Examples of Imam Ali’s Moral Virtues

Carrying a Heavy Load
Imam Ali (A.S.) bought dates from the mart of Kufah putting them in a corner of his cloak. People rushed to him to carry the dates, but he refused, saying, “One who has a wife and children is more deserving of carrying them.”34
Bare-Food on Five Occasions
Zayd ibn Ali reports: Ali (A.S.) would walk bare-footed holding his sandals in his left hand on five occasions: Feast of fast-breaking (Eid al-Fitr), Feast of Sacrifices (Eid al-Adha), Fridays, on visiting the sick, and during funeral service. He would say, “These five occasions are the places of Allah and I would like to be bare-footed therein.”35
Moral Behavior in the Market
Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) would always walk by himself in the market, showing the way to those who had lost their way, helping those who were incapable, reciting the following Quranic verse to the shop-keepers while passing by them,
As for that future abode, We assign it to those who have no desire to exalt themselves in the earth nor to make mischief and the good end is for those who guard against evil. (28:83)
Those on Foot Not To Follow Riders
Imam al-Sadiq (A.S.) has reported: Amir al-Muminin(A.S.), once, was riding when his companions started following him on foot out of respect. At this moment, he turned to them saying, “Are you in need of something?” They said, “We would like to accompany you.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “Go back, for walking or running on foot along with a rider will be a cause of corruption for the rider and a cause of humiliation for those on foot.”36
A Jew Becomes Muslim
During Imam Ali’s caliphate, Shurayh was the judge. The Imam (A.S.) came to the court with a Jew so that Shurayh will judge between them. The Imam (A.S.) said, “The cuirass which is in your hand is mine, for I have neither sold it nor have I given it as a present.” The Jew said, “The cuirass is mine and now it is in my hands.” Shurayh asked the Imam (A.S.) to present a witness. Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Qanbar (his servant) and Husayn (A.S.) testify that the cuirass is mine.” Shurayh said that the ‘sons’ testimonies for their fathers are not valid nor are those of servants, for they will witness in their favor. Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Woe to you, Shurayh! You have certainly made several mistakes. Firstly, I am your leader and you obey Allah because you obey me and you know that what I say is not false. Secondly, you claimed that Qanbar and Husayn have witnessed in my favor. The punishment for this is to judge among the Jew for three days.”
The Imam (A.S.) sent the judge to a Jewish neighborhood to judge among them and then to come back to his place of work. When the Jew heard that although Ali (A.S.) had two witnesses but did not misuse his authority and the judge too passed a judgment against him, said, “This is truly the Leader of the believers.” Hence he became Muslim; he confessed that the cuirass belonged to Imam Ali (A.S.), it had fallen off the Imam’s black and white camel during the Battle of Siffin and he had taken it for himself.37
Justice in the Court
Once, a complaint was lodged by a plaintiff before Umar ibn al-Khattab – the Caliph in those days. Both parties of litigation had to appear before the court and lay their complaints. The one against whom the complaint was lodged was Imam Ali (a.s). Convoking both parties, Umar went and sat down on the seat of judgment.
According to the Islamic law, both parties ought to station next to each other and the principle of equality before the Tribunal should be respected. Accordingly, the Caliph called out the plaintiff by name and beckoned him to stand up in a peculiar place before the judge. Then he turned to Ali (A.S.) and said, “O Abul-Hasan! Place yourself next to your plaintiff.”On hearing these words, Ali (A.S.) became apparently angry.
The caliph said, “O Ali (A.S.), do you not want to stand next to your adversary?” Ali (A.S.) said, “No, that is not the reason for my anger; the reason is that you have not entirely respected the norms of justice, for you called me respectfully by my nickname Abul-Hasan but you called the other person by his ordinary name.” Umar hugged the Imam (A.S.) and kissed him between the eyes saying, “May my father be your ransom! Allah guided us with your mediation and brought us out of darkness into light through you.”38
Contentment
After the Battle of the Camel, when Amir al-Muminin was about to leave Basrah for Kufah, he said, “O people of Basrah! Why are you displeased with me?” Referring to his shirt and cloak, the Imam said, “By Allah, I paid the price of this shirt and cloak through spinning. So why are you trying to find fault with me?” Referring to the purse, which he held in his hand, the Imam said, “By Allah! The money in this purse is from selling what I have produced in Medina. If there is anything with me more than this, I will be a traitor.”39
Generosity
Being a child, some children of my age and I went to Rahbah one day. We saw Ali (a.s.) standing beside a pile of gold and silver coins, pushing the people backward from falling onto it. He, then, distributed the coins among them and took nothing home!
