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Thursday 27th of January 2022
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Ali (a.s) as a Judge

Ali was the most learned man of the age in Islamic law. He acted as a Judge during the time of the Holy Prophet, and the Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. Some of the judgements delivered by Ali are on record, and show his highly developed sense of discerning the truth, and doing justice. 

The story of loaves

Once two companions went on a journey. One of them had five loaves with him, and the other one had three loaves. On the way they were joined by a stranger who shared the loaves with them. On departure the stranger gave them an amount of eight dirhams. A dispute arose between the two companions about the division of the amount. The man who had five loaves wanted to keep five dirhams for himself and give three dirhams to his companion. His companion did not accept this decision and insisted that the amount should be divided equally between them, and that each one of them should get four dirhams. The men wanted Ali to decide their dispute. While entertaining the suit, Ali asked the man who had three loaves that he should accept what his friend offered him namely three dirhams. He did not accept the offer, and wanted that the matter should be adjudicated so that due justice was done. Ali asked whether at the time of the sharing of loaves all the three persons concerned had equal share. He was told that it was so. Ali thereupon gave the judgment that the man with three loaves was entitled to one dirham while the other man who had five loaves was entitled to seven dirhams. This bewildered the man with three loaves who would not accept even three dirhams. He wanted Ali to enlighten him as to the basis of his judgment. Ali explained the position thus: "You had three loaves and your companion had five loaves. There were thus 8 loaves in all. As all the loaves were shared equally between three persons, divide each loaf into three pieces. That would make 24 pieces. Your companion owned five loaves or fifteen pieces while you owned three loaves or nine pieces. As these 24 pieces were shared equally, this means that each one of you ate eight pieces. You had nine pieces, and out of these you ate eight pieces yourself. Thus the stranger ate only one piece from your loaves. Your companion had fifteen pieces. Out of these he ate eight pieces himself leaving seven pieces which were eaten by the stranger. Thus the stranger ate one piece from you and seven pieces from your companion. It is therefore plain arithmetic that for one piece you are entitled to one dirham and your companion is entitled to seven dirhams for seven pieces." 

 

Dispute about a child

Once a dispute arose between two women about the possession of a child. Each woman claimed to be the mother of the child. No proof could be adduced from either side, but each woman insisted emphatically that the child belonged to her. In the absence of any satisfactory evidence, Ali was unable to decide to whom the child actually belonged. Exasperated addressing the women, Ali said that there is no satisfactory evidence had been produced and as both the women insisted on the motherhood of the child, he had no option but decide that the child be cut in two parts, and thus the child be divided among them. Hearing this decision, one of the women burst into tears and said, "My Lord, do not kill the child. You may very well award it to the other woman". Thereupon Ali declared that she was indeed the mother of the child, and delivered the child to her. 

 

Dispute about the custody of money

Once two friends proceeded on a journey. Before departing on the journey they kept some money in custody with a woman. She was enjoined not to return the money unless both of them came together to claim it. After some time, one of them came to the woman and said that as his other partner had died, the amount kept in custody be returned to him. He produced some sureties, and the woman returned the amount to him. After some time the other man who was reported to be dead appeared and claimed the money from the lady. She said that his other friend had taken away the money on the grounds that he had died. The man insisted on payment on the grounds that she was committed not to return the amount unless both of them were present. The dispute dragged on, and the man brought the suit in the court of Ali. Addressing the plaintiff Ali asked, "Your stand is that the money was not to be returned unless both of you were present?" The plaintiff said, "Yes, my lord, that is so". Ali said, "Then go and bring your partner, so that the amount may be delivered to you." The man actually wanted to play a ruse, and at this wise decision of Ali, the attempt to fleece the poor woman was frustrated. 

 

How Ali detected the murder

Once seven persons went on a journey. After some time six of them returned, and they could give no news about the seventh man. They gave conflicting accounts about him. Sometimes they said that he had died. Sometimes they said that he had quarreled with them and left their company. The wife of the man suspected that they had killed her husband. She accordingly lodged a complaint in the court of Ali. Ali summoned the six men. Each one of them was kept in a separate room where a security guard was posted. Thereafter one of them was called to the presence of Ali. The man was charged with murder, but he insisted that he was innocent and knew nothing about the man. Thereupon Ali ordered the court crier that he should give the "Azan". As the "Azan" sounded, the other persons segregated in the various rooms shuddered and thought that their companion had confessed the murder. Accordingly, when they were summoned and presented before Ali, they confessed their guilt. Ali accordingly ordered them to pay "Qasas" to the widow of the murdered person. 

 

The Cow and the Ass

Once, a complaint was lodged in the court of Ali by a man that the cow of another person had killed his ass. Ali summoned the owner of the cow and asked him to offer his defense if any. He said that as a matter of fact the ass had attacked the cow first and the cow had killed the ass in retaliation. Ali asked the owner of the cow, "Where were you when the ass attacked the cow?" He said that he was driving the cow. Then he asked the owner of the ass, "Where was the ass at the time?" He said that it was tied. Addressing the owner of the cow Ali said that as the ass was tied, and the cow was untied. His plea that the ass had first attacked the cow was untenable. He accordingly decreed that the owner of the cow should compensate the owner of the ass.

 

Mad woman accused of adultery

Once a mad woman was brought to the court of Umar. The charge of adultery was established against her. Umar was inclined to sentence her to the penalty of being stoned to death but he deemed it necessary to consult Ali before delivering the judgment. Ali advised that the penal law of Islam was applicable only in such cases where the person concerned was in proper senses, and could be held responsible for his action. Where a person was not in proper senses, he could not be held accountable for his actions. The view of Ali was accepted and the mad woman was let off. 

 

Child born in six months after marriage

In the time of Umar, a child was born to a woman six month after her marriage. When the case came to the notice of Umar he was of the view that it was a prima facie case of adultery and as such the woman should be sentenced to punishment for adultery. Umar referred the case to Ali. No evidence was forthcoming to the effect that the woman had any illicit liaison before marriage. Ali held that the mere fact that the child had been born six months after the marriage would not be a sufficient ground for convicting the woman. Ali pointed out that in the Holy Quran the period from conception to the weaning of the child is laid down at thirty months, and the period of the weaning of the child after birth is given as two years. This means that though under normal circumstances a child is born after nine months, a child may be born after six months under abnormal conditions. The woman was accordingly let off and absolved of the charge of adultery. 

 

Share in the property of a deceased husband for a divorced wife

A companion had two wives. He divorced one of them. A little later he died. The divorced woman claimed a share in the property of her late husband. The suit was contested by the other wife on the grounds that the plaintiff could not claim a share as she had been divorced. It transpired that the husband had died within three months of giving the divorce, and since the divorce the divorced wife did not have more than two monthly courses. Ali accordingly awarded her a share in the property of her husband.

 

The man who stole his coat of mail

An interesting story is on record in a case in which Ali was himself the plaintiff. After the Battle of Siffin, Ali lost his valuable coat of mail. After some time, Ali saw his coat of mail in the possession of a Christian. When asked to return the coat of mail, the man insisted that the coat belonged to him. Ali filed a suit in the court of the Qadi of Kufa. The Qadi asked Ali to produce witnesses in support of his claim. Ali could produce his son and his slave as witnesses. The Qadi held that he could not accept such evidence as it was interested. Under the circumstances the Qadi rejected the suit of Ali. Instead of being aggrieved against the decision. Ali appreciated the integrity of the Qadi. After the judgment the Christian came to Ali and offered him the coat of mail saying that it in fact belonged to him. The man was so much impressed with the administration of justice under Islam that he hastened to accept Islam at the hands of Ali. Ali presented him the coat of mail as well as a horse. The man fought on the side of Ali against the Kharijites in the Battle of Nahrawan and was martyred. 

 

Ali's instructions for the conduct of war

Ali was a successful and skilled military general. Some of the instructions that he issued to his Generals and the army about the conduct of wars are on record, and show his great military insight. 

 

Instructions to his son Muhammad Hanifa

At the Battle of Siffin, Ali entrusted the flag of command to his son Muhammad Hanifa. Ali issued him the following instructions: "O son, let mountains move from their places, but you should not move from the place that has been assigned to you in the battlefield. Install your feet firmly on the ground as though a nail has been driven into it. Let your one jaw of teeth rest firmly on the other jaw. Keep an eye on the rear of your enemy. Enter the battle with firm determination that you have sold your head to God. With all this, always think that success lies in the hands of God. Above all never raise your hand against the sick, women, the aged, and children. Even if they abuse you, it behooves you to give them refuge. Never mutilate the limbs of the enemy or any other person. Give decent burial to the dead bodies of your enemies."

