|Chapter XVIII: The Kharijites|
Who were the Kharijites
The truce having been concluded on 13th Safar, 37 A.H. at San, when Ali was returning homeward with his army, a body of 12,000 men had separated themselves from the ranks and marched at some little distance in the
same direction as the main body towards Kufa. They murmured at the compromise agreed upon, and were even loud in their reproaches to one another for having abandoned the cause of the Faith to the ungodly compromise. These were the Kharijites (Kharijite means one who rebels against the established tenets of a religion, a votary or schismatic or seceder), who had refused fighting at the battlefield after the trick played by the enemy, and had pressed the Caliph to accept the arbitration and the particular arbitrator. Approaching Kufa, these seceders encamped at a village named Harora in the vicinity of Kufa. Their religious notions were developed into fanatic zeal that the Believers were all of equal standard and nobody should exercise authority over another. They formulated their creed with the phrase 'La hukm ilia lillah,' i.e. no judgment but Lord's alone; consequently there should be no Caliph, nor an oath of allegiance sworn to any human being. They blamed Ali as having sinned in consenting to refer to human judgment that which belonged to God alone, and demanded of him repentance for his apostasy. They said that Ali ought not to have given quarter to the enemy, who could be pursued and put to the sword. Proceeding to their camp, the Caliph firmly remonstrated with them, that they had given wrong interpretation to the phrase 'La hukm ilia lillah' and that in accepting the arbitration he had followed the provisions contained in the Quran ; and that he had committed no sin to repent of. He pointed out that the sin lay at their own door, because with their persistent obstinacy they refused to continue fighting with the enemy and that with their revolting attitude they forced him to call back Malik-al-Ashtar, who was beating the enemy back to their camp and was at the point of gaining a complete victory; and that they pressed him to accept
the arbitration and the particular arbitrator. He further added that he however expected arbitrators were to be fully bound by the terms of the truce to deliver their judgment righteously in accordance with the Quran ; and that. if the judgment turned out to be in disregard of righteousness, he would at once reject it and would again set out against the enemy. Concluding, he said that it was wrong of them if they desired him to break the truce, which they themselves had driven him to arrange. To all this reasoning they simply answered, 'we do admit of our sin, but we have repented of our apostasy; and thou must repent of it likewise.' To this Ali replied that he being a true believer he would not belie himself by admitting his apostasy.
Their revolt 37 A.H.
The Kharijites were not satisfied and they resolved on rebellion; but awaiting the issue of the umpire's decision, they for the present postponed any overt action. Soon after the judgment of the arbitrators, they determined to raise the standard of revolt and prevailed on Abdallah b. Wahab, one of their chiefs, to accept (contrary to the principles of their creed ) the command, as a temporary expedient, to meet the emergency. Fixing their headquarters at Nahrwan, a few miles from Baghdad , in the month following the arbitration, they secretly began to leave and to meet at the rendezvous, either singly or in small batches for fear of raising an alarm. Some five hundred malcontents from Busra also joined the insurgents at Nahrwan. In the meantime, Ali, having received intelligence of the deceitful arbitration at Duma, took little notice of these fanatic zealots, his thoughts being more occupied with the affairs of Moawiya and
raising levies for Syria for the renewal of hostilities. Hearing about the Kharijite insurgents, Ali wrote to them that as he was preparing to march against Moawiya, it was high time for them to join his standard. To this they sent an insulting reply that they had cast him off as an ungodly heretic unless he acknowledged his apostasy and repented thereof, in which case they would see whether anything could be arranged between them.
The battle of Nahrwan.
Ali had commenced his march on Syria when he received tidings that the Kharijites had attempted a raid on Madaen but were beaten back to their camp; that they were committing horrible outrages in the country all around their camp, condemning as impious all those who did not fall in with their sentiments; that they had put to death a traveller who refused to accept their creed, and ripped up his wife who was with child. The followers of the Caliph, whose families were left behind unprotected at Kufa, apprehending danger from these barbarous fanatics desired that before proceeding to Syria these outlaws should be dealt with first. A messenger was sent to make enquiries but he too was put to death by them. Seeing the attitude of the insurgents, Ali thought that immediate measures to check them were necessary ; he therefore changed his course eastward, crossed the Tigris and apporaching Nahrwan sent a messenger to demand of them the surrender of the murderers. They replied that no paritcular person was responsible; and they all deserved equal merits for the blood of the apostates slain by them. Still Ali, avoiding bloodshed, tried to win over these misguided fanatics by gentle means. He had, therefore, a standard planted outside his camp and a, proclamation made that the
malcontents rallying round it or those who retired to their homes would be safe. The rebels began to disperse, deserting their camp, till Abdallah b. Wahab was left with only 1800 adherents, who resolved to fight against the Caliph at any cost. Ali said that those men were the true Kharijites, who would go forth against Islam as quick as an arrow from the bow. At last, headed by their leader, Abdallah b. Wahab, they desperately rushed upon Ali's army and met their fate. All of them were slain except only nine, who escaped to serve as firebrands to rekindle the future fire. On Ali's side only seven men were killed. The zealots, who had escaped, promulgated their creed and cause in secret at Busra and Kufa and appeared in the following year in bands of fanatic insurgents but were easily put to flight or cut to pieces.
Syrian expedition frustrated
The Kharijites having been disposed of at Nahrwan, Ali retraced his steps towards the Tigris which he recrossed with his army to march upon Syria, but the Chiefs of his followers urged him to give the army some rest preparatory to the long journey and to enable them to refit their armour for war against the well equipped enemy. Ali consented to the proposal. They marched back towards Kufa and encamped at Nokheila in the vicinity of the town. A proclamation was made that any one who had any business in the town may leave the Camp for one day returning on the next. In a short time the Camp was almost empty of its soldiers, who all went one after the other to the town. None returning the next day, Ali became impatient and at length himself entering the town harangued the people to go forth with him to the Syrian expedition, but no response was forthcoming and nobody came
forward. The Caliph was disappointed and at last the project for the expedition had to be abandoned, never to be resumed.
