Imam Ali (A.S.) Intervenes
Imam Ali (a.s.) was once passing by date sellers when he saw a slave-girl crying. He asked the reason, and she said, “My master sent me with one dirham to buy dates. I bought the dates from this man and took them home. But my master did not like them. I have returned them but this man refuses to take them back.” Addressing the date seller, Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “O servant of Allah! This is a slave-girl having no authority of herself. Give back her one dirham and take back the dates.”
The date seller rose up and showed him a fist. People said, “What have you done? This is Amir al-Muminin (A.S.).
” The man turned pale and started to gasp out of fear. He took back the dates and returned the one dirham to her. He then said, “O Amir al- Muminin (A.S.)! Be pleased with me.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “The fact that you have amended your conduct has satisfied me. I am pleased only to see that you have given people their due right.”29
A Beautiful Pardon
Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) had sent an agent to arrest Labid ibn Utarad al-Tamimi for having uttered certain indecent words. The agent passed by the alley of Banu- Asad where Nuaym ibn Dajajah al-Asadi captured Labid. When he was arrested, the Imam (A.S.) ordered a physical punishment. Nuaym said, “By Allah, to be with you is humiliation and separation from you is atheism!” The Imam (A.S.) said, “I pardon you. Allah says:
“Repel evil by what is best (23:96)”.
As for your saying, ‘to be with you is humiliation’ it is something bad you have acquired; and as for ‘separation from you is atheism’ it is something good you have acquired. So tit for tat.”30
Another Example of Pardon
Amir al-Muminin (a.s.) once entered Mecca for some affairs. He saw a Bedouin clutching the curtain of Kabah and saying, “O Lord of the House! The House is Yours and the guest is Yours. Every host prepares certain means to receive his guest. Tonight, bless me by receiving me.” Addressing his friends, Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Are you not listening to this Bedouin?” They said, “Yes, we are.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “Allah is too Great to return His guest empty-handed!”
On the second night, Imam Ali (A.S.) found the same man clutching the same pillar of Kabah saying, “O Almighty! There is no one mightier than You! By Your Honor! Honor me in a way no one knows how! I resort to you by the honor of Muhammad (SAWA) and the Family of Muhammad (A.S.)! Grant me something no one but You can grant and avert from me what none but You can avert!”
Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) said to his friends, “By Allah! These words are the chief name of Allah in Syriac. My beloved, Allah’s Messenger, has informed me that tonight this Arab has asked for Paradise from Allah and his prayer was granted and asked for the aversion of Hellfire, which was granted too!”
On the third night, Imam Ali (a.s) again saw him in the same place saying, “O Allah Who is not contained in a space and no space is devoid of Him! Give this Arab four thousand Dirhams as sustenance!” Imam Ali (A.S.) went forth saying, “O Arab! You asked Allah to host you, and He did; you wished Paradise; and it was granted to you; you asked for aversion of fire; and your prayer was granted; tonight, you are asking for four thousand dirhams?” The Arab said, “Who are you?” The Imam (A.S.) said, “I am Ali ibn Abu-Talib (A.S.).” The Arab said, “By Allah! You are the one I desire and you can meet my need!” The Imam (A.S.)said, “O Bedouin! Ask for it.” The man said, “A thousand dirhams for dowry; a thousand for paying my debt; a thousand for purchasing a house; and a thousand for running the affairs of my life!” The Imam (A.S.) said, “You have been fair in asking for your needs. Whenever you left Mecca for Medina, ask for my house.”
