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Chivalry in Imam Ali's (A.S.) Words

Chivalry and Magnanimity are two important expressions in the literature of Islamic morality.
In fact, these two technical terms are the attributes of a well developed human being. Great human beings, who were often known because of their chivalry, considered these two terms as important and effective. Chivalry or magnanimity is the sign of a great soul and sublime spiritual attributes which results in the individual keeping himself aloof of base qualities . Imam Ali (AS) defines chivalry as:
Chivalry is keeping aloof of debasement. (Sharhe Ghorar wa Dorar, Vol. 3, p. 26). He defines magnanimity as well, saying that magnanimity is being removed from meanness. (Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 239)
According to this Imam Ali (AS): “Nothing adorns a person as chivalry does." (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 96)
In Imam Ali’s (AS) point of view chivalry in social and political affairs is nothing but justice in leadership, forgiveness in power and equality in association (with others). (Ibid. Vol. 2, p. 211)
In individual behavior chivalry is contentment and tolerance in hardship, looking after one’s relatives, obedience to Allah’s commands, keeping away from base qualities, being virtuous and loving others. (Ibid. Vol. 1, p. 98- Vol. 2, p. 145- Vol. 2, p. 437- Vol. 2, p. 459)
He states that “Chivalry is that one forgets his right when it is of benefit to him/her and remembers it while it is of benefit to others.” (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 39)
As Imam Ali (AS) mentions, the other signs of chivalry are chastity, donation and avoiding the causing of pain and suffering to others. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 451)
According to Imam Ali (AS) other signs of chivalry are righteousness, benefaction and helping and at the same time keeping obligations over the heads of others. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 453)
Imam Ali (AS) believes that discipline and consistency of chivalry is due to tolerating Muslim brothers’ offenses and looking after and helping neighbors. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 185)
In Imam Ali’s opinion, chivalry has a direct relationship to magnanimity. The higher one’s aspirations the more generous he/she is. Also vice versa, one who is not generous is deprived of high aspirations. (Ibid. Vol. 5, p. 191)
Moreover, he states that since a relationship exists between wisdom and chivalry, each person’s generosity is equal to his/her wisdom. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 128)
Chivalry is one of most prominent examples of being religious. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 32) According to this (Hadith) narration, there is no Din (religion) without chivalry. In other words every truly religious person is generous and this may be the reason that tolerating chivalry is a most difficult matter. (Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 96)
To sum up, the general and common characteristic of chivalry is avoidance of what is disgraceful to mankind and embracing and attaining what adorns him/her. . (Ibid. Vol. 3, p. 458)

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