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The Ideal Islamic Government : [The Ideal Islamic Government as Expounded by the Leader of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)]

The Ideal Islamic Government : [The Ideal Islamic Government as Expounded by the Leader of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)]

Author:
Publisher: www.al-islam.org
English

www.alhassanain.org/english

The Ideal Islamic Government

The Ideal Islamic Government as Expounded by the Leader of the Faithful Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)

Author(s): Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi

www.alhassanain.org/english

This text presents the ideal Islamic government in the eyes of Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) through his letter to Malik Al Ashtar.

Notice:

This version is published on behalf of www.alhassanain.org/english

The composing errors are not corrected.

Table of Contents

Preface 6

Translator's Notes 9

About the Author of the Letter 9

About the Addressee, Malik Al-Ashtar 13

The Letter 15

Preamble 15

The qualifications of a governor and his responsibilities 16

Ruling should be in favour of the people as a whole 17

About Counsellors 18

The different classes of people 19

1. The Army 20

2. The Chief Judge 22

3. Executive Officers 23

4. The Administration of Revenues 24

5. The Clerical Establishment 25

6. Traders and Industrialists 26

7. The Lowest Class 27

Communion with Allah 28

On the Behaviour and Action of A Ruler 29

Conclusion 32

Preface

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

The letter of the Leader of the faithful, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) to the Egypt's governor-designate, Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar, written in 38 A.H., should rightfully be called the first Constitution which is wholly based on justice, common welfare and public weal.

Hammurabi's Code is probably the oldest surviving "document" on state-craft. Hammurabi ruled over Babylonia in circa 1750 B.C. He got his decisions and judgments carved in stone, which was discovered in Susa, and is now placed in Louvre in Paris.

But it is not so much a constitution, as of civil and penal code, dealing with family affairs, contracts and trade, slavery and debts, crimes and punishments, and so on. Even then it did not promulgate impartial justice, as penalties and punishments varied according to the status of offenders.

Plato (circa 428 B.C. -347 B.C.) was Socrates' friend and disciple. He said that there were standards, which he called "ideas" or forms. Those ideas were the real things. A phenomenon is good when it corresponds with its idea or reality. A judge is just if his decision conforms with the "idea" of justice. The present connotation of the word "ideal" is derived from that concept. In his best-known work, The Republic, he says that the best kind of state would be that where the rulers would be philosophers,

1n spite of the great influence of Plato's philosophy, his ideal republic has remained just that-- an ideal, which has never been put into practice.

Five centuries after this letter of 'Ali (a.s.), came Magna Carta (the Great Charter) which was drawn up in England in 1512 C.E. It is considered the basis on which later charters have been drawn up. But the fact remains that its main thrust and purpose was to safeguard the rights of the English barons against their King, John-- although in so doing it gave some personal liberty to every English citizen.

The importance of 'Ali (a.s.)'s document rests on the fact that it lays stress on welfare of every stratum of society.

It begins and ends with reminding the Governor to remember, fear and obey Allah. It explains the qua1ifications and responsibilities of a governor, and stresses that the rule should be in favor of the people as a whole, and goes on to guide him about the qualities of his counselors. It gives guidance about army, judiciary, tax-collectors and secretaries.

Then it describes various strata of the people and the government's obligation towards them. As the Translator has rightly remarked:

"'This document, which deserves to be called the constitution of Islamic polity, was prepared by the person who was the greatest scholar of Divine law and acted upon it more than anyone else.

From the study of Amir al-mu'minin's way of governance in these pages it can be concluded that his aim was only the enforcement of Divine law and the improvement of social conditions, and not to disrupt public security or to fill treasures by plunder, or to strive to extend the country's boundaries by fair means or foul.

Worldly governments generally adopt such constitutions which cater for their utmost benefit and try to change every law which is against that aim or is injurious to their objective. But every article of this constitution serves as a custodian of common interests and protector of collective organization.

Its enforcement bas not touch of selfishness or any iota of self-interest. It contains such basic principles of the fulfillment of Allah's obligations, the protection of human rights without distinction of religion or community, the care of the destitute and the poor and the provision of succor to the low and the down-trodden from which full guidance can be had for the propagation of right and justice, the establishment of peace and security, and the prosperity and well-being of the people."

But the real beauty of this "Constitution" is that it did not remain a theory; it was implemented and enforced throughout the realm of Islam, during the reign of 'Ali (a.s.).

