Imam Ali and Political Leadership

ألا فَالحَذَرَ الحَذَرَ مِن طَاعَةِ ساداتِکُم وکُبَرائِکُم الَّذینَ تَـکَبَّروا عَن حَسَبِهِم وتَرَفَّعوا فَوقَ نَسَبِهِم... فَإنَّهُم قَواعِدُ أساسِ العَصبِیَّةِ ودَعائِمُ أرکانِ الفِتنَةِ... وَهُم أساسُ الفُسوقِ وأَحلاسُ العُقوقِ إتَّخذَهُم إبلیسُ مَطایا ضَلالٍ وجُنداً بِهم یَصولُ عَلَی النّاسِ... .Beware and avoid obeying your leaders and elders who felt proud over their lineage and boasted over their descent…they are the main sources of obstinacy and main pillars of mischief… They are the roots of vice and people of disobedience. Satan has made them as the carriers of misguidance and the troops with whom he attacks men.1
Imām then gave an enlightening explanation of what was stated. Afterwards, he proceeded to make a very important political and ethical discussion about social interaction and behavior. He talked about the difficult Divine trials aimed at training the human beings, stressing that life’s various misfortunes and difficulties are in line with the spiritual construction of man and to purify him of moral vices, particularly selfishness, arrogance and haughtiness just as God Almighty has ordained prayers, fasting and alms for such purposes.
He (a.s.) then enjoined people to delve into history, deliberate on events and take lessons from the fates of the religious revolutions to find out how they had ended, and recognize the impact of disparity and disunity on the failures in religious calls, lest the haughtiness and egoism of the elite and the influential along with the people’s unaware obedience would lead the Islamic government to a destiny similar to that of previous revolutions.
In this part of his speech, Imām (a.s.) gives an explicit warning and issues an ultimatum to the elite and the influential:
ألا وإنَّکُم قَد نَفَضتُم أیدِیَکُم مِن حَبلِ الطّاعَةِ، وثَلَمتُم حِصنَ اللهِ المَضروبَ عَلیکُم بِأَحکامِ الجاهِلِیَّةِ،... واعلَموا أَنَّکُم صِرتُم بَعدَ الهِجرَةِ أَعراباً وبَعدَ المُوالاةِ أخراباً، ما تَتَعَلَّقونَ مِنَ الإسلامِ إلّا بِإسمِهِ ولا تَعرِفونَ مِنَ الإیمانِ إِلّا رَسمَهُ.Indeed, you have shaken off your hands from the rope of obedience and broken the divine fortress around you by (resorting to) pre-Islamic laws. You should know that you have

1.. Ibid.

Imam Ali and Political Leadership

فَاحذَرُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ عَدُوَّ اللهِ أن یُعدِیَکُم بِدَائِهِ وأَن یَستَفِزَّکُم بِنِدَائِهِ... .Therefore, O servants of God, beware of Satan infecting you with his disease or leading you astray through his call.1
He then explains that the only way to avoid this destiny is to give up groundless prejudices, factional tendencies, and vindictiveness rooted in the age of ignorance, and seeking undeserved superiority:
فَأَطفِئُوا مَا کَمَنَ في قُلوبِکُم مِن نیرانِ العَصَبِیَّةٍ وأَحقَادِ الجَاهِلِیَّةِ فَإنَّما تِلکَ الحَمِیَّةُ تَکونُ في المُسلِمِ مِن خَطَراتِ الشَّیطَانِ ونَخَواتِهِ ونَزَغاتِهِ ونَفَثاتِهِ، واعتَمِدوا وَضعَ التَّذَلُّلِ عَلی رُؤُوسِکُم وإلقاءِ التَّعَزُّزِ تَحتَ أقدامِکُم وخَلعَ التَـکَبُّرِ مِن أعنَاقِکُم... .Extinguish what is hidden in your hearts of the fires of prejudice and the grudges of the age of ignorance, as this vanity and self- conceit can only exist in a Muslim by the (astute) machinations of Satan, his haughtiness, mischief and whisperings. Practice humbleness, to trample self-pride under your feet and to cast off vanity from your necks.2

Warning the Masses

When eminent figures of the community, the political and cultural manipulators, and those of ethnic, and ideological reputation get involved in prejudiced clashes, they make use of means such as enflaming disturbances within the people and the communities and thus lead the society into the fire of disunity.
As well, in his sermon, Imām Ali (a.s.) insistently enjoins the people to refuse obeying their dignitaries and elite, in case they would not give up their arrogance and persist on their haughtiness arrogance and sedition. They should not follow their illegitimate objectives and should be heedful of the fact that all seditions, corruptions and abnormalities are rooted in their positions:

1.. Ibid.

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