Chapter Six: Social Policies

6.1 Establishing Justice

293. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his letter to Ibn ‘Abbas: “Your envoy came to me. You have reported what you have seen or heard concerning the people of Basra after my return. I inform you about those people: They are [in two groups] a group desiring something and aspiring to obtain it, and another who are afraid of a punishment. So, make the eager ones hopeful by doing justice to them, and being fair and doing good to them.”1

294. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Let the dearest of your affairs be those which are middlemost in rightfulness, most inclusive in justice and most comprehensive in (establishing) the content of the subjects… Verily the foremost delight of the eye for rulers is the establishment of justice in the land and the appearance of love for them among the subjects.”2

295. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his letter to Aswad b. Qutaba, the commander of Hulwan Troops: “Now, if the actions of a governor follow the passions he will be greatly hampered in justice. So, all the people should be equal in right before you, because injustice cannot be a substitute for justice. Avoid that thing the like of which you would not like for yourself.”3

296. Imam Ali (a.s.): “This is the commandment of ‘abd Allah, Ali Amir al-Mu’minin, to Muhammad b. Abi Bakr when appointed him as the governor of Egypt. He ordered him to be wary of Allah secretly and openly; to fear Allah in privacy and in public; to be humble to the Muslims; to be hard on the evil-doers; to do justice to those under protective covenant (dhimmis); to be fair to the oppressed and severe to the oppressors; to pardon people and to be charitable to them as much as possible; Allah will reward the charitable and punish the sinful.”4

297. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his commandment to Muhammad b. Abi Bakr when appointed him as the governor of Egypt: “Behave humbly with the people, keep yourself lenient, meet them large-heartedly, accord them equal treatment so that the big should not expect injustice from you in their favor and the low should not be despondent of your justice to them. Allah, the Sublime will certainly question you, O' community of his creatures, about your actions, small or big, open or concealed. If He punishes you it is because you have been oppressive, and if He forgives, then it is because He is the Most Generous.”5

298. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his words when he was spoken ill of for showing equality in the distribution (of shares from public treasury): “Do you command me that I should seek support by oppressing those over whom I have been placed? By Allah, I won't do so as long as the world goes on, and as long as one star leads another in the sky! Even if it were my property, I would have distributed it equally among them, then why not when the property is that of Allah.”6

299. Imam Ali (a.s.): “By Allah, I would rather pass a night in wakefulness on prickly thorns or be driven in chains as a prisoner than meet Allah and His Messenger on the Day of Judgment as an oppressor over any person or a usurper of anything out of worldly wealth. And how can I oppress any one for the sake of a life that is fast moving towards destruction and is to remain under the earth for a long time.”7

300. Imam Ali (a.s.): “By Allah, even if I am given all the domains of the seven (spheres) with all that exists under the skies in order that I may disobey Allah to the extent of snatching one grain of barley from an ant I would not do it. For me your world is lighter than the leaf in the mouth of a locust that is chewing it. What has Ali to do with bounties that will pass away and pleasures that will not last?”8

301. Imam Ali (a.s.): “On the Day of Resurrection I will argue with people in nine things: performing prayers (salat), paying alms tax (zakat), bidding what is good and forbidding what is wrong, doing justice among people, equal distribution, fighting in the way of Allah, implementing punishments, and the like.”9

302. Tarikh Damishq – related by Ali b. Rabi’a: “Ja’da b. Hubayra came to Ali (a.s.) and said, ‘O Amir al-Mu’minin! If two men come to, and you are more likeable to one of them than his own soul or his household or his property, and the other one would kill you if he could, then would you judge in favor of the first man and against the second one?!’”

“He struck me on the chest and said, ‘Certainly, if it were up to me, I would do so; but this is an affair pertaining to Allah.”10

303. Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh – in a report about ‘Ubayd Allah b. al-Hurr al-Ju’fi11: “When ‘Uthman was killed and the war broke out between Ali (a.s.) and Mu’awiya, he [‘Ubayd Allah] went toward Mu’awiya and remained with him because of his love for ‘Uthman. He and Malik b. Masma’ accompanied Mu’awiya in the battle of Siffin.”

“’Ubayd Allah stayed with Mu’awiya and his wife was in Kufa. Since his separation lasted long, his brother-in-law married her off to one ‘Ikrima b. Khubays. When ‘Ubayd Allah was informed about this, he left for Kufa and went to Ali (a.s.) to make a complaint against ‘Ikrima.”

“Ali (a.s.) told him, ‘You helped out the enemy and now you got yourself in such a misery?’”

“‘Ubayd Allah said, ‘Will this deprive me of your justice?’”

“The Imam said, ‘No.’”

