Freedom in Imam Ali’s Thought
All the politicians and the cruel powerful men usually created an atmosphere of distress among people to frighten them in order to submit. For this purpose, they built many houses of detention and prisons to put the opponents in them and if someone made a protest against such an action, he would be put to torture on a charge of rebellion. Hence no one dared to defend someone's right.
But the Prophet of Islam charged the Muslims with a duty to advise the walis and to show them the right way to realize justice if they behaved unjustly. He said: “The best kind of jihad is saying a word of rightness before an unjust ruler.”
How great it was that the Prophet of Islam had granted such free will to the people fourteen centuries ago, so that they could debate with the rulers.
Abu-Bakr, the first caliph, said: “If I disobey Allah and His apostle, I have no right to govern on you and you do not have to obey me.”
One day Umar the second caliph, said: “You, people, should guide me to the right way if you saw me going in a wrong way.”
An ordinary man stood up and said: “If you follow the curved way, we will bring you back to the straight way by this curved sword.”
Once more Umar said: “I am the Prophet's caliph and a man of authority. You have to obey me to spread the goals of Islam.”
One of present people said: “If you told us wherefrom you have got your shirt, of course we would obey you.”
During Umar’s reign no one dared to misappropriate anything of Bayt al-Mal (the treasury) because of his severity in practicing justice.
Imam Ali (s) always enlightened the Muslims to defend their rights and to interfere in the state affairs. Therefore, in order to grant some privileges to people, Imam Ali (s) ordered his officers to read the items of the constitution of his rule before the people in the mosque to make them know their duties and the wali's duties. Consequently the walis would not dare to rule out of the law and the people, if the walis did something wrong, were not to obey them and were to report about their offences to Imam Ali.
During Imam Ali’s reign no one had the right to exploit any other by force. He wrote to the walis: “Although excavating canals and cleaning out rivers are necessary a progressive state but you have no right to force anyone to do it unwillingly.”
Imam Ali himself never forced any one to join his army even at the critical situations in his various battles in spite of that they had paid homage to him and obeying him was obligatory for them.
When the wali of Medina tried to seek for some men, who fled from Medina to join Mu’awiyah in Sham, 48 Imam Ali wrote to him: “Do not worry if some people did not like to remain under my just rule. Let them go wherever they like.”
At the first days of Imam Ali’s caliphate, some of his close friends were angry because of that two companions (Sa’d ibn Abu Waqqass and Abdullah ibn Umar) had not paid homage to Imam Ali. Imam Ali said: “Those, who do not like to co-operate with me, are free as long as they do not excite sedition against people.'' He believed that a human being was free and independent in thinking, deciding and in practicing.
He had expressed himself in his will to his son Imam Hasan by saying: “You have to investigate and think over what has descended to you from your ancestors and then to beg God’s help in order not to fall into doubts.”
There is a general rule in Islam that the believers have to fight against oppression and injustice. The Holy Qur’an says: (Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them.) 22:39.
Imam Ali encouraged people to get back their rights by force as possible as they could.
He thought that nobody should tolerate injustice; therefore he had said: “Be against the oppressor and support the oppressed.” The oppressors always rule according to their minds instead of the law. They always cause misfortunes and distresses by spreading injustice with its undue influences.
Nowadays the colonial countries exert pressure inhumanely upon the backward nations and, in order to keep their illegal interests, they keep them pauper by spoiling their natural resources and preventing them from the scientific development.
Regretfully they pretend themselves the champions of freedom and the defenders of the human rights.
Imam Ali (s) would never give an opportunity to his officers to abuse their power to violate people's rights, because he esteemed man in all respects.
He had instructed the tax collectors by saying: “Do not walk through the people’s farms because it destroys their efforts and it makes them feel unhappy. Do not take from them more than the legal share. When you arrive at a village, you are to go to their watering places and not to go in front of their houses. First of all, you are to greet them and to talk with them kindly. You say: “O servants of God, the caliph of God has sent us to you to collect the zakat and the alms from you.” If the answer was no, you are not to be sever with them and then you are not to repeat your demand. But if they respond and wanted to apportion their yields, let them take the share that they have set aside for themselves. Be careful not to enter their cattle-pens without their permission and take care not to browbeat or frighten any Muslim.”
He said in another letter: “This is my instructions to you; fear Allah (avoid sins) in your secret matters and hidden actions, where no one is present except Allah and no one watches except Him. You have to obey Allah in the same way when openly or secretly. You are not to harm people. You are not to be rough to them and you are not to turn your faces away from them proudly because of your positions. They are your brethren in faith and you are in need of their help in achieving your job. Of course you have certain shares and rights in this poor-rate and the poor, the weak and the indigents have other shares. We shall pay you your rights and you too have to care for their demands.”