At this point it is necessary to mention that 'Ali (a.s.) used to write such instructions for all his governors, although it is only this letter that has survived.

History mentions another detai1ed letter written by 'Ali (o.s.) for Shanshab, the ruler of Kabul and Ghor (in present day Afghanistan). He was a Buddhist ruler who willingly accepted Islam on the hands of 'Ali (a.s.). 'Ali (a.s.) confirmed him as the ruler of his Kingdom, writing for him detailed guidance for governing.

From then on, the "Testament" (as it was called) served as the Constitution of the realm, and the successors of Shanshab had to declare on oath, at the time of accession to the throne, that they would uphold the Testament and act according to its articles.

Incidentally, Ghor and Bahrain were the only two provinces where the Umrnayyads could not enforce their heinous custom of cursing 'Ali (a";.) and other members of the Prophet's family in the sermons of Fridays.

This version has been taken from the English translation of Nahj al-Balaghah, translated by Mr. Syed Ali Raza, and published by the World Organization of Islamic Services (WOFIS), Tehran; in 1399/1979. It appears in Part Three, pp. 602-619.

The original work was compiled by ash-Sharif as-Sayyid ar-Radi (died 406 A.H.). It also appears in several works preceding as-Sayyid ar-Radi:

l. Da'a'imul Islam -by Nu'man ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur of Egypt (died 363 A.H.)

2. Tuhaful 'Uqul -by Ibn Shu'bah al-Harrani (died circa 381 A.H.)

3. As-Sa'adah wal Is'ad -by Yusuf aI-'Amiri of Nishapur (died 381 A.H.)

4. Dasturul 'AIam -by Qazi aI-Quza'i (died 404 A.H.)

After this "Preface" we have included two Notes by the Trans1ator: First is about the Author of the Letter, Leader of the faithful, 'Ali (a.s.); and the second about the addressee, Malik al-Ashtar. The former has been taken from the beginning of his book (Part One, pp. 8-12), while the latter appears at the end of the letter (Part Three, pp. 619-621).

In the end, we thank Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'a1a that he made us among the adherents to the Wilayah -Love and Obedience -of the Leader of the faithful and the Imams, Peace he on them all.

Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi

Dar es Salaam,

25th Dhul-hijja, 1410

20th July, 1990

Translator's Notes

About the Author of the Letter

In the World such persons are rarely found in whom besides one or two virtuous qualities other qualities might also attain prominence, much less the convergence of all contradictory qualities, because every temperament is not suited for the development of every quality, each quality has a peculiar tempo and each virtue needs a particular climate, and they are appropriate only for such qualities or virtues with which they accord, but where there is contradiction instead of harmony the natural tendencies act as obstacles and do not allow any other quality to grow.

For example, generosity and bountifulness demand that a person should possess the feeling of pity and God-fearing so that on seeing anyone in poverty or want his heart would rend, and his feelings would be disturbed at others' tribulations while the dictates of bravery and fighting require that instead of pity and compassion there should be the passion of blood-shed and killing, prompting the person at every moment to enter into scuffle, ready to kill or be killed.

These two qualities differ so widely that it is not possible to fuse the delicacies of generosity into the stiff manifestations of bravery just as bravery cannot be expected from Hatim nor generosity from Rustam But the personality of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (p.b.u.b.) showed full accord with every greatness and complete harmony with every accomplishment, and there was no good attribute or accomplishment which he lacked, nor any robe of greatness or beauty which did not fit his body.

Thus the contradictory qualities of generosity and bravery were found in him side by side. If he rained like the cloud in generosity, he also fought bravely standing firm as a mountain.

Thus his generosity and liberty of nature was of a degree that even during, days of want and starvation whatever he earned as the wage of his day's toil its major part was distributed among the poor and the starving, and he would never allow a beggar to return disappointed from his door, so much so that even when in the battle field the enemy asked him his sword he threw it before him being confident of the prowess of his naked arm.

An Urdu couplet says:

The unbeliever depends on his sword but the believer fights even without it.

And his bravery and courage was such that the onslaught of armies could not shake the firmness of his foot with the result that he achieved success in every encounter and even the bravest fighter could not save his life in an encounter with him. Thus Ibn Qutaybah writes in al-Ma’arif, “Whomever he encountered was prostrated."

The heartless nature of the brave is not wont to thinking or pondering nor do they have anything to do with foresight or fore-judging but 'Ali (p.b.u.b.) bad the quality of thinking of the highest degree. Thus, ash-Shafi'i said as follows:

What can I say about a man in whom three qualities existed with three other qualities that were never found together in any other man-- Generosity with want, Bravery with sagacity and Knowledge with practical achievements.