The period of Ali's Caliphate was one of continued struggles. He was never left to live in peace. The revolt of Ayesha, Talha and Zubeir; the rebellion and treacherous outrages of Moawiya and Amr b. Aas; the risings of the Kharijite fanatics; the lukewarmness and apathy of his own people; the unfaithfulness of his, cousin Abdallah b. Abbas, and last of all, the defection of his own brother LWl affected his spirits a great deal. These troubles crowding rapidly one upon another entirely disturbed his mind.
From the day of his forced ascension to the Caliphate to the last day of his life, Hazrat Ali did not get a day's rest and peace. It is a wonder how against heavy odds he could get time to introduce reforms in the government, to lay down fundamentals of grammar for the Arabic language, to deliver sermons on theology, on rhetorics, on philosophy of religion, on wonders of creation and nature, and on duties of man to God and man; to advise people in the most persuasive manner to suppress the tendencies for innovation and schism which had crept in the minds of the Muslims, or to introduce and to bring into effect principles of a benign government.
The death of Malik Ashtar and Mohammad Abubakr
After dealing with the revolt of the Kharijites, Hazrat Ali had to face the problem of consolidating his control over Egypt. He had sent Qais-Ibne-Saad as Governor of Egypt but had to call him back and to send Mohammad Ibne-Abubakr in his stead. Unfortunately, Mohammad
though brave and sincere was no match for Moawiya and Omar-Ibne-Aas. He was forced by Moawiya into battle. He wrote to Hazrat AR who sent Malik-al-Ashtar for his help. But Malik could not reach Egypt; he was poisoned on the way by a henchman of Moawiya and he died. (Tabari, Vol. IV, page 521), Mohammad was informed of his death. That young man faced Omar. Ibne-Aas alone, was defeated in the encounter, and killed, and by the orders of Moawiya his dead body was burnt and his ashes were strewn (Tabari, Vol IV, page 592). Hazrat Ali's words at the news of the death of Mohammad showed how he loved the young man and how the youth loved him. After him Hazrat Ali had to send some experienced officer to Egypt. He was busy with that problem when Moawiya organised bands of guerillas with orders for loot, murder, arson and rape. These bands were to attack, like surging waves, the provinces of Hijaz, Busra Raay, Mosul and Herat. Hazrat Ali organised defences of these provinces, defeated these bands and freed the country from their harassment.
It was very easy for Hazrat Ali to channelize the minds of the masses towards foreign invasion. It had always been done by rulers and is even today considered the best form of diverting the energies of a rising nation, as well as the easiest way to extend one's territory and to propagate religion. But Hazrat Ali hated bloodshed, did not believe in imperialism, and had no faith in propagation of religion with the sword in one hand and the Quran in the other. He believed Islam to be a message of Peace and Love and wanted mankind to be ruled on the basis of equity and justice. Therefore, after strengthening one province after another and fortifying their defences, he got busy in introducing reforms to create a benign temporal state and never serioulsy thought of expanding his domain.
CHAPTER XIX: HIS VIRTUES AND EXCELLENCE
The Ideal Ruler
Hazrat Ali's administration was such that it could serve as a model even to modern governments, not excepting those of the most advanced countries.
It was a rare coincidence, with few parallels in History, that a country, so steeped in superstition and ignorance as Arabia was at the dawn of the seventh century of the Christian era, should have produced an ideal and humanitarian ruler like Hazrat Ali whose government, even to-day , stands as a pattern of wise, simple and incorrupti ble administration.
When Hazrat Ali was called to the helm of the Muslim Commonwealth, his first act on assuming responsibility as a Caliph was to dismiss all corrupt governors and state officers who had fastened upon the provinces like famished leeches, heaping up wealth by means of pitiless extortion. Hazrat Ali had been advised by his friends to defer the dismissal of the corrupt men until he was firmly secured against all enemies. "But the Bayard of Islam," to use Major Osborn's words, "the hero without fear and without reproach", refused to be guilty of any duplicity or compromise with injustice. The fiat went forth removing from their offices all the men who had so grossly betrayed the public trust. This made the bloodsuckers of the poor his bitter enemies and they rebelled against him. But this did not deter Ali from his path of duty. Many a bold and seasoned reformer would have been afraid to tread on this path and would have deemed it expedient to seek out ways and means of convenient compromise. But Hazrat Ali did not believe in
dishonest diplomacy. He thought more of the wretched plight of the humble subjects of the state suffering under the yoke of the corrupt governors and he considered it his first duty to eradicate abuse and corruption from public service.
Both by example and precept Hazrat Ali proved himself to be a God-fearing administrator. Although appointed to the highest office of the state, he regarded himself as a trustee of the nation. He lived in oa humble thatched hut. He treated the treasures of the Commonwealth as the property of the nation and apportioned to himself from the public funds a share equal to that of the humblest citizen. He abhorred the whole paraphernalia of pomp and show. During his tenure of office. he introduced simplicity in every branch of life and also in every department of the Government. He insisted upon the Governors and officers of the state followine his example. Ibn-ul-Atheer, a great Muslim historian, records that during his Caliphate, Ali was visited by Harun Ibn Hamza in the palace of Khurnaq. It was a midwinter evening and Harun found Ali shivering from lack of warm clothes.. Harun could not bear the sight and exclaimed : "O Commander of the Faithful, a share has been allotted to you and your children in the public treasury, why are you undergoing such suffering ?" "By Allah," replied Hazrat Ali, "I hate to make use of your public treasury. Behold, this is the same garment which I brought with me from Medina."
It was the day of Id-ul-Fitr and all Muslims clad in their best garments, assembled in the great mosque of Kufa. They were expecting the Caliph to appear with ceremonial pomp to lead the Id prayers. But they were disappointed to see Hazrat Ali appearing in his usual long shirt full of
patches. This unceremonial dress displeased Ibn Abbas, who thought that Ali might have donned a more costly garment for the occasion. Ali, realising Ibn Abbas's perturbation, said, "what have you to do with my dress? This garment of mine is far from being a means of display of pride and it is such as can be worn by all Muslims."
