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Abstinence and Piety of Imam Ali (as)

Umar ibn Abd-al-Aziz, the Umayyad caliph, had said: “No one at all throughout the world will be like Imam Ali in piety and devotedness.” All of the Islamic researchers confirmed Imam Ali’s asceticism in food and dress.

One of his companions said: “Once I went to visit Imam Ali (s) in his house when he was the caliph. He was eating a piece of dried bread with a little milk. I said: O Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, how do you live with this scanty food? He replied: The Prophet ate staler bread than this and his dress was coarser than mine.”

It is beyond bravery when one can afford to better his livelihood but he denies himself and becomes content with a simple subsistence.

Those, who disagreed with Imam Ali and were intolerant of his justice, were searching for ease and luxury. They oppressed people to deprive them of their rights for the sake of their own pleasures in this worldly life.

Imam Ali was far above al these bad conducts. Once he wrote to the wali of Basra: “Remember that every follower usually follows his leader and imitates him. You know that your imam is contented with two pieces of bread as his victual and two rags as his cloths. Certainly you can not do so but at least try to help me with piety and uprightness. By Allah, I have neither treasured gold nor collected money out of this world ...”

He often said: “How can I be satisfied to be called Ameer-al-Mu’mineen (the commander of the believers) by people and do not share in their hardships or I do not become an example for them in the difficulties. Shall I be comfortable with a full stomach and there are hungry stomachs around me? I must live in the lowest level so that the poor may be able to endure poverty easily.”

Imam Ali (s) went to visit his companion Ala’ ibn Ziyad. When he saw his large house, he said to him: “You are in need of such house in the afterworld more than in this world. But if you want so, you are to receive guests in it, to take care of your relatives and to pay poor-rate and alms.”

Then Ala’ said to him: “O Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, I complain about my brother Aassim, who has left his family to worship God.” Imam Ali (s) sent for him. When he came, Imam Ali said to him: “O enemy of yourself, surely Satan has misled you. Do not you feel pity for your wife and children? Do you think that if you practice what Allah has made lawful for you, He will dislike you? You will be unthankful to Allah in doing so.”

He said: “O Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, you yourself put on coarse dress and eat single food.”

Imam Ali (s) replied: “Woe unto you! You are not like me. Certainly God has made it obligatory for the just leaders to live like the poor people so that the poor grouch their poverty and indigence.” Therefore he himself repaired his shoes with his hand and he himself patched his clothes.

Imam Ali used to sell the yields of his garden of date-palms to spend its money for charity.The poor of Medina often surrounded him in the mosque. He divided the whole money among them to go home empty-handed while his family was in need badly.

The excellences of Imam Ali (s) and his upright policy realized through his words and deeds was the very civilized Islam we tried to research on.

Adopted from the book : "Imam Ali (a.s.); Sunshine of Civilized Islam" by : "Muhammad Huseyn Tahmasebi"

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