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Newsletter for June 2013
Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12
ALI BIN ABI TALIB
The Perfect Model of Islam
by Nasir Shamsi
The name of Ali bin Abi Talib (a) is synonymous with Islam; no episode of early Islam can be mentioned without his presence or participation in one way or another. He was brought up by the Prophet himself and was fully immersed in all moral and spiritual aspects of his teachings. It is quite apparent that Allah had a plan in providing a gift to His last Apostle on earth, in the magnificent form of Ali. The unique qualities of head and heart and physique enabled Ali to lend support in implementing the Prophet's Divine Mission. It is note worthy that the first Revelation did not come and the Prophet did not receive the Divine order to proclaim himself as Allah's Messenger until Ali had matured and was physically able to support the great Mission. Ali followed the Prophet like a shadow and protected him from the mischief of the Meccans. The brave son of Abu Talib inspired fear among the Meccans and they dared not raise an eye before the Prophet when Ali was around. On the night of ' hijra ', he happily slept in the Prophet's bed, to let him quietly slip out of Mecca , to escape the enemy attack.
Ali was the standard-bearer of Islam and history bears eloquent testimony to his valorous contribution to the success in almost all encounters that took place between the Muslims and the non- believers. Allah's Messenger himself gave Ali the rare title of ' Asadullah ' (the Lion of God). According to the French Orientals, Oelsner, " Ali was the beau ideal of chivalry and personification of gallantry, bravery and generosity. Pure, gentle and learned without fear and reproach, he set the world the noblest example of chivalrous grandeur of character. His spirit was a pure reflection of that of Muhammad, it pervaded the Islamic world and formed the animating genius of succeeding ages. " Nobody understood, better than Ali, the purpose and intent of the Prophet's message , the spirit and content of each Revelation. He was often a witness to the ' wahee '. He had the distinct honor of posting the Proclamation of the Sura 'al- tawbah' ( Repentance ) on the wall of the Ka'aba , which forbidder the pagans from entering the sacred precincts of ' Ka'aba '. This was a major event that at once declared the Supremacy of the Laws of Allah . Abu Bakr was first sent to Mecca with the freshly revealed Sura. He was yet on his way when the Prophet received special instructions through Angel Gabriel to replace him by Ali.
In compliance with the Divine Order, the Prophet immediately dispatched Ali to retrieve the Proclamation from Abu Bakr and post it and announce himself in Mecca. The Divine Document contained references to the idol-worship and admonition to repent. It was clearly Allah's design that only a man of impeccable character and faith, who had never worshipped idols, who was immaculately-pure and free from sins, could deliver the Divine Commandment to the idol-worshippers. The pious and beautiful hand of Ali which delivered the important Divine Decree to sanctify ' baitullah', was rightfully called by the noble Messenger ' yad ullah i.e. Allah's hand. This event alone was enough for an unbiased Muslim to perceive as to who could act in place of the Prophet and who was to lead the nascent Ummah, after he was recalled to his eternal abode by his Lord.
The minds of the early Muslims, however, had not yet overcome the habits of the days of ' jahiliya'. Their hearts carried envy and grudge, even vengeance, against Ali since his sword had cut down many of their next of kin. The emotion clouded their vision and they looked the other way. Ali was not even consulted in the matter of caliphate on the Prophet's death. The ummah deprived itself from the immeasurable benefit Ali's leadership would have provided. This hasty action ,for ever, changed the character as well as the direction of the Muslim ummah. The caliphate was soon to degenerate into monarchy under the Umayyads.