It was the cardinal principle of Ali's administration that the ruler should adopt a standard of life equal to that of the humblest subject in the realm. He sincerely believed that the real greatness of a ruler did not consist in wearing rich and costly dresses but in relieving the distress of the suffering subjects. The public treasury was meant to meet not the extravagant demands of a ruler's vanity but the needs of the down-trodden people, to feed the starving population and to clothe the naked. He always directed his governors to adopt a simple standard of life and nothing displeased him more than to learn that a governor had indulged in rich feasting. In a memorable letter of censure addressed to Osman Ibn Hanif, the Governor of Busra, Hazrat Ali wrote :-- "O Ibne Hanif, it has come to my knowledge that someone amongst the youths of Busra invited you to a wedding feast and that you attended it cheerfully and were entertained to a variety of rich dishes. I had never expected that you would consent to accept the invitation of people who keep the poor and the needy far away from their dining-tables and invite only the rich. Remember that it is essential for the faithful to have an Imam whose example is always to be followed and from whom all knowledge and guidance is to be derived. Bear in mind that in the worldly domain your Imam (i.e. Hazrat Ali) has cut down his necessities, so much so that in dress he does not require more than two old shirts and in food not more than two (loaves) of bread. It is understandable that you cannot bring yourself down to this level of absti
nence, but still, as far as possible, you should assist me by observing piety, chastity and straightforwardness. I swear to Allah that I have not amassed gold and silver out of your worldly wealth nor have I provided myself with any new sheet in order to replace the present one when it becomes worn out. Had I desired to enjoy delicious honey, pure wheat and silk clothings, I could have easily done so, but what a pity it would be if I were to allow the animal in me to get the better of my inner soul, and my avarice to degrade me to the relishing of tasteful dishes. despite the knowledge that there are many in Hejaz and Yemen who have no means of getting a single piece of bread, or of being able to satisfy their hunger. Should I enjoy a restful sleep when all around me there are hung% and afflicted people? Is it fair and appropriate that should satisfy my vanity of being addressed as Commander of the Faithful and on my part I should not share their miseries and sorrows and be not willing to be one of them in their distresses and afflictions?"
This was Ali's real conception of the Caliphate, name!) that the Caliph or Ruler should share the miseries and sorrows, the distresses and afflictions of his subjects.
When Ali appointed his trusted disciple and friend Malik-al-Ashtar as the Governor of Egypt, he issued to him a letter of appointment which contained a full code of adminstrative instructions unequalled by any other royal charter even in this age of enlightenment and culture. He impressed upon Malik-al-Ashtar the importance of winning the confidence of the subjects by love and kindness and abjured him from exercising dictatorial powers and from vanity and pride. "Do not say I am your Overlord and Dictator and that you should therefore bow to my command, as that will corrupt your heart, weaken
your faith in religion and create disorder in the state." In administering Justice, he impressed upon Malik-alAshtar the absolute necessity of being impartial and of deciding claims in open courts. He wrote, "Meet the oppressed and the lowly periodically in an open conference and, conscious of divine presence there have a heart to heart talk with them. For I have heard the Prophet of Allah saying that no nation or society will occupy a high position in which the strong do not discharge their duty to the weak and the rights of the weak cannot be taken from the strong."
The scanty records available of the notable trials adjudicated upon by Hazrat Ali both in the reign of the early Caliphs as well as during his own regime fully endorse the prognostication of the Holy Prophet that Ali was the best Judge amongst his disciples. If the law reports of the Arabian High Court were available, every lawyer today would have acknowledged Hazrat Ali as the greatest Lord Chief Justice of his age. "But for his assassination", to quote a French Historian, "the Muslim world might have witnessed the realisation of the Prophet's teachings, in the actual amalgamation of Reason with Law, and in the impersonation of the first principles of true philosophy in positive action."
The non-Muslim subjects, called Zimmis, had a special place of protection in Hazrat Ali's regime. In order to protect them from exploitation, he decreed that no Muslim was allowed to acquire the land of a Zimmi even by purchase. They were equal with Muslims in the eyes of the law and the blood of the Zimmi, said Hazrat Ali, was as sacred as that of a Muslim. "Had Ali been allowed to reign in peace," says Oelsner, "his virtues, his firmness and his ascendancy of character would have perpetuated the old republic and its simple manners. The dagger of an as
sassin destroyed the hope of Islam." "With him," says Major Osborn, "perished the truest-hearted and best Muslim of whom Mohammedan History has preserved remembrance."
It has been rightly said that a genius comes before his age. Hazrat Ali was born at a time when a reformer was greatly needed but there were few persons capable of understanding and appreciating the genius of this great administrator. Syed Ameer Ali correctly sums up the position when he says, "Seven centuries before this wonderful man would have been apotheosised; thirteen centuries later his genius and his talents, his virtues and valour, would have extorted the admiration of the civilised world."
His literary achievements
"Ali deserves a distinguished place in literary history," Devenport remarks, "in as much as he had cultivated his mind with an ease and assiduity unusual in his age and country. He left many collections of sentences, proverbs and poetical pieces. Gobblin and Lette published fragments of these sentences, the former at Leyden in 1629 and the latter in 1746. Vather published Gobblin's fragments in French in 1660. Ockley, in the third edition of his 'History of Saracens', has given an English translation of 169 of Ali's sentences. A treatise also by Ali upon the magical science is said to be still preserved in the Imperial Library at Constantinople. Such a man was Ali. May he for ever repose on the bosom of the Eternal Beatitude."
Arabic literature reached its climax by means of his precious sayings and sermons a few of which have been collected by Syed Shareef al-Razi in the form of a book, known as "Nahjul Balagha."
