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The Human Qualities of Imam Ali (S)

Qoreish was the strongest tribe throughout Arabia and it was divided into some branches, of which the Hashemites and the Umayyads were. These two families were well-known of having courage, generosity, bravery and eloquence. But the Hashemites were preferred with virtue and purity because Mohammad (s), the Prophet of God, related to the Hashemites.

All above mentioned qualities were gathered in the personality of Imam Ali (s) because both of his parent's descended from Hashim. 44

The historians mentioned that Ali (s) was put under the guardianship of the Prophet (s) since his childhood. He was a gifted child. His natural capabilities began to grow by the Prophet’s teachings. His mental faculties and comprehension was so sharp that he believed in Mohammad at the age of nine, at which it was not easy for one to be able to distinguish belief from unbelief. No one else had got such a chance like what Ali had got at that time.

The main purpose of the Prophet's teachings was to worship God, the One and Only and the source of endless mercies.

There is no distinction between two persons except for virtue and knowledge. The people, whether white or black, are all equal before God. They all have been created from mud and eventually they return into earth.

Hereon, man is to worship God only and believing in other than Him is away from reason. No one has the right to control the others because of one’s noble birth, descendance or lineage. Nobody is to bow to the rich for their riches.

Imam Ali was educated in the Prophet's school with teachings that governed all his actions since then. One of his high qualities was self-reliance.

It seemed that as if it was fated for him to succeed the Prophet in order to continue his Prophetic mission but regrettably he, who was the only one who could carry out this divine duty, became confined to home and the Muslims were kept away from his teaching.

Of course self-reliance is inclusive of all admirable qualities like courage, bravery, fearlessness, generous disposition, remission etc. Imam Ali, when he was ten years old, said to the Prophet: “I believe in you and try my best to support you.” He said so while the great men of Koreish became angry to the full when they heard of the new religion. History confirmed that Imam Ali did all what he had said. Many signs of courage and bravery had been realized throughout his life, whether through his deeds or speeches. He slept in the Prophet's bed in the night of emigration to save the prophet’s life when the polytheists decided to assassinate him. In spite of that he might face great dangers; he did it at risk of losing his life.

Since the first war between the Muslims and the idolaters until his last fight against the Kharijites in Nahrawan, all the combatants, who fought him, were killed or ran away for saving their lives.

He attacked his enemy so fearlessly that it seemed as if he went to meet death or that death fled away fearing his greatness.

The story of Ali’s man-to-man combat with Amr ibn Abd Widd when Ali was just a very young man and Amr was a very brave experienced warrior was not fiction. When Ali knocked Amr down and sat on his chest to cut his head, Amr spat at him. Imam Ali suppressed his anger, got up and began to walk some steps about the field before killing Amr. When he was asked about what made him do so, he replied: “I got angry from his immodest act and if I had killed him at that moment, I would have avenged myself on him, but I quenched my anger so that my killing him would be purely for the sake of God.”

It was suggestive of his immaculate feelings towards God. He always suggested making peace before beginning the war, but when he became despaired of peace, he started out to fight, because in his opinion that one, who started the fight would be really an oppressor and standing up to him would be lawful. For this purpose he came forward unarmed in the battle of al-Jamal and called for Talhah and Al-Zubayr, who were armed, to negotiate with them.

In this battle he overcame his most obstinate enemies and then he remitted their offences and let them go wherever they wished. They had attacked the wali of Basra at night and had put him to torture and they also had killed many innocent people.

When Imam Ali (s) went to comfort A’ishah, at the end of the battle, the housekeeper, named Saffiyyah, came and abused Imam Ali because she was bereaved of her husband in the battle. Some of his men wanted to punish her, but Imam Ali prevented them and said: “She abused me and it is up to me whether to punish her or to forgive her.”

Instead of blaming A’ishah for what she had committed against him, Imam Ali sent her back to Medina respectfully.

When Mu’awiyah controlled the watering places in Siffeen, he prevented Imam Ali's army from getting water to cause them to thirst in order to surrender. When Imam Ali’s army controlled the watering places by force later on, they wanted to do the same as Mu’awiyah and his army did. Imam Ali (s) said to them: “Do not requite evil for evil. This is far away from humanity.”

His enemies (the Kharijites) could come and go through Kufa freely where they frequently caused many troubles for him and in spite of this, they were paid their salaries from the treasury (Bayt al-Mal).

One day Imam Ali was passing by the streets of Kufa when he came across a woman carrying a pot of water on her shoulder and she was out of breath. He asked if he could help her. When he knew that her husband had been killed in the battle and that she and her four children had been left without a breadwinner, he went to help her in ding some of her domestic affairs although he was the caliph. It was mentioned that he had seen an old Christian carrying a heavy load on his back and he was troubled with it. It seemed that he was obliged to work so hard in this age for making his living. Imam Ali ordered that this old Christian would receive his monthly expense from the treasury of the Muslims. In this way he had founded the social insurance of today.