 

Instructions to the Generals of the border forces

Ali issued the following instructions to the Generals of the forces in operation in the border areas: "It is the duty of the Officer Commanding that if he has attained a high office, he should not thereby change his attitude to his subordinates. On the other hand, the greater the bounties that God has conferred on him, the greater should be his kindness to the people under his charge. It is your right on me that, except for war, I should not keep any secrets from you. It is incumbent on me that but for the matters enjoined by the Shariah, I should consult you in all affairs of the State, and should not deprive you of any of your right. If I protect your rights, it is obligatory on you that you should obey me, and should not hesitate to respond to my call for action. Do not be overawed by the difficulties that stand in the way of the vindication of Truth. If you do not act accordingly, you will lower yourself in my estimation, and you will be liable to be called to account for your lapse. You will have to face punishment on that score. Take note that I will not spare you, and will not allow you any concession. As I deal with you, you should in turn deal with your subordinates on similar lines. Such mutual understanding will keep the affairs in order." 

 

Treatment for the rebels

Ali issued the following instructions to a General in the matter of the treatment to be accorded to rebels: "If the rebels repent and return to obedience, then accept their repentance and do not be harsh with them. If they persist in their revolt, and are not prone to listen to reason, then suppress them with the aid of the people who are loyal to you. See that you depend only on these people who are sincere to you. Do not care for those who are in different. It is better not to own a person who is not with you whole-heartedly. It is better that such men should remain sitting and should not stand up." 

 

Instruction to the army

Ali issued the following instructions to the army: "When you camp in the battlefield, your camp should be at the base of a mountain, a hillock, or on the bank of a rivet or canal, so that this may insure your safety. Post guards at the top of the mountain, hillock or any other strategic place, so that the enemy may not attack you while you are unaware. Keep in mind that the vanguard of the force and its scouts are like the eyes and ears of a person. Make suitable arrangements for securing intelligence. See that there is no disunity in your ranks. When you are in camp, or on the march, behave as one body. Make proper arrangements for watch and ward during nights. Your guardsmen should remain alert. You should be watchful even in your sleep, and you should wake up and take up arms at the slightest indication of danger." 

 

Strategy for crisis

In the case of a crisis, Ali laid down the following strategy to be adopted: "If in a battle there is a critical time, and you have to fall back, do not forget to make such retreat a step for attacking the enemy again with redoubled force. Do not lose heart. Be stout hearted. Be prepared. Keep swords ready. Suppress voices. Maintain silence for that is the way to overcome a crisis." 

 

Prayers of Ali

When starting operations in a battle, Ali would pray to God in the following terms: "O God, our hearts are inclined to You. Our heads bow before You. We look to You for help. We are fighting in Your Way, against the people who are fighting for selfish ends. We seek Your aid. All victory belongs to You." 

Thought of Ali

Ali was a great thinker. In his sermons, addresses, and other writings which have come down to us in the shape of his book Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across many a gem of precious thoughts. Some of these thoughts characterized by great depth are given hereunder. 

 

Friends of Allah

Friends of Allah are they who look to its inward aspect when the ordinary people look to the outward aspect of the world, and when the other people are engrossed in the affairs of the world they get anxious about the Hereafter. 

 

Momins and hypocrites

A Momin is he, whose neck if placed under my sword, would not think ill of me. A hypocrite is he whom even if I load with gold and silver he would not think good of me. 

Faqih

A Faqih is one who would not make the people despair of the mercy of God. 

Justice and mercy

The purpose of justice is to give a person what is due to him. Mercy goes a step further, and it gives a person something more than what is due to him. 

 

The world and the Hereafter

He who seeks the world, death runs after him; he who seeks the hereafter the world runs after him. 

Momin and an infidel

He who tells of his want to a Momin is as if he has requested God. He who seeks his want from an infidel is making a complaint against God. 

Proximity to the ruler

He who is in proximity to the ruler is like a person riding on a lion, and there can be no knowing when the lion might overturn and devour him. 

 

Haste

Haste is a kind of madness. One who does things in haste has to face shame, and if he is not ashamed his madness is confirmed. 

 

Faith and faithlessness

Faith with the faithless is faithlessness before God, and faithlessness with the faithless is faith. 

 

Philosophy

If what the philosopher says is correct, it is a cure; if what he says is incorrect it is a disease. 

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the Zakat of success if you wish to succeed in life, learn to forgive others. 

 

Secret of success

Success depends on self-confidence. Self-confidence depends on due deliberation. Deliberation depends on protecting one's secrets. He who cannot keep his secret cannot succeed. 

 

Kinds of patience

Patience is of two kinds: Firstly patience at a thing which one does not like, and secondly patience at not getting a thing one desires. 

 

Wealth and poverty

Wealth provides one with the facilities of home country while travelling in a foreign land. Poverty makes a person a stranger even in his homeland. 

 

Faith

Faith lies in preferring truth to falsehood even when the truth might lead to any harm, and falsehood might lead to any advantage. And evidence of your faith is that what you say is in accord with that practice. 

 

Momin

A Muslim is he whose face wears a smiling look even though his heart is distressed. 

 

Perfection

Perfection consists in three things: patience in affliction; moderation in pursuit; and offer of assistance to a supplicant. 

 

Heresy

Heresy has four aspects: Concealment of truth, waging of war against truth, going astray from the path of truth, and adoption of an inimical attitude to truth. 

 

Seven things of the devil

There are seven things of the devil: excessive anger, excessive sneezing, excessive yawning, vomiting, bleeding of the nose, clandestine discourse and sleeping during devotional exercise. 

 

Generosity

Generosity lies in affording relief to the needy without his asking for it. When the supplicant is assisted when he asks for it, that is liberality and munificence and not generosity. 

 

Tauhid

Tauhid is a conviction of the heart which is above doubt. 

 

Justice

Justice is determination against which there can be no accusation.

 

Broadmindedness

Learning and good dispositions go together and lead to broadmindedness.

 

Wealth and health

One cannot trust two things: wealth and health. One does not know when they might forsake him.

 

Two types of subsistence

There are two types of subsistence, one after which you run and the other which runs after you.

 

Truth and falsehood

There is a distance of four fingers between truth and false hood. Falsehood is that you say that you heard it from someone else. The truth is that you say that you saw it with your own eyes.

 

Things that are the best

Resignation to the will of God is the best policy. Knowledge is the best inheritance. Good conduct is the best ornament. The best wealth is the suppression of desires. The middle course is the best course. 

 

Things to which nothing is better

No honor is more respectable than the sword. No religion is better than Islam. No citadel is stronger than piety. No one is a better interceder than repentance. No treasure is richer than contentment. 

 

Success and failure

When you succeed do not feel proud. When you fail do not lose patience. 

 

Person doomed to ignominy

Two persons are deemed to ignominy, firstly he who creates dissentions and secondly he who levies false accusations.

 

Three friends

Your three friends are: your friend, a friend of your friend, and an enemy of your enemy. 

 

Three foes

Your three foes are: your foe, the foe of your friend, and the friend of your foe.

 

Two types of men

There are two types of men in the world: one who sells himself to the world and the world destroys him, the other is the one who ransomed himself for the world and has released himself from its captivity.

 

Greetings and favor

If somebody greets you, greet him in better terms. If somebody favors you confer a greater favor on him. 

 

Humiliation

Accept death, but do not accept humiliation.

 

Two hungry persons

There are two hungry persons whose hunger is never satisfied: firstly he who seeks knowledge and secondly he who seeks the world.

 

Miser

A miser lives in the world as an indigent, and he will be called for in the Hereafter to give account as a capitalist.

 

Offshoots of patience

Desire, fear, and piety are the offshoots of patience.

 

Miserliness, patience, piety and cowardice

Miserliness is dishonor. Patience is bravery. Piety is a shield against hell. Cowardice is an inferiority complex.

 

The greatest and the vilest

Wisdom is the greatest treasure. Folly is the greatest poverty. Of all things pride is the vilest. The greatest excellence is good disposition.

 

Companies to be avoided

Avoid the company of a fool for he will harm you while trying to benefit you. Avoid the company of a liar for he will bring you near what is undesirable and remove you from what is desirable. Avoid the company of a miser for he would withhold from you what you stand in need of. Avoid the company of a libertine for he will sell you for a trifle.

 

Two things to be afraid of

Two things of which you should be afraid of are: firstly giving way to your lust; and secondly harboring high and far-fetched hopes.

 

The worst enemies

Before God two persons are the worst enemies, firstly the man who makes innovations, and secondly the man who creates dissentions. 

 

Things that are worse

There is no distress worse than ignorance. There is no enemy worse than self-adulation. There is no worse companion than bad conduct.

Ali as political thinker

Ali was a political thinker. In his writings in Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across many passages which project his political thought in the context of Islam. It is surprising that such thoughts expressed fifteen hundred years ago have an air of modernity about them. One marvels at the profundity of his thought. 

