The following instructions in the form of a letter
were written by Imam Ali (A) to Malik-e-Ashter, whom he had appointed as
a Governor of Egypt in the year 657 A.D. (approximately). There is a main
central idea running throughout these instructions, like one single thread
out of which a cloth is woven, and that is of Allah. The government is
of Allah. The governors and the governed are both creatures of Allah.
This letter is based on the principles of administration
as taught by the Holy Quran. It is a code to establish a kind and benevolent
rule, throwing light on various aspects of justice, benevolence and mercy,
an order based on the ethics of a benign and pious ruler ship, where justice
and mercy is shown to human beings irrespective of class, creed and color,
where poverty is neither a stigma nor a disqualification and where justice
is not tarred with nepotism, favoritism, provincialism or religious fanaticism
and on the other hand it is a thesis on the higher values of morality.
In the Name of Allah, 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 prohibited against. By such abstinence alone, you will be able to distinguish between what is good and what is not.
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 brethren in religion or your brethren
in kind. They are subject to infirmities and liable to commit mistakes.
Some indeed do commit mistakes, but forgive them even as you would like
God to forgive you. Bear in mind that you are placed over them, even 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 unto 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 displeasure, 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 meet 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 feel in your mind the slightest symptoms
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 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 God 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 injustice to humanity. Thus both man and God will become your
enemies. There is no hearing anywhere for one who makes an enemy of God
himself. 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 waylays 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 favors done to them. They will feel restive in the
face of trials and will offer no regret for their short comings. It is
the common man who is the strength of the State and of Religion. It is
he who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be
mindful of their welfare.
Keep at a distance, he 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 weaknesses 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 take counsel of a
coward also, for, he will weaken your resolutions. Do not take counsel
of the greedy too, for, he will instill greed in you and turn you into
a tyrant. Miserliness, cowardice and greed deprive man of his trust in
The worst counselor is he who has served as a counselor
to unjust rulers and shared their crimes. So, never let men who have been
companions of tyrants or have shared their crimes be your counselors. 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 God fearing,
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
Do not treat the good and the bad alike. That will
deter the good from doing good, and encourage the bad in their bad pursuits.
Recompense every one according to his deserts. Remember that mutual trust
and good will between the ruler and the ruled are bred only through benevolence,
justice and service. So, cultivate goodwill amongst the people; for, their
goodwill alone will save you from troubles. Your benevolence to them will
be repaid by the trust in you, and your ill-treatment by their ill will
Do not disregard the noble traditions set by our for
bearers which have promoted harmony and progress among the people; and
do not initiate any thing which might minimize their usefulness. The men
who had established those noble traditions have had their reward; but responsibility
will be yours 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 dependent on the progress of every other;
and none can afford to independent of the other. We have the Army forced
of the soldiers of God. We have our civil office 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, unemployed and the indigent. God has prescribed
for them their several rights, duties and obligations. They are all defined
and preserved in the Book of God and in the traditions of His 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 fulfill and have therefore to depend upon the income provided for them
from the state revenue. The military and the civil population who pay revenue,
both need the cooperation of others--the judiciary, civil officers and
their establishment. The Qazi administers civil and criminal law ; the
civil officers collect revenue and attend to civil administration with
the assistance 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
to the good of the entire population a duty which he cannot fulfill 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
Be particularly mindful of the welfare of those in the army, who in your opinion, are staunchly faithful to their God and 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 faulter at any stage.
Keep yourself in close contact with 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 select 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 might
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 behooves you to select for your Commander-in-chief
one who imposes on himself, as a duty, the task of rendering 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
Your advice to the army will be of no avail, unless
and until you show affection both men and officers, in order that they
might not regard the Government as an oppressive burden or contribute to
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
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 dispensing 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 withholds proper reward
from one who has done great deeds simply because he holds a low position
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 difference of opinion among you." To turn to God is in reality
to consult the Book of God; and turn to the Prophet is to follow his universally
Select as your chief judge 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 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 it is not easy to find such a man.
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 his 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 judge, give careful consideration to the selection of other
officers. Confirm them in their appointments after approved apprenticeship
and probation. 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 either 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 administration,
to ensure the prosperity of those who pay the revenue to the state; for,
on their prosperity depends the prosperity of others, particularly the
prosperity of the masses. Indeed, the state exists on its revenue. You
should regard the proper un- keep 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 to improve his land, inflicts unmerited hardship on the
cultivator and ruins the State. The rule of such a person does not last
long. If the cultivators ask for reduction of their land tax for having
suffered from epidemics or drought or excess of rains or the barrenness
of the soil or floods damaging their crops, then reduce the tax 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 condition
of your towns and to 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 correspondence, 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 the drafting of
treaties may not succumb to eternal temptation and harm your interests,
or fail to render you proper assistance and to 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 pretensions 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, see to it that those selected possess influence with the 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 every weakness of anyone among your
establishment and scribe which you may overlook will be written down against
you in your scroll of deeds.
Trade and Industry
Adopt useful schemes placed before those engaged in
trade and industry, and help them with wise counsels. 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. Trade and Industry are sources of profit
to the State. 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. Visit every part of the country and establish
personal contact with this class, and enquire into their condition. But
bear in mind that a good many of them are intensely greedy and are inured
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 light this evil. Prevent them from hoarding; for he Prophet of God-Peace
be on him- 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 patronize them, who are forlorn, indigent and
helpless and are greatly torn in mind- victims to 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 interest. Assign for their uplift a portion of the state exchequer.
