The Justice of Imam Ali (s)
Imam Ali's life and justice are closely bound up with the history of Islam. This appeared especially during his caliphate. Whenever his name is mentioned the word of justice comes to mind.
At the beginning of his life he fought against injustice and oppression of Koreish to spread justice of Islam. In the last days of his life he confronted terrible difficulties in order to realize justice among people and at last he was martyred for it.
He regarded people with reverence, whether they were Muslims or non-Muslims. He did his best to distribute wealth and spoils among them justly. Some great Arab men stated their grievance openly because that their share from Bayt al-Mal was equal to that of the poor.
At the beginning of his rule Imam Ali said: “I will summon those who have deprived people of their rights to the court and I will apply the law to them even though it doesn't please them.”
Those, who enjoyed from the public treasury during the reign of Uthman, expected that Imam Ali (s) would never refuse to employ them in the state affairs, but he in the first day of his caliphate said: “I will get back all the wealth gifted to this and that even if they have paid them to their wives as dowry.”
He was too strict about the public money to the extent that he displeased his older brother Aqil, who was blind and troubled with having a large family, when he had requested more than his share from the treasury.
Once when his daughter had borrowed a necklace from Bayt al-Mal for a short time, Imam Ali (s) got angry when he knew about it and he threatened the treasurer to be punished for his carelessness. He said to his daughter: “I would have punished you if you had not guaranteed it against risk.”
He was very adequate in distributing the wealth and the grains among the people so that the all, far or near, could enjoy their shares equally.
Nowadays the world's population is divided into two classes; a group living in extreme poverty that a bit of food is not possible for them and another group surrounded with affluence and riches living at ease and luxury.
The Islamic civilization does not allow such distinction of classes; therefore Imam Ali (s) in his famous epistle to the governor of Egypt wrote: “There are many indigents among people, who do not request for more than their share when they are badly in need of more. For God's sake, safeguard their rights because the responsibility lays on you before God. Assign a portion from the treasury for their living and education wherever they are, whether near at hand or far from you. The rights of the all ought to be protected by you.”
He often said: “Wherever there are palaces and affluences there are surely many lost rights beside them.”
This is really the civilized Islam, which calls for argument among the civilizations.
It is clear that social justice is based on righteous judgments of the judges. Therefore Imam Ali (s) had instructed the judges with many legal instructions in order to spread justice everywhere.
According to Imam Ali’s instructions, every judge ought to treat the litigants equally in looking at them,
talking with them and in seating them so that the judge’s relative would not exploit the opportunity to gain illegal benefits and that the judge’s enemies would not despair of justice.
Once he said to the second caliph Umar: “There are three things that if you put in practice, you won’t be in need of other thing;
1-Enforcement of the religious law upon the stranger and acquaintance equally.
2-Judging according to the book of Allah (Qur’an) in state of anger or consent.
3- Just division of the spoils between the lowly people and the nobles and between the black and the white.”
Nowadays, in some civilized countries of the world a black-skinned boy or girl is not admitted in whites' schools. Regretfully in the hospitals of the U. S. A., even in the northern part where people used to fight against slavery, the wards and surgeries of the whites differ from those of the blacks. Young and inexperienced doctors have no right to visit the white persons, whereas the various tests are performed in the blacks’ section.
Now we go back to dry and sandy Arabia of fourteen centuries ago where ignorance and party spirits were spread. The noble privilege and grandness were too much hateful and the ordinary people could never look forward to the positions that were held by the nobles. Imam Ali (s) proclaimed freedom and equality and those, who were entitled to virtue, became high-ranking officials during his government. He urged people to behave fairly towards each other without letting differences trouble their life.
Although such privileges were cancelled by the charter of the Human Rights organization under the
name of freedom and equality, it took a long time until the west got rid of the gloom of the ignorance of the Middle Ages.
In spite of this declaration of the Human Rights, we regretfully see the racial feelings and supremacy over other nations and bloody wars throughout the world.
The shameful act of killing the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla camp and the felony of the Sorbs in Kosovo and Herzegovina are not just stories. These ugly and hateful events are written down in the pages of history like a stain on man's forehead.
Imam Ali (s) used to keep the Muslims away from clinging to party-spirit and vanity. He says in his sermon al-Qasi’ah: “Praise be to Allah, Who puts on the dress of exaltedness and dignity and has allocated them to Himself. He has made them for Himself and has forbidden His creatures from them.”