The Muslims had been charged with the function to redeem humanity from oppression and injustice. If the Message was allowed to continue under the able and worthy guidance of Ali , who on numerous occasions, was clearly pointed out as the standard bearer and leader of the ummah, Allah's Deen would have flourished. The rightful selection of Ali would have ensured an uninterrupted continuation of the Prophetic Mission, leading to establishment of Allah's Rule on earth. After 25 years of seclusion, when the Medinites asked Ali to take the reigns of the government, the spirit inculcated by the Prophet among the people had greatly been dissipated. The only five years of Ali's rule were consumed largely by the unfortunate battles with the Muslim rebels. Muawiya, the patriarch of the future Umayyad dynasty, had been appointed governor of Syria in 18 H by the Second Caliph. He had almost two decades to fortify his position as a ruler in Roman style. His position was further strengthened by appointments of several Umayyads as governors by the Third Caliph. Muawiya arrogantly declined to accept the Caliphate of Ali and asserted his parallel government. This conflict led to the fierce battle of Siffin, which further divided the Muslims. The remaining years were also infested with the armed struggles with the rebels, until Ali's assassination in 40 H.
It is a tragedy that the Muslims did not make use of the great genius of Ali whose knowledge of Deen and science and other branches of knowledge was so vast that it defied time and space. What he had said then is true today and illumines the minds of many seekers of knowledge. For lack of space, we most humbly attempt to share with the readers just a few glimpses of the most extraordinary personality of Ali bin Abi Talib. Ali's position with regard to the Message was like the axle of a mill and only he, beside the Prophet, understood the purpose and intent of the Divine Mission.
ISLAM: " Have you fully realized what Islam is? ", asks Ali. Then he answers:
" It is indeed a religion founded on truth. It is a fountain-head of learning that many streams of wisdom and knowledge flow from it. It is a lamp that many lamps will be lighted from it. It is a lofty beacon of light that illumines the Path of Allah. It is a set of principles and beliefs that will fully satisfy every seeker of truth and reality. Know all that Allah has made Islam the most sublime path for the attainment of His Supreme Pleasure and the highest standard of His worship and obedience. He has blessed it with noble precepts, exalted principles, doubtless arguments, unchallengeable supremacy and undeniable wisdom. It is up to you to maintain the eminence and dignity granted to it by the Lord, to follow it sincerely, to do justice to its articles of faith and belief, to obey implicitly its tenets and orders and to give it the proper place in your lives. "
JUSTICE: He advised .Mailk Ushtar regarding selection of judges: " Select the wisest person in the land for administration of justice between the people. He should be a person for whom this task is not hard and the litigating parties are not able to prevail upon his views."
GOOD GOVERNANCE: You must have love, respect and kindness for your subjects…Muslims and non-Muslims should be treated alike. Muslims are your brothers and non Muslims are your fellow human beings…..Anger and vindictiveness should have no place in your administration. Do not let favoritism and nepotism come near you. They will make you violate your duties toward God and toward man and drive you toward oppression and tyranny. It is your sacred duty to look after the poor, the disabled, the orphaned and the widowed. Do not allow anybody to humiliate, ill-treat or oppress them. Make yourself easily accessible to them whenever they are in need of help.
ADMINISTRATION: Select honest and kind persons for the job. Do not select those who served under the past tyrants and were responsible for unjust acts and atrocities in the name of the State. Pay your officers well so that they can resist corruption and misappropriation. Take your subjects into your confidence; make them feel you are their well-wisher and friend. Protect the interests of your merchants and traders. But never allow them to practice hoarding, profiteering and black marketing. Encourage handicrafts; they reduce poverty and they raise standard of living. Protect the interests of your farmers; they are a valuable asset to the country.
We have quoted selectively only a few excerpts from a much larger and a most comprehensive treatise on administration, sent by Ali bin Abi Talib to Malik Ushter, the Governor of Egypt during his Caliphate. It should form an essential basis for good governance and efficient and honest administration in any country.
We'll conclude with a quotation from Masoodi, the venerable Muslim historian:
" If the glorious name of being the First Muslim, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for the faith, his intimate associate in life, and his kinsman of a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book, is self-abnegation and practice of justice, and if honesty, purity, and love of truth, and if knowledge of law and science constitute a claim to preeminence, then all must regard Ali a the foremost Muslim. We shall search in vain to find, either among his predecessors (save the Holy Prophet) or among his successors, those virtues with which God had endowed him. "
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