Examples of Imam Ali’s Moral Virtues

In the battle field, Ali (A.S.) hugged al-Zubayr, saying, “Why have you rebelled against me?” Al-Zubayr said, “I have come to take the revenge of Uthman!” Ali (A.S.) said, “May God kill either of us who has had a hand in the killing of Uthman.” Then he spoke softly to him reminding him of Allah’s Messenger, who had said, “You will fight Ali (A.S.) and you will be the wrong party.” Al-Zubayr said, “I seek Allah’s forgiveness. If I had not forgotten this word, I would not have rebelled.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “Zubayr! Now, go back.” Al-Zubayr said, “How can I go back? My going back would be considered as fear, a disgrace which cannot be washed away.”
The Imam (A.S.) said, “Go back before disgrace is accompanied with Hellfire.” Al-Zubayr went back and as soon as he intended to go out of the Army of the Camel, his son Abdullah cried out, “Where are you going?” Al-Zubayr said, “My Son! Ali (A.S.) reminded me of something I had forgotten.” The son said, “This is no the case, you are afraid of the swords of the Hashimites!”The father said, “No, I remembered what the time had made me forget. Are you blaming me for fear?” He took the spear and attacked the right wing of Ali’s army.
Then addressing his soldiers, Ali (a.s.) said, “Let no one fight him. Open the way for him. They have provoked him!” Al-Zubayr so attacked both sides of the army. No one fought him or resisted against him. Returning to his army he said to his son, “Does a timid man act like that?” Then he took his way and left.
Ali’s kindness towards the enemy made a hero of him in the battlefield. Did the Army of the Camel realize that what the Holy Prophet (SAWA) had foreseen was not particular to al-Zubayr alone but everyone who fought Ali (A.S.) would be a wrongdoer?
Again Ali (A.S.) came to the battlefield and called Talhah saying,“Why did you rebel against me?” Talhah claimed that he wanted to take the revenge of Uthman. Ali (A.S.) said, “May Allah kill either of us who has had a hand in killing Uthman. Haven’t you heard the words of the Holy Prophet saying: (O God) Befriend one who befriends Ali (A.S.) and bear enmity to one who bears enmity to Ali (A.S.). Were you not the first man who swore allegiance with me and breached your allegiance? Allah says:
Whoever breaks his faith, he breaks it only to the injury of his own soul (48:10)
Expressing his regret, Talhah said, “I seek Allah’s forgiveness.”He went back. Sensing that Talhah intends to leave the battlefield, Marwan ibn Hakam threw an arrow towards him. Talhah died immediately without having a chance to inform the people of Basrah of their treacherous and unjust act which he and al-Zubayr had planned.
Addressing his army, Ali (a.s.) said, “When you defeat the Army of the Camel, do not kill the wounded and the captives, nor follow the deserters, nor expose people’s private parts, nor cut anyone’s ears or noses, nor loot anyone’s property except what they leave in the battlefield.”
The enemy’s defeat was certain. Yet, no order of attack was issued. The Army of the Camel attacked the right wing of Ali’s army, pushing them back. It was at this moment that the order of attack was issued and the Army of the Camel suffered a disgraceful defeat, this is Ali’s kindness towards the enemy and his mercy on people in the battlefield. Does history remember a ruler to have behaved like this towards the rebels?
The Battle of Siffin
Siffin was a region by the river Euphrates. When the army of Ali (a.s.) reached it, he was told to block the army of Muawiyah from having access to the river, but Ali did not accept the idea. Muawiyah took advantage of this situation, seized all the ways leading to the river and blocked the army of Ali (A.S.) from having access to the river.
By his command, the army opened ways to the river. To retaliate, Imam Ali’s companions decided to block Muawiyah’s army from access to river, but again Ali (A.S.) did not permit. The Battle of Siffin lasted for eighteen months. The offensive by Ali’s army was started hoping that the Syrians would give up and less blood would be shed!
The Battle of Nahrawan
The best definition we can use in describing the Kharijites is that they were people afflicted with the disease of enmity with Ali (a.s.) and they did not stop this enmity until they had killed him. If we use the word disease here it is because enmity with anyone needs a reason. A person bears enmity to someone for personal reasons, for being jealous of that person’s position, for having been hurt or harmed by that person, for having experienced a tyranny, a family feud or religious differences. None of those reasons existed for those who were hostile to Ali (A.S.). They simply could not see Ali (A.S.) alive and victorious.