One day Imam Ali was on a trip about Kufa. On his way back, a Jew man joined him. They discussed some various subjects. When the Jew wanted to leave, Imam Ali (s) escorted him to some distance. He asked why Imam Ali (s) had done so. Imam Ali said: “We enjoyed our companionship and friendship requires me to escort you to some distance to see you off.” Consequently the man resigned himself to Islam after seeing so much humility and politeness from Imam Ali (s).

Have you ever heard of somebody recommending his successors to treat his murderer well? Certainly not but Ali! He said to his son Imam Hasan: “Look at him (ibn Muljim, Imam Ali’s murderer) how upset he is! Give him from the same milk that I used to drink and feed him from what you yourselves eat. If I restore to health, I myself know better how to deal with him and if not, forgive him if you can endure to see him, otherwise kill him with only one stroke of sword. Be careful not to mutilate him because I heard the Prophet saying: “Avoid mutilation even with a rabid dog.”? He made a little pause and then said: “My dear sons, be careful not to punish any one else and not to make any bloodshed in avenging the caliph's murder.”

Recently we heard that many people were imprisoned, tortured or killed on the charge of being accomplices in the murder of Anwar as-Sadat (the ex-president of Egypt).

When the southern part of Iran was conquered by the Muslims during the reign of the second caliph Umar, Hormozan with his young slave Abu Lu’lu’ were sent to Medina as captives. This young slave was given to al-Mugheerah, who was of influence and was well-known as politician throughout Arabia.

Abu Lu’lu’ had a grievance against his master. He complained against his master to the caliph Umar. Umar did not pay attention to his petition. At last he killed Umar by a dagger. Ubaydullah, Umar’s son, killed Hormozan on the charge of having a hand in his father's murder without hearing his protestations.

Imam Ali (s) got angry and insisted on Uthman, the caliph at that time, to avenge the murder of Hormozan on the murderer but Uthman pretended that Umar's family was bereaved of their father and it was unbearable for them to be bereaved again. But Imam Ali (s) declared himself against the son of Umar and said: “I cannot such injustice. If I have control over him, he will be duly punished according to the law.’

Uthman thought that Islam was the supremacy of the Arabs over the non-Arabs especially the Persians. On the contrary, Imam Ali (s) believed that Islam was an ideal religion for all the human beings and it was a herald of equity.

Usually the fearless commanders are pitiless. We have seen that when a commander conquers a city, he sets fire to it and flattens it without having any regard for the old people and the infants. But Imam Ali (s), whose bravery was to that extent that no combatant dared to stand up to him, had pity on a woman carrying a heavy load on her shoulder or on an old man laboring to earn his livelihood.

Imam Hasan and some of his companions were passing by a ruined place about Kufa when they heard a whimper. They went into the ruins. They saw an old paralytic man. He was starving. He told them that a good-humored man used to come here everyday to feed him but for the last three days he did not come. Imam Hasan said: “That good-humored man was my father Imam Ali. He was martyred three days ago.”

Yes, besides that he was so intrepid, he was too kind and pitiful to the poor. This fact was confirmed even by his enemies and on several occasions.

Imam Ali (s) had contradictory qualities like greatness with humility, courage with precaution, bravery with remission, generosity with moderation, forgiveness with ability and intrepidity with wisdom. And above all he would not say anything, unless he himself had done it. He said: “Whatever I ask you to do; I do it before you and whatever I forbid you from; I leave it before forbidding you from it.”

The Holy Qur’an says: (O you who believe! why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do) 61:2-3.

Yes, he practiced whatever he said. He said in one of his sermons: “I dressed you in the cloths of safety with my justice and spread for you the carpet of virtue with my sayings and deeds.”

There was a true tradition about his high qualities that deserved a high praise by God. Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein were attacked by fever during their childhood. Their parents; Imam Ali (s) and Fatima (s) and their maid Fiddha made a vow to God to fast for three days hoping that the children might restore to health. At the first night when they wanted to break their fast in time, a poor man knocked at the door and asked for alms. They gave him the slight food, which they themselves were greatly in need of. In the second night an Orphan came asking for alms and in the third night a captive came asking for alms and they were given the food that Ali’s family had to break their fast with. Hence some Qur’anic verses were revealed to the Prophet (s):

It is to be noted that all the Islamic commentators; the Sunni and the Shia, have mentioned that these verses concerned Ali and his family.

Ali always ordered his men neither to pursue the runaway soldiers nor to kill the wounded.

One day he was enthusiastically exhorting people in high eloquence. Suddenly one of his enemies said in wonder: “Alas! How wise is this infidel!” Some of Imam Ali's followers wanted to punish him but Imam Ali prevented them and said: “He abused me. I am to punish him or to forgive him.”


44. Hashim was the great grandfather of the Hashimites.

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

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