The most distinguished personality of Islam and Humanity after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is commander to faithful Imam Ali (a.s). Life of this true servant of Islam was and still is for advancement of Islam. Great warrior, a great judge, great humanitarian and the most pious person of his time. History of great men is a fountain from which one generation after other has been able to rejuvenate their faith and life. Imam Ali (a.s) greatness was not just confined to battle field, he was matchless in the matter of faith, piety, purity, eloquence, magnanimity, help for the deprived and the oppressed and support for truth. And still after passage of time his life still serves as a beacon of light for us and extremely useful for making our lives inspiring.
It was aim of Umayyad Clan to convert government into kingship and was working towards this goal already. People who were in ruling position or had some sort of power were of the view that caliphate was their special right. Tribal biasness, formation of groups, bribes etc were considered lawful in order to strengthen their hold on caliphate. Against the teachings of Islam they considered that a ruler was master of lives, property and honor of people they ruled. Hence creating opportunity for corrupt government representatives to exploit common men. Heads and people ruling under them considered common people as goats and sheep; on whom they could put heaviest load and beat as much as they want. During rule of third caliph, Umayyad governors had free hand to attain whatever their heart desired. Behind this core objective was to strengthen grip of Umayyad clan on caliphate. For this heavy bribes were given to well known dignitaries for winning their support. Free hand was given to those in power to punish those who stood against their agenda. Those who stood with them were honored and those who stood against them were punished. Government was hence established on a new principle. Behind all this was Umayyad Clan who never had accepted Islam. Due to fear they had accepted Islam. But history shows that they never changed their life style even after embracing Islam. Well known companions of Prophet were either assassinated by unknown killers or were removed from every position. But those companions of Prophet who co-operated with them in destroying Islamic teachings were kept in decision making and were handsomely rewarded.
Conditions were very uncertain when Imam Ali (a.s) got caliphate. Islamic nation was divided into two groups. One was ready to sacrifice anything for Islamic values. While the other group was loyal to Umayyad clan. For strengthening their agenda they even were ready to kill anyone who created obstructions in their path. Imam Ali (a.s) was not interested in getting caliphate but for sake of Islam used to assist first and second caliph as and when required. It is well known to all that whenever Caliphate faced any issue it used to be Ali ibn Abu Talib who used to solve it. Despite facing hardships and persecution of his followers the only thing he wanted was establishment of truth and justice. Kingdom which was established in name of Islam was transformed into a totally different state with signs of tyranny. His words regarding that period:
“The time is extremely incompatible and disagreeable. In these days a righteous person is considered to be wicked and the refractoriness of the tyrant is on the increase. This is so because the sky is covered with dark clouds and the signs of the paths have been obliterated. The people are involved in doubts and sensuality. They have ears but they are deaf. They have eyes but they are blind. They are neither steadfast in the battlefield nor reliable in difficult circumstances”
He knew that people who were at his door step asking him to accept caliphate will not be able to accept and tolerate the way he would manage affairs of kingdom. After assassination of third caliph, well known personalities and common people used to gather on his door step asking him to accept responsibility. At that time welfare of common men and social norms were in danger. And hence Imam Ali (a.s) could not tolerate sitting quietly and watching rights of common people being sacked by corrupt government officials. He said:
“I was worried and alarmed lest the foolish and wicked persons should become the rulers of this nation and make the property of God their plaything and the creatures of God their slaves and fight with the righteous and make the tyrants their helpers”
It was for these reasons he considered it essential to accept the responsibility of caliphate. Ali (a.s) accepted the caliphate with firm determination and considered it in the interests of the Muslims that he should assume that office. He said:
“0 People! I am one of you. I enjoy the same rights which you enjoy. My responsibilities are also the same as yours. Nothing can invalidate truth. (I.e. a ruler or caliph cannot change the commands of God”
Ali wrote to one of his governors as under:
“Your holding this office does not entitle you to accumulate wealth or to take revenge from any person. Your only duty is that you should destroy falsehood and revive truth”
For Ali son of Abu Talib Caliphate did not mean that ruler should live in his palace whereas common people are left on behest of corrupt representatives. He says:
“Generosity and munificence is a greater source of love and affection than consanguinity and kinship. There is no greatness like meekness and no virtue like knowledge”
Ali (a.s) was a man who did not worship God because he desired forgiveness or because he feared punishment. On the contrary he worshipped God because He deserved to be worshipped. He wished that the people should obey the caliph on account of his obedience and not because of fear or greed of gain.
Moving along with common people and hearing what difficulties they were facing was a trademark of Imam Ali (a.s) ruling. Hence governors during his caliphate were constantly reminded that they belong to same society and hence should move along with common people. Hence this tradition of rulers moving along with common people is still compatible in civilized nations today.