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Students of the Arabic language will observe with interest the assistance that Ali gave to Abut Aswad-adDuwali in the task of systematizing Arabic, grammar. Abul Aswad was one of the most eminent of the Tabis, an inhabitant of Busra, and a partisan of Ali under whom he fought in the battle of Siffin. In intelligence he was one of the most perfect of men, and in reason he was one of the most sagacious. He was the originator of Arabic grammar. It is said that Ali laid down for him the principle : the three parts of speech are, the Noun, the Verb, and the Particle, telling him to prepare a complete treatise based upon it.
Hassan al-Basari called him "the Scholar of God in this community."
There is a tradition to the effect that Ali had great skill in writing the Kufic characters. He was able to make the elongated Kat*, which is characteristic of that script, with such uniform exactness that it was scarcely possible, even with a compass, to distinguish any difference between the Kafs that he had written.
There are traditions that affirm that Ali had a copy of the Quran of his own, a special copy which he had annotated according to the conversations he had with the Holy Prophet. This additional writing on the margin of his own Quran is apparently in the nature of commentary from the Prophet that others did not know. it has a bearing on the existence of a mysterious book that is called the 'Jafr'. Al-Kulaini remarks that, "when the Apostle taught anything to Ali, Ali evolved from it a thousand other things. He declares that the Sahifa in Ali's handwriting was seventy cubits in length, as measured by the arm of the Apostle, and that it contained everything permitted and forbidden", and everything necessary for man
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kind. And in the Jafr, or secret book, he assures us that there was to be found, "the knowledge of prophets, and of the scholars of the Bani Israel". Masudi shows how the later Imams were accustomed to refer at times to these secret books that Ali left in their keeping. Belief in the existence of these sacred and secret books with the Imams was firm.
In one of the popular books that Muhammad Bakir Majlisi wrote in the seventeenth century, the "HayatulKulub", or Life of Hearts, it is related that at the time when Muhammad appealed to the Nassara (Christians) in Najraan in Yemen to accept him as a Prophet whose coming had been foretold by Jesus, a great book called the "Jama" was referred to in the course of the debate. 1t was a collection of writings of 1,24,000 Prophets. The first part was the book of Adam, "which related to the kingdom of the Most High, what He had created and He has decreed in heaven and earth respecting things temporal and eternal. This .book, which contains all sciences, was transmitted by the father of mankind to Prophet Shays. Shays added his contributions to the great work and handed it to Prophet Idris, and likewise there were the writings of the Prophets Abraham and Moses and Jesus until at last the time came for the great and final work of Ahmad (or Muhammad).
A Persian manual on the lives of the Imams, which is a compilation from the voluminous works of Majlisi, was written in Persian and lithographed in Teheran in 1912. It is called "Tazkeratul-A'imma," and here it stated that the 'Jafr wa Jaameaa' is a book that the scholars agree that Ali had in his possession, and that the part that now exists consists of twenty-eight portions, and that each portion has twenty-eight pages, and each page twenty
eight divisions "and no one besides God, the Prophet and the Imams know the character in which it is written, unless the sinless Imams would have taught it to one."
The same modern manual mentions also "the Book of Ali" (the Sahifa), "which the Prophet dictated and Ali wrote. It is seventy metres long and the width of a sheepskin. It is also called the 'lama', and it shows what things are permitted and what things are forbidden". Two other minor works of the same sort are the "Jafr Abyad" (the white Jafer), which has fourteen portions, and each portion has fourteen divisions, and the writing of Fatima, with many traditions, to show that God taught Adam twenty-five of the Divine names, Noah knew eight, Abraham had six, Moses had four, Jesus had two, and Assif ibn Barkhia had one, whereas the Apostle of God knew seventy-two of these names, which he taught to Ali.
Collections have been made of maxims and aphorisms that have originated from Ali. A hundred of these were collected by the Persian poet Rashid al-Din and they have been translated into German. There are one hundred and sixty nine of these moral sayings given in Ockley's History of the Saracens (p. 339).
It was said to Ali, "What is generosity?" He replied, "that from which the initiative proceedeth, for what cometh after a request is liberality and munificence."
On another occasion he remarked, "He who seeketh to do justice unto men, let him desire for them what he desireth for himself."
According to historian Masudi (Murooj-uz-Zahab Masudi Vol. II, page 33, Egypt), Hazrat Ali is credited with not less than 480
politics, as collected by Zaid Ibn Wahab in the Imam's . So highly valued are these contributions own lifetime both for contents and their intrinsic literary worth that some of his master-pieces have formed throughout the course of Islamic history, subjects of study in centres of Muslim learning. Indeed, his reputation seems to have travelled to Europe at the time of the Renaissance. Edward Powcock, (1604-1691), a professor at the University of Oxford, published the first English translation of his 'Rhetoric'.
Khawja Hasan Nizam has quoted a list of the following Muslim Scholars who have collected the teachings of Hazrat Ali in their respective books.
1. Seerat-e-Ali by Hafiz Hamadan Ibrahim who died in 181 A.H.
2. Musnad-e-Ali by Ahmed bin Ibrahim who died in 226 A.H.
3. Musnad-e-Ali by Mohammad bin Abdullah who died in 258 A.H.
4. Akbar-wo-Seyar-e-Ali by yaqoob bin Shaiba who died 262 A.H. 5.Musnad-e-Ali by Qazi Ismail who died in 283 A.H.
6. Musnad-e-Ali by Abubakr Ahmad bin Ali who died in 292 A.H.
7. Musnad-c-Ali by Ahmad bin Shoaib Nisayee who died in 303 A.H.
The historian John J. Pool (author of the life of H. M. Queen Victoria) in his book 'Studies in Mohammedanism' says : "Ali was the first Caliph to protect and encourage national literature. The Prince was a scholar himself and many of his wise sayings and proverbs are published in a book. It is a remarkable work and deserves to be more widely read in the west."
