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Imam Ali (A): A leader whom the World is crying for

Imam Ali (A): A leader whom the World is crying forIn the present world which is full of injustice, political tension, clash between cultures and religions, and exploitation of assets - the World's population is crying for strong, merciful and just leadership. A fundamental philosophical question to ask is:

Can a man yearn for something which according to some is impossible to attain - i.e. is it impossible to hope for a leader with perfect qualities?

To answer this question we must ask ourselves if history ever has seen leadership with perfect qualities?

The following examples from history demonstrate qualities of the ultimate leader - Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as):

A Leader for all Humans

In his famous letter to Malik al-Ashtar upon him taking governance over Egypt, Imam Ali (A) writes:

"Remember, Malik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to, they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you. You must always appreciate and adopt a policy which is neither too severe nor too lenient; a policy which is based upon equity will be largely appreciated."

If all Leaders would try to show the same mercy and recognise weaknesses of humans like Imam Ali (A) the world would be a better place to live in.

A Leader who chooses the Best Team

When appointing people who would represent the Islamic Government, Imam Ali (A) was always uncompromising to his just ideals. He would also cascade the same examples to his representatives to follow, which can be read in another part of the Imam Ali's (A) letter to Malik al-Ashtar:

"Your worst ministers will be the men who had been ministers to the despotic rulers before you and who had been a party to atrocities committed by them. Such persons should not be taken into your confidence and should not be trusted because they have aided sinners and have assisted tyrants and cruel rulers. In their stead you can comfortably find persons who are equally wise and learned but who have not developed sinful and criminal mentalities, who have neither helped the tyrants in their tyrannies nor have they assisted them to carry on their sinful deeds.

Such persons will prove the least troublesome to you. They will be the most helpful. They will sincerely sympathise with you. If you take them in your confidence they will sever their connections with your opponents. Keep such people with you as your companions in your informal company as well as in official gatherings in audience..."

If Leaders would set-up governance and partners in the fashion Imam Ali (A) recommended, and indeed implemented, corruption in leadership would quickly diminish.

A Leader with the greatest socio-political and socio-economical insight

In an era (7th Century!) more than 1000 years before the arrival of the renaissance and even before the primitive Feudalistic system had been established in Europe and Asia, Imam Ali (A) describes the structures of how a society works to Malik al-Ashtar:

"You must know, Malik, that the people over whom you rule are divided into classes and grades and the prosperity and welfare of each class of the society individually and collectively are so interdependent upon the well-being of the other classes that the whole set-up represents a closely woven net and reciprocal aspect. One class cannot exist peacefully, cannot live happily and cannot work without the support and good wishes of the other."

Many of the leaders and governments in this day and age depend on hoarding and storing commodities and monies, with the strategy of making gains for oneself or for a limited part of society, however Imam Ali (A) never agreed to this conduct.

A leader not favoring family and kin over other subjects

Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, Imam Ali's elder brother, was financially not in sound condition. He asked for something more than his due share before the time. Imam Ali (A) refused by saying that he could not resort to dishonesty. Aqeel must wait till the time of disbursement and he must bear the sufferings patiently. (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 222)

Justice even against his own interests: Principle of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as)

Justice even against his own interestsHow many of us in this life would resort to Justice even if it was against ourselves? Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) says, "One who exhibits fairness on his part, Allah (SWT) shall increase him in glory". (Jame al-Sadaat)

When it came to justice, Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) never bothered about himself. Shu'bi narrates the following incident which occurred during the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as). Shu'bi says,

I once entered the vast open ground of Kufah. I witnessed that Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) was standing besides two containers which were filled with gold and silver coins. A huge crowd had gathered around him. Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) had a whip in his hand for preventing the people from hampering the distribution of money. Then Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) began distributing the money until nothing remained for himself and returned home empty handed.

I returned home and said to my father: "I witnessed a very strange act today but I failed to comprehend if this person's action was good or bad because he never retained anything for himself". When asked about the person, I said, "Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as)" and told him everything that had transpired. Upon hearing Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza's (as) fairness, my father began to cry and said, "My son! You have witnessed the most excellent person from amongst the people".

A Leader with a perfect temperament and humility

Many at times when we watch the news we are presented with various leaders who's true views and inner thoughts are revealed by accident, e.g. by a microphone capturing their remarks uttered only meant for a private audience. When reading about Imam Ali's (A) life and incidents, it is very remarkable that various witnesses who had the opportunity to be with the Imam Ali (A) in private, are always portraying Imam Ali (A) with the best Moral (Akhlaq).

A Leader not compromising justice between humans

Justice and EqualityThe principle of keeping judiciary independent of and over and above the executive, administrative and military functions of the State was the main factor of the reforms introduced by him. He was very particular about this. So much so that historians narrate that once Imam Ali (A), on finding his (lost) armor in the possession of a Christian man, took him to court and stood with his opponent before Qazi Shurayh, his Chief Justice as a complainant and the Chief Justice wanted to give him a place of honour in the court and to treat him like a king or caliph. He reproached the judge for such a behaviour, saying that he was there as a plaintiff, and not as a king or caliph.