 

State and Government

Ali defined the State as "Community in action". He defined Government as an instrument of the state charged with the responsibility of fulfilling the purposes of the state. He conceived the Islamic Ummah as an organic entity capable of possessing moral and spiritual qualities. He held that an individual cannot lead his life in isolation and has to live as a part of the Ummah safeguarding the "Haqooq-ul-Abad" (duties of individuals towards his fellow men). This can be done by developing a sense of group solidarity and loyalty, and by each person striving to live in harmony with his fellow men without encroaching upon or usurping the rights of others. Ali held that mankind, with all its faults and vices, would survive by a corporate sense of responsibility. As such good government should not be merely regulative; it should be reformative as well in its character and application. 

 

Caplih

Ali held that the Caliph is the agent of the community charged with the responsibility to administer the affairs of the community in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. He should strive to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet. He should be a pious and staunch Muslim who should follow the Shariah himself and should enforce it for others. He should be a man of knowledge and should not be ignorant. He should not be covetous or ambitious. He should be concerned more with the Hereafter than the world. He should be of good disposition. He should be sympathetic. He should not be cruel and should not oppress the people. He should have a firm hold on authority and should see that the functionaries of the state perform their duties honestly and efficiently. He should be just and should administer justice without fear or favor. He should promote the welfare of the people. He should enforce law and order with a strong hand. He should be a source of strength for the weak and a matter of terror for those who usurp the rights of others. He should defend the country against foreign aggression. He should maintain law and order within the country. He should keep a strict watch on the functionaries of the state. He should be sympathetic, and should solve the problems of the people. The people should have easy access to him and he should command their confidence. He should regard government as a trial, and should take steps to insure that when weighed in the balance he is not found wanting. 

 

The people

Ali held that the people are the main power, and they have the right to criticize the government. The government should work for the welfare of the people and should keep them satisfied. Ali was particular that the minorities should be well cared for and their rights should be kept safeguarded. The minorities should have the freedom of worship, and they should enjoy autonomy in the administration of their own affairs. Ali held that it was the obligation of the state to look after the destitute and the distressed. He attached particular importance to the care of the widows and the orphans. 

 

Taxation

Ali held that the people should be taxed according to their capacity. There should be no hardship or coercion in the collection of taxes. The system of taxation should be such that the people paid the taxes voluntarily as a religious obligation. The collectors should not indulge in any act which is not liked by the people. They should not collect anything beyond what is enjoined by law. Taxes should be remitted in the case of famine, failure of crops or any other calamity. 

 

Functionaries of the State

Ali held that only such persons should be appointed as the functionaries of the state who spoke the truth, however unpalatable it might be. The functionaries of the state should fear God, and they should perform their duties with pious intentions, good faith, and the fear of God. They should be scrupulously honest. They should not oppress the people. They should be paid reasonable remuneration so that they are not beguiled into monetary temptations. There should be a good system of espionage to watch the working of the functionaries of the state at various levels. Ali held that good care should be taken of the soldiers. They should be respected and treated kindly. Only pious and holy men with fear of God should be appointed as Qadis, and they should administer justice without fear or favor in accordance with the commandments of God. They should not be greedy and should not make errors in their judgments. The businessmen and traders should be protected, and proper facilities should be provided for the development of trade and industry. Ali laid down that the government was under an obligation to insure that prices of commodities were kept at a reasonable level, and the businessmen were not allowed to make exorbitant profit. The functionaries of the state had to take steps to insure that there was no hoarding or black marketing. Ali enjoined that public funds were to be administered as a trust. Liberal allowances were to be paid to the people. The state should avoid ostentation. Public funds should not be wasted. Only as much should be spent as was absolutely necessary. 

 

Foreign policy

Ali held that in the matter of foreign policy, the state should take steps to insure peace without and peace within. War should be avoided as far as possible. The terms of all treaties should be faithfully observed. The government should, however, remain alert and be prepared to meet any emergency. If war is resorted to it should be only in the cause of God and for the vindication of the truth. Ali held that in the case of war, let the first shot be by the enemy. Bloodshed was to be avoided as far as possible. In the enemy land the fields were not to be harmed and the fruit trees were not to be cut. The aged and the women were not to be made the victims of vengeance. 

Ali's concept of God

In his various sermons, conspicuous for the debt of learning, Ali has emphasized on the various attributes of God in a most masterly way. Extracts from some of his sermons are given: "All praise is due to the creator of the world whose wisdom is hidden. The various subjects of nature openly confirm his existence. He is not surpassed in strength and superiority. He is the nearest to us. No one can be nearer to us than He. His distance height has not segregated Him from His creation, and His nearness has not established His equality with His creation. He is that sublime and matchless Being in comprehending when the intellect cannot reach the bottom of His attributes, yet nothing prevents a person from comprehending Him. He is that being whose existence even an atheist feels in His heart of hearts. Undoubtedly God is free and sublime and bears no comparison with anyone, then how can anyone have the audacity to deny Him." 

God is higher and superior to all things to such an extent that even the wildest imagination cannot have a definite idea about Him. He is the beginning, which has no end. He is infinite. God is one. He has no partner. He is the first cause of everything. There was nothing before Him. He existed when nothing existed. He is unique. We can have only glimpses of his greatness. His effulgence is so dazzling that we cannot face it. Our intellect is finite and He is infinite. He is beyond description. He is Almighty. All things in the Heavens and on Earth are subject to His command. 

We thank God what He has taken, for what he has given; for the kindness he has done, and what test He has taken. He is aware of all that is hidden. He knows every secret. Whatever is concealed in one's heart is known to Him. He is omnipotent, and omniscient. None is to be worshipped except Him. He has no partner. He has no parallel. He is Mighty, Majesty, and Mercy. He is our Creator. We come from Him and we have to ultimately return to Him. His bounties are unlimited. 

 

When did God exist

A Jew went to Ali and asked him, "When did God exist." Ali said that God is above consideration of time and space. Creation was not, and He was. He was while there was no being. He existed without cause. He has no beginning and no end. He is subject to no limitations. He is infinite. He is the end of all soul. 

The Jew next asked, "What is fate." Ali said. "It is a gloomy road; treat it not." The Jew repeated the question for the third time and Ali said, "It is a mystery of God which is hidden from you; do not probe into it. "The Jew insisted on a reply, and Ali asked him, "Has God created you for what he has willed, or what you have willed?" Thereupon Ali said, "Then He will do with you as He thinks fit, and that is fate." This impressed the Jew and he was converted to Islam at the hand of Ali. 

 

Protection of God

Once a Jew came to Ali with a view to ridiculing Islam. The Jew was very rich, and he disparaged the Islamic way of austerity. He tried to enter into an argument with Ali, and declared that if his questions were answered to his satisfaction he would accept Islam. Ali said that he would be glad to answer any question that was put to him. The Jew said, "Suppose you are standing on the roof of a high building at a dizzying height, who will protect you?" Ali said, "Of course, God will protect me". The Jew thereupon said, "Do you feel confident that God would really protect you". Ali said, "Certainly, it is our faith that as long as we are ordained to live, God will protect us." The Jew observed, "If you are sure of the protection of God, would you be prepared to climb to a high building, and then jump therefrom in order to test how God protects you". Ali said that he was not a fool to jump from a high building for nothing. The Jew said that he was not asking him to undertake the exercise for nothing, for if God actually protected of him, he would thereby get a Jew converted to Islam. Ali said that such stipulation was erroneous and fallacious. "How was that?" inquired the Jew. Ali said that God is the Master, and man is His servant. It is open to the Master to put the servant to test, but it does not behoove the servant to put the master to test. Ali added: "If we put God to any test, that means our lack of faith, and when faith is lost, everything is lost."  

The Jew said, "This means that you are afraid that if you take a jump, you will die and God will not protect you," Ali said, "I am not afraid of death, but as a servant I cannot defy the Master. Everything in the universe is subject to the Will of God. That Will is the law, and man has been endowed with reason and intelligence to discern such law. If knowing the law I choose to defy it, I will have to suffer for breaking the law. When I deliberately break down the law laid down by the Master, I lose the right of His protection. Moreover, God protects us as long as we are ordained to live. If I take a jump and die, it would merely mean that I am ordained to do like that, it would not mean that God has withdrawn his protection." 

The argument of Ali impressed the Jew He said, "Ali, you are right. We must observe the law, and then seek the protection of the Master. We certainly lose the right of His protection when we break the law." Thereupon the Jew was converted to Islam, and for the rest of his life he remained a true Muslim. 

 

Counsels of All with reference to God

Some of the counsels of Ali with reference to God are:

Fear God, and you will have no cause to fear anyone else. Fear of God checks the soul from committing sins, and restrains one from transgression. Shedding tears for the fear of God enlightens the heart and fortifies it against the repetition of sins. Fear of God purifies the heart. 

Resignation to God's will is the cure of the diseases of the heart. Resignation to the will of God makes the greatest affliction easy. 

Glorify God even for little blessings. If you are grateful to God for His blessings, He will increase them. 

The Word of God is the medicine of the heart. A believer is thankful to God in prosperity, and patient in adversity. To repose one's trust in God is the believer's castle. 