Then after reciting a few Qur’anic verses he said: (When your Lord said to the angels: surely I am going to create a mortal from dust: So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down making obeisance to him. And the angels did obeisance, all of them. But not Iblis: he was proud and he was of the unbelievers. He said: O Iblis, what prevented you from doing obeisance to him whom I created with My two hands? Are you proud or are you of the exalted ones? He said: I am better than he; Thou hast created me of fire, and him Thou didst create of dust. He said: Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away. And surely My curse is on you to the Day of Judgment) 38:71-78.
Then Imam Ali (s) kept on his speech and saying: “The vanity of Iblis (Satan) and his feeling proud of his being created of fire made him be cursed by Allah. And so he arrives at a good conclusion that this enemy of God (Satan) is the leader of those who boast and feel proud towards others by virtue of their origin and
descent and they, consequently, are subject to disfavor and curse of Allah.”
There were many Jews and Christians living under Imam Ali's domination. They were free to practice their rituals and their rights were secured by the government.
One day when Imam Ali was exhorting people to jihad, he said: “It is reported that the enemy has taken ornaments off the legs and the ears of two Christian women, who were under the Islamic rule. And then he said: “One, who hears this startling news and dies, is not to be blamed.”
But regretfully today, in the twentieth century, the Muslims are treated inhumanely in many countries and more terribly in places where the people were ruled previously by colonial policy like India, Somalia, Guinea and others under the pretense of reforming the civil organizations and sometime, under the pretense of administering justice or settling discipline and peace.
Whenever the unlawful interests of the colonial powers were encroached upon, they did not keep to their promises about the social justice and tolerance and they would tread upon the Muslims' rights.
For example, Ethiopia was formerly ruled by the church of Egypt, which was under the British authority. Its inhabitants were 35% Muslims and 65% Christians and others. There was not any government school for the Muslim youths. Whenever the Muslims instituted a school on their own expense, it was closed because of the heavy taxes enacted by the high authorities. This hostile behavior continued so severely that no one else could build a school.
If a Muslim was indebted to a Christian and was not able to pay his debt, he would become automatically a slave for the creditor without hearing his petition. Such debtor became the object of buying and selling
before the eyes of people and no one said: “Oh, he is a human being too.”
No Muslim was employed by the government departments in spite of that the Muslims formed one third of the population of this country.
On the other hand, if the wali wanted to make an effort in the interest of the Muslims, he would not have the authority to do it because the church had the control over all the state affairs and Ethiopia had to obey the commands issued by the church.
Have the Christians ever faced such annoyance from the Muslims along the history? Are they ready to be treated like their own treatment? Certainly not!
Therefore, it indicates a ruinous party-spirit that the Christians (colonial countries) accept it satisfactorily.
Imam Ali (s) said: “It is sufficient for you to educate yourself that you avoid what you dislike from the others.”
History mentioned that the independence of the local Churches was respected by the Muslims when they occupied Spain. The Muslims associated with the Christians in a friendly manner, but after a time when the Spaniards got their country back, they established many courts to inquire about the people's beliefs. The main duty of those courts was to inquire about the Muslims in order to accuse them of a bad precedent to be used later as a cause of condemnation. They used the most shameful acts of torture to suppress the Muslims in a way that history had not mentioned its like at all.
In a word, many hardships were imposed upon the Muslims to force them to turn Christians.
The Holy Qur’an says: (Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your
homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice) 60:8.
And: (This day (all) the good things are allowed to you, and the food of those who have been given the Book (the Jews and the Christians) is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; and the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you) when you have given them dowries ...) 5:5.
It is clear by these Qur’anic verses that Islam has given a chance to the followers of the other religions to associate with the Muslims freely and that the Muslims should deal with them peacefully.
Imam Ali (s) said: “When you overcome your foe, forgive him as a way of thanking God that He enables you to overcome him.”
Considering this truth, Imam Ali (s) recommended people, especially his officers, to be just to every one, whether acquainted or not, and to fulfill their promise when they are in treaty with foreigners.
Many of his men insisted on him to break his promise concerning the agreement of the arbitration. Although he was obliged to accept it, he did not pay attention to them and said: “It is not of justice to break my promise.”
A Christian woman was attacked by the enemy in a frontier locality and they had snatched her ornaments from her ears and hands. When Imam Ali knew about it, he exclaimed from on the pulpit and said angrily: “If one hears this and dies with grief, he won’t be blamed.”
Islam is the only religion that calls for human beings to associate with each other peacefully and with mutual respect.