Story No. 242 – A Leader not compromising justice between humans
The principle of keeping judiciary independent of and over and above the executive, administrative and military functions of the State was the main factor of the reforms introduced by him. He was very particular about this. So much so that historians narrate that once Imam Ali (A), on finding his (lost) armor in the possession of a Christian man, took him to court and stood with his opponent before Qazi Shurayh, his Chief Justice as a complainant and the Chief Justice wanted to give him a place of honour in the court and to treat him like a king or caliph. He reproached the judge for such a behaviour, saying that he was there as a plaintiff, and not as a king or caliph.
Imam Ali (A) informed the judge: “It is my armor. I neither sold, nor donated it”.
The judge asked the Christian man: “What do you have to say against what Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) says?”
“It is mine”, said the Christian man. “Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) is but a liar”.
The judge turned to Imam Ali (as), demanding that he should present his evidence proving that the armor was his. Imam Ali (as) smiled and said that he had no evidence. So, the judge issued his decision that the armor belonged to the Christian man.
Amir al Momineen, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) then cheerfully accepted the decision of the court against him. The effect of upholding the prestige of the Court of Justice, and his adherence to the principles of equality and equity were so impressive that the person, against whom he had filed the case, and had lost it, ran after him, kissed the hem of his garment, and said, “My master! Teach me Islam, I am a Christian and I want to be converted”.
“Why?” enquired Imam Ali (A), “Did anybody force you to do that?”
“No, my master”, he replied, “but your behaviour of treating even a non-Muslim subject as your equal, the prestige you have granted to justice and fair play, and your abstinence from use of power and authority made me feel that Islam is a great religion. You are a ruler and a caliph, you could have easily ordered me to be killed and my property looted, and nobody would have dared to ask reasons of your actions, but you took the case against me to the court, and cheerfully accepted the decision against you; I have never heard of such a ruler before you. Secondly, the thing that you claimed as yours is actually yours and not mine, but I know the persons who could provide proof of this are out of Kufa, therefore, I boldly said that it was mine, and not yours. That was a lie, and now I am ashamed to feel that I have lied against such an honourable person. You have heard me. Will you not allow me to enter the fold of Islam?”
The great Imam enquired, “Are you of your free-will entering our fold?”
“Yes”, he replied, “Under your regime, I have nothing to lose by remaining in my religion and no worldly benefit to gain by embracing Islam and by confessing my guilt and sin.”
The numerous examples from history truly shows that Imam Ali (A) was the perfect leader, and thus his title Amir al Momineen = Leader of the Believers. It remains to ask ourselves if we are the best Momineen (believers) and if we can soon earn the opportunity of being led by Imam Ali’s (A) grandson?
Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini (ra) said in one of his speeches: “What can I say about Imam Ali’s (A) character? Who can possibly say about him? The various dimensions that this phenomenal character possesses is beyond description and human comprehension. Someone who acquires the level of human perfection must possess about 1000 dimensions and speaking about even one of them is beyond our level of comprehension. This character who is totally free of counter qualities, can not be spoken about by anyone therefore it is better that I too keep silent.