The Arab stayed in Mecca for a week and then came to Medina looking for Amir al- Muminin(A.S.), shouting, “Who will lead me to the house of the Leader of the believers?” Husayn (A.S.) ibn Ali (A.S.) who was then a child said, “I will lead you to his house. I am his son.” The Arab asked, “Who is your father?” Husayn(A.S.) said, “Amir al-Muminin, Ali ibn Abi-Talib(A.S.) is my father.” He asked, “Who is your mother?” Husayn(A.S.) said, “Fatimah al-Zahra (SA), the doyenne of the women of the world is my mother.” He asked,“Who is your grandfather?” Husayn(A.S.) said, “Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (SAWA) ibn Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib is my grandfather.” He asked, “Who is your grandmother?” Husayn said: “Khadijah (SA) daughter of Khuwaylid is my grandmother.” He asked, “Who is your brother?” Husayn said, “Abu- Muhammad, Hasan(A.S.) ibn Ali(A.S.), is my brother.” the Bedouin said, “You have got the whole world! Go to Amir al-Mu’minin(A.S.) and tell him that the Bedouin whose needs you had guaranteed to meet in Mecca is beside your house.”
Husayn(A.S.) entered the house saying, “O father! The Bedouin whose needs you have guaranteed to meet is at the door.” Addressing Fatimah(A.S.), Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Is there any food at home for this Bedouin?” Fatimah(A.S.) said, “No.” Hearing this, Imam Ali (A.S.)put on his clothes and went outside home saying, “Call Abu-Abdullah, Salman the Persian.” When Salman came, the Imam (A.S.) said, “O Abu-Abdullah! Put to sale the orchard whose trees the Holy Prophet (SAWA) planted!” Salman too sold the orchard for twelve thousand Dirhams. Imam Ali (A.S.) took the money and called for the Bedouin. Four thousand dirhams were given to him to meet his needs and forty dirhams for his expenses.
The news spread among the needy and poor in Medina. They too came to Imam Ali (A.S.). A man from the Ansar went to Fatimah’s house and informed her of the event. Fatimah (SA) said, “May Allah reward you for this news.” Ali (A.S.) was sitting there giving away handfuls of Dirhams to the needy so much so that there was nothing left for him.”31
After the Battle of the Camel, Musa ibn Talhah was brought to Imam Ali (A.S.) who said, “Say three times: I seek forgiveness of Allah and I repent to Him.” Then he was set free. Addressing him, Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Go wherever you wish and take for yourself whatever you find of horses and weapons in the camp. But fear Allah in your future life and stay at home.”32
Helping the Orphans
Although Amir al-Muminin(A.S.) was aware of the situation in the realm of Muslims and paid special attention to the situation of the orphans, widows and the needy, he would sometimes act like an ordinary person to give lesson to rulers and to the community.
One day, he saw a woman carrying a water-skin on her back. He took the water-skin from her and placed it on his back. When he inquired about her situation, she said, “Ali ibn Abu-Talib (A.S.) sent my husband to the battle where he was killed. Now I am alone with my children and I have to work for others to make the ends meet.” Imam Ali (A.S.) returned home but had no peace of mind during the whole night. In the morning, he took a basket, put some meat, flour and dates in it and set out for the woman’s house. Some friends suggested carrying the basket but the Imam (A.S.) said, “Who will carry the heavy load for me on the Judgment Day?” Reaching the woman’s house, he knocked at the door.
“Who are you?”
“I am the man who brought the water-skin for you. Now I have brought some food for the children.”
“May Allah bless you and judge between us and Ali (A.S.).”
She opened the door. Entering the house, he said, “I wish to do some good acts. Allow me either to knead the flour and bake it or to look after the children.” The woman said, “I will knead the flour.”
Imam Ali (A.S.) too cooked the meat and fed the children with his own hand saying to each child while putting morsel in his mouth, “My son, forgive Ali (A.S.) if he has failed in his duty towards you.” When the bread was ready, the woman said, “O servant of Allah! Put fire in the oven.” He did. When flames rose up, he brought his face near the fire and said, “Taste the heat of fire. It is the punishment for those who fail in their duty towards orphans and widows.”
By chance, a woman from the neighboring house came in. Recognizing him, she cried at the woman, “Woe to you, don’t you recognize the man who is helping you? He is Amir al-Muminin (A.S.)!” The widow came forward and shamefacedly cried, “Curse and shame to me. I beg your pardon.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “No, I beg your pardon, for I failed in my duty towards you.”33