Chapter Five: Economical Policies

Encyclopedia of Imam Ali (AS), written by Muhammad Muhammadi Rayshahri, abridged by Mahdi Gholamali, translated by Zaid Alsalami and Safyullah Khan, edited by Hamid Reza Salarkia and published by NORPUB.

221. الإمام عليّ عليه السلام :

221. Imam Ali (AS) said:

إنَّ الأَشياءَ لَمَّا ازدَوَجَتِ ازدَوَجَ الكَسَلُ وَالعَجزُ ،

“When things were paired, laziness and incompetence were paired,

فَنُتِجا  بَينَهُما الفَقرَ .

and poverty was produced from them.”

الكافي : ج 5 ص 86 ح 8 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 86, h. 8.

222. عنه عليه السلام :

222. Imam Ali (AS) said:

ما غُدوَةُ أحَدِكُم في سَبيلِ اللّهِ بِأَعظَمَ مِن غُدوَتِهِ يَطلُبُ لِوُلدِهِ وعِيالِهِ ما يُصلِحُهُم.

 “No early rising of any of you for the sake of Allah is greater than the early rising of one who seeks to earn what is most appropriate for his children and family.”

السرائر : ج 2 ص 228 .

Al-Sara’ir, vol. 2, p. 228.

223. شرح نهج البلاغةـ في ذِكرِ صَدَقاتِ أميرِ المُؤمِنينَ عليه السلام ـ:

223. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, in mentioning the charities of the Commander of the faithful (AS):

كانَ يَعمَلُ بِيَدِهِ ،

“He would work with his own hands,

ويَحرُثُ الأَرضَ، ويَستَقِي الماءَ،

cultivate the land irrigate,

ويَغرِسُ النَّخلَ،

plant date palms, and would do

كُلُّ ذلِكَ يُباشِرُهُ بِنَفسِهِ الشَّريفَةِ .

all that himself.”

شرح نهج البلاغة : ج15 ص147 .

SharhNahj al-Balagha, vol. 15, p. 147.

224. الإمام عليّ عليه السلامـ مِمّا كَتَبَهُ إلى قَرَظَةَ بنِ كَعبٍ الأَنصارِيِّ ـ:

224. Imam Ali (AS) said, in his letter to Qarada ibn Ka`b al-Ansari:

أمّا بَعدُ ،

“After this [praising of Allah and His Prophet (SA)],

فَإِنَّ رِجالاً مِن أهلِ الذِّمَّةِ مِن عَمَلِكَ

Indeed, some men from among the protected people (Ahl al-Dhimma) in your area [Editor's note: Ahl al-Dhimma are the free non-Muslim subjects living in Muslim countries who, in return for paying jizya (tribute) enjoy protection and safety.]

ذَكَروا نَهرا في أرضِهِم قَد عَفا وَادُّفِنَ ،

have reported that a river in their land has been destroyed and submerged.

وفيهِ لَهُم عِمارَةٌ عَلَى المُسلِمينَ ،

They have the rights over the Muslims to engender prosperity for them.

فَانظُر أنتَ وهُم ،

See into this matter along with them,

ثُمَّ اعمُر وأصلِحِ النَّهرَ ؛

then repair and improve the river.

فَلَعَمري لَأَن يَعمُروا أحَبُّ إلَينا

By my life, ringing prosperity is more pleasant for us

مِن أن يَخرُجوا وأن يَعجِزوا

than their leaving or undergoing poverty

أو يُقَصِّروا في واجِبٍ مِن صَلاحِ البِلادِ .

or falling short of that which sets right the cities.

وَالسَّلامُ .


تاريخ اليعقوبي : ج2 ص203 .

Tarikh al-Ya`qubi, vol. 2, p. 203.

225. الإمام عليّ عليه السلام :

225. Imam Ali (AS) said:

إنَّ مَعايِشَ الخَلقِ خَمسَةٌ :

“People’s lives are based on five things:

الإِمارَةُ ، وَالعِمارَةُ ، وَالتِّجارَةُ ، وَالإِجارَةُ ، وَالصَّدَقاتُ . . .

“Verily, there are five ways of [earning] livelihood for people: rulership, developing, trading, leases and taxes…

وأمّا وَجهُ العِمارَةِ

Concerning development,

فَقَولُهُ تَعالى :  «هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ وَ اسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا» ، هود : 61 .

God Almighty says: ‘‘He brought you forth from the earth and made it your inhabitation [to develop it].” Qur’an, 11:61.