He always asserted people's rights, small or big, secretly or openly.
He wrote to one of his officers saying: “Do not say to the people that you are their master or a man of authority and that they have to obey you. This will spoil your heart and weaken your faith in religion and furthermore it creates anarchy in the state.”
He himself controlled everything of the state affairs so that no one could infringe on others' rights at his time.
It was reported to him that the wali of the districts had misappropriated the treasury. He wrote to him: “The goodness of your father cheated me to think that you will follow his right manner and you will imitate him, but according to what was reported to me, you have followed your own passions. You leave the religion and morality behind by doing your relatives favors. You better your life by spoiling your afterlife. (His saying was in compliance with the Holy Qur’an when saying: (Then as for him who is inordinate, and prefers the life of this world, then surely the hell, that is the abode) 79:37-39.)A man like you is good for nothing. You are not able to drive the harm away nor worthy of being given a promotion, nor trustworthy against misappropriation..... Come to me as soon as this letter reaches you inshallah.”
Imam Ali, in one of his sermons, said: “By Allah, if I sleep on the Sa’dan 49 wakefully or I will be pulled bound in chains, is better to me than to meet Allah and His apostle on the Day of Judgment wronging some people or extorting something of the vanities of the world.”
Imam Ali (s) had given a right to the government to punish the offenders to be as a warning for the others.
A man was heard crying for help about Hamadan (a city in the west of Iran). It appeared that someone had bought a shirt and paid the seller some spotted coins and slapped him on the face. They were disputing with each other when Imam Ali (s) got there. At last the buyer was forced to change the forged money. It was decided that the seller avenge himself on buyer by slapping him on the face. Although the buyer was forgiven by the seller but Imam Ali (s) slapped the buyer on the face and said: “This is the right of the government too.” 50
Imam Ali wrote in his will for his son Imam Hasan: “O my son, make yourself the judge between you and the others. Like for the others what you like for yourself and dislike for them what you dislike for yourself. Do not oppress anyone as long as you do not want to be oppressed. Whatever you think as being bad for the others to do, think of it as being bad for you too to do. Deal with people in a way as you like them to deal with you. Do not talk about what you do not know well. Do not say to the others what you do not like to be said to you.”
Nowadays the eighth Islamic summit meeting will be held in Tehran to find reasonable solutions for the difficult problems and tangled affairs of the Muslims all over the world. The presidents and the prime-ministers will attend the meeting, which will be presided by President Muhammad Khatami. Among the main problems, which will be discussed in the meeting, is the Zionist aggression against Palestine and the civil war in Afghanistan. Some other problems concerning the Islamic countries will be discussed too.
Imam Ali (s) had instructed the Muslims with many advices in the field of governing and dealing with different classes of society such as the army, the merchants, the industrial community, the agricultural sect and the poor. He fixed the basic sides of the Islamic government; administration, public services, judiciary, the financial affairs and the clerical affairs. It was useful not only for the officials of the government but also when dealing with the various problems and situations. Some of his instructions were pointed out earlier but his most famous epistle to Malik al-Ashtar, the wali of Egypt, included all the mention instructions and a large number of highly regardable rules.
The letter is as the following: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This is what the servant of Allah, Ali, Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, has ordered Malik al-Ashtar, who is appointed as wali of Egypt, ordering him to collect its revenue, to fight its enemies, to manage its people's affairs and to improve the country. He is ordered to fear Allah and to obey Him and to follow what Allah has ordered in His book of obligations and norms, which no one will be prosperous unless by following and no one will be wretched unless by denying and missing, to support Allah (by supporting the rightness) with his heart, hand and tongue, because Allah has promised to support whomever support Him and to glorify whomever glorifies Him. He is ordered to control his soul’s fancies and to subdue his soul if it wants to recalcitrate, because the soul often incites towards evil except for those, whom Allah has mercy upon.
O Malik, know that I have sent you to a country that had experienced just and unjust rules before you. The people will think of your deeds as you thought of the deeds of the walis, who preceded you, and they will talk about you as you talked about the walis ruled before you. The virtuous men will be known by what is said about them by the people (by the favor of Allah). Let the loveliest provision to your self be the benevolent doing. Control your fancy and prevent yourself from what is not legal to you because controlling one’s self is the very fairness whether he likes or dislikes it.