In Summing up Hazrat Ali's worth, Maswoodi says, "If the glorious name of being the first Muslim, a comrade of the Holy Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the Faith, his intimate associate in life and his kinsman; if a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book; if self-abnegation and practice of justice; if honesty, purity and love of truth; if a knowledge of law and science, constitute a claim to pre-eminence. then all must regard Hazrat Ali as the foremost Muslim. We Shall search in vain to find, either among his predecessors (save one) or among his successors, those virtues with which God had endowed him."
Hazrat Ali says that as a Caliph and Ruler, he promises safety and security of life, property, honour, social status and religious freedom to non-Muslims and they should not be maltreated and looked down upon. So long as they do not try to betray and injure the cause of the state of Islam they should not be molested and should be allowed to practice their religion and trades freely and openly. Islam teaches us to carry a message of peace with us and improve the status of society wherever we go and the best way to. achieve this is to create amity, friendliness and concord between human beines. Therefore, Muslims should try to develop friendship of these people and should never resort to wrong use of power, force or arrogance. Non-Muslims should not be over-taxed, humiliated, and should not be forced out of their homes, lands and trades. Their priests should be treated with due respect. Their monasteries should be protected, they should be allowed to carry on their lectures, teachings and preachings as usual, and their religious ceremonies should not be prohibited. If they want to build their places of worship then
fallow ownerless lands should be allotted to them. One who disobeys the order is going against the orders of God and the Holy Prophet (A.S.) and will deserve His wrath.
It may be mentioned here that Ali was so popular even among the non-Muslims that when he died, all the Christians, Jews and Zorastrians of Kufa, particularly their women and children who were personally looked after by Ali, lamented his death and wept as one does for one's father. Mourning was observed even in Jerusalem and the Lord Bishop also could not restrain his tears. (Prof. M. G. Reynold's Book on Islam, Chapter III.)
"Be virtuous when there is still time for you to realise and adopt vittues, when repentance can do you good, when prayers are heard: when you are enjoying peace and comfort and when the angels are still writing your good and bad actions (when you still have power and opportunities to do good or to be wicked). Do good before old age or disability stops you from doing anything, before protracted illness renders you exhausted and unfit for any work and before death takes you away from this sphere of activities (life). Because death, sooner or later, will put an end to all your pleasures and all your enjoyments, it will send you far away from your cherished surroundings."
"Have you fully realised what Islam is? It is a religion founded on truth. It is such a fountainhead of learning that from it flow out several streams of wisdom and knowledge. It is such a lamp that from it several lamps will be lighted. It is a tall beacon lighting the path to God. It is a set of principles and beliefs which will satisfy every seeker of truth and reality."
"Know you all that God has made Islam the most sublime path towards His Supreme Pleasure and the highest
standard of His Worship and Obedience. He has favoured it with noble precepts, exalted principles, indisputable arguments, unchallengeable supremacy and undeniable wisdom."
"It is upto 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 implicitly obey its tenets and orders, and to give it the proper place in your lives."
"Weigh your own soul before the time for the weighing of your actions arrives; take count with yourself before you are called upon to account for your conduct in this existence; apply yourself to good and pure actions. adhere to the path of truth and rectitude before the soul is pressed to leave its earthly abode: verily. if you will not guide and warn yourself, none other can direct you. i adjure you to worship the Lord in purity and holiness. He has pointed out to you the path of salvation and the temptations of this world. Abstain from foulness, though it may be fair-seeming to your sight; avoid evil, however pleasant. For ye knoweth how far it takes you away from Him. Listen, and take warning by the words of the Merciful Guardian. 0 ye servants of my Lord, fulfil the duties that are imposed on you, for in their neglect is abasement : your good works alone will render easy the road to death. Remember, each sin increases the debt, and makes the chain (which binds you) heavier. The message of mercy has come; the path of truth is clear; obey the command that has been laid on you; live in purity, and work in piety, arid ask God to help you in your endeavours, and to forgive your past transgressions. Cultivate humility and forbearance : comfort yourself with piety and truth. Take count of your actions with your own conscience, for.
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4he who takes such count reaps a great reward, and he who neglects incurs great loss. He who acts with piety gives rest to his soul; he who takes warning understands the truth; he who understands it attains perfect knowledge."
The following sermon, delivered by him on Friday, the 2nd of Moharram 36 A.H., before the rally of his governors, bears witness to his administrative ability:
"O, the Faithful Believers! As you have been entrusted with the grave responsibility of ruling the masses, you should bear God in mind, protect the unity of God through your actions and keep aloof from polytheism. Obey the commandments of the Almighty and the orders of the Holy Prophet. Follow the path of truth and set an example to others by your noble sayings and actions. Do not be proud of your high position and transcend rule. Consider this opportunity of yours as a God-sent bounty to serve mankind. Help the distressed and extend a helping hand to the weak and the tyrannised. Be vigilant of what happens in the expanse of your territories, take heed of the dishonest and beware of the troublemongers. Be courteous to the ambassadors of the foreign states and kind to the guests. Maintain good relations with the tribes living on the borders. Pay heed to the happiness of your subordinates and protect your province from revolt and civil disorders."
"The governors should work for the satisfaction of the people and try to develop the growth of agricultural products. They should refrain from collecting more taxes than are due. They should tour their provinces and supervise the work of their assistants. They should provide schools,' orphanages, sanctuaries for the poor, rest-houses for travellers and police quarters for civil
protection. They should accomplish the requirements of the soldiers and carefully look after the war steeds."
On another occasion, when the tribe of Bani Tameem complained to the Caliph against Abdullah bin Abbas, one of his governors, he wrote to Abdullah thus :
"You should not behave like a beast towards your subjects. They are respectable people who should be treated with courtesy. You are representing me and the treatment meted out by you to the subjects is considered as that of mine. Your first consideration should be the welfare of those over whom you rule and you must treat them with due respect."