“The he told his story to Ali (a.s.) and he returned his wife to him. She was pregnant. [Thus] He left her with someone in whom he trusted until she gave birth to her child, he handed the child to ‘Ikrima and returned the woman to ‘Ubayd Allah.”

“‘Ubayd Allah went back to Sham where he stayed until Ali (a.s.) was killed.”12

304. Tarikh al-Ya’qubi - related by al-Zahri: “One day, I went to see ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-Aziz. While I was with him, he received a letter from one of his administrators stating that their city needed reconstruction.”

[Zahri goes on to say] “I told Umar, ‘One of Ali b. abi Talib (a.s.)’s administrators had sent him similar letter and he had replied to him as follows: Now then, place the city in the citadel of justice and clean the tyranny off its pathway!’”

“’Umar wrote the same reply to his administrator.”13 See 1/4 (The Imam’s Motives for Accepting the Rulership).

6.2 Commitment to Rights

305. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in Siffin: “So now, Allah, the Glorified, has, by placing me over your affairs, created my right over you, and you too have a right over me like mine over you. A right is very vast in description but very narrow in equitableness of action.”

“Right does not accrue to any person unless it accrues against him also, and it does not accrue against a person unless it also accrues in his favor. If there is any right which is only in favor of a person with no (corresponding) right accruing against him it is solely for Allah, the Glorified, and not for His creatures by virtue of His might over His creatures and by virtue of the justice permeating all His decrees. Of course, He the Glorified, has created His right over creatures that they should worship Him, and has laid upon Himself (the obligation of) their reward equal to several times the recompense as a mark of His bounty and the generosity that He is capable of.”

“Then, from His rights, He, the Glorified, created certain rights for certain people against others. He made them so as to equate with one another. Some of these rights produce other rights. Some rights are such that they do not accrue except with others. The greatest of these rights that Allah, the Glorified, has made obligatory is the right of the ruler over the ruled and the right of the ruled over the ruler. This is an obligation which Allah, the Glorified, has placed on each one against the other. He has made it the basis of their (mutual) affection, and an honor for their religion. Consequently, the ruled cannot prosper unless the rulers are sound, while the rulers cannot be sound unless the ruled are steadfast.”

“If the ruled fulfil the rights of the ruler and the ruler fulfils their rights, then right attains the position of honor among them, the ways of religion become established, signs of justice become fixed and the sunna gains currency. In this way time will improve, the continuance of government will be expected, and the aims of the enemies will be frustrated.”

“But if the ruled gain sway over the ruler, or the ruler oppresses the ruled, then difference crops up in every word, signs of oppression appear, mischief enters religion and the ways of the sunna are forsaken. Then desires are acted upon, the commands (of religion) are discarded, diseases of the spirit become numerous and there is neither hesitation in disregarding even great rights, nor in committing big wrongs.”

“In such circumstances, the virtuous are humiliated while the vicious are honored, and there are serious chastisements from Allah, the Glorified, onto the people.”

“You should therefore counsel each other (for the fulfillment of your obligations) and co-operate with each other. However extremely eager a person may be to secure the pleasure of Allah, and however fully he strives for it, he cannot discharge (his obligation for) obedience to Allah, the Glorified, as is really due to Him.”

“It is an obligatory right of Allah over the people that they should advise each other to the best of their ability and co-operate with each other for the establishment of truth among them. No person, however great his position in the matter of truth, and however advanced his distinction in religion may be, is above cooperation in connection with the obligations placed on him by Allah. Again, no man, however small he may be regarded by others, and however humble he may appear before eyes, is too low to cooperate or to be afforded cooperation in this matter.”14

306. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Allah, the Glorified, has created the rights of His servant as vanguard to His own rights. Therefore, whoever fulfils the rights of the servants of Allah it will prompt him to fulfil the rights of Allah.”15

6.3 Developing Constructive Freedoms

307. Imam Ali (a.s.): “O People, verily Adam (a.s.) did not beget slave men and women; all people are free.”16

308. Imam Ali (a.s.): “And now, verily Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, raised up Muhammad (S) so as to turn His servants out from the servitude of the slaves toward servitude of Himself, from the covenant of the slaves toward covenant of Himself, from obedience to the salves toward obedience to Himself, and from the guardianship of the slaves toward guardianship of Himself.”17

309. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Do not be the slave of others, for Allah has made you free.”18

310. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The one who fulfils the requirements of servitude [to Allah], deserves freedom, and the one who neglects the rules of freedom, returns to slavery.”19

311. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Beware of what infuriates your Lord and frightens people away from you! The one who infuriates his Lord will be exposed to death, and the one who frightens people away has disclaimed freedom.”20

312. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The beauty of a free [unattached] person is in keeping away from infamy”.21

