in these words: "Walk on the earth and eat and drink what has been provided to you by God"
Here the people have been directed to eat and drink because life depends on these acts. This direction has been given to all the people and not to a particular class. Every person is entitled to work and earn his livelihood.
On another occasion it has been said: "Man should have a look on his food, We sent rains from the heavens, split the earth, sowed the seeds in it and made the vine and sugar-cane and olive and date trees grow from it. We created green gardens and fresh fruits".
There is a hadith of the prophet wherein he has been reported to have said: "There are three things in which the people have equal shares - water, vegetation and fire".
Every person has an equal share in the water which God sends down from above, or lets flow on the earth. However, if a person digs a canal to procure water or stocks water, others are not entitled to take that water from him, because he has a prior right over it. Similarly the vegetation, which grows naturally and none is entitled to appropriate it to himself to the exclusion of others. Similarly if a person kindles fire he cannot deprive another person of it, because if some one lights his lamp with that fire it will not diminish.
During the age of ignorance it was the custom that the chief or the ruler appropriated to himself any piece of land he liked for grazing his camels and other animals.
The animals belonging to other persons were not permitted to enter or graze in that area. His own animals could, however, graze in the common land utilized by all other people. This was one of the oppressive methods which were adopted during that age. The prophet abolished this tyrannical custom along with many others.
The prophet paid full wages to the labourers and also directed others to follow his example so that there might not remain any needy and poor person in the society. As and when revenue money was received by him from some place he distributed the share of his companions amongst them in the first instance and gave his daughter Fatima her share afterwards. His intention in doing so was that the needs of the common people should be met first.
We do not wish to dilate upon here on the subject of the attitude of Muhammad in the matter of wealth and indigence. We have already mentioned in detail in a previous chapter how Islam has encouraged the people to do useful work so that no needy person may remain in the society so much so that in Islam a useful work is more commend- able than recommended prayers and fasting.
Prophet Muhammad who did not like poverty and dependence on others has been reported to have said: "It is likely that indigence may change into blasphemy".
In a subsequent chapter we shall explain how the far-sighted prophet of Islam understood innumerable secrets and mysteries related to the society and how he encouraged the people to make their lives happy.
Abu Zar Ghaffari was an abstemious and contented person who did not care much for worldly comforts. Although he chose to lead an insipid life, he put up a severe and serious fight against indigence, and laid down his life while campaigning in support of the rights of the people. The following sentence uttered by him is very attractive: "When indigence proceeds to a city blasphemy requests for its company".
The Umayyads and the latter rulers made their best endeavours for the continuance of their power and authority. To achieve this purpose they instigated their
associates and employees to narrate forged traditions attributing them to the prophet so that they might be helpful for exploiting the people and keeping them enslaved. [*] Their proteges, therefore coined and narrated
[*] Sometimes Bani Umayyah themselves coined such traditions and at other times this task was performed for them by their associate or paid ulema. We give below some examples of such forged traditions and baseless anecdotes: Imam Bukhari has quoted from Abdullah ibn Umar as below from different authorities:
The prophet said: "After me you will soon be faced with distinction without a difference and undesirable acts". The companions enquired: "O prophet of God! What are your orders for us (in such circumstances)". The prophet replied: "Pay those rulers their rights and seek your own rights from God" (Sahih Bukhari vol.8).
He has also quoted lbn Abbas as having said: The prophet said: "If a person observes something from his king which he abhors, he should observe patience, because whoever separates from the nation even to the extent of a span will die the death of ignorance". (Sahih Bukhari vol.8)
Bukhari has reported on different authorities from Alqama bin Wail Hazrami as having said: "Muslim bin Zaid Jo'fi asked the prophet: "O prophet of God! What are your orders in the event of some persons becoming our rulers, who demand their rights from us but do not pay our rights? The prophet turned away his face from him. Muslima repeated his question. The prophet turned away his face from him once again. Muslima asked the same question for the third time. Thereupon Ash'ath bin Qais pulled him and the prophet replied: "You must bear what they say. Their responsibilities rest with them and your responsibilities rest with you". (Sahih Bukhari vol.2, page 119)
Bukhari has quoted Ajrafa as having said that he heard the prophet saying: "Very soon untoward things will happen. If any person wants to create a split in the nation strike him with a sword, whatever the case maybe". (Sahih Bukhari Vol.2, p.211)
Bukhari has also reported Abu Sa'id Khudari as saying that the prophet said: "When oath of allegiance for two caliphs has taken place kill the one for whom the oath has been taken later". (Sahih Bukhari, vol.2, p.122)
many new traditions wherein the people were advised to remain patient, bear the oppression by the rulers and carry out their orders indisputably.
The second question is that if these remarks of the prophet are genuine from the historical point of view why did the companions acted against them at the time of his death when there was a dispute about the caliphate, succession and inheritance?
Furthermore, why were these traditions not put forth and the people advised to remain patient when there was a dispute about those, who declined to pay zakat,
There are numerous traditions on the subject and the purport of all of them is this that the Muslims must remain obedient to the government of the time and should not complain against the king however tyrannical he may be, because by doing so that will create split and differences among the Muslims.
The gist of all these traditions is given in the following Hadith: "Disturbances will appear soon. During these disturbances one who is sitting will be in a better position than the one who is standing, and the one who is standing will be in a better position than the one who is walking, and one who is walking will be in a better position than the one who is running. And if at that time a person finds a place of refuge he should go into it". (Musnad Imam Ahmad, vol.2, page 282)
The above quoted traditions show that fearing split amongst his followers the prophet insisted upon their remaining faithful to their rulers even though they might be guilty of unlawful acts. This would mean that the prophet was anxious that the unity of the Muslims should be maintained at all cost even though the religion brought by him was destroyed. In that case the first question which arises is this that if the prophet was so anxious for the unity of the Muslims that he preferred it even to the religion of Islam why did he create a split among the polytheist Arabs by inviting them to Islam? The Arabs were united on the point of polytheism and idol-worship, but he created a rift among them by introducing a new religion. He broke their idols and trampled upon their beliefs although these were the things which they loved most.
being declared apostates or not, and also when the caliph Uthman was attacked and the people wanted to kill him?
Ayesha was the favourite wife of the prophet and remembered many traditions by heart. Talha and Zubayr were also the close companions of the prophet and had been given the good tidings that they would go to Paradise. Why did these persons not recollect these traditions and why did they revolt against Ali?
Furthermore the traditions are directly opposed to many Quranic verses and authentic traditions and they have no relationship with the nature of the prophet and Islamic philosophy. For example: It has been said in Surah al-Baqarah: "Fight in the path of God and remember that He is the Hearer, the Knower".
In Surah al-Ma'ida the Qur'an says: "The punishment for those who fight against the prophet of God and create mischief in the world is that they should be killed or hanged or their hands and feet should be cut off".
In Surah al-Mujadilah it is said: "You will not see those who believe in God and the Day of Judgment be friending the enemies of God and His prophet even though they may be their fathers, sons, brothers or kinsmen".
In Surah al-Mumtahinah it has been said: "O You who believe! Do not befriend those who have become subjected to the wrath of God"
These are some Qur'anic verses which are clearly opposed to the aforesaid forged traditions. Now we quote below some traditions which are opposed to them.
Imam Muslim quotes from Abdullah son of Mas'ud on different authorities that the prophet said: "Amongst the followers of the prophets, who were appointed to the prophetic missions, they were their apostles and companions, who followed the traditions and orders of the prophet concerned. These apostles and companions were succeeded by persons, who said one thing and did another thing, and performed acts which were not allowed. Whoever fights against such persons with his hands, tongue or heart is a believer".
(Sahih Muslim, Vol.1)
Ahu Sa'id Khadri has been quoted to have said that
he keard the prophet saying: "Whoever sees such persons committing indecent acts should stop them with his hands. If he cannot stop them with his hands he should stop them with his tongue. And if he cannot do even that he should condemn them in his heart. And this is the lowest stage of faith".
In short whoever has studied the lives of the prophets carefully knows that they disliked indigence and warned of Hell-fire those hypocrites, who invited the people towards poverty. If it had not been so the capitalists would not have been enemies of these prophets and the weak and helpless persons would not have gathered around them.
The sayings of the ancient sages of Arabia go to show that they knew well that the actions of a person in his individual capacity have a close relationship with the system of the society. They were well aware that the availability of the means of livelihood has a great effect on the purity of the disposition, morality and habits of man. The contentment which is commendable does not mean that man should do nothing and should be concerned only with self-indulgence, which brings about indigence, destroys good habits and eliminates faith.
It is also not right to say that man's entire attention should be directed towards the training of his soul and the body should be neglected, because obedience to law is not possible when one's belly is empty. It is only great men who remain patient like Abu Zar, even if they are indigent, and every person does not possess the patience and perseverance which was peculiar to Abu Zar. According to Sa'adi of Shiraz the prophet's remark: "Indigence is a matter of pride for man" refers to those people who were champions of the field of obedience to God and Divine pleasure and not to the poverty of those who wear the dress of righteous men and take food regularly at the expense of others. And the sentence: `Contentment is an unlimited treasure' has not been uttered for the idle persons who do nothing. It has in fact been uttered with reference to those covetous wealthy persons and unjust rulers who are not contented with anything and are not
satisfied even if all the bounties of the world are placed at their disposal.
The entire life of Ali was spent in improving the condition of the people and relieving them of need and indigence. As we shall explain later this was the very basis of his government. Ali himself was the greatest abstemious person, who was free from all worldly taints. However, he did not at all like that others too should remain contented with poverty. If it had not been so he would not have started a campaign against the rich and powerful persons, and against those, who usurped the property acquired by them unlawfully, and distributed it amongst the poor and the needy.
Tha`labi narrates an incident in these words: "One day during my childhood I went to the ground of Rahba in Kufa. There I saw Ali standing on two heaps of gold and silver. Later he began distributing that wealth and distri- buted all of it. Then he returned home in such a condition that he did not take anything with himself. The same Ali who did not take anything out of the said wealth says addressing the people: "Remain busy for your worldly profit in the same way as if you had to stay in this world permanently".
Nothing was more important in the eyes of Ali than eliminating the indigence of the people. In this connection he has made an explicit statement which cannot be explained away in any other manner. He says: "If you continue to walk on the highway of truth the paths will welcome you and none of you will get involved in indigence".
Besides attacking the ways and manners followed by the Arabs during the age of ignorance he also criticized their derwish-like contentment. He says: "O Arabs! You lived in hard stones, drank turbid water and ate rotten food like the indigent persons".
Ali's words show that it was not that he disliked delicious food, fine clothes and a magnificent house, what he did not like was that he himself should lead a comfortable life whereas others might not be possessing
those facilities. His explicit remarks show that it was his earnest desires that every person should have sufficient means of livelihood at his disposal. Ali was the leader of the people and it is the duty of a leader to lead as hard a life as his followers do, till indigence in the society is eliminated. When there is no indigent person left in the society the indigence of the leader too will necessarily come to an end. His way of living will be similar to that of the other people, because failing that leadership and chiefdom will become meaningless, Ali says: "Should I content myself with this that people call me the Com- mander of the Faithful and that I should not participate with them in the matter of the abominable things of the time?" By the `abominable things' he meant the hardship of poverty.
Ali did not allow his daughter to adorn herself with pearl as the daughters of many others were not in a position to adorn themselves in this manner. As has been mentioned in the foregoing pages he ordered her emphati cally to return the pearl necklace to the treasury saying: "O daughter of the son of Abu Talib! Do not deviate from the right path. Do all the women of the Muhajirs and the Ansar adorn themselves on Eid day in this manner?" He said "all the women" and not "the women of the nobility".
When Ali attained to the caliphate the first thing which he did was this that he endeavoured to do away with the poverty of the people. And this was what Ali ought to have done, because he knew fully well that though man has to suffer many hardships, indigence is the greatest calamity for him. It was he who uttered these words: "God has not involved man in any hardship which may be greater than indigence". This sentence shows firstly that he considered the removal of the indigence of the people to be absolutely necessary and secondly that he had made a perfectly correct assessment of the condition and circumstances of the people and the outcome thereof.
Some persons have praised indigence much and have
invited the people towards it. However, their thinking is not correct. Ali campaigned against indigence in the same manner in which the prophet and Abu Zar Ghiffari, the great revolutionary and foremost among Ali's suppor- ters, and the victim of the tyrant Ummayyads, campaigned against it.
The prophet as well as Ali and Abu Zar knew that indigence destroys every quality so much so that it becomes the cause of blasphemy on the part of the pious believers. It was for this reason that Ali fought against it on every occasion and humiliated those who invited the people towards it. According to the belief of Ali indigence makes a wise person deaf and dumb. It is on account of indigence that the inhabitants of the same city become strangers and even enemies of one another. There is no doubt about the fact that death is a great calamity but inidgence is worse than death. Ali says: "Indigence is the greatest death".
This is the sentence which Ali uttered against indigence and against those who preached indigence which pulls down the edifice of their falsehood and deceit: "If indigence comes before me in the form of a human being I shall kill it".
In the eyes of Ali the human society is like a body which is not composed of antithetical elements nor its system based on discrimination in the matter of rights and liabilities, so that some persons may do whatever they like without there being anyone to restrain them, and others should be helpless without there being anyone to assist them.
In the society which was liked by Ali it was not per missible that one group should grow fat and the other should be reduced to a skeleton or that one group should work and the other group should reap the benefits.
Although Ali was a great spiritual person whose attention was always directed towards God there did not pass even a day when he might have been unmindful of the affairs of the people, or might have ignored even their most trivial matters, because he considered man to be the best specimen of the most excellent creation. He looked
at the world and its inhabitants exactly in the same manner in which the prophet looked at them.
The Qur'an says: "We have made the night to serve as a dress and the day for earning livelihood".
He made this divine revelation the basis for centralizing his attention on the human society. He revived the social laws and remained busy in correcting and improving them so that a lucky and prosperous society might come into being. He utilized his sermons and recommendations on their proper occasions and informed the people of their duties and responsibilities.
Ali was most anxious to enforce equity and justice. His main object was that justice should be established. After he attained to the caliphate some persons came to congratulate him and found him busy in mending his shoes. He said to them: "If I cannot establish truth and annihilate falsehood these shoes of mine would be more dear to me than the rulership".
He always desired those pious persons, who were anxious for the Hereafter, to serve the public to gain the bounties of the next world. He said: "Only that person, who works for the welfare of the people, will be prosperous in the Hereafter. And the best things which can be done in connection with public welfare are these: to feed the hungry; to provide water to the thirsty; to provide dress to those who do not have it; to inform the people of their rights and duties; and to protect the rights of others".
One day the Commander of the Faithful paid a visit to one of his companions named 'Ala son of Ziad Harasi. When he saw how spacious his house was he said to him: "Of what use to you is the speciousness of this house in this world, when you stand more in need of a spacious house in the Hereafter where you have to live eternally. Of course, if you also desire a spacious house in the Hereafter you should entertain guests in this house, behave well with your kinsmen and pay the rights of others on appropriate occasions. If you do so you will be successful in the next world".
While explaining the importance of fasting and
prayers he said to Kumail son of Ziad: "O Kumail! It is not important that you should offer prayers, observe fast and pay Zakat. What is important is that you should offer prayers with a pure heart and in accordance with the desire of God".
Even before the Hereafter he was so anxious about the life of the people in this world that inspite of his being the caliph he went to the Bazars of Kufa as a matter of daily routine, stopped at every shop and said: "O merchants! Fear God. Seek proximity to the customers. Adorn yourselves with the forbearance. Don't swear. Don't tell lies. Avoid injustice. Be just to the oppressed and weigh and measure properly. Don't give the people lesser than their due. Don't spread corruption in the world".
Nauf Bukali has been reported to have said: "I went and saw the Commander of the Faithful in the Masjid of Kufa. I saluted him and he replied to the salutation. I said: "O Commander of the Faithful! Give me a piece of advice". He said: "Be good to the people and God will do good to you". I requested him to say something more. He said: "Nauf! If you wish to be with me on the Day ofjudgement you must not help the oppressors.
In short the central point of the policy of Ali was service of mankind, meeting their needs and eliminatation of injustice. Once the prophet looked at him and said: "O Ali! God has adorned you with an adornment which is the best adornment in His eyes. He has endowed you with love for the weak. May it be pleasing to you that they should be your followers and happy and satisfied on account of your being their Imam".
# Conditions prior to Ali
Before we explain what ideas and beliefs Ali held about human brotherhood and how he respected human rights it appears necessary to mention what the prophet did for the welfare of humanity, what rules and regulations he enacted, and how far he respected human rights. It is necessary to do so, because Ali's only responsibility was to enforce the rules promulgated by the Prophet and to accomplish what he had wished. What Ali did was a complement of the acts of the prophet and every step taken by him was linked with the steps taken by the prophet.
The prophet of Islam paid full attention to the material and social conditions of the society. Islam enacted rules and regulations for the human society in the same manner in which it enacted them for the individuals.
Islam attaches so much importance to the human brother- hood and society that it treats every national service to be an act of worship - rather, national service enjoys precedence over the performance of religious rites. The prophet of Islam has said: "Resolving differences and disputes is better than recommended prayers and fasting".
The following incident shows clearly how much the prophet was concerned about the welfare of the nation and the society:
Ibn Abdullah says: We (i..e the companions) were accompanying the prophet in a journey. Some of us were fasting whereas others were not. It was summer season. We halted at a place. No shade was available to us except the sheets of cloth which we were carrying. There were many amongst us who were protecting their faces from sunshine
with their hands. Those of us who were not fasting stood up and pitched the tents and provided water to the animals. Thereupon the prophet of Islam said: "Today those persons who are not fasting have appropriated the entire spiritual reward to themselves".
This incident shows that fasting which is an important mandatory article of worship ceases to be valid during journey so that one may not show laxity in economic matters for that reason and may not become incapable of serving the creatures of God.
The prophet has also said: "When anyone of you sees an indecent thing being done he should stop it with his hands and if he cannot do so he should stop it with his tongue. And if he cannot stop it with his tongue he should condemn it in his heart. And this (i.e. the third alternative) is the weakest stage of faith".
'Ordering to do good and restraining from evil' is such an explicit order in Islam that by its means every sort of good can be done to others, and all types of evil can be eliminated. There are many traditions quoted from the prophet which go to show that whoever renders any service to the nation is superior to a devout person. This is about common persons who render service to the nation. In case, however, one, who renders such service, is also a scholar, he will no doubt be superior to millions of devout persons in the eyes of the prophet just as the moon is superior to millions of stars.
The prophet of Islam has said: "A scholar is decidely superior to a devout person in the same manner in which the moon is superior to the stars".
The prophet has praised wisdom because it is wisdom which endeavours to find out ways and means for the welfare of the people. One can do good to the people only by means of wisdom. The prophet says: "An hour's reflection is better than a year's worship". (In some traditions it has been said that it is better than seventy years' worship).
Islam has paid full attention to the welfare of human society and its unity and order, as well as to its means
of livelihood, and has drawn the attention of the people to the bounties of the earth and the blessings of work. "Almighty God has created all the gifts of the earth for you. The earth has been created for the creatures. It is God who has subjected the earth to you. Walk on its paths and eat the provisions made available to you by God".
Islam has made it obligatory for man to thank others. One can be thankful to God only when one thanks others, because one who does not recognise the creatures cannot recognise God.
`One who has not thanked the people has not thanked God'.
The prophet has praised useful activities very much. He has not contented himself with praising such activities but has also treated worth kissing those hands which are swollan due to excessive work. He says: "This is the hand which is liked by God and His prophet".
The following narration goes to show how great the prophet considered the useful tasks and the measures of public welfare:
The companions of the prophet saw a well-built man and wished that he might have spent his strength by way of jihad in the path of God. Thereupon the prophet said: "If this person has come out to serve his weak and aged parents it is a task in the path of God. If he has come out to earn for his children this is also a task in the path of God. If he has come out to earn for his wife so as to protect her from illegal things this too is a task in the path of God. And if he has come out to earn something for himself so that he may not have to beg is also a task in the path of God.
The books of Hadith contain many traditions of the prophet which show that he appreciated work very much and had great regards for those who worked hard. He says: "God likes a believer who works and earns. No food is better than that earned with one's own efforts".
Hence, when work is such a valuable thing and is even regarded to be holy it is necessary for us to work with perseverance. When a person works hard he will benefit
himself as well as others. His presence in the society will be considered to be auspicious and God will also like him.
The prophet says: "God likes that when someone of you does a work he should do it properly".
We have said above that Islam has subjected the earth to man. He walks on it and utilises its bounties. The question however, arises as to what attitude Islam adopted in the matter of distribution of these bounties?
Are all the bounties mean for a particular class to the exclusion of others? Is only one group of people entitled to benefit from them, and are others to remain deprived? Or should they be distributed on the basis of efforts and need? Are these bounties to be collected and stored by the kings, the aristocrats, the rich and the usurpers, or should they be divided justly among all persons?
Islam has looked at humanity with the eye of justice and logic and has enacted rational laws for it. It has neither deprived anyone of his share nor given him more than his due. Every effort carries a reward and it is necessary for the society to honour this reward. A good society does not allow that a hard worker should starve, and an idle person should benefit from the proceeds of the the former's work. Nor does a good society mean that a worker should not get the reward for his work and an idle and good-for-nothing person should usurp all the bounties, as happened in the societies of the earlier time and as Bani Umayyah endeavoured to do after the advent of Islam viz. that they should enslave all others and utilize their property and play with their lives as they liked. We find that Islam has prohibited extravagance and improper adornment, especially in a society in which the majority of the people are indigent. Its reason is that if there is extravagance and improper adornment on one side there will be poverty and hunger on the other side and also because none is entitled to usurp the proceeds of the efforts of others; and life of pleasure in a poor society is possible only when some persons feed themselves on the proceeds of the efforts of others.The prophet has treated the houses of the spendthrift persons to be the abodes of
Satan. He says: "The houses of the devils are cages which have been covered by the people with silk and brocade".
The Qur'an says: "There were many cities whose residents were drowned in pleasure. We annihilated them and their houses were ruined. None was left to reside there except a few".
At another place the Qur'an warns the people in a very eloquent manner and says: "When We wish to destroy a city We order its pleasur-loving citizens to become libertines (i.e. We provide them the means of the life of luxury and pleasure) so that they may become deserving of annihilation and then We destroy that city".
Islam has prohibited living a life of pleasure and extravagance while one lives amongst the indigent, as it disheartens them, and has obstructed all paths leading towards it. Tyranny and oppression by the governors and the officials was one such path. The prophet prohibited and declared unlawful hoarding, taking work from the labourers without paying wages, becoming owner of land without doing anything to develop it, usurping the property of others, and other similar acts of oppression. He said about hoarding: "One who hoards is a sinner".
The prophet of Islam warned of terrible torture to those who usurp land and said: "Almighty God will put a chain of the seven layers of land round the neck of a person who usurps the lands of others".
He also said: "One who usurps the property of others will meet God on the Day of Judgement in such circum- stances that He will be annoyed with him".
Islam has prohibited all kinds of usury. The Qur'an says about usury: "O believers! Do not go on consuming compound interest".
At another place it says: "Allah has allowed business and disallowed usury. Usurers have been warned of severe torture, because it is a sort of forced labour and amounts to enslaving others". [*]
[*] There is great difference between usury and trade. The traders
Justice means that one should get wages equal to one's work. If the people do not usurp the property of others and do not hoard the commodities to earn large profit wealth cannot become centred in a few hands.
If man and his hard work had been given their due importance in the society, servitude and slavery would not have become current. As opposed to corrupt societies in which man's worth was assessed keeping in view his wealth Islam has a much higher criterion for assessing the worth of man.
The worst sin which can be committed in a society is this that the government and the profiteers should unite to exploit the weak and helpless people. The Qur'an says: "Do not eat one another's property unlawfully nor give bribes to the rulers so that you may misappropriate whatever you can out of the property of others, although you know".
The prophet has said: "No food is better than that earned with one's own hands".
In Surah al-Zilzal of the Qur'an it has been said: "Whoever does something evil equal to an atom will see its result".
It has been said: "Every person is pledged to his actions".
Although Islam has acknowledged wealth as personal property, the Islamic laws have been formulated in such a way that wealth may not be concentrated in a few hands and they may not enjoy all its benefits and humiliate others and subject them to forced labour. The Holy Qur'an says: "So that wealth may not become a plaything in the hands of your rich".
procure the provisions from appropriate place at cheaper rates. Every person cannot do this. The traders take these commodities to suitable markets for sale. At times they earn some profit and at other times they sustain loss. That is not the case with the usury. The money-lender does not make any efforts, is not contented with a small profit and does not sustain any loss. Hence the difference between the two kinds of transactions is evident.
Thus according to the Qur'an and Hadith the wealth belongs, in the first instance, to the community, and the members of the community can utilize it according to their needs and efforts. It is for this reason that usurpation of other people's property has been disallowed in Islam and hoarding of surplus property has also been prohibited.
This was the basis of the prophet's fiscal policy and he set examples in this behalf by his words and actions, which must be followed. [*]
Rafa'a bin Zaid was one of the dear companions of the prophet. In one of the battles he was killed with an arrow. People came to the prophet to condole Rafa'a's death and said: "O prophet of God! Rafa'a was lucky. He died a martyr's death. By these words they wanted to console the prophet, but he was not consoled and said: "Certainly not. The turban which he took out of the booty of Khaybar is still a flame like fire".
Notwithstanding the fact that Rafa'a had been killed while performing jihad the prophet treated him to be a sinner because he had taken something very insignificant out of public property, of his own accord, although he ought to have waited till the property was divided.
The attitude adopted by Islam towards the usurpers and the profiteers can be judged from the fact that it has attached great importance to human life. Only a living person is the spirit of this universe and God has created all things for him. In the circumstances how can he be deprived of life and means of livelihood and how can it be possible
[*] Those who have studied the Qur'an are aware that Islam neither supports the condemned capitalism nor the unnatural communist system. It acknowledges the institution of individual ownership so that every person may make the best use of his capabilities. As only legal restrictions are not sufficient for economic reform Islam has also endeavoured to attain this object by moral training. This is the main difference between the material systems and Islam. Communism binds our entire existence with law and a as a result thereof we are reduced to a machine. Consequently we cannot use our will and determination and they wear away gradually.
to permit some persons to deprive others of the means of livelihood because of their being stronger than them?
In the eyes of the prophet of Islam wealth is meant to ensure comfortable life for all human beings. Just as human beings have equal rights to utilize sunlight and air in the same way they have equal rights over the means of life which are the products of sunlight and air and none is entitled to deprive others of these benefits.