Ali's prayer to God

Ali used to pray to God in the following terms: "O God, forgive my sins of which you know me more than me. And if I commit these sins again, even then because of Your munificence forgive me. If all the promises that I had made with myself to act according to Your command have not been fulfilled, kindly pardon my lapse. Moreover if I sought your proximity through my tongue, but my heart did not keep accord with my tongue even then forgive me, O God, forgive my acts of commission or omission, advertent or inadvertent. " 

Life in this world, and Life in the world Hereafter

In one of his sermons, Ali counseled the people about the life in this world, and the life in the world Hereafter in the following terms: "O men of God. May God keep you happy, and shower His favors on you! You should prepare yourself 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 which will stand you in good stead in the other world. 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. "O men! Cast a glance on this world from a wise man's point of view. She turns 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 recalled. Its gratification and enjoyments are soon changed into suffering and pain: its embellishments and decorations are changed into deformation 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 coffin. Many persons build houses that 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 leaving all such pomp and glory. The world was left without him, and his palaces became a heap of ruins. Look to the case of those men who lived in impregnable citadels on the top of mountains with the most powerful army and 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 angels over their graves. Where are those stiff necked 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? Where have gone those forts which were decorated with golden curtains, in front of which stood sentries for watch and ward? Do they not tell us how powerless they were? Have not the worms eaten those bodies, who 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 crowns and thrones". 

 

Evil of the world

In another sermon, Ali dwelt on the evils of the world as follows: "Beware! The world stands on the threshold of decay and destruction. Its mouth sounds the farewell notes of annihilation. It is uncanny and uncharitable. With great rapidity it turns its back. Alas, the world drives its inhabitants into pitfalls of destruction. Through the hands of death it drags its exasperated neighbors to annihilation. Its transparent water becomes, bitter and its sparkling spring becomes opaque in the next world. It has nothing to offer except the leavings which stick to utensils after the meal, or the wet piece of stone which is kept in the mouth to quench parching thirst. Whatever is in the world is superficial, mortal and perishable. O followers of God! Then get ready to leave this abode whose in-dwellers are destined to taste death. Take heed lest the desires and lust should overwhelm you and this transitory life should appear a long one to you and its short sojourn be taken as a long one by you. By God, if you grumble and moan like the wretched camels of burden, shed bitter tears like a pigeon and implore forgiveness of God like those monks who have renounced the world and having renounced your worldly goods and family, you come out to seek nearness to God so that He may exalt your lot or forgive some of your sins which the angels have recorded in your book of deeds. All these things will have little value as compared with the reward which awaits you if you follow my instructions. By God, if for the love of God, you melt your hearts away and for the love of His rewards and fear of His punishment your eyes shed blood instead of tears and you live in this condition till this world lasts, even then your indefatigable and untiring efforts can be of no match for the numerous blessings which God has so kindly and bountifully bestowed upon you. You can never return the thanks of the Almighty Lord for the guidance He has so mercifully shown to us." 

 

The World and the Hereafter

In another sermon, Ali talked about the world and the Hereafter in the following terms: "The world has turned its face, and given an indication of its impending end. The Hereafter is now becoming manifest. Beware, today is the day to activate your body, tomorrow is the day assigned for the race. Now either Paradise or Hell lies ahead of you. Is there no one among you who should repent before his death, and do some good deeds which would stand him in good stead in the Hereafter. You are living today in the world of hopes and desires, but beware that death lies in ambush. Ho who does good deeds before his death, such deeds would be a source of profit for him. His death will not harm him in any way. He who falls into error before his death will be at loss, and will come to grief. In the event of weal or woe you should act as one would act in the case of fear or terror. The truth is that there is no reward greater than Paradise, and there is no punishment severer than Hell. Beware that whom the truth does not profit, falsehood will certainly harm him. He who is not guided is doomed to destruction. Beware that you have been given the command to march. The goods that you can carry with you on your march have also been indicated. I am worried about you in two things, firstly your subservience to your lust, and secondly the excess of your longings. March to the Hereafter with such assets which can save you from punishment on the Doomsday". 

 

Transitory character of the World

In most of his sermon, Ali has brought out the transitory characters of the world in the following words: "All praise is for God. Do not despair of His mercy. His bounties are unlimited. There is no shame in His worship. He is God Whose mercy is ever lasting, and Whose bounties would never exhaust. Remember that the world is transitory in character, and your life is a mere sojourn. The world is doomed to destruction. It is outwardly pleasant and attractive, but inwardly hollow. See that when you depart from this world you do so with good grace, and carry with you assets which will stand you in good stead in the Hereafter. For this journey do not overload yourself with unnecessary paraphernalia. Do not covet anything beyond what is necessary. Keep in mind that the world is a tavern where no one can stay for long. Do not be enamoured of the world. Its attractions are a trap. Those who are lured by its charms get involved into an ordeal. You should keep in mind that you will have to be called to account for what you do in the world. For the wise, the world is a shadow, which may appear at one moment, and soon disappear. Fear God, and face death with a stock of good deeds. Purchase everlasting things for things which are perishable. An arduous journey awaits you. Prepare yourself for it. Be ever ready to face death, for it may come any moment. Be receptive to words of advice. God Almighty has not created you in vain, nor has He left you free to run amuck. Death separates you from this world, and Paradise or Hell in the Hereafter. Remember that your life is diminishing every moment. You should hasten cheerfully to your real destination. While alone, purchase such assets which would be a source of profit to you in the Hereafter. You should overpower your lusts. Know that desires are deceptive and death lies in ambush. Satan is after you. It is the game of Satan that death should catch you unaware, when you have not amassed the assets necessary for the journey to eternity. Against the maneuvers of Satan, seek the protection of God. 

Dwelling on the same theme, in the course of other sermons, Ali said: "The world is a tavern where no one can stay for long. Such is the lure of the world that none can escape from being involved therein. The world is an ordeal and a trial. Whatever you get out of the world will be of no avail to you. It is only that which helps you for the Hereafter that can be a source of profit for you. For the wise, the world is merely a shadow which may disappear any moment, thus manifesting its unreality. 

O people, what should I say about the world, which begins in grief and ends in destruction. Those who are rich and wealthy are involved in mischief, and those who are poor and needy are grieved and distressed. The world eludes him who seeks it. It runs after him, who runs away from it. He who sees it as a place of trial is enlightened; he who is lured by its charm is blinded."

He decried flattery

Once a person flattered Ali. Ali said: "Do not flatter me. I am not what you say, but I am more than what you think of me in your heart". 

 

He denounced praise

One day Ali delivered a sermon, which was most impressive and eloquent. Some one praised him for his sermon. He said: "Do not praise me. That would mislead me and beguile me into vainglory. Remember that all praise is for God alone." 

 

He would carry his own burden

One day Ali purchased some provisions in the market. It was a heavy load and he carried it himself. Many persons offered to carry the load for him. He refused the offer saying that every one should carry his burden himself. 

 

He did not want the people to follow in his retinue

One day Ali was riding a horse. Some people followed him and began to walk in his train. He asked them why they were following him. They said that they felt elated to walk in his retinue. He said: "Go back to your business. By walking behind me you will breed feelings of inferiority in yourselves, and infect me with arrogance." 

 

He prayed for patience to bear suffering

At the Battle of Uhud, Ali received over a hundred wounds. In spite of these wounds he continued fighting and said: "May God grant me patience to bear this suffering. It is a favor of God that He gave me the courage to stand and fight, and not to leave the battlefield". 

 

His complaint against his people

One night Ali saw the Holy Prophet in a dream. He complained to the Holy Prophet that he had received much trouble from his people. The Holy Prophet said that he might invoke the curse of God on them. When it was day, be lifted his hands after the Morning Prayer and said: "O God. Give me a better people, and give these people a worse ruler then me". 

 

He rode on a mule instead of a horse

When going to battle, Ali used to ride on a mule instead of a horse. He was asked why he preferred a mule to a horse when the horse would carry him faster. He said that it was so he did not wish to fly from the battlefield. 

 

He would never turn his back to the enemy

Ali always wore the armor on the front part of his body. He was asked why he did not wear the armor on his back. He said that it was because he did not want to turn his back to the enemy. 

 

He would not seek a concession

Once Ali went to the market to purchase some cloth. He went to a shop and a shopkeeper recognizing him offered the cloth at a confessional rate. Ali refused to make the purchase. 

 

He preferred his slave to himself

Once Ali went to the bazaar to purchase some cloth for himself and his slave. One piece was purchased at a higher price, and the other at a lower price. He gave the costlier piece of cloth to his slave and kept the cloth of inferior quality for himself. 

 

 

He had no ambition for the caliphate

It is related that when on the way to Basra, Ali and his troops were camping at Rabdha, Ibn Abbas came to see him. At that time Ali was mending his shoe. Ali asked Ibn Abbas as to what would be the value of the shoe. Ibn Abbas said that the old shoe had hardly any value and its value would at the most not exceed a quarter of a dirham. Ali thereupon said, "By God, this shoe is more valuable to me than the caliphate. I have no ambition to rule." 