313. Imam Ali (a.s.): “A free person remains free even though distress befalls them. A slave remains a slave even though destiny assists them.”22

314. Imam Ali (a.s.): “O Kufis!

I have experienced in you three things and two others: you are deaf in spite of having ears, dumb in spite of speaking, and blind in spite of having eyes. You are neither true supporters in combat (encounter) nor dependable brothers in distress.”23

315. Imam Ali (a.s.) – after hearing about the arbitration: “Woe on you! I had to bear a lot of worries from you. Some day I call you (to jihad) and some day I whisper to you in confidence, you are neither true free men at the time of call, nor trustworthy brothers at the time of speaking in confidence.”24

316. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from aphorisms attributed to him: “Whatever befalls a free man, he will bear it and see it as per his high magnanimity, unless when a [small] fraction of his freedom is degraded; that is when he refuses and does not respond to it.”25

6.4 Endeavor in Pleasing People

317. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Let the dearest of your affairs be those which are middlemost in rightfulness, most inclusive in justice and most comprehensive in (establishing) the content of the subject. For the discontent of the common people invalidates the content of favorites, and the discontent of favorites is pardoned at (the achievement of) the content of the masses. Whereas the support of religion, the solidarity of Muslims and preparedness in the face of the enemy lie only with the common people of community, so let your inclination and affection be toward them. Verily the foremost delight of the eye for rulers is the establishment of justice in the land and the appearance of love for them among the subjects. But surely the subjects’ love will not appear without the well-being of their breasts.”26

318. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Thus, you should behave in your rule like him who desires to secure the praise of the subjects, the reward of Allah, and the satisfaction of the Imam. There is no strength save in Allah.”27

6.5 Kindness and Amiability to People

319. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects. Be not in face of them a voracious animal, counting them as easy prey, for they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation. Error catches them unaware, deficiencies overcome them, and evil deeds are committed by them intentionally and by mistake. So grant them your pardon and your forgiveness to the same extent that you hope Allah will grant you His pardon and His forgiveness.

For you are above them, and he who appointed you is above you, and Allah is above him who appointed you. Allah has sought from you the fulfillment of their requirements and He is trying you with them. Set yourself not up to war against Allah, for you have no power against His vengeance, nor are able to dispense with His pardon and His mercy.

Know that there is nothing more conductive to the ruler’s trusting his subjects than his being kind towards them, lightening their burdens and abandoning coercing them in that in which they possess not the ability. So in this respect you should attain a situation in which you can confidently trust your subjects, for trusting (them) will sever from you lasting strain. And surely he who most deserves your trust is he who has done well when you have tested him, and he who most deserves your mistrust is he who has done badly when you have tested him.”28

[In Tuhaf al-‘Uqul the following is added to the above:] If you realize this state for and against you, you will be more cognizant in doing good and having good impression with people in addition to what Allah will reward you on the Judgment Day.”29

320. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his letter to Ibn. ‘Abbas when he was his governor in Basra: “You should know that Basra is the place where Satan descends and mischief happens. Therefore, Keep the people of this place pleased with good treatment and remove the knots of fear from their hearts.”30

6.6 Direct Contact with People

321. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Set aside for those who have requests from you a portion (of your time) in which you yourself are free (to attend) to them. Hold an open audience for them and therein be humble before Allah who created you. Keep the soldiers and aids that are your bodyguards and police away from them so that their spokesman may address you without stammering (in fear). For I heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say not (only) on one occasion: ‘No community shall be sanctified within which the rightful due of the weak may not be taken from the strong without stammering (by the weak)’…”

“Then there are certain of your affairs which you must take in hand personally. Among them is giving an ear to your administrators when your secretaries have been unable to find the correct solution…. Prolong not your seclusion from your subjects, for rulers’ seclusion from subjects is a kind of constraint and (results in) a lack of knowledge of affairs. Seclusion from them cuts rulers off from the knowledge of that which they have been secluded. Then the great appears to them as small and the small as great. The beautiful appears as ugly and the ugly as beautiful.”31

322. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his letter to Qutham b. ‘Abbas, his governor in Mecca: “There should be no intermediary between you and the people except your tongue and no guard save your own face. Do not prevent any needy person from meeting you, because if the needy is returned unsatisfied from your door in the first instance then even doing it thereafter will not bring you praise.”32

323. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his letter to the tax collectors: “Do not employ doorkeepers for yourself or bar anyone from [making] they requests so as they may hand it over to you.”33

324. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his letter to the commanders of troops: “From the servant of Allah, Ali (a.s.) b. Abi Talib, Amir al-Mu’minin to the commanders in charge of garrisons: Now, it is obligatory on an officer that the distinction he achieves or the wealth with which he has been exclusively endowed should not make him change his behavior towards his subjects, and that the riches Allah has bestowed on him should increase him in nearness to his people and kindness over his brethren.”34

325. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his letter to Qayth b. Sa’d: “Cut down your distance with people, leave your door open, and apply yourself to the Truth.”35

326. Imam Ali (a.s.): “There are three traits that if any of the leaders possesses, he deserves to be [regarded as] trustworthy in his leadership: to be just in his judgments; not to hide himself from his subjects; and to execute Allah’s ordinances [equally] on both the acquaintances and the strangers.”36

6.7 Tolerating Difficulties Caused by People

327. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The person who does not withstand the cost of people’s provision, then he has prepared power to be transferred [to someone else].”37

328. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Tolerance adorns statesmanship.”38

329. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in aphorisms attributed to him: “The one who manages his soul in tolerating the ignorance of people deserves to become a ruler.”39

330. Imam Ali (a.s.): “When you take over as a ruler, be lenient.”40

331. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The foundation of a rule is to make use of leniency.”41

332. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The foremost of a rule is tolerance.”42

333. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The one who acts leniently is successful.”43

334. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The one who is not lenient to his subordinate does not achieve his desires.”44

335. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in what he wrote to Hudhayfa b. Yaman: “I command you to be tolerant in your affairs and lenient and just to your subjects.”45

336. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in a letter he wrote to the people of Mada’in: “I assigned your affairs to Hudhayfa .b Yaman whose approach I favor and whose righteousness I am hopeful of. I have commanded him to do good to your benevolent ones and to be strict on your evil doers and to be lenient to your beautifully-minded. I ask Allah for well-being and benevolence and His All-embracing Mercy for you and for myself in this world and the world to come.”46

337. Imam Ali (a.s.): “It is incumbent upon you to be lenient, for it is the key to righteousness and the character of those who possess intellect.”47

338. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Tolerance and leniency ease off hardships and facilitate difficult means. “48

339. Imam Ali (a.s.): “For the one who exercises leniency, difficulties will become easy.”49

6.8 Avoiding Anger

340. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his instructions to Ibn ‘Abbas when appointed him as his in Basra: “Meet people with a broad face, allow them free audience and pass generous orders. Avoid anger because it is an augury of Satan.”50

6.9 Avoidance of Fault-finding

341. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Certainly, people possess faults. So, do not disclose what is concealed from you; for Allah, the Glorified would judge about it. Veil imperfection to the extent you are able, so that Allah veils what you would like it to be veiled.”51

342. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Let the farthest of your subjects from you and the most hateful to you be he who most seeks out the faults of men. For people possess faults, which the ruler more than anyone else should conceal. So, do not uncover those of them, which are hidden from you, for it is only incumbent upon you to remedy what appears before you. Allah will judge what is hidden from you. So, veil imperfection to the extent you are able; Allah will veil that of yourself which you would like to have veiled from your subjects.”52

343. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in the aphorisms attributed to him: “The mischievous would seek out vices of people and overlook their merits, like the flies that seek out putrid places.”53

344. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Whenever you ask a debauched woman who committed debauchery with her, and she answered ‘so-and-so’, then two punishments must be inflicted on her: a punishment for her debauchery and another one for imputing a Muslim man.”54

345. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Seeking out imperfection is the worst of vices.”55

6.10 Uncovering Excuses to Remove Suspicions

346. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “If any of your subjects should suspect you of an injustice, explain to them your justification. By your explanation turn their suspicions away from yourself. Thereby, you train your soul, act kindly to your subjects and justify (yourself) in a manner to attain your need, i.e., setting them in the way of the truth.”56

6.11 Helping out the Oppressed

347. Imam Ali (a.s.): “He who does not take revenge of the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed, Allah will take his strength from him.”57

348. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Behold, by Him who split the grain (to grow) and created living beings, if people had not come to me and supporters had not exhausted the argument and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders, and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the first one. Then you would have seen that in my view this world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat.”58

349. Imam Ali (a.s.): “O' people! Support me in your own affairs. By Allah, I will take revenge of the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed and will put a string in the nose of the oppressor and drag him to the spring of truthfulness even though he may grudge it.”59

350. Imam Ali (a.s.): “The low is in my view worthy of honor till I secure (his) right for him, while the strong is in my view weak till I take (other's) right from him.”60

351. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his instructions to Malik al-Ashtar: “Then, look into the matter of the judgments among people in good intention. The true judgment is to take back the rights of the oppressed from the oppressors, to support the weak against the strong, and to institute Allah’s doctrinal provisions according to their proper ways and courses. This will set aright Allah’s servants and lands.”61

352. Al-Imam al-Baqir: “Ali (a.s.) was returning home in the heat [of the day] when he saw a woman standing there who said, ‘My husband has wronged me and harassed me, and scared me and threatened to beat me.’”