The prophet has said: "All persons have equal rights over three things viz. water, vegetation and fire". To whichever community a person may belong matters little; for he is entitled to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Every member of human brotherhood is under obligation to help others, and all of them must make collective efforts for the reformation and improvement of their affairs.
It is the duty of human brotherhood to recognize the rights of the individuals and give them full freedom to earn their livelihood so that they may work according to their capabilities and enjoy the proceeds of their labour. It is also necessary for the members of the society to help others and not to make their own freedom an obstacle in their path. It is neither permissible for the human brother- hood to oppress the individuals nor is it permissible for the individuals to harm the brotherhood. It is necessary for the individuals to keep in mind the welfare of others in the same manner in which they take care of their own welfare. The prophet has said: "Every one of you is a guardian and every one of you will be answerable for his wards. None is entitled to harm others". The prophet has explained this point with a very fine example as narrated below:
Some persons boarded a boat and every one of them occupied his seat. In the meantime one of them rose from his seat, picked up an axe and began making a hole at the place which was occupied by him. On others having asked him what he was going to do he replied that it was his seat and he was at liberty to do there whatever he liked. Thereupon others held him by the hands and thus saved him as well as themselves from drowning. If that man had
been left to himself he as well as others would have been drowned.
It is obligatory for every person to prevent evil in whichever form it may be committed, and to make efforts to ensure the welfare of the society. The prophet has said: "Whoever sees something evil being done must stop it".
The prophet of Islam explained to his followers every now and then that good morals take birth from practical training and not only from verbal recommenda- tions and advice. People should be shown kindness practi- cally and not only verbally. The prophet did not remain aloof from the people; he mixed with them freely, heard patiently what they said, and served them as all great persons do.
Abu Hurayra says: "Once I accompanied the prophet to the bazar. He purchased some things from a shop-keeper and advised him to take only reasonable profit on the sale of his merchandise, not to hoard things, not to earn anything by unlawful means, and not to think that he was entitled to comfortable life whereas others were not".
Abu Hurayra wanted to carry the things purchased by the prophet, but he stopped him from doing so, and said with a smile: "Leave the things. Their owner has a prior right to carry them".
The prophet always mistrusted the kings and did not give them any position in the society because they are corrupt and also corrupt others. The Almighty God says: "When the kings enter a city they destory it and humiliate its respectable persons".
One of the events which shows that the prophet did not like glorification is this that on the day on which his son Ibrahim died a solar eclipse took place. Thereupon the people said that sky was also mourning the death of the prophet's son. When the prophet heard this sentence he addressed the people with these words: "The sun and the moon are the signs of God. They are not eclipsed because of the death of any person".
The prophet's teachings consisted of this that one should spend one's life in as simple a manner as possible,
and there should be no intricacy or formality in it. This way of leading life is the basis of Islam. If Islamic problems are studied carefully it appears that all the problems have emerged from one source which is very deep and covers all problems. That source is simplicity untainted with fraud, or deceit or in other words `sincerity with life'.
Once the prophet hit a bedouin unintentionally with a stick. He then insisted that the bedouin should also hit him in the same manner. He mounted the pulpit and said: "Whomsoever I may have hit on his back should take revenge from me and if I have taken the property of anyone he should compensate himself out of my property".
The prophet had never hurt anyone. However, what he said was sincerity towards life which he manifested in the best manner.
Just as his life was free from hypocrisy and weakness it was also untainted with pride. He mended his own shoes, and clothes, milked his goats, helped the members of his family in household matters, carried bricks along with his companions and tied stones on his belly on account of hunger.
This was sincerity towards life which is confirmed by all the narrations quoted above with regard to the prophet. As regards the rulers they have to shoulder so many responsibilities that they have to become the servants of the society and not oppressive and rebellious chiefs or thieves or dacoits.
The biography of the prophet shows that once the residents of some place complained that the governor posted there, had taken presents and gifts from the people. He investigated the matter, and it transpired that the complaint was true. He was very much annoyed upon this, summoned the governor and asked him: "Why did you take things to which you were not entitled?" The governor replied: "O Prophet of God! Those were presents".
The prophet said: "Supposing that you had stayed on at home would the people have come to give you presents?"
He then ordered the governor to deposit the property in question into the public treasury and also removed him
from the office.
Thus the prophet directed the people not to give bribes and also told the officer notindulge in such nefarious activities. As he had been appointed the ruler of the people he should have been like a father to them and not like a robber.
When the prophet was so much annoyed at the governor accepting presents it can very well be imagined how much he must have been annoyed when wealth was looted and the rights of the people were encroached upon.
In Islam a ruler is appointed by the selection, and under the authority of the people [*] and he rules the people
[*] This form of government is accepted by all Muslim sects, with the difference that the Shi'a regard it as justified only during the occultation of the Imam of the Age. Otherwise the Shi`a give preference to those who were appointed or designated by the prophet and the Imams. But according to the Sunnis immediately on the death of the prophet, this form became the only right form of the government.
From the Shi'a point of view, since the major occultation of Mahdi, the Imam of the Age in 329 A.H. no particular person has been appointed to be the head and leader of the Muslim ummah.
That is why in the traditions related to leadership during this period only the general qualities and characteristics required to be possessed by a leader have been mentioned. This shows that it is upto the people themselves to choose a person as their leader, having follow- ing qualities and characteristics: -
* Faith in God, His revelations and the teachings of His prophet.
* Integrity, adherence to the laws of Islam, and earnestness about their enforcement.
* Adequate knowledge of Islam, appropriate to his prominent position.
* Enough competence for holding such a position and freedom from every defect not in keeping with Islamic leadership.
His standard of living being equal to that of the low-income people.
In this connection there is enough material in the sermons of
according to their wishes. He is always anxious about the welfare of the people. Islam has made it necessary for the rulers to consult their subjects in important matters, the proper solution whereof is difficult. As the Qur'an says: "They perform their tasks with mutual consultation".
The caliph is not entitled to appropriate the property of the people without their consent, nor is he competent to make any law, because all the requisite laws are those which have already been enacted by Islam, and he is entitled only to safeguard the lives, property and honour of the citizens. It is not permissible for a ruler to neglect oppressed persons, and not to protect their rights from the transgression of the tyrants. It is also not proper for a ruler to wait for the oppressed person to come up to him with a complaint. On the contrary it is his duty to go and help the oppressed person himself, because it is possible that the oppressed person may not pick up courage to make a complaint or may not be able to find his way to the ruler. Islam has severely reproached an oppressed person who silently bears oppression and humiliation and has said that such a person is cruel to himself. Islam has commended one's efforts to defend one's life, property and honour.
The prophet has said: "One who gives up his life opposing oppression and tyranny is a martyr".
The prophet has also said: "If people see a tyrant committing oppression and do not hold his hand it is likely that all of them may become subjected to Divine torture".
Islam has considered all human beings to be the brothers of one another. It has also campaigned against religious fanaticism. The Qur'an says: "There is no com- pulsion in the matter of faith".
(Footnote contd.) Ali and in the epistles he sent to his officials. In a number of epistles it has been emphasized that an administrative officer should be free from love of money, ignorance, inefficiency, outrage, timidness, bribery, and violation of Islamic injunctions and traditions and should not be guilty of shedding blood. (For further details see: "Philosophy of Islam" ISP, 1982).
It has put up the most tough fight against family or tribal bias. The prophet has said: "Man is the brother of man, whether he likes it or not".
The Qur'an says: "We have bestowed dignity upon human beings, provided them with means of transport on land and water, given them pure things W eat and given them superiority over many creatures".
Whenever the prophet addressed the people his address was meant for all human beings whether Arabs or non-Arabs and whether white, yellow or black. He addressed them as kind and sympathetic, brothers of one another joined together with the relationship of humanity and irrespective of their nationality etc. If there was any difference between them it was on the basis of good deeds and not on account of colour or race.
The prophet has said: "O People! Your lord is One. You have also a common ancestor Adam. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab and no non-Arab is superior to an Arab and similarly no red-coloured person is superior to a white-coloured person and no white-coloured person is superior to a red-coloured person. And if a person enjoys superiority over others it is on account of his piety. Those of you who are present should convey this message to those who are absent".
# Ruler is one of tbe people
Before Ali attained to the caliphate it was likely that the Umayyad governments might be converted into kingship - rather it had already been so converted. The rulers and other persons at the helm of affairs were of the view that the caliphate was their special right and only they were entitled to it on account of their belonging to a noble family. In order to strengthen their hold and establish a firm government they considered all unlawful acts like tribal bias, formation of groups, bribes etc. to be lawful.
According to them a ruler was the master of the lives, property and honour of the ruled and could exploit them in any manner he liked, without the oppressed persons having any right of protest. They viewed the common people as quadrupeds whom they could load with the heaviest burden and beat as much as they wished.
During the time of Uthman the Umayyad governors got an opportunity of despotic rule and they availed of it to their heart's content. They endeavoured to strengthen the Umayyad rule in all parts of the Islamic territories.
They bribed the Shaykhs and dignitaries of the Arabian tribes heavily to win their support. They also gave full freedom to the persons in position to oppress the common man in any manner they liked.
They also bought the armed forces by giving them excessive wealth and promising them high offices. And in fact the people could not oppose them because whoever sided with them was honoured, and whoever bpposed them was condemned and disgraced.
In short the government was established on new
principles. This was done by Bani Umayyah whose hearts had not sincerely acknowledged Islam. They embraced Islam owing to fear and continued to remain within its fold on account of their avarice for riches. History shows that these people remained after embracing Islam as they were during the age of ignorance. The distinguished companions of the prophet who managed the affairs previously were discarded and disgraced. [*] They were held to be of no consequence now.
[*] it was the earnest endeavour and the heartfelt desire of caliph Uthman that the despotic government of the Umayyads should be established firmly in all Islamic cities and he spared no effort in this behalf. Two or three days after Uthman's becoming caliph Abu Sufyan came to congratulate him. As Uthman's partiality towards his kinsmen was well known Abu Sufyan told him what he had in his heart saying: "Play with the caliphate like a ball and make Bani Umayyah its pilars". Although Uthman rebuked him at that time, but from that very day he made the words of Abu Sufyan his own motto and entrusted the governorship of all big cities to the young and inexperienced lads of Bani Umayyah. These persons were neither educated nor good natured. By making such appointments Uthman opened the gates of mischief and disturbance, and provided means of the destruction of the Muslim society as well as his own death.
Allama Abu Amr, the author of lsti`ab says that once Shabil son of Khalid arrived when Uthman was sitting with others consist- ing of Bani Umayyah only. Shabil said: "O Quraysh! What has happened to you? Has no child, whom you might exalt been left with you? Is there among you no indigent person whom you might like to make rich? Is there among you no unknown person whom you might like to become known? Why have you made Abu Musa Ash'ari the governor of Iraq and given him that province as his freehold wherefrom he is earning a lot?" Thereupon Uthman enquired as to who should be appointed as governor to replace Abu Musa. Those present suggested the name of Abdullah son of `Asmir, a cousin of Uthman. He therefore, dismissed Abu Musa and appointed Abdullah in his place, although he was only sixteen years
Of course, those companions who co-operated with Bani Umayyah to destroy the rights of the Muslims and to strengthen the Umayyad government were exalted. These persons handed over the keys of the public treasury and the sword of government to Bani Umayyah to make the people obedient to them. The public was also divided into two groups. One group consisted of pious persons who were the well-wishers of the society. They wanted a just ruler, although he might not endow riches on them and might not let them plunder the wealth of the public treasury. The second group had deviated from the right path. They wanted to sell their faith to Bani Umayyah at the price fixed by them. If Bani Umayyah paid that price well and good, otherwise they intended to dilly- dally till the price demanded by them was paid.
* * * * *
When Ali, the Commander of the Faithful attained to the caliphate the conditions were very precarious. The people were divided into two groups. The persons belonging to one of those groups were prepared to lay down their lives in support of the pious and just Imam. The other group supported Bani Umayyah and endeavoured to strengthen their government and kingdom. Bani
of age. These youngster of Bani Umayyah did not care as to what they did nor said. Uthman did not pay heed to any complaint against these boys nor did he attach any importance to reproaches on this account. One of these young men was sa`id son of Aas, the governor of Kufa. He was a hot-headed and pleasure-loving person who said to a gathering from the pulpit: "These lands of Iraq are gardens for the young men of Quraysh".
These were the boys about whom the prophet had already said: "My followers will be ruined at the hands of foolish lads of Quraysh". (Sahih Bokhari Kitab al-Fitan part 10, p.146 and Mustadrak, vol.4, p.470).
Umayyah had also been endeavouring for years to establish their rule on a permanent footing. They knew that their program was beset with difficulties, but they were deter- mined to succeed and had decided to do away with anyone who obstructed them, although he might be a very great and respectable religious personality.
Ali was not very keen to become a caliph. He assisted Abu Bakr and Umar as and when they were faced with a difficulty. [*] Whenever the Islamic caliphate was confronted with a problem Ali solved it.
[*] It is true that the Commander of the Faithful was not keen for wordly government. If he desired the caliphate it was because the prophet's Islam could not be propagated and spread except by him. This was so because he had been brought up in the lap of the prophet and was the treasure of his wisdom and knowledge. The prophet had fed him with knowledge in the same manner in which a bird feeds its offspring. From the very day of his birth till the prophet's death he was not separated from the prophet. Every moment of his spent in the company of the prophet. None knew the Sunnah of the prophet better than he did. He was the exact picture of the ways and manners of the prophet and successor to all his attainments. This is a fact which was acknowledged not only by his friends but also by his enemies and even by those who had assumed the office of caliph. God willed and the prophet also desired that after him Ali should be at the helm of affairs, because only he possessed the capability to enforce and expand the religion of Islam in the manner desired by God and His prophet.
As regards the question whether or not he objected to others usurping the caliphate the pages of Nahj-al-Balaghah as well as history go to show that he protested against this on all occasions and put forth his arguments. He said: "I deserve the oath of allegiance more than you do. I shall not take the oath of allegiance to you rather you should take the oath in my favour. You have assumed this office in preference to the Ansar on the basis of your kinship with the prophet and now you are bent upon usurping it from the members of his household. Did you not put forth this argument before the Ansar that you were more entitled to the caliphate
He showed kindness even to Uthman and never complained against Uthman's attaining to the caliphate instead of himself. The only thing for which he was
because Muhammad was one of you. And accepting this argument they surrendered this office to you and let you assume the govern- ment. Now I put forth the same argument before you which you advanced against the Ansar. We are successors of Muhammad during his life as well as after his death. In case, therefore, you believe in Muhammad and Islam, you must do justice to us, failing which you will be guilty of wilful oppression".
Ali's rendering assistance to the three caliphs at difficult times is a clear proof. of his magnanimity and high morality. The greatest quality of man is that when there is a conflict between personal interests and collective interests he should prefer public welfare to his own interests. Another great quality of man is that he should be honest and sincere even in his dealings with his enemies.
To keep personal interests in view in all matters, and to be influenced by personal likes and dislikes on all occasion, are the qualities of mean persons whose actions are governed by animal instincts rather than human values. It is true that the majority of human beings has always endeavoured to serve individual interests, but if the action of the majority is accepted to be the criterion every meanness will become civilization and culture and every good quality will become a vice and defect.
It is however, a matter of regret that the people have been looking at the method of action of the great men according to their own mentality and have been drawing wrong conclusions.
Ali son of Abu Talib was a perfect specimen of Islamic teachings in the world of Islam and the best image of human qualities and perfection. His conduct was replete with all the qualities which are considered to be the essence of human perfection and the most prominent aspect of his disposition was this that he never allowed his personal differences, egotism or enmity to interfere with Islamic and collective matters, nor did he permit his personal interests and feelings to disregard honesty and integrity.
The inhabitants of the world who have become accustomed,
anxious was the establishment of truth and justice. People beseeched him to accept the caliphate but he did not evince any interest in it. History shows and his own remarks are also available to the effect that when, after the assassination of Uthman, the people came to him collectively and requested him to assume the caliphate he said: "Leave me and find out someone else for the job. If you leave me alone I shall be a member of the society like you and shall be more attentive and obedient than you to the person whom you select as the caliph. I shall be more useful for you in the capacity of an adviser than in that of a caliph".
On that day Ali was not agreeable to accept the caliphate as with his far-sightedness he could see up to the last end of the future. If he was a clalmant of the caliphate earlier, it was not because he desired to become a ruler. On the contrary what he desired was that Muslims should develop within themselves those morals and virtues which the prophet wanted to inculcate in them. And if he declined to accept that office at that stage (i.e. after the assassination of Uthman) it was because owing to the
on account of their own conduct as well as that of their so-called leaders, to keep in view the aspect of personal interest in everything conclude from the conduct of Ali that he had no personal differences with anyone and entertained great love and friendship for all in his mind. However, if one reflects a little with broadmindedness it becomes known that to provide correct guidance to others for the sake of public welfare, inspite of personal differences, is the supreme human quality which can be observed clearly in the conduct of Ali. This characteristic of the Commander of the Faithful is reflected in different forms in the events of his life with which the pages of history are replete. The rulers who acquired the caliphate ignoring the qualities of Ali and his entitlement to that office, and claimed to be the only persons who could look after the welfare of the society, consulted him as and when they were faced with any difficulty and on every such occasion he gave them the best advice Suited to the circumstances of the time.
policies of the former rulers the habits of the Muslims had been spoilt and their way of thinking had changed. The kingdom which was established with the name of Islamic state had been moulded into worldly authority and carried the signs of the despotism of Kaiser and Kisra. Ali's object differed from the desires of the people. Neither Ali could condescend to the wishes of the people nor people could agree to Ali's achieving the ends he had in view. He himself draws the picture of that period in these words:
"The time is extremely incompatible and disagreeable. In these days a righteous person is considered to be wicked and the refractoriness of the tyrant is on the increase. This is so because the sky is covered with dark clouds and the signs of the paths have been obliterated. The people are involved in doubts and sensuality. They have ears but they are deaf. They have eyes but they are blind. They are neither steadfast in the battlefield nor reliable in difficult circumstances".
Ali knew very well that if he accepted the request of the people and assumed the responsibilities of the office of caliphate they would not tolerate the manner in which he would run the administration and would not obey his orders unless he was harsh to them.
These were the conditions which Ali had to face after the assassination of Uthman. The dignitaries as well as the common people gathered outside the door of his house again and again and insisted upon his accepting the oath of allegiance from them. However, notwithstanding the fact that he entertained very good wishes for the people in his heart he was reluctant to accept the oath of allegiance from them. There was, however, onething which obliged him to think of accepting their request. The Muslims were too much insisting upon his accepting that office, which meant that a responsibility was being placed on them to guide those, who were in need of reformation and guidance from him. Furthermore, at that time social equity and justice were in danger. Persons in authority were encroaching upon the rights of the weak, and the life, property, and honour, of the common man did not carry any value. Ali
could not tolerate that he should sit quietly in his house when the poor citizens were being subjected to oppression. A brave and steadfast person like Ali could not let the Muslims fall a prey to the atrocities of the wolves of Bani Umayyah and remain silent. If he had not come to the rescue of the Muslim at that difficult moment he would have been treated to be a coward and not the brave and valiant person as he is known in history.
He himself says: "I was worried and alarmed lest the foolish and wicked persons should become the rulers of this nation and make the property of God their plaything and the creatures of God their slaves and fight with the righteous and make the tyrants their helpers".
For these reasons he considered it obligatory for himself to accept the oath of allegiance although many other righteous persons found themselves incapable of bearing the burden of caliphate
Ali hated sequestered life. Except when it was possible to serve the people by remaining in seclusion it was impossible for him to spend his time in retirement. A person who neglects serving the creatures of God inspite of his being in a position to do so spoils his faith as well as his world. Ali accepted the caliphate with firm determination and considered it in the interests of the Muslims that he should assume that office.
In order to understand the nature of Ali's administration and his economic and financial policies it is necessary to learn how Ali himself has explained the caliphate and mastership, what position caliphate enjoyed in his eyes from the religious point of view, and what benefits it carried in its lap.
While addressing the people at the time of taking the oath of allegiance from them, Ali said to them: "0 People! I am one of you. I enjoy the same rights which you enjoy. My responsibilities are also the same as yours. Nothing can invalidate truth. (i.e. a ruler or caliph cannot change the commands of God".
In another sermon he said: "I swear by God that in the first instance I myself obey those commands of
God which I invite you to obey and I myself refrain first from those things, from which I ask you to refrain".
On this basis the ruler and claiph is not to be obeyed in his personal capacity. It is necessary to obey him because he enforces equity and justice and the laws of the Sbari'ab. The caliphate does not entitle the ruler and the caliph to appropriate to himself as much of the property of the public treasury as he likes, and to spend it himself or give it to his friends, associates and kinsmen. On the contrary the object of the institution of caliphate is that justice should be administered. The ruler should mete out equal treatment to everyone, should regard the efforts of a person who, propagates the Divine religion and serves the public, should prohibit hoarding, and prevent oppression, and should not deviate from truth in any circumstances. He should not abandon his program even though the wicked and cruel persons dislike his just conduct and may be after his life. It is also his duty to acquaint the people with the rules of justice and to prevent their deviation from it.
Ali wrote to one of his governors as under: "Your holding this office does not entitle you to accumulate wealth or to take revenge from any person. Your only duty is that you should destroy falsehood and revive truth".
In the eyes of Ali son of Abu Talib rulership and caliphate did not mean that the ruler should sit on the throne of dignity, strengthen his power and make his position the means of enslaving the people. He says: "Generosity and munificence is a greater source of love and affection than consanguinity and kinship. There is no greatness like meekness and no virtue like knowledge".
Caliphate does not mean that poeple should be subjugated at the point of the sword, and by means of bloodshed and force, or that they should obey the caliph on account of fear or covetousness. Ali was a man who did not worship God because he desired forgiveness or because he feared punishment. On the contrary he worshipped God because He deserved to be worshipped. He wished that the people should obey the caliph on account of his
being worthy of obedience and not because of fear or greed of gain.
Now as regards consulting others the Commander of the Faithful has said: "One who faces different opinions recognizes the spots of mistakes and errors".
The person who realizes mistakes arrives at truth and right action. The opinions of the people are essential things which benefit the state as well as the people, and the affairs are conducted in such a way that they do not entail shame and regret. Ali acknowledges this fact in very clear words and says: "Correctness cannot be achieved by abandoning consultation".
It does not behove a ruler to keep his doors shut before the people and try to achieve some object by keeping the people in the dark. The Commander of the Faithful draws attention to this point by saying: "Acquire light from a kindled lamp"'
According to the Commander of the Faithful it is not proper for a caliph to seek distance from them, to be proud and haughty, or to ignore the needs of the people. Caliphate is a means of the ruler associating with the people, showing kindness to them and behaving with them meekly. If the ruler remains aloof from the people none of his excuses and arguments can be accepted.
If the people are annoyed with the ruler on account of any such thing they will become a burden on him in the same manner in which his rule will be burden on them, because the people will behave with him as he behaves with them. The Commander of the Faithful says in this behalf: "The hearts of the subjects are the treasury of the ruler. He will get from there what he places there, whether it be equity and justice or cruelty and oppression".
In the eyes of Ali the caliphate was not based on party-spirit or family bias which are very bad qualities. He considered caliphate to consist of good qualities, pious deeds, meting out justice to the people and refraining from tyranny and mischief.
In any case according to Ali rulership was not meant for those people about whom he said: "If these people
become your rulers they will behave like Kaiser and Kisra". Nor did those persons deserved to be the rulers who were deceitful and oppressive.
Keeping all these things in view Ali accepted the caliphate with a firm determination to establish truth and destroy falsehood and failing that to sacrifice his very life. It was on this account that he insisted that the people should watch the activities of their rulers and should not accept a ruler who did not prove to be a public servant. He also advised them to express displeasure on the bad activities of a ruler or to approve them on merit. He said: "Do you not feel annoyed and displeased if foolish persons become your rulers and consequently you are humiliated, afflicted and ruined?".
In his eyes being annoyed at cruelty and oppression was as important a thing as welcoming equity and justice.
He respected the personal freedom of the individuals and also kept in view the rights of the nation. As regards those who did not take oath of allegiance to him he said: "It does not matter if they do not take the oath of allegiance. However, they should stay indoors and should not interfere in the affairs of the nation".
Sa'd son of Abi Waqas who was a member of the Consultative Council declined to take oath of allegiance to Ali. Ali did not compel him to take the oath and left him free. Sa'd had said: "You need not feel worried about me. I shall never rise against you".
Similarly Abdullah son of Umar did not take the oath of allegiance. Ali asked him to produce a guarantor, who should guarantee that he would not create any disturbance, but he declined to do so. Thereupon Ali said to him: "You have been ill-mannered since your childhood and I know you from the very first day". Then he turned to the people and said: "Leave him as well. I guarantee that he will not create any disturbance".
There were some other persons also who remained hidden in their houses and were inclined to take the oath of allegiance. Ali said about them: "I, too, am not desirous of those persons who do not need me". He left them free
on the condition that they would not create any disturbance and would not harm the people. Many revolutionaries wanted to free such persons to take the oath of allegiance but the commander of the Faithful did not agree to this. In the matter of the oath of allegiance his usual attitude was what he says: "I shall accept the oath of allegiance from one who takes it voluntarily and shall ignore one, who declines to take it".
Hence, the freedom of the individuals was fully secured in the government of Ali and could not be violated except when they were guilty of harming the people, because in that case it was not possible for Ali to leave them free. It was for this reason that he did not leave Talha, Zubayr and Mu'awiya alone as he had done in the case of Sa'd son of Waqas and Abdullah son of Umar. These three persons were dreaming of attaining to caliphate and were keen to usurp wealth and authority. They wanted to create trouble so that they might remove Ali from his office and appropriate to themselves the public property which belonged to all Muslims. They had accumulated immense wealth, and had also equipped an army to fight against Ali's government. It was on account of this state of affairs that Ali did not leave them alone, and all these facts go to prove that the opinion formed by him about these three persons as absolutely correct. Later we shall mention in detail what disturbances took birth from the conspiracy of these three persons against Ali.
In short rulership and caliphate is the right of the people and it is not permissible to compel a person to take the oath of allegiance. Such a compulsion can possibly be exercised in the public interest but not in the personal interest of the ruler. Good relations can subsist between the ruler and the subjects only when the people elect a ruler themselves and take oath of allegiances to him voluntarily.
As Ali freely associated and mixed with the people, it was, therefore, natural that he should desire that every one of the governors and other officers should also associate with the people as one of them. He recommended to the
officials emphatically to respect the rights of the people. Ali introduced the best tradition of the association of the rulers with the people. This tradition is also compatible with the tradition of the civilized nations of modern times. He made the subjects the supervisors of the actions of the rulers so that they might act according to the wishes of the people.