In the following sermon, the Holy Imam has described his sincere work, his courage and his fortitude in the cause of Islam, comparing other Muslims, especially during those early days, when the Holy Prophet started to preach Islam.
"I stood up alone among my contemporaries to welcome the order of God while they (Muslims) were keeping back timidly. I boldly came forward to defend the Faith while they were nervously hiding their heads under their hoods. I unhesitatingly testified to the message of God, while they were tongue-tied with fear of the non-believers. I walked the path of truth under the Divine Light while they stood still under clouds of uncertainty and doubt about religion and God. I never spoke aloud of my virtues, though I surpassed every one of them in attaining Divine Favour."
"Possessing these attributes and distinction I rose higher than any of them and stood alone at that eminence. My stand was firm like that of a mountain which neither a cyclone can shake nor tornadoes break. Not a single
person has any justifiable cause to blame me or to find fault with me."
"Al! those, whom society has wronged or has unjustly humiliated, are respectable before me and dear to me and I shall secure for them their just claims and rights, while despotic and arrogant usurpers of human rights are contemptible in my eyes and I shall make them give back the rights and privileges thus wrongly usurped. I cheerfully resigned to the will of God and have willingly bowed my head at His Command."
"Can you believe that I could frame a lie unto our Holy Prophet! I was the first person to attest him as the Prophet of God, how can I be first to calumniate him! Therefore, when I deliberated upon the state of affairs, I came to the conclusion that I must give priority to the fulfilment of a promise made to the Holy Prophet over the problem of asking people to take the Oath of allegiance to me."
The doctrine of Renunciation played no part in Ali's counsels. He advised men not to love this world but he did not advise them to renounce it. On the contrary he urged them to live their life on earth in an orderly way so that they might better the lot of everyone in this world as a preparation for a happy life in the next world. In one of his sermons he exhorted :
"O men of God! May God keep you happy and shower His favours upon you ! You should prepare yourselves for the long journey that awaits you. There are many difficulties that beset your path. Death is ever anxious to devour you. Renounce the riches of the world and catch hold of piety. Life in this world is short whereas life after death will be everlasting. Buy those commodities here (in this world) which will stand you in good stead
in the other. Do not demean yourself before God, who is well acquainted with your innermost feelings. Do not allow your soul to be lost in this world before death may overtake you. 0 men! Cast a glance on this world from a wise man's point of view. She (the world) casts out her guests in a short space of time. She harasses those with whom she fondles and prattles. Whatever part of life is wasted in idle pursuits can never be retrieved. Its (world's) gratifications and enjoyments are soon changed into sufferings and pain, its embellishments and decorations into distortions and impoverishment. The days of this life are numbered. Death is inevitable and is bound to come soon. After having adorned your person with good deeds you should not pay any heed whether death catches you or you catch death. Many men buy clothes, which instead of being worn by them are used in their coffins. Many men build houses which instead of becoming abodes become their graves. No one has lived forever in this world and no one has invented such a medicine which may make men immune from the clutches of death. Solomon the Prophet reigned with great pomp and majesty but when his time came he had to depart from this world. The world was left without him and his palaces are nothing but a heap of ruins. (Take the case) of those men who lived in impregnable citadels on the top of mountains guarded by a powerful army, but when their time came, death ejected them from those fortified places and put them to eternal sleep in graves. One can hear the whisper of the angels over their graves "Where. are those stiffnecked people who boasted of their pelf and power and their crowns and thrones? Where are their royal robes? What became of those beauties whose radiance under veils dimmed the light of (the sun) in this world? Where have gone those forts which were decorated with golden curtains, in front of
which stood sentries (for watch and ward)? Do not they show us how powerless they were? Have not the worms eaten their bodies, who only a few days ago set a magnificent and sumptuous table with luxurious plates? The vicissitudes of fortune have ruined their citadels, destroyed their royal robes and reduced to dust their crown and thrones?"
"Thanks be to my Lord ; He the Adorable, the only one to be adored. My Lord, the Eternal, the Ever-existing, the Cherisher, the True Sovereign whose mercy and might overshadow the universe; the Regulator of the worm, and Light of the creation. Him do we worship; to Him belong all worship; He existed before all things, and will exist after all that is living has ceased. Thou art the adored, my Lord; Thou art the Master, the Loving and Forgiving; Thou bestowest power and might on whom Thou pleasest; him whom Thou hast exalted none can lower; and him whom Thou hast lowered none can exalt. Thou, my Lord, art the Eternal, the Creator, All-wise Mighty Sovereign; Thy knowledge encompasses everything; Thy beneficence is all-pervading; Thy forgiveness and mercy are all-embracing. 0 my Lord, Thou art the Helper of the afflicted, the Reliever of all distress, the Consoler of the broken-hearted ; Thou art present everywhere to help Thy servants. Thou knowest all secrets, all thoughts, Thou art present in every assembly, Fulfiler of all our needs, Bestower of all our blessings. Thou art the Friend of the poor and bereaved ; my Lord, Thou art my Fortress; a Haven for all who seek Thy help. Thou art the Refuge of the weak; the Helper of the pure and true. 0 my Lord, Thou art my Supporter, my Helper, the Helper of all who seek Thy help. 0
my Lord, Thou art the Creator, I am only created; Thou art my Sovereign, 1. am only Thy servant; Thou art the Helper, I am the beseecher; Thou, my Lord art my Refuge; Thou art the Forgiver, I am the sinner; Thou, my Lord, art the Merciful, All-knowing, All-loving; I am groping in the dark; I seek Thy knowledge and love. Bestow, my Lord, all Thy knowledge and love and mercy; forgive my sins, 0 my Lord, and let my approach be only to Thee."
There is no treasure like knowledge.
The realm of knowledge has no bounds.
The chief of talents is knowledge.
Knowledge leads to wisdom, accordingly the educated man is the wise one; riches diminish by expenditure, while knowledge is increased by dissemination.
A wise man needs each day an hour set apart in which to examine his conscience, and measure what he has gained or lost.