(Baitul-mal), wherever they may be, whether close at hand or far away 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 considerations, 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 Judgment; for,
it is this section of the people more than any other which 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. And 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 representative 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 that clear to them with utmost sincerity.
There are certain things which call for prompt action.
Accept the recommendations made by your officers for the redress of the
grievances of the clerical staff. See to it that petitions or applications
submitted for your consideration are brought to your notice the very day
they are submitted, however much your officers might try to intercept them.
Dispose of the day's work that very day, for the coming day will bring
with it its own task.
Communion With God
And then 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
special time that you give to prayer in the strict religious sense is to
be devoted to the performance of the prescribed daily prayers. Keep yourself
occupied with prayers during the day and in the night, and to gain perfect
communion, do not as far as possible, let your prayers grow tiresome.
And when you lead in congregational prayer, do not
let your prayer be so lengthy as to cause discomfort to the congregation
or raise in them the feeling of dislike for it or liquidate its effect:
for in the congregation there may be invalids and also those who have to
attend to pressing affairs of their own. When, on receiving an order to
proceed to Yemen, I had asked to the Prophet of God, how I should lead
the people in prayer over 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 Desirable
Alongside of 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 not, between right and
wrong, and between truth and falsehood. The ruler is after all human; 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 yourself
away from the people, but will listen to them and meet their requirements.
On the other hand, 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 for
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 companions violates
the law, meet out the punishment prescribed 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 your mind 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 fulfill your wish that you should enjoy
Peace & Treaties
Bear in mind that you do not throwaway 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 fulfillment 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 divine 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 promise from which you may afterwards offer excuses to retract; nor
do you go back upon what you have confirmed to abide by; nor do you break
it, however galling it may at first prove to be. For, it is far better
to wait in patience for wholesome results to follow than to break it out
of any apprehensions.
Beware! Abstain from shedding blood without a valid
cause. There is nothing more harmful than this which brings about one's
ruin. The blood that is willfully shed shortens the life of a state. On
the Day of Judgment 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 stab and passes it on
to other hands. Before me and my God no excuse for willful killing can
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.
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
in 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. Whenever you become angry try to restrain yourself
or else you will simply increase your worries.
It is imperative that you study carefully the principles
which have inspired just and good rulers who have gone before you. Give
close thought to the example of our Holy Prophet (peace be on him), his
traditions, and the commandments of the Book of God and whatever you might
have assimilated from my own way of dealing with things Endeavor 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 the 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 might cherish our memory and our work survives. I seek of God the
culmination of His blessings and pray that He may grant you and me His
grace and the honor of martyrdom in His cause. Verily, we have to return
to Him, I invoke His blessings on the Prophet of God and his pure progeny.
The famous Arab Christian scholar, jurist, poet and
philosopher, Abdul Maseeh-e-Antaki, who died some time in the early 20th
century, whilst discussing this letter writes that it is a far superior
code than one handed down by Moses or Hamurabi. It explains what human
administration should be and how it is to be carried out, and is justifies
the claims of Muslims that Islam wants to introduce a Godly administration
of the people, for the people and by the people, and it wants that a ruler
should rule not to please himself, but to bring happiness to the ruled,
and no religion before Islam tried to achieve this end. Ali (A) should
be congratulated for having introduced these principles in his government
and for having written them down for posterity.
According to a well known historian Masoodi (Murooj-uz-
Zahab Vol. II, page 33, Egypt), Imam Ali (A) is credited with no fewer
than 480 treaties, lectures, epistles on a variety of subjects dealing
with philosophy, religion, law and politics, as collected by Zaid Ibn Wahab
in the Imam's own lifetime. So highly valued are these contributions both
for their contents and their intrinsic literary worth that some of his
masterpieces have formed throughout the course of Islamic history, subject
of study in centers of Muslim learning. Indeed, his reputation seems to
have traveled into Europe at the time of the Renaissance. Edward Powcock,
(1604-1691) a professor at the University of Oxford, published the first
English translation of his 'Sayings' and delivered in 1639 a series of
lectures on his 'Rhetoric'.
This letter according to Fehrist-i- Tusi (page 33)
was first copied during the time of Imam Ali (A) by Asbigh Ibn Nabata and
later on reproduced and referred to in their writings by various Arab and
Egyptian scholars, chief of them being Nasr son of Mazahim (148 A.H.),
Jahiz Basari (255 A.H.), Syed Razi (404 A.H.), Ibn Abil Hadeed (655 A.H.),
Ibn Abduh (the reformer of Egypt) and Allama Mustafa Bek Najib, the great
scholar of Egypt. The last named regards this letter as "A basic guide
in Islamic administration."
"But for his assassination", to quote the language
of a French historian, "the Moslem world might have witnessed the realisation
of the Holy Prophet's teachings, in the actual amalgamation of Reason with
Law and in the impersonation of the first principles of true philosophy
in positive action." The same passionate devotion to knowledge and learning
which distinguished Muhammad (S) breathed in every word of his Disciple.
With a liberality of mind-far beyond that of his age in which he lived
was joined a sincere devoutness of spirit and earnestness of faith. His
sermons, faithfully preserved by one of his descendants and his litanies
or psalms, portray a devout up looking towards the Source of All Good,
and an unbounded faith in humanity. "The Spirit of Islam" by Syed Ameer
Ali, page 363.