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Life of Ali ibne Abi Talib (a)
by Dr. Sayed Haider Hussain Shamsi
Excerpt from his Book: " And The Message Continues--
The Lives of the Twelve Imams of Ahlul Bayt ",
available for online reading in the Book Section of this website.
The birth of Imam Ali (a) took place under unique circumstances inside the holy Ka'ba. It is considered unique because no prophet or saint has ever been bom in a holy sanctuary. Fatima binte Asad, the expectant mother of Ali was praying outside the Ka'ba when she suddenly felt the labor pains. Just then the wall of the holy sanctuary opened. As she stepped in, the wall closed behind her. Shortly after that she gave birth to her baby. When they came out, Muhammad (s) took the newborn in his arms and named him Ali. The infant looked at his face and smiled.
Muhammad (s() nurtured Ali (a) in his childhood, and the child fully assimilated the habits and the qualities of the Prophet. When he grew up, Ali accompanied Muhammad wherever he went, and followed him like his shadow. This early association blossomed in his devout love for the Prophet whom he emulated in every manner, and assisted him in the delivery of the Message at every step. The association between the two was not accidental. Muhammad himself was born in the Shabe Abi Talib (the house of Abu Talib just out side Makkah) and was raised and nurtured by Ali's parents, Abu Talib and Fatima binte Asad. Abu Talib took special care of his nephew Muhammad, and protected him against all odds as long as he lived.
Ali came into focus as a young lad of about I I years when he became known as one the first to witness Muhammad as Allah's Messenger. The other person to acknowledge the Prophetic mission of Muhammad was his wife Khadija.
Now that Muhammad was commanded by Allah to proclaim his Prophet-hood and invite his kinsmen to Islam, he asked Ali to act as his messenger. Ali called on the elders of Quraish to extend the Prophet's invitation. He and his father arranged a feast known as dhil-Asheera. The Prophet delivered the Message, asking them to forsake the idols and worship Allah alone. In the face of great hostilities, when he asked if any one would help him in his work, none other than Ali stood up and declared his unconditional and unfettered support of the Prophetic Mission.
The Quraish of Makkah unleashed their torment to the early believers, but the Prophet continued to convey the Message undaunted by the insults and the harsh treatment of the Makkans. All protected and defended the Prophet at every opportunity despite his young age. Along with handful of the early believers, Ali endured the harsh economic and social blockade of his parent's house by the arrogant Quraish when the Prophet refused to abandon his mission.
On the night of Hijra, when the enemies of the Prophet were lying in wait for him, he willingly and gratefully undertook the hazardous task of sleeping in the bed of the Prophet so that the Messenger of Islam would not be hurt. It helped the Prophet escape the assassins in the darkness of the night. Allah recognized this service of Ali in the Qur'an: “And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotees." 11: 207.
After the departure of the Prophet for Madinah, Ali acted on behalf of the Prophet and returned to the Makkans the valuables that they had placed with the Prophet for safe keeping.
When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he initiated the foundation of a cohesive society in the form of Brotherhood in Islam. He assigned one Muhajir (migrant) from Makkah as a brother unto one resident Ansar (helper) in Madinah. Since Ali was delayed in Makkah carrying out the duties entrusted to him by the Prophet, he was unable to participate in the newly formed brotherhood. On his arrival in Madinah, when Ali asked the Prophet who would be his 'brother' according to the new rule, the Prophet told him: "You and I are brothers in this world and the Hereafter. "
The idolaters of Makkah could not bear the escape of a handful of Muslims from under their noses. They wanted to kill the Prophet as well as his followers. In the second year of al-Hijra (the Islamic calendar year) they came out in Badr, in the outskirts of Madinaf4 well equipped with arms, eight hundred and fifty strong on foot, and one hundred on horseback. They were almost three times larger in number than the poorl3f equipped and hastily raised 'army' of just three hundred and fourteen. Muslims defenders (80 Muhajirs and 234 Ansars). Of these, only seventy were on camels and only two were on horseback! This was the first of the several confrontations the early Muslims had to face against the pagans in defense of their faith and property. The soldiery of Ali was unknown and untested until this first battle. With a resounding victory for Islam seventy of the bravest Quraish were slain and forty-five were taken prisoners of war. Ali emerged as the undisputed hero for the Muslims. He alone was responsible for almost one half of the carnage of the pagans in that battle. There was no family in Makkah that was not affected by Ali's sword in the Battle of Badr. Ali was to be looked upon as a deterrent and a formidable force in the future. He was not only the 'brother' of the new Prophet but also his fighting hand. The Prophet hardly ever used his sword himself Pleased with his unparalleled bravery as well as chivalry, the Prophet declared All openly as Asadullah (the Lion of Allah), and Yadullah (the Hands of Allah).