“Ali (a.s.) said, ‘O Servant of Allah! Let the weather cool off, then I will go with you if God wills.’”

“The woman said, ‘His anger will boil over towards me.’”

“He lowered his head, then raised it and said, ‘No, By Allah, until the right of the oppressed is secured without stammering. Where is your house?’”

“He went to the man’s house, stopped at the door and called, ‘assalamu alykum!’

“A young man came out. Ali (a.s.) said, ‘O Servant of Allah! Be wary of Allah! You have scared your wife away.’”

“The young man said, ‘What do you have to do with her? By Allah, I will burn her because of your words!’”

“Then Amir al-Mu’minin said, ‘I am bidding you to do good and refraining you from doing wrong, then you respond to me with wrong and ignore good?’”

The narrator [al-Imam al-Baqir (a.s.)] said, “People were gathering around and saying, ‘Greetings to you O Amir al-Mu’minin!’”

“Repentant and confused, the man said, ‘O Amir al-Mu’minin! Forgive my fault. By Allah, [from now on] I will be like the ground for her to step on’”

“Ali (a.s.) sheathed his sword and said, ‘O Servant of Allah! Enter your house and do not force your wife into such troubles.”62

353. Al-Ikhtisas: Sa’d b. Qays Hamadani saw Ali (a.s.) near a wall on a hot day. Then, he asked him, “O Amir al-Mu’minin! [What are you doing here] At this hour?”

He said,”I did not come out except for helping an oppressed person or assisting a petitioner.”

At this time a woman came toward him who was disheartened and bewildered. She stopped before him and said, “O Amir al-Mu’minin! My husband has wronged me, harassed me, and threatened to beat me. Come along with me to go to him.”

He lowered his head, then raised it and said, ‘No, By Allah, until the right of the oppressed is secured without stammering. Where is your house?

She said in such a neighborhood.

He went along with the woman until they reached her house. The woman said, “This is my house.” [The narrator goes on to say] He greeted, and then a man came out who was wearing a long colorful garment. Then Ali (a.s.) told him, “Be wary of Allah! You have scared your wife.” The young man said, “What do you have to do with her? By Allah, I will burn her because of your words!”

[The narrator says:] Whenever he [Ali (a.s.)] went somewhere he would carry his whip in his hand and wear his sword. If someone was judged to be punished by whipping, he would whip him and if someone was judged to be punished with a sword, he would promptly carry it out.

All of a sudden the young man noticed that Ali (a.s.) had unsheathed his sword and was saying, “I am bidding you to do good and refraining you from doing wrong, and you are rejecting good? Repent! Or I will kill you.”

[The narrator says:] People from the nearby alleys came toward Amir al-Mumin (a.s.) and crowded before him. [At this time] The young man repented and said, “O Amir al-Mumin! Forgive me! May Allah forgive you [too]! By Allah, [from now on] I will be like the ground for her to step on.”

Then he ordered the woman to go back to her house and he himself returned [home] too, while reciting, (There is no good in much of their secret talks, excepting him who enjoins charity or what is right or reconciliation between people….)63

“Praise be to Allah who through me reconciled between a woman and her husband. Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, says, (There is no good in much of their secret talks, excepting him who enjoins charity or what is right or reconciliation between people, and whoever does that, seeking Allah’s pleasure, soon We shall give him a great reward.)64

354. Al-Kafi - related by Usayd b. Safwan, a companion to the Holy Prophet (S): “On the day of Amir al-Mu’minin’s demise, the town of Kufa was quivering by [people’s] weeping, and the people were astounded just like the day of the Prophet (S)’s demise.”

“[Meanwhile,] A man came running [toward us] while uttering the istirja‘ phrase inna li’llahi wa inna ilayhi raji‘un (Indeed we belong to Allah, and to Him do we indeed return)65 and said, ‘Today, the chain of succession broke off.’ He stopped at the door of the house in which Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) was, and said, ‘O Abu al-Hasan may Allah have Mercy upon you! You were the first one of this people in [embracing] Islam and their most sincere in faith…. The weak and degraded were powerful and dear with you, and the powerful and dear were weak and degraded with you until you would take back from them the rightful due. The distant people and the nearest ones were the same to you in this matter.”66 See, 6/6: “Direct Contact with People”

6.12 Setting up Complaints House

355. Subh al-A‘sha: “The first person who set up a place for the complainants to drop (lodge) their complaints was Amir al-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.).”67