It was the result of this proper thinking and correct judgment that when after the death of the Prophet some people advised him to fight and promised to enlist warriors for him he rejected this advice, although on such occasions even a slight support is enough to encourage the heartless brave, yet 'Ali (a.s.) far-sighted mind at once foresaw that if battle was raged at that moment the voice of Islam would be submerged under the clutter of swords.

And then even if success was achieved it would be said that the position was gained by dint of sword and that there was no right for it. Thus, by withholding his sword on the one hand he provided protection to Islam and on the other saved his own fight from the imputation of bloodshed.

When the veins are full of daring blood and the bosom full of flames of anger and wrath it is extremely difficult to curb the passion of vengeance by adopting the course of forgiving and, despite authority and power, to pardon and overlook. But 'Ali's (a.s.) metal used to shine on such occasions when his forgiving nature would accommodate even his bloodthirsty foes.

Thus, at the end of the Battle of Jamal he made a general proclamation that no one who flees away from the field or seeks our protection would be molested and he let go without any punishment even such enemies as Marwan ibn Hakam and 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr. And the treatment that he meted out to 'A'ishah matchless manifestation of his nobility and high character --is that in spite of her open enmity and rebellion he sent with her women in men's garb to escort her to Medina.

By giving his own personal malice the garb of fundamental differences man not only deceives others hut also tries to keep himself under deception, and in these conditions such a delicate situation arises that a man fails to distinguish and separate his personal malice from a fundamental difference but easily mixing them together considers that he has followed the Command of Allah, and in this way he satisfies his passion for vengeance as well. But Amir al-mu'minin's discerning eyes never got deceived nor did they willingly deceive themselves.

Thus, on an occasion when after prostrating the opponent he placed himself on his bosom the vanquished opponent spat on his face. As man his rage should have risen and his hand should have moved quicker but instead of being enraged he got off from the man's bosom lest his action would be tarnished by personal feeling, and slayed him only after the anger had subsided.

There is nothing in common between combat and encounter and reclusion and God-fearing because one shows valor and courage while the other supplication and submission. But Amir aI-mu'minin was a unique combination of both these qualities as his hands that were bound in devotion were equally active in the battle-field, and side by side with relaxing in seclusion for devotion he was a common visitor of the field of action.

The scene of the Night of Harir puts human wit in astonishment and wonder when closing his eyes to the bloody action around the spread his prayer cloth and engaged himself in prayer with full peace of mind and heart while arrows were darting off sometimes over his head and sometimes from his right or left. But he remained engaged in Allah's remembrance without any fear or apprehension.

After finishing he again cast his hand on the sword's handle and the fierce battle that then followed is unparalleled in history. The position was that on all sides there was such hue and cry and fleeing activity that even voices falling en the ears could not be discerned. Of course, after every moment or so his own call of Allahu Akbar rose in tho atmosphere and resounded in the ears, and every such call meant death of a foe.

Those who counted these calls of takbir recorded their number as five hundred and twenty three.

The taste for learning and God-knowing does not combine with material activity but Arnir a.1-mu'minin adorned the meetings of learning and scholarship along with war-like pursuits, and he watered the field of Islam with springs of learning and truth along with shedding streams of blood (in battles).

Where there is perfection of learning, then, even if there is no complete absence of action, there must no doubt exist shortness of action, but Amir al-mu'minin treated the field of knowledge and action equally, as has been already shown in ash-Shafi'i's verse.

Examples of harmony in utterance and action are quite rare but Amir al-mu'minin's action preceded his utterance, as he himself says:

O’ people I do not exhort you to any action but that I myself first proceeded towards it before you and do not desist you from any matter but that I first desist from it myself.

As soon as we think of a recluse and a pious man we visualize a face full of frowns because for piety severity of temper and hardness of face are inseparable so much so that the thought of a smile on the lips of a pious man is regarded as a sin. But despite extreme piety and self denial Amir al-mu'minin always had such appearance that his light temper and brightness of face was apparent from his looks and his lips always bore a playful smile.

He never showed frowns on his fore-head like the dry recluse, so much so that when people could not find any defect in him this very lightness of temper was taken to be his fault, while hard temper and bitter face was held to be a virtue.