فَأَعلَمَنا سُبحانَهُ أنَّهُ قَد أمَرَهُم بِالعِمارَةِ ؛

It is implied here that God the Exalted has commanded his servants to construct the earth

لَيَكونَ ذلِكَ سَبَبا لِمَعايِشِهِم بِما يَخرُجُ مِنَ الأَرضِ ؛

so that it will be a means for their livelihood through what grows from it

مِنَ الحَبِّ ، وَالثَّمَراتِ ، وما شاكَلَ ذلِكَ ،

such as grain, fruits and other things

مِمّا جَعَلَهُ اللّهُ مَعايِشَ لِلخَلقِ .

which God has made as provision for people.”

وسائل الشيعة : ج13 ص195 ح10 .

Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 13, p. 195, h. 10.

226. الإمام عليّ عليه السلام :

226. Imam Ali (AS) said:

حِرفَةُ المَرءِ كَنزٌ .

 “A person’s profession is a treasure.”

المواعظ العدديّة : ص 55 .

Al-Mawa`id al-`Adadiyah, p. 55.

227. عنه عليه السلام :

227. Imam Ali (AS) said:

إنَّ اللّهَ عَزَّ وجَلَّ يُحِبُّ المُحتَرِفَ الأَمينَ .

 “Allah loves one who has a profession and is trustworthy.”

الكافي : ج5 ص113 ح 1 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 113, h. 1.

228. الإمام عليّ عليه السلام :

228. Imam Ali (AS) said:

تَعَرَّضوا لِلتِّجارَةِ ؛

“Practise trade,

فَإِنَّ فيها غِنىً لَكُم عَمّا في أيدِي النّاسِ .

since it makes you self-sufficient and independent of what is in the hands of people [in what they own].”

الكافي : ج5 ص149 ح9 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 149, h. 9.

229. عنه عليه السلامـ لِلمَوالي ـ:

229. Imam Ali (AS) said, to the retainers:

اِتَّجِروا ، بارَكَ اللّهُ لَكُم ؛ فَإِنّي قَد سَمِعتُ رَسولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه و آله يَقولُ :

“Practise trade, and Allah will give blessings to you, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (SA) say:

الرِّزقُ عَشَرَةُ أجزاءٍ ؛ تِسعَةُ أجزاءٍ فِي التِّجارَةِ ، وَواحِدَةٌ في غَيرِها .

 “Sustenance contains ten parts; nine parts are in trade and one is in other occupations.”

الكافي : ج5 ص319 ح59 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 319, h. 59.

230. دعائم الإسلام :

230. Da`a’im al-Islam:

إنَّهُ ]عَليّا عليه السلام [ كانَ يَمشي فِي الأَسواقِ ،

“He [Ali (AS)] would walk in the markets

وبِيَدِهِ دِرَّةٌ

holding a whip in his hand,

يَضرِبُ بِها مَن وَجَدَ مِن مُطَفِّفٍ أو غاشٍّ في تِجارَةِ المُسلِمينَ .

with which he would punish the defrauders who used short measures and the cheaters in trading with other Muslims.

 قالَ الأَصبَغُ : قُلتُ لَهُ يَوما

Al-Asbagh said: “One day I said to him:

أنَا أكفيكَ هذا يا أميرَ المُؤمِنينَ ، وَاجلِس في بَيتِكَ !

 “O Commander of the Faithful, I will undertake this duty, you can sit in your house.”

قالَ : ما نَصَحتَني يا أصبَغُ .

He (AS) said: “O Asbagh [by saying this] You do not wish good for me.”

دعائم الإسلام : ج2 ص538 ح1913 .

Da`a’im al-Islam, vol. 2, p. 538, h. 1913.

231. ربيع الأبرار :

231. Rabi` al-Abrar:

كانَ عَلِيٌّ عليه السلام يَمُرُّ فِي السّوقِ عَلَى الباعَةِ ،

“Ali (AS) would walk in the market among the sellers

فَيَقولُ لَهُم :

and say to them:

أحسِنوا ، أرخِصوا بَيعَكُم عَلَى المُسلِمينَ ؛

“Do good and sell goods to the Muslims at cheap prices,

فإِنَّهُ أعظَمُ لِلبَرَكَةِ .

for it increases the blessings.”

ربيع الأبرار : ج4 ص154 .

Rabi` al-Abrar, vol. 4, p. 154.

