Politics never bends Ali(a). Ali bends politics
The main principle difference between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims lays in the concept of succession after Prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali has the primary role in this event, since Shi’a Muslims claim he is the rightful Caliph after the Prophet. However, Imam Ali remains the only person from that era, who everyone agrees was the most pious, truthful, brave, knowledgeable, generous, tolerant, wise, sagacious and dependable after the prophet. Imam Ali himself, compares his devotion and following to the prophet to the following of a weaned camel to its mother. This assimilation is an ancient Arabic quote that shows the extent of devotion one person has to another, where it is narrated if the Prophet and Ali were together, there was only one footstep.
Regardless, of the historic events, which led to marginalization of Imam Ali, this article will bring few examples to show how Ali as a political leader was, and why the United Nation has named him the most just and wise ruler in history. The Muslim world today is facing some of the hardest challenges, and the modern era has proven the leaders in the Muslim world are unworthy of trust and authority. The Muslim leaders claim to be followers of Mohammad and yet they have failed to implement the teachings of Mohammad. They mobilize their masses to protest satiric pictures of Prophet Mohammad and attempts to burn the Quran, yet they stab Mohammad in the back by their conducts and policies and don’t even follow the Quran. Imam Ali’s rule as the caliph of Muslims was short and civil clashes occupied most of his era, but the results of his policies in the Islamic empire are astonishing and outstanding. Therefore, in this part we will address some of the events recorded in history about Imam Ali and see what kind of leader was Ali.
Power Does Not Legitimize Revenge
When Imam Ali became the caliph of Muslims, some of his companions came to him and asked him why wouldn’t he reclaim the land of Fadak, which was taken unwillingly from his wife Lady Fatima Al-Zahra (daughter of Prophet Mohammad)? Why wouldn’t he take revenge for the hardships he was put through? This type of question seems to be very realistic, since most political dynasties and powers tend to wipe out and overthrow the orders and policies of previous governments. However, here is how Imam Ali replied to his companions, and set an excellent examples of humanity.
Imam Ali replied: in regard of your question, I would let the Prophet to be my model. His companions asked: how is Mohammad your model in this specific case? He answered: When the Prophet regained Mecca and took over his birth city, although the Quraysh tribe confiscated his house and wealth and showed him nothing but calamity and misfortune, the Prophet did not reclaim his properties and did not take revenge. In addition, I don’t want people to say, Ali has been waiting for this opportunity to take power and use his power to take revenge. This is a responsibility on my shoulder and I have to deliver. Nonetheless, I would never reclaim something, which Allah has been giving us good deeds for. Due to the oppression we were put through, we are receiving deeds from Allah, therefore, Allah would reclaim our rights on judgement day.
Favoritism Has No Place in Ali’s Government
When Imam Ali became the caliph of Muslims, he started implemented what is today known as social welfare, which is called (Bayt Al-Mal) in Arabic and it means, house of wealth. His decision to distribute equal shares to all Muslims from Bayt Al-Mal was not received well by beneficiaries of the previous systems. Therefore, many of the elites in Medina and other places left to Damascus and gathered around Muawiya, who was the enemy of Imam Ali and later on waged a war against Imam Ali.
However, the story that shows favoritism had no place in Ali’s conduct is the following: Aqeel was one of the brothers of Imam Ali and he was a blind man, known to be among the poorest of Kufa. Therefore, one day he comes to his brother the caliph of Islamic empire and asks him for an allowance on top of his share from Bayt Al-Mal, and tells Imam Ali: my share is not enough, and I need more and since your are my brother and the caliph, I hope you would grant me more than my share. Imam Ali puts a piece of coal in fire and when it the coal blazed well, he picked it up and brought it close to Aqeel’s hand. Aqeel screamed and shouted, he felt the heat from the blazed coal, and wondered why his brother would do such a thing. Imam Ali replied: this was a coal blazed by man, and you could not take the heat of it, how do you expect your brother to take the heat of hell-fire on judgement day?
As a reminder I would like to ask, how many leaders favor their relatives and close circles and give them all the benefits? I assume the list would be very long and continuous.
Imam Ali Defines Integrity
Two of the most prominent companions of Prophet Mohammad (Talha & Zubair), came to Imam Ali’s house and wanted to meet with him. They entered his room and sat down before him, and greeted him. He replied back by greeting them and asked them if the intention of their meeting is personal or if it is related to state affairs. Talha & Zubair said, their meeting was for a personal purpose and not a state-affairs related matter. Therefore, Imam Ali turns off the candle he was using and lit another one. They asked Imam Ali, why did he do that, and he replied: when you entered my room I was busy reviewing the affairs of Muslims and the Islamic nation, therefore, that candle belonged to Bayt Al-Mal and Muslims. You are here to see me and you have a personal matter with me, therefore, this candle I am using now, is from my own pocket and belongs to me not Bayt Al-Mal.
Interaction with the Public
One of the main reasons the gap between the political elites and the public is widening is the lack of interaction. As long as the political leaders are not aware of the pains and sufferings of the masses, they would never be able to build trust and dependable relation with their citizens. Therefore, in this case Imam Ali will put forward one of the most astonishing examples humanity has ever seen and heard in history.
It is narrated that one day, Imam Ali the caliph of Muslims was walking through the allies of Kufa, he sees a woman dragging firewood and groceries and she seemed very tired and in need of help. Imam Ali offers help to that lady and tells her, he would carry the firewood to her house, and since that lady did not know who Imam Ali was, she agreed and let Imam Ali help her and carry the big load of firewood on his back. During the way to her house, Imam Ali, asks the woman about her husband and why isn’t he doing this instead of her. She replies: my husband went with Ali to one of the battles and he was killed and she has five little kids in the house and no breadwinner. Imam Ali brings the firewood inside the house and tells the lady, today I want to help you in the house work, so why would you want me to do? She tells Imam Ali: I will cook the meal and you would take care of the children. Imam Ali agrees and starts playing with the kids, and he lets them ride on his back and during this whole time Imam Ali is shedding tears and telling the kids: PLEASE FORGIVE ALI, PLEASE FORGIVE ALI, PLEASE FORGIVE ALI. The woman was about to finish her house work and her neighbor enters her house and sees the caliph of Muslims (Imam Ali) playing with the kids and they are riding on his back. She shouts to the woman: do you know who this man is? She answers: no I don’t, he is a nice and generous man who offered me help and carried the firewood to my house and then we he heard about my situation he offered to stay and help with the children. The neighbor says: O’ woman, this man is the caliph of Muslims, he is Ali Ibn Abi Talib. The woman was shocked and did not know what to do and she starts apologizing to Imam Ali. Imam Ali, replies by saying: I am the one who should apologize to you, I am the one responsible for this hardship of yours. I apologize to you and your kids.
These were four examples setting the bar very high for all political leaders and there are hundreds of other examples from the life of this great man that we will discuss in coming parts. I leave you with these four examples to compare the conduct of our current leaders and the ones of Imam Ali.
To be continued…