The Battle of Badr had far reaching consequences for Ali. Whereas this son of Abu Talib intimidated the pagans of Makkah, some among the believers carried grudges and jealousy, even animosity against him. The nascent faith had not yet cleansed their hearts of the old bias they had carried against the man who had, with his sword, cut down their kinsmen, even their closest relatives, their fathers, uncles, sons and husbands. This hostility, which they were unable to express during the life of the Prophet, for fear of annoying Allah's Messenger, showed up immediately after his death. The history, in the years to come, was to witness how the anti-Ali faction came out of the hole, succeeded in isolating the 'brother of the Prophet’ from the affairs of the Islamic State for 25 years. Even in his own Caliphate, the same group rose in rebellion with one pretext or another, and finally plotting to end his life with a sword. In the years that followed, the might and valor of Ali in the service of Islam was to be avenged by his adversaries in killing his sons, his grandsons and kinsmen in the battle of Karbala in an effort to get even with Ali, the Lion of Allah.
After the battle of Badr, the Prophet gave his only daughter Fatima in marriage to the virtuous Hashimite hero of Islam. Together they had two sons, Hasan and Husain, who succeeded as Imams after him, and they laid down their lives upholding and defending the values of Islam.
In later years, Ali continued to be the victorious champion of Islam while others had failed in some of the most threatening battles the Prophet had to undertake in defense. of Islam, the Muslims and the nascent Islamic State that was emerging in Yathrib. As a consequence, Ali received many valedictory titles from the Prophet, and wide acclaim among the believers. Only a few of these are briefly narrated below.
The enemies of lslam did not wait long to avenge their shameful defeat at Badr. The following year, they came back at Uhod under the command of Abu Sufyan, the chief of the Makkan infidels. They laid their siege right at the outskirts of Madinah with three times the force they had mustered previously at Badr. This time they were determined to exterminate Islam by killing the Prophet and his followers. Here again the Muslims were outnumbered three to one and poorly supplied. However, All and Hamza raged havoc in the ranks of the infidels, and Ali felled each of the seven standard bearers of the Makkan pagans successively. Together with the valiant believers, the enemy was routed and scattered in all directions. The battlefield resounded with the voice "There is none victorious other than Ali and there is no equal to the sword Zulfiqar."
Hamza was targeted by Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufyan, who had him killed by the spear of her Abyssinian slave, and she savagely mutilated his body personally.
With the apparent victory, the Muslims ignored the warning of the Prophet not to move from their appointed strategic place and ran to loot the battlefield. They were caught unaware by the spare contingent of the pagan army under Khalid bin Walid, and many perished in the act of looting, while others fled for their lives. Many of the senior companions of the Prophet used to reminisce saying that they never ran faster in their lives than in the battle of Uhod!
The Prophet was injured in the onslaught led by Khalid bin Walid. Ali hastened to the rescue and stood by to protect the Prophet. At that station, he repelled several attempts by the pagan contingent. Finally, the pagans were driven away. Fatima (the wife of Ali and the daughter of the Prophet) tended to the wounds of her father. The Prophet asked Ali why he did not flee for his life like the others had done. Ali replied that his life belonged to the Prophet, and he had no business with the others, and being a believer would not want to become a disbeliever!
