In the days of his Caliphate, 'Ali ('a) assumed personally, the investigation of the complaint, and never entrusted the same to someone else. During the very hot days when people usually took rest in their houses, at noon the mid-day, 'Ali ('a) was sitting in the shadow of a wall outside the Caliph's residence in case anyone had a complaint to lodge, he could submit it to 'Ali ('a) without any problem or intermediator. He ('a) sometimes went round the streets and alleys, observing and keeping a close eye on the situation of public.
One of the overheated days, he ('a), tired and sweating, returned to the Caliph's residence when he saw a woman standing before the door. As she saw 'Ali ('a), she came forward and said: “I have a complaint to lodge. My husband has done injustice to me; he has turned me out of the house. In addition to that he has threatened me that if I return back home, he will also beat me. At present I have come here to plead for justice.”
'Ali ('a): "You, servant of Allah! It is too hot just now. Please wait! After noon when the weather becomes a little better, if Allah wills, I will come with you and settle your problem."
The woman: "If my absence from home lasts long, I fear that his anger would increase and he would pester me."
'Ali ('a) bent down his head for an instance and then raised his head while murmuring these words: "No! By Allah! It must not be delayed to respond to the complaint of oppressed. It is necessary to do justice for the oppressed against the oppressor, and eliminate the fear of oppressor from the heart of oppressed so that the oppressed can stand bravely and fearlessly against the oppressor and demand his own rights."
'Ali ('a): "Tell me where do you reside?"
The woman: "In such and such a place."
'Ali ('a): "Let's go!"
'Ali ('a) went along with the woman just up to the threshold of her house, stood in front of the door and shouted loudly: "People of the house! سلامون عليكوم Peace be upon you!"
A young man who was the husband of the same woman came out. He did not recognize 'Ali ('a), he noticed a man of about sixty-year-old accompany his wife. He came to know that his wife had brought this person to protect her and to intercede with him in her favour but he did not say anything.
"Ali (‘a): "This lady, your wife, has a complaint to lodge against you. She says: you have done injustice to her and turned her out of the house. In addition to that you have threatened to beat her, I have come to tell you to fear Allah and act benevolently towards her."
The young man: “It is none of your business whether I treat her well or bad! Yes! I have threatened to beat her. But since she has brought you here and you are talking on behalf of her. I will make her burn alive.”
"Ali (‘a) flared up at his insolence, putting his hand on the sword hilt and drew it out of the scabbard. Then he ('a) said: "I am admonishing you, bidding for good and forbidding to do evil but you are responding me in such a manner. You frankly say to me that you will make her burn alive. You think that the life is beyond limits to such an extent."
On raising his voice, Imam 'Ali ('a) was mobbed by a crowd of passers-by from the surroundings, and every one coming forward saluted him respectfully and said: "As-salamun alaykum ya Amir al-Mu'minin, peace be upon you, O Commander of believers!"
The arrogant young man recognised to whom he was facing. To be put out of countenance, he apologized profusely and said: "O Commander of believers! Pardon me! I confess myself to be guilty. From now on, I promise to be obedient to my wife. Whatever she orders, I will obey her."
'Ali ('a) turned towards the woman and said: "Now go to your home, but take care of your behavior, do not act in such a manner which makes him react like this!"1
- 1. Bihar al-Anwar. v. 9. p. 598.