The heart is the source of wisdom, with the ear as its channel.
Philosophy is a tree growing in the heart, and bearing its fruit on the tongue.
Belief and wisdom are twin brothers; Allah accepts not the one without the other.
While you live you die. Each breath of a man is a step nearer death.
Death awaits every living creature and everything must end.
You are the game that death hunts.
If you stand still, it will seize you;
If you flee, it will overtake you.
Books are the gardens of the learned.
The man of learning lives even after his death.
The ignorant man is dead, while still alive.
The scholar knows an ignorant man, because formerly he was ignorant himself, but the ignorant knows not the scholar, never having been one.
He is very unfortunate who cannot in his life-time gain a few sincere friends and sympathisers and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then to have lost them (through his deeds).
There is no greater wealth than wisdom,
No greater poverty than ignorance,
No greater heritage than culture,
And no greater friend and helpmate than consultation.
The strongest man is he who can fight against himself.
The strongest man is he who can make his reason conquer his passions.
Protect your wealth by means of Zakat.
Cure your sick through offering of Alms and destroy difficulties and dangers through prayers.
One without pity for others will never be pitied.
Whoever has compassion upon orphans, will see his own children treated kindly.
There is no better means of prolongation of life than Sadaqah (alms) and there is no better thing than prayers for emancipation from evils.
There is no better method of making human beings look venerable than by good manners and there is no better remedy than repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Beware that Sadqah (Alms) is a curtain between oneself
and the fire of hell and is an easy medium for the Pool-e-Serat and is a protection from punishment.
Treat people in such a way and live amongst them in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.
I recommend five things to you, the attainment of which will be worth any amount of hardship : Not to expect anything from anyone but from God; not to fear anything but your sins; not to be ashamed to say, 'I do not know', when asked about something you are not aware of; not to be ashamed of learning a thing you do not know. Ever preserve the virtue of patience, for patience in relation to Eeman' (Faith) is like the head in relation to the body. And there is no good in a body which has no head, neither in Eeman' which has no patience.
He who understands Divine Greatness never boasts.
A sincere friend is sincere even in hardships.
Do not envy the glory and magnificence of others, let not pride and grandeur of this world puff you, nor let sorrow over its wickedness and poverty depress you; for, all glory and magnificence shall fade, all worldly bliss pass away and all evil and poverty surely end, as we shall ourselves pass away.
Humbleness and prostration bring nearness to God.
God the Almighty selected us from His Creation and selected for us our followers who assist us. They are pleased when we are pleased and are sorrowful in our sorrows. They give up their lives and property for our cause. Therefore they are ours and will be with us in Paradise.
If you believe in God, abstain from forbidden things, then you will be saved from all evils. If you please God, God will also please you.
Simplest way of attaining God's mercy is to be good to all humanity.
The descendants of the Prophet are his Confidants, the Shelter of his commands, the Trustees of his knowledge, the Stronghold of the Quran and the Mountains of his Faith.
It was his firm belief that a ruler should rule not to please himself but to bring happiness to the ruled. And it was on the basis of this principle that he laid down rules for his people to carry out :
(1) You must develop in yourself, kindness and love for your subjects. Do not behave with them as if you were a ferocious beast.
(2) Muslims and non-Muslims should be treated alike. Muslims are your brothers and non-Muslims are human beings just like you.
(3) Do not feel ashamed to forgive. Do not. be hasty with punishment. Do not quickly lose your temper over mistakes and failures of those over whom you rule. Anger and desire for vengeance are not going to be of much use to you in administration.
(4) Do not allow favouritism and nepotism to force you to violate your duties to God and man, and drive you towards tyranny and oppression.
(5) While selecting officers take care that you do not select such persons as have served tyrannical and oppressive rulers and have been responsible for atrocities and savage cruelties.
(6) Select honest and kind persons as your advisers and from amongst them prefer those who speak out the bitter truth to you unreservedly without fear or favour.
(7) Appointments in the first place must be on probation.
(8) Keep your officers well paid so that they may not be tempted to practice corruption or misappropriation.
(9) Appoint confidential officers secretly to watch the activities of your officers and staff and report to you about their behaviour.
(10) Your secretaries should be the cream of your civil, judicial or military service. Choose the best among them irrespective of age or period of service.
(11) All letters or applications should be dealt with by the officers and replies or orders about them should be drafted by them only. No subordinate must be allowed to be the eyes and the mind of these officers.
(12) Take your subjects into your confidence and make them feel that you are their well-wisher and friend.
(13) Never break a promise or go against the terms of a treaty. It is a sin against God.
(14) You must take care of your traders but should never allow them to resort to hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering.
(15) Help handicraft; it reduces poverty and raises the standard of life.
(16) Agriculturists are assets to the state and should be protected.
(17) Remember that your sacred duty is to look after the poor, disabled and the orphans. Let not your officers humiliate them, ill-treat them or oppress them. Help
them, protect them and let them approach you whenever they are in need of your help.
(18) Avoid bloodshed, do not kill anybody unless he deserves to be killed according to the Canons of Islam.
Hazrat Ali's administration was too disturbed by civil war to allow him to remedy the evils of the previous administration ; but he removed most of the corrupt governors and established a state archive for the safe custody and preservation of records of the Caliphate. He created the office of 'Hajib' (chamberlain) and that of the 'Sahibush-Shurta' (Captain of the Guard). He reorganised the police and regulated their duties. Under his advice the era of 'Hijra' was established and schools and mosques were also founded and endowed in every part of the empire.
Recognition of Ali's superiority
Ibn-e-Hajar Makki in Sawaiq-e-Muhariqa reports that Abubakr once said :
"It would be difficult indeed for any one to pass over the bridge of 'Sire, on the Day of Judgment without getting a permit from Ali, because this is what I have heard from the Holy Prophet."
Omar related that once the Holy Prophet said, "If the faith of the inhabitants of the seven worlds be put on one side of the scale, and that of Ali alone on the other side, verily Ali's side will weigh heavier."