Fill your heart with mercy, love and kindness towards your people and do not be with them like the beast waiting for the opportunity to eat them, because people are of two kinds; either your brothers in religion or your brothers in humanity. They fall into mistakes and may be incited by the slips. They may commit sins on purpose or unknowingly. So you are to forgive them as you like Allah to forgive you. You rule over them and the responsible guardian rules over you and Allah is upon the one, who installed you. Allah tries you by managing your people’s affairs so do not be in a war against Allah (by trespassing His Sharia and by wronging His people) because you are unable to put up with His wrath and you cannot do without his forgiveness and mercy. Do not regret when you forgive someone and do not boast when you punish someone. Do not be angry about something that you may find an excuse for it. Do not say: “I am the superior. I order and I must be obeyed” for it corrupts the heart and destroys the religion and approaches to the others (the opponents).
If your high position gives a sense of splendor or pride, you are to think of the supreme power of Allah above you and His ability to act upon you what you can never put up with. This will lessen your vanity, prevent your sharpness and restore what is missed of your reason to you.
Beware not to compare yourself with Allah in His greatness or to imitate Him in His supreme power because Allah degrades every arrogant and demeans every haughty one.
Be fair before Allah and do not prefer yourself or your relatives and close companions to the people. If you do not follow this, you will wrong; and whoever wrongs the people, Allah will be his opponent and when Allah becomes the opponent of someone, He refutes his excuses and that he will be in a state of war against Allah until he desists from oppression or he repents.
Nothing leads to change the blessings of Allah and to hasten His wrath more than to persist in oppression, because Allah hears the prayer of the oppressed and He always waylays the oppressors.
Let the loveliest thing to yourself be that which is moderate in rightness, more general in justice and widely accepted by the people. Know that the discontent of the public removes the content of the upper class and that the discontent of the upper class will be excused by the content of the public.
No one is more dependent upon the wali during the ease, less helpful during the distress, more reluctant of justice, more insistent on gifts, less grateful when gifted, less indulgent when prevented and less patient during misfortunes than the upper class.
Whereas the pillar of the religion and the entire of the Muslims, who are always ready to stand against the enemy, are the public of the ummah, so let your tendency be with them and let your attention be to them.
Let him, who looks for the defects of people, be the farthest one from you and the most odious to you because people have defects that the wali is the first one, who has to cover them. Do not try to disclose what is hidden of those defects but you have to purify what is appeared of them to you and Allah decides upon what is unknown for you. Cover the defects (of people) as possible as you can and Allah will cover of your defects as what you like to cover of your people’s defects.
Remove every grudge from the people’s hearts by behaving fairly with them and get rid of every enmity. Ignore whatever is not clear to you and do not hasten to believe any slanderer because a slanderer is deceitful even if he imitates the sincere people. Let neither a miser participate in your consultation because he makes you be away from virtue and frighten you of poverty if you want to spend, nor a coward because he disheartens you nor a greedy one because he graces greed for you with wrongfulness. Miserliness, cowardliness and greed are different instincts but they participate in one common thing, which is distrusting Allah.
The worst of your viziers are they, who were viziers of the wicked rulers before you and who participated in their sins; so do not let them be of your retinue because they were the supporters of the sinners and the brothers of the unjust. You will find better than them, who have the same experience but without sins and guilts and who haven’t helped the unjust with their injustice nor the sinners with their sins. They will be less burdensome on you, more helpful for you, more kind-hearted to you and less intimate with other than you (the opponents). So you depend on such people as your retinue and then let the most preferable one to you that, who is the most truthful in saying the bitter truth to you and the least helpful when you do what Allah hates for His guardians to do whether it agrees with your fancy or not. Stick to the pious and truthful people and inure them not to praise you or make you feel proud about something that you haven’t done because much praise leads to vanity and arrogance.
Do not consider the benevolent and the evil as equal because you will discourage the benevolent to do benevolence and courage the offensive to commit more offenses. You have to reward every one according to his doing. Know that nothing makes the ruler think much of his people better than to be kind to them and to lessen their burden and not to force them to do what they are not able to do. Let you, by doing that, cause a mutual trust between you and your people because confidence will keep you away from many troubles. As long as you do good to them they will confide in you and as long as you do evil to them they will distrust in you.
Do not break a good tradition followed by the leaders of this ummah, upon which the ummah agreed unanimously and was a cause of the people’s virtuousness. Do not create a tradition, which will oppose some of those previous traditions, so that the merit will be for those, who enacted those traditions, and the sin will be upon you because you oppose them.
