The 21st of Ramadan every year, observed as the martyrdom anniversary day of man, for whom the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said “You are my brother in this world and hereafter”. I am talking about the most talked-about personality (after Prophet Mohammad PBUH) of the Islamic world, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS). An extensive amount of literature has been written on Hazrat Ali (AS) by both Muslims and Non-Muslims scholars. Still, whenever, we hear the name of Hazrat Ali (AS), the first thing which comes to our mind is the battle of Khyber and that how bravely he fought and won the day for the Muslims. But to confine the magnitude of a personality like Hazrat Ali (AS) merely as a warrior would be an understatement.
We all know about the heroics of Hazrat Ali (AS) on the battlefield but very few of us are aware of the political philosophy of the man. He was not only a warrior but a philosopher as well. Besides, he was a jurist of the highest rank and statesman of great intellectual depth.
There’s no doubt that Hazrat Ali (AS) is the true representative of the intellectual legacy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Holy Prophet (PBUH) once said, “I am the city of knowledge and Ali (AS) is its gate.”
In the 21st century, we can witness monarchical and autocratic regimes all around the Muslim world. And their governance system is designed to serve the elites. The Muslim world is confronting the challenges of democratic crisis and radicalism. Extremist groups like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Al-Qaeda disturbing the order and creating an anarchic situation. The solution to all these problems lies in the political career and political thought of Hazrat Ali (AS).
The history of radical extremist groups dates back to the early period of Islam. Hazrat Ali (AS) also faced trouble from the radical extremist group of his time, known as Kharijites. Kharijites challenged the authority of his political rule. Kharijites laid the foundation of radical tendencies, which we observe today in the Muslim world, in the form of extremist organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The manner, in which he tackled extremists like Kharijites, is a lesson for the current political leaders. Hazrat Ali (AS) said you can live anywhere and profess the ideology of your liking but I will not let you take the lives of the innocents.
Hazrat Ali (AS) was a strong advocator of a people-oriented governance system rather than an elitist one. In Nahj-al-Balagha, there is a famous letter of Hazrat Ali (AS) to Malik Astar, his newly-appointed governor to Egypt. In this letter, he stressed his governor to establish people-centric governance in the province.
The former UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “The Caliph Ali (AS) is considered the fairest leader (after Prophet PBUH) who appeared in human history, so, we advised Arab countries to take Imam Ali (AS) as an example in establishing a regime based on Justice and Democracy. In the times of radical and extremist interpretation of Islam, it is essential to put forward Hazrat Ali’s (AS) understanding of political Islam to establish a just system.
There is a tradition of sharing intriguing stories about the intellect of Hazrat Ali (AS) in the Muslim world. The stories about the greatness of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS) stand no value unless we use them to resolve the issues of our times. So, the need of the hour is to try to implement his thought rather than only applause his mesmerizing stories of intelligence.