As and when the Commander of the Faithful entrusted the rulership of a province, a territory or a city, to a person he wrote a testament and gave it to him so that he might read it out before the people. If the people of that place accepted the testament it constituted a treaty between them and the ruler which neither of them could violate. If the treaty was violated by either party it was necessary for the Imam to punish the party concerned and to remove the ruler from his office in case he happened to be the violator.
# Freedom and its sources
The method adopted by Imam Ali in the matter of politics, rulership and administration of the State was based on the principle of the freedom of the people. [*] He had an ardent belief in this freedom which can be observed in all his actions. Whether he said something, or gave some orders, or prohibited some actions, whether it was at the time of peace or war, or made an appointment of a governor, and in whatever manner he treated the people or his children or worshipped God - his conduct was based on all such occasions on this freedom.
The question, however, arises as to why the people should be free, why they should work according to their will and determination. From where did they get the freedom and what are its limits? According to Ali the real cause of this freedom is the human society which must proceed on the path of blessedness and prosperity.
Freedom is the result of the mutual relations, sentiments and inclinations of the people. It has a close relationship with a few things which exercise great influence on it.
Reason and experience prove this thing and it has also been confirmed by Ali that the members of a society are inter-related with one another. This inter-relationship of
[*] The author of the book has proved in this chapter that the political freedom which exists in the advanced nations of today is the same freedom which prevailed during the period of the caliphate of Imam Ali. There is no sign of such freedom in the governments which existed earlier than the caliphate of Ali.
theirs is on account of personal interests as well as national interests. [*]
It was the policy of Ali to reform these connections and ties, so that every person might lead his life in a better way. He provided opportunities to the people to utilize their freedom in the best possible manners and to discharge by means of this freedom the responsibilities which it is not possible to discharge without it.
In the first instance Ali made the people realize that to establish truth and to destroy falsehood is their own responsibility. They should get hold of their freedom, should not be subservient to the orders of the upper classes, and should neither betray the society nor be cruel to themselves. Throughout his life and before attaining to the caliphate, as well as thereafter, he explained to the people that they must discharge their duty to establish right and destroy falsehood.
Ali was endeavouring his best to provide means for the welfare of the people, and at the same time he was so severe in awarding punishment to the criminals that friends and foes were equal in his eyes in this matter and he did not observe leniency with anyone.
Ali was confident that his piety was known to all, and they were aware that he had no equal in the matter of piety, and he took from the world only as much as was sufficient for his living. The people also knew that the only purpose of his life was to establish truth and to help the needy and the oppressed, and that he did these things as a matter of duty and not to show kindness to others. He did
[*] In the terminology of the western philosophers, freedom means the same thing which is meant by the following belief of the Muslims: - "None is permitted to compel another to do a particular work or to appropriate his property without his permission". These philosophers believe that the cause of every oppression is deprivation of the human beings of their freedom and the murders, robberies and other crimes are its consequences. They say that freedom and self-determination are the inherent properties of man in the same manner in which heat is the inherent property of fire.
not like to eat honey because he was afraid that there might be some persons among his subjects to whom even barley bread might not be available. He never wore fine dress, because there might be a member of the public who might not be having even coarse dress to wear. He did not like that the people should call him the Commander of the Faithful and he should not partake in their difficulties.
Ali kept himself free from all the pollution in which the rulers of those days were involved. He did not take advantage of his noble descent. He never coveted territory, high office or wealth. On no occasion did he display pride. He remained aloof from all irrational and worthless things. He never preferred his kinsmen and friends to others. He never nursed a grudge against his opponents, nor did he take revenge on anyone. He never did anything about whose goodness and correctness he was not sure. He did not say or think of anything which he did not like. He was indifferent to the things which he ate or drank, the dress which he wore, and the house in which he lived. He utilized these things only as much as they were absolutely necessary for him. He did not take anything from the public treasury to meet his personal expenses, although he could take at least as much as the governors of the provinces did. Authentic narrations show that often he had to sell his sword, coat of mail and household articles to feed himself and the members of his family. However, he gave sufficient salaries to his governors so that they might not be obliged to take bribes or acquire money by unlawful means.
Ali kept himself free from all such bonds as might interfere with his administering justice between friend and foe. He has mentioned his own condition in this brief sentence. "Whoever forsakes desires remains free".
His piety was the piety of magnanimous persons. It was not tainted with any avarice. He had perfect faith in God and he acted according to his belief. There was no simulation of hypocrisy in his actions. His good deeds were not prompted by fear of Hell or desire for Paradise.
As regards the freedom of the common man its first
stage is freedom of action. Imam Ali has given the body of the workers the same rank on earth as is enjoyed by the hearts of the righteous persons in Paradise i.e. this world welcomes the workers in the same manner in which Paradise remains ready to welcome the righteous persons. About the righteous persons he says: - "Their hearts are in Paradise and their bodies are busy doing work". (i.e. they do not attach their hearts with the worldly things).
He elevated the position of freedom and considered the work of a free person to be great. He had made it his principle not to compel any person to do any particular work, because any work which is not done voluntarily is dishonesty in freedom as well as in work.
He says: - "It is not my intention to compel any person to do a particular work". He prescribed award for making people do useful work and preserving freedom and deprived of reward a person who compelled others to work. He says: "The canal belongs to one who dug it on his own accord and not to one who compelled others to dig it" (or one who does not work on it).
It appears necessary to mention an important point here. The word freedom as it was used in those days did not carry as vast a meaning as was attached to it by Ali. Others did not mean by it what Ali meant. In those days freedom was the opposite of slavery and freeman was the opposite of slave. Caliph Umar has said: "How did you make the people your slave when their mothers gave birth to them as freemen?"
When we ponder over these words and take into account the time and the conditions in which they were uttered by caliph Umar we clearly learn that by freeman he meant the opposite of slave i.e. one who cannot be bought or sold. However, during the modern times the words free and freedom do not carry the same sense in which they were used by caliph Umar. We hereby put forth another proof of our view. In the sentence quoted above caliph Umar has expressed annoyance for the people who had reduced their subordinates to slavery. He rebuked the powerful persons and told them not to consider the
weak people to be slaves, because their mothers had given birth to them as free men. Caliph Umar did not tell the slaves that they were free and should not obey those who claimed to be the masters of their slaves. In short, caliph Umar in his sentence has admonished the masters to give freedom to those subservient and weak persons.
According to Imam Ali the meaning of freedom is different from what is meant by caliph Umar and carries a much wider sense. In the first instance we reproduce below a clear remark of his on the subject and shall later reproduce his other remarks, recommendations and orders in support of our view.
As opposed to the remark of Umar he says: "Do not be the slave of anyone when God has created you free".
Caliph Umar had addressed the masters and told them to give freedom to their subordinates. He had not told the subordinates to decline to obey their masters. Ali, however, addresses the subordinates themselves and tells them to have self-reliance and a sense of freedom. He advises them to realize their right of freedom which is the essence of their being. He reminds them that God has created them as free beings and whatever they do or do not do should depend on this natural right of theirs.
By uttering this sentence Ali sowed the seeds of revolution in the hearts of those subordinates, and prepared them to fight against anything which might stand in the way of their freedom or involve them in perplexity.
The readers might think that there is not much difference between the remarks of caliph Umar and those of Ali, because Umar has addressed some particular person viz. the masters not to enslave the people whereas Ali has addressed all the people and told them that they are free. He has made their freedom dependent on their own intentions and not on the intentions of their masters so that they may keep them enslaved as long as they like and make them free as and when they (i.e. the masters) wish.
However, there is basically a great difference between these two remarks. Ali's sentence shows the deep insight which he had on the meaning of freedom. His sentence
shows the reality that the fountain-head of freedom is the being of man himself. He has been born free and he himself should select his path of action and not that someone else should take pity on him and set him free.
This sentence of Ali shows that he considered the freedom of man to be inherent and natural and all the actions of man are the outcome of this inherent and natural freedom. This freedom is free from all external influences. This freedom is enjoyed by him internally and not externally. It is like the light of the sun which cannot be separated from it. It is not like the light of the moon which declines.
Hence there is a real and basic difference between the sentences uttered by caliph Umar and Imam Ali. To one category belong the persons whose freedom depends on the will of others. This freedom is external and does not emerge from its own foutain-head. To the other category belong those free persons whose freedom depends on their nature. This is the real and true freedom. Such free persons act according to their reason and interests and do not do what they do not like. However, those whose independence depends on others are not subordinate to their own views and thinking.
The type of freedom which Imam Ali desired was the one on which human relations are based. It is this freedom by means of which the human beings can walk side by side with one another on the path of prosperity. It is this freedom which can bring a great civilization into existence.
As the freedom of the kind mentioned above was considered by Imam Ali to be the real freedom, all his orders were issued keeping this very freedom in view, and he also determined the human rights on that basis. We clearly find the observance of this principle in all his orders and regulations. He treated all the human beings to be equal in the matter of rights and responsibilities and did not fix any limit in this behalf. And if he did fix any such limits it was fixed keeping in view the interests of the public in general.
When we study the character of Imam Ali we clearly
see that he did not violate this freedom in any of his laws, orders, rules and regulations and kept the public welfare in view in all his actions. He meted out equal treatment to his friends and foes. We have already mentioned that he did not compel any person to do any work against his will, nor did he allow forced labour. We have also said that he did not compel anyone to take the oath of allegiance to him. Those who declined to take oath of allegiance to him were no doubt wrong-doers, but he left them to themselves because he knew that their not taking the oath of allegiance would make no difference nor would the public interests suffer on that account. They refrained from taking the oath for quite a long time, but by doing so they did harm only to themselves.
He did not take any action against them so long as they did not prove harmful to the public interest. Addressing Mughira bin Sho'ba he said: "I permit you to do whatever you like about yourself".
It may also be mentioned that once Habib ibn Muslim Fehri approached him and said: "You should abdicate so that the people may select a caliph through a consultative council". Thereupon Ali replied: `What have you to do with this matter? You should keep quiet. Why do you speak about something with which you are not concerned at all".
Habib then stood up and said: "By God you will find us at a place which will not be to your liking".
The threat latent in Habib's words is quite clear. But what did Ali do? Did he also threaten him in a similar manner? Did he imprison him so that he might not be free to oppose him and might not instigate his tribe to rise against him?
Ali did note of these things. On the contrary he cast a glance at him and said like a man who fully believes in his own justice and who respects the freedom of others: "Go and mobilize as many infantry-men and horsemen as you like. May not God keep me alive till the day when you should take pity on me".
Another proof of the full freedom allowed by Ali to
the people is that many persons belonging to the Hijaz and Iraq went away and joined Mu'awiya, but he did not stop them, nor did he consider it necessary to keep them under observation. They were free men in his eyes and were free to adopt any course they liked. If a person chose the right path it was well and good, but if he decided otherwise the path to Damascus was open for him and Mu'awiya was awaiting such a person with his treasures. Hence, when Sehl bin Hanif Ansari, the Governor of Madina informed him that some persons had gone over to Mu`awiya he wrote to him in reply: "I understand that some of the persons belonging to your area are secretly joining Mu'awiya. You need not worry at all about the number of people who have left, and the support, which has been lost. It is sufficient for their going astray and your being relieved of worry and sorrow that they are running away from truth and guidance towards ignorance and perversion. They are worldly people who are inclining towards the world and running to it. They recognized, saw, heard and learnt justice. They have understood very well that here all are treated to be equal in the matter of rights and are, therefore, running away towards the place where discrimination is practised. By God they have not run away from injustice and have not joined justice and we hope that God will make easy every difficulty which is involved in this matter, and will make the stony land level for us".
Another proof of the fact that Ali believed in the complete freedom of the people is provided by his treatment of the Kharijites. One group of the Kharijites was that which had rebelled openly and it was these people most of whom were put to sword in the Battle of Nahrawan. However, there were others who held beliefs common with the Kharijites but they considered it expedient not to rebel, and were mixed up with the people of Kufa. Imam Ali behaved kindly towards the Kharijites of the second category and did not permit his companions to contend with them. He also gave these Kharijites pensions as much as to the Muslims and had allowed them
to go freely wherever they liked.
His way of action was based on perfect freedom i.e. all human beings are free and may do whatever they like and love or hate whomsoever they wish. However, none was permitted to harm the people or to create mischief on the face of earth. If anyone indulged in mischievous activities he was not spared and was punished for the crime committed by him.
Once a Kharijite named Khareet bin Rashid came to Ali and said to him: "By God I shall not obey you and shall not offer prayers with you".
Imam Ali did not interfere with him and left him free to do whatever he liked.
After some time Khareet collected a number of men and revolted against him. Even then Ali did not prevent the persons who deserted him and joined Khareet, from doing so, although he could stop them from joining Khareet. However, when those persons took undue advantage of this freedom and began committing robberies and murders he sent his army and suppressed them.
The thing which is most surprising is that even at the most delicate moments of his period Ali paid due respect to human freedom and never violated it. This he did because he considered freedom to be the most important thing for humanity.
He did not detract from this freedom even when campaigning against the Nakitbeen, Qasiteen and Mariqeen who had appropriated large tracts of land to themselves and were the sworn enemies of Ali.
It was permissible according to every law and religion to fight against such persons and every person with sound judgment would have treated such a fight to be a just one.
In the circumstances it was necessary for Ali to mobilize his supports and march to join battle with the enemy. However, Ali did not compel any supporter of his to partake in a battle, whether he was his kinsman or someone else. Although he was the caliph and possessed authority, but he did not compel his companions to render material or spiritual assistance, because in whatever
manner he might have resorted to compulsion it would have been opposed to thefreedom in which he believed. [*]
Imam Ali performed his duty by showing themclearly the true path and appealing to their intellect and reason. He put forth arguments regarding his being correct so that whoever liked it might recognize his right, and support him, and whoever did not like it might oppose him in spite of knowing the truth.
He prayed for the welfare of those who responsed to
[*] Even today the westerners are unaware of the freedom which was allowed by Imam Ali, as has been explained by the author, although some social experts like Rousseau have mentioned it in their books and endeavoured to make people believe in it. Some persons may possibly think that the penal laws of Islam contradict the claim of the author and also that the Muslims do not consider it permissible that someone should apostatize from Islam or use indecent words about God or the prophets. Drinking of wine was punished during the caliphate of Ali as well as other caliphs, purchase and sale of intoxicants was treated to be a crime and the apostates were executed. Such persons may, therefore,ask as to where the freedom exists.
The reply to what the author wishes to prove is that all these things (viz. punishment for apostasy and other crimes) are correct. However, the freedom which is praiseworthy and which was supported by Ali is not the freedom enjoyed by a person to appropriate his property and use it as he likes and to adopt the occupation which he desires. In short Ali believed in political and social freedom.
All Muslims agree that drinking wine and apostasy are crimes. Now when these acts are crimes from the social point of view how can freedom to commit them be commendable? Hence if Imam Ali had given freedom to the people to commit these crimes his act would have been opposed to the divine commands as well as to the freedom of the people. If caliph Abu Bakr and Umar had not fought against the apostates they would have opposed the majority. of the Muslims. Even now some parties in various countries are declared to be unlawful, because many people consider the views and beliefs of these parties to be crimes. Similarly apostasy is a crime according to the Muslims, because it certainly creates trouble in the society.
his call and praised them. As regards those who did not respond to it he warned them about their mistake by tendering them advice. Whoever a person was and wherever he was, was free. Ali did not compel anyone and did not consider compulsion to be proper.
He never liked that anyone should join him without proper reflection and faith and knoweldge. He did not compel anyone to enlist himself in his army to fight in the Battles of the Camel, Siffin and Nahrawan for if he had so desired he would have filled the plains and mountains with soldiers.
Ali knew very well what freedom is and what its ins and outs are. He explained it by his words and actions and observed it in his behaviour towards the people. He kept the principle of freedom in view in eradicating the evils from the society, in enforcing the religious law, in mobilizing the forces, in ruling over the people, in making recommendations and tendering advice, and, in short, in everything. Every day of his life provided a fresh proof of the fact that man's right of freedom deserves to be respected provided that it does not mar the freedom of the public at large and this is the real meaning of freedom.
# Individual freedom
The Imam's treatment of others and his behaviour towards them was based on their freedom.
Man's conscience should take decisions according to its own determination and with freedom. The means are themselves effective without external effects. The external impediments prevent them to some extent from becoming effective.
Collective activities are correct only when they conform with the principles of a free conscience and with the [*] natural laws which are themselves free. Man is free fundamentally. A free being possesses feelings. He thinks with his own power, speaks with authority and acts with his determination. To place him under compulsion would, in fact, amounts to finishing his very being. Hence it will be permissible to curb a person's freedom only when it is permissible to kill him. [**]
[*] The author proves in this chapter that the individual should, while enjoying freedom, have regard for national interests and should perform all those acts with their determination, free will and choice which are useful for the people and should avoid harmful acts, so that freedom should be confined to one's own freedom and should not result in placing others under compulsion and captivity.
[**] By this statement the author wants to prove that the point of view of the socialists that government should monopolize all activities and should not leave anyone free on the ground that in various matters the people look after their personal interests and do not care for national interests is not correct. the opponents of this school of
If you wish to restrict the light of the sun and draw a curtain before it as a consequence whereof it cannot make the opposite things hot and bright, you in fact extinguish its light. If you are able to restrain the air from blowing you in fact annihilate the air. Similarly if you deprive the waves of the rivers, the flowers of the deserts, the birds in the air and all other things available in this world from performing their natural functions it is as good as your having destroyed them. Same is the case with man and to deprive him of freedom amounts to killing all human beings. [*]
This was the conception of freedom in the eyes of the Imam and this was how he reached its depths. He mentioned freedom with his tongue as he understood it and also acted according to it. Every deed of his was correct according to his own views and beliefs as well as according to those of others. The laws of nature as well as the interests of the society support them.
Ali's words and actions which we have studied
thought say that no interest is higher than freedom and after curbing theirfreedom the people cannot be provided with any bounty which might equal it. They also say that every kind of blessing and advancement of industry and trade can be achieved in a better way by means of freedom. As we can very well observe abundant facilities are available in free countries and the number of scholars and skilled persons available there is also larger. The workers in such countries live in comfort and the rate of crime there is very low so much so that in many of those countries no criminal case is registered for years.
[*] The mischievous and sensual persons also say that freedom is something respectable and the nation should set them free to indulge in their sensual activities and to bring up the children and young men in an irreligious atmosphere. They should be told that the freedom demanded by them is a crime and if they are given this licence, others whose number is thousands of times larger than theirs, will be deprived of their freedom.
thoroughly go to show how he guided the people to do everything with their determination and free will. In fact there was a point which he always kept in view and it was the freedom of the individuals in such a manner that the freedom of others was not hurt.
A group of the old Greek philosophers and some European philosophers of the Middle Ages kept only the individuals freedom in view and did not attach any importance to public interests and national freedom. There was also another group which took only the collective interests into account and did not favour individual freedom and rights. They considered pressure upon the people and subjecting them to forced labour to be lawful. However, Ali took individuals freedom and collective interests into account in such a way that neither of them might be hurt and made them compatible with each other so that an individual might take care of collective interests with his own free will and free efforts of the individuals might be in the national interests. He declared that the individuals were for the nation and the nation was for the individuals. We shall continue this discussion so that the matter may become perfectly clear.
We shall now see how he co-ordinated the freedom of the individuals with the public interests.
Ali knew that as the individuals are the members of the nation they should apply their freedom to matters which might not hurt the interests of the nation. Here freedom does not mean general licence. On the contrary it should be coupled with the faith and sense of responsibility, and man should consider it his duty to take the public interests into account along with his own freedom.
Ali did not say like other philosophers that human freedom was limited, but said something deeper and did not fix any limit for freedom. His remark is much more valuable and sublime than those of others, and shows that he was much superior to others in understanding the spiritual mysteries of man and the social rules and regulations.
He inculcated in the hearts of the people the belief
in freedom, and added to it the belief that every person has some responsibilities which he must fulfil. The proof of this policy of his is that a canal in a village was filled with dust and became useless and some persons who wanted to restart it approached the governor of the area to compel the people to work on it, but the Commander of the Faithful strictly prohibited it and said: "they may work of their own free will and take wages for that. As regards the canal it belongs to the person who works on it of his own accord and considers himself responsible for the result".
Ali accorded respect to the freedom of the working class more than one thousand years ago, and Rousseau, the famous French writer was inclined to remark thus about two centuries ago: "Respect for mankind and philanthrophy oblige us to say that we should consider our subordinates to be human beings like the intelligent people even though they may be untrained and ignorant".
The principles set forth by the Imam make it necessary that determination and authority should be limited within their own bounds and authority should be coupled with belief in responsibility. Hence duty and responsibility do not hurt authority and will but support them.
Responsibility alone is not sufficient for the performance of good deeds until determination and authority are also responsible. Responsibility is proportionate with authority. The greater the authority and determination the heavier will be the duty and responsibility.
Responsibility is related with authority in the same way in which it is related with intellect and conscience. A person whose power of thinking is paralyzed and who cannot distinguish between good and evil and whose intellectual capabilities are out of order cannot be held responsible for any action.
Similarly a person who has been deprived of his freedom and authority cannot be subjected to any responsibility. Freedom, authority and mental awakening make a person distinguish between good and evil and carry out his responsibilities as a matter of necessity.
It was on this account that Ali ordered his governors and other officers to release the people from captivity and remove the heavy chains from their hands and feet so that they might do useful deeds for the nation of their own free will, because so long as they were not indepen dent they would be helpless, and helpless persons are under no responsibility. They do not consider themselves to be responsible and do not, therefore, do good deeds, because good deeds can be done only with freedom of thought. The actions of those who do not possess free will are not their own. They are the actions of the government which are performed through them. Their determination is weak and their strength is wasted on inappropriate occasions.
After the Imam the people arrived at that very stage which has been mentioned by us. Although they were free during the period of his caliphate and were safe from harm and torture by the rulers he had prescribed a rule according to which they were required to admit their responsibilities of their own free will and were to realize that they owed some responsibilities to the nation and the nation had some rights on them. As we have already seen on many occasions and shall also see later his orders and directions were based on this principles and he commanded and prohibited and rewarded and punished the people keeping this principle in view.
As we have already said, freedom in its wide sense was the real basis of the government of Ali. In his eyes this freedom was as much realted with the mutual relations of the people as with intellect and conscience. Man who wishes to cover different stages of advancement by means of mutual co-operation and brotherly relations cannot achieve success in this behalf unless he is free in his individual and collective capacities. And it is not possible for him to be free unless his conscience is free from those defects which destroy the value of man. Similarly that peson cannot also be free whose rights for freedom is admitted by the society but ignored in practice.
In this matter Ali meted out equal treatment to the individuals and the society as well as to friends and the foes. He followed this line of action very firmly. He could no be made to deviate from his object by any allurement or threat. He knew very well that truth is unpalatable to many persons. It is for this reason that he says: "Our matter is very difficult".
He was also aware that truth is specially hard for the rulers. He therefore, says: "Truth weighs heavily upon the rulers and every truth is heavy".
However, whether truth is heavy on the rulers and the dignitaries or light, it was immaterial for Ali, because his intellect as well as conscience obliged him not to deviate from truth in the least, and he did not attach any importance to things other than intellect and conscience. Intellect and conscience compelled Ali not to turn away his face from the people who sought justice and not to
leave the ruled at the mercy of the rulers so that they (the people) might bear the hardships of need and suffer from hunger which might dry up their palates and kindle a fire in their bellies. This intellect and conscience directed Ali not to leave the bounties and blessings at the disposal of those whose bellies were full, and who ate without hunger and drank without thirst, and led luxurious lives at the expense of the common people.
All's fear that the influential persons and the dignitaries would not tolerate his just ways and methods of government, as expressed by him before the oath of allegiance was taken to him proved to be true. Hence, after taking the oath of allegiance, those nobles and dignitaries demanded from him that they might be given larger shares from the public treasury as compared with others, but Ali replied: "I am not going to give anyone anything to which he is not entitled".
Talha and Zubayr came to him to make a deal and said: "We are prepared to take the oath of allegiance to you on the condition that we shall be your partners in running the government". However, Ali replied to them in the negative without any hesitation.
On hearing this reply they left him and began mobilizing an army to fight against him, as will be mentioned in detail later.
Ali knew very well that Talha and Zubayr were very influential and they had a large number of supporters in Kufa and Basra. However, it was justice which Ali loved most. He said: "Do you want me to achieve success by means of oppression. By Allah this will never be. Unjustified award is extravagance".
Food is not brought before a person who is satiated. Wealth, small or large, was not lawful in the eyes of Ali until it was acquired by lawful, means. It should not have been acquired by hoarding, or by exploiting the people or by taking undue advantage of one's position as a ruler.
Ali forgave many crimes of the criminals and overlooked many evil deeds of the oppressors, but he did not tolerate that the hoarders, should exploit and oppress
the people. According to him oppression was a curse in whatever shape it might be, but the worst oppression was that exercised by the powerful on the weak, by the hoarder on the public, and by the ruler on the ruled. He could not ignore an oppression, which might give birth to wickedness and crime in the society.
Study `Nahj al-Balaghah' and you will see how fiery his words are when he speaks about the exploitation of the people. He mentioned this topic in every speech of his. His remarks show that he was fully convinced that exploi- tation of the wealth of others is a social crime. Whoever acquires wealth by unlawful means is an oppressor and must be punished for his offence. In one of his sermons Ali says about the hoarders: "And he should remember the wealth which he accumulated and did not care as to where he acquired it from (i.e. did not make any difference between lawful and unlawful sources) and collected wealth by lawful and unlawful means. He should rest assured that he will be punished for accumulating the wealth by illegal means".
However, as regards accumulation of wealth which is untainted by usurpation, oppression and hoarding he says: "Whoever dies while earning by lawful means will die in such a condition that God will be pleased with him".
It was for this reason that Ali had decided that he would demolish the structures which had been erected on the foundation of usurpation and oppression, abolish the custom of spending the wealth of the public treasury on one's relatives, and would not permit the influential class to exploit the common man. In one of his speeches he declared thus in clear words: "Look here! Whoever was assigned a Jagir by Uthman out of Allah's property should return it to the public treasury because nothing can annul an old right. If I come to know that women have been married by spending the money of the public treasury or that money has been distributed in different cities, my utmost effort will be to restore that money to its original position. Justice covers a wide range, and if justice is hard upon a person injustice will be more hard upon him".