Always discuss with the ulema and the wise men to firm what improves the affairs of your state and to revive what have rectified the people before you.
Remember that the people are composed of different classes. The progress of one is dependent on the progress of the other; and none can afford to be independent of the other. We have the army formed of the soldiers of God; we have our civil officers and their establishments, our judiciary, our revenue collectors and our public relations officers. The general public itself consists of Muslims and Thimmis 51 and among them are merchants and craftsmen, the unemployed and the indigent. Allah has prescribed for them their several rights, duties and obligations. They are all defined and preserved in the Book of Allah and in the traditions of His Prophet.
The soldiers, by the grace of Allah, are like a fortress to the people and they lend dignity to the state. They uphold the prestige of the faith and maintain the peace of the country. Without them, the state cannot stand and also they cannot stand without the support of the state. Our soldiers have proved strong before the enemy because of the privilege Allah has given them to fight for Him; but they have their material needs to be fulfilled and have therefore to depend upon the income provided for them from the state revenue. The military and the civil population, who pay revenue, both need the cooperation of the others; the judiciary, the civil officers and the clerks, who run the transactions and dealings among people, and the all cannot do without the tradesmen, the merchants and the craftsmen, who run the market and offer their services to the others who may not be able to do by themselves. And then, there is the class of the poor and the needy, whose maintenance is an obligation on the other classes. Allah has given an appropriate opportunity of living to the all; and then the rights of all of these classes are to be under the charge of the wali and nothing will acquit the wali of his charge except by carrying out his charge fairly with full carefulness after praying Allah to support him. Indeed, it is obligatory for him to undertake this duty and to bear with patience the inconvenience and difficulties of the task. Be particularly mindful of the welfare of those in the army, who, in your opinion, are staunchly faithful to their God and His Apostle and loyal to your imam, who, in the hour of passion, can restrain themselves and listen coolly to the sensible remonstrance, and who can succor the weak and smite the strong, who will not be incited by the violent provocation and who will not falter at any stage.
Keep to those of good reputation, integrity and glorious past. Depend upon those of courage and bravery and of magnanimity and generosity because they are the base of liberality and the sources of benevolence. Care for them as parents care for their children and do not exaggerate what you have done to them. Do not leave any little kindness to them you think it may be worthless because any kindness towards them will lead them to confide in you and to offer you the sincere advice. Attend to every bit of their wants. Do not be content with general help that you may have given to them, for sometimes, timely attention to a little want of theirs brings them immense relief.
Let your commander in chief be the one, who helps his men and gives them from his wealth what suffices them and suffices their families left behind so that their intention will be the same in their jihad against the enemy. Your being kind to them will turn their hearts towards you.
The best delight of the wali’s eye is by spreading justice in the country and by the expression of the people’s cordiality. They do not express their goodwill except when their hearts are contented and they will not be sincere unless they are willing to safeguard their walis and are contented with their rule and are hopeful of their aims so try to achieve their hopes and keep on praising them and mentioning their good deeds because praising the good deeds provokes the brave and incites the laggard inshallah.
Keep every one’s right and do not ascribe someone’s excellence to another. Do not belittle one’s great deed. Do not let someone’s nobility lead you to glorify his slight deed and do not let the meanness of someone’s lead you to belittle his great deed.
Turn to Allah and to His Prophet for guidance whenever you feel uncertain about what you have to do. Allah had said to some people, whom He wished to guide: (O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle). Referring to Allah is to obey His Book and referring to the Prophet is to follow his Sunnah, which calls for unity and warns of separation.
Choose, for judging among people, the best of them to you, who is not obsessed by distresses, doesn’t become importunate before the opponents, doesn’t keep on mistakes, doesn’t miss reason, doesn’t hesitate to follow the truth when he finds it, doesn’t think of greed, doesn’t satisfy with the least perception without looking for the farthest, the most pondering on the confused matters, the most dependent upon evidences, the least bored in inspecting the opponents, the most determined when the truth appears, who isn’t affected by praise, who isn’t incited by any temptation and these are very few.
Observe his (the judge) judgments always and be openhanded to him to satisfy his needs so that he won’t be in need of the people. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it and so high that neither backbiting nor intrigue can touch him. Think of this so much for this religion was captive under the control of the evildoers. They used it according to their fancies and as a means to obtain the vain pleasures of this worldly life.