 

He freed the slave who did not respond to his call

Once Ali called his slave, but the slave did not respond to his call. He called him thrice, but the slave kept silent. Thereafter Ali went to the slave and said, "Did you not hear my call?" He said that he had heard to his call, but was at that time calling upon God who had subjected him to the humiliation of slavery. Thereupon Ali said, "I release you from slavery forthwith in the name of God." 

 

He saw God with inward eyes

Once Ali was asked whether he had seen God. He said that verily he had seen God because he could not worship Him without knowing Him. He was asked how he had seen Him, and he said that He had seen him with the inward eyes of the heart. 

 

He lost consciousness while praying

Once an arrow stuck in the feet of Ali. It could not be taken out because of the intensity of the pain felt. When Ali stood up in prayers, he was so much absorbed in the devotional exercise that the surgeon pulled out the arrow without Ali feeling any pain.

 

He would not pay the enemy in its own coin

At the battlefield of Siffin, the forces of Muawiyah had the control over the source of water supply, and they would not allow thereto the troops of Ali. When the troops of Ali overpowered the enemy and got control over the source of water supply, Ali was advised that he should deny access of water to the enemy. He repudiated the advice saying that he would not pay the enemy in its own coins, but in the coins of Islam. 

 

He preferred his men to himself

During the water shortage in Siffin, he refused to quench his own thirst saying that the water should be given to those of his men who were more thirsty than him. 

 

Two wrongs cannot make a right

When, after the Battle of Siffin, Muawiyah began harassing the people by making raids into the territory adjoining Syria, the Governor of Ali, Kameel b Ziyad, suggested that he should be authorized to lead retributive expedition into Syria. Ali turned down the suggestion saying, "Two wrongs cannot make a right. Let Muawiyah take pleasure in harassing innocent people. I cannot resort to such measures." 

 

He was dispirited because he had no guest

One day Ali felt unusually dispirited and dejected. When asked about the reason for his unusual dejection he said that he was feeling dispirited because he had received no guest for a week. 

 

He wore dress of coarse cloth

Ali always wore clothing of coarse cloth. When asked why did he wear such shabby dress when he was the Head of the State, he said that it was so because coarse cloth softened the heart while fine cloth hardened the heart. 

 

He wanted to travel light

The house of Ali was bereft of the usual furniture. When asked, why he, deprived himself of such necessities when he was the ruler of a state, he said, "This life is a journey, and while on a journey one should travel light. I have booked my luggage for the destination- the hereafter."

 

He would not break open the lock of the shop of God

Once, Aqueel, a brother of Ali, asked him to provide some relief for him as he was feeling sore. Ali said that when he got his usual allowance from the Baitul Mal, he would give something out of it to him. They did not satisfy Aqueel. Ali thereupon said, "Then you may break open the locks of the of the ships in the market." Aqeel said, "Do you want me to become a thief." Ali retorted, "Then do you want to break open the lock of the Shop of God and become a brigand instead of the custodian of the Baitul Mal." 

 

He was not afraid of death

In the Battle of Siffin, Ali penetrated into the front ranks of the Syrian forces without any protective armor. One after another his assailants fell before the onslaught of his sword. His son Imam Hasan objected to such neglect to protect himself. Ali said, "It is immaterial to me whether I fall to death or death fall on me. I love death as much as a suckling loves the milk of his mother." 

 

He did not care for the booty

In the battle Ali killed a wealthy Quraish chief Umar b Ubda, but contrary to the Arab custom, he did not mutilate his body, nor take off his costly coat of mail. When asked why he had not taken his valuable coat of mail, Ali said, "The lion who enters the battlefield either kills himself or is killed he does bother about the booty." 

 

He would not own the treasure in the land that he had purchased

Once Ali purchased a plot of land from a person in Madina. When the plot was dug a treasure was found therein. Ali would not except the treasure, as it did not come from a part of his transaction with the original owner. He offered the treasure to the original owner, but he did not except it. Thereupon Ali distributed the entire treasure in charity. 

 

He undertook to clear the debt of a dead Muslim

Once the Holy Prophet attended the funeral of a dead Muslim. Before leading the funeral prayer, the Holy Prophet inquired whether the dead man had to clear any debt. He was informed that the dead man had to pay the debt of a dinar. The Holy Prophet said that before he could lead the funeral prayer some one should undertake the responsibility of clearing the debt of the dead Muslim. It was Ali who stepped forward to undertake the responsibility for clearing the debt.

 

He would not accept the allegiance from whom he had released

Marwan a cousin of Muawiyah was a bitter enemy of Ali. He had played a great part in inciting revolt against the caliphate of Ali. He was taken captive in the Battle of the Camel at Basra. When brought before Ali he asked for mercy. Ali released him unconditionally. Thereupon Marwan offered to pay allegiance to him, but Ali said, "I did not want his allegiance. I released him for the sake of God, and not for securing allegiance to me." 

 

He did not believe in the prognostication of the astrologer

When Ali led his troops against the Kharijites at the Battle of Nahrawan, an astrologer advised him not to proceed to battle as the time was not propitious. Ali refused to act on the advice saying: "All knowledge of the unknown belongs to God. I cannot accept any person as a partner in the knowledge of God." 

 

He would take no precaution to protect himself

During the last days of his life, when Ali was asked to take protective measures against any murderous attack, he said, "The shield of God is around my body, and nobody can harm me against the will of God. And if God wills me to be martyred, no protective measures will avail." 

 

People stood in the way of his right

At Basra someone said to Ali that he was ambitious for the caliphate. Ali said, "I am not ambitious, what has happened is that there are people who stand in the way of my right. To strive for the right is no ambition." 

 

Spacious house

At Basra, Ali went to the house of one of his companions A'ala b Ziyad. He had constructed a spacious house. Ali was critical of the spaciousness of the house. He said, "A'ala what have you gained by constructing a spacious house in the world. You should have built a spacious house for yourself in the world Hereafter." 

 

Renunciation, not the way of Islam

It was complained to Ali that one of his companions Asim b Zaid was undergoing devotional exercises to such an extent that he had neglected and disregarded his obligation to his wife and children. Ali reprimanded him and said that renunciation was not the way of Islam. He asked him to maintain a proper balance between his duties to God and his duties to the people. 

Hosting dinner

When it was brought to the notice of Ali that one of his governors had hosted a big dinner, Ali wrote him a letter expressing his disapproval and said, "What have you gained by hosting such dinner were the wealthy are fed extravagantly, and the poor are returned out. " 

He could still wield the sword

Writing to Muawiyah, Ali said in one of his letters: "I wield the same sword with which I severed the head of your maternal grandfather, maternal uncle and brother with the same stroke". 

 

Similes of Ali

Ali had the peculiar skill to explain things by giving appropriate similes. In his various addresses and sermons we come across many instances of the brilliance of his expression in bringing home the truth through interesting examples. 

The world

He likened the world to a serpent which was outwardly very soft skinned but poisonous from within.

Falsehood

Ali held that like toe feathers of a peacock, falsehood might look very attractive, but was as ugly as the feet of the peacock. Falsehood has no legs to stand upon. 

 

The unbelievers

Ali compared the unbelievers to a bat which can see when it is dark, but which is blind and cannot see anything when it is daylight. 

The people who did not respond to his call

When Ali exhorted the people of Iraq to respond to his call for war against Muawiyah, they did not respond to his call. He said, "You are like a pregnant woman who undergoes the ordeal of childbirth, but gives birth to a dead child." 

 

The tree and the fruit

When after the death of the Holy Prophet, the Quraish based their claim to the caliphate on the ground that they belonged to the same tree as the Holy Prophet, Ali said, "It is strange that they look to the tree, but neglect its fruit". 

The people of Basra

When the people of Basra who had originally taken the oath of allegiance to him, but later chose to fight against him, Ali said that these people were near the water but far from the sky. 

People of the age of ignorance

Referring to the people of the age of ignorance in the pre-Islamic era, Ali said that they were like an egg which is broken in the nest. 

 

The people of Kufa

Addressing the people of Kufa, Ali said: "When I invite you to fight, your eyes begin to move in your sockets as if you are in the agony of death. You are like the camels whose herdsmen have disappeared, and when these animals are collected on one side, they scatter on the other side". 

 

Mughira b Shu'aba

Mughira was regarded by the Quraish as a wise man. When Mughira favored Muawiyah, Ali said, "Mughira has profited from Islam only to the extent seeking worldly end. He is oblivious of the Hereafter". 

 

The people who run after the world

About the people who run after the world, Ali said: "Those people who run after the world are like beasts who fall at one another, with the strong oppressing the week. 

 

The people who are not deceived by the world

About the people who are not deceived by the world Ali said, "Those who have understood the deceptive character of the world do not feel distressed on death. They are like the people who migrate from a famine-struck land to a land of plenty." 