These people were in the army of Ali (a.s.) in the Battle of Siffin but when he overcame the enemy, they drew their swords against him and deprived him of victory. They did not accept the intelligent arbiter Imam Ali (a.s.) had chosen and selected the arbiter who was Ali’s enemy! They were the enemies of Muawiyah too but unknowingly assisted him and compelled Ali (A.S.) to accept the mediation of the arbiters.
When the treachery of mediation became clear, they started to disagree with Ali (a.s.) so much so that they disrespected him in his presence and absence. Ali (A.S.) too had left them to themselves showing no reaction to what they said and did.
Ali’s friends who could not tolerate hearing their sarcastic and insulting remarks would often ask Ali (A.S.) to suppress and imprison them or check their activities. However, Ali (A.S.) would not agree, saying, “As long as they do not do anything against us, we will not harm them nor will we cut their stipend from the public fund. We will allow them to come to the mosque but if they kill anyone, we will retaliate.”
The inner disease of Kharijites was being intensified. Hence, they could not stay in Kufah, for they saw Ali (A.S.) there. So, they left it for Nahrawan. Still Ali (A.S.) let them act freely and had nothing to do with them. When he set out to suppress Muawiyah, he wrote a letter as such, “We are going to suppress your enemies, a common enemy; come long with us.” The Kharijites did not accept the offer and declared war against him! Still Ali (a.s.) did not go to them and set off for Syria. Ali (A.S.) was asked to put an end to the enmity of Kharijites first and then set out for Syria. It was not accepted and the order to move to Syria was issued.
Ali’s army was or the way to Syria when news reached that the Kharijites have become active, forcing people to curse Ali (A.S.) and anyone who does not comply with it, is killed. Ali (A.S.) headed for Nahrawan, the Kharijites base. He still refused to enter battle against them. So, he started to admonish and guide them. He managed to dissuade many of them from fighting though they refused to assist Ali (A.S.) in suppressing Muawiyah. Those Kharijites who were dissuaded to fight Ali (a.s.) returned to Kufah but remained Ali’s enemies.
Same people sowed the seeds of Kharijites in the history of Islam and the rest did not accept any option but fighting and preferred death to living with Ali (A.S.). So they attacked Ali’s army with the motto of ‘we are going to Paradise’. Still no order of counterattack was issued until one of Ali’s soldiers was killed. It was then that Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “It is now the right time to fight them.”Ali’s army started its attack, which put the Kharijites to flight.49
A Light Diet
Suwayd ibn Ghaflah reports: I went to see Imam Ali (a.s.) while he was in governor’s seat. A bowl of sour yoghurt was set before the Imam(A.S.), the smell of which I could feel. A loaf of bread of barley the husk of which I could see was in his hand. The Imam(A.S.) was breaking the dry bread either with his hand or with his knee!
At this time, I said to Fidhah, his slave-girl who was standing by him, “Don’t you fear Allah for treating this old man as such? Don’t you sieve the barley flour?” Fidhah said, “He has asked me not to sieve the flour.”
Ali (A.S.) asked, “What are you talking about?” I told him the story. At this time, Ali (a.s.) said, “May my parents be ransom for the one for whom the flour was not sieved, nor did he ate fill bread of wheat for three straight days until he passed away.”50
One of the Days
Abu-Matar, one of the inhabitants of Basrah, reports: I was coming out of Kufah Mosque when suddenly a man called from behind, “Hold up your garment which makes it last longer and cut your hair short, if you are a Muslim.”
I followed him while he had covered himself with a cloak and held a lash in his hand, like a Bedouin, “Who is this man?” He said, “I find you a stranger in this city!” I said, “Yes, I am a man from Basrah.” He said, “This is Ali (A.S.), the Leader of the believers.”
I followed him until he reached the neighborhood of Banu-Mohit, which was the market-place of camels. There, he said, “Sell but do not take oath, for it will destroy goods and blessing.” Then, he went to date sellers. There, he found a slave-girl crying. He asked the reason. She said, “This man sold me date for one dirham but my master did not like it and he does not take it back.” The Imam said, “Take back your date and give her back the one dirham, for she is a slave and has no authority.” He pushed the Imam back! I said, “Do you know this man?” He said, “No.” I said, “He is Ali ibn Abi-Talib(A.S.), the Leader of the believers.”
The man took back the date and gave back her money. Then, the man said, “I hope you are pleased with me.” He said, “Now that you have given people’s right, I am pleased with you.” Then while passing through the date sellers, he said, “Give of these dates to the needy so that Allah will bless your business.”

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