Then think about your officials. Employ them after trying. Do not appoint them favoringly or autocratically because they are full of injustice and treason. Seek after the experienced and coy men of the benevolent families and the previous in Islam because they are more honest, less greedy and more prudent. Then supply them with sufficient living for it helps them to purify themselves and prevent them from seizing what is there under their control and it will be an evidence against them if they break your order or betray the trust. Then check their jobs and send truthful and sincere inspectors to watch them. Watching them secretly leads them to be honest and loyal in doing their jobs and to be kind to the people. If one of them betrays the trust, you will be informed of that by your spies and this will be enough witness to let you punish him, disgrace him, defame him and girt him with the shame of the guilt according to what he commits.
Take much care for the revenue so as to prosper the producers because their prosperity leads to prosper the others. There is no prosperity without them because all the people are dependent upon them. Let you think of reclaiming the lands more than to think of getting the revenue. Whoever seeks after revenue without reforming, will ruin the country and destroy the people and his rule won’t last long. If they (the farmers) complain of deficiency or lack of water (of the rivers or the rains) or that their farms are damaged by floods, you have to aid them with what may lessen their sufferings. Do not be vexed about what you give them to relieve their distress because they will, in return, recompense in prospering your country and strengthening your rule besides getting their goodwill and being delighted by spreading justice among them. They will join their power to yours and will confide in you after doing them favors and being fair with them. One day if something happens, you may charge them with a heavy burden and you find that they undertake it willingly. Prosperity bears whatever you burden it with. The desolation of the land comes out of the indigence of its people and the indigence of the people comes out of the eagerness of the walis for heaping up monies for themselves, their distrust about remaining in their positions and that they do not learn from the previous examples. Then think about you clerks. Trust your affairs to the best of the people. Trust your special books, in which you put your plans and secrets, to the one, who is honest, who doesn’t pride upon his position so that he may dare to stand against you in front of the people when there is a disagreement between you and him, 166 who doesn’t ignore to inform you of the correspondences of your officials in the different countries or to reply the received books correctly instead of you, who doesn’t weaken a contract he concludes for you and won’t be unable to cancel an ineffective contract, who isn’t ignorant of his ability in dealing with the affairs because he, who ignores his own ability, is more ignorant of the others’ abilities. Let your choosing them not be according to physiognomy and confidence because people feign before the walis so that they may think well of them but in fact there is nothing of truthfulness and fidelity behind that. You have to try them with what they did to the just walis, who ruled before you and then choose the best in serving the public and the most loyal among them. This will show your sincerity to Allah and to him, who entrusted you with the position you hold. Appoint for each of your affairs one, who won’t be defeated before the great difficulties nor will be lost among the many problems when facing him. If you ignore any defect available in your clerks you will be responsible for it.
Take much care for the merchants and the craftsmen; the residents and the ones roving through the countries and take much care for the laborers because they are the source of the welfare and the means that brings devices and utensils from here and there, on the land and in the sea, from the plain and the mountain where people cannot reach. They (merchants and craftsmen) are peaceful people, who do not cause troubles or calamities. Care for their affairs in your country and about it. And know-nevertheless- that many of them are cruel in dealing, with bad stinginess, monopolizing the utilities and controlling the deals. This is a disadvantage for the public and a defect for the walis. Prevent monopoly, because the Prophet had prohibited it. Let dealing be lenient and fair and with fair prices for the two parties; the seller and the buyer. If someone monopolizes something after being forbidden, then you have to punish him severely but without exceeding the limit of justice.
For the sake of Allah, take much care for the lower class; the poor, the needy, the destitute and the handicapped who have no way to get their living. Among this class there are the beggars and those, who are in serious need but without begging. Obey Allah with what He have entrusted you of their rights. Assign for them something from the treasury and something from the yields of the Muslims’ plundered lands in each country. The far and the near of them have equal right and you are responsible for the right of every one of them. Do not be careless about them because you won’t be forgiven when wasting the slight thing for the sake of achieving the great thing. Do not be ignorant about their affairs and do not be proud before them. Seek for those, whose news do not reach you because that people scorn them and hate to look at them. Order some of benevolent and humble people to seek for those destitute ones and to inform you of their affairs and then you are to do to them what Allah may forgive you for when you meet Him because this sect of people is in need of fairness more than the others. Anyhow you have to give every one his right.
Attend to the orphans and the old people, who are helpless and do not demean themselves by begging people. This is too heavy for the walis and the whole rightness is heavy but Allah may make it easy for those, who hope for the good end by being patient and believe in what Allah has promised them of.
