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Imam Ali and Political Leadership

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Defending Imām Ali’s Statesmanship

Imām Ali (a.s.) took over the caliphate in response to the public demand and insistence, and his caliphate came to an end with his Martyrdom on Ramadan 21st, 40 AH [January 29th, 661]. People had been accustomed to the rulership of the three caliphs for twenty five years, during which certain policies and procedures had been performed most of which Imām regarded as unjustifiable. Changing the views and behavior of people was as difficult for him as ‘returning the water which has run downstream’, and in some cases even impossible. He therefore accepted the caliphate with extreme precaution and prudence and only after several times of refusing it –so that nobody would think that he had a desire for ruling-. Nonetheless, from the very beginning he stated future plans and the difficulties ahead of him very clearly.
Parts of the policies of Imām Ali (a.s.) and some of his political positions have since long prompted discussions and criticisms. Those who viewed politics as a tool of power and aimed at dominance over people from a governmental position did not tolerate some of Imām’s political stances. It should be first known that Imām Ali (a.s.) had accepted the government in order to administer justice, and he adopted politics as tools for the government to secure the human rights and fulfill the real human needs.
If we look from this angle and evaluate his rule and authority by this criterion, we will see that what the Imām did, was well-founded and meticulously organized and precisely in line with his lofty goals.
However, those who do not look from this angle do not accept Imām’s position in the six-person electoral council of `Umar for appointing the caliph, and believe that his insistence on the deposal of Mu`āwiya at the beginning of his rule, when the foundations of his sovereignty were not yet firmly set, as being far from diplomatic


Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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