 

Ali's complaint against the Umayyads

During the caliphate of Othman, Ali had a complaint that the Umayyads were withholding from him what was due to him. He said, "The Umayyads are withholding what is due to me as the camel man, when milking the she camel, withholds the milk from the young one of the camel." 

 

Falsehood of Muawiyah

Referring to the falsehood of Muawiyah, Ali said, that falsehood had appeared in his cave as the horns on the head of a young goat. 

 

Shedding of Sins through prayer

In a sermon Ali said that through prayer the sins of a man are shed as a tree sheds its leaves.

 

Cleanliness and prayers

In another sermon, Ali said: "Prayer is like a hot spring of water which flows at your door, and provides you the wherewithal for cleanliness." 

 

Crumbs after the meals

In a sermon, Ali said that the world had run its cause, and nothing had been left of it except the crumbs after the meals. 

 

Heart of the people

In an address, Ali compared the people who did not respond to his call to a camel who ran away from the herd shrieking with the pain of a stomachache.

 

Ignorant persons

In a sermon Ali prayed for the heart of the people to melt at the mention of the Word of God as salt dissolves in the water. 

 

Ashas b Qais

Ali said that among his companions Ashas b Qais was what Abdullah b Abi Sahi was in the time of the Holy Prophet.

 

Patience and faith

Ali held that patience and faith bear the same relation as in the case of a human being the head bears to the body. There can be no body without a head, and there can be no faith without patience.

 

Disease and sins

Ali held that disease sheds sins as the trees shed the dead leaves. 

 

Death of the virtuous

Ali compared the death of the virtuous to the migration journey of the people from a famine-struck land to a land of plenty.

 

Days of life

Ali held that the days of life pass as the passing of clouds on the sky.

 

Devotion to the world

Ali held that those who are devoted to the world are like barking dogs and ferocious animals that fall at one another, and the strong devour the weak.

 

Seekers of the world

Ali compared the men seeking the world to camels which are let loose and which roam about causing mischief.

 

Virtue of silence

Ali advocated the virtue of silence by advancing the simile that water can be preserved in a water skin only when its mouth is tied.

 

Thirsty camels on a water pond

When the people flocked to him and urged him to accept their allegiance, Ali compared them to thirsty camels that flock to the water pond when their strings are untied.

 

The caliphate of Umar

When Abu Bakr died, and still ignoring his claims, Umar became the Caliph. Ali held that the second Caliph was like a person riding a camel whose rein if tightened would injure the camel, and if loosened would endanger the rider.

 

Umayyad use of the Baitul Mal

Referring to the appropriation of the funds of the Baitul Mal by the Umayyads for personal ends during the caliphate of Othman, Ali held that they ate away the public funds, as the camel eats away the grass.

 

Withholding the milk of the she camel from its young one

Ali had the complaint that during the caliphate of Othman, the Umayyads withheld from him what was his right line the camelman who, while milking the she camel, withholds its milk from its young one.

 

Handle of the grinding stone

When Abu Bakr became the Caliph, Ali held that Abu Bakr had assumed the mantle of the caliphate forcibly while he knew that he (Ali) was as essential for the caliphate as the handle is necessary for moving the grinding stone.

 

The simile of a sinner

Ali held that a sinner is like a person riding on an animal over which he has no control, and which is running fast to hurl him into precipice.

 

Drops of rain

Ali held that the injunctions of God descend like the drops of rain.

 

The summer clouds

When the people of Kufa did not respond to the call of Ali to rise to meet the challenge of Muawiyah, Ali said that he longed for warriors who in their action and speed should be like the summer clouds.

 

Goat and the lion

Addressing the people of Kufa, Ali said, "I want you to tread the path of the truth, but you run from it as the goat runs away on hearing the roar of a lion."

 

Taking the thorn out of the foot with a thorn

On another occasion Ali said that the people of Kufa were like a person who picked out the thorn from his foot with a thorn.

 

Solution of the salt in water

With reference to the people of Kufa, Ali prayed: "O God melt their hearts as the salt is dissolved in the water."

 

Bull with crooked horns

When Talha defected after taking the oath of allegiance to him, Ali likened Talha to a bull with crooked horns.

 

Shaking of Plants

Referring to the piety of the companions of the Holy Prophet, Ali said that they shuddered at the mention of the hereafter as the plants shake when a strong wind blow.

 

Pregnant women separated from the child

Addressing the people of Kufa, Ali said that they were not dependable and they were likely to leave him, as the pregnant women on childbirth is separated from the child bred in her womb.

 

Household of the Holy Prophet

Ali said that the simple of the household of the Holy Prophet was like stars which of one star sets another star rises.

 

Foaming waves of the Holy Prophet

While addressing Othman, Ali said that treason was likely to wage like the foaming waves of the sea.

His Sayings

 

Ali was an embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the sayings of Ali that breathe wisdom and have attained the dimensions of aphorisms are on record. Some of these are quoted hereunder:

                Fear God and you will have no cause to fear any one. 

                Resignation to the Will of God is the cure of the disease of the heart. 

                The word of God is the medicine of the heart. 

                Lead such a life, that, when you die, the people may mourn you, and while you are alive they long for your company. 

                The days of life pass away like clouds, so do good while you are alive. 

                Of all the follies the greatest is to love the world. 

                Opportunity is swift of flight but slow to return. 

                Pride, cowardice, and miserliness are bad for me but good for women. 

                The most happy is he to whom God has given a good wife. 

                He who knows himself knows God. 

                Do not soil your conscience for anything but heaven 

                The disease of the heart is worse than the disease of the body. 

                To fight against one's desires is the greatest of all fights. 

                The strongest amongst you is he who subdues his self. 

                Wealth and greed are the roots of all evils. 

                Riches without faith are the greatest poverty. 

                A man's worth depends upon the nobility of his aspirations. 

                Knowledge enlivens the soul. 

                The learned lives, although he dies. 

                The sum total of excellence is knowledge. 

                To respect the learned is to respect God. 

                Generosity hides shortcomings. 

                The wealth of a miser is as useless as a pebble. 

                Desire is one's most inveterate enemy. 

                Those who walk on the surface of the earth shall one day be interred in it. 

                Every breath of man brings him nearer to death. 

                People are asleep as long as they are alive, they are awakened when they die. 

                Patience is the fruit of faith. 

                Virtue never dies. 

                A man's glory from his virtue is greater than the glory of his pedigree. 

                No shelter is safer than piety. 

                A man's behavior is the index of his mind. 

                Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything. 

                Clemency graces power. 

                Jealousy devours virtue as fire devours fuel 

                He that lends a listening ear to reproach is one of those that deserve reproach. 

                Forgiveness is she crown of greatness. 

                Carnal appetites are nets spread by the devil. 

                Every arrow does not hit the mark, nor every prayer granted. 

                Ostentatiousness spoils prayers. 

                Fear none but your sins. 

                He who praises you murders you. 

                A man who praises himself displays his deficiency of intellect. 

                Honor your parents and your sons will honor you. 

                A man is hid under his tongue. 

                The tongue of a wise man lies behind his heart. 

                The tongue pierces deeper than the spear. 

                He who purifies his heart from doubt is a believer. 

                The opinion of a wise man is an oracle. 

                To seek counsel is to go to the fountain of guidance. 

                Association with a fool is tyrannical to the soul. 

                God hastens the fall of tyrants. 

                Tyranny leads to moral cowardice. 

                A tyrant's success is his moral defeat. 

                It is better to die than to beg. 

                When a man begs he loses his faith. 

                Hajj is the Jihad of every believer in faith. 

                A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend. 

                Silence is the best reply to a fool. 

                The best speech is one that is short and reasonable. 

                Speech is like a medicine, a small dose of which cures but an excess of which kills. 

                He that has no courage has no religion. 

                His grief is long whose hope is short. 

                The right of freedom of speech consists in speaking the truth. 

                Repentance washes away sins. 

                Folly is an incurable disease. 

                To assist the wrong is to oppress the right. 

                Sinning is a disease, repentance is its medicine, and abstinence from it a sure cure. 

                Sorrow makes a man old before his time. 

                Pride impedes progress and mars greatness. 

                To forgive is the crown of greatness. 

                He who understands humanity seeks solitude. 

                Right is the best argument. 

                Misrepresentation spoils narration. 

                As a man's wisdom increases, so his desire to speak decreases. 

                He who seeks to do justice with men, let him desire for them what he desires for himself. 

                The greatest sin is the sin that the sinner considers to be ordinary. 

                Contentment is the asset which is never exhausted. 

                Governments are a trial for men. 

                He who fights against the truth, the truth will defeat him. 

                Finding fault in others is one's greatest fault. 

                Haste is a species of madness. 

                Greed is perpetual enslavement. 

                He who does not know his own worth is doomed to destruction. 

                The best investment is one with which duties are performed. 

                Anger is a fire kindled, he who restrains anger extinguishes the fire; he who gives vent to it is the first to be consumed by such fire. 

                Jihad is the highway of prosperity. 

                None is more solitary than a miser. 