356. Al-Awa’il – related by Muhammad b. Sirin: “Ali (a.s.) set up a house in which the people would drop (lodge) their complaints, so long as they wrote curses and dropped in it. Then, he closed it down.”68

357. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: “There was a house belonging to Amir al-Mu’minin, which he named bayt al-qisas (the complaints house) and the people would drop their letters of complaints in it.”69

358. Imam Ali (a.s.) – to his companions: “Any one of you who have a request from me, write it in a note so that I spare you from direct questioning.”70

6.13 Inspection in Order to Avert the Tyranny of the Troops

359. Imam Ali (a.s.): “

From the servant of Allah Ali, Amir al-Mu’minin to whomever through whose jurisdiction the army passes, whether collectors of revenue or officers of the realm:

Now, I have sent an army that will pass by you, if Allah wills. I have instructed them about what Allah has made obligatory on them, namely that they should avoid molestation and evade harm. I hold myself clear before you and those (unbelievers) who are under your protection from any annoyance committed by the army except when one is compelled by hunger and there is no other way of satisfying it.

Then, if anyone of them takes anything through force, you should punish him. None of you should be silly enough to obstruct them or intervene in matters, which we have allowed them by way of exception. I am myself in back of the army. So refer to me their high-handedness, and any hardship which is caused by them and which you cannot avert except through Allah and through me. I shall then avert it with the help of Allah, if He so wills.”71

6.14 Attempts toward Unification of Muslim Community

360. Imam Ali (a.s.) – in his letter to Abu Musa Ash‘ari, in response to the issue of arbitration: “

Certainly, many people have turned away from many a [lasting] benefit [of the next life], for they bent towards the world and spoke with passions. I have been struck with wonder in this matter upon which people who are self-conceited have agreed. I am providing a cure for their wound but I fear lest it develops into a clot of blood (and becomes incurable). Remember that no person is more covetous than I for the unity of the umma of Muhammad (S) and their solidarity. I seek through it good reward and an honorable place to return to. I shall fulfil what I have pledged upon myself.”72

361. Imam Ali (a.s.) – on warning against sedition: “You should not become landmarks of sedition and signs of innovations but should adhere to that on which the rope of the community has been wound and on which the pillars of obedience have been founded.”73

362. Imam Ali (a.s.) – from his speech to the Khawarij: “

And be with the great majority (of Muslims) because Allah's hand (of protection) is on keeping unity. You should beware of division because the one isolated from the group is a prey to Satan just as the one isolated from the flock of sheep is a prey to the wolf.”74

363. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Let the Islam and its dignity keep you away from rebelliousness and blathering and keep your words in unity. Be obliged to the religion of Allah, for none other would be accepted from any one; and (be obliged) to the word of sincerity which makes the religion firmly set.”75

364. Imam Ali (a.s.): “You should therefore avoid change in the matter of Allah's religion for your unity in respect of a right, which you dislike, is better than your scattering away in respect of a wrong that you like! Certainly, Allah the Glorified has not given any person, whether among the dead or among those who survive, any good for [his] separation.”76

365. Imam Ali (a.s.): “Certainly, Satan has made his ways easy for you and wants to unfasten the knots of religion one by one and to cause division among you in place of unity, and bring you turbulence by division. So, keep away from his evil ideas and enchantments.”77

366. Imam Ali (a.s.): “By Allah, no communities differ [among themselves] after their prophet except that their falsities overwhelm their truths, or what Allah wills.”78

367. Imam Ali (a.s.): “By Allah, I have begun thinking about these people that they would shortly snatch away the whole country through their unity on their wrong and your disunity (from your own right).”79

368. Imam Ali (a.s.) – on warning people against disunity: “You should also fear what calamities befell peoples before you on account of their evil deeds and detestable actions. Remember, during good or bad circumstances, what happened to them, and be cautious that you do not become like them!”

“After you have thought over both conditions of these people, attach yourself to everything with which their position became honorable, on account of which enemies remained away from them, through which safety spread over them, by reason of which riches bowed before them and as a result of which distinction connected itself with their rope. These things were abstention from division, sticking to unity, calling each other to it and advising each other about it. You avoid everything, which broke their backbone and weakened their power, such as malice in the heart, hatred in the chest, turning away (from each other's help) and withholding the hand from one another's assistance!”

“Think about the condition of people from among the believers who passed before you. What distresses and trials they were in! Were they not the most over-burdened among all the people and in the most straitened circumstances in the whole world? The Pharaohs took them as slaves. They inflicted on them the worst punishments and bitter sufferings. They continuously remained in this state of ruinous disgrace and severe subjugation.