Imam Shafai's famous verse : "Ali will judge mankind and allot them either paradise or hell. He was the leader of men and Jinns, the true Testator of the Holy Prophet. If the followers of Ali are 'Raffizhes' (the heterogeneous sect of Shias) verily I am one of that sect. Ali
at the time of the breaking of the symbols in the Kaaba put his feet on that shoulder where God had put His hand on the 'Night of Meraj' and verily Ali was that man into whose eyes shone the light of God."
Once, Imam Ahmad asked his father, Imam Hanbal, who was superior, Moawiya or Ali, to which query Imam Hanbal replied, "Ali had numerous enemies and all of them tried to find fault with him but they searched in vain and could not find any flaw in him. At long last they joined hands with Moawiya and declared war on Ali. When they failed to defeat him by fair means they took to treacherous and deceitful courses to harm him."
Ibn Athir says, "Ali was the first Caliph whose parents were pure Hashimites and who was so judicial minded that he could not put up with the dishonesty even if his friends or relatives were to indulge in it and was so much engrossed in piety that at the time of his marriage with Fatima, he did not possess anything save a camel skin, which he converted into a bed sheet at night. The Prophet in his sayings has not extolled any of his companions as much as he has Ali. Surely Ali never spoke a lie in his life-time."
Some one asked the Umayyad Caliph, Omar bin Abdul Aziz (717-20 A.D.) whom he considered the most pious man in the world, to which query he replied, "Ali excelled mankind in piety. Not only this, but he tried zealously to reform his friends, associates, acquaintances and all those who came in contact with him."
Ibn Masud used to say that throughout Arabia there was no more impartial judge than Ali.
Abu Saeed Khudiri held that he could easily detect a hypocrite by his enmity towards Ali.
Abdullah ibn Abbas used to say, "Should schism seep into Islam, it would be the bounden duty of the believers to attach themselves fast to Ali (i.e. his teachings) and the Quran for I have heard the Prophet say, 'Ali was the first to believe in me, he will be the first to meet me in Paradise and will be the greatest discriminator of truth from falsehood, he is the leader of all the believers, he is the 'Sadiq-i-Akbar' (the great truthful one) and is that door (of faith) the entry through which will lead to Paradise."
(Munaqib ibn Murwaiyia)
Ali's advent foretold in the Scriptures
After the creation of the world, God sent his prophets to illumine mankind, the most auspicious of these being Abraham. In response to a prayer to God, asking for a blessing, Abraham is said to have received the answer : "Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son and thou shall call him Isaac : and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. And as for Ishmael I have heard thee : behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly, twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." (Genesis 18 : 19-20).
The twelve princes referred to in this prophecy are obviously the twelve Imams of whom the first is Ali, who drew his lineage from Ishmael, as foretold by God. The rest of the Imams are in direct lineage from Ali and Fatima, the daughter of the Holy Prophet.
The various appellations
Thus, specially created by God and displaying divine traits of character, Ali has been bestowed with many names.
The following appellations are those most generally added to Ali's name "Moula" (Master), "Murtaza" (he with whom God is well pleased), "Haider" (the lion), "Wali Allah" (Friend of God), "Haidar-i-Karrar" (the impetuous lion), "Asad Allah al-Ghaib" (the victorious lion of God), "Moula Mushkkil-Kusha" (the Master who solves the difficulties of others), "Shah-i-Wilayat" (the King of the pious), "Abul Sibtayan" (the father of Hasan and Husain, who are the leaders of the youths of paradise), "Amin-ulMomineen" (Trustee of the faithful), "Imam-ul-Mutakeen" (Leader of the Holy), "Sayyid-ul-Mornineen" (Master of the believers-in-faith), "Khatum-ul-Wassee-een" (the Seal of Prophet), "Amir-ul-Momineen" (the Commander of the faithful), "Al-Wasi" (the Successor), "Al-Hadi" (the Guide), "Khair-ul-Bariyya." (the best of the Creation).
He was born of the Divine Light that shone in God's sanctuary of the Kaaba and was brought up in infancy by the Holy Prophet himself, brought up by him as a son and was given his daughter in marriage. The Holy Prophet imparted divine knowledge to him. And, on attaining manhood, Ali stood by God's Apostle, risking all dangers for him, fighting all his battles and displaying such un-. flinching fidelity that his name became synonymous with loyalty and faithfulness.
When Ali offered his prayers he was frequently observed to be in a strange physical condition. When asked to account for the pallor of his face and the way in which his body trembled he replied, "I present myself to the Almighty to render an account of the various obligations that devolve on me and I do not know whether I have
discharged them dutifully by protecting the defenceless and aiding the oppressed." His humility before God was one of the reasons why he was regarded as a saint of saints. Another factor which made him exceptionally pious was the important part which he assigned to prayer in his daily life.
One day when the Holy Prophet was sleeping with his head in Ali's lap, the time of "Asr" (afternoon prayers) had passed. Informed by Divine revelation that he had caused Ali to miss his prayers, the Holy Prophet said, "Verily, Ali was busy in the set vice of God and His Apostle. 0 Lord! Command Thy sun not to set yet and to come back into the world again so as to enable Ali to perform his prayers." The Sun re-appeared forthwith until Ali had finished his prayers.
In one of his many battles Ali is said to have been pierced by the head of an arrow, which could not be extracted and which caused him great pain for many months. One day, he was holding communion with God, he went into a state of reverie and on emerging from this trance he found that the head of the arrow had come out of its own accord, through the intercession of Divine Favours.
Because Ali was considered to be the most pious and most holy of all the believers in faith, the people also began to feel that God must have rewarded him by granting him the power to perform miracles. Tales abound of mira culous happenings. A withered tree grew again at Ali's touch; pebbles turned into pieces of gold at his command, so that a believer in faith could find money to pay back a Jewish usurer; Ali was gifted with divine qualities.