It is possible that there may have been some kings and rulers who may not have given anything to an undeserving person from the public treasury and may not have spent public money lavishly on their friends and relatives. However, we do not come across anyone like Ali, who compelled those who had become rich by unlawful means during the period of the former govern- ments to render account of their earning and to return to the public treasury the wealth which they had earned unlawfully. This brave action of Ali proves that he had immense knowledge of the state of affairs and had such a perfect faith in social justice as was not possessed by any one else.
If the rule that only that person, who works hard and renders service to the society should be rewarded is correct then the question arises as to what public service Harith son of Hakam had renderd that he should have been given three hundred thousand dirhams by Uthman from the public treasury on the day his (Harith's) marriage took place? Was marrying Uthman's daughter a public service? [*]
[*] Uthman gave three hundred thousand dirhams to Harith son of Hakam (brother of Marwan) who was his second son-in-law and husband of his daughter Ayesha (Kitab al-Ansab, Balazari, Vol.5, p.58).
Balazari says at another place: Camels received as zakat were brought before Uthman and he gave all of them to Harith son of Hakam (Kitab al-Ansab, Vol.5, p.28).
Allama lbn Qutaiba, lbn Abd Rabih and lbn Abi al-Hadid have narrated that the prophet had endowed `Mehzool', a bazar of Madina, upon the Muslims but Uthman gave it away to Harith as Jagir (Ma`arif, p.84, Aqd al-Farid, p.261, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 1,p.27).
Uthman did favour to Harith in three ways:
(1) He gave three hundred thousand dirhams to Harith although this amount was not Uthman's personal property but belonged to the public treasury of the Muslims.
What service had Talha and Zubayr rendered to the Muslims as a recompense whereof they got such large amounts of dirhams and dinars and big jagirs from Uthman that if they had been distributed among the hundreds of thousands of the Muslims all of them would have become rich and would have got more than they might have hoped and desired? [*]
(2) He gave Harith all the camels which had been received by way of zakat.
(3) He gave to Harith by way of Jagir all the property which had been endowed by the prophet upon the Muslims.
[*] On account of the favours done by Uthman to his relatives, friends and associates they became very rich. As a consequence of the method adopted by him in the matter of division of wealth, which was opposed to the Book and the Sunnah as well as to that adopted by his predecessor, these people acquired big jagirs, cons- tructed magnificent palaces and accumulated large amounts of wealth.
Zubayr son of Awam left behind eleven houses in Madina, two in Basra, one in Kufa and one in Egypt. He had four wives.
They inherited one-eighth of his property and every one of them got one million and two hundred thousands. Thus the entire poperty left by him amounted to 59 millions and 800 thousands. (Sahih Bokhari, vol.5 p.21). In Sahih Bokhari only the number has been stated; it has not been specified whether they were dirhams or dinars, but it has been stated in Tarikh lbn Kaseer that they were dirhams.
Allama lbn Sa'd writes that Zubayr had jagirs in Egypt and houses in Alexandria, Kufa and Madina. He also received income from the suburbs of Madina. (Tabaqaat Ibn Sa'd, vol.2 p.77, Printed at Leiden)
Mas'udi says: "Zubayr left behind, on his death, one thousand horses, one thousand slaves and slave-girls and many palaces and jagirs. (Murooj al-Zahab,vol. 1,p. 34).
Talha son of Obaidullah left behind himself one hundred `buhars' (ox-skins) full of gold. Allama Ibn Abd Rabih has quoted Khashni as having said that Talha left three hundred `buhars' of gold
What preferential rights did Talha and Zubayr possess that they should have had thousands of slaves and slave-girls? Even if it is admitted that they embraced Islam at its
and silver. Sibt lbn Jauzi says that he left behind himself gold which could be loaded on three hundred camels. (Tabqat lbn Sa'd vol.3. p.158. Murooj al-Zahab,v. 1. p.444. Aqd al-Farid, v.2. p.275 etc).
Allama Balazari has narrated that during the age of ignorance Hakam son of Aas was a neighbour of the prophet and after the advent of Islam he was one of the deadly enemies and persecutors of the prophet. When Mecca was conquered in the eighth year of Migration he came over to Madina. It is doubtful whether he embraced Islam. He used to follow the prophet and made ridiculous signs towards him, mimicked him and made a wry face, and when the prophet offered prayers he also stood behind him and made signs with his fingers. The result was that the shape which he gave to his face while mimicking the prophet became permanent and did not change till he died. He also became insane.
One day while the prophet was staying in the house of one of his wives, Hakam began peeping. The prophet recognized him. He came out of the house and said: "Who will save me from this accursed trembling person?" Then he added: "This Hakam and his descendants cannot live where I live." He, therefore, exiled Hakam and his family to the side of Taif. When the prophet breathed his last Uthman approached Abu Bakr with the request that Hakam might be permitted to return to Madina. Abu Bakr however, declined to accede to his request saying that he could not grant asylum to a man who had been exiled by the prophet. when Umar became the caliph after Abu Bakr Uthman approached him with the same request, but he also gave him the same reply which had been given by Abu Bakr.
However, when Uthman himself became the Caliph he called back Hakam and the members of his family to Madina. He told the Muslims that he had recommended to the prophet to permit Hakam and the members of his family to return to Madina and the prophet had promised that he would grant such a permission but he breathed his last before this could be done. The Muslims did not believe what Uthman said and disliked very much his having allowed Hakam and
earliest stage and were the distinguished companions of the prophet and had rendered great services to Islam they had done all this for the sake of God and should
his descendants to return to Madina. (Kitab al-Ansab vol.5, p.27)
Uthman not only called back Hakam to Madina and made him his chief adviser, but he also gave away to him the entire property which had been collected as zakat and alms from the tribe of Bani Qaza`a.
When Hakam entered Madina he was clad in rags and the people could see in what miserbale condition he was. He had with him a goat which he was driving. He entered Uthman's court in this condition. However, when he left that place he was wearing a very valuable fur cloak and had covered himself with a costly silken sheet. (Tarikh Yaqoobi, Vol.2, p.41)
Allama Balazari says: "Amongst the many acts of Uthman which annoyed the people one was this that he deputed Hakam son of Aas to collect zakat from Bani Qaza`a, which amounted to three hundred thousand dirhams and when Hakam collected this money and brought it to Uthman the latter gave away the entire amount to him". (Tarikh al-Ansab, Balazari Vol.5, p.28).
Allama Yaqoobi says that Uthman married his daughter to Abdullah son of Khalid son of Aseed and ordered that six hundred thousand dirhams might be given to him. He wrote to Abdullah son of `Aamir that this amount might be paid out of the public treasury of Basra. (Tarikh Yaqoobi, Vol.2, p.145).
Allama lbn Abd Rabih Qartabi, Allama lbn Qutaiba and Allama lbn Abi al-Hadid have written that Uthman gave four hundred thousand dirhams to Abdullah (Aqd al-Farid Vol.2, p. 261.
Ma`araf, p.84 and Sharh lbn Abi al-Hadid Vol.1, p.66).
One fifth (khums) of the war booty which was received as a result of the African war amounted to five hundred gold coins.
Uthman gave this amount to Marwan son of Hakam, who was his cousin and son-in-law, being the husband of his daughter Umm Ayan.
Allama lbn Athir writes: Khums (one-fifth) was brought from Africa to Madina and Marwan purchased it for five hundred thousand dinars. Uthman excused him from making payment of
have expected its reward from God in the Hereafter. God never allows the efforts of the righteous to go in vain. Whatever services they rendered to Islam were rendered by
this amount. This was one of those acts of Uthman which were criticized by the people later. (Tarikh Yaqoobi, Vol.3, p.38).
Allama Balazari and lbn Sa'd have narrated that Uthman endowed upon Marwan the "Khums" which was received from the war in Egypt, and also bestowed large sums of money upon his relatives. He explained away these acts by saying that he had shown kindness to his kinsmen. The people disliked these actions of Uthman very much and criticized him. (Tabqat Ibn Sa`d, V.3, p.24. (Printed at Leiden) and Kitab al-Ansab Balazari, Vol.5, p.25).
Uthman gave one hundred thousand dirhams to Sa`id son of `Aas. Ali, Talha, Zubayr, Sa`d son of Abi Waqas and Abdur Rahman son of Auf had a talk with him in this regard. He, however, told them that Sa`id was a relative and a kinsman of his and by giving the said amount to him he had shown kindness to a kinsman. (Kitab al-Ansab, Vol.5, p. 28).
He gave large sum of money out of the public treasury to Walid son of Aqba son of Abi Mu`eet who was his brother from his mother's side.
Allama Balazari says: "When Walid was appointed as governor of Kufa Abdullah son of Mas`ud was the incharge of the public treasury. Walid borrowed a large sum of money from the treasury.
The rulers used to borrow in this manner and returned it when they received their salaries. After a few days lbn Mas`ud demanded the money back. Walid complained to Uthman against this demand by lbn Mas`ud. Thereupon Uthman wrote to Ibn Mas`ud: "You are only a treasurer. Do not press Walid to return the money borrowed by him. It is not proper to expostulate with him". (Kitab al-Ansab, Vol. 5,p. 1)
The day on which Uthman got one hundred thousand dirhams paid to Marwan from the public treasury he also got two hundred thousand dirhams paid to Abu Sufyan. (Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, Allama Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Vol.8, p.27).
Allama lbn Abi al-Hadid says that Uthman gave the entire
them to seek the pleasure of God and it is He who gives the best reward. But what special right had they on the public treasury on which all the Muslims enjoyed equal rights? What deeds of public welfare were performed by the relatives of Uthman as a reward for which he opened the doors of the public treasury for them, entrusted the administration of the state to them, made them the masters of the lives, property and honour of the Muslims and allowed them to utilize everything in whatever manner they liked? One of these relatives of his was Mu`awiya, who was notorious for taking bribes. And there were many other relatives and friends of his including Hakam son of `Aas and Abdullah son of Sa'd.
What services had Mu`awiya rendered to Islam as a reward for which he was made the governor of Palestine and Hamas, besides Syria, and was also entrusted the command of four armies? From where did the relatives of Uthman acquire such immense wealth and how did they erect lofty palaces in all cities and villages? When these persons did not render any public service from where did they get capital to finance these projects? If a person possesses usurped wealth for a long time he does not become its owner nor does that wealth become his personal property. Falsehood does not become truth if it persists for a long time.
It was for this reason that Ali had decided to get restored to the public treasury all those lands and wealth which had been given by Uthman to undeserving persons by depriving those who deserved them even though that wealth might have been scattered in different cities or given to women as their dowry. Justice is a means of prosperity and comfort for the people and it cannot be limited or confined.
Another point which deserves attention is this that
war booty received from different places in Africa, where battles were fought, to his foster-brother Abdullah bin Abi Sarha to the exclusion of all other Muslims (Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, V.1, p.27).
Ali considered the lands, which had been made personal property by the people on account of their being Uthman's relatives or favourites, as well as the benefits drawn from them, to be usurped property. Ali knew very well what sort of people Uthman's kinsmen were. He was aware that after usurping the lands they would take forced labour from the common people and accumulate the produce and would acquire more property with this income. Thus their capital would increase day after day and whereas others would continue to become poorer they themselves would grow richer and richer. Then these big landowners would purchase the holdings of small owners and consequently only two classes would be left. viz. the capitalists and the indigent who would have to depend on the former and serve them. In his testament for Malik Ashter Ali says: "Beware! Do not give a land tp any of your associates and relatives. He should not expect from you that you will allow him to occupy a land which is harmful for the neighbouring people in the matter of irrigation or any other common matter, so that he may throw the burden thereof on others".
The fears of the Commander of the Faithful about the jagirs proved to be too true. Those persons took abundant forced labour from the common people and subjected them to every kind of injustice and oppression.
Dr. Taha Husayn writes in the first volume of his book entitled `Al-fitnatu'l Kubra': "On the one side there were big landowners and nobles and on the other side there were indigent persons who were the slaves of these land-owners and nobles. Out of them there emerged a new class in Islam i.e. those who were the chiefs of the nation according to the tribal custom prevalent in the Arabian Peninsula and had now become more distinguished and dignified on account of abundant wealth and a large number of associates.
According to Ali all are entitled to share the profit which accrues from gold and land and only that person, who works harder and is also more needy, is entitled to a larger share. Whoever denies this reality commits treachery with his people.
In the eyes of Ali the greatest treachery is the treachery committed with the public. Ali considers that man who commits treachery with the public to be mean and despicable. He never relied upon such persons and never associated with them.
Ali endeavoured to safeguard the rights of the people to the utmost extent. Whenever he took a decision none could make him deviate from it. He did not care if the people deserted him and joined the enemy. He was the embodi- ment of truth and whatever he said was absolute justice.
Ali did not show preferential treatment even to the devoted companions of the prophet, who had participated in the battles along with him. He says: "Beware! There are some persons among you whom the world has made prosperous. They have acquired lands and dug canals. They ride on strong horses and possess larger number of slaves and slave-girls. If I prohibit them tomorrow from doing things in which they are immersed and restrict them to the rights of which they are well aware they should not complain that Ali has deprived them of their rights. Remember! Whether they be the Muhajirs or the Ansar, whoever from amongst them thinks that he is superior to others is mistaken. Superiority will be decided upon before God on the Day of Judgment. It is only God who can reward the people. Remember! Whoever has acknowledged God and His prophet, certified our community, joined our religion and turned to our qiblah is entitled to the rights and responsibilities of Islam. All of you are the slaves of God and the wealth, which belongs to God will be divided amongst you equally. None enjoys preference over another. The righteous and the pious will get better reward from God".
This very equal treatment meted out by Ali to common people made the nobles and distinguished persons among Quraysh leave Ali and join Mu`awiya as will be mentioned in detail later.
It was impossible for Ali to prefer those who enjoyed a higher position to those who were at a comparatively lower level, because according to him the criterion of
virtue and excellence was not that which was prevalent in his days. He did not prefer a Qurayshite to a non- Qurayshite or an Arab to a non-Arab, because he considered all men to be brothers of one another. He could not flatter those chiefs and nobles as Mu`awiya did, nor could he attract people towards himself by means of the wealth of the Muslims.
Malik Ashtar said to the Commander of the Faithful: "O Commander of the Faithful! We joined the people of Basra and Kufa and performed jihad against the people of Basra. At that time all were of one view. Thereafter differences arose. Their intentions became weak and their number decreased. You are just to all and act according to what is right. Consequently they got scared on account of your justice. On the other hand they saw the policies and methods which Mu`awiya adopts with regard to the rich and the noble, because there are very few people in the world who do not aspire for wordly gains. There are many who buy falsehood at the price of truth and adopt the world. In case, therefore, you distribute wealth lavishly among the people and give more to the influential persons you will see how their necks become inclined towards you and how they sing songs in your praise and become your well-wishers. May God settle your affairs and disperse and weaken the association and the deceit of your enemies. God is certainly aware of their deeds".
Ali said in reply: "You have said that I act according to justice. The reason for this is that God says: "Whoever does good deeds does them for his own benefit and whoever does bad deeds suffers on their account. God does not do injustice to His slaves".
If I violate this rule I am afraid that I will have to suffer on this account. As regards your saying that some persons have deserted us because truth is intolerable for them, God knows better that they have not left us because we have been unjust to them. And it is also not so that after leaving us they have sought refuge with a just person. There is no reason for their deserting us except that they have sought the material world and this world is not
lasting. On the Day of Judgment they will be questioned as to whether they sought the world or acted for the sake of God. Now as regards our spending money to attract the people it is not lawful for us to give anyone from the public property more than what he is entitled to. (And I do not bother if the number of my adherents decreases owing to my being just) God says thus and what He says is correct: "Many people who are smaller in numbers over- power those who are stronger numerically. God is with those who are patient".
God appointed the prophet to the prophetic mission when he was all alone. He had few supporters and then their number increased. He bestowed honour on his group after they had been humiliated. If God wishes to give a better turn to our affairs He will solve these difficulties and make the matters easy for us".
The gist of his policies and the method of his govern- ment is embodied in the testament which he wrote and gave to Malik Ashtar while appointing him the governor of Egypt. He said therein: "Beware! Do not appropriate to yourself the things in which all the people have equal share".
The public rights are those which vest in all the citizens equally and those are the rights to which Ali has alluded in his above remarks.
# Helping the needy
There are those common rights which were respected by Ali himself and he also impressed upon others to respect them. According to him the real duty of the governors of the provinces and other officals was that they should protect these rights and should not allow them to be encroached upon.
If Ali appointed anyone as a ruler or removed him from his office, it was for this very reason. According to him these rights carried very wide meanings and were of many kinds. The purport of all of them was, however, that the needs of every person should be met and no one should remain hungry, because remaining hungry is the greatest insult to humanity.
There is no harm in violating the laws which cannot eliminate the indigence of the people. Just as in the creed of Ali worship must not estrange man from the society and religion means good behaviour towards the people, and true religious beliefs are those which promote righteous- ness, in the same manner the laws should be such as meet the needs of the people and ensure elimination of poverty and indigence, so that man may not be humiliated in his own eyes and become dejected.
It is not a favour but the duty of a ruler and a law-giver to enact laws which relieve the people of need and indigence, and they are entitled to demand such laws from him.
Ali safeguarded the rights of the people so meticulously that it is almost impossible to find any sermon, speech or testament of his in which he may not have mentioned
these rights and may not have drawn the attention of the governors and the officials to them.
Meeting the needs of the people was undoubtedly the greatest duty of the ruler and the law-giver and the greatest right of the people in the eyes of Ali.
It was Ali who considered the greatest sin of Kaiser and Kisra to be this (although the list of their sins is quite long) that they humiliated their subjects, did not look after their rights, deprived them of the bounties of the earth and the comforts of life and tried to make them indigent and despicable. He says: "Think over the agitation and distress of the people when Kaiser and Kisra were their rulers. They had expelled them from fertile lands and the water and verdure of Iraq and transferred them to a place where there was no vegetation and where there was nothing except violent winds, and had made them extremely poor and indigent.
Whenever a governor or an official committed breach of trust of public property (whether the amount involved was small or large) Ali threatened him with severe punish- ment. He was deeply grieved as and when he came to know that a governor or an official had usurped a property or had been guilty of hoarding, and he reprimanded him in very severe terms. He once wrote thus to a governor: "I understand that you have usurped the land belonging to the public treasury and have appropriated what was under your feet and eaten what was in your hands. You should, therefore, send me your account".
The sentence "Send me your account" in the letter of the Commander of the Faithful deserves attention. This sentence carries very vast meanings. He was so keen to enforce justice that he could not tolerate any excuse or slackness in this behalf.
Besides possessing a firm faith Ali was a subtle observer and was fully aware of the mysteries of human society, and the mutual relations of the public. He knew which rights had been encroached upon, and which of them were going to be encroached upon. He fully realized that injustice and oppression was harmful for the society
internally as well as externally and the oppressors as well as the oppressed were threatened with grave dangers. He considered pleading for justice and administration of justice to be necessary even though it might be disliked by the governors and the officials. He wrote with much annoyance: "Send me your account".
He was informed about another governor having mis- appropriated public property. He wrote to him imme- diately as under:-
"Fear God and return the property of the people to them. If you do not do so and then God grants me control over you I shall acquit myself of my responsibili- ties in the matter and shall strike you with my sword, and whoever has been the victim of it has always gone direct to Hell. By God, even if Hasan and Husayn had done what you have done I would not have been lenient to them and they would not have been able to make me accede to any wish of theirs till I had taken back the right (of others) from them and had effaced the results arising out of injustice".
The Commander of the Faithful sent a man named Sa`d to Ziad bin Abih to bring some money which was lying with him. The Commander of the Faithful had received information that Ziad was leading a luxurious life and that he was accumulating wealth himself and did not give anything to the widows, the orphans and the indigent. When Sa`d approached Ziad and demanded the money the latter behaved proudly and rebuked him. Sa`d came back and informed Ali about what had happened. Thereupon Ali wrote a letter to Ziad on these lines: "Sa`d has informed me that you have rebuked him without any justification and behaved with him haughtily and proudly, notwithstanding the fact that the prophet has said that greatness belongs to God only and whoever is proud incurs His wrath. Sa`d has also informed me that you eat food of various kinds and perfume yourself everyday. What harm will accrue to you if you also fast for a few days for the sake of God and give away a part of your wealth as charity in the path of God, and eat many times the food which
you eat once, or let an indigent person eat it.
You, who are rolling in bounties, do not look after your poor neighbours, the weak and needy widows and the orphans. Do you desire, inspite of all this, that you should get the reward of the righteous persons who give alms? Sa`d has also told me that you speak like the righteous but act like the evil-doer? If you really do so you have been cruel to yourself and have wasted your actions. You should repent before God and reform your ways and should be moderate in your acts. You should send forward what- ever surplus property you possess for the day on which you will need it, in case you are a true believer. And use perfume on alternate days and that should not be too much. The prophet has said: "Use perfume on alternate days and do not use it excessively. Peace be on you".
The Commander of the Faithful sent successive orders to the governors and warned them severely against misappropriating public property and taking bribes. He considered such activities to be the worst relationship between the rulers and the ruled and a great barrier between title and the entitled person. He was well aware of the harm which these bad habits were likely to do to the people. Once he received information that a military officer had taken bribe. He held his hand and gave it such a violent jerk that it was about to be dismembered from his body. Then he said to him: "The people earlier than you were annihilated because they deprived the people of their rights and they were, therefore, obliged to acquire their rights by offering bribes. They compelled the people to do invalid things as a result of which falsehood became prevalent".
Once a governor was invited to a feast. The governor accepted the invitation and participated in the party. When the Commander of the Faithful came to know about this he reprimanded the governor severely saying: "Enter- taining a governor is bribe. Why was this bribe given? If it was given to establish a right it is the duty of a governor to give the entitled persons their right without taking bribe, or this bribe was given to validate something
invalid. If that be the case it is not lawful for a governor to do any such thing even though the entire world may be offered to him as bribe.
The second thing is: why did the governor participate in a feast to which the rich were invited but the indigent were ignored and thus a discrimination was made between the slaves of Allah? This discrimination pained many persons and also grieved Ali. Of course if the society is prosperous and the people are well-to-do there is no harm in inviting only some persons to a party to the exclusion of others. However, when the conditions are such that there are poor as well as rich persons in the society, does the extension of an invitation to a governor to participate in a feast not amount to giving him bribe?
Some persons may think that such severity on the part of Ali with regard to the governors and the officials was not appropriate and they did not deserve to be censured and reprimanded in this manner. However, if such persons become aware of the facilities provided by Ali to the officers which made it absolutely unnecessary for them to take bribes or to resort to mis-appropriation of funds they will acknoweldge that the severity expressed by Ali towards the officials was not unjustified.
Another point also deserves attention here and it is that Ali did not consider it permissible that the officials should take advantage of their position vis-a-vis the public even to the extent of a feast, because such an advantage also amounts to theft or bribe. And when Ali did not permit an officer to accept an invitation to a feast by way of bribe how could he tolerate that he should appropriate a whole city to himself or should take the property of the people from them by way of bribe?
A far-sighted person who has an eye on the realities is obliged to be severe and to nip the evil in the bud. Restraint on the officials commenced in the days of Ali and not during the period of Uthman. Ali gave such handsome salaries to the governors as were sufficient for their needs. There could, therefore, be no justification for their taking bribes.
If Ali was severe with the corrupt officers he was also affable with the righteous ones. He acknowledged their rights and encouraged them for their devotion towards their Imam and for their services to the Muslims.
The letter which he wrote to Umar son of Abi Salma, the governor of Behrain whereby relieving him of his assignment and asking him to come over to him to accompany him in the Syrian campaign deserves to be studied. He wrote to him: "I have entrusted the gover- norship of Behrain to No`man son of AjIan Zarqi and have relieved you of it. However, I have not done this because you have been considered to be incompetent or because you have been accused of anything improper. The fact is that you have run the administration very competently and faithfully. You should, therefore, come over here and join me. There is nothing against you. The actual position is this that I have decided to proceed against the Syrian rebels and wish that you should be with me because you are one of those persons who can assist me in fighting against the enemy and erecting the pillar of the faith".
He always adopted this firm policy with regard to the officers. He encouraged those who were righteous and was severe to those who did evil deeds. He neither wavered, nor minced words nor resorted to connivance or deceit. His real object was the welfare of the Muslims and the establishment of justice among all, whether they were the rulers or the ruled.
Those officers who did not misappropriate public funds and did not take bribe received salaries from the public treasury according to their needs, and the Comman- der of the Faithful praised and encouraged them. As regards the dishonest officers, however, Ali reprimanded and censured them in the first instance and then dismissed them. In case their crimes were more serious he also sentenced them to imprisonment. Besides the governors there were some persons who had usurped the property of others and had accumulated large amount of wealth by unlawful means. The Commander of the Faithful subjected them to severe accountability and did not show them any
leniency. He severely opposed their greed to accumulate wealth and their sensual and luxurious life, and endeavoured to become a wall between them and their wealth which they were keen to increase. He opposed verbally as well as practically the usurpation of the property of others and severely prohibited hoarding. In the testament addressed to Malik Ashtar he wrote inter alia: "Keep this also in mind that many of these persons are habituated to parsi- mony and stinginess. They hoard to make profit and weigh lesser and charge more. This thing is harmful for the public and a defect of the rulers. You should, therefore, prevent them from hoarding".
Then he says: "If someone is guilty of hoarding after your having prohibited it you should punish him, but you must ensure that no excess or oppression is done in your action".
As regards occupation of Jagir and land by the people the view held by Ali was compatible with reason as well as a source of virtue. We have already discussed this matter in the foregoing pages.
Subjecting others to forced labour and exploiting their earnings is also a kind of hoarding. Ali did not tolerate this also, and has mentioned it at various places in Nahj al-Balaghah. While describing the condition of the people of his time he says: "There are many persons whose endeavours have been wasted and whose efforts have gone in vain. You people are living in a time when good- ness is receding and wickedness coming nearer and nearer. Satanic avarice is killing the people. Wherever you cast your eye you will see indigent persons, who are suffering on account of poverty, or the rich who are guilty of ingratitude to God, or the stingy persons who do not pay God's dues and are keen to increase their wealth. What has happened to your righteous and pious people? Where are those noble and magnanimous persons, who were pious in earning wealth and pure in their actions and conduct?"
In fact the Commander of the Faithful had clearly understood this reality by means of his correct thinking,
pure disposition and high morality that a system which cannot eliminate the indigence of the people is worthless and a law which cannot do away with class discrimination is useless and undesirable. All those social laws, which give birth to a society, in which people are divided into classes, are a plaything in the hands of those, who call themselves the nobles and the dignitaries and exploit the rights and property of the common man in a most shame- less manner.