In the fifth year of al-Hijra the arch enemy of lslam, Abu Sufyan, the Umayyad chief of the pagans of Makkah raised an army 'of about ten thousand confederates of Jewish and other tribes of the Arab idolaters and marched on to Madinah. With this force, he was confident that he could wipe out Islam and its Prophet. However, the Prophet learning of the mighty force marching towards the home of the Muslims, had a ditch dug out between the city of Madinah and the advancing force of the infidels. Whereas this kept back the general advance of the confederate army, a hand full of the infidels jumped across the ditck led by Amr bin Abd Wudd. They jeered and slung abuses at the Muslims and challenged them to send their best for a duel. Ali was a gallant warrior, and the Muslims were frightened of his armor clad gigantic personality. It was Ali who repeatedly asked permission of the Prophet to allow him to face the challenge. When none else dared to come out, the infidels flung further abuses and provocative language at the Muslims. Finally Ali was allowed to face the enemy. The Prophet prayed Allah for Ali and said: "today total Faith has gone out to face total infidelity."
Ali had a brisk duel with Amr and cut down the challenger with one stroke of his famous sword. Prophet declared, "the single stroke of Ali's sword is superior to years of ibada (obedience to Allah)." The Muslims initially watched the encounter from a distance. However, some believers got encouraged with the success of Ali and joined him to eliminate the remaining threat from the infidels who had crossed over the ditch. Ali perused Ikramah bin Abu Jahl into the ditch and killed him.
In the month of Zi-Qa'd, in the sixth year of al-Hijra, the Prophet undertook journey to Makkah for Haj accompanied by about fourteen hundred unarmed Muslims. It was traditional in all of Arabia to suspend all kinds of hostilities during the months of Haj. However, the Makkans came out armed to stop the advance of the pilgrims. The Prophet made a halt at the well of Hudaybiya. After tense negotiations (from within his own ranks of the Muslims, and-from that of the pagan Makkans) a treaty was concluded under which the Prophet had to carry out his rituals of a lesser Hajj at the very campsite, and would return the following year for a full ritual Haj. Ali represented the Muslims and wrote the contents of the Treaty of Hudaybiya.
Early in the seventh year of al-Hijra, the Prophet learned that the Jewish tribes in the valley of Khaybar, about eighty miles north of Madinah, were planning mischief against the Muslims. He decided to march to Khaybar and eliminate the threat to their homes and lives. He took about 1600 believers with him but Ali was unable to go with the Muslim army at that time because of sore
The Muslims took the smaller fortresses one by one, and laid siege over the grand citadel of Khaybar. Each of the repeated attempts made by the Muslims was repulsed effectively by the ferocious Jewish warriors. Even the most senior and trusted companions of the Prophet failed to break into the defenses of the citadel. By this time the Muslims were getting somewhat discouraged and demoralized. Finally, the Prophet declared, "Tomorrow I shall hand over my flag to one who loves Allah and His Prophet, and who is beloved of the Lord an d His Prophet, a fearless champion who n ever turns his back upon a foe; and at his hands the Lord will give victory. " Hopes ran high in the hearts of all potential commanders to earn that benediction. However, All arrived at the scene with sore eyes. The Prophet healed them with his saliva, and gave him the Standard of die Muslim army. He faced his first adversary in Marhab, a formidable warrior, and cut him into two with one stoke of his famous sword. This was followed with successful duels with six other Jewish warriors. He then led the Muslims to a general attack, and won the day by subduing the fort of Khaybar. Some miraculous feats are reported in the books of history concerning the
way Ali pulled out the gate of the fort and, first used it as a shield for himself and then threw it as a bridge over the ditch for the Muslims to cross over. The Prophet did not evict the vanquished people from their homes. The people ceded half of their property to the Muslims for submission, and in return, they were allowed to continue to cultivate the land for their subsistence.
The grove of Fadak was retained by the Prophet, and gave it to his daughter Fatima for her family to use.
