Part 7 : Justice of the Holy Imams (a.s)

Justice is also included among the four greatest moral virtues. This is also a middle line. If one step even a little above it, it would constitute injustice or oppression. And if one moves even slightly to the bottom, it would be willingness to accept humiliation. Both the above positions are blameworthy. Each of the Holy Imams (a.s) was having this quality, and that too, at the most excellent level. Neither they ever committed an iota of injustice nor they bore the oppression of anyone in a humiliating way. They always followed the dictum that “death is better than a life of humiliation”. Rather, justice is seen in the fulfillment of the rights of others and in judging between two parties. Every person faces many occasions in his life, when it becomes necessary for him to observe justice. But there are very few people in the world who have never abandoned justice. The rulers are often obliged to use this in deciding the cases, but the fulfillment of rights is a duty that falls on everybody in the world.

After the Holy Prophet (S), no one had a better judgment than Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s). None of his judgments crossed the boundaries of justice and equity. This became so famous among the Arabs that it became a saying: The case is there but no Abul Hasan to judge it. Seeing the judgments of Ali (a.s), the Messenger of Allah (S) announced to the people, “None amongst you is better than Ali in delivering verdicts.” It was the habit of the three caliphs that when they encountered a difficult case, they used to refer it to Ali (a.s). The result was that Umar is reported to have said on seventy occasions, after realizing his mistake, “If Ali hadn't been there, Umar would have perished.”

The period of the temporal rule of Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) was the cradle of justice and equity. The Imam (a.s) had issued letters to all the governors and judges that no one should oppress anyone. No one should be favored unduly. Every judgment should be based on justice. The rich and the poor should be considered equal.

Regarding the fulfillment of the rights of others, Ali (a.s) used to be so careful that till he had not restored the right of the rightful person, he did not sit at peace. He used to be infuriated if someone usurped a right of another or obtained unlawful benefit. The main reason why Talha and Zubair broke their allegiance to him was this only. They well knew that in the rulership of Ali (a.s) they would not be able to achieve their ambitious aims of gathering wealth and power. Ali (a.s) did not allow his brother to take a few dirhams more than his rightful share from the public treasury. He did not allow his son to take a few spoonfuls of honey from the property of Muslims before all of it was equally distributed among them; how can such a person allow Talha and Zubair to fulfill their desires?

Except for Ali (a.s) from Imam Hasan onwards none of the Holy Imams (a.s) had the occasion to gain temporal rulership. Therefore the gems of their justice could not be exhibited to the world. As for the fulfillment of the rights of people, the Holy Imams (a.s) were utmost careful in this regard and no one ever had the occasion to say that the Imam has usurped their rights. The enemies of Ahl ul-Bayt tried to heap false allegations in this regard but none succeeded. Their conspiracy was soon exposed and they had to face utter humiliation.