When I returned home, I said to my father, “Today I have seen the wisest and the most unwise person in my life.” My father asked, “Who is he?” I said, “He is Amir al-Muminin (A.S.)…” As I told him the whole story, my father said, “O son! You have seen the best man.”40
No Desire For Wealth
Qanbar, Imam Ali’s servant, asked his master to go to a room where he had hidden bags full of gold (dinar) and silver (dirham) vessels. The Imam (A.S.) asked, “What are these?” Qanbar said, “You always divide every thing among the people but I have reserved all these for you.” Imam Ali (a.s.) asked,“Would you like me to bring fire into my house?” He was angry, drew his sword and broke those vessels into pieces ordering him to divide them among the people. He further said, “O Gold and silver! Deceive anyone but me.”41
Justice
Fudhayl ibn al-Ja’d reports: The main reason that the Arabs did not support Imam Ali (A.S.) was the wealth. He never preferred an Arab to a non-Arab or an aristocrat to an ordinary man. He never made compromises with the chiefs of tribes or with the kings. This is why people abandoned Ali (A.S.) and joined Muawiyah.
Ali (a.s.) complained to Malik Ashtar about his companions, failure to support him and the fleeing of some of them to Muawiyah. Malik Ashtar too would say, “O Amir al-Muminin(A.S.)! Some people cannot tolerate your justice, for they are the people of the world! May Allah pave the way for your justice, oppress your enemies, disperse them, foil their plan and break their unity against you: Surely He is aware of what they do.”
In response, Ali (a.s.) said, “As for our just acts, Allah says:
Whoever does good, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is against it; and your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants. (41: 46)
As for your opinion that justice is hard for them hence they abandoned us, Allah knows that they did not leave us for any injustice. They left us for worldly riches, which they will leave anyway and on the Judgment Day. They will be questioned whether they fought for the world or Allah! As for saying that we do not give to them from the public fund, we cannot give them more than what they deserve. Allah says:
How often has a small party vanquished numerous hosts by Allah’s permission, and Allah is with the patient. (2:249).
Allah had commissioned Muhammad (SAWA) as a prophet with a small number of people around him but they increased in number and He honored them while they had been humiliated. If Allah wills, He will support us to remove our problems and sorrows. I approve of your union, which pleases Allah. You are the most benevolent and trustworthy of them with me, Allah willing.”42
Public Fund
One night Imam Ali (a.s.) entered the house of public fund for apportioning the funds. At this time, Talhah and Zubayr came to him. The Imam (A.S.) put out the torch before him and ordered to bring another torch from his house. They asked the reason. The Imam (A.S.) said, “The oil in that torch belonged to the public fund and it was not right to speak to you under its light.”43
Old Garment
Harun ibn Antarah reports while quoting his father: I went to the presence of Ali (A.S.) at Khawarnaq. He was wearing a coarse old garment shivering from cold. I said, “O Amir al-Muminin(A.S.)! You and Ahl al-Bayt (AS), like others, have a share in the public fund. So why aren’t you using your share?” The Imam(A.S.) said, “By Allah, I do not take anything from the public fund. The garment I am wearing is the same I brought from Medina and I have no garment other than this.”44
No Love of Wealth
Aqil ibn Abd al-Rahman reports: My aunt, wife of Aqil ibn Abi-Talib, came to see Ali (A.S.)in Kufah while he was sitting on a packsaddle. At this time, a wife of Ali (A.S.), from Banu-Tamim, entered. I said, “Woe to you! Your house is full of goods and here Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) is sitting on a packsaddle!” She said, “Do not blame me! By Allah! He put everything which is unfamiliar to him in the public fund.”45

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