Imam Ali and Political Leadership

caused by unlimited exploitation by another group and the squandering of the wealthy:
ما جاعَ فَقيرٌ إلاّ بِما مُتِّعَ بِهِ غَنِيٌّ.“A poor person would never go hungry except by that which a rich one enjoys (and he is deprived of it).”1
The Islamic government is bound to prevent the undue accumulation of wealth in the hands of the powerful, and try to eradicate the means of any exploitation by the rich, and with constant attempts and accurate planning assist the poor to meet their basic needs of their lives. In that short period of his (a.s.) ruling and despite all the clashes, intrigues and hindrances, he made Kufa reach such a condition about which he proclaimed:
ما أصبَحَ بِالكوفَةِ أحَدٌ إلاّ ناعِماً؛ إنَّ أدناهُم مَنزِلَةً لَيَأكُلُ مِنَ البُرِّ وَيَجلِسُ فِى الظِّلِّ و يَشرَبُ مِن ماءِ الفُراتِ.“All in Kufa are now enjoying ease and comfort. The most inferior in status among them has bread, can sit under shelter and drink from the water of the Euphrates.”2
Imām’s (a.s.) recommendations to his administrators for paying attention to the lower classes of society and the ‘low-income stratum’ are extremely astonishing. He does not tolerate the destitution of a Christian whom the rich benefited from and now in his old age had been abandoned3 and commanded his men to meet his needs through the Public Treasury. He (a.s.) also ordered his governors to search all corners of the society to identify the poor and needy and to save them from the claws of poverty.

10. Prohibition of Giving Gifts from the Public Assets

Governors are the trustees of the people and what they have at their disposal is a trust in their hand. Government administrators do not have the right to give away gifts from the government’s assets on

1.. See ۵/۱۱, h. ۲۴۷.

2.. See ۵/۱۱, h. ۲۴۹.

3.. See ۵/۱۴, h. ۲۵۰.

Imam Ali and Political Leadership

will not give me anything.” Imām (a.s.) replied, “Even if it happens so.”1
A glance at the teachings of Imām Ali (a.s.) in this respect shows that the tax organization and its agents are bound to win the people’s trust, and to observe Islamic morality and religious behavior, while they are trying to be alert and careful in safeguarding the Public Treasury and vigilantly learn about the problems of taxation.

7. Not Delaying the Distribution of Public Assets

Imām Ali (a.s.) never approved the blocking of public assets in the state’s treasure; he would rather try to deliver them to the needy immediately. Imām’s (a.s.) code of conduct indicates that he would not tolerate the delay of its distribution even for one night. He firmly believed that what rightly belonged to the people had to be delivered to them as soon as possible.

8. People’s Equal Enjoyment of Public Assets

The equal allocation of the public assets among all Muslims was one of the policies in the government of Imām Ali (a.s.). This was contrary to what had been practiced in the years previous to his reign and it was therefore very hard for the well off people and those that benefited from the government and were the influential of that time to accept it. In Imām’s view, the skin color of a Muslim, his tribe, ancestors and their social status did not make any difference in their portion of the public assets. Arabs and non-Arabs, the muhājirin (migrants) and the Ansār (supporters), black and white and even the freed slaves and their former masters were equally treated and all enjoyed equally from the public incomes.

9. Provision of Basic Needs of Life for all

The general trend of the economic policy of Imām Ali (a.s.) is to struggle against poverty and eradicate it from the Islamic society. His (a.s.) guidelines in this respect are very interesting and thought-provoking. He insists that the hunger and poverty of a group is

1.. See ۵/۸, h. ۲۰۸.

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    Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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