Imam Ali and Political Leadership

of action that implies the negation of their right of sovereignty.1
In a scholarly analysis, the Martyr Murtadā Mutahari (may God sanctify his soul) believes that one of the main reasons for inclination towards materialism in the recent centuries is the dangerous and misleading teachings which imply that responsibility towards God necessitates no responsibility towards the masses, and that ‘God’s rights’ substitutes ‘the rights of the masses’ and the right of national sovereignty is equivalent to Godlessness:
At the dawn of the modern age a movement against religion was formed in Europe, which also more or less affected other regions outside of Christendom.
This movement was inclined towards materialism. When we examine the causes and roots of this movement, we discover that one of them was the inadequacy of the teachings of the Church from the viewpoint of political law. The Church authorities and some European philosophers developed an artificial relationship and association between belief in God on one hand and stripping the people of their political rights by despotic regimes on the other. Naturally, this led to the assumption that there is some necessary relation between democracy and atheism, and that we should either choose the belief in God and accept that the right of sovereignty was bestowed by Him upon certain individuals who have no superiority over others, or deny the existence of God so as to establish our right as masters of our own political destinies.
From the point of view of religious psychology, one of the causes of the decline of the influence of religion is the contradiction created by religious authorities between religion and a social need, especially at a time when that need expressed itself strongly at the level of public consciousness. Right at a time when despotism and repression had reached their peak in European political life and the people were thirstily, longing for the ideas of liberty and people’s sovereignty, the Church

1.. Shahid Murtadā Mutahari, Sayri dar Nahj al-Balāghah, (Glimpses of Nahj al-Balāghah), p. ۱۱۸.

Imam Ali and Political Leadership

We emphasized the above point in order to ascertain that the only government that can claim to have followed the example of the government of Imām Ali (a.s.) and his way of conduct (sira) is a government whose authorities attach more importance to justice than anything else and spare no efforts in spreading justice and the development of equity, not merely in words and speech –which is the top motto of many claimants today– but in action, behavior and in relations with people of all levels of society. Such justice is as rare as an elixir. Only a government that does not sacrifice justice in favor of expediency, by means of interpretation and justification, can indeed claim the establishment of justice.
In the government system of Imām Ali (a.s.) and in the teachings of that ‘manifestation of justice’, there is no expedient, higher than the establishment of justice. The only ruling system that can claim to be a follower of Imām Ali (a.s.) is that which gives priority to justice over interests and insists on implementing it, and despite the hubbub and troubles, aims at holding a permanent rule over the ‘hearts’ rather than a transient rule over ‘bodies’, which is the result of giving preference to unfounded and vain interests.

2. Safeguarding People’s Rights

The psychological factors in the people’s support of governments are as numerous as their different spiritual needs. One of the most important factors of public support is the safeguarding of people’s rights by that government.
One of the most important factors that contributes to securing the content of the masses is how the government views them and itself, whether it regards them as its slaves or as its masters and guardians, or whether it considers the people as possessing legitimate rights and itself only as their trustee, agent and representative. In the first case, whatever service a government may render to the people is nothing more than the care an owner would take of his animal. In the second case, the service presented is like the act of a loyal trustee fulfilling his duty. Among the foremost conditions of securing the confidence and goodwill of the people is the state’s acknowledgement of the genuine rights of the people and the avoidance of any kind

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    Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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