In the eighth year of al-Hijra, the pagans of Makkah violated the peace treaty signed with them two years earlier. The Prophet took ten thousand believers with him and marched to Makkah. The city was subdued without active fighting, and the archenemy of Islam had to embrace Islam along with other infidels of Makkah. Upon the conquest of Makkah, the holy Ka'ba was cleansed of hundreds of idols. The grand idol, Hubal, treated as a deity by the pagans of Makkah was fixed on a high position, beyond reach. The Prophet asked Ali to mount his shoulders to reach it and destroy it. Ali initially hesitated but complied on second command, and standing on the shoulders of the Prophet, he pulled the heavy idol from its high place and knocked it down to the floor where it crashed to pieces. The Prophet recited: "Truth has come and falsehood being perishable, has vanished. X'VH: 82.
It was the same year of al-Hijra when the Prophet sent Ali to Yemen as his envoy to replace Khalid bin Walid. Khalid had earlier been sent to Yemen to collect the obligatory taxes. He ransacked the place and caused havoc amongst the southern tribes with loss of life and dignity, in his pre Islamic ruthless style. The news of this event caused much grief to the Prophet. Khalid was recalled and rebuked for his conduct. To compensate the families of the victims, the Prophet dispatched Ali to Yemen with money. On arrival there, he distributed the compensation according to the needs of each family. There was still some money left which was also given away to the needy. The people were impressed by this true soldier of Islam and admired him for his generosity, kindness, piety and knowledge.
By virtue of the verse in Qur'an, Ayae tat-heer....... And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye Members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless." XXXIII: 3 3, the Prophet included Ali as a member of his family (Ahle Bait). It is reported in numerous ahadith that the Prophet laid his woolen blanket over himself, his daughter Fatima, her husband Ali, and her sons Hasan and Husain, and said, "O Allah., these are my Ahle Bait."
The following year, the Christians of Najran came to Madinah to see and to verify the Truth of the Prophet of the Muslims. They remained adamantly opposed to all arguments, or to accept evidence from the scriptures. In the end, they opted to go out in the open for Mubahela (a method employed in the olden times to invoke the curse of Truth over Falsehood).
Allah revealed in al-Quran: "The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him Be, and he was. The Truth (comes) from Allah alone; so be not of those who doubt. If anyone disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: come! Let us gather together our sons, and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: then let us earnestly pray and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!" III: 59-61. Ali accompanied the Prophet with Fatima and their two sons, Hasan and Husain (the five infallible members of the Ahle Bait of the Prophet) at the Mubahela representing the men, the women and the children of all Muslims to face the Christian challengers fi7om Najran for the test of the Truth. Seeing the Prophet and his Ahle Bait, their faces glowing with the light of the Truth, the Christians withdrew from Mubahela and returned home, not converted as Muslims, but in peace with the Muslims and the Islamic State.
In the same year, Sura Tauba was revealed to the Prophet. He sent Abu Bakr to Makkah to deliver it to the pilgrims. But soon, the Archangel Gabriel reappeared with instructions that the Message must be delivered by the Prophet himself or one of his family. The Prophet hastened to dispatched Ali on his personal camel. Ali caught up with Abu Bakr, took charge of the important Divine Proclamation and arrived in Makkah. He proclaimed in the name of Allah the early verses of the Sura Tauba, stating that the city of Makkah would, from then on, be a sanctuary for all Muslims, and forbidding all idolaters and polytheists to enter the Holy Precinct, and forbidding the carrying of idols in the Sanctuary.