Ali took positive steps to eliminate the poverty of the people. His actions were based on two principles: Firstly that the entire wealth of the public treasury and the lands and property and all means of earning wealth belong to the nation and it is necessary that they should be distributed among all the citizens according to their needs and entitle- ment. Every person should work and benefit from these resources according to his efforts. None is entitled to appropriate whatever he likes and to convert the public property into his special property. It is also in the interest of the individuals that they should co-operate with the society. They should prove themselve useful for others and should also benefit from them. The benefits which they will derive from the society will be thousands of times more than those which they render to the society.
Ali says: "Whoever withholds his hand from doing harm to his people apparently withholds only one hand but actually keeps thousands of hands away from himself".
The government should adopt this just policy in right earnest because the people are like a body and it is necessary for the government to treat every limb of that body according to its needs. It should neither ignore anyone, nor neglect the right of anyone, nor permit any discrimination between them. It is in such circumstances that it can become possible for the government to realize revenue and obtain other rights of the public treasury from the nation and spend it on the projects of public welfare.
The second thing on which Ali based his actions was the development of land, because the life of human beings and their welfare depend on land. He was of the view that
the governors and officers should take much greater interest in the development of land as compared with the effort which they make to realize government revenue, because if land is not developed from where will the revenue come? A ruler who does not develop land, but wants to realize revenue from the public, is ignorant and unjust. He desires that the cities should be destroyed, the people should be ruined and he himself should lose his dignity and honour. The land is neither developed auto- matically nor by means of the ignorance or power of the rulers. Development of land does not also mean that magnificent palaces should be erected on it to accomodate rich people. Land is developed with the efforts of the labourers and the residents of villages. The Commander of the Faithful had given strict instructions that if the people were distressed and were not happy with their rulers revenue should not be realized from them.
The principles of kindness to the subjects and philan- thropy and the moral values demand that the subjects should pay the revenue voluntarily and not under duress. It is the duty of governors to make the subjects prosperous in the first instance and then to think of collecting the revenue. The Commander of the Faithful has addressed the collectors of revenue in these words: "........ Don't sell the winter or summer clothings of the people or the animals used by them, in order to collect revenue. Don't flog any person or make him stand on his feet for the sake of money, and don't sell any of their things for this purpose, because God has ordered us to take that which is surplus".
He also says: "In the matter of revenue keep in view the interests of those who pay the revenue, because the affairs of others can be set right only by means of taxes and the tax-payers".
These views of the Commander of the Faithful about land and its development and the conclusion drawn by him that the welfare of government depends on the welfare of the people are so true and correct that nothing wrong about them has been found even after the lapse of so many centuries. All the economic and social theories of the
modern times also confirm these views.
Ali prescribed a general rule for the development of land and the extraction of wealth from its heart which is admitted by the social sciences of our time, to be absolutely correct.
During the age of ignorance there was a custom that the powerful persons forced the slaves, prisoners and subordinates to develop their lands. They gave these workers paltry wages at their own sweet will but appro- priated the produce of the land themselves without having done any work.
According to their law man did not carry any value and his labour did not deserve any reward. The rulers considered the people to be their slaves and subjected them to forced labour. Their very religion was based on making people their slaves or in other words on killing and destroying those helpless and afflicted persons. The people were ignorant and the rulers, taking undue advantage of their ignorance, made them their slaves. The idolatrous priests, who were the religious leaders of those times had also declared slavery to be lawful and had thus strengthened the hands of the rulers. These priests had befooled the people in such a way that they were prepared to make supreme sacrifices for the sake of their rulers to enable them to increase their wealth and add new lands to their territories. All this was done either in the name of the homeland or in the name of the deity, whom they worshipped.
The famous British historian H.G. Wells says: "The idolatrous priests told the people that the lands which they tilled did not belong to them. They belonged to the gods whose image they had hung in the temples, and those gods had given those lands to the rulers. Now it depended upon the sweet will of the rulers to give the lands to those servants of theirs whom they liked".
The peasants also began to entertain the belief that the land which they ploughed did not belong to them, but were owned by the god (idol) and it was their duty to surrender a part of the produce of the land to the represen-
tative of the god. Or that the god had given the land to the ruler and he was entitled to impose thereon any taxes he liked. Or that the ruler had given the land to the landlord who was their master. If at times the idol, the ruler or the landlord needed the services of the peasant it was his duty to leave other work and carry out the orders of his master. The peasant did not even think that he had any right on the land which he ploughed. In short the peasant neither possessed any freedom of will nor enjoyed any right.
The history of Arabia tells us that the persons who assumed the reins of government after Ali monopolized the lands, their produce, and the public treasury for their personal benefit. They used to say: "The entire wealth belongs to God and we are his representatives and vice- gerents on earth. It is our prerogative to give this wealth to whomsoever we like. Nobody is entitled to criticize us in this regard". [*]
[*] The fact is that this policy began to be acted upon during the time of Uthman himself. During the time of the prophet and the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar everything belonged to the Muslims and they were treated to have equal rights. However, Uthman's attitude changed considerably. He considered everything to be the property of God and considered himself to be the master of the Muslims. He spent public property as he wished and gave it to whomever he liked. The Commander of the Faithful has drawn a picture of this period in these words: "Consequently the third proudly took charge of the caliphate as if it was a private grazing ground and with bloated stomachs he and members of his clan (Bani Umayya) started plundering the wealth of the Muslim world in the same reckless gluttonous manner which characterises a camel when it devours harvest grass.
Uthman deprived the lawful claimants of that property which belonged to all the Muslims and gave it to his kith and kin and near and dear ones. On many occasions he uttered words which reflected the beliefs of the age of ignorance according to which the lands and its produce and the public treasury belonged to the ruler and he was
However, Ali knew the position very well. He was very far-sighted and was well aware that God does not need land or wealth and the land belongs to those who work on it. Ali also knew that if the peasants are indigent the land will become waste and it will be difficult to realize any revenue. Land can be developed only by those people who are its owners and derive profit from its produce. If the peasants know it for certain that they will not be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour and it will reach the treasuries of the extravagent rulers, they will work half-heartedly and will not make any effort to develop the land. [*] Consequently they themselves will be in distress and others will also be deprived of the fruits of their labour.
In case, however, they know that the more they produce with their hard work the more they themselves and their children will benefit from it, and the rulers too will not distribute the revenue among their friends and relatives, but will spend it on projects of public welfare,
entitled to give it to whomsoever he liked. This sentence of his is found in all history books: "This is God's property. I shall give it to whomsoever I like and shall not give it to any one whom I do not like to give. If any person gets annoyed I don't care".
Mu'awiya and other Umayyad caliphs were the relatives and kinsmen of Uthman. Whatever they did during their own times was done by them in imitation of Uthman.
[*] This goes to show that if the peasants are allowed to share the produce with the land-owners they will work hard to earn more profit from the land. However, if their position is that of wage- earners (as in socialism) they will not strive to increase the produce, knowing that they will get the same wages whatever the quantity of the produce may be.
Further, the socialist governments are a heavy burden on their subjects. They interfere with all the affairs of the subjects and the subjects, too are not faithful to such government, because they do not have any faith in them.
they will work whole-heartedly. As a result of this they will become prosperous and additional revenue will also accrue to the government treasury.
In the eyes of the Commander of the Faithful the happiness and goodwill of the subjects was the only source of the welfare of the people as well as the good condition of the rulers. He did not believe in coercion and said: "The best source of satisfaction and heartfelt happiness for a ruler is that justice should be established and the love of the subjects for the rulers should become patent. They do not display love so long as there is ill feeling in their hearts and their devotion cannot be relied upon so long as they are not prepared to defend their ruler and do not cease to think that his rule has been burdensome and it will come to an end after a long time".
Ali considered farming and all other professions to be respectable. He prohibited people from remaining idle and considered it essential that a worker should be paid wages commensurate with his work. He exercised much strictness in these matters so that the people might realize that he was not going to pay anything which had not been earned by the person concerned by means of his work. The incident of his real brother Aqil son of Abu Talib is well known. He approached Ali to make him some payment without any work or service, but Ali declined to accede to his request.
In the eyes of Ali there was no injustice greater than that a worker should not be paid his wages or that he should be deprived of his right even to the smallest extent. According to him it was also highly improper that the work done by persons belonging to the higher class should be applauded whereas that done by the ordinary persons should be looked down upon. According to him what mattered was the work and its real value whether it was done by a big man or an ordinary person. There were many workers in his time who worked hard but were not rewarded for their labour. The Commander of the Faithful disliked it very much. These words of his are a beacon light in the path of social and moral principles: "Keep eye on
the achievement of every person and do not attribute the achievement of one person to another, and do not deprive the real person of the reward to which he is entitled on account of the work done by him. Never treat an ordinary work to be great on account of high position of the doer, and never treat a great work to be ordinary on account of the low position of the person who has done it.
Development of land and payment of full wages, commensurate with the work done, were the two strong pillars on which Ali intended to erect the structure of a good and pious society. Some persons belonging to a parti- cular place came to him and said: "There is a canal in our area which is now filled with dust. If it is dug again it will be very beneficial for us". They then requested him to write to the governor of the area to make it compulsory for everyone to dig the canal. The Commander of the Faithful approved the digging of the canal but did not accede to their request that the people should be compelled to dig it. He wrote thus to Qarza son of Kaa`b the governor of the area: "Some persons belonging to your area came to me and told me that there was a canal in that region which is now filled with dust. If these people dig the canal once again it will lead to the development of the area and they will be able to pay the revenue. This will also lead to the increase in the income of the Muslims residing in the area.
These persons asked me to write a letter to you desiring you to collect the people of that place to dig the canal and to make it obligatory upon them to bear the expenses of the work.
I do not consider it appropriate to compel any person to do a work which he does not like to do. You should, therefore, call the people and employ those of them who are willing to do the work. When the canal is ready only those persons who do digging work will be entitled to use it, and those who do not participate in the work will have no right on its water. If those people develop their area and their financial position improves, it is much better than their remaining weak".
Ali did not consider it lawful to subject anyone to
forced labour, although a group of persons wished to resort to this practice. The thing which matters is that one should work. Ali, therefore, said to those people: "You have been ordered to work (and not to remain idle). As regards the canal only those persons, who participate in its digging, will be entitled to benefit from it. Those who do not want to do this work cannot be compelled to do it. Work should be done willingly and not under coercion". This is the principle which Ali followed very strictly.
By formulating this rule about work and the workers centuries ago Ali surpassed the western thinkers. The western thinkers are putting forth so vehemently the same thing today which was said by Ali thirteen hundred years ago. He provided a basis for justice and a better basis cannot be imagined.[*] And that basis is that none should be subjected to forced labour, however beneficial the work may be, because taking work by force is an insult to humanity. It reduces the value of man and infringes his inherent freedom. Furthermore, work taken under compulsion loses its value, because one who is forced to perform a job will not perform it whole-heartedly. Ali, however, encouraged the people in another way to do the work by saying that only those persons who participate in digging the canal would be entitled to benefit from it. He said: "The owners of the canal are those persons who participate in digging it and not those who refrain from doing so".[**] This principle enuniciated by Ali is the pillar
[*] The western philosophers are divided into two groups on this question. One group considers forced labour to be unjust and unlawful whereas the other group considers it to be necessary.
Socialism holds the latter view.
[**] In the beginning of his letter addressed to the governor the Commander of the Faithful had told him that he should encourage the people to dig the canal and bear the expenses of the work. He who could not personally work, should hire some one to work on his behalf. Being `owners of the canal' means that those who participat
on which the greatest beliefs and ideas of the western thinkers are based.
Hence it is necessary for every person to work. None is great or small except through his work. Whoever works shall be rewarded for it. The aristocrates and dignitaries are not entitled to usurp the earnings of others and encroach upon their rights. As said by Ali if God likes any one he likes an honest worker. If a person earns some wealth by hardwork it naturally belongs to him because he has worked for it. However, he must also take the interest of the nation into account. The said property will be treated to be his personal property so long as public interests are not jeopardized. If public interests demand that a part of the personal property of the individuals should be taken and spent for public welfare this will be done. This wealth is meant for the benefit of the individuals as well as for the welfare of the society (it was on this account that revenue was realized from the owners of the canal for the public treasury) when ownership is circum- scribed in this manner there will neither be excessive wealth with anyone nor will there be any indigent person in the society.
In every nation there are certain persons (for example young orphans) who are not able to do any work. Did Ali ignore such persons, as is done by the western countries, or did he take care of them according to the rules of justice and morality?
There is no doubt about the fact that the nation has rights on the individuals and the individuals have rights on the nation. The nation is like a body which is composed of different limbs. It is necessary for every limb to help other
in its digging physically or financially own its water and so long as their needs are not fulfilled others cannot utilize it. They have a right to prevent others from taking the water or to allow them to take it on payment. This is the purport of the tradition quoted above viz. "The owners of the canal are those persons who participate in digging it and not those who refrain from doing so".
limbs. Every person is entitled to enjoy the fruits of his labour. God has given a share of the necessities of life to everyone. None is, therefore, entitled to appropriate the necessities of life to the exclusion of others. However, it is the responsibility of the nation to support those who are unable to earn, for example small children and old persons.[*] It should do justice to the helpless persons in the same manner in which it does justice to others. It is an exclusive right of theirs, and not an act of kindness and the governments and its representatives are responsible to pay this right. Ali Says: "Out of all members of the society these persons are more deserving of justice. Hence you should pay the right of everyone of them and equip your- self with an excuse to be presented before God. Take care of the orphans and the old persons who can neither earn their livelihood nor stand before others to beg".
Ali has gone ahead of thousands of western thinkers and philosophers in this matter. He realized the necessity of paying the rights of the helpless persons and made it a responsibility of the government. He did not let it depend on the kindness and generosity of the rich so that the deceitful hypocrites might not get any chance to spread mischief.[**]
[*] In the Islamic law zakat has been made mandatory for this very reason. Abdullah bin Sanan has been quoted in Kafi as saying that Imam Ja`far Sadiq said: "God has fixed that share of the indigent persons in the wealth of rich which may suffice them. If He had considered it to be insufficient He would have ordered that more might be paid".
[**] Meeting the needs of the indigent and helpless person is not the responsibility of the government only as stated by the author. In Islamic law the government as well as the individuals have been made responsible to support the needy. If the collection of zakat and its distribution among the poor had been the responsibility of the government only, there would have been greater chances of malad- ministration, because the persons nearer to government have benefited
Ali's conscience as well as his intellect were well aware of the reality that all human beings are entitled to live. This right is one of the necessities of social life.
Freedom is of no use if sustenance is not available and a good society cannot come into being without it. He promulgated the law that all human beings enjoy equal rights. Then in the light of the same law he decided that the needy persons had preferential rights over the public treasury as compared with the rich persons even though those rich persons might have embraced Islam earlier.
It is work which entitles one to wages and it is also work by means of which one can become the owner of land and property.
In the orders which the Commander of the Faithful sent to the governors and other officers every now and then he strictly warned them not to harass the people. He directed them not to press the indigent peasants for payment of revenue but to render them assistance so that they might work hard and produce more from the land. Taxes should be realized from the rich so that the income of the public treasury might increase and might be used to help the needy.
How great and dignified Ali appears in our eyes when we learn that fourteen hundred years ago he gave emphatic orders to his governors on these lines: "Don't sell the winter or summer dresses of the people, or their cereals, or the animals used by them, to realize revenue. Don't flog any person or make him stand on his feet for the sake of money. Don't sell the household effects of any person to
to the exclusion of those who had been at a distance from the government, and had no chances of approaching the authorities concerned. It is for this reason that Almighty God has ordered the individuals that they should pay zakat to their kinsmen, neighbours, and the indigent persons of their own town of whose indigence they are aware, and should hand it over to government only when none of their relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, and residents of their town is entitled to it.
get revenue - and pay more heed to the development of land than to the collection of revenue".
The Commander of the Faithful has mentioned the reason for the distressful condition of the indigent persons of his time in a few brief sentences and has explained their contents in numerous testaments and precepts. He says: "If an indigent person remains hungry it is because the rich man has withheld his share".
This is the greatest reality which is the basis of modern equitable system. Ali had understood this reality fourteen hundred years ago and formulated clear rules and regulations, as were suited to his time.
A Lebanese writer who happens to be my friend says that at one time he was residing in a big city of Europe and the movement to put an end to poverty was being carried on there. One day he met the Education Minister of that country and said to him during the course of conversation: "We Arabs realized centuries ago the class discrimination and its disadvantages which you are endeavouring to eliminate now".
The Minister said: "How?" He replied: Fourteen hundred years ago Ali son of Abu Talib said: "I have not seen excessive wealth with anyone except that I have seen simultaneously the right of someone being infringed".
The Minister said: "We are much better than you". He said: "How?" The Education Minister said: "Because although an Arab had understood this reality fourteen hundred years ago you have not so far endeavoured to eliminate indigence and are still involved in it whereas we are already endeavouring to get rid of poverty. Hence you are fourteen hundred years behind us.i.e. if we had heard this sentence of Ali at that time we would have taken necessary steps in this behalf immediately".
Before we end this chapter, it will be better to recapitulate what has been stated above and to invite the readers to compare the views of Ali on social matters with those of the modern thinkers and to reflect on them judiciously.
We can mention the social principles and views of Ali
in nine sentences. These principles and views consist of the causes of affluence and indigence and the class differences of the people or in other words the best rules and regulations for eliminating poverty and need, and establishing equality of rights between them.
(1) Prevent hoarding.
(2) No indigent person remained hungry except because a rich man usurped his share.
(3) I have not seen excessive wealth with anyone except that I have seen the right of someone being infringed.
(4) You should be more anxious to develop land then to collect revenue.
(5) I do not consider it proper that a person should be compelled to do a work which he does not like.
(6) The hearts of the pious people are in Paradise and their bodies are busy doing work in the world.
(7) The canal belongs to him who participated in its digging and not to him who did not provide physical or financial assistance to dig it.
(8) Keep in view the achievement of a person, and do not attribute the achievements of one person to another.
(9) Beware! Don't appropriate to yourselves the things in which all have equal rights.
If these sentences of Ali are studied carefully it becomes known that the rights of man in the human society can be protected and his freedom can be ensured only by acting on those principles.
# Neither fanaticism nor infallibility
Ali marched steadfastly on the path of action fixed by him for himself. He always looked upwards. He pres- cribed the economic rights of man as well as other rights without which the economic rights cannot materialize. He did not do favour to any particular creed, colour or race. All human beings are alike and all of them are entitled to live and to share the amenities of life even though they may be different in their creed, colour or race. Ali was considerate to the entire mankind. According to him there was no difference between the white-coloured and the blackcoloured, the Arabs and the non-Arabs, Muslims and non-Muslims in the matter of economic rights and the amenities of life.
Although Ali was the successor to the prophet, the fortress of Islam, and the Commander of the Faithful, he did not at all wish that the non-Muslims should be compelled to embrace Islam. According to him the people were free to worship God as they liked and to hold the beliefs of their choice subject to the condition that they did not harm others.[*] He allowed freedom of faith because all human beings are the slaves of God and religion is a means of connection between Him and His creatures.
According to Ali one's being a human being was sufficient for his being honoured, befriended and dealt with kindly as well as for his rights being immune from
[*] Islam allows freedom of faith to the Jews, the Christians and the Magi. They are called `Zimmis' which means non-Muslims living under the protection of the Islamic government.
infringement by others. In the testament written by him for Malik Ashtar, the Governor of Egypt, he said: "Do not become a ferocious animal for them so that you may devour them.[*] There are two kinds of persons amongst the subjects, out of whom some are your brethren-in-faith and others are creatures of God like you, and you should be forgiving towards them just as you wish God to be forgiving towards you. You should not feel elated when you accord punishment.
In the circumstances everyone possesses the same rights as you do , even though some or all of his beliefs may be opposed to yours. The object of religion is certainly that it should enable you to establish brotherly relations with others. Others are as much human beings as you are. This similarity of creation is a stronger connection between you and others. You should, therefore, behave kindly with all human beings. If your brother commits a mistake or sin you should overlook his lapse and forgive him, and should not at all feel ashamed in doing so. Purify the hearts of others of enmity and grudge by purifying your own hearts of these bad qualities in the first instance.
It is obligatory for every descendant of Adam, to whatever religion or creed he may belong, that he should sympathise with his fellow beings. He should like that for others which he likes for himself and should not like that for them which he does not like for himself. He should expect from others to the same extent to which he meets th& expectations of others. A real believer is he who endeavours to do good deeds. The best act is perfect justice which means that you should be absolutely impartial and should not discriminate between different persons. He who follows the ways of Muhammad in leading his life is not different from one who follows the ways of Jesus or other accomplished personalities. The object of the creation of man is this that he should acquire virtues and excellence and should acquire good attributes. He is free to achieve
[*] The Egyptians about whom the Commander of the Faithful gave these instruction to Malik Ashtar were Christians.
this end by any means he likes. Ali says: "It is necessary for you to follow the prophet's actions when the world was contracted from under his feet and he was kept away from its enjoyments and embellishments. And if you so desire you may see Jesus Christ who used to recline on a stone, wore coarse dress and ate tasteless and insipid food. Hunger was his bread, the moon was his lamp, east and west were his shade, and the grass constituted his fruits and perfume. He had no wife who could allure him and no children for whom he might be worried. He had no wealth which might attract his attention nor any avarice which might humiliate him. His feet were his means of transport and his hands were his servants".
At another place Imam Ali says: "These were the people who made the earth their carpet and its dust their bed. They contented themselves with water instead of perfume and passed away from the world as Jesus did".
The same reality which Muhammad had in view when he said: "The prophets are brothers of one another. Their mothers are different but their religion is one and the same". The same reality was before Ali when he said about Muhammad: "The prophet spent his life in the same way in which the earlier prophets spent their lives".
In these two statements it has been clearly admitted that virtue is the thing which unites the people at one point just as humanity is basically the point of unification.
What has been stated above makes it abundantly clear that just as man possesses many other rights he has, according to the laws enunciated by Ali, this right also that he should be free in the matter of his beliefs and there should be no restriction on his holding any belief he likes. Freedom cannot be divided. It is not possible that man should be free in some respect and a captive in some other respects. A Muslim is the brother of a Christian whether he likes it or not, because a man is the brother of a man whether he admits it or not. If in the eyes of Ali the main object of creating man as a free being had not been this that he should make efforts to acquire virtues and if, according to him, freedom had not been a sacred right, he
would not have praised the followers of Jesus in the same manner in which he praised the followers of Muhammad.
In the foregoing pages we have mentioned that a Christian stole the coat-of-mail of Ali and claimed that he had purchased it. We have also mentioned how Ali behaved with the Christian as a person equal to himself, rather in the manner in which a father behaves with his son. We have also stated how Ali lodged a complaint in the court of the judge Shurayh and what its outcome was and how the Christian became one of his sincere disciples and vehemently helped him.
The history of Arabia is proud of the following sentence of Ali which adorns its pages: "If a carpet is spread for me and I sit on it, I shall decide the cases of the Jews according to their book `the Torah', of the Christians according to their book `the Evangel' and of the Muslims according to their Qur'an, in such a way that everyone of these books will cry out: "Ali has spoken the truth".
Ali instructed Ma`qal son of Qais as under:-
"O Ma`qal! Fear God. Don't be unjust to the Muslims and don't oppress the Zimmis. Don't be proud, because God doesn't like the proud".
It shows that according to Ali `fear of God' means this that a person should not oppress his fellow-beings and should not in any way be unjust to them. Furthermore, he places the Muslims and the non-Muslims at the same level and does not accord preference to anyone of them.
This equality of the Muslims and the non-Muslims can be observed in each and every order of Ali. It would appear that he considered the protection of the people from injustice to be more important and necessary than acquiring other Islamic virtues. He says: "If you follow the path of truth, and the tenets of Islam become clear to you, neither a Muslim nor a zimmi will be oppressed". He severely reprimanded the Muslims when Sufyan son of Auf Asadi, a commander of Mu`awiya's army invaded the city of Anbar and committed atrocities on its residents but they (the Muslims) did not side with the truth, and did nothing to prevent oppression. In the course of his speech
he said:- "I have received information that, a member of this group used to enter the houses of Muslims and Zimmi women and removed the anklets from their feet and the bangles from their hands as well as the necklace and earrings which they were wearing and they had no means of protection except that they should say: `We are from God and we have to return to Him' and remain patient.... Now if a Muslim dies of sorrow on account of these tragedies he cannot be blamed for it. In my opinion it ought to be so".
Ali censured and rebuked those people because they failed to defend their brothers and sisters living in the city- whether they were Muslims or Zimmis - against oppression.
When he appointed Muhammad son of Abu Bakr as Governor of Egypt he instructed him thus: "I recommend to you to be equitable to the Zimmis, to do justice to an oppressed person, to be severe upon the oppressor and to be indulgent towards the people as far as possible and to be kind to them. It is also necessary that in the matter of truth the far and the near should be equal in your eyes".
The following sentence also appeared in the pact which he concluded with the Christians of Najran: "They will not be subjected to injustice and oppression nor will any of their rights be reduced".
He also fixed the same blood-money for a Christian, which is the blood-money for a Muslim.
According to Ali every human being was entitled to respect. It was for this reason that although the ignorant and brainless followers of all past religions were extremely fanatical and hated other religions, Ali was loved very much for his justice by the knowledgeable Christians during his own time as well as afterward. All of them lauded and praised him. Allama Ibn Abi'l Hadid writes thus in sharh Nahj al-Balaghah: "What should I say about that man (Ali) whom the Zimmis loved ardently although they did not acknowledge the prophethood (of Muhammad)".
Ali had laid the very foundation of his treatment of the non-Muslims on this principle "Their property is like our property and their lives are like our lives".
The facts narrated above show clearly that religious fanaticism was considered by Ali to be something very indecent and despicable. The freedom, which he believed in, in a wide sense, and measured with an extended measure was totally opposed to fanaticism.
When we visualize the treatment meted out by Ali to the non-Muslims, and compare it with the treatment of the clergies of the Church in Europe of the Middle Ages, especially those clergies who were responsible for the `Inquisition', and when we contrast the kindness and forgiveness shown by Ali with the severity and harshness of the European religious leaders, we come to know how exalted Ali was and how low those people were.
In short there should be no doubt about it because Ali's faith had sprung from the roots of humanity, freedom and authority and it was according to the view and belief which Ali held about life. Ali's faith was based on freedom and he considered freedom to be respectable whereas the faith of the religious leaders of Europe was based on habit and imitation of their ancestors and freedom had nothing to do with it.
