Imam Ali and Political Leadership

Imām Ali’s (a.s.) Predictions Coming True

Finally, Imām (a.s.) departed people while having been unjustly treated by them and complaining about them:
إن کانَتِ الرَّعایا قَبلِي لَتـَشکُو حَیفَ رُعاتِها وإنَّني الیَومَ لَأَشکُو حَیفَ رَعِیَّتي.People before me used to complain of the oppression of their rulers but now I have to complain of the wrongful actions of my subjects….1
He had told people that their wrongdoing towards the just leader would be as dangerous to the community as the wrongdoing of an oppressive leader, and a community that does not observe the rights of a just leader and refuses obedience, solidarity and empathy to him –who is most deservedly entitled to such rights– will be entangled in commotion and burn in the fire of decline:
... وإذا غَلَبَتِ الرَّعِیَّةُ والِیَها أوأَجحَفَ الوَالِي بِرَعِیَّتهِ اختَلَفَتْ هُنالِکَ الکَلِمَةُ وظَهَرَت مَعالِمُ الجَورِ وکَثُرَ الإدغالُ في الدّینِ، وتُرِکَت مَحاجُّ السُّنَنِ فَعُمِلَ بِالهَوَی وعُطِّلَتِ الأَحکامُ وکَثُرَت عِلَلُ النُّفوسِ. فَلا یُستَوحَشُ لِعَظیمِ حَقٍّ عُطِّلَ ولا لِعَظیمِ باطِلٍ فُعِلَ فَهُنالِکَ تَذِلُّ الأَبرارُ وتَعِزُّ الأَشرارُ وتَعظُمُ تَبِعاتُ اللهِ سُبحانَهُ عِندَ العِبادِ.And if the subjects come to dominate over the ruler, or the ruler oppresses the subjects, differences will arise among them, signs of oppression will appear, mischief will enter religion and the tradition will be forgotten. Then desires are acted upon, the religious commands are discarded, diseases of the spirit become numerous, great rights will remain idle, falsehood will be practiced. In such circumstances, the virtuous are humiliated, the wicked are honored and the chastisements of God Almighty towards people will be severe.2
Thirty four years after the martyrdom of Imām Ali (a.s.), his prediction about the Kufans came true. In the caliphate of `Abdul Malik ibn Marwān, a group of Khārijites called “Azāriqa” rose up in

1.. See: The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu'minin, vol. ۹, p. ۴۷۴, h. ۴۷۴۷, ۴۷۴۸ (Nahj al-Balāghah, Aphorism ۲۶۱).

2.. See ۶/۲, h. ۳۰۵.

Imam Ali and Political Leadership

Imām (a.s.) believed that problems of a government could be temporarily solved by violence, but such sovereignty and rule would no longer be that of Imām Ali’s (a.s.). He has frequently stated this fact as follows:
یا أهلَ الکوفَةِ! أتَرَونّي لا أعلَمُ ما یُصلِحُکُم، بَلی، ولَکِنّی أکرَهُ أن اُصلِحُکُم بِفَسادِ نَفسی.O People of Kufa! Do you think I do not know what can rectify you? Yes indeed. But I do not like to rectify you by corrupting myself.1
And then he said:
ولَقَد عَلِمتُ أنَّ الَّذي یُصلِحُکُم هُوَ السَّیفُ، وما کُنتُ مُتَحَرِّیاً صَلاحَکُم بِفَسادِ نَفسي ولکِن سَیُسَلَّطُ عَلَیکُم مِن بَعدي سُلطانٌ صَعبُ.I know that what rectifies you is the sword, but I do not seek to rectify you by corrupting myself. After me, however, a tough authority will dominate over you.2
Imām Ali (a.s.) asserted that he knew how to confront people and subjugate them by means of violence and sword and was able to straighten their crookedness with a sword and to force the rebels to obedience, but he refused to do so. He said: “Correcting you by resorting to violence would cost a price, (i.e., ruining the moral values) and I am not willing to pay such a price. This would neither be compatible with my disposition nor with my philosophy of governing. But you should know that after me a hard time will be awaiting you. With such manners and acts, you pave the way for the rule of those who would not have mercy on you and would not talk to you except by the language of the sword:
لا یَصلُحُ لَکُم یا أهلَ العِراقِ إلّا مَن أخزاکُم وأخزاهُ اللهُ... .You will not be rectified (O people of Iraq!) except by he who shall humiliate you, and God will humiliate him too.”3

1.. See ۸/۹, h. ۴۴۷.

2.. See ۸/۱۰, h. ۴۴۹.

3.. Rabi` al-Abrār, vol. ۴, p. ۲۵۰

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