Imam Ali (A) informed the judge: "It is my armor. I neither sold, nor donated it".

The judge asked the Christian man: "What do you have to say against what Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) says?"

"It is mine", said the Christian man. "Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) is but a liar".

The judge turned to Imam Ali (as), demanding that he should present his evidence proving that the armor was his. Imam Ali (as) smiled and said that he had no evidence. So, the judge issued his decision that the armor belonged to the Christian man.

Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) then cheerfully accepted the decision of the court against him. The effect of upholding the prestige of the Court of Justice, and his adherence to the principles of equality and equity were so impressive that the person, against whom he had filed the case, and had lost it, ran after him, kissed the hem of his garment, and said, "My master! Teach me Islam, I am a Christian and I want to be converted".

"Why?" enquired Imam Ali (A), "Did anybody force you to do that?"

"No, my master", he replied, "but your behaviour of treating even a non-Muslim subject as your equal, the prestige you have granted to justice and fair play, and your abstinence from use of power and authority made me feel that Islam is a great religion. You are a ruler and a caliph, you could have easily ordered me to be killed and my property looted, and nobody would have dared to ask reasons of your actions, but you took the case against me to the court, and cheerfully accepted the decision against you; I have never heard of such a ruler before you. Secondly, the thing that you claimed as yours is actually yours and not mine, but I know the persons who could provide proof of this are out of Kufa, therefore, I boldly said that it was mine, and not yours. That was a lie, and now I am ashamed to feel that I have lied against such an honourable person. You have heard me. Will you not allow me to enter the fold of Islam?"

The great Imam enquired, "Are you of your free-will entering our fold?"

"Yes", he replied, "Under your regime, I have nothing to lose by remaining in my religion and no worldly benefit to gain by embracing Islam and by confessing my guilt and sin."

The numerous examples from history truly shows that Imam Ali (A) was the perfect leader, and thus his title Amir al Momineen = Leader of the Believers. It remains to ask ourselves if we are the best Momineen (believers) and if we can soon earn the opportunity of being led by Imam Ali's (A) grandson?

Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini (ra) said in one of his speeches: "What can I say about Imam Ali's (A) character? Who can possibly say about him? The various dimensions that this phenomenal character possesses is beyond description and human comprehension. Someone who acquires the level of human perfection must possess about 1000 dimensions and speaking about even one of them is beyond our level of comprehension. This character who is totally free of counter qualities, can not be spoken about by anyone therefore it is better that I too keep silent.

Justice and Equality: Principle of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as)

Principle of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as)Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza's (as) only aim of life was to earn the eternal pleasure of Allah (SWT) in everything that he (as) said and did in this life. And in order to achieve this aim, he (as) adopted such strong principles which either strongly attracted people towards him or strongly repelled them. One of his principles was having firm belief and faith in Allah (SWT) and basing his entire life upon the teachings and guidance from the Noble Qur'an.

The other principle of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) was that of Adl meaning: Justice and Equity. Belief in Allah (SWT) and being Just, were in fact the primary mission of Holy Prophet Mohammad (saw). Noble Qur'an says:

"... and say (O Muhammad!) I believe in whatsoever Allah has sent down of the book; and I am commanded to do justice between you..." (42:15)

Studying the life of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as), we will observe that his whole life revolved around belief in Allah (SWT) and doing Justice.

Love of a friend / companion towards Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as)

There was a friend / companion of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as), a good and believing man, who unfortunately fell into error, and who had to be punished. Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) cut off the fingers of his right hand. The man took hold of his cut hand, with the blood dripping from it, with his left hand and went away. He was then instigated by a seditious Kharijite, who wanted to take advantage of the course of events for his own party and against Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as), so he came up to the companion of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) with an utter of compassion and said:

Who cut your fingers off?

The Chief of the Prophet's successor, he said, the leader of the untainted ones at the Resurrection, the most righteous among the believers, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Imam of Right Guidance, cut of the fingers of my right hand... the first to reach the Gardens of Felicity, the hero of the brave, the avenger against the promoters of ignorance, the giver of Zakat (Charity)... the leader on the right and the perfect path, the speaker of what is true and appropriate, the Champion of Makkah, the steadfast exceller.

Poor you! Said the Kharijite, he cut of your fingers, and you extol him thus!

Why should I not extol him, replied the companion of Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as), now that his friendship is mixed with my flesh and blood? I swear by Allah (SWT) that he did not cut off my fingers except with a right that Allah (SWT) has established.

Such was the love, attraction and the affection of the companion for Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as).

Hazrat Ali Al Murtaza (as) said: If I cut a faithful Muslim into pieces to make him hate me, he will not turn into my enemy and if I give all the wealth of this world to a hypocrite to make him my friend he will not befriend me. It is so because Holy Prophet Mohammad (saw) has said: "O Ali! No faithful Muslim will ever be your enemy and no hypocrite will ever be your friend."

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016