232. الإمام عليّ عليه السلامـ مِن كِتابِهِ إلى رِفاعَةَ ـ:

232. Imam Ali (AS) said, in his letter to Rifa`ah:

اِنهَ عَنِ الحُكرَةِ ،

“Forbid the act of hoarding,

فَمَن رَكِبَ النَّهيَ فَأَوجِعهُ ،

and discipline whoever commits it,

ثُمَّ عاقِبهُ بِإِظهارِ مَا احتَكَرَ .

and then punish him by revealing what he had hoarded.”

دعائم الإسلام : ج2 ص36 ح80 .

Da`a’im al-Islam, vol. 2, p. 36, h. 80.

233. الكافي عن مهاجر عَن رَجُلٍ مِن ثَقيفٍ :

233. al-Kafi, narrating from al-Muhajir, from a man from the Thaqif tribe who, said:

اِستَعمَلَني عَلِيُّ بنُ أبي طالِبٍ عليه السلام عَلى بانِقيا وسَوادٍ مِن سَوادِ الكوفَةِ ، فَقالَ لي ـ وَالنّاسُ حُضورٌ ـ :

“ `Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) appointed me as tax collector in the region of Banqiya and a village in Kufa and told me in the presence of the people,

اُنظُر خَراجَكَ فَجُدَّ فيهِ ،

‘See into the (land) taxes and make attempts in (collecting) them.

ولا تَترُك مِنهُ دِرهَما ،

Do not neglect even a single dirham,

فَإِذا أرَدتَ أن تَتَوَجَّهَ إلى عَمَلِكَ فَمُرَّ بي .

and whenever you want to go there come to me (first).’”

 قالَ : فَأَتَيتُهُ ، فَقالَ لي :

[He said,] “I went to him and he told me: ‘

إنَّ الَّذي سَمِعتَ مِنّي خُدعَةٌ ،

Indeed, what you heard from me was a kind of plan and tactic.

إيّاكَ أن تَضرِبَ مُسلِما أو يَهودِيّا أو نَصرانِيّا في دِرهَمِ خَراجٍ ،

Never beat a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian for a dirham of tax;

أو تَبيعَ دَابَّةَ عَمَلٍ في دِرهَمٍ ،

or sell an animal used by people for [levying] taxes,

فَإِنَّما اُمِرنا أن نَأخُذَ مِنهُمْ العَفوَ .

because we are ordered to take from them the extras [to their income].”

الكافي : ج3 ص540 ح8 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 3, p. 540, h. 8.

234. الكافي عن أبي مِخنَف :

234. Al-Kafi, narrating from Abi Mikhnaf, who said:

أتى أميرَ المُؤمِنينَ ـ صَلَواتُ اللّهِ عَلَيهِ ـ رَهطٌ مِنَ الشَّيعَةِ ، فَقالوا :

“A group of the Shi'ites came to 'Ali (AS) and said:

يا أميرَ المُؤمِنينَ ،

‘O Commander of the Faithful!

لَو أخرَجتَ هذِهِ الأَموالَ فَفَرَّقتَها في هؤُلاءِ الرُّؤَساءِ وَالأَشرافِ ،

Why don’t you distribute these assets among the dignitaries and chiefs

وفَضَّلتَهُم عَلَينا ،

and give them priority to us

حَتّى إذَا استَوسَقَتِ الاُمورُ

so that things can settle down?

عُدتَ إلى أفضَلِ ما عَوَّدَكَ اللّهُ مِنَ القَسمِ بِالسَّوِيَّةِ ، وَالعَدلِ فِي الرَّعِيَّةِ ! !

Then, later you can return to the best of your character that God has bestowed on you, which is making equal distributions and practicing justice among citizens.”

فَقالَ أميرُ المُؤمِنينَ عليه السلام :

The Commander of the Faithful said:

أ تَأمُرونّي ـ وَيحَكُم ـ أن أطلُبَ النَّصرَ بِالظُّلمِ وَالجَورِ

“Woe onto you! You are commanding me to seek support by doing injustice and inequity

فيمَن وُلّيتُ عَلَيهِ مِن أهل الإِسلامِ ! !

to the Muslims over whom I have been chosen as a guardian.

لا وَاللّهِ ، لا يَكونُ ذلِكَ ما سَمَرَ السَّميرُ ،

By God, I will not do that as long as the world remains

وما رَأَيتُ فِي السَّماءِ نَجما ،

and as long as I see stars in the skies.

وَاللّهِ لَو كانَت أموالُهُم مالي لَساوَيتُ بَينَهُم ،

By God, even if it were my wealth, I would distribute it equally among them;

فَكَيفَ وإنَّما هِيَ أموالُهُم ! !

how could it be when the wealth is theirs?”

