پنجشنبه، آبان ۱۴، ۱۳۸۳

Imam Ali’s order to Maalik al-Ashtar, upon appointing him as the Governor of ‎Egypt

Maalik on his way to Egypt is killed by the men of Mo’awiya and a few months later, Imam Ali is ‎killed by Ibn Moljam, the ancestor of Taleban.‎

‎[excerpt] read the full text of the letter here.‎


These are the orders issued by a creature of Allah, Ali, the son Abu Taalib (a) to Maalik, the son of Ashtar ‎when he appointed Maalik as the Governor of Egypt to collect Zakat there, to combat the enemies of Islam ‎and Egypt, to work for the welfare of its people and to look after its prosperity.‎

‎… Let it be known to you, Maalik, that I am sending you as a governor to a country which has seen many ‎regimes before this. Some of them were benign, sympathetic and good, while others were tyrannical, ‎oppressive and cruel. People will judge your regime as critically as you have studied the activities of other ‎regimes and they will criticize you in the same way as you have censured or approved other rulers.‎

‎… Maalik! You must create in your mind kindness, compassion and love for your subjects. Do not behave ‎towards them as if you are a voracious and ravenous beast and as if your success lies in devouring them.‎
Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same ‎religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than that of yours, they ‎are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that ‎human beings are inclined to, they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and ‎unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their ‎rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and ‎forgiveness to you.‎

‎… Do not feel ashamed to forgive and forget. Do not hurry over punishments and do not be pleased and do ‎not be proud of your power to punish. Do not get angry and lose your temper quickly over the mistakes and ‎failures of those over whom you rule. On the contrary, be patient and sympathetic with them. Anger and ‎desire of vengeance are not going to be of much help to you in your administration.‎

‎… So far as your own affairs or those of your relatives and friends are concerned take care that you do not ‎violate the duties laid down upon you by Allah and do not usurp the rights of mankind, be impartial and do ‎justice to them because if you give up equity and justice then you will certainly be a tyrant and an ‎oppressor. And whoever tyrannizes and oppresses the creatures of Allah, will earn enmity of Allah along ‎with the hatred of those whom he has oppressed; and whoever earns the Wrath of Allah loses all chances of ‎salvation and he has no excuse to offer on the Day of Judgement.‎
Every tyrant and oppressor is an enemy of Allah unless he repents and gives up oppression. Remember, ‎Maalik! that there is nothing in this world more effective to turn His Blessings into His Wrath quicker than ‎to insist upon oppression over His creatures because the Merciful Allah will always hear the prayers of ‎those who have been oppressed and He will give no chance to oppressors.‎

‎… Do not give cause to the people to envy each other (man against man, tribe against tribe or one section of ‎the society against the other). Try to alleviate and root out mutual distrust and enmity from amongst your ‎subjects.‎

‎… Select honest, truthful and pious people as your companions. Train them not to flatter you and not to ‎seek your favour by false praises because flattery and false praises create vanity and conceit and they make ‎a man lose sight of his real self and ignore his duties.‎

‎… Try carefully to realize that a ruler can create goodwill in the minds of his subjects and can make them ‎faithful and sincere to him only when he is kind and considerate to them, when he reduces their troubles, ‎when he does not oppress them and when he never asks for things which are beyond their power.‎

‎… You must know, Maalik, that the people over whom you rule are divided into classes and grades and the ‎prosperity and welfare of each class of the society individually and collectively are so interdependent upon ‎the well-being of the other classes that the whole set-up represents a closely woven net and reciprocal ‎aspect. One class cannot exist peacefully, cannot live happily and cannot work without the support and good ‎wishes of the other. ‎