* * * * * * * *
Nowadays we are at war against religious fanaticism and consider it to be indecent and despicable, although religious fanaticism is not as dangerous as some other kinds of fanaticism. You will come across many persons who do not at all possess religious fanaticism but they are involved in fanaticism of colour, race, nationality, political beliefs etc. Indulgence and forgiveness is possible in the matter of religious fanaticism but it is not possible in the case of other kinds of fanaticism. Such fanaticism is based on egotism, ignorance and profiteering and those who possess this sort of fanaticism say that their view is correct and only what they have concluded is right and their view about man and life is indisputable. They do not consider the view of anyone else as valid as theirs.
Ever since man has arrived on this earth fanaticism of every kind has been inherent in him, and there has not been any time during which he has not displayed fanaticism. The great leader of the world Ali fought not only against religious fanaticism but against all kinds of fanaticism. He considered racial fanaticism to be equivalent to rebellion and mischief, and burning up the attractive face of life.
According to Ali priding oneself on one's ancestry was also a sort of fanaticism. He addressess the fanatics of his time in these words: "Look here! You have opposed God openly, have been extremely oppressive and have created disturbance on the face of the earth. Fear God in the matter of priding yourselves on account of the self- conceit of the age of ignorance, because it is the source of enmity and grudge and the centre of Satan's enchantment with which he allured the past nations. Look here! Fear following your chiefs and elders who give themselves airs because of their position and pomp, and pride themselves on account of their ancestry (i.e. those who consider others humble and despicable, oppose Divine decrees and deny God's kindness in order to sieze His blessings). These are the very persons who are the deep foundation of fana- ticism and the pillars of the house of mischief.
In the first instance Ali likened family and racial fanaticism to rebellion and disfiguring life. Then he made his view more general and declared every fanaticism whether racial, political or religious, to be indentical with rebellion and mischief and established a general rule, whose correctness will be established more and more as time passess. He says: "I have looked on all sides and have not found even one man in the world who supports something but that he has a reason in view for it, which becomes the cause of the mistake of the ignorant, or that he has an argument which gets glued to the intellect of the foolish".
You may go through all that has been said regarding fanaticism and the explanations given about it, but you will not find anything said by anyone which may be more than what Ali has said. Fanatics indulge in fanaticism
either on account of ignorance or folly and both of them carry rebellion and mischief in their lap. Ali has drawn the picture of this fact in his two remarks reproduced above.
In short Ali considered fanaticism of every kind to be indecent and despicable. Of course if partiality is to be observed it should be observed in the matter of virtue, justice and public rights. One should side with the oppressed persons who are deprived of their earnings and rights by the oppressors. One should side with truth and conscience. One should be partial for the sake of human freedom and honour and for protecting the helpless from the fanatics. The Commander of the Faithful says: "If you wish to be fanatic and partial you should side with high morals, good manners and praiseworthy qualities, for example to protect the rights of your neighbour, to honour your covenants, to obey the righteous, to oppose the rebellious, to behave well, to avoid injustice, to remain aloof from bloodshed, to administer justice and not to create mischief on the earth".
How much he hated fanaticism can be realized from the recommendation which he made about the Kharijites, although they were his enemies. They fought a fierce battle against him, but he says: "Do not fight with the Kharijites after me, because one who seeks truth but goes astray is not like one who seeks falsehood and acquires it".
The Commander of the Faithful made the people realize that as there was a possibility of their views and beliefs being mistaken it was necessary that they should not insist upon the correctness of their views and beliefs nor should they thrust them on others. He told them not to refrain from making consultations and not to hesitate in accepting the truth.
# War and peace
There are many mutual rights enjoyed by the people. One of them is that they should strengthen the ties of love and friendship. The ties should exist between the individuals as well as between the tribes and the nations, because the citizens of all the countries are brother of one another. They are the descendants of one father and their origin is one. They have a common path and their aims and objects are also not different from one another.
Freedom and affluence, prescribed laws and new efforts are all meant for mankind. These are however, useless in the presence of warfare and bloodshed which may destroy human race. All these things are for man. What is the use of all these (amenities and comforts) when human life is not safe?
Every statement which invites people to serve the human beings but does not invite them to peace is false and detestable.
All ideals regarding man and his life are useless unless they promote human brotherhood. How ridiculous those words, acts and ideals appear when the canals are converted into streams of blood, the gardens are destroyed and the palaces fall into ruins! How hopeless these words, acts and ideals seem to be when a man is hurled into the mouth of war and the beauty of his life, his hopes and desires, and his very being are reduced to nothing.
War is the cause of death and destruction, whereas peace is the only means of escaping destruction. This is the object which leads to many other aims and objects. It is only during the time of peace that human beings can
utilize all their talents and achieve their common desires by joint efforts.
The principles and methods of Ali apply to all fields in the same manner in which the branches which shoot from a common root spread on all sides He had realized that peace is a high wall surrounding man and life which protects both of them from every calamity. Addressing the people he says: "God has not created you in vain".
As regards Ali's view regarding the purpose for which God has created man he says: "God has created you respect- able on His earth, and safe among His creation. His bounties have spread the wings of their kindnesses on your heads and made the streams of comforts flow for your sake".
According to Ali love and friendship is the greatest blessing for mankind. He says: "Almighty God has streng- thened the tie of love between the human beings. It is the love under whose shadow the people walk about and in whose lap they seek refuge. This love is an invaluable blessing because it is dearer than whatever price is fixed for it, and is greater than every great thing".
Ali says that every person should establish friend- ship and love with others so that peace may prevail, because during peace time the atmosphere of a city remains tranquil and the people do not feel any fear. One should avoid war-fare, because war is oppression and it is highly indecent and improper to oppress God's creatures. Whether the result of war is victory or retreat it is harmful in both cases. War is ruination and destruction for the victor as well as for the vanquished. War destroys human honour. The victor is considered to be an opponent of intellect and conscience, an enemy of love, who treats human life to be valueless, and one who is defeated is humiliated and his life and property are also destroyed. Ali says: "One who gains victory by evil means is in fact defeated". "Nothing is worse than fighting and bloodshed".
Ali has considered looting and plundering which were the preliminaries of war between the tribes during the age of ignorance to be one of the most horrible acts. According to Ali looting and plundering, idol-worshipping, and
burying the girls alive, were sins of the same kind and their origin is also one and the same. That origin is that man is not aware of his own value nor that of life and there can be no greater ignorance than this. He says: "They had reached the abyss of ignorance. They buried their girls alive, worshipped the idols and robbed and plundered one another".
He detested fighting so much that he forbade it even during the most difficult circumstances and did not permit that one should challange another to combat. He says: "Never challange another person to combat".
When we study the life and conduct of Ali it becomes abundantly clear that he condemned many characteristics of the people and considered many things in the world to be abominable. As regards the characteristics of the people he first of all condemned inclination towards mischief and bloodshed. As regards the abominable things there was nothing more hateful in his eyes than warfare. This sentence of his deserves to be kept in mind: "This world is the abode of war, plundering and bloodshed".
Fighting is as much injurious for truth as it is the source of refuge for falsehood. It is by means of truth that man is exalted, the society is strengthened and the world become prosperous. Falsehood is the collection of humilia- tion and disgrace. It is, therefore, evident that there can be nothing worse than war. It is the cradle of all absurdities, because doubt prevails war and falsehood flourishes, and the voice of truth is subdued; whereas peace is truth itself, and whoever violates truth goes astray.
This was the basis of the view and belief held by Ali about war, and this is not also surprising, because this belief was compatible with his idea of freedom and the reliance which he had on the common man and the respect which he had for life as well as for those who were alive. It was for this reason that at times, in order to put to end to trouble and to invite his friends to peace he said: "For your enemies this loss is sufficient that they have gone astray".
Imam Ali used to ask a sinner and a transgressor to
express regret for his lapse so that fighting might not take place. As regards the oppressed persons he used to ask him to accept the apology of the transgressor however big his offence might be. He says: "Accept the apology of a person who apologizes to you".
He also says: "Fight against your wordly desires by means of reason. If you do so the people will continue to love you". He, therefore, considered it the best quality for his followers that they should desire peace, hate war and seek safety for themselves as well as for others. As to what qualities his followers should possess he says: "When my followers are angry they do not commit injustice. They are a blessing for their neighbours and a source of security for their companions".
However, hatred for war and unusual inclination towards peace did not mean that Ali should have surren- dered before his opponent. Hatred for war and inclination towards peace does not mean that one should shirk one's responsibilities and leave the mischief-mongers free to do what they like, because war is not a detestable thing in itself, but becomes bad on account of the horrors and destruction which it entails, and peace is not a good thing in itself, but becomes good, because it provides security to the people, provides chances for improving the society, and opens the paths of life before those who are living.
In short, whether it be war or peace, neither of them is intrinsically good or bad. Their goodness or badness is determined with reference to other people. If war or peace had any intrinsic value, the revolutionary efforts made by the oppressed people of the world against the oppressive kings and rulers and the colonialists would have been evil and sin, and obedience to those tyrants would have been a blessing, but infact it is not so. The real thing which counts is the welfare of the masses. If they are living in comfort and their property and honour are safe, peace is better for them. In case, however, they are leading a miserable life and their rights are being violated, war is a blessing for them until an atmosphere of real peace is created, a peace, which is based on human values and is
free from humiliation and helplessness, and subservience to tyranny and injustice. This was what Ali had in view. What he disliked was the war of Abu Lahab and Abu Sufyan against Muhammad and not the war of Muhammad against Abu Lahab and Abu Sufyan. He disliked the war which was fought by the tyrants against the righteous, and not the war which was fought by the pious and Godly persons against the tyrants and the hypocrites.
Ali wished the people not to become Changez Khan Halaku, Hitler or Mussolini, but he did not also like them to become like those who were enslaved by Changez, Halaku, Hitler and Mussolini.
There is nothing wrong with a war which is fought to get back the right of an oppressed person from the oppressor, or to protect the honour of the people. In fact it is a social need and something which humanity demands. The condition precedent to such a war is that before it is resorted to, all necessary efforts for peace and reconciliation should be made.
When the followers of Ali became impatient because of his having delayed permission at Siffin to perform jihad he said to them: "As regards your asking whether this delay is due to the fact that I abhor death and wish to escape it, I swear by God that I do not care whether I proceed towards death or death proceeds towards me. And similarly as regards your asking whether I am doubtful regarding the lawfulness of jihad against the people of Syria, I swear by God that I have not delayed `the battle even for a day except with the idea that some persons from amongst them may possibly come and meet me and be guided through me and may also see my light with their dazzled eyes. I like this more than to kill them while they are in a state of ignorance, although they themselves will in any case be responsible for their sins".
The second condition for war is that its object should not be only to gain victory. Furthermore, the victor should not become vindictive. He should not torture the enemy and should not maltreat the captive and those who have suffered on account of war. He should not pursue those
who fly away, and should not hurt the old men, the women and the children. If he who joins battle thinks that he is on the right, and claims that he is fighting for the sake of justice, and his opponent is an oppressor, and it is necessary to take revenge from him, he should content himself with restoring truth to its place. If this object is achieved after a brief fighting he should withhold his hand from continued warfare.
In all the battles fought by Ali the basic principle followed by him was that bloodshed should not be resorted to unless it was absolutely necessary and there was no alternative other than warfare. He always endeavoured to advise the enemy and make him submit to reason. He used to say: "By God I shall certainly do justice to the oppressed and render advice to the oppressor".
When advice and efforts for peace and reconciliation failed he resorted to threats, because his real object was that if possible not even one drop of blood might be shed. Threatening the people of Nahrawan he says: "I warn you that you will be killed and will fall on the ground on the windings of the canal and its even slopes in such a condition that you will have no sound argument or clear proof to put forth before God as an excuse. The position is this that you have become homeless and then the Divine decree has a firm grip on you. I had already pro- hibited you from agreeing to this arbitration but you declined to obey my orders like opposing violators, so much so that I was obliged to agree to what you wished. You are a group whose heads are empty of understanding and intellect. Woe betide you! I have neither involved you in any trouble nor wished ill of you".
Now please read this wonderful supplication of Ali and visualize his sublime morality and the sympathy which he had in his heart for fell enemies. When the enemy forces in Siffin finally decided to fight and all efforts for peace and reconciliation failed he prayed to God in these words: "O God! Lord of the earth, which you have made the abode of man, and the place of roaming about of the reptiles, the quardrupeds and other innumerable creatures
which can or cannot be seen. O Lord of the strong mountains which you have made to serve as nails for the earth and means of livelihood for your creatures! If you grant us victory over the enemies keep us immune from committing injustice and keep us on the straight path of truth, and if You make our enemies victorious grant us martyrdom and save us from the allurement of life".
The keenness of the Commander of the Faithful for peace and his efforts for it even a short time before the commencement of the battle is an undeniable fact which is acknowledged by his friends as well as enemies. During his entire life he displayed love for peace and hatred for war. He always tried his best that fighting might be avoided and reconciliation might take place.
When, at the time of the Battle of the Camel, Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr got ready to fight against him he arrayed his companions and said to them: `Do not shoot an arrow and do not strike a spear or a sword so that it may be proved that you have discharged your responsibility".
However, Ali did not start fighting until the enemies had pierced arrows into the bodies of three of his compa- nions and he had prayed to God thrice to bear witness to their act.
He reached before his enemies scores of times empty handed and without any arms or coat of mail although they were fully equipped with arms.
In reply to their harsh words stubbornness, and rough tone he spoke with extreme kindness and tendered them advice in a friendly manner. Standing before him were his enemies who looked like a dark night as they were covered with in coats of mail and shields, but his armour was respect for mankind; his shield was his faith in his being right and in his mode of action being correct, and his sword was his compliance with the commandments of reason and conscience. In fact his kindness to the weak, his support for truth and his peaceableness were as good as thousands of shields for him. It was he who said: "If you feel secure from vexation by someone try to make him your brother".
Imam Ali was one who disliked enmity and grudge because these two things give birth to discord and destroy individual morals and national attributes. He said: "Refrain from enmity and dispute, because these two things make the heart sick and discord is generated from them".
Many times he reached before his enemies empty- handed and without any coat of mail or shield. He did this to make them realize that he hated warfare and was keen to solve problems in a friendly and brotherly manner. He said: "Do good to your enemy because this victory is more agreeable and sweet".
Another object of his approaching his opponents in this manner was that he wanted to make it clear that war is something bad and the benefit which the victor acquires from it is a benefit which is acquired from evil and has no value. He says: "The goodness of a goodness which is acquired through evil is futile and the affluence which is the result of indigence and adversity has no value".
Ali eliminated this evil (warfare) by all possible means and tried to improve the conditions of the people without bloodshed and strife. So much so that when the enemies were bent upon waging war and had no aim other than shedding his blood as well as his righteous companions, he advised them and endeavoured his best to obviate fighting. And when these efforts failed and no alternative was left except to join battle, he did not initiate fighting. Fighting was started by the enemies and he only replied to their attacks. And when he took the sword in his hand he stepped forward and now he was Ali son of Abu Talib. If death did not proceed towards him he himself proceeded towards death. He crushed the champions and made brave warriors flee. Ali desired equity and justice, whereas his enemies craved for injustice and oppression. He wished that mankind might prosper, whereas they wanted to create mischief. He wanted the people to enjoy freedom and comfort, whereas they were keen to keep them in bondage like slaves. He wished that the slaves of God should be strong and respectable whereas his enemies wanted to enslave and humiliate them.
The things which must exist in the society and which are also considered by law of reason to be necessary were in danger. Now in these coditions remaining a silent specta- tor amounted to laziness, recklessness, and infidelity, and to protect them meant courage and bravery.
About fighting against Mu`awiya he says:-"I have weighed and assessed this matter very carefully and have concluded that only two paths are open before me either I should wage war against Mu`awiya or I become an apostate".
Just see how he has drawn a picture of the Battle of the Camel in a concise and precise manner and has also explained his own position:" Talha and Zubayr were the first to take oath of allegiance to me. Later they broke that oath without just cause and took the Mother of the Faithful Ayesha to Basra. I was also obliged to take the Muhajirs and the Ansar with me and pursue them. I tried my best that they might take once again the oath which they had broken but they declined to do so. I counselled them much and treated them well".
While Ali was still on his way and had not yet con- fronted them he sent his son Hasan and his cousin Abdullah bin Abbas as well as Ammar bin Yasir and Qais bin Sa'd bin Ubada to have talk with them (i.e. Talha and Zubayr) hoping that they might respond to the call of reason and bloodshed might be avoided. They, however, remained intransigent. The Commander of the Faithful says thus in this regard: "I proceeded along with the Muhajirs and the Ansar and stopped near Basra. I invited them to peace and reconciliation, overlooked their lapses and reminded them of the oath of allegiance which they had taken. They however, remained adamant and insisted upon fighting. I sought help from God and was obliged to get ready for defence against their attacks. The result was that those who were to be killed were killed and othersran away. Now they requested me for the same peace which I had desired before the fighting took place, I accepted the peace pro- posal and spared them. I appointed Abdullah bin Abbas their governor and sent Zafar bin Qais to them as the
messenger Now you may approach these two persons to tell you whatever you want to know about us and them".
Ali was victorious on account of his unusual bravery and perfect and deep faith. He was, however, as much grieved over his victory as his enemies were over their defeat. Tears trickled down from his eyes and he was extremely sad.
Every father loves his children very much. If a child does not conduct himself properly his father has to take corrective measures and punish him although such action also grieves him.
Same was the case with Ali. He treated the Muslims like his children. The prophet of Islam has said: "I and Ali are the fathers of this nation".
Ali loved these children very much. He was obliged to take corrective measures against them on account of their injustice and error but was very much grieved to observe their sufferings.
Ali did not dislike anything more than bloodshed. He was always afraid lest his governors and offices might indulge in unjustified bloodshed.
He, therefore, warned them again and again not to indulge in bloodshed. He took care from the moral as well as the political and administrative point of view that blood should not be shed unnecessarily. He forbade it in both the capacities, because he considered that as a consequence of such bloodshed the government might topple down and it was also opposed to the philosophy of government. He did not forgive any officer for a lapse in this regard. In a letter addressed to a governor he says: "Do not try to strengthen your government by shedding blood without just cause because this will make your government still weaker, rather it will be taken away from you and will reach the hand of someone else. If you are guilty of inten- tional bloodshed God will not consider this crime of yours pardonable and I, too, will not consider it so".
Has there been any other ruler in the world, who may have issued emphatic instructions to his governors to appoint as military commander a person who is meek and
forbearing, hates bloodshed and murder, can settle matters by mutual discussions, is not guilty of unjustified bloodshed, is kind and magnanimous, is not harsh in getting work done by others and is not accustomed to severity and violence? In the testament written by him for Malik Ashtar while appointing him as Governor of Egypt Ali says: "Appoint that person as commander of your army whom you consider to be most sincere and superior to others in the matter of meekness and forbearance. He should not be short-tempered and should accept an excuse. He should be kind to the weak and hard upon the powerful. He should not become hot-tempered due to cruelty and should not become helpless due to weakness".
Thus it is evident that Ali was a peace-loving person. He always recommended peace. He extremely hated war and always prohibited it. He never stepped towards War unless war itself stepped towards him and even if he stepped towards it, it was when he had exhausted all efforts to stop it by means of friendship, love, goodness and kindness. If he was compelled to fight a battle he tried that the least number of persons should be killed. And when he secured victory over his enemy he forgave him. He was equally grieved in the event of victorv and defeat. Whenever his enemy requested for peace he acceded to his request cheerfully and wholeheartedly. He used to say: "During peace time the soldiers are in comfort, the worries of the people are lesser and an atmosphere of security prevails in the cities.
He sent many orders to the governors and the officers in which he emphatically recommended to them inter alia that they should follow his example and should not draw their swords on account of ordinary matters as was done by the people during the age of ignorance.
Imam Ali says: "Do not put your hands and swords in motion like the tongue on account of trivial matters".
"I do not punish anyone merely on account of suspicion".
"I shall not fight anyone until I invite him to peace and thus discharge my responsibility in this behalf. If he
repents I shall accept his repentance, but if he declines to do so and is bent upon fighting I shall seek help from God and shall fight against him".
We shall mention in detail later how Ali behaved with his cruel enemies.
It is the duty of every person to abide by the promises made by him. By this means peace is maintained between the individuals and in the society and the chances of warfare are eliminated. A covenant should be honoured whether it is concluded between the followers of the same religion or of different religions, between persons belonging to the same race or to different races and between friends or enemies. This was the principle which was followed constantly by Ali.
As stated above fulfilment of promises is a means of peace and peace ensures maintenance of an atmosphere of security and prosperty and is a great service to the nation. It is so because covenants and laws are the means of national unity and solidarity. Fulfilment of promises is a quality of magnanimous persons and a means of the peace of mind and achievement of high morals for which the Commander of the Faithful endeavoured throughout his life. Being faithful to one's covenants ensures comradeship and love in all circumstances and is a manifestation of respect for mankind. Both the parties remain satisfied as a result of this faithfulness, and when both of them are satisfied each of them can decide with peace of mind as to how he should conduct his affairs. On the contrary if they are not satisfied, it will not be possible for them to undertake their work freely.
During the period of the caliphate of Ali fulfilment of promises was a rule which it was absolutely necessary for the people to follow. Everyone was expected either to fulfil his promise or to lay down his very life.
Ali hated violation of promises as much as he detested falsehood. In one of his sermons he says: "Fulfilment of promise and truth have always gone hand in hand and so far as I am aware there is no shield better than these to protect a man. Whoever understands the reality
of his "Return" does not commit treachery. However, our time is such that many persons have supposed treachery and deceit to mean intelligence and wisdom, and the ignorant people have treated their ways and methods to be prudence. May God destroy them! What has happened to them? When a person, who has seen the ups and downs of life and is aware of the vicissitudes of time, makes a plan for himself but finds the divine commandments in his way, he abandons that plan, although he may be able to execute it. On the other hand one whose path is not obstructed by religious feelings avails of the opportunity. In the testament which he wrote for Malik Ashtar while appointing him as the Governor of Egypt he says: "If you settle some conditions with your enemy or conclude a pact with him you should relieve yourself of its burden by honouring it. You should discharge faithfully the res- ponsibility undertaken by you and should make yourself a shield for the protection of your promise. You should not, therefore, abandon what you undertake to do nor dishonour the covenants You make and should not deceive your enemy".
Furthermore, he did not content himself only with emphasizing that deception should not be practised on the enemy but also strictly prohibited making ambiguous agreements with the enemy which might be interpreted in different ways, and it may provide a justification for the violation of the agreement. He also directed that after a covenant was concluded and authenticated, advantage of some verbal error should not be taken to violate it.
Whenever Ali formed an opinion or promulgated an order, he, in the first instance, examined and assessed all its aspects very carefully. As he firmly believed in the fulfilment of promise even the greatest impediments and hardships could not make him deviate from this principle. one of the occasions on which he honoured his promise inspite of very difficult circumstances was that of Siffin. At the time of the Battle of Siffin it was decided to refer the dispute to arbitration.
A pact was concluded between the Commander of
the Faithful and Mu`awiya to the effect that until the two arbitrators gave their award the hostilities would remain suspended. After fighting was Stopped and the pact was concluded the adherents ot the Commandder of the Faithful realized that they had been duped. A man named Muhammad bin Harith then approached Ali and said: "O Commander of the Faithful! Can we not ignore the pact and start the war again? I am afraid that this pact will be a source of great humiliation and disgrace for us The Commander of the Faithful replied: "Should we violate the pact after executing it? No. This is not per- missible". And it was also Ali who said: "Stick firmly to the responsibilities which you have undertaken. I am res- ponsible for my words and guarantee their correctness".
The facts narrated above explain that Ali's efforts for the maintenance of peace fully accorded with the wishes of the people on account of their far-reaching consequences. All human beings crave for justice, equality and freedom and Ali's effort for peace was an expression of their desire. In fact it was the heartfelt desire of Ali himself which he also expressed in his orders and commands.
In the matter of his efforts to ensure that man should love man Ali is on equal footing with the past prophets and benefactors of mankind. What a great resemblance Ali's efforts for peace have with the kind voice of Muhammad who has said: "O slaves of God! become brothers of one another".
How much his efforts also resembled the words of the prophet who, when asked as to which act is the noblest, replied: "The noblest act is that one should endeavour for the welfare of the world".
# Combat oppression
In all general matters Ali led a very consistent and harmonious life. His high morals, unusual sagacity, his actions relating to the administration of the state, command of the army and other personal characteristics and qualities were all similar and inter-connected. He hated usury, hoarding and oppression very much. He was a fell enemy of the wealthy and powerful persons who oppressed others, the ignorant considered themselves to be superior to others, and persisted in their stubborn views founded on ignorance. He was extremely keen to help the weak and the indigent, because they too were human beings and it is highly unjustifiable to treat them to be mean and humble. He desired the freedom of the creatures of God from the core of his heart, because God has created them free and it is not at all proper that they should be subjected to humiliation and abjectness. Their humiliation and abjectness is the humiliation and abjectness of humanity, and whoever humiliates humanity deserves to be treated an enemy.
It can be realized by every one from what has been stated above how great a supporter and sympathizer of the helpless and oppressed persons Ali was, how he fought against the enemies of virtue and goodness, and how much annoyance he expressed against those who acted against the dictates of reason and conscience.
However, what has been written by us on the subject does not appear to be sufficient. It appears necessary to allocate a separate and detailed chapter to the subject showing how Ali behaved with the tyrants, and what his views were about injustice and oppression.
There are many kinds of injustice. For example to usurp the property of a person is injustice of one kind and to hurt his honour and reputation is injustice of another kind. Sometimes injustice is patent whereas at other times it is latent. We shall discuss all these kinds of injustice one by one.
It is not possible to find any sermon or testament of the Commander of the Faithful, in which he may not have mentioned and condemned injustice severely. His entire life was spent in waging war against injustice and oppression and against the oppressors and tyrants. He fought this war with his hands, tongue and orders and commands as well as with his sword.
War against injustice and oppression is being fought ever since man arrived on earth. However, this war has been fought in different ways and in different conditions Those who undertook to campaign against the tyrants and oppressors of their time were hundreds of thousands in number. These great heroes were a source of pride for humanity whereas the tyrants stained the pages of history with their misdeeds. Those heroes came in succession and every one of them inherited this holy war from another.
They have also been some great souls amongst the human beings whose entire lives were spent in waging war against injustice and oppression. The biographies of Abraham, Moses and Jesus consist of war against oppression, usury and injustice. Muhammad's campaign against the polytheists was also in continuation of and complementary to the war waged by Jesus. He started a great revolutionary movement to uproot injustice and oppression and did not rest till the oppressed were emanci- pated and their lives took a turn for the better.
