Examples of Imam Ali’s Moral Virtues

Then he went to fishmongers telling them to be careful not to sell the fish, which has died in water! Then, he went to the market of canvas sellers and visited an old man selling canvas and said, “I want a shirt for three dirhams.” As soon as the man recognized him, he refused to sell anything to him. He went to another seller but since he too recognized the Imam, he did not buy from him until he came to a young man. He bought a shirt for three dirhams; he put it on while praying as such to Allah,
Praise be to Allah who provided me with a good garment to adorn myself and to cover my private parts with.
He was asked whether these were his words or he had heard it from Allah’s Messenger. He said, “I heard from the Holy Prophet (SAWA) saying it while he was wearing a garment.”
Amidst this, the father of the young man arrived. He was told that his son had sold a shirt for three dirhams to Amir al-Muminin(A.S.). Turning to his son, he asked, “Why did you charge more than two dirhams?” The father took the one dirham and came to Amir al-Muminin(A.S.) who was now sitting with Muslims at the gate of Rahbah, saying, “O Amir al-Muminin(A.S.)! Take this one dirham!” The Imam (A.S.) asked about the story of this dirham. The man said,“The price of the shirt was two Dirhams.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “He sold it with consent and I bought it with consent.”51
In the eighth year after Hijrah, Allah’s Messenger conquered Mecca. The House of Allah was purified from the filth of idols with Ali’s idol-breaking act. Allah’s Messenger sent groups to propagate Islam and to invite people to monotheism. He did not declare war. One of these persons was Khalid ibn Walid who was dispatched not as fighter but as propagator. On his way Khalid came to a tribe one of whom had killed his uncle in the pre-Islamic era and had looted whatever belonged to him.
When Khalid was alight near the water sources of Banu-Judhaymah, they took arms. Khalid said, “Put aside your arms, for people have become Muslims.” He had their hands tied and killed whomever he wished. When the news came to Allah’s Messenger, he raised his hands saying, “O Lord! I seek immunity from what Khalid has done!” Then, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) sent Ali (A.S.) with money to look into their affairs.
Ali (A.S.) gave them back whatever Khalid had taken from them. He paid the blood money for all and the extra money, which Ali (A.S.) had with him, was paid to them by the command of the Holy Prophet (SAWA). When Ali(A.S.) came back, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) said that what he had done was good and right. In the words of Yaqubi, the Holy Prophet (SAWA) said, “What you have done is better than the red camels.” It was at this time of addressing Ali (a.s.) that the Messenger of Allah said, “May my father and mother be your ransom.”52
The Blazing Iron Bar
Muawiyah asked Aqil to tell him the story of the blazing iron bar. Aqil said: Life had become extremely hard for me. I pleaded with my brother Ali (A.S.) but he took no heed of it. One day, I took my children in whose appearance poverty and indigence could be seen to visit Ali (a.s.). He said,“Come at night so that I will give you something.”
At night, when one of my sons was holding my hand led me to Ali (A.S.), I said to my son, “Go and sit at a distance.” Having the expectation that Ali (a.s.) would be giving me a purse of money, I stretched out my hand. But what I touched was a blazing iron bar. I withdrew my hand with a loud cry. At this moment Ali (A.S.) said, “This is the iron bar blazed by the fire of the world. How will be our situation on the Judgment Day when we are fastened with the chains of Hell?” Then he recited this verse:
When the fetters and the chains shall be on their necks; they shall be dragged (40:71)
Imam Ali (a.s.), commented, “You have no right on me except what Allah has made obligatory for you. Go back home!”
Muawiyah was extremely amazed and said, “Alas, alas! Women are barren to give birth to his peer.”53
An Extraordinary Example of Piety
Imam al-Sadiq (A.S.) has been reported by Muawiyah Ibn Ammar to say: If there were two options for Ali (A.S.) to do something for the sake of Allah, he would choose the harder. O people of Kufah, you all know that when he was ruling in this city, he used his income in Medina for living. He would put the roasted flour he ate in a bag and seal it not be mixed with anything else. Who was more pious than Ali (A.S.) in the world!54
Dry Bread and Sour Yoghurt
Nadhr ibn Mansur has reported, as said by Aqabah ibn Alqamah: I went to Ali’s house in Kufah, finding before him a bowl of sour yoghurt which harmed me as well as several pieces of dry bread. I said, “O Amir al- Muminin (A.S.)! Are you eating such a food?” He said, “Allah’s Messenger ate from bread drier than this.” Referring to his garment, Ali (a.s.) said, “Allah’s Messenger would wear a garment with a more rough texture. If I do not follow his example, I fear not to join him.”55
Self-Sacrifice and Generosity
In the Battle of the Camel, the soldiers who fought along with Imam Ali (a.s.) were twelve thousand in number. When the fighting came to an end with the defeat of the enemies, Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) had the public fund divided with each person having five hundred Dirhams as a share. Ali (A.S.) took the same amount of dirham for himself. Addressing the public fund, he said,Deceive anyone but me.
After the division of the public funds, a man came about saying, “O Amir al Muminin (A.S.)! My heart was with you although I could no take part in the battle. Do me a favor by giving something to me.” The Imam (A.S.) gave his share to him, going back home empty-handed.”56
One day, Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) was in a gathering of his companions. While a biased man of Kharijites was present, the Imam (A.S.) was admonishing his friends. His heavenly words were so charming which impressed that blind- hearted man but because of his inner enmity to Ali (A.S.), he impudently said, “May Allah kill him for his unbelief. How knowledgeable he is!”
Hearing such insolence, the companions of the Imam (A.S.) made an attempt to kill him but Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “Grant a respite; calm down; either curse against curse or pardon against sin.”57
A Model of Generosity
An indigent man came to Imam Ali (a.s.) saying, “I am suffering from three diseases: body, poverty, and ignorance.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “O Arab brother! You should see a physician for your physical disease, a wise man for ignorance and a generous person for poverty.”
The Arab said, “You are a physician, a wise man, and a generous man at the same time.” Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) ordered three thousand dirhams to be given to him from the public fund and said, “Spend one thousand dirhams on your physical disease, one thousand dirhams on your poverty and one thousand dirhams on your ignorance”.58
Favoring a Servant
When Amir al-Muminin (A.S.) ruled over the vast Islamic territories, he along with Qanbar (his servant) went to a draper, asking, “Do you have two shirts for five dirhams?” The young draper said, “Yes, but one is better than the other; one costs three dirhams and the other costs two dirhams.” Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “Bring both of them.”
When the young man brought the two shirts, the Imam (A.S.) said to Qanbar, “Take the shirt which costs three dirhams.” Qanbar said, “O Amir al-Muminin(A.S.)! You go up the pulpit and deliver sermons for people. You take the better one.” The Imam (A.S.) said, “Qanbar! You are young and have the desires of a young man. I am ashamed before Allah to count myself superior to you! I heard Allah’s Messenger saying: Whatever you wear, let your servant wear too and whatever you eat let your servants eat too.” Then, the Imam (A.S.) put on the shirt, which cost two dirhams realizing that the sleeves were too long so he said to the draper, “Cut the sleeve short a little bit.” He did so and said, “Let me fold it, old man!”The Imam (A.S.) said, “Let it be as it is. There is no time for such a thing.”59

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