In the tenth year of al-Hijra, the Prophet of Islam arrived in Makkah for Hajj with thousands of his followers. Ali was in Yemen at that time. He also arrived in Makkah in time to participate in the Haj, personally conducted by the Prophet. This was one of the most important events in the history of early Islam, and every Muslim wanted to perform Hajj with the Prophet. After completion of the Hajj, and on the way back to Madinah, the Prophet of Islam was ordained by Allah to carry out the last duty of his Prophetic Mission thus: "O Apostle! Proclaim the (Message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst have not fulfilled and proclaimed His Mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief. For Allah guided not those who reject Faith." V: 70
He made a stop at the well called Ghadire Khumm and gathered all those who could be recalled. A makeshift pulpit was erected and the Prophet addressed the congregation: "It seems as if I would soon be summoned to go to Allah and I have responded to it I entrust you with two very precious and grand things, one of which is greater than the other: the Book of Allah and my Ahle Bait. Take heed of the way you treat these two trusts, because the Qur'an and the Ahle Bait will never separate until they return to me by the Hawd al-Kawthar (the pond). " He then said: "Allah is my master and I am the master of every believer. " Then he took the hand of Ali and raising his arm high above his shoulders for all to see, and said: " Ali will be the maula (master) of whoever deems me his (maula) master. 0 Allah! Place within Your own vilayah whoever accepts the vilayah of Ali and be the enemy of whoever shows animosity to him. " All those who attended the congregation under the hot mid-afternoon sun congratulated Ali on the honor that had just been bestowed upon him by the Will of Allah. This event has been recorded in both Shiite and Sunni books.
It was at this place and occasion when the last revelation of the Qur’an was delivered to the Prophet: "... This day have those who rejected Faith given up hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. " V:4. This completed the Book of Allah as well as the long and onerous task of the Prophet.
Soon after his return to Madinah the Prophet became ill and passed away. However, while the members of the Ahle Bait were busy making arrangements for the burial of the Prophet, the senior companions hurried to a heated conference that was being held at Saqueefa Banu Saada to determine the successor to the Prophet. At the conclusion of the meeting, Abu Bakr was elected as the first Caliph.
ALI IS THE IMAM OF GUIDANCE
Allah says in Qur'an that there is no compulsion in Faith. However Allah favored Man with guidance and intelligence so that he may choose what he wishes to believe and to set his own course for the conduct of his life. In the end, those who choose virtuous conduct will enjoy the everlasting bounty of Allah in the gardens of Paradise, while those who follow evil ways will have to endure the everlasting wrath of Allah in the doom of Hell.
Allah has ordained: "O ye who believe! Obey Allah, obey the Apostle and those charged with authority among You. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer to Allah and His Apostle, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination." IV:59.
To obey Allah, there is the Word of Allah: the Book, al-Qur’an.
To obey the Prophet, there is the word of the Prophet: al-Hadith. Allah authenticates the word of the Prophet: "Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than revelation sent down to him. He was taught by one Mighty in Power." LIII:3-5.
To obey those charged with authority are by Allah's Will. The Qur'an says: "And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only)." XXI: 73.
Allah has further clarified His ordinance: "..fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them..."IX:12. "And We made them (but) leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of Judgment no help shall they find "XX'VIII: 41. "But those who were blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter, and most astray from the Path. " XVII:72.
It is Allah's grace that He gave mankind the will to choose their path, including the choice of a leader (Imam) for guidance-.- For making such a choice, Allah warns in the Qur'an: "One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their records in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least." XVII: 7 1.
To the believers, the Prophet warned, "Choose your Imams wisely, for those who died without recognizing the Imam of their Time died the death of the Times before the Truth came to them."
The Prophet spared no effort to illustrate to the believers that Ali was the Imam of Guidance after him. Ali was nurtured by the Prophet from the very beginning of his life. By his own words, Ali lived his life like the shadow of the Prophet, "like a baby camel follows its mother!" He protected the person of the Messenger of Allah on numerous occasions and defended the Message of Islam from its very inception. His gallant feats of soldiery were exemplary to the believers and a source of encouragement and have remained unmatched throughout history. It is beyond the scope of this book or even this chapter on the First Imam to describe all the events, the circumstances or the ahadith quoted from the Prophet about him. Only a few of the major events of his life have been described above along with the relevant ahadith of the Prophet. A few other important ahadith are given below to highlight the life of the Patriarch of the Imams of Ahle Bait during the life of the Prophet of Islam. For details and for research, the reader is referred to the sources listed in the Bibliography.
