Imam Ali’s Commandment for Muhammad bin Abi Bakr
Imam Ali’s Commandment for Muhammad bin Abi Bakr
when assigned him as governor of Egypt
This is the commandment of Ali Amirul-Muminin to Mohammed bin Abi Bakr when assigned him as the governor of Egypt.
Fear God and obey Him secretly and openly. Devote to God in unseen and public situations. I order you to treat Muslims leniently, the sinful intensely, and Dhimmis fairly. I also order you to give back the wronged their rights, punish the wrong severely, pardon people, and do charitably as much as possible. God will reward the charitable and will punish the sinful.
I order you to call people who are under his power to obey God and accede to union. If they do so, they will gain good health and reward that are too great to be estimated or realized.
I order you to behave with people modestly, give them the same estimation and meet them in the same way, regard the close and the remote equally, judge among people with fair, avoid pursuing the whims, and avoid caring for any blame for God’s sake. God will surely be with him who fears Him, prefers obedience and commandment of Him to anything else.
Abdullah bin Abi Rafi’ was the writer of this commandment.
Amirul Muminin, peace be upon him, then wrote to the people of Egypt the following commandment (We will refer to it briefly):
From: God’s slave; Ali Amirul Muminin.
To: Mohammed bin Abi Bakr and people of Egypt:
Peace be upon you.
So now, I have received your missive, understood your question, admired your interest in that of which it is obligatory upon you to take care and except which nothing will be the most appropriate for the Muslims, and believed that it was a well intention and innocent opinion that had driven you to ask such a question.
Cling to God-fearing in your standing, sitting, secret, and public affairs. If you judge among people, you should treat them with gentleness, treat them leniently, relax your face before them, and use equal looks at them so that the chief will not expect your injustice for their sake and the weak will not despair of your fairness with them. Ask the claimant for evidence and the defendant to oath. Pass the reconciliation of two persons unless it includes the ban of a legal matter or the allowance of a prohibited matter. Favor the jurists, the honest, the faithful, the diffident, and the pious to the lecherous, the liars, and the cheaters. Betake the virtuous pious ones as brothers and the lecherous cheaters as enemies. The most favorable of my friends is the best engaged in mentioning God and the most fearful of Him. I hope I would be one of them, inshallah.
I command you to fear God regarding the questions about which you will be asked and which you will be inevitably facing. God, in His Book, says:
Every soul will be in captivity for its deeds.
He also says:
God warns you about Himself. To God do all things return.
He also says:
By the Lord, We will hold them all responsible for what they have done.
Thus, adhere to God-fearing because it joins goodness together to you in an unprecedented way, and is the means of catching up with the whole good of this world and the world to come in a distinctive way. God says:
The pious ones will be asked, "What did your Lord reveal to you?" They will reply, "He revealed only good." The share of the righteous ones is virtue in this world and greater virtue in the life to come. How blessed will be the dwelling of the pious ones!
Know, O creatures of Allah, that the God-fearing have shared the joys of this transient world as well as the coming world, for they shared with the people of this world in their worldly matters while the people did not share with them in the matters of the next world. God the Majestic says:
Ask them, "Who has made it unlawful to maintain beauty and to eat the pure foods which God has created for His servants? They are made for the believers in this world and are exclusively for them in the life hereafter." Thus do We explain Our revelations to the people who have knowledge.
They lived in this world in the best manner of living and ate the choicest food.
Know, servants of Allah, if you fear God and respected His Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) by way of regarding his family, then you will worship Him the best worship, refer to Him in the best mentioning, thank Him in the best way of thanking, pursue the best of tolerance and thank, practice the best diligence, even if others are offering prayers that are longer than yours, fasting during days more numerous than these during which you fast, and giving alms more than yours. This is because you are more loyal to God and more well-wisher to God’s disciples and the people of authority among the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family).
Therefore, O creatures of Allah, be afraid of death and its imminence, dilemmas, and agonies. Keep ready all that is needed for it. It will come as a big event and a great affair, either as a good in which there will never be any evil, or an evil in which there will never be any good. Who is nearer to Paradise than he who works towards it, and who is nearer to Hell than he who works for it? Refer to death as much as possible whenever your souls drag you away from it. I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) say: “Mention the remover of the pleasures very often.” You should know that for those whom God will not forgive and treat mercifully, what is after death will be bitterer than death itself.
O Mohammad (bin Abi Bakr), know that I have given you charge of Egypt, which is my biggest force. So you are duty-bound to oppose your passions and serve as a shield against your religion even though you may get only an hour in the world; and do not enrage Allah for pleasing others because (Allah) is such that He may take the place of others, but others cannot take the place of Allah. Use severity with the oppressors and stop them. Be lenient to the charitable, draw them near to you, and select them as retinue and brothers.
Evaluate your prayer, because you are imam –leader of collective prayers-. The responsibility of any flaw that occurs in the prayers of the followers (of an imam) will be on their imam. Likewise, the imam will gain the same rewards of the imperfect or perfect performance of the followers’ prayers, and they will receive their rewards completely. Evaluate your ablution, because it is the complementary of the prayers. The prayers of those whose ablution is rejected are rejected, too. Remember that every act of yours is dependent on your prayer. You should know also that he whoever neglects his prayer will surely neglect the other obligatory rites of Islam.
O people of Egypt, try your bests to apply your words to your deeds and your secret beliefs to your public deeds, and let your tongues not oppose you actions. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) has said: “In respect of my people I am afraid neither of a believer nor of an unbeliever. As for the believer, Allah will afford him protection because of his belief, and as for the unbeliever, Allah will humiliate him because of his unbelief. But I am afraid about every one of you who is hypocrite in his heart and learned of speech. He speaks what you hold good but does what you dislike.” He is very clear. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) also said: “The true believer is he who feels pleased for his good deeds and feels unhappy for his ill deeds.” “The hypocrites will not have two characters together: good humor and knowledgeability of a prophetic tradition.”
You should also know, O Mohammed bin Abi Bakr, that the best of understanding is piety in God’s religion and exercise the acts of obedience to God. God may help you and us to thank and mention Him, fulfill His obligatory acts, and exercise the acts of obedience to Him. He is surely All-Hearing and Near.
You should know that this world is the place of misfortune and extinction, while the life to come is the place of continuity and reward. If you can prefer what will remain to what will extinct, then do it. God may give us the ability to see what He shows us and understand what He makes us to understand so that we will not show shortcoming towards His commandments and will not commit what He forbids. You will inevitably gain your share from this world, but you need your share of the next life more. If you have to choose one of two matters—either a worldly affair or an affair regarding the next life, you should begin with the affair of the next life. If you can have a great desire for doing favors with pure intention, then do it. God surely gives a servant according to his intention if he likes charity and its people. If he cannot do it, then may God regard him as the doers of charity, if He wills.
I command you to fear God and other nine characters that are the comprehensive of Islam: fear God and do not fear people in questions related to God, the best wording is that which is confirmed by deeds, do not issue two different rules in the same case lest your affairs will be contrary and you will diverge from the right, like for your subjects whatever you like for yourself and household, settle the plea with God and lead your subject to righteousness, engage yourself in adversities for the sake of the right, do not fear any blame for the sake of God and perform God’s duties, offer advise to the Muslim who seeks your counsel, be the example of the near and the remote Muslims, and make others do good. Prevent them from doing evil. Be patient in hardship. Patience comes from faith and determination.
Peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.