Assign some of your time to the plaintiffs. You sit humbly with them in a public meeting and keep your guards and soldiers away from them in order that they may talk frankly without any fear. I had heard the Prophet (s) saying more than a time: “A nation will not be sanctified if the right of the weak is not taken back from the powerful without threat or fear.” Tolerate their severity and ineloquence. Do not show them intolerance and disdain so that Allah spreads upon you his mercy and rewards you for your obeying Him. If you give, give willingly and if you deny, deny kindly and apologizingly.
There are certain things that you have to do yourself; you have to answer your governors when your clerks are unable to, you have to answer the people’s wants as soon as they reach you as your assistants may delay them. Achieve every day’s duty in time because each day has its own duties. Choose for yourself the best time to be with Allah. Know that the greatest of your doings, although that they all are to be for the sake of Allah, are those that you do with good will and those you do for the sake of your people.
Let the best thing, with which you worship Allah sincerely, be the offering of his obligations, which are for Allah alone. Tire your body for your God during your day and night. Approach to Allah sincerely with all what you do for the sake of Him without any shortage or hypocrisy whatever you become tired. When you lead the people in offering the prayer, try neither to lengthen it nor to lose anything of it because among the people there are some, who are ill, and some, who have things to do. Once I asked the Prophet (s), when he had ordered me to go to Yemen, about how to lead people in offering the prayer and he said: “Offer it like the prayer of the weakest of them and be kind to the believers.”
Do not hide too long from your people because the hiding of the walis from the people is a kind of distress and ignorance of their affairs. Hiding from the people prevents them from knowing why they are kept away and so the great thing will be insignificant for them and the insignificant thing will be great, the good things will be bad and the bad will be good and the truth will be confused with falsehood. The wali is but a human being. He doesn’t know what is hidden of the people’s affairs and the rightness has no signs that one can distinguish between the truthfulness and the falsehood. You (the wali) are but one of two; either you are a man with a liberal character following rightness so why do you hide from a right duty that you are to do or a deed of munificence you are to offer? or a man of stinginess and then you will find that how soon the people will despair of asking you for anything in spite of that the most of people’s wants are of complaining of wrongfulness or asking for fairness of a conduct, which do not cost you anything.
The wali has a retinue and close companions, among whom there are some selfish, impudent and unfair persons when dealing with people. Cut off this thing by cutting off the reason that encourages them to be so. Do not donate to anyone of your retinue or relatives a donation. Let them not expect from you to posses any property, which will harm other peoples of their watering or a shared act. They (the wali’s retinue or relatives) enjoy it at the expense of the others and hence the benefit will be for them whereas the blame will be upon you in this life and in the afterlife.
Make every one submit to the rightness whoever he is whether your retinue and relatives or not. Be patient and tolerant in applying that whatever effect it has upon your relatives and close companions. Care for its result whatever heavy it is to you because the result of that will be good.
If the people suspect you of doing injustice, come out to them with your evidence to refute their suspicion, because by this you will accustom yourself to justice. Be kind to your people when showing your evidences to achieve your aim in rectifying them according to the rightness.
Do not refuse the peace your enemy invites you for if it pleases Allah because peace will bring your soldiers comfort, make you safe from your troubles and bring security for your country. But be extremely careful of your enemy after the peace because the enemy may approach to you under the pretense of peace in order to attack you unexpectedly. So be resolute and doubt your enemy’s good will. When you conclude an agreement with your enemy or you promise of something, you have to keep your agreement with fidelity and to keep your promise with loyalty. Make yourself as the safeguard of what you have promised because nothing of Allah’s obligations that people agree upon, in spite of their different thoughts and fancies, is better than to glorify fulfilling the promises. The polytheists, rather than the Muslims, kept to their promises among them when they saw the bad results of perfidy. So do not betray your agreement, do not break your promise and do not cheat your enemy for no one dares to disobey Allah but the miserable ignorant. Allah made His promise as safety that He spread between His people with His mercy and made it as sanctum, to whose power people resorted and to whose protection they hurried. So never let thwarting, cheating or forging be with your promises. Do not conclude an agreement that you may use confused statements in order to find a way that you can cheat with it and do not depend upon a solecism as an excuse after certifying your promise. Let no distress lead you to annul your promise unfairly because tolerating a distress that you expect its relief and good result is better than cheating that you fear its bad consequence besides that Allah will ask you about His right of fidelity you break and then He will bless neither your life nor your afterlife.
Avoid and avoid shedding blood unjustly and without any right cause leading you to. Nothing leads hurriedly to wrath, to evil consequence, to transience of blessings and cessation of life worse than shedding bloods unrightfully. Allah the Almighty will judge among His people, first of all, about shedding bloods on the Day of Resurrection. Do not try to firm your rule by shedding haram blood because this will weaken and enfeeble your rule or indeed it will remove your rule and transfer it to others. Neither Allah nor I will forgive you for an intended killing because it must have a penalty. If you face a wrong doing, let your whip, sword or hand not exceed in punishment because a blow may cause a killing. Let your rule not make you proud that you do not give the guardians of the killed one their right.