ALI BIN ABI TALIB
The Perfect Model of Islam
by Nasir Shamsi
The name of Ali bin Abi Talib (a) is synonymous with Islam; no episode of early Islam can be mentioned without his presence or participation in one way or another. He was brought up by the Prophet himself and was fully immersed in all moral and spiritual aspects of his teachings. It is quite apparent that Allah had a plan in providing a gift to His last Apostle on earth, in the magnificent form of Ali. The unique qualities of head and heart and physique enabled Ali to lend support in implementing the Prophet's Divine Mission. It is note worthy that the first Revelation did not come and the Prophet did not receive the Divine order to proclaim himself as Allah's Messenger until Ali had matured and was physically able to support the great Mission. Ali followed the Prophet like a shadow and protected him from the mischief of the Meccans. The brave son of Abu Talib inspired fear among the Meccans and they dared not raise an eye before the Prophet when Ali was around. On the night of ' hijra ', he happily slept in the Prophet's bed, to let him quietly slip out of Mecca , to escape the enemy attack.
Ali was the standard-bearer of Islam and history bears eloquent testimony to his valorous contribution to the success in almost all encounters that took place between the Muslims and the non- believers. Allah's Messenger himself gave Ali the rare title of ' Asadullah ' (the Lion of God). According to the French Orientals, Oelsner, " Ali was the beau ideal of chivalry and personification of gallantry, bravery and generosity. Pure, gentle and learned without fear and reproach, he set the world the noblest example of chivalrous grandeur of character. His spirit was a pure reflection of that of Muhammad, it pervaded the Islamic world and formed the animating genius of succeeding ages. " Nobody understood, better than Ali, the purpose and intent of the Prophet's message ,
the spirit and content of each Revelation. He was often a witness to the ' wahee '. He had the distinct honor of posting the Proclamation of the Sura 'al- tawbah' ( Repentence ) on the wall of the Ka'aba , which forbidder the pagans from entering the sacred precincts of ' Ka'aba '. This was a major event that at once declared the Supremacy of the Laws of Allah . Abu Bakr was first
sent to Mecca with the freshly revealed Sura. He was yet on his way when the Prophet received special instructions through Angel Gabriel to replace him by Ali.
In compliance with the Divine Order, the Prophet immediately dispatched Ali to retrieve the Proclamation from Abu Bakr and post it and announce himself in Mecca. The Divine Document contained references to the idol-worship and admonition to repent. It was clearly Allah's design that only a man of impeccable character and faith, who had never worshipped idols, who was immaculately-pure and free from sins, could deliver the Divine Commandment to the idol-worshippers. The pious and beautiful hand of Ali which delivered the important Divine Decree to sanctify ' baitullah', was rightfully called by the noble Messenger ' yad ullah i.e. Allah's hand. This event alone was enough for an unbiased Muslim to perceive as to who could act in place of the Prophet and who was to lead the nascent Ummah, after he was recalled to his eternal abode by his Lord. The minds of the early Muslims, however, had not yet overcome the habits of the days of ' jahiliya'. Their hearts carried envy and grudge, even vengeance, against Ali since his sword had cut down many of their next of kin. The emotion clouded their vision and they looked the other way. Ali was not even consulted in the matter of caliphate on the Prophet's death. The ummah deprived
itself from the immeasurable benefit Ali's leadership would have provided. This hasty action ,for ever, changed the character as well as the direction of the Muslim ummah. The caliphate was soon to degenerate into monarchy under the Umayyads.