They found no method for escape and no way for protection from sufferings. Till when Allah, the Glorified, noticed that they were enduring troubles in His love and bearing distresses out of fear for Him, He provided escape from the distress of trials. So, He changed their disgrace into honor and fear into safety. Consequently, they became ruling kings and conspicuous leaders. And Allah's favors over them reached limits to which their own wishes had not reached.”

“Look, how they were when their groups were united, their views were unanimous, their hearts were moderate, their hands used to help one another, their swords were intended for assisting one another, their eyes were sharp and their aims were the same. Did they not become masters of the corners of the earth and rulers over the neck of all the worlds? Thereafter, also see what happened to them towards the end when division overtook them, unity became fractured, and differences arose between their words and their hearts. They divided into various groups and were scattered fighting among them. Then, Allah took away from them the apparel of His honor and deprived them of the prosperity produced by His favors. Only their stories have remained among you for the guidance of those who may learn the lesson from them.”

“You should take a lesson from the fate of the progeny of Isma‘il, the children of Ishaq and the children of Isra’il. How similar are their affairs and how akin are their examples. In connection with the details of their division and disunity, think of the days when [such tyrants as] Cyrus and the Caesar become their masters. They turned them out from the pastures of their lands the rivers of Iraq and the fertility of the world, towards thorny forests, the passages of (hot) winds and hardships in livelihood. In this way they turned them into just herders of camels. Their houses were the worst in the world and their places of stay were the most drought-stricken. There was not one voice towards which they could turn for protection, nor any shade of affection on whose strength they could trust. Their condition was full of distress. Their hands were scattered. Their majority was divided. They were in great anguish and under layers of ignorance. They buried their daughters alive, worshipped idols, disregarded kinship and practised robbery.”

“Now, look at the various favors of Allah upon them, that He deputed towards them a prophet who got them to pledge their obedience to him and made them unite at his call.”80

  • 1. Waq‘atu Siffin: 105, Nathr al-Durar: 1/322.
  • 2. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 128 & 133, Da’a’im al-Islam: 1/355 & 358.
  • 3. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 59, Bahar al-Anwar: 33/511/708.
  • 4. Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 176, Algharat: 1/224.
  • 5. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 27 & 46, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 177.
  • 6. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 126, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 185.
  • 7. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 224, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 506/9285, Al-Sirat al-Mustaqim: 1/163.
  • 8. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 224, Al-Sirat al-Mustaqim: 1/163, Yanabi’ al-Mawadda: 1/442/6
  • 9. Fada'il al-Sahaba: 1/538/898, Al-Khisal: 363/53.
  • 10. Tarikh Damishq: 42/488, Al-Bidaya wa al-Nahaya: 8/5, Manaqib al-Imam Amir al-Mu’minin: 2/57/545.
  • 11. ‘Ubayd Allah b. Hurr Ju’fi was a brave champion and one of the companions of ‘Uthman. when the latter was killed, he became inclined toward Mu’awiya and said, ‘Allah knows that I love ‘Uthman and will help him until I die.

    Thus, he left for Sham and attended in the battle of Siffin along with Mu’awiya and remained beside him until Ali (a.s.) was killed. After the uprising of Imam Husayn (a.s.), he left Kufa lest the Imam would enter Kufa while he was there saying, ‘By Allah, I do not want to see him nor he see me.’

    When Imam Husayn (a.s.) entered Qasr Bani Maqatil (one of the stations between Makka and Kufa) and saw his tent. He sent one of his companions to him [‘Ubayd Allah) to call him for his assistance, but he did not reply. Imam Husayn (a.s.) put on his shoes and went to him, he greeted and sat down. Then he invited him to join the uprising, but he did not reply.

    After Imam Husayn (a.s.) was killed, ‘Ubayd Allah went to visit Ibn Ziyad. The latter reprimanded him for not helping the troops of Yzid against Imam Husayn (a.s.). Then, he held back his tears and left for the land of Karbala. He observed the battlefield and asked Allah’s Forgiveness for them and composed [a along poem in which he praised Imam Husayn (a.s.) son of Fatima (a.s.) and his martyred companions, showing his repentance and pity for not joining them in the uprising against the trickster tyrants of the time.]