‎... When you are faced with problems which you cannot solve or with a difficult situation from which you ‎cannot escape or when uncertain and doubtful circumstances confuse and perplex you, then turn to Allah ‎and the Holy Prophet (s) because Allah has thus ordered those whom He wants to guide. The way to turn to ‎Allah is to act diligently according to the clear and explicit orders given in His Holy Book and to the turn to ‎the Holy Prophet (s) means to follow those of his orders about which there is no doubt and ambiguity and ‎which have been generally accepted to be correctly recorded.‎
So far as dispensing of justice is concerned, you have to be very careful in selecting officers for the same. ‎You must select people of excellent character and high calibre and with meritorious records. They must ‎possess the following qualifications: Abundance of litigations and complexity of cases should not make ‎them lose their temper. ‎
When they realize that they have committed a mistake in judgement they should not insist on it by trying to ‎justify it. When truth is made clear to them or when the right path opens up before them, they should not ‎consider it below their dignity to correct the mistake made or to undo the wrong done by them. They should ‎not be corrupt, covetous or greedy. They should not be satisfied with ordinary enquiry or scrutiny of a case, ‎but should scrupulously go through all the pros and cons, they must examine every aspect of the problem ‎carefully, and whenever and wherever they find doubtful and ambiguous points, they must stop, go through ‎further details, clear the points, and only then proceed with their decisions. They must attach the greatest ‎importance to reasoning, arguments and proofs. They should not get tired of lengthy discussions and ‎arguments. They must exhibit patience and perseverance in scanning the details, in testing the points ‎presented as true, in sifting facts from fiction and when truth is revealed to them they must pass their ‎judgements without fear, favour or prejudice. ‎
They should not develop vanity and conceit when compliments and praises are showered upon them. They ‎should not be mislead by flattery and cajolery. But unfortunately they are few persons having such ‎characteristics. After you have selected such men to act as your judges, make it a point to go through some ‎of their judgements and to check their proceedings. Pay them handsomely so that their needs are fully ‎satisfied and they are not required to beg or borrow or resort to corruption. Give them such a prestige and ‎position in your State that none of your courtiers or officers can overlord them or bring harm to them. Let ‎judiciary be above every kind of executive pressure or influence, above fear or favour, intrigue or ‎corruption. Take every particular care of this aspect because before your appointment this State was under ‎the sway of corrupt, time-serving and wealth-grasping opportunists who were lewd, greedy and vicious and ‎who wanted nothing out of a State but a sinful consent of amassing wealth and pleasures for themselves.‎

‎… The poverty of the people is the actual cause of the devastation and ruination of a country and the main ‎cause of the poverty of the people is the desire of its ruler and officers to amass wealth and possessions ‎whether by fair or foul means. They are afraid of losing their posts or positions and sway or rule and want to ‎make the most during the shortest time at their disposal. They never learn any lesson from the history of ‎nations and never pay any attention to the commands of Allah.‎
You will also have to be very careful about your secretaries. You should entrust your work only to those ‎who are the best among them.‎
Specially the affairs which are of confidential nature and which deal with secrets, and the security of the ‎State should be entrusted only to men of noble character because men who are intoxicated with power, ‎position and prestige carry on propaganda and speak against the government in public, they openly ‎misbehave with you and consider themselves so important as to ignore you or your orders in financial ‎transactions essential to the State, they avoid placing necessary papers before you or attending to important ‎correspondence.‎

‎... Let me remind you once again that you are made responsible for guarding the rights of the poor people ‎and for looking after their welfare. Take care that the conceit of your position and vanity of wealth may not ‎deceive you to lose sight of such a grave and important responsibility. Yours is such an important post that ‎you cannot claim immunity from the responsibility of even minor errors of commission or omission with an ‎excuse that you were engrossed in the major problems of the State which you have solved diligently. ‎

‎... All this is a necessary factor of your rule because I have often heard the Holy Prophet (s) saying, “That ‎nation or regime, where that rights of the depressed, destitute and suppressed are not guarded and where the ‎mighty and powerful persons are not forced to accede these rights, cannot achieve salvation”…‎

‎… Then there are certain duties which only you will have to perform and which none of your officers can ‎carry out. Among them are replies to the letters of your commissioners and governors and are beyond the ‎jurisdiction or preview of your secretaries. If you find that your officers are not attending as much to the ‎complaints of the public as they should, then you should personally attend to them. You must finish a day’s ‎work on that day only because each day will bring its own special work for you. Reserve your best time for ‎prayers to Allah, though every work of the State is the work of Allah, especially, if you are sincere and ‎honest, and if your subjects are happy with your rule and are safe from your oppression.‎
Among those duties that you are to perform diligently must be your daily prayers. These should be offered ‎sincerely and persistently. You must fix times for this during days and nights. You must tax your bodily ‎strength for this duty though it may tire you. Your observance of prayers should be sincere and faultless and ‎should neither be so long as to tire out those who follow you in these prayers nor so short as to be faulty and ‎defective because amongst those who follow you during the prayers, there may be some sick persons, while ‎others may have to attend to some important work. When the Holy Prophet (s) sent me to Yemen I asked ‎him how to lead the prayers. He advised me, “Offer prayers like a weak and old person and be kind to the ‎faithful” (so that weak and old persons may follow your prayers easily and happily).‎

