Giving Clothes to the Naked
One day when Imam Ali (a.s.) was in the presence of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), he was found wearing a worn-out garment. So Allah’s Messenger said, “What happened to the good garment I gave you?” Ali (a.s.) said, “O Allah’s Messenger! I saw one of your companions complaining about his own bareness and that of his wife. So I gave it away knowing that Allah will give me a better one.”46
Imam Ali (a.s) had four dirhams with him once. He divided them into four. He gave away one dirham for the sake of Allah by night and one dirham by day. He gave away the third dirham secretly and the fourth openly. The following holy verse was revealed on the same occasion,
As for those who spend their property by night and by day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward from their Lord and they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve (2:74)
Charity Changes People
Ibn Abbas has commented on the above-mentioned event, saying about the following holy verse,
Men whom neither merchandise nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of poor-rate; they fear a day in which the hearts and eyes shall turn about; That Allah may give them the best reward of what they have done, and give them more out of His grace; and Allah gives sustenance to whom He pleases without measure (24:37-38).
He says: The occasion of the revelation was that one day the Holy Prophet (SAWA) gave Ali (A.S.) three hundred dinars, which they had given to him as gift. Ali (a.s.) said: I took the money and said to myself by Allah, I will give such a charity with these dinars that Allah will accept. When I completed the night prayer with Allah’s Messenger, I took a hundred dinars and left the mosque. On my way, I came across a woman to whom I gave one hundred dinars. The following day, people said, “Ali (A.S.) has given charity to a corrupt woman!” It was a grant sorrow for me.
The night of that day, I performed the night prayer, took a hundred dinars in my hand, left the mosque and said to myself, “By Allah! I will give a charity, which will be accepted by my Lord. I saw a man and gave away the one hundred dinars to him.” The following day, the people of Medina said, “Ali (A.S.)has given away a hundred dinars to a thief.” Again a great sorrow came to me but said to myself, “By Allah! I will give a charity tonight that Allah will accept from me.”
So, I performed my night prayer with Allah’s Messenger and then left the mosque having a hundred dinars with me. I saw a man to whom I gave the money. The next day, the people Medina said, “Last night, Ali (A.S.) gave a hundred dinars to a rich man.” Again, a great sorrow came to me.
I went to Allah’s Messenger and told him the event. The Holy Prophet (S) said: O Ali(A.S.)! Gabriel says to you: Allah has accepted your charity and purified your acts: The one hundred Dinars you gave as charity was put at the disposal of a corrupt woman who repented to Allah and used the money as earnings for her living. She also intends to get married with this money.
The charity of the second night went to a thief who repented thereafter and used the money for running a business. The charity of the third night went to a rich man who had not paid alms (Zakat) for years. He went home and blamed himself saying, “How miser I am! This is Ali ibn Abu-Talib (A.S.) who gave away a hundred Dinars to me while he has nothing whereas I am a rich man who has not paid his obligatory alms (Zakat)!” So, he reckoned his alms (Zakat) and put it aside. It was for this reason that Allah revealed the above-mentioned verses.47
Both Shi’i and Sunni scholars report: One day Ali (A.S.) was extremely hungry so he asked for food from Fatimah (SA) who said, “There is no food except the one I preferred to give to you than to myself as well as Hasan (A.S.) and Husayn (A.S.) two days ago.” Ali (A.S.) asked, “Why didn’t you tell me to prepare a food for you?” Fatimah (SA) said, “O Abul-Hasan! I was ashamed to charge you with what is not in your power!”
Ali (A.S.) left the house, went to the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and borrowed a dinar to buy food. On his way, he met al-Miqdad who said, “Whatever Allah wills (will come to pass)!” Ali (A.S.) gave his one dinar to him, went to mosque, lay down and went to sleep! Allah’s Messenger went to the mosque and found Ali(A.S.) in that position. Awakening him, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) asked,“What did you do?” Ali (A.S.) told him the story and then prayed with the Holy Prophet (SAWA). When Allah’s Messenger completed his prayer, he asked, “O Abul Hasan! Do you have any food to share with you?” Ali (A.S.) kept quiet and gave no answer out of shame.