Avoid self-conceit; do not confide in what you like of your self and do not wish to be praised because this is the best opportunity for the Satan to crush the benevolence from inside the benevolent.
Do not mention the favors you do to your people. Do not exaggerate your deeds and do not promise your people and then you break your promise, because mentioning the favors done by you voids benevolence, exaggeration puts out the light of rightness and breaking the promise brings detestation of Allah and the people. Allah said: (It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do).
Do not give your judgment about the matters before their time and do not be indifferent when they occur. Do not insist upon dispute when the matters are not clear and do not be indifferent when they become clear. Put every thing in its place and every order in its concernment.
Do not distinguish yourself with what the people are equal in and do not ignore your duties when they become clear for the people because what you take unrightfully, will be taken from you to the others and how soon your affairs will be uncovered and then the rights of the wronged ones will be extracted from you.
Control your passion, intensity, power and sharpness of your tongue. Be away of all that by preventing your tongue from setting about and by delaying your power until your rage calms down and then you have the option to decide. You won’t control yourself until you worry yourself with recalling that you will meet your God in the afterworld.
You have to remember what preceded you of a just government, a virtuous norm, a tradition of our Prophet (s) or an obligation in the Book of Allah and then you have to imitate what we have done according to that and to try your best to follow what I have entrusted you with in this charter. I have quitted myself from anything you may protest with later on and lest you find any excuse when you hasten after your fancy. I pray Allah, with His infinite mercy and great power of granting every wish, to grant me and you success to do what pleases Him and His people with the rightful conduct and to make us worthy of people’s good will and to offer beneficial achievements to the country. I pray Allah to grant us blessing, dignity and to conclude my life and yours with happiness and martyrdom. To Allah we will return. Peace be upon the messenger of Allah and Allah may bless him and his pure progeny with great peace and blessing. With salaam.” This letter, which really represented the charter of the Islamic government, had been written by Imam Ali (s), who was a prodigy of science. He applied whatever he had said in it. The letter showed that his aim was only to execute the divine law and to improve the social conditions without disturbing the public peace and no to give any chance to the plunderers to misappropriate 173 the public funds. It comprised all the Islamic principles calling for spreading justice, protecting the human rights without differentiating between the blacks and the whites or Muslims and non - Muslims. It was really a good guide to civilized Islam.
He had declared the duties of the wali and the people, the duty of the rich towards the poor and the fulfillment of the obligations of Allah. Furthermore he pointed out the particulars of an Islamic government and he had paved the way for the Islamic organizations and administrations to follow the best bases.
In order to spread justice and to fight against oppression, he used to rouse the feeling of freewill and freedom among the people by exhorting them to seek their rights and to stand up to the aggressors. In this concern he said: “By Allah, I will take the right of the oppressed from the oppressor and I will guide the oppressor with his nose to the way of rightness even if he is unwilling.” He also said: “Be an enemy of the oppressor and a helper to the oppressed.” He said: “Allah may have mercy upon him, who supports rightfulness when he sees it and rejects wrongfulness when he sees it and who supports the oppressed against the oppressor.”
But the worldly governments try to change the law for the benefit of them and hence they cause harms to their peoples because they are cruel and merciless and they have no faith in the merciful God; consequently they violate the principles of the law and then they run after the pleasures of their short life.
Hence the private and individual interests come forth and the rule of struggle for getting benefits and avoiding losses start to run and the human beings are involved in quarrels and competitions. Then the human affection and the sense of friendship and brotherhood disappear and man falls into laziness and carnality at last whereas the faith in God and believing in the afterworld gives man the security and peace of mind; that peacefulness which causes man to be attentive to God, to undertake the responsibility of his own doings, to fight against evils for the sake of God and does his best to build and make the world habitable and consequently he will be expectant of good rewards in the future life.
Such faith in God with the aim of being friend and brother with the others and fighting against oppression for the sake of spreading justice and defending goodness to honor of goodness itself is the very faith that takes man to welfare and peacefulness
Therefore the Jews and the Christians are highly recommended to resign themselves to the Mosaic Law and the gospel and to adopt them as a belief to be saved from worries and anxieties.