The Muslims had been charged with the function to redeem humanity from oppression and injustice. If the Message was allowed to continue under the able and worthy guidance of Ali , who on numerous occasions, was clearly pointed out as the standard bearer and leader of the ummah, Allah's Deen would have flourished. The rightful selection of Ali would have ensured an uninterrupted continuation of the Prophetic Mission, leading to establishment of Allah's Rule on earth. After 25 years of seclusion, when the Medinites asked Ali to take the reigns of the government, the spirit inculcated by the Prophet among the people had greatly been dissipated. The only five years of Ali's rule were consumed largely by the unfortunate battles with the Muslim rebels. Muawiya, the patriarch of the future Umayyad dynasty, had been appointed governor of Syria in 18 H by the Second Caliph. He had almost two decades to fortify his position as a ruler in Roman style. His position was further strengthened by appointments of several Umayyads as governors by the Third Caliph. Muawiya arrogantly declined to accept the Caliphate of Ali and asserted his parallel government. This conflict led to the fierce battle of Siffin, which further divided the Muslims. The remaining years were also infested with the armed struggles with the rebels, until Ali's assassination in 40 H.
It is a tragedy that the Muslims did not make use of the great genius of Ali whose knowledge of Deen and science and other branches of knowledge was so vast that it defied time and space. What he had said then is true today and illumines the minds of many seekers of knowledge. For lack of space, we most humbly attempt to share with the readers just a few glimpses of the most
extraordinary personality of Ali bin Abi Talib. Ali's position with regard to the Message was like the axle of a mill and only he, beside the Prophet, understood the purpose and intent of the Divine Mission.
ISLAM: " Have you fully realized what Islam is? ", asks Ali. Then he answers:
" It is indeed a religion founded on truth. It is a fountain-head of learning that many streams of wisdom and knowledge flow from it. It is a lamp that many lamps will be lighted from it. It is a lofty beacon of light that illumines the Path of Allah. It is a set of principles and beliefs that will fully
satisfy every seeker of truth and reality. Know all that Allah has made Islam the most sublime path for the attainment of His Supreme Pleasure and the highest standard of His worship and obedience. He has blessed it with noble precepts, exalted principles, doubtless arguments, unchallengeable supremacy and undeniable wisdom. It is up to you to maintain the eminence and dignity granted to it by the Lord, to follow it sincerely, to do justice to its articles of faith and belief, to obey implicitly its tenets and orders and to give it the proper place in your lives. "
JUSTICE: He advised .Mailk Ushtar regarding selection of judges: " Select the wisest person in the land for administration of justice between the people. He should be a person for whom this task is not hard and the litigating parties are not able to prevail upon his views."
GOOD GOVERNANCE: You must have love, respect and kindness for your subjects…Muslims and non-Muslims should be treated alike. Muslims are your brothers and non Muslims are your fellow human beings…..Anger and vindictiveness should have no place in your administration. Do not let favoritism and nepotism come near you. They will make you violate your duties toward God and toward man and drive you toward oppression and tyranny. It is your sacred duty to look after
the poor, the disabled, the orphaned and the widowed. Do not allow anybody to humiliate, ill-treat or oppress them. Make yourself easily accessible to them whenever they are in need of help.
ADMINISTRATION: Select honest and kind persons for the job. Do not select those who served under the past tyrants and were responsible for unjust acts and atrocities in the name of the State. Pay your officers well so that they can resist corruption and misappropriation. Take your subjects into your confidence; make them feel you are their well-wisher and friend. Protect the interests
of your merchants and traders. But never allow them to practice hoarding, profiteering and black marketing. Encourage handicrafts; they reduce poverty and they raise standard of living. Protect the interests of your farmers; they are a valuable asset to the country.
We have quoted selectively only a few excerpts from a much larger and a most comprehensive treatise on administration, sent by Ali bin Abi Talib to Malik Ushter, the Governor of Egypt during his Caliphate. It should form an essential basis for good governance and efficient and honest administration in any country.
We'll conclude with a quotation from Masoodi, the venerable Muslim historian:
" If the glorious name of being the First Muslim, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate associate in life, and his kinsman of a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book, is self-abnegation and practice of justice, and if honesty, purity, and love of truth, and if knowledge of law and science constitute a claim to preeminence, then all must regard Ali a the foremost Muslim. We shall search in vain to find, either among his predecessors (save the Holy Prophet) or among his successors, those virtues with which God had endowed him. "
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