Allah revealed to the Holy Prophet (SAWA) to have the dinner with Ali (A.S.) that night. So they both set out for Ali’s house. When they entered the house, Fatimah (SA) was engaged in prayer and behind her was a big bowl steaming. Fatimah (SA) brought that big bowl which was replete with food and placed it before her father and her husband. Ali (A.S.) asked. Where has this food come from? She said: From Allah’s Favor and Benevolence,
Surely, Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure (3:37)
The Holy Prophet (S) put his hand between the two shoulders of Ali (A.S.) saying, “O Ali(A.S.)! This is in lieu of your dinar.” Then he was choked with tears saying, “Thanks Allah that I have not died to see in my daughter what (Prophet) Zachariah saw in (Saint) Mary.”48
An Extraordinary Example of Altruism
The Battle Of Camel
Imam Ali (a.s.) made his utmost effort not to enter battle so that no one would be killed. When he was informed in Medina that the leaders of the Camel Army have left Mecca for Basrah, he quickly left Medina to hold talks with them. He sent them a letter through Sasa’ah, a great man of Basrah.
In that letter, he gave them advice with the utmost degree of kindness and magnanimity. Once again, he sent Ibn Abbas to al-Zubayr to talk to him saying, “Do not go or speak to Talhah, for it will be useless. Speak to al-Zubayr who is softer. Tell him, your cousin says: In Hijaz you were my friend. How come you have become my enemy in Iraq?”
Then, he sent a letter to Talhah and al-Zubayr through Imran al-Khuza’i that read, “Though people may deny, but I did not go to people rather they came to me to pledge allegiance with me. Their allegiance with me was not out of fear, force or allurement. If your allegiance has not been out of fear, repent quickly and turn to Allah. You claim that I have killed Uthman! I leave the judgment to unbiased people. Anyone who is condemned should be punished. You two elderly men of Quraish! Stop behaving like this before this disgrace will be accompanied with Hellfire.”
When Imam Ali (A.S.) arrived in the land of Zaviah on his way to Basrah, he performed a four-Rakah prayer saying, “O Lord of heavens and what cast shadow on them! O Lord of the earths and what they have on shoulders! O Lord of the Great Throne! This is Basrah! I ask You to put the good of this people in my hand and I seek refuge in You from their evil. O Lord! These people have disobeyed me, rebelled against me and have broken allegiance with me. O Lord! Preserve the blood of Muslims and let not any blood be shed!”
When Ali (A.S.) was placed against the army of Basrah, he called, “O people! Do not make haste!” Then the Imam (A.S.) called Ibn Abbas ordering him to go to Talhah, al-Zubayr and Aishah and call them to Allah. Then Ammar ibn Yasir, the great companion and elderly man of truth, stood between the two armies, addressing the army of Basrah as such he said, “O people! It is not fair that you have kept your wives behind curtains while you have brought the Holy Prophet’s wife to be faced with arrows and swords.” Then he went to Aishah, asking, “What do you want?” Aishah said, “I am here to seek the revenge of Uthman!” Ammar said, “May Allah on this day kill the oppressor, perish the rebel and destroy falsehood.”
Then, addressing the army of Basrah he cried out, “O people! Do you know which of the two parties has had a hand in killing Uthman?” The arrows were coming towards Ammar. The answer was arrows! Ammar came to Ali (A.S.) saying,“O Amir al-Muminin: What are you waiting for? They have no goal but killing with arrows showered on the army of Ali (A.S.). There has been no permission for battle yet!” Imam Ali (a.s) addressed his army as such, “Who is here to take this Quran to the people and call them to it? Whoever does this will be killed but I will guarantee his going to Paradise.” A young man by the name of Muslim rose up, saying, “O Amir al-Muminin (A.S.): I will take the Quran to them and do what you said.” He took the Quran, went to the enemy and called them to the Quran. They pierced his body with spear. He fell on the ground and was martyred. Was killing with spear an answer to logic?
Ali (A.S.) told his army to be prepared for battle but not start it. Ibn Badil, a brave soldier, brought the dead body of his brother saying: O Amir al- Muminin (A.S.)! Until when should we wait? Should they kill us and we look on?” The dead body of another soldier was brought to Ali (A.S.) but he still did not give the permission to fight. He just said, “O Lord! You are the Witness.” Then, he turned to his army saying, “Have mercy on the people!” Then, he took off his armor, rode on the mule of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), went to the battlefield and cried out, “O Zubayr! Come to me.” Al-Zubayr came to the field with full arms. Seeing that Ali (A.S.) called al- Zubayr to the field, Aishah said to herself, “Woe to me, my sister Asma – al Zubayr’s wife – will became a widow!” When Aishah was told that Ali (A.S.)has come to the battlefield without arms, she calmed down.
Examples of Imam Ali’s Moral Virtues
Giving Clothes to the Naked