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Imam Ali and Political Leadership

concern yourself solely with the meaning and beware of verbosity in writing, for the Muslim public treasury does not tolerate any loss.”1
It is clear that when an administrator hears about so much carefulness in writing letters, he would no longer give lavish banquets, ride costly horses, or try to achieve more and more welfare for himself through public assets.
Imām’s personal economy and thrift in spending the public treasury is also extremely astounding. He would not even use the lantern that belongs to the public treasury when responding to those people who came to him at night for personal purposes. Along the same line is the thought-provoking and instructive story of Talha and Zubair who went to Imām Ali (a.s.) to discuss their personal problems while he was taking care of affairs of the public treasury. He turned off the light which belonged to the public treasury and had another lantern brought in, unwilling to use the public belonging for personal purposes even for a few moments.2

Four: Social Policies

In social issues, the government of Imām Ali (a.s.) has also very firm and strong foundations, methods, and positions. The texts recounting the dimensions of his social policies are insightful and noteworthy. Based on these texts, Imām’s principles of social policies can be recounted as follows:

1. Social Justice

Justice is the firmest, most pivotal, comprehensive and fundamental issue of the policies and rulership of Imām Ali (a.s.). The sacred name of Imām Ali (a.s.) is so intertwined with justice that his name reminds us of justice and justice reminds us of him. Justice always prevailed in Imām Ali’s life (a.s.) to the extent that he sacrificed his life dying a martyr’s death in the way of establishing justice and spreading equity.

1.. See ۵/۱۶, h. ۲۸۲.

2.. See ۵/۱۶, h. ۲۸۳.


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various occasions and for different reasons. Imām Ali (a.s.) considers such treatment of the Public Treasury, as a form of tyranny:
جودُ الوُلاةِ بِفَيءِ المُسلِمينَ جَورٌ و خَترٌ .“The generosity of the administrators with the public assets is a tyranny and a betrayal.”1

11. Prevention of Granting Privileges to One’s Kin

We said earlier that from the viewpoint of Imām Ali (a.s.) what is at the disposal of the governors and administrators is entrusted to them and they are allowed to use these assets only for administering and rendering services. They do not have the right to allocate certain privileges or provisions to specific group of people. The children and close relatives of political and social dignitaries in Imām Ali’s (a.s.) government and also his own children and relatives did not enjoy any particular privileges. Moreover, in order to set an example for others, the Imām (a.s.) showed more sensitivity towards his friends and kin and was harder and stricter on them in using the public assets.

12. Economization with Public Assets

As previously mentioned, the Imām’s policy in spending public assets, how the administrators should use them and how the Public Treasury should be spent, is very remarkable and instructive. In order to draw the attention of the administrators to maximum economization in [spending] public incomes and preventing them from extravagance, the Imām (a.s.) asked them through a decree to observe frugality, even in writing letters to him:
أدِقّوا أقلامَكُم ، و قارِبوا بَينَ سُطورِكُم ، وَاحذِفوا عَنّي فُضولَكُم وَاقصِدوا قَصدَ المَعاني وإيّاكُم وَالإِكثارَ ، فَإِنَّ أموالَ المُسلِمينَ لا تَحتَمِلُ الإِضرارَ.“Sharpen your pens and reduce the space between lines; eliminate needless and useless things when writing to me,

1.. See ۵/۱۴, h. ۲۶۲.

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    Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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