الكافي : ج4 ص31 ح3 .

Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 31, h. 3.

235.الإمام عليّ عليه السلام :

235. Imam Ali (AS) said:

ما أصبَحَ بِالكوفَةِ أحَدٌ إلّا ناعِما ؛

“There is no one in Kufa who does not have a good welfare.

إنَّ أدناهُم مَنزِلَةً لَيَأكُلُ مِنَ البُرِّ

The lowest among them in rank has wheat bread,

ويَجلِسُ فِي الظِّلِّ ويَشرَبُ مِن ماءِ الفُراتِ .

sits in the shade and drinks from the Euphrates.”

فضائل الصحابة لابن حنبل : ج۱ ص۵۳۱ ح۸۸۳ .

Faza’il al-Sahabah, by Ibn Hanbal, vol. 1, p. 531, h. 883.

236. الإمام عليّ عليه السلام

236. Imam Ali (AS) said:

ـ مِن كِتابِهِ إلى قُثَمِ بنِ العَبّاسِ ـ: وانظُر إلى ما اجتَمَعَ عِندَكَ مِن مالِ اللّهِ

“Look into what has been collected from the wealth of Allah,

فَاصرِفهُ إلى مَن قِبَلَكَ

and then spend it on those around you,

مِن ذَوِي العِيالِ وَالمَجاعَةِ ،

who have families and are hungry,

مُصيبا بِهِ مَواضِعِ الفاقَةِ وَالخَلّاتِ ،

making sure it reaches the poor and the needy.

وما فَضَلَ عَن ذلِكَ

Then send whatever is left,

فاحمِلهُ إلَينا لِنَقسِمَهُ فيمَن قِبَلَنا .

so we can divide it among those who are around us.”

نهج البلاغة : الكتاب ۶۷ .

Nahj al-Balagha, Letter 67.

237. ربيع الأبرار عن أبي الطُّفيل :

237. Rabi` al-Abrar, narrating from Abi al-Tufayl, who said:

رَأَيتُ عَلِيّا ـ كَرَّمَ اللّهُ وَجهَهُ ـ يَدعُو اليَتامَى فَيُطعِمُهُمُ العَسَلَ،

“I saw Ali call the orphans and feed them honey,

حَتّى قالَ بَعضُ أصحابِهِ :

so much so that some of his companions said:

لَوَدِدتُ أنّي كُنتُ يَتيما .

“I wish I were an orphan.”

ربيع الأبرار : ج 2 ص 148 .

Rabi` al-Abrar, vol. 2, p. 148.

238. أنساب الأشراف عن داوودَ بنِ أبي عَوفٍ عَن رَجُلٍ مِن خَثعَمٍ:

238. Ansab al-Ashraf, narrating from Dawud ibn Abi `Awf, from a man from the Khath`am tribe, who said:

رَأَيتُ الحَسَنَ وَالحُسَينَ عليهماالسلاميَأكُلانِ خُبزا وخَلّاً وبَقلاً ،

“I saw Hasan and Husain (AS) eating bread, vinegar and herbs,

فَقُلتُ : أ تَأكُلانِ هذا وفِي الرَّحَبَةِ (والمراد به هنا رحبة بيت المال، رَحَبَة المكان ـ كالمسجد والدار ـ : ساحته ومتّسعه، تاج العروس : ج 2 ص 18 «رحب») ما فيها !

so I asked: “You are eating such food, when there are various kinds of food in the courtyard (al-rahba)! [The Rahbah of a place, like a mosque or a house is its courtyard, and it seems that he is referring to the courtyard where the Muslim Treasury (Zakat, taxes, khums, etc) is stored before it is distributed.]

فَقالا : ما أغفَلَكَ عَن أميرِ المُؤمِنينَ !

They said to him: “How unaware you are of the Commander of the Faithful?”

أنساب الأشراف : ج 2 ص 375 .

Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 2, p. 375.

239. شرح نهج البلاغة عن خالد بن مُعَمَّر السَّدوسيّـ لِعِلباء بنِ الهَيثَمِ ـ:

239. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, narrating from Khalid ibn Mu`ammar al-Sadusi, who said to `Ilba’ ibn al-Haytham [who desired to leave Imam Ali (AS) and join Mu`awiyah]:

ماذا تُؤَمِّلُ عِندَ رَجُلٍ

“What do you expect from a man who,

أرَدتُهُ عَلى أن يَزيدَ في عَطاءِ الحَسَنِ والحُسينِ دُرَيهِماتٍ يَسيرَةً رَيثَما

when I asked to add a few dirhams to the share of Hasan and Husain (AS),

يَرأَبانِ بِها ظَلَفَ عَيشِهِما ،

so that they could make up for the shortage of their lives,

فَأَبى وغَضِبَ فَلَم يَفعَل !

refused, became angry and declined.”

