Sunday, June 3, 2018 12:13:05 PM
Imam Ali’s Internal Policy (Part 2)

What were the mainsprings of Ali’s actions and policies? It appears that every detail of his life was governed by taqwa (the fear of doing something that would displease God).

He entertained only that thought, he uttered only that word, and he performed only that deed which he knew, would win for him the pleasure of God. His every thought, his every word, and his every deed, was tested on the touchstone of taqwa. His whole existence revolved around one question, viz., what shall I think or what shall I say or what shall I do that will please my Creator?

To the Machiavellians of all times the ends have justified the means. To them, all means, fair or foul, are legitimate, if they can achieve a certain end. But if Ali had to employ a certain means to achieve an end, it had to have the sanction of Al-Qur’an al-Majid. On numerous occasions, the so-called worldly wisdom and prudence dictated a certain course of action. But if such a course of action was repugnant to Qur’an, Ali spurned it, and he did so with utter disregard to consequences.

This policy made Ali extremely predictable and vulnerable. It is said that if one has the ability to predict, then one has a certain amount of control over a situation or a person, and control means power. The enemies of Ali knew exactly what he would or what he would not do in a given situation. This foreknowledge of his actions and reactions gave them an advantage over him, and they were ever ready to exploit it. They also took the maximum advantage of his chivalry and gallantry.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Ali’s government was its "transparency" and its openness. If ever there was a government that was "transparent," it was his government. He was suspicious of secretiveness, and believed only in "open covenants openly arrived at." Muawiya himself boasted that the key to his own "success" was in his secretiveness, and he attributed Ali"s "failure" to the fact that he (Ali) did not hide anything from his subjects.

From the Machiavellian point of view, Muawiya was right. He kept others guessing about each of his moves whereas in the case of Ali, no guesswork was necessary. In dealing with Ali, his enemies could dispense with speculation of all kinds. To him, secretiveness smacked of deviousness, and if anything was devious, it was not acceptable to him.

From the first day, he placed the credo of snooping and secrecy under interdiction in his dominions. When a friend asked Ali why he had agreed to take charge of the government with its myriad’s of problems, he said that he did so to restore the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, knowing that no one else in Dar-ul-Islam had this ability. After the battle of Siffin, Ali said in one of his prayers:

"O God! You know well that the struggle we have waged, has not been for the sake of winning political power, nor for acquiring territory nor for worldly goods; rather, it is my aim to implement the luminous principles of Your exalted religion, and to reform the conduct of affairs in Your land, so that Your humble slaves may live in security, and Your laws which have remained unfulfilled, might be established and executed once again as they were in the time of Your Messenger and Friend, Muhammad."

Ali was unable to conceal his contempt for and his hostility to those Arabs who, as "the gluttons of privilege" had become immensely rich and powerful. He and they "repelled" each other. On the other hand, he was irresistibly drawn toward the poor and the powerless. They were his friends. Among the rich and the powerful, Abu Sufyan and Mughira bin Shaaba, had made tentative attempts to ingratiate themselves with him but he had snubbed them, and had put an unbridgeable distance between himself and them.

Ali turned his caliphate into a "school" in which he educated or rather reeducated the Muslim ummat. He faced an enormous reeducation job, but he carried it out with consummate style and characteristic flair.

He was a "one-man university" in Islam. The "curriculum" in his "university" laid the greatest emphasis on character-building of the Muslims.

He found the "blueprint" for character-building in the Book of God, and he found "precedents" for it in the life of Muhammad, the Messenger of God. At the "university," he interpreted the "blueprint" and the "precedents" for the edification and the education of his "pupils" – the Muslim ummat.

Ali was the champion of the vision that united mankind in obedience to its Creator. He was the champion of our Creator’s vision of justice, truthfulness, purity and peace.

The central dedication of his life was to restore absolute justice to the Dar-ul-Islam. In this quest, he was eminently successful.

By: Sheikh al-Mufid

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