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Imam Ali and Political Leadership

battlefield, and now I am over sixty, but, he who is not obeyed does not have command of the situation.1
In his military training of the troops, Imām Ali (a.s.) was not negligent of even the smallest details, such as: the troops should not part from their weapons, should use the right chance to launch attacks on the enemy, and should not stare into the enemy’s eyes, the multitude of the enemy forces should not cast fear in their hearts, and that they should know what must be done at the time of defeat and how to withdraw tactically once defeated in war, and so on.

2. Formation of Special Forces

The forces may vary in their morale, level of knowledge and the extent of ability and self-sacrifice, even though they are on one single battleground and with a shared intention. Scenes of confrontation also vary, with each scene demanding appropriate and competent fighters and warriors. Thus, one of the most outstanding features in Imām Ali’s (a.s.) military policies is the formation of ‘special troops’ which Imām called the Forces of Thursday (shurtah al-khamis).2
Imām Ali’s (a.s.) most efficient, self-sacrificing and most accomplished warriors were recruited for the special forces. This unit was astonishingly competent, and the Imām employed them for special purposes and for specific battlefields. He (a.s.) addressed them in a sermon as follows:
أنتُمُ الأَنصارُ عَلَى الحَقِّ، وَ الإخوانُ فِي الدِّينِ، وَالجُنَنُ يَومَ البَأسِ، وَالبِطانَةُ دونَ النّاسِ، بِكُم أضرِبُ المُدبِرَ، و أَرجو طاعَةَ المُقبِلِ، فَأَعينوني بِمُناصَحَةٍ خَلِيَّةٍ مِنَ الغَشِّ، سَليمَةٍ مِنَ الرَّيبِ فَوَاللهِ إنّي لَأَولَى النّاسِ بِالنّاسِ.You are the helpers of the Truth, brothers in faith, the shields on the day of tribulations and hardships of the time, and my confidants rather than other people. With your help, I will beat those who turn their back, and I look forward to the obedience of the supporters. So, help me with benevolence

1.. Nahj al-Balāghah, Sermon ۲۷. Also, see The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu'minin, vol.۷

2.. See ۹/۲, [Forming of Special Forces].


Imam Ali and Political Leadership
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Seven: Military Policies

Imām Ali (a.s.) was a gallant and courageous warrior. His challenges in battlefields and his superiority in combats are historically well-known. Furthermore, he was a keen sighted, sagacious and prudent army general.
It is very regretful that Imām Ali’s (a.s.) rule, as short as it was, was mostly spent in internal battles against the conspirators. However, his code of conduct in these battles was full of doctrines in warfare, truly instructive, with many dignified acts worthy of him. Imām Ali’s (a.s.) policies in warfare can be summed as follows:

1. The Importance of Military Training and Arrangement of Troops

We previously said that Imām Ali (a.s.) was the most gallant warrior in the battlefield. Having spent a whole lifetime in the battlefields, he doubtlessly possessed the most efficient and the highest of relevant experiences. Furthermore, he was matchless in his courage and gallantry, and also his knowledge of various tactics of warfare. Imām personally trained his troops and prior to any battle he would reiterate the major points of his training while arranging the troops and arraying the combatants. When the ambushes by Mu`āwiya mounted up and the opponents accused him of lacking knowledge in war tactics, Imām said the following while complaining towards some of his companions:
وأفسَدتُم عَلَيَّ رَأيي بِالعِصيانِ وَالخِذلانِ حَتّى لَقَد قالَت قُرَيشٌ إنَّ ابنَ أبي طالِب رَجُلٌ شُجاعٌ ولكِن لاعِلمَ لَهُ بِالحَربِ. للهِِ أبوهُم! وهَل أحَدٌ مِنهُم أشَدُّ لَها مِراساً وأقدَمُ فيها مَقاماً مِنّي؟ لَقَد نَهَضتُ فيها وما بَلَغتُ العِشرينَ ، وها أنَا ذا قَد ذَرَّفتُ عَلَى السِّتّينَ. ولكِن لا رَأيَ لِمَن لايُطاعُ.“Through disobedience and disappointment, you ruined my opinion to the extent that the Quraysh say that the son of Abi Tālib is brave but lacks knowledge of war. How strange it is! Which one of them has been in battlefields more than I have been and experienced fighting and the battlegrounds more than I did? I was still in my teens when I entered the

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