شرح نهج البلاغة : ج10 ص250 .

Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 10, p. 250.

240. الاختصاص :

240. Al-Ikhtisas:

بُعِثَ إلَيهِ ]عَلِيٍّ عليه السلام [ مِنَ البَصرَةِ مِن غَوصِ البَحرِ بِتُحفَةٍ لا يُدرى ما قِيمَتُها ، فَقالَت لَهُ ابنَتُهُ اُمُّ كُلثومٍ :

 “A gift from the sea was brought for 'Ali (AS) from Basra whose price was not known, so his daughter Umm Kulthum said to him:

يا أميرَ المُؤمِنينَ ،

“O Commander of the Faithful!

أتَجَمَّلُ بِهِ ويَكونَ في عُنُقي ؟

Will you give it to me to wear it around my neck as ornament?”

فَقالَ : يا أبا رافِعٍ ،

The Imam said: “O Abu Rafi`!

أدخِلهُ إلى بَيتِ المالِ ؛

Take it to the Treasury!

لَيسَ إلى ذلِكَ سَبيلٌ حَتّى لا تَبقَى امرَأَةٌ مِنَ المُسلِمينَ إلّا ولَها مِثلُ ذلِكَ !

There is no way to that, except when all Muslim women have one like that.”

الاختصاص : ص151 .

Al-Ikhtisas, p. 151.

241. الإمام عليّ عليه السلامـ في كِتابِهِ إلى عُمّالِهِ ـ:

241. Imam Ali (AS) said, in his letter to his governors:

أدِقّوا أقلامَكُم ،

“Sharpen your pens

وقارِبوا بَينَ سُطورِكُم ،

and make the lines closer to each other.

وَاحذِفوا عَنّي فُضولَكُم ،

When writing to me,

وَاقصِدوا قَصدَ المَعاني ،

be brief and precise in your meanings.

وإيّاكُم وَالإِكثارَ ؛

Refrain from writing too much,

فإِنَّ أموالَ المُسلِمينَ لا تَحتَمِلُ الإِضرارُ .

because Muslim Treasury does not bear loss.”

الخصال : ص 310 ح 85 .

Al-Khisal, p. 310, h. 85.

242. مكارم الأخلاق عن عقيل بن عبد الرحمن الخَولانيّ :

242. Makarim al-Akhlaq, narrating from `Aqil ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Khawlani who said:

كانَت عَمَّتي تَحتَ عَقيلِ بنِ أبي طالِبٍ ،

“My aunt was the wife of `Aqil ibn Abi Talib;

فَدَخَلَت عَلى عَلِيٍّ عليه السلام بِالكوفَةِ

she once visited Ali (AS) in Kufah,

وهُوَ جالِسٌ عَلى بَرذَعَةِ حِمارٍ مُبَتَّلَةً ،

while he was sitting on a donkey’s torn-out pack-saddle.

قالَت : فَدَخَلَت عَلى عَلِيٍّ عليه السلام اِمرَأَةٌ لَهُ مِن بَني تَميمٍ

She said: “A wife of Ali (AS), who was from Bani Tamim, came in,

فَقُلتُ لَها :

so I said to her:

وَيحَكِ !

“Woe unto you!

إنَّ بَيتَكِ مُمتَلِئٌ مَتاعا

Your house is full of furniture and goods,

وأميرُ المُؤمِنينَ عليه السلام جالِسٌ عَلى بَرذَعَةِ حِمارٍ مُبَتَّلَةً !

but the Commander of the Faithful sits on a torn packsaddle!”

 فَقالَت :

The woman said:

لا تَلوميني ،

“Do not blame me,

فَوَاللّهِ ما يَرى شَيئا يَنكُرُهُ

for whatever he sees that is not familiar to him,

إلّا أخَذَهُ فَطَرَحَهُ في بَيتِ المالِ .

he takes it away and puts it in the Muslim Treasury.”

مكارم الأخلاق : ج1 ص286 ح894 .

Makarim al-Akhlaq, vol. 1, p. 286, h. 894.