                Knowledge is the ornament of the rich, and the riches of the poor. 

                Knowledge is the sum total of excellence. 

                He who teaches you a letter binds you with a fetter of gratitude. 

                As long as we do not hope, we do not fret. 

                He who indulges in jokes and loose fall, loses a part of his wisdom. 

                Truth is bitter, but its result is sweet; falsehood appears to be sweet but it is poisonous in its effect. 

                Miserliness is the root of many evils. 

                Knowledge and practice are twins, and both go together. There is no knowledge without practice, and no practice without knowledge. 

                He who dissembles plays with his honor. 

                When God wants to humiliate a person He deprives him of knowledge. 

                When your power increases, decrease your desires accordingly. 

                He who listens to a backbiter loses a friend.  

                It is no justice to decide a case on mere conjecture. 

                He who does not know his own worth is deemed to ignominy. 

                He who practices thrift would never be in want. 

                He who does not know should not be ashamed to learn. 

                Patience is to faith, what head is to the body. When patience goes, faith goes, when head goes, the body goes. 

                The grace of God is the best guide. 

                A good disposition is the best companion. 

                Wisdom is the best friend. 

                Good breeding is the best inheritance. 

                There is nothing more hateful than pride. 

                Be among men like bee among birds. 

                Mix with the people with your tongue, but be separate from them in your deeds. 

                Be generous but do not be a spendthrift. 

                Do not run after the world, let the world run after you. 

                A wise man is he who does not despair of the bounty and mercy of God. 

                He who is aware of his own faults is oblivious of the faults of others. 

                What the eye sees the heart preserves. 

                The vision of the eye is limited; the vision of the heart transcends all barriers of time and space. 

                Do not be misled by appearances for these are apt to be deceptive. 

                Do not have too many irons in the fire; concentrate on one thing at a time. 

                What you do not like for your self, do not like it for others. 

                Contentment is the treasure which is never exhausted. 

                The advice of old men is dearer than the bravery of young men. 

                That knowledge is superficial which is merely on the tongue. That knowledge is real which demonstrates itself in your practice. 

                Waste of time is one's greatest loss. 

                He who knows to keep his secret knows the way to success. 

                Foresight is the way to safety. 

                No relationship is stronger than the relationship that exists between man and God. 

                Enlighten the heart with prayers. 

                Strengthen your heart with faith. 

                Suppress all lust with piety. 

                Do not sell the Hereafter for the world. 

                Do not speak in a state of ignorance. 

                Refrain from unnecessary talk. 

                Do not tread the path from which you can apprehend the danger of running astray. 

                In the affairs of God, do not be afraid of the accusations of the evil mongers. 

                In all that you do seek the protection of God. 

                Do not covet what is undesirable. 

                If you seek the truth neither stray from the right path, nor be assailed by doubts. 

                Do not become a slave of your desires. 

                That wealth is no wealth which brings dishonor. 

                Whatever harm accrues of silence can be remedied but whatever harm is done because of speech cannot be remedied. 

                It is better to restrain your desires than to stretch your hand before others. 

                A little that is earned because of honest labor is better than a larger amount gained through dishonest means. 

                Guard well your secret. 

                He who seeks more than what is necessary indulges in error. 

                To oppress the weak is the worst tyranny. 

                Do not bank on false hopes for that is the capital of the dead. 

                A wise man takes a lesson even from a minor lapse. 

                Overpower desires and suspicions by patience and faith. 

                He who does not take the middle course strays. 

                A stranger is he who has no friends. 

                When hopes are frustrated despair becomes the way of life. 

                He who trusts the world, the world betrays him.

Abdullah b Masud

Abdullah b Masud used to say that throughout Arabia there was not a more impartial judge than Ali. He also said that Ali was the founder of Arabic grammar.

 

Abu Saeed Khudri

Abu Saeed Khudri held that he could easily detect a hypocrite by his enmity toward Ali.

 

Imam Hanbal

Imam Hanbal said: "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 Muawiyah, and declared war on Ali. When they failed to defeat him by fair means they took to treacherous and deceitful courses to defeat him."

 

Ibn Athir

Ibn Athir the great biographist held: "Ali was the first caliph both of whose parents were pure Hashimites. He was so judicial minded that he could not put up with the dishonesty of his relative or friend. He was so much engrossed in piety that at the time of his marriage with Fatima, he did not possess anything save a camel skin on which he fed his camels in the day, and which he converted into a bed sheet at night. The Prophet in his table talk has not extolled any one of his companions as much as he has Ali. Surely, Ali never spoke a lie during his lifetime."

 

Darema

Darema was a sharp-tongued Arab lady who was very loud in the praise of Ali and the denunciation of Muawiyah. After the death of Ali, Muawiyah summoned her to his court and inquired of her why she had supported Ali. She said that she had done so because Ali was a lover of justice, who honored the pious and sympathized with the poor.

 

Ibn Nadim

In his work Al Fihirist, writing about Ali, Ibn Nadim has held that Ali arranged the Chapters of the Holy Quran in the order of revelation. He exercised utmost circumspection in editing traditions.

 

Umar b Abdul Aziz

Umar b Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad Caliph, was asked as to whom he considered to be the most pious man in the world. He said: "Ali excelled mankind in piety. Not only did he practice its virtues, but he also tried zealously to reform his friends, associates, acquaintances, and all those who came in contact with him."

 

Masudi

Masudi, the great historian, writes: "If the glorious name of being among the first Muslims, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate friend in life and his kinsman, if a true knowledge 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 constitutes a claim to pre-eminence then all must regard Ali as one of the foremost Muslims."

 

Shah Wali Ullah

Shah Wali Ullah has observed: "Chivalry and strength of character, humanity and sincerity which are attributes of great men were represented in abundance by Ali. He is the father of Islamic learning, and his intellectual attainments were due to the ideal training of The Holy Prophet. He was a Hafiz, and a great authority on the Quran. He was the greatest Mujahid and jurist of his time, and one of the greatest of all times. He was one of the greatest orators of early Islam."

 

Syed Amir Ali

Syed Amir Ali has assessed the achievements of Ali in the following terms: "His bravery won him the title of the "Lion of God", and his learning that of the "Gate of Knowledge". Chivalrous, humane, and forbearing to the verge of weakness as a ruler, he came before his time. Most of the grand undertakings initiated by Umar for the welfare of the people were due to his counsel. Ever ready to succor the weak, and to redress the wrongs of the injured, the accounts of his valorous deeds are recited with enthusiasm from the bazaars in Cairo to those of Delhi. With his dying breath he inculcated lessons of charity, love, humility and self-abnegation to his sons. He expressly ordered them that no harshness should be shown towards his murderer, who should be executed with one blow."

 

Ata Mohyuddin

In his book, Ali the Superman, Dr. Ata Mohyuddin has assessed Ali in the following terms: "Ali has meant many different things to many generations, each of whom has found something to inspire it out of all the diverse wealth of his mind. During his lifetime he was thought of primarily as a warrior fighting at first in the battles of God, and later for a decade against schismatics. He was also respected for his knowledge and learning, and in later years many thought of him as a saint, but it was until after his death that the effect which he had exercised over the ethical life of his time began to be appreciated. He was the founder of a movement that aimed to rejuvenate the ethical life of the Muslims. The Arabs had begun to forsake the unity of Islam in favor of the tribal laws of the "Days of Ignorance". Ali had to fight against the disintegrating social forces that were everywhere around him and attempted almost single handed to restore the religious policy of Islam. That he succeeded as well as he did was due to moral earnestness of his own character, and to the colossa1 store of spiritual knowledge from which he drew his strength. In subsequent ages, his ethical pronouncements which fell largely on deaf ears during his lifetime were to have an invigorating effect on the Islam he served so well. The influence of Ali was to continue to make itself felt long after his death, and to recreate earnestness among the believers. It still makes itself felt today."

 

Allama Iqbal

In his poem "Asrar-i-Khudi", Allama Iqbal has paid tribute to Ali in the following terms: Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet was a man of many qualities. He gave fresh vigor to Faith and brought honors to the community of the faithful. He developed self-disciplines and killed avarice. A person who knows and controls himself rules the world.

 

Philip Hitti

In his book history of the Arabs, Professor Hitti assesses the character of Ali as follows: "Valiant in battle, wise in counsel, eloquent in speech, true to his friends, magnanimous to his foes, Ali became both the paragon of Muslim nobility and chivalry, and the Solomon of Arabic tradition around whose name, poems, proverbs, sermonettes and anecdotes innumerable have clustered. He had a swarthy complexion, large black eyes, bald head, thick and long white beard, and was opulent and of medium stature. His saber Dhul Fiqar, wielded by the Prophet on the memorable battlefield of Badr, has been immortalized in the words of the verse found engraved on many medieval Arab records 'No sword can match Dhul Fiqar, and no young warrior can compare with Ali'. The later Fidayan movement which developed ceremonies and insignia savoring of medieval European chivalry and the modern scouts movement, took Ali for its Father and model. Regarded as wise and brave by all the Islamic world, as idealistic and exemplary by many Fidayan and Derwish fraternities, as sinless and infallible by his partisans, and even held to be the incarnation of the deity by the Ghulah (extremists) among them, he whose worldly career was practically a failure, has continued to exert a posthumous influence second only to that of the Holy Prophet himself. The throngs of pilgrims that still stream to his Mashhad at Najaf and to that of his Son Husain, the Shia arch-saint and martyr at nearby Karbala, and the passion-play enacted annually on the tenth of Mohurram throughout the Shia world testify to the possibility that death may avail a Messiah more than life." 