‎… You must take care not to cut yourself off from the public. Do not place a curtain of false prestige ‎between you and those over whom you rule. Such pretensions and show of pomp and pride are in reality ‎manifestations of vanity. The result of such an attitude is that you remain ignorant of the conditions of your ‎subjects and of the actual cases of the events occurring in the State. ‎

‎… You should never overlook the fact that around the rulers there usually are certain privileged persons ‎‎(relatives and friends). They may often try to take advantage of their status and may resort to selfishness, ‎intrigues, fraud, corruption and oppression. If you find such people around you then do away with them ‎‎(however closely connected they may be with you), immediately bring an end to the scandal and clear your ‎surroundings of all such moral and spiritual filth.‎

‎… If on account of your strict measures people get suspicious of your behaving like a tyrant and oppressor, ‎then come out openly before them and explain to them the reasons of your actions and let them see the facts ‎for themselves and realize the truth. This will give training to your mind, will be an act of kindness to the ‎subjects and the confidence thus reposed in them will make them support justice and truth while you will ‎achieve the end you have in view of obtaining their support in the cause of truth.‎
If your enemy invites you to a Peace Treaty that will be agreeable to Allah, then never refuse to accept such ‎an offer because peace will bring rest and comfort to your armies, will relieve you of anxieties and worries, ‎and will bring prosperity and affluence to your people. But even after such treaties be very careful of the ‎enemies and do not place too much confidence in their promises because they often resort to Peace Treaty ‎to deceive and delude you and take advantage of your negligence, carelessness and trust. At the same time ‎be very careful, never break your promise with your enemy, never forsake the protection or support that you ‎have offered to him, never go back upon your words, and never violate the terms of the treaty. You must ‎even risk your life to fulfil the promises given and the terms settled because of all the obligations laid by ‎Almighty Allah upon man (in respect to other men) there is none so important as to keep one’s promises ‎when made. ‎
Though people may differ in their religions and ideologies and may have divergent views upon various ‎problems of State, yet they all agree that promises when made must be fulfilled. Even the heathens take care ‎to keep the promises made among themselves because they have seen and realised the evil effects of ‎breaking promises. Therefore, take very particular care of promises made, never go back upon the words ‎given, never go into the offensive without previously challenging and giving an ultimatum. Deception and ‎fraud even against your enemy is a deception against Allah and none but a wretched sinner would dare do ‎that.‎
Allah has given promises and treaties the high rank of being messengers of peace and prosperity and ‎through His Kindness and Mercy has made them a common desire (of keeping promises) in the minds of all ‎men and a common requirement for all human beings. He has made them such a shelter and asylum that ‎everybody desires to be under their protection. ‎
Therefore, there should be no mental reservation, no fraud, no deception and no underlying meanings in ‎between the lines when you make a promise or conclude a treaty. Do not use such words and phrases in ‎your promises and treaties as have possibilities of being translated in more than one way or as may have ‎various interpretations and many explanations, let there be no ambiguity in them, and let them be clear, ‎precise and to the point. And when once a treaty has been finally concluded, do not try to take advantage of ‎any ambiguous word or phrase in it. If you find yourself in a critical situation on account of the treaty made ‎in the cause of Allah, then try to face the situation and bear the consequences bravely and do not try to back ‎out of the terms that account, because to face such perplexing situations as may gain His Rewards and ‎Blessings is better than to break your promises on that account and earn that about which you feel nervous ‎and for which you will have to answer Allah and which may bring down His Wrath upon you in this world ‎and damnation in the next.‎

‎… If you have intentionally murdered a man then no excuse shall be acceptable to Allah or to me because ‎punishment of such a crime is necessary. ‎

‎… Beware and do not develop the trait of self-admiration and self-appreciation. Do not get conceited of the ‎good points that you find in your good character or good deeds that you have done. Do not let flattery and ‎cajolery make you vain and egoist. Remember that of all the cunning ruses of the devil to undo good deeds ‎of the pious people and to affect their piety, flattery and false praises are the ones on which it relies the ‎most.‎
Do not boast of the favours and kindnesses that you have done to your subjects and do not try to make them ‎realise this, do not think too much of the good that you have done to them, and do not go back upon the ‎promises made, all these three habits are very ugly features of one’s character. The practice of boasting over ‎the favours done undoes the good done, the habit of exaggerating and thinking very highly of our good ‎actions will make us lose the guidance of Allah, and the habit of breaking one’s promises is disliked both by ‎Allah and by man. The Merciful Allah says, “It is most hateful in the sight of Allah, to say something and ‎not to practice it.” [ Qur’an, 61:3 ].‎

Full text of the letter. ‎

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