    Then he and his children rose up and turned to fighting and robbery. He robbed not only private but also public property. His uprising continued through the time of Mukhtar and Mus’ab, ending up to his cooperation with ‘Abd al-Mali b. Marwan. he was killed when confronting the troops of Mus’ab. (Tarikh al-Tabari: 6/128-138)

  • 12. Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh: 3/25.
  • 13. Tarikh al-Ya’qubi: 2/306.
  • 14. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 216. Also cf., Al-Kafi: 8/352/550.
  • 15. Ghurar al-Hikam: 4780, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 223/4347.
  • 16. Al-Kafi: 8/69/26, Bahar al-Anwar: 32/134/107.
  • 17. Al-Kafi: 8/386/586, Falah al-Salil: 372/248, Bahar al-Anwar: 77/365/34.
  • 18. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 31, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 77, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 526/9572.
  • 19. Ghurar al-Hikam: 8529-30, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 450/8004-5.
  • 20. Ghurar al-Hikam: 2728, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 100/2292.
  • 21. Ghurar al-Hikam: 4745, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 222/4333.
  • 22. Ghurar al-Hikam: 1322, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 48/1202-3, Bihar al-Anwar: 78/12/70.
  • 23. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 97.
  • 24. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 125.
  • 25. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 20/279/210.
  • 26. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 128 & 133, Da’a’im al-Islam: 1/355 & 358.
  • 27. Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 138.
  • 28. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Da’a’im al-Islam: 1/354 – 356.
  • 29. Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 126 – 130.
  • 30. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 18, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/492/499.
  • 31. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 142.
  • 32. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 67, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/497/702.
  • 33. Waq’atu Siffin: 108, Bihar al-Anwar: 75/355/70.
  • 34. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 50, Waq’atu Siffin: 107, Al-Amali, Al-Tusi: 217/381, Al-Mi’yar wa al-Muwazina: 103.
  • 35. Tarikhk al-Ya’qubi: 2/202.
  • 36. Kanz al-‘Ummal: 5/764/14315.
  • 37. Ghurar al-Hikam: 8982.
  • 38. Ghurar al-Hikam: 772, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 24/219.
  • 39. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 20/318/656.
  • 40. Ghurar al-Hikam: 3974, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 133/2998.
  • 41. Ghurar al-Hikam: 5266, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 263/4781.
  • 42. Ghurar al-Hikam: 9947.
  • 43. Ghurar al-Hikam: 7842, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 453/8112.
  • 44. Ghurar al-Hikam: 9006.
  • 45. Irshad al-Qulub: 321, Al-Darajat al-Rafi‘a: 288: Bihar al-Anwar: 28/88/3.
  • 46. Irshad al-Qulub: 322, Al-Darajat al-Rafi‘a: 289. Also cf., Algharat: 1/211.
  • 47. Ghurar al-Hikam: 6114, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 334/5705, Ibid., 52/1363.
  • 48. Ghurar al-Hikam: 1778.
  • 49. Ghurar al-Hikam: 8400, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 455/8245.
  • 50. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 76, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/498/704.
  • 51. Ghurar al-Hikam: 3505. Also cf., Da’a’im al-Islam: 1/355.
  • 52. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 128.
  • 53. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 20/269/113.
  • 54. Al-Kafi: 7/209/20, Tahdhib al-Ahkam: 10/48/178, ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ria: 2/39/118.
  • 55. Ghurar al-Hikam: 4580.
  • 56. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 53, Tuaaf al-‘Uqul: 145.
  • 57. Ghurar al-Hikam: 8966, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 428/7261.
  • 58. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 3, Ma’aani al-Akhbar: 1/362, Al-Irshad: 1/289, ‘Ilal al-Sharaya’: 151/12.
  • 59. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 136, Bihar al-Anwar: 32/49/33.
  • 60. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 37, Bihar al-Anwar: 39/351/25.
  • 61. Tuhaf al-’Uqul: 135.
  • 62. Manaqib Al al-Abi Talib: 2/106, Bihar al-Anwar: 41/57/7.
  • 63. Al-Qur’an, 4:114.
  • 64. Al-Ikhtisas: 157, Bihar al-Anwar: 40/113.
  • 65. Al-Qur’an, 2: 156.
  • 66. Al-Kafi: 1/454/4, Kamal al-Din: 388 – 390/3, Al-Saduq, Al-Amali: 312/363.
  • 67. Subh al-A‘sha: 1/414.
  • 68. Al-Awa’l: 142.
  • 69. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 17/87.
  • 70. Al-‘Aqd al-Farid: 1/203.
  • 71. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 60, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/486/691.
  • 72. Nahj al-Balagha: Letter 78, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/304/554.
  • 73. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 151, Yanabi‘ al-Mawadda: 3/372/4.
  • 74. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 127, ‘Uyun al-Hikam wa al-Mawa’iz: 101/2312, Bihar al-Anwar: 33/373/604.
  • 75. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha: 4/45.
  • 76. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 176, Bihar al-Anwar: 2/313/76, Yanabi‘ al-Mawadda: 3/437/9
  • 77. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 121.
  • 78. Al-Mufid, Al-Amali: 235/5, Al-Tusi, Al-Amali: 11/13, Waq‘atu Siffin: 224.
  • 79. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 25.
  • 80. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 192, Bihar al-Anwar: 14/472/37.