Cruelty becomes the second nature of some persons. They commit atrocities with perfect ease in the same way in which they perform other natural acts like eating, drinking, walking and breathing. To this category belong persons like Nero, Changez Khan, European officers of the `Inquisition' during the Middle Ages, and many other kinds and rulers like Hajjaj bin Yusuf, Ziad bin Abih, Obaidullah
bin Ziad, Muslim bin Aqba etc. And similarly history tells us about innumerable other persons in whom opposition to injustice was inherent and had become their second nature.
The reason for the tyrants of the past not being ashamed of the atrocities commited by them was that they were not pained by their cruel acts.They did not tyrannize or oppress others with any aim or object. They did so because it had become their habit.
Once Hajjaj bin Yusuf was having his meals along with some friends of his. Before him was standing an inno- cent old man who was trembling with fear. Hajjaj raised his head and looked at the old man. Then he ordered one of his servants to behead him. The order was complied with immediately and the old man was Beheaded. Hajjaj conti- nued to eat as if nothing had happened. He said to his slave loudly: "Bring cold water".
Nero set the city of Rome on fire. While Rome was burning Nero was busy in his merry-makings.
The firmness and steadfastness of those who consistently campaigned against injustice and oppression can also be explained in the same way. just as the persons mentioned above committed injustice because it was inherent in their nature, in the same way these benefactors of humanity fought against injustice and supported the oppressed, because they were compelled by their nature to do so.
Socrates drank the cup of poison as if it was a medicine because his drinking it was a display of firmness and steadfastness against falsehood. Voltaire* waged war against the aristocrats and nobles of Europe. He was compelled to wage this war by his nature just as a hungry
[*] Voltaire, a famous French writer and a renowned figure of his time was born in Paris in 1694 A.D. and died in 1778 A.D. He spent a large part of life in England, Russia and Switzerland. He severely, criticized the rulers and religious leaders of his time. It was he who paved the path for the great French Revolution of 1789 A.D. He is the author of many valuable books.
person is obliged to eat food or a thirsty person is compelled by his inner urge to get hold of water to quench his thirst. The companions of Imam Husayn also sacrificed their lives in support of his mission, although they could see a huge army of Bani Umayyah arrayed against them.
These people were the benefactors of mankind and the great and magnanimous souls among human beings, whose head and leader was Ali ibn Abi Talib. He had come into the world to establish truth and to destroy falsehood. He rose with this purpose and also accepted the caliphate with this very object in view. However, the world, with all its expanse could hardly accept the laws and principles of Ali. The unjust and cruel persons were large in numbers and possessed much strength. The task which Ali wished to accomplish was difficult as well as dangerous.
Ali told the people that they should neither be the oppressors nor the oppressed ones. He wished that none should oppress others and none should tolerate oppression. However, the people of the time were not prepared to accept Ali's view and could not lend support to his intentions. So much so that even the oppressed persons did not side with him, because they were over awed by the oppressors and were afraid of their enmity and grudge.
They were so foolish that they took bribes from Ali's enemies and withdrew their support from him. Eventually only a few God-fearing and brave persons were left with him, and they did not desert him at any cost.
However, was it proper that Ali should have shown frailty and weakness at this juncture when the forces of evil had formed a front against him? Is it possible for a brave man to lose heart and give up effort because he is faced with calamities and hardships with men like carnivores around him, particularly when everybody is afraid of death also.
Should Ali have been disheartened and become sluggish when the enemies were becoming more and more rebellious, when the men in authority had lost all sense of wisdom, were selling religion for the sake of the world, were stupidly running after wealth and rank, had created
chaos in the cities, were persisting in oppression, were full of pride and conceit, creating innovations and void things before the right things, praising the wrong and evil doing, and still hoping for a good reward, had annihilated justice and fair play, and had created rebellion, and chaos, and their tyranny and violence had no bounds. Could he become weak and languid when the condition of his companions was this: "Whoever called them for help never succeeded. Whoever met them did not acquire peace of mind. Whoever came in the battlefield accompanied by them sustained loss. They were deaf inspite of having ears and were dumb although they possessed power of speech. They neither showed steadfastness in the battlefield like noble and zealous men nor could one depend upon their sympathy and support at the time of adversity".
Of course in such conditions and circumstances one should become weak and feeble and must sit down languidly - but it is subject to the condition that he should not be Ali ibn Abi Talib.
The deep love which Ali had in his heart for every human being obliged him not to show the least leniency to one who did harm to the people even though he (i.e. Ali) had to laydown his life in the campaign.
One who considers it love and kindness and a sign of gentleness to remain silent in the face of the oppressors is either a liar or is not acquainted with human nature, because the position is otherwise. True love and kindness for mankind means that the oppressors should be dealt with severely so that they may free the people from bondage. In certain circumstances kindness and gentleness compel man to resort to extreme severity.
Man likes beauty as much as he detests ugliness. He hates injustice and oppression as much as he desires justice. He is as much afraid of the coldness of non- existence as he is fond of the warmth of existence. A person cannot strike a sword on the necks of the rebels and the oppressors unless he considers life to be a blessing. In short one who does not hate cannot also love.
The best proof of the fact that Ali was as much as
harsh upon the oppressors as he was kind towards others and was prepared to be extremely severe to eliminate injustice is provided by the event of Saudah daughter of Ammarah Hamdaniyah.
Saudah says: "I saw the Commander of the Faithful to complain against an agent who had been appointed by him to collect zakat. When I stood before him he said with much kindness: "Do you want anything to be done?" I complained to him against the agent. On hearing what I narrated he began to weep and said praying to God: "O Lord! I have neither ordered these agents to oppress the people nor asked them to abandon your right". Then he took out a piece of paper from his pocket and wrote on it as follows: -
"Weigh and measure properly and do not give lesser to the people nor spread mischief on the earth. When you receive this letter keep the things in your charge in reserve so that another person may come and take over the same from you".
It can well be observed from this incident how kind Ali was to the oppressed woman, because he began to weep on hearing her tale. And it is also evident how this kindness was converted into harshness for the agents. This accords with the principles of extreme kindness for the oppressed and extreme wrath towards the oppressor.
Ali never refrained from campaigning against refrac- toriness and injustice. Whenever he saw a person being oppressed by another he showed no weakness in relieving him of the oppression. And how could he show any weakness or hesitation when gentleness and kindness had equipped him with unusual manliness and steadfastness and had made him very fond of fighting against falsehood and establishing truth. It was his firm belief that: "The presence of an Imam through whom the right of a weak person may be realized from a strong person and that of an oppressed person from an oppressor is necessary so that the righteous may live in comfort and feel secure from the mischief of the evil-doers".
"God has provided protection to the people from
being oppressed". And when God has provided protection there should be no occasion for oppression but "God tests the rulers by means of oppression". Hence if the rulers are oppressive their rule will come to an end because: "Even if the oppressor gets respite he cannot escape being captured by God. God Himself lies in ambush for him and his ambushing will be very severe. The Day of Judgment will be much severer for the oppressor than that on which he oppressed another. The oppressed person must not have suffered so much as the oppressor will suffer on the Day of Judgment''.
The following form part of those orders of Ali which must always be complied with: "I order you to behave harshly with the oppressor. Hold the foolish oppressor by the hand, and stop him from committing injustice".
No doubt the kindness and affection which Ali had in his mind guaranteed his steadfastness in the battle between truth and falsehood. Whenever he reflected about truth and falsehood he said: "O Lord! Our sole endeavour is that peace and tranquillity may prevail in Your cities so that Your slaves may remain safe". And when he initiated the campaign he used to say: "I swear bv God that I shall realize the right of the oppressed person from the oppressor. I shall put a cavessor in the nose of the oppressor and pull him to the spring of the truth howmuchsoever he may dislike it''. Or said: "It is necessary that the oppressor refrains from committing injustice, behaves with the people equitably and does not spread mischief on the earth".
If the fighting became turious and Ali noticed the disparity between the numbers of his supporters and the enemy and compared his own condition with that of his opponents he said: "I have not shown weakness or sluggish- ness. I shall continue to fight against falsehood until I extract truth from its side''.
Ali saw death staring in his eyes but neither his hands were tired of fighting nor did he entertain the least fear in his heart. He would not have felt afraid even if the entire population of Arabia had joined hands and encircled him.
He relied fully on his own justice and equity and
firmly believed that whatever he was doing was in accor- dance with the canons of equity and justice. He used to say: "A weak person is strong in my eyes until I get his right paid to him, and a strong person is weak in my eyes until I receive the right from him''. He also said: ``I swear by God that I am not worried whether death falls upon me or I fall upon death''.
When he fought against a group of unjust persons and defeated them but they still offered some resistance he said: "some life is still left in the oppressors. If God wills we shall uproot them. In case, however, some of them run away to various cities the matter would be different".
According to Ali the learned persons are the leaders of the nation and for this very reason a number of responsibilities devolve upon them. Their greatest res- ponsibility is that they should oppose the oppressor and assist the oppressed person. He says: "God has made it mandatory for the ulema that they should not remain silent spectators of injustice of the oppressor and the grief and helplessness of the oppressed person.
In order that the oppressors should be eliminated from the society, and that there should also be none who may assist in the perpetration of oppression or may tolerate it willingly, Ali has divided the sins of the people into different categories. There are certain sins which may be forgiven but injustice and oppression cannot be forgiven in any circumstances. He says: ``And the sin which will not be forgiven is that one person may oppress another". He held the view that: "Oppressing a weak person is the worst type of oppression''.
Thus he endeavoured by all means to eliminate injus- tice and this remained his basic policy in the matter of treatment with the people. He fought against the oppressors with his tongue as well as with his sword and remained steadfast in his struggle. He continued to fight against injustice and the unjust till he met martyrdom. If the vicissitudes of time had not hampered his program and the conditions had not been unfavourable, he would have brought about a change in a number of things.
# Administration of Ali
After having come to know that the behaviour of the Commander of the Faithful with the human society was absolutely just and he adopted a very correct policy to establish mutual relations of the human beings on the basis of equity and justice, it appears necessary to repro- duce here the testament which he wrote for Malik Ashtar while appointing him as Governor of Egypt. This testament of his is more detailed than all others and is very important from the point of view of its grandeur and elaborateness.
While writing about the character of the Commander of the Faithful we have made use of many of his letters, orders and testaments, because in almost all of them he has mentioned the rights of the individuals as well as of the society. However, the testament written by him for Malik Ashtar is very comprehensive and embraces all his views and beliefs on the subject of public administration. It reads as follows:
"In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Be it known to you, O Malik, that I am sending you as Governor to a country which in the past has experienced both just and unjust rule. Men will scrutinize your actions with a searching eye, even as you used to scrutinize the actions of those before you, and speak of you even as you did speak of them. The fact is that the public speak well of only those who do good. It is they who furnish the proof of your actions. Hence the richest treasure that you may covet, should be the treasure of good deeds. Keep your desires under control and deny yourself that which you have been warned against. By such abstinence alone, you
will be able to distinguish between good and bad.
Develop in your heart the feeling of love for your people and let it be the source of kindliness and blessing to them. Do not behave with them like a barbarian, and do not appropriate to yourself that which belongs to them. Remember that the citizens of the state are of two categories. They are either your brothers in religion or your brothers as human beings. They are subject to infirmi- ties and liable to commit mistakes. Some indeed do commit mistakes, but forgive them as you would like God to forgive you. Bear in mind that you are placed over them, as I am placed over you. And then there is God even above him who has given you the position of a Governor in order that you may look after those under you and to be sufficient for them. Remember! You will be judged by what you do for them.
Do not set yourself against God, for neither do you possess the strength to shield yourself against His displea- sure, nor can you place yourself outside the pale of His mercy and forgiveness. Do not feel sorry over any act of forgiveness, nor rejoice over any punishment that you may mete out to anyone. Do not rouse yourself to anger, for no good will come out of it.
Do not say, "I am your overlord and dictator, and that you should therefore, bow to my commands," as that will corrupt your heart, weaken your faith in religion and create disorder in the state. Should you be elated by power, or let in your mind creap the slightest feeling of pride and arrogance, then look at the power and majesty of the divine governance of the universe over which you have absolutely no control. It will restore the sense of balance to your wayward intelligence and give you the sense of balance to your wayward intelligence and give you the sense of calmness and affability. Beware! Never put yourself against the majesty and grandeur of God and never imitate His Omnipotence, for God has brought low every rebel of His and every tyrant of man.
Let your mind respect through your actions the rights of God and the rights of man, and likewise, persuade your
companions and relations to do the same. For, otherwise, you will be doing injustice to yourself and to humanity. Thus, both man and God will become your enemies. There is no hearing anywhere for one who makes himself an enemy of God. He will be regarded as one at war with God until he repents and seeks forgiveness. Nothing deprives man of divine blessings nor excites divine wrath against him more easily than oppression. Hence it is that God listens to the voice of the oppressed and overpowers the oppressor.
The Common Man
Maintain justice in administration and impose it on your own self and seek the consent of the people, for, the discontent of the masses sterilises the contentment of the privileged few and the discontent of the few, loses itself in the contentment of the many. Remember! the privileged few will not rally round you in moments of difficulty. They will try to side-track justice. They will ask for more than what they deserve and will show no gratitude for favours done to them. They will feel restive in the face of trials and will offer no regret for their shortcomings. It is the common man who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be mindful of their welfare.
Keep at a distance one who exposes the weakness of others. After all, the masses are not free from weaknesses. It is the duty of the ruler to shield them. Do not bring to light that which is hidden, but try to remove those weak- nesses which have been brought to light. God is watchful of everything that is hidden from you, and He alone will deal with it. Cover up the faults of the public to the best of your ability so that God may cover up your faults which you want to keep hidden from the public eye. Untie every knot of hatred for the people and cut asunder every string of enmity between them. Protect yourself from every such act as may not be quite correct for you. Do not make haste in seeking confirmation of tale-telling, for the tale-teller is a deceitful person, appearing in the garb of a friend.
Never take counsel of a miser, for, he will vitiate your magnanimity and frighten you of poverty. Do not seek advice from a coward too, for, he will weaken your resolu- tions. Do not take counsel of a greedy person, for, he will instil greed in you and turn you into a tyrant. Miserliness, cowardice and greed deprive man of his trust in God.
The worst counsellor is he who has served as a coun- sellor to unjust rulers and shared their crimes. So, never let men who have been companions of the tyrants or have shared their crimes, be your counsellors. You can get better men than these, men gifted with intelligence and foresight, but unpolluted by sin, men who have never aided a tyrant in his tyranny nor a criminal in his crime. Such men will never be a burden to you. On the other hand, they will be a source of help and strength to you at all times. They will be friends to you and strangers to your enemies. Choose such men alone for companionship both in private and in public. Even among these, show preference to those who have a habitual regard for truth, however trying to you at times their truth may prove to be, and who offer you no encouragement in the display of tendencies which God does not like His friends to develop.
Keep close to you the upright and the godfearing and make clear to them that they are never to flatter you and never to give you credit for any good that you may not have done, for the tolerance of flattery and unhealthy praise stimulates pride in man and makes him arrogant.
Do not treat the good and the bad alike. That will deter the good, and encourage the bad in their bad pursuits. Recompense everyone according to his deserts. Remember that mutual trust and goodwill between the ruler and the ruled are bred only through benevolence, justice and service. So, cultivate goodwill among the people, for their goodwill alone will save you from troubles. Your benevolence to them will be repaid by their trust in you, and your ill-treatment by their ill-will.
Do not disregard the noble traditions set by our forbearers which have promoted harmony and progress
among the people, and do not initiate anything which might minimise their usefulness. The men who had estab- lished those noble traditions have had their reward; but responsibility will be yours if they are discarded. Try always to learn something from the experience of the learned and wise, and frequently consult them in state matters so that you might maintain the peace and goodwill which your predecessors had established in the land.
The Different Classes of People
Remember that the people are composed of different classes. The progress of one is dependant on the progress of every other, and none can afford to be independent of the other.We have the army formed of the soldiers of God. We have our civil officers and their establishments, our judiciary, our revenue collectors and our public relation officers. The general public itself consists of Muslims and Zimmi and among them are merchants and craftsmen, the unemployed and the indigent. God has prescribed for them their several rights, duties and obligations. They are all defined and preserved in the Qur'an and in the Hadith of the prophet.
The army, by the grace of God, is like a fortress to the people and lends dignity to the state. It upholds the prestige of the faith and maintains the peace of the country. Without it, the state cannot stand. In its turn, it cannot stand without the support of the state. Our soldiers have proved strong before the enemy because of the privilege God has given them to fight for Him, but they have their material needs to fulfil and have therefore to depend upon the income provided for them from the state revenue. The military and the civil population which pays the revenue, needs the co-operation of others - the judiciary, civil officers and their establishment. The judge administers civil and criminal law; the civil officers collect revenue and attend to civil administration with the assis- tance of their establishment. And then there- are the tradesmen and the merchants who add to the revenue of the state. It is they who run the markets and are in a better
position than others to discharge social obligations. Then there is the class of the poor and the needy whose maintenance is an obligation on the other classes. God has given appropriate opportunity of service to one and all; then there are the rights of all these classes over the administration which the administrator has to meet with an eye for the good of the entire population - a duty which he cannot fulfil properly unless he takes personal interest in its execution and seeks help from God. Indeed, it is obligatory on him to impose this duty on himself and to bear with patience the inconveniences and difficulties incidental to his task.
Be particularly mindful of the welfare of those in the army, who in your opinion, are staunchly faithful to their God and the prophet and loyal to their chief, and who in the hour of passion can restrain themselves and listen coolly to sensible remonstrance, and who can succour the weak and smite the strong, whom violent provocation will not throw into violent temper and who will not falter at any stage.
Keep yourself in close contact with the families of established reputation and integrity and with a glorious past, and draw to yourself men brave and upright in character, generous and benevolent in disposition, for such are the elite of the society.
Care for them with the tenderness with which you care for your children and do not talk before them of any good that you miglit have done to them nor disregard any expression of affection which they show in return for, such conduct inspires loyalty, devotion and goodwill.
Attend to every little want of theirs not resting content with what general help that you might have given to them, for sometimes, timely attention to a little want of theirs brings them immense relief. Surely these people will not forget you in your own hour of need.
It behoves you to select for your Commander-in-Chief one who imposes on himself, as a duty, the task of render-
ing help to his men and who can excel in kindness every other officer who has to attend to the needs of the men under him and look after their families when they are away from their homes; so much so, that the entire army should feel united in their joys and in their sorrows. This unity of purpose will give them added strength against the enemy. Continue to maintain a kindly attitude towards them so that they might feel ever attached to you. The fact is that the real happiness of the administrators and their most pleasant comfort lies in establishing justice in the state and maintaining affectionate relations with the people. Their sincerity of feeling is expressed in the love and regard they show to you, on which alone depends the safety of the administrators.
Your advice to the army will be of no avail, unless and until you show affection for both men and officers, in order that they might not regard the Government as an oppressive burden or contribute to its downfall.
Continue to satisfy their needs and praise them over and over again for what services they have rendered. Such an attitude, God willing, will inspire the brave to braver actions and induce the timid to deeds of bravery.
Try to enter into the feelings of others and do not foist the mistake of one on another and do not grudge dis- pensing appropriate regards. See to it, you do not show favours to one who has achieved nothing but merely counts on his family position, and do not withold proper reward from one who has done great deeds simply because he holds a low position in life.
The Real Guidance
Turn to God and to His prophet for guidance when- ever you feel uncertain regarding your actions. There is the commandment of God delivered to those people whom He wishes to guide aright: "O people of the Faith! Obey God and obey His prophet and obey those from among you who hold authority over you. And refer to God and His prophet whenever there is a difference of opinion among you". To turn to God is in reality to
consult the Book of God; and to turn to the prophet is to follow his universally accepted traditions.
Select as your Chief Justice from the people, one who is by far the best among them - one who is not obsessed with domestic worries, one who cannot be intimidated, one who does not err too often, one who does not turn back from the right path once he finds it, one who is not self-centered or avaricious, one who will not decide before knowing the full facts, one who will weigh with care every attendant doubt and pronounce a clear verdict after taking everything into full consideration, one who will not grow restive over the arguments of advocates and who will examine with patience every new disclosure of fact and who will be strictly impartial in his decision, one whom flattery cannot mislead, one who does not exult over his position. But such people are scarce.
Once you have selected the right man for the office, pay him handsomely enough, to let him live in comfort and in keeping with his position, enough to keep him above temptations. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it and so high that neither back-biting nor intrigue can touch him.
Beware! The utmost carefulness is to be exercised in its selection, for it is this high office which adventurous self-seekers aspire to secure and exploit in their selfish interests. After the selection of your Chief justice, give careful consideration to the selection of other officers. Confirm them in their appointments after approved pro- bation. Never select men for responsible posts either out of any regard for personal connections or under any influence, for that might lead to injustice and corruption.
Of these, select for higher posts, men of experience, men firm in faith and belonging to good families. Such men will not fall an easy prey to temptations and will discharge their duties with an eye on the abiding good of
others. Increase their salaries to give them a contented life. A contented living is a help to self-purification. They will not feel the urge to tax the earnings of their subordinates for their own upkeep. They will then have no excuse to go against your instructions or misappropriate state funds. Keep a watch over them without their knowledge. Perchance they may develop true honesty and true concern for the public welfare. But whenever any of them is accused of dishonesty, and the guilt is confirmed by the report of your secret service, then regard this as sufficient to convict him. Let the punishment be corporal and let that be dealt with in public at an appointed place of degradation.
Great care is to be exercised in revenue administra- tion, to ensure the prosperity of those who pay the revenue to the state for, on their prosperity depends the prosperity of others, particularly of the masses. Indeed, the state exists on its revenue. You should regard the proper upkeep of the land in cultivation as of greater importance than the collection of revenue, for revenue cannot be derived except by making the land productive. He who demands revenue without helping the cultivator and ruins the state. The rule of such a person does not last long. If the cultiva- tors ask for reduction of their land cess for having suffered from epidemics or drought or excess of rains or the barren- ness of the soil or floods damaging their crops, then reduce the cess accordingly, so that their condition might improve. Do not mind the loss of revenue on that account for that will return to you one day manifold in the hour of greater prosperity of the land and enable you to improve the con- dition of your towns and raise the prestige of your state. You will be the object of universal praise. The people will believe in your sense of justice. The confidence which they will place in you in consequence will prove your strength, as they will be found ready to share your burdens.
You may settle down on the land any number of people, but discontent will overtake them if the land is not improved. The cause of the cultivators' ruin is the rulers
who are bent feverishly on accumulating wealth at all costs, out of the fear that their rule might not last long. Such are the people who do not learn from examples or precedents.
Keep an eye on your establishment and your scribes and select the best among them for your confidential correspodence; such among these, as possess high character and deserve your full confidence - men, who may not exploit their privileged position to go against you, and who may not grow neglectful of their duties, and who in drafting of treaties may not succumb to temptation and harm your interests or fail to render you proper assistance and save you from trouble, and who, in carrying out their duties, can realise their serious responsibilities, for he who does not realise his own responsibilities can hardly appraise the responsibilities of others. Do not select men for such work merely on the strength of your first impressions of affection or good faith for as a matter of fact, the preten- sions of a good many who are really devoid of honesty and good breeding, may cheat even the intelligence of the rulers. Selection should be made after due probation - probation which should be the test of righteousness. In making direct appointments from people and who enjoy the reputation of being honest for such selection is agreeable both to God and the ruler. For every department of administration, let there be a head, whom no trying task might cause worry and no pressure of work annoy.
And remember that each and every lapse of scribes, which you may overlook, will be written down against you in your scroll of deeds.
Trade and Industry
You are advised to treat well businessmen and artisans and direct others to do likewise. Some of them live in towns and some move from place to place with their ware and tools and earn their living by manual labour. They are the real source of profit to the state and provider of consumer goods.
While the general public are not inclined to bear the strain, those engaged in these professions take the trouble to collect commodities from far and near, from land and from across the sea, and from mountains and forests and naturally derive benefits.
It is this class of peace-loving people from whom no disturbance need be feared. They love peace and order. Indeed they are incapable of creating discord protect them whether they are transacting business at your place or in other towns. But bear in mind that a good many of them are intensely greedy and are immured to bad dealings. They hoard grain and try to sell it at a high price and this is most harmful to the public. It is a blot on the name of the ruler not to fight this evil. Prevent them from hoarding; for the prophet of God had prohibited it. See to it that trade is carried on with the utmost ease, that the scales are evenly held and that prices are so fixed that neither the seller nor the buyer is put to a loss. And if, in spite of your warning, should anyone go against your commands and commit the crime of hoarding, then inflict upon him a severe punishment.
Beware! Fear God when dealing with the problem of the poor who have none to patronise them, who are forlorn, indigent, helpless and are greatly torn in mind - victims of the vicissitudes of time. Among them there are some who do not question their lot in life and who, notwithstanding their misery, do not go about seeking alms. For God's sake, safeguard their rights for on you rests the responsibility of protecting their interests. Assign for their uplift a portion of the state exchequer (Bayt al Mal), wherever they may be, whether close at hand or far from you. The rights of the two should be equal in your eye. Do not let any preoccupations slip them from your mind for no excuse whatsoever for the disregard of their rights will be acceptable to God. Do not treat their interests as of less importance than your own and never keep them outside the purview of your important cosiderations and mark the
persons who look down upon them and of whose condition they keep you in ignorance.
Select from among. your officers such men as are upright and god-fearing and who can keep you properly informed of the condition of the poor.
Make such provision for these poor people as shall not oblige you to offer an excuse before God on the Day of Judgement for, it is this section of the people which, more than any other, deserves benevolent treatment. Seek your reward from God by giving to each of them what is due to him and enjoin on yourself as a sacred duty the task of meeting the needs of such aged among them as have no independent means of livelihood and are averse to seeking alms. It is the discharge of this duty that usually proves very trying to rulers, but is very welcome to societies which are gifted with foresight. It is only such societies or nations that truly carry out with equanimity their covenant with God to discharge their duty to the poor.
Meet the oppressed and the lowly periodically in an open conference and conscious of the Divine presence there, have a heart-to-heart talk with them and let none from your armed guard or civil officers or members of the Police Department or the Intelligence Department be by your side, so that the representatives of the poor might state their grievances fearlessly and without reserve. For I have heard the prophet of God say that no nation or society, in which the strong do not discharge their duty to the weak, will occupy a high position. Bear with composure any strong language which they may use, and do not get annoyed if they cannot state their case lucidly. Even so, God will open for you His door of blessings and rewards. Whatever you can give to them, give it ungrudgingly and whatever you cannot afford to give, make clear to them with the utmost condescension.
