Story No. 223 – Amir al-Muminin, Imam Ali (as) amongst his subjects
When Amir al-Muminin, Imam Ali (as) was coming to Kufa, he entered the city of Anbar populated by Iranians. The Iranian farmers were very happy to see their beloved caliph, Ameer ul Momineen passing through their town. They came to his visit. When it was time for Imam Ali (as) to leave, they started running in front of his horse. Amir al-Muminin, Imam Ali (as) inquired about this behavior.
“This is one way that we extend respect to our leaders and respectful individuals. This is our custom that has been practiced for years.”
Ameer ul Momineen, Imam Ali (as) said: “This behavior puts you in discomfort in this world, and brings about humiliation in the next world. Always stay away from practices that humiliate you. After all what benefit is there in such a practice to the recipients?”
Haris-ibne-Shohail, one of the governors of the provinces, was in Kufa, once he was riding through the city and saw Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) also riding. He got down from his horse to accompany Amir al-Muminin, Imam Ali (as) on foot. Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (as) stopped his horse and said. “It is ill for a man to lower himself before anybody but his God, please get upon your horse, even had you not been an officer of the state I would not have allowed you to lower yourself like this, the sight of such humiliation of man before man never pleases me. It is the worst form of tyranny which can be practiced.”
Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (as) was passing through Ambar, with his army. The rich men of the province, as was the custom of those times, came out to greet him. They offered the best Persian horses as presents, and requested his permission to act as hosts to his army. Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) met them very courteously, but very politely refused to accept the gifts and the invitation, saying:
You have paid your taxes, to receive anything more from you, even when you offer it voluntarily and willingly, is a crime against the state.
But when they persisted and pressed their request, Amir al-Muminin, Imam Ali (as) ordered that the horses could be accepted against their taxes, and so far as the feast was concerned it must be paid out of the war expenses.