It’s unfortunate that in many discussion about Islam, Ali’s name rarely comes up. He personifies all of the qualities we look up to in society and is the forgotten role model many Muslims and non-muslims ignore. So I thought I’d post a thread about what’s been written about him
(1795-1881) Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer.
“As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble-minded creature,
as he shows himself, now and always afterwards; full of affection, of fiery
daring. Something chivalrous in him; brave as a lion; yet with a grace, a
truth and affection worthy of Christian knighthood.”
[On Heroes, Hero-Worship, And The Heroic In History, 1841, Lecture 2: The Hero
as Prophet. Mahomet: Islam., May 8, 1840)]
(1737-1794) Considered the greatest British historian of his time.
“The zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by any recent proselyte.
He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still
breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist,
in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence
and valour. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral,
the apostle was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to
name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses.”
[The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1911, volume 5, pp. 381-2]
Dr. Henry Stubbe
(1632-1676) Classicist, polemicist, physician, and philosopher.
“He had a contempt of the world, its glory and pomp, he feared God much,
gave many alms, was just in all his actions, humble and affable; of an
exceeding quick wit and of an ingenuity that was not common, he was
exceedingly learned, not in those sciences that terminate in speculations but
those which extend to practice.”
[An Account of the Rise and Progress of Mahometanism, 1705, p. 83]
Professor of Arabic at Oxford University
"In face of the fake Umayyad claim to legitimate sovereignty in Islam as
God’s Vicegerents on earth, and in view of Umayyad treachery, arbitrary
and divisive government, and vindictive retribution, they came to appreciate
his honesty, his unbending devotion to the reign of Islam, his deep personal
loyalties, his equal treatment of all his supporters, and his generosity in
forgiving his defeated enemies."
[The succession to Muhammad: a study of the early caliphate, Cambridge, 1997,
Even after 1400 years, as the united nations looks to the future of human development in the arab world, they quoted Imam Ali several times on governance in page 107 of ARAB HUMAN
DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2002 hdr.undp.org/en/reports/regionalreports/arabstates/RBAS_ahdr2002_EN.pdf
George Jurdaq a christian arab who was fascinated by the personality of Imam Ali (as) wrote a book titled “Imam Ali - the Voice of Justice for Humanity” where he compares the “international declaration of human rights” with a letter written by Imam Ali to his governor in Egypt, Malik al-alshtar. Below are some excerpts from that letter
Malik! 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, Malik, 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. …
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. …
Be fair, impartial and just in your dealings** with all, individually and collectively** and be careful not to make your person, position and favours act as sources of malice. Do not let any such thing or such person come near to you who does not deserve your nearness and your favour. Never lower your dignity and prestige…
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, Malik, 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…
Then comes the class of the poor and the disabled persons. It is absolutely necessary that they should be looked after, helped and well-provided for. The Merciful Allah has explained the ways and means of maintaining and providing for each of these classes. And everyone of this class has the right upon the ruler of the State that at least minimum necessities for its well-being and contented living are provided…
Ali’s generosity and kindness knew no bounds, he would deny himself food and comfort to feed and shelter the poor and needy. Even as the khalif and leader of the muslim empire he would take it upon himself to visit the poor and disabled in his city to feed and help them.
He was the closest person to the prophet Muhammad (s), in fact one of my teachers used to say that Imam Ali (as) was the greatest Miracle of Muhammad (s) that is because he was raised by him, learned everything from him and was always by his side, as his shadow until the prophets’ last breath. Ali is the role model that all muslims need to follow.