But Islam is different from the other religions. It directs man to the Most High and the One and Only God, Who has the control over all the circumstances, and to believe that He has created the whole creatures and all people are His servants. He deserves the real sovereignty and no human being can secure his benefit or avoid harm without His will. Consequently a freehearted Muslim doesn’t worry about the quarrels of the world and doesn’t deem it necessary to injure the others.
From a study of Imam Ali's words through Nahj al-Balaghah we conclude that Islam, in the first step, purifies people from bad qualities and in this way it makes them free from all passions and fancies. Such people will never submit to abjection and will never leave the field of fighting against cruelty and oppression because they are not captured by passions.
And for this reason Islam looks kindly to those people, who are free of passions, and ranks them with the mujahidin and not with the wretched and hypocrites.
The Holy Qur’an says: (Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property, which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command; and Allah does not guide the transgressing people) 9:24.
What a worthy proclamation it is! All the worldly passions have been put in a scale-pan of the balance and loving God and His Apostle and striving in the way of Him in the other scale-pan. Of course the pan of godliness is heavier because of the moral distinction of the faith in God.
Islam, in its first steps, tried to free man from superstitions and false imaginations, because the world was immersed in superstitions and delusions before the advent of Islam. Some of those superstitions were innovated by people and some others were attributed to God by some distinguished religious men and all of those superstitions arouse from ignorance that people were afflicted with from old times.
It was mentioned in Nahj al-Balaghah that when Imam Ali (s) determined on setting out to Siffeen, one of his companions said to him: “According to astrology, you will not be successful in your aim if you set out at this moment.” Imam Ali (s) exclaimed with anger and said: “Do you think that you can tell which moment one may go out without facing any evil or can you bring good news of which moment one may go to obtain good?” Then he turned towards his men and said: “O people, avoid learning astrology 52 except that by which you are to be guided on the land or in the sea, because it leads you to divining. An astrologer is a diviner and the diviner is like the sorcerer, the sorcerer is like the unbeliever and the unbeliever would be in hell.”
Anyhow Islam came to release the nations from the false imaginations that were engraved in the figures of the idols. Islam invited people to worship the One and Only God, who is free from false delusions, and called them to use their mental faculties as a guide towards the truths of life and to depend upon the scientific facts to be certain about the truth of the existence of Allah It is undeniable to say that when Islam appeared, the world was immersed in corruption and oppression and people had submitted themselves to debauchery and carnality.
The two empires of Rome and Iran were involved awkwardly in immoral habits, the people were treated inhumanely and unjustly and the rulers used to encroach upon the other's rights. Then Islam came and reformed the corrupted conditions and changed that disgraceful situation into a peaceful life full of delight and motion and it prepared people to live morals and virtues. Hence the world of Islam became the source of learning and instruction for a long time, so the Muslims were known as an obvious example of humanity, but as a result of the undue influence of the colonial policy of the West and because of the ignorance of the Islamic statesmen the Islamic morals and ideals began to disappear gradually throughout this nation. Consequently the Muslims were captured by passions and laziness and they fell into the actual misfortune at last. The colonial policy of the West, in the last two centuries, was based on creating discords and splitting among the people of the backward countries. Those political conspiracies led those people to live in poverty.
The new rising, which is going to be powerful throughout the Islamic countries and to be active again, is really a great rising especially in Iran. It is inspired from the past experience. All the material and ideal powers are prepared for its advancement. Therefore it is clear that this lively rising can easily perform the same miracles that Islam did at its first days to uproot the corruptions of today.
Islam can order the individual and social requirements of people that no one may violate the others’ and no race may oppress another race or a nation may overcome other nations. Islam can prevent quarrels and disputes. Islam invites every one to compromise and mutual assistance for the sake of man's welfare.
Many demonstrations formed in some of the Islamic countries in favor of the mentioned rising. It indicated that the people really wanted an Islamic government but unfortunately they were suppressed by their rulers cruelly. Certainly the colonial countries had a hand in these problems.
Now there is a fanatic war against Islam and its philosophy allover the world. Some rulers of the Islamic countries, who commit treasons against their countries, are really more dangerous than the foreigners and they support the colonial policies knowingly or unknowingly.
48. Sham is the old name of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.
49. A kind of thorny plants of Arabia.
50. It was mentioned by at-Tabari in his Tareekh.
51. The free non-Muslims, who live under the Islamic rule by paying jizya (tribute).
52. Here Imam Ali meant fortune-telling or divination and not astronomy.
Adopted from the book : "Imam Ali (a.s.); Sunshine of Civilized Islam" by : "Muhammad Huseyn Tahmasebi"
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