 

Sir William Muir

In his book The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall, Sir William Muir has paid his tribute to Ali in the following words; "In the character of Ali, there are many things to commend. Mild and beneficent, he treated Basra when prostrate at his feet with a generous forbearance. Towards theocratic fanatics, who wearied his patience by incessant intrigues and insensate rebellion, he showed no vindictiveness. Excepting Muawiyah, the man of all others whom he ought not to have estranged, be carried the policy of conciliating his enemies to a dangerous extreme. In compromise indeed and in procrastination lay the failure of his caliphate. With greater vigor, spirit, and determination, he might have averted the schism which for a time threatened the existence of Islam, and which has never ceased to weaken it. Ali was wise in counsel and many an adage sapient proverbs have been attributed to him. But like Solomon, his wisdom was for others than for himself. 

 

Charles Mills

In his book, A History of Muhammadanism, Charles Mills assesses Ali as follows: "As the chief of the family of Hashim, and as the cousin and son-in-law of him whom the Arabians respected almost to idolatry it is apparently incredible that Ali was not raised to the Caliphate immediately after the death of Muhammad (peace be on him). In the advantage of his birth and marriage was added the friendship of the Prophet. The son of Abu Talib was one of the first converts to Islam, and Muhammad's favorite appellation of him was, the Aaron of a second Moses. His talents as an orator and his intrepidity as a warrior commended him to a nation in whose judgment courage was virtue, and eloquence was wisdom. But the pride and loftiness of his spirit endured not the caution inseparable from schemes of policy, and continually precipitated him into rashness. His opposition to Abu Bakr would not have ceased if Fatima had lived; but on her death, six months after that of her father, the companions of Muhammad relaxed in their friendship to his family. In the reign of Abu Bakr, Umar and Othman, dignified independence was preserved by Ali. On the invitation of the Caliphs, he assisted in the councils of Madina, but he was principally occupied in the tranquil pursuits of domestic life, and the various duties of his religion. On the murder of Othman, the Egyptians who were at Madina offered him the Caliphate. Indignant that the power of nomination should be usurped by the strangers, Ali declared that the suffrages of the inhabitants of Makkah and Madina alone could be available. The public voice soon echoed the opinion of the murderers, and the scruples of Ali were soon removed. In apprehension of the enmity of Ayesha, his relentless foe, and of the whole family of Muawiyah, he declined to receive in private the preferred allegiance of the chiefs. With his accustomed simplicity, he proceeded to the mosque clad in a cotton gown, a coarse turban on his head, his slippers were in one hand, and a bow instead of a staff, occupied the other". 

 

Professor Nicholson

In his book, A Literary History of the Arabs, Nicholson remarks as follows: "Ali was a gallant warrior, a wise counselor, a true friend and a generous foe. He excelled in piety and in eloquence, his verses and sayings are famous throughout the Muhammadan east, though few of them can be considered authentic. He can be compared with Montrose and Bayard in the fineness of spirit. He had no talent for the stern realities of statecraft and was overmatched by unscrupulous rivals who knew that war is a game of deceit. Thus his career was in one sense a failure; his authority as Caliph was never admitted while he lived by the whole community. On the other hand he has exerted down to the present day a posthumous influence only second to that of Muhammad himself. Within a century of his death he came to be regarded as the Prophet's successor jure divine; as a blessed martyr, sinless and infallible; and by some even as incarnation of God. The Ali of Shiite legend is not a historical figure glorified, rather does he symbolize in pure ethical fashion the religious aspirations and political aims of a large section of the Muslim world".

 

John J. Pool

In his book, Studies in Muhammadanism, John J. Pool observes as follows: "The fact is that Ali was too mild a man for the stirring times in which he lived. He was too slow to resolve and too undecided in action. At any time he preferred compromise and delay to energy and promptness, and with fatal results. The death of Ali was an epoch-making event. We come now to the parting of ways. Henceforward the Commanders of the Faithful ceased to be elected by the votes of the people of Madina or Makkah. Arabia was no longer to be the seat of temporal power. For the future, in Islam, might was to take the place of right".

 

Edward Gibbon

In his book Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon observes as follows, about the assassination of Othman and the succession of Ali: "A tumultuous anarchy of five days after the martyrdom of Othman was appeased by the inauguration of Ali, his refusal would have provoked a general massacre. In this painful situation he supported the becoming pride of the chief of the Hashimites; declared that he would rather serve than reign, rebuked the presumption of the strangers and required the formal, if not the voluntary, assent of the chiefs of the nation. He has never been accused of promoting the assassination of Othman, though Persia indirectly and secretly celebrates the festivals of that holy martyr. The quarrel between Othman and his subjects was assuaged by the early mediation of Ali, and Hasan the eldest of his sons, was insulted and wounded in the defense of the Caliph". 

While commenting on the failure of Ali in matters pertaining to statecraft, Gibbon observes as follows: "A life of prayer and contemplation had not chilled the martial activity of Ali, but in a mature age, after a long experience of mankind, he still betrayed in his conduct the rashness and indiscretion of youth".

 

Thomas Carlyle

In his book, On Heroes and Hero Worship, Thomas Carlyle observes as follows: "As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble minded creature, as he shows himself, now and always afterwards, full of affection, of fiery daring something chivalrous in him, brave as a lion, yet with a grace, a truth and affection worthy of Christian Knighthood. He died by assassination in the mosque at Kufa, death occasioned by his own generous fairness, confidence in the fairness of others, he said: "if the wound proved not unto death, they must pardon the assassin, but if it did, they must slay him straightaway, so that they two in the same hour might appear before God, and see which side of that quarrel was the just one."

 

Dr. Heary Stubbe

In his book, An Account of the Rise and Progress of Muhammadanism, Dr. Henry Stubbe observes as follows: "Ali was of a brown complexion, a little man with a belly somewhat large, he had a contempt of the world, its glory and pomp. He feared God much, gave many alms, was just in all his actions, humble and affable, of an exceeding quick wit, and of an ingenuity that was not common. He was exceedingly learned, not only in those sciences that terminate in speculation, but those which extend to practice".

 

Major Price

In his book, Memoirs of the Principal Events of Muhammadan History, Major Price observes as follows: "His virtues and extraordinary qualities have been the subject of voluminous panegyrics, and his war-line exploits from his youth upwards have been particularly celebrated in the 'Khawer Nama', a poem well known in the east and which may, perhaps contend in extravagance with the wildest effusions of European romance. With his acknowledged talents and magnanimity, it is, however difficult to account for the train of civil mischief and perpetual discontent which continued to disturb him through the whole of his reign. His gallant spirit was probably incapable of bonding to the ordinary shifts of political craft, and it is perhaps true that the Arabian chiefs were not yet sufficiently disciplined to see the sovereign authority quietly monopolized by any particular family".

 

J. J. Saunders

In his book A History of Medieval Islam, J. J. Saunders observes as follows: "His moral qualities were respectfully recognized. He was a brave fighter, an eloquent orator, and a loyal friend. Many sayings of his are quoted to prove his mastery of proverbial wisdom, a gift highly honored among the Semites. He displayed towards his foes a patience and magnanimity expressive of a humane and generous disposition. His religion was founded on a genuine piety. He was shocked by the growing luxury and corruption of the age, and to his many doubts whether Othman was an upholder or a violator of the law may be attributed the hesitating and ambiguous attitude he adopted towards the regicides, which proved so fatal to his rule and reputation. As his temper was indolent, he drifted rather than led. He was easily outmatched by the astute and the forceful, and he lacked the commanding personality to impose his will on a turbulent society. His authority was challenged by the politic shrewdness of Muawiyah, and the furious zealotry of the Kharijites, his inability to overcome either delivered Islam to schism and grave believers were driven to see in a reunion of the empire under the Umayyads the only escape from tribal and sectarian anarchy. Yet he has been raised by a powerful sect little below that of Muhammad himself, the Shia or party of Ali laid it down as an article of faith that he was designated by God and the Prophet to be the lawful Caliph and Imam of Islam, his three predecessors being treated as usurpers, and that divine revelation continued to be interpreted by his descendants, and his supposed grave at Najaf, a sand hill on the edge of the desert six miles west of Kufa, is annually visited by thousands of devout pilgrims who curse his supplanters and rever him as the friend of God and the first of Imams".


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