There are certain things which call for prompt action. One of them is correspondence regarding the redress of grievances which your heedless staff has been unable to
tackle. See to it that petitions or applications submitted for your consideration are brought to your notice without any delay, however much your officers might try to inter- cept them. Dispose of the day's work that very day for the coming day will entail its own task.
Communion with God
Do not forget to set apart the best of your time for communion with God, although every moment of yours is for Him only, provided it is spent sincerely in the service of your people. The obligation which you directly owe to God, should be included in your over-all duties. Therefore, devote some of your time each day and night to prayer so as to be in communion with God. Let your prayer be as perfect as free from blemish as possible, notwithstanding the physical discomfort it may involve.
And when you lead a congregational prayer, do not bore people by a needlessly long prayer, nor spoil it by unwarranted shortness.
When, on receiving an order to proceed to Yemen, I asked the prophet of God, how I should lead the congre- gation there, he said, "Perform your prayers even as the weakest among you would offer and set an example of considerateness to the faithful".
Aloofness not Desireable
With regard to the observance of all that I have said, bear one thing in mind. Never, for any length of time, keep yourself aloof from the people, for to do so is to keep oneself ignorant of their affairs. It develops in the ruler a wrong perspective and renders him unable to distinguish between what is important and what is unimportant, between right and wrong, and between truth and falsehood. The ruler is after all a human being; and he cannot form a correct view of anything which is out of sight.
There is no distinctive sign attached to truth which may enable one to distinguish between the different varieties of truth and falsehood. The fact is that you must be one of the two things. Either you are just or unjust. If you are
just, then you will not keep aloof from the people, but will listen to them and meet their requirements.
But if you are unjust, the people themselves will keep away from you. What virtue is there in your keeping aloof? At all events aloofness is not desirable, especially when it is your duty to attend to the needs of the people. Complaints of oppression by your officers or petitions tor justice should not prove irksome to you.
Make this clear to yourself that those immediately about and around you, will like to exploit their position to covet what belongs to others and commit acts of injustice. Suppress such a tendency in them. Make a rule of your conduct never to give even a small piece of land to any of your relations. That will prevent them from causing harm to the interests of others and save you from courting the disapprobation of both God and man.
Deal justice squarely regardless of the fact whether one is a relation or not. If any of your relations or com- panions violates the law, mete out the punishment pres- cribed by law, however painful it might be to you personally for it will be all to the good of the state. If at any time people suspect that you have been unjust to them in any respect, disclose to them and remove their suspicions. In this way, your mind will become attuned to the sense of justice and people will begin to love you. It will also fulfil your wish that you should enjoy their confidence.
Peace and Treaties
Bear in mind that you do not throw away the offer of peace which your enemy may himself make. Accept it, for that will please God. Peace is a source of comfort to the army. It reduces your worries and promotes order in the state. But beware! Be on your guard when the peace is- signed for, certain types of enemies propose terms of peace just to lull you into a sense of security only to attack you again when you are off your guard. So you should exercise the utmost vigilance on your part and place no undue faith
in their protestations. But, if under the peace treaty you have accepted any obligations, discharge those obligations scrupulously. It is a trust and must be faithfully upheld and whenever you have promised anything, keep it with all the strength that you command, for whatever difference of opinion might exist on other matters, there is nothing so noble as the fulfilment of a promise. This is recognized even among the non-Muslims, for they know the dire consequences which follow from the breaking of covenants. So never make excuses in discharging your responsibilities and never break a promise, nor cheat your enemy, for breach of promise is an act against God and none except the positively wicked acts against God.
Indeed Divne promises are a blessing spread over all mankind. The promise of God is a refuge sought after, even by the most powerful on earth for there is no risk of being cheated. So, do not make any such promise which you cannot fulfil, nor attack your enemy without ultima- tum because none, except a wretched ignorant being, would dare defy God who, in His infinite mercy, has made pacts and treaties as tools of utmost sanctity for His creatures; in fact, peace provides shelter under the lively shade of which all seek asylum and in the vicinity of which all listen for a sojourn. A treaty should, therefore, be free from fraud, duplicity and deception.
Never execute a pact open to interpretations, but once it is executed, don't exploit equivocation, if any; nor repudiate any treaty concluded in the light of Divine injunctions, even in the face of grievous difficulties. As there is reward in life Hereafter, it is better to face difficulties rather than violate the treaty with a traumatic sense of accountability on the Day of Judgement.
Beware! Abstain from shedding blood without a valid cause, as it invites the wrath of Almighty, exposes one to, His severest punishment, deprives one of His blessings and shorten's one's span of life. On the Day of Judgement it is this crime for which one will have to answer first. So, beware! Do not wish to build the strength of your state on blood for, it is this blood which ultimately weakens the
power and undermines the authority and shakes its very foundations; power then slips to other hands.
A murder is a crime which is punishable by death. If, on any account the corporal punishment dealt by the state for any lesser crime results in the death of the guilty, let not the prestige of the state stand in the way of the deceased's relations claiming blood-money.
Shun self-adoration; do not indulge in self-praise nor encourage others to extol you, because of all the ruses to undo good deeds of pious men, Satan relies most upon praise and flattery.
Neither over-rate nor indulge in tall talks about the favours you have showered on people. Breach of promise annoys God and man alike. God, the Most Exalted, says in the Qur'an: "God is much displeased if you do not act upon what you say".
Do not make haste to do a thing before its time, nor put it off when the right moment arrives. Do not insist on doing a wrong thing, nor show slackness in rectifying a wrong thing. Perform everything at its proper time and let everything occupy its proper place. When the people as a whole agree upon a thing, do not impose your own view on them and do not neglect to discharge the responsibility that rests on you in consequence. For the eyes of the people will be on you and you are answerable for whatever you do to them. The slightest dereliction of duty will bring its own retribution. Keep your anger under control and keep your hands and tongue in check. The best way to restrain your rage is to defer punishment till you are calmed and restored to your self. You cannot achieve it unless you remember that you have ultimately to return to your Sustainer.
It is imperative that you carefully study the precepts which have inspired just and good rulers who have preceded you. Give close thought to the example of our prophet, his traditions, and the commandments of the Qur'an and whatever you might have assimilated from my own way of
dealing with things. Endeavour to the best of your ability to carry out the instructions which I have given here and you have solemnly undertaken to follow. By means of this order, I enjoin on you not to succumb to the promptings of your own heart, nor to turn away from the discharge of duties entrusted to you.
I seek refuge in the Almighty and His unlimited sphere of blessings, and invite you to pray with me that He may give us together the grace to surrender willingly our will to His will, and to enable us to acquit ourselves well before Him and His creation, so that mankind cherishes our memory and our work survives. I beseech God for His blessings and pray that He may grant you and me His grace and the honour of martyrdom in His cause. Verily, we have to return to Him. I invoke His blessings on the prophet of God and his blessed progeny."
# U.N. Charter of human rights
The rules laid down by Ali regarding human rights appear to be better and more useful as compared with the declaration made by the U.N. on the subject.
The readers have now fully grasped the human rights as enunciated by Ali. It, however, appears necessary to recapitulate them in this chapter and to study their different aspects keeping their gist in view.
We have endeavoured to understand properly Ali's views and ideas regarding special and common rights in the light of his various testaments, letters and orders sent by him to his governors and other officers and have dealt with them in separate chapters and have tried our best to explain them as clearly as possible. Hence it should be quite easy for a reader to get fully acquainted with rules and regulations set forth by Ali regarding human rights by referring to the relevant chapters.
In order to present the views and beliefs of Ali in a more prominent manner and to find out in a better and clearer way with what celestial power these instructions were issued by him, we propose to mention here some important contents of the charter of the U.N. and the declaration of human rights which have been endorsed by the representatives of all nations. If there is any difference between the rules laid down by Ali and the U.N. charter it will be possible for the readers to realize it and also to find out the reason why it is so.
We may say briefly that from the point of view of their purport there is no difference between the rules laid down by Ali regarding human rights and the charter of the
United Nations. If any minor difference is observed, apparently it is due to changes which have taken place in the terminology during the course of time, and is not basic or in principle.
There is no chapter in the charter of the U.N. which is not running parallel to the rules laid down by Ali. In fact better and more useful things are found in the instructions given by him.
In my opinion the difference between the two sets of rules is due to the following four reasons:
Firstly the charter of the United Nations was drafted by thousands of intellectuals belonging to almost all the countries of the world whereas the Alavi rules were enunciated by only one person viz. Ali son of Abu Talib.
Secondly Ali arrived in this world fourteen hundred years ago.
Thirdly those who drafted the U.N. charter or in fact collected the requisite material for it indulged in too much extravagant talk and self-praise and boasted that world was indebted to them on this account. On the contrrary Ali showed humility before God and was modest before the people. He did not seek greatness or superiority. He always prayed to God and also wished the people that his acts of commissions and ommisions might be overlooked.
The fourth reason for the difference which is more important than the three enumerated above is that many nations, out of those which participated in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and endorsed it, violated this declaration and started armed conflicts to nullify and destroy it, but wherever Ali placed his foot, and whenever he said anything, or unsheathed his sword, he did so to destroy tyranny and oppression and levelled the ground to march forward on the path of truth and justice. So much so that he met his martyrdom in defence of human rights although during his lifetime he had already been martyred thousands of times.
We now give below the contents of the largest chapter of the U.N. charter which deals with human rights:
It has been compiled by a French writer Barbabech,
and translted by Muhammad Mandoor in Arabic and published by the U.A.R (United Arab Republic).
1. Human beings are equal to one another in the matter of honour and rights. They have been created with the power of reflection and competence to distinguish between good and evil. Hence all of them should behave with one another like brothers.
2. Every human being should enjoy all his rights and the liberties provided for in this charter. No discrimination should be made between them on account of difference in race, colour, tongue, faith, political views, country, social principles, affluence, indigence, pedigree and family.
3. The rights mentioned in this charter are also available to the citizens of those countries as well as to the citizens of the countries whose governments are subordinate to other governments. Hence the citizens of these regions are equal to the residents of independent countries.
4. Every person is entitled to possess means of living and to lead his life in security and peace.
5. Slavery is not permissible for mankind. Slavery and dealing in slaves is prohibited in all circumstances.
6. It is not permissible to hurt or oppress human beings.
It is unlawful to coerce them unnecessarily. Anything which amounts to aspersion on another's character or reputation is prohibited.
7. Every person has a right that his legal position should be acknowledged in whichever country he may be.
8. All human beings are equal before law. Every person is entitled to seek assistance of law. There is no difference between human beings. Everyone has a right to oppose the discrimination which infringes the contents of this charter.
9. Every person has right to lodge a complaint before a regular court which is established to take decisions about rights and violations of the law in force.
10. None can be arrested, imprisoned and exiled from his town.
11. It is not permissible that any one should interfere with the personal or family life or correspondence of another person without being entitled to do so. None is
permitted to attack the honour or reputation of another, and every person has a right to approach the law-enforcing authorities in the event of oppression and interference. [*]
12. Every person has a right to travel freely in his country and to settle down wherever he likes. Moreover, every person is entitled to migrate from any town and also to return to it when he likes.
13. Every person has a right to seek refuge in another country when he is subjected to tyranny and oppression.
14. Every person has possessive rights in his personal capacity or as a partner and none can be deprived of the ownership of his property under coercion.
15. Every person is entitled to reflect freely and the governments are not entitled to interfere with the religious beliefs and actions of the people.
16. Every person is entitled to hold an independent opinion and to express it, and by implication none can hurt him on account of his opinions.[**]
17. Every person is entitled to intervene in the activities of the Department of Public Affairs of the country either directly or through a freely elected representative. Every person has a right to take part in public activities on equal conditions, and self-determination of the people is the origin and basis of the authority of government.
18. Every person is entitled to benefit from the natural responsibilities of the members of the society which they owe to one another. The economic, social and educational rights, which are necessary for a person according to his status, are guaranteed for him and the entire nation with
[*] A large part of the contents of this charter is not compatible with the objects of socialism, because in the socialist countries complete freedom of the individuals is considered to be opposed to the interests of the State.
[**] The opinions which interfere with law and order, or create disturbance or are injurious to the independence and integrity of the State are offences according to law, and the laws of every country take such offences into account. the co-operation of the governments is responsible to pay these rights.
the co-operation of the governments is responsible to pay these rights.
19. Every person is entitled to select the profession he likes and to demand sufficient conditions for it which are compatible with justice. He is also entitled to be helped to get rid of unemployment. All persons are entitled, without any exception, to demand appropriate wages for the work done by them. Every worker has a right to demand wages, which are sufficient for his and his family's sustenance and with which he may build his life in accor- dance with human dignity. If at any time the usual wages are insufficient to support him he should be compensated by some collective means.[*]
20. It is every person's right that he and his family should lead their lives with means of welfare and security, especially in the matter of food, dress, lodging, health and social affairs. Futhermore, he/she should be assisted in the event of unemployment, weakness, old age, and widowhood, and in all such circumstances as make it impossible for him/her to earn.
21. Every person has a right to acquire knowledge.
Education should be free and primary education should be compulsory. The object of education should be the nurture of human personality and respect for rights and political freedom. It is also necessary that education should be means of strengthening mutual reconciliation, forgiveness and friendship between the nations and should assist the United Nations in its mission of peace.
22. The individuals owe some duties to the society which must be fulfilled by them, because the personality of the individuals is built under the auspices of the society.
23. The individuals cannot be prevented from demanding their rights and enjoying freedom except in matter for
[*] Freedom of action, strikes, complaints by the workers and other similar things are not permissible in accordance with the socialistic ideology, because whatever is connected with action and economy is controlled by the despotic government and opposition to government is treated to be a revolt against it.
which laws have been enacted to protect and respect the rights and freedom of others, or rules have been prescribed by society for the protection of good morals, administra- tion of government and public welfare.
These rights and freedom should not in any circum- stances interfere with the aims and objects of the United Nations.
24. The sentences and language of this charter should not be interpreted in such a way that any government, party or individual may become entitled to react and nullify practically the freedoms provided for in this charter.
These are the most important points which are recorded in the charter of the U.N. regarding the rights and freedom of man. These are the very rights which are often violated by the signatory governments.
I think that the readers must have realized the suffi- ciency of these instructions with the help of the rules enunciated by Imam Ali and must also have recognized their similarity, with the exception of the terminology which has changed with the passage of time and the ideas which have appeared on account of the developments, which have taken place during the present age. However, the affection and kindness, which is seen in the rules framed by the Imam, is missing from the charter of the United Nations.
In the following chapter we shall mention the high morals and virtues of Ali and how he kept in view the relationship of life which exists between the living beings and how he respected it in his words and deeds.
In another chapter we shall review in detail the conditions of the Arab world during the periods of Bani Umayyah, Bani Abbas and other rulers, and shall explain how they violated these rules, so that, by a comparative study of Ali's conduct and theirs, the value of the rules enunciated by him may become known in a better way.
While giving in detail the rules prescribed by Imam Ali in previous chapters we have already shown their worth and value, and in these two chapters we conclude our discussion regarding Ali and human rights, so that we may turn our attention to other matters.
# Value of life and Ali
We have learnt that Ali was grieved on account of the privations of the oppressed. He helped them to acquire their rights and made them recognize what was due to them. He also shared hardships with the indigent and the deprived, so that the value of justice might be known and it's standard might be elevated.
We have studied his method of eliminating oppression, and the principles which he followed in the capacity of a ruler and it has become known that his principles and laws enjoy a very high position amongst the principles ennun- ciated by the great sages of the East and the West. We have already mentioned his contributions to the language, philosophy, and science and have explained that he was the base and origin of these branches of knowledge. We have hinted at the extraordinary power which he possessed to activate the natural inclinations and morality for the people and the wonderful eloquence with which he des- cribed their qualities and desires. His inherent powers and personal virtues were intermingled and with their help he planted, on every occasion, a new tree and provided it with leaves and flowers to perfect the knowledge of mankind.
He laid a new foundation through his literary and other works on which Arabic language, jurisprudence, and social sciences, are based, and the fact is that the theories expounded by others are the offshoots of the same know- ledge which he has handed down to us.
This voluminous book about the cognition of man cannot be compiled unless the author describes the nature of human beings, finds out the effects of the vicissitudes of
time on their nature, directs his intellect and natural inclinations towards their welfare and then takes a decision according to their individual and collective nature and the spirit of the time. Imam Ali adopted this method in his sayings and precepts, which are unmatched after the sayings and precepts of the prophet.
In some of his precepts Ali has addressed theoretical logic. In others he has addressed practical logic. And in many of them he has addresed both. The precepts referring to theoretical logic mean as to how a fact should be found out and those which relate to practical logic mean as to what should be done to acquire prosperity.
As regards the first kind of precepts it may be said that Ali found out the true nature of facts. With a subtle intellect he observed the good and evil of the time, arrived at correct conclusions after making necessary experiments, and made those conclusions known to the people.[*]
His precepts are so judicious and exact that it may be said that they have been deduced by means of geometrical calculations. They have been stated in such a beautiful manner that from the point of view of their meanings as well as their interpretation they form the foundation of the Arabic literature. All the thoughts and opinions of the Imam collected in Nahj al-Balaghah are of this standard.
In the precepts in which the Commander of the Faithful has addressed theoretical logic, he has left the people free in the matter of their reason and views so that they may find out the factual position and act according to their understanding and comprehension.
Such precepts are not in the form of orders, prohibi- tions or desires. On the contrary they are philosophical remarks in which the nature and habits of the friends and the enemies, the righteous and the wicked, the wise and the foolish, the generous and the miserly, the oppressor
[*] According to Shiite belief whatever the Imam said was based on inspiration and celestial power i.e. the spirit of Imamate and it is not possible to acquire all the knowledge possessed by him by means of intellect and experience.
and the oppressed etc. have been fully explained. He has also explained many scientific laws with logical reasoning. Some of them will be mentioned later.
As regards his precepts which relate to practical logic, or both practical logic and theoretical logic, it may be stated as follows:
Those who think that only the laws, rules, regulations and system of government are sufficient for the adminis- tration of public affairs are mistaken, because one should take responsibility for the protection and observance of these principles and laws after due explanation of human rights. Just as it is necessary that one who enacts these laws should be wise, experienced and righteous, it is also necessary that one who implements them should possess these qualities and should obtain tbe desired results. This is so because the administration of public affairs depends very much on the good and bad qualities of those who promulgate the laws and is also related to the wisdom and attention of the people for whom those laws have been enacted. In spite of all this it has to be admitted that the various new rules and laws which have been formulated are mostly different from one another. Owing to the differences which exist between the countries it is not possible to enforce all these laws without force and coercion and the law-enforcing authorities are permitted to avoid enforcing them to some extent. The rules and laws of the old governments were mostly compatible with the habits and morals of those who enforced them. This was for reasons which are beyond the scope of our present discussion.[*]
[*] The author has proved here that it is the duty of the people to consider law to be a bounty for themselves. They should have faith in it and should hold themselves responsible to obey it, instead of the government being wholly responsible to enforce it and the people obeying it for fear of punishment.
The Muslim scholars have explained this point in their books at length and all the Muslims know that man-made laws are not
Let us suppose that it is possible for human beings to enact useful laws and to compel the people to act according to them However, if the responsibilities are not carried out according to the dictates of conscience and faith, they do not carry much value. We believe that any act which is not performed by man with the confirmation of practical logic, personal desire, and firm determination, and without coercion, cannot be treated to be a human act. The greatest and the most precious human action is that which is prompted by one's conscience.
The rules and laws formulated by a government are not at all sufficient to improve human relations unless the theoretical and practical wisdom makes man contented with them.
In that event the determination and good deeds of the people will harmonize with each other and make the individuals and the groups reach their destination through the path of civilization, because such persons do not desire anything except good deeds.
Whatever we have said about the individuals and groups is very well known to the intellectuals and the philosophers as well as to the past ulema and research scholars, and we believe that conscience and faith obliged them to serve.
When we study carefully the history of those who served mankind and civilization, we come to know that though wisdom alone was their guide for understanding every matter, yet it was not alone in the history of their lives. The power of theoretical knowledge is stagnant and dry. By itself it can do nothing. It must have companions and friends of different kinds along with their quantities and numbers. This power shows you the path but not
sufficient to ensure happiness in this world and salvation in the world hereafter.
As regards the celestial law it is necessary that the prophet should enforce it through inspiration and the people should obey it as an article of faith.
the speed and does not compel you to walk on the path. The thing which brings you to the stage of action is enthusiasm and inclination.
Marconi (an Italian scientist who invented wireless) liked it, on account of his enthusiasm and inclination, not to enjoy the amusements of the world and to remain in seclusion to serve mankind and civilization, for otherwise why did he choose seclusion for himself, if practical wisdom and enthusiasm did not prompt him to serve humanity? The same thing could be said about some other great men. Thus the noble-minded servants of mankind did good deeds with great enthusiasm and devotion.
As the wicked and unlucky persons were devoid of true practical wisdom and good intentions they could not do any service to humanity in spite of their theorectical wisdom. To this category belong Adolf Hitler, Hajjaj bin Yusuf, Changez Khan, Alexander of Macedonia and many great scientists of our own age who utilized their experi- ments in respect of man. All of them possessed power of intellect like the servants of mankind but in spite of this their performance was nothing but bloodshed, lack of regard for human life, destruction of the achievements of human civilization, and death and annihilation of innumer- able innocent men and women. This was due to the fact hat their theoretical wisdom and thoughts were not linked with practical wisdom and good sentiments. If these two things (viz. practical wisdom and good sentiments) are not present theoretical wisdom is useless and is in fact very harmful.
I do not mean to say that the different powers possessed by man viz. theoretical wisdom, practical wisdom, and inclination, are separate from one another. In fact these powers assist and influence one another. What I mean to say is that the theoretical wisdom comprehends the things themselves, connects causes and effects with each other and provides unalterable limits and rules which do not change on account of changes which take place in the morals and the nations, but the practical wisdom and sentiments are different according to differences in the people.
Theoretical wisdom is present in every person and comprehends a matter correctly. It is necessary that it should contain inclination and the practical wisdom should make it proceed on the path of goodness and prosperity. Failing this the person concerned will spend his wisdom on making discoveries which will become the cause of destruc- tion of the human beings as well as of his own bad luck. This is as true in the case of the law-giver as for those for whom the law has been enacted. Their conscience and inclination should be desirous of obeying the laws based on equity and justice and mere intellectual admission of their goodness is not sufficient. Their hearts should be free from impurities to ensure the perfection of human prosperity so that they may make efforts with enthusiasm for the welfare of the nation. Furthermore, it is necessary that they should possess moral virtues, because the merits of a man protect the laws and orders from the evil-doers and the sinners like a fortress.
It was for this reason that Imam Ali awakened good inclinations in the hearts of the people and delivered sermons to promote good morals. In his sermons, testa- ments and conversations he always addressed the conscience of the people, because he knew that for the administration of the affairs of the people and their good relations it is necessary that they should possess good morals. Self- purification ensures human perfection and also supports justice, and protects its frontiers. Furthermore, it leads towards the sentiments and desires of the people which culminate prosperity and happiness.
Ali possessed unusual competence to counsel and refine the people and his words deeply impressed everyone. He knew their nature and their way and manners. He compared their good and bad qualities and embodied their realities in his statements. He explained their different kinds. He ordered the people to do certain things and forbade them from doing evil things.
He had a very favourable opinion about the conscience of the people being able to make distinction between good and evil. This favourable opinion of Ali about the conscience
of human beings resembled a similar opinion held by other great benefactors of humanity (like Christ) and Muhammad who had enlightened minds and kind and affectionate hearts, and whose love for mankind knew no bounds. Every light became insignificant before that which was kindled in their hearts. Ali has based his precepts on this very favourable opinion and his addressing human conscience in his counsels and sermons is also on account of the good opinion which he held about human nature.
As Ali held a favourable opinion about the people, in spite of all the hardships which he had to suffer at their hands, he always endeavoured to inculcate good morals in their hearts. He knew that both goodness and evil are present in the nature of man. However, it behoves a for- bearing person to turn his heart towards goodness and nourish it. He educated the people through examples as well as by his good conduct, because this method of educa- tion is more effective.
Imam Ali stressed the people time and again to hold a good opinion about human conscience. He has said: "If a person holds a good opinion about you try to prove his opinion to be correct". He has also said: "If someone does something do not hold a bad opinion about it so long as it is possible to draw a good conclusion from it".
If he has criticized some actions of treacherous and unjust persons it was because he considered their reforma- tion possible by means of censure and advice, although it might necessitate a good deal of effort and time.
A righteous person rewards those who do good deeds, but punishes the evil-doers because he hopes that by this means it will be possible to correct them. If Imam Ali had not expected this he would not have tolerated the unbear- able hardships caused by the wicked persons.
Ali said about the world and the worldly people: "The worldly persons growl at one another like dogs and ferocious animals. Their strong ones devour the weak and the big ones humiliate the small ones". He said this because he had suffered much on account of the usurpation and disobedience of the corrupt persons, and was very much
vexed on account of the trouble caused by them. By saying these things he fought against the unjust, the cruel and the tyrants in the same way in which a physician fights against the germs for the welfare and health of a patient. He preferred death to life and hoped for the salvation of mankind.
Ali respected life, because it is a great blessing of God. He considered living beings to be respectable so that a specimen of the traces of creation might remain secure in their existence. He had a very favourable opinion about the conscience and the purity of nature of man and was very hopeful for the prosperity of mankind. He wished that men might remain as free as he ought to be.
In the absence of this favourable opinion and hope he would not have behaved so well with the people and would not have said: "If you hear something from someone do not hold a bad opinion about it so long as it is possible to draw a good conclusion from it". In that event he would not also have addressed the conscience of the people kindly like the prophets, and would not have guided them with a heavy heart, to goodness with his sermons and admonitions. He wished to protect the morals of the people with his sermons and precepts, and to rear up human enthusiasm in them so that they might do good deeds with the assistance of their own wisdom and intellect.
In every work Imam Ali appointed certain spies from among the people themselves to keep an eye on them and declared that the limbs of their body were sitting in ambush for them. As he had faith in their own assessment he said: "O people! Remember that your own self is sitting in ambush for you and your limbs are your spies who keep an account of your deeds and even your breathing".
On account of his faith in the conscience of man and respect for his life he told the people of his time that human life cannot be kept in bondage, and cannot be kept in the cradle of childhood for long. It should not be kept in imprisonment lest it should become impure and be consequently annihilated.
In another chapter we shall quote some unique
sayings of Ali which will remain alive so long as righteous persons live on the earth. Those sayings will last forever. We have selected these sayings from Nahj al-Balaghah and they relate to the acquisition of excellent morals and good character and to the purity of man.
Continued below in part 2...