Imam Ali and Political Leadership

Where are my brothers who took the true path and departed from the world with righteousness? Where is `Ammār? Where is Ibn al-Tayyhān?1 Where is Dhul-Shahādatayn?2 Where are those who were like them from among their comrades and had pledged themselves to death and whose severed heads were gifted to the corrupt [enemies]?3
It must be further added that some of the companions and soldiers of Imām Ali (a.s.) became members of the Khawārij who stood up against him after the battle of Siffin. Some of them were killed in the Battle of Nahrawān and others retreated from society. Imām Ali (a.s.) was therefore left totally alone with no combatant companions, eloquent speakers and intelligent intellectuals and brave indefatigable heroes of the battlefields.

The Peak of the Power of Leadership during Loneliness

Now, and at the end of this brief analysis, we find it necessary to draw the attention of the esteemed readers to a significant point regarding the policies of Imām Ali (a.s.) and his leadership approach, which I have not seen to be noticed and raised by any one. This point is the authority, power of management and extraordinary capability and steadfastness of Imām (a.s.) in leadership, in such a time and conditions, and despite all those circumstances as have all been explained.
Historical documents show that Ali (a.s.) has displayed the most sublime, the most powerful and the most significant characteristics of leadership during the days of his loneliness. Therefore, when we say Ali (a.s.) was alone, it must not be presumed that, due to so much disobedience and difficulties that he faced and which can be realized through his lamentation and complaints, he went into

1.. Mālik ibn Tayyhān al-Ansāri was one of the companions (sahāba) in the Battle of Badr and was martyred in the battle of Siffin.

2.. Khuzayma ibn Thābit al-Ansāri, who was present in the Battle of Badr and other battles and was martyred in Siffin. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) considered his testimony as equal to that of two persons.

3.. See: The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Muiminin, vol. ۷, p. ۱۵۱. (Nahj al-Balāghah, Sermon ۱۸۲).

Imam Ali and Political Leadership

It is unfortunate that Imām Ali (a.s.) did not enjoy the company of such persons toward the end of his government. The most outstanding of his (a.s.) companions who were eloquent explainers and advocates of his path were no longer present. The absence of Mālik al-Ashtar, `Ammār, Hāshim ibn Mirqāl, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, `Abdullah ibn Badil, Zaid ibn Suhān and others who were among the companions of Imām Ali (a.s.) was sadly felt. No longer was it possible to hear those passionate, encouraging and stimulating sermons among the troops. On the other hand, there were many evil-minded, misleading and ill-hearted individuals who raised difficulties and spread apathy.
It is due to such an atmosphere of chaos, sedition and insubordination that Imām (a.s.) remembers with sorrow those vigilant, insightful ‘worshippers in the night and fighting lions in the day’, who were pioneers in the fields of action and warriors on the battlefields, saying:
Where are those who were invited to Islam and accepted it wholeheartedly? Those who read the Qur'ān, acted according to it and established it in their hearts. Those who were exhorted to fight and leapt towards it as a she-camel leaping towards its young, drew their swords out of their sheaths and went out and took control of lands in groups and ranks. Some of them passed away and some survived. The good news of their survival did not please them nor did they condole the dead(living in this world would not make them happy as departing this transient life could not sadden them). Their eyes turned white from weeping, their bellies were emaciated because of fasting, their lips were dry because of constant praying, their color was pale because of staying awake and their faces bore the dust of God-fearing humility. They were my comrades who have departed. Therefore, it behooves that we long for them (and desire their presence) and bite our hands(out of sorrow) from being separated from them.1
In the end of his painful words, uttered in the last days of his life, he said:

1.. Nahj al-Balāghah, Sermon ۱۲۱.

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    Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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