If a man possesses a cheerful heart and joyous temper he cannot command authority over others; but Arnir al-mu'minin's cheerful face was so full of awe and dignity that no eye could face it. Once Mu'awiyah tauntingly said "May Allah bless 'Ali. He was a man of cheerful taste:' then Qays ibn Sa'd retorted.

"By Allah despite cheerful disposition and entertaining countenance he was more awe-inspiring than a hungry lion and this awe was due to his piety not like your awe over the non-descripts of Syria.”

Where there is rule and authority there is also a crowd of servants and workers, checks of grandeur and eminence with equipment of pageantry but Arnir al-rnu'minin's period of rule was an example of the highest simplicity. In him people saw only a tattered turban in place of a Royal Crown, patched apparel in place of the regal robes and the floor of earth in place of the ruler's throne.

He never liked grandeur and pageantry nor allowed show of external grandiosity. Once he was passing on a horse back when Harb ibn Shurahbil started walking with him and began talking. Then Arnie al-mu'minin said to him, "Get back because walking on foot with me by one like you is mischievous for the ruler (me) and an insult to the believer (you).”

In short he was such a versatile personality in whom numerous contradictory qualities had joined together and all the good attributes were centered in their full brightness as though his oneself was a collection of several selves and each self was an astounding portrait of achievement which showed forth the delineation of distinction in its untainted form, and on whose accomplishment one wonders with bewilderment.

About the Addressee, Malik Al-Ashtar

Amir al-mu'minin wrote this instrument for Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar, when he was appointed the Governor of Egypt in 38 AH. Malik al-Ashtar was one of the chief companions of Amir al-mu'minin. He had shown great endurance and steadfastness and perfect confidence and trust in Amir al-mu'minin.

He had attained the utmost nearness and attachment to him by molding his conduct and character after the conduct and character of Amir al-mu’minin. This can be gauged by Arnir al-mu'minins words: “Malik was to me as I was to the Messenger of Allah." (Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, vol. 15, p. 98; al-A'lam, vol. 6, p. 131).

Malik al-Ashtar too, actuated by selfless feelings of service, took a very active part in military encounters and proved himself to be Amir al-mu'minin's arm in all battles and encounters. He showed such feats of courage and daring that his bravery was acknowledged throughout Arabia. Along with this bravery be was also conspicuous in endurance and forbearing.

In this connection, Warram ibn Abi Firas an-Nakha'i has written that once Malik was passing through the market of Kufah with the dress and turban made of gunny-cloth when a shopkeeper finding him in this condition and clothing, he threw some rotten leaves upon him, but he did not at all mind this dirty behavior, nor did he even look at him. Rather, he quietly stepped forward.

Then someone said to this shopkeeper, "Do you know to whom you have been so insolent?" He replied that he did not know who he was, whereupon he said that it was Malik al-Ashtar, the companion of Amir al-mu'minin. Hearing this, he lost his senses and at once ran behind him to seek pardon for this insolence and humiliating treatment. While in his search be reached a mosque where Malik was offering prayers.

When he finished the prayers this man went forward and fell on his feet and begged pardon with great pertinacity and weeping. Malik raised the man's beard up and said,"By Allah, I have come to the mosque to pray to Allah to forgive you. I myself had pardoned you that very moment, and I hope Allah too will pardon you." (Tanbihu l’khawatir wa nuzhatu 'n-nawazir, vol. 1, p.2; al-Bihar, vol. 42, p. 157).

This is the forgiveness and tolerance of a warrior at whose name courage trembled, and whose swordsmanship was acknowledged by the brave men of Arabia. And this is the real sign of bravery that a man should exercise self control during bitterness of anger and rage and endure hardships with patience and calmness. In this connection, Amir al-mu'minin' saying is that, "The bravest of men is he who over-powers his passions."

However, besides these characteristics and qualities, he had a perfect aptitude for organization and administration. Thus, when the 'Uthmani (aI-'Uthmaniyyah) party began to spread the germs of destruction in Egypt and tried to upset the law and order of the country by mischief and revolt then Amir al-mu'minin removed Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr from the governorship and decided to appoint Malik al-Ashtar in his place, although at that time he was posted as the Governor of Nasibin.

However, Amir al-mu'minin sent him word that he should name someone as his deputy and come to Ami al-mu'minin. On receipt of this order Malik al-Ashtar appointed Shabib ibn 'Amir al-Azid in his place and himself came to Amir al-mu'minin. Amir al-mu'minin gave him a warrant of appointment and sent him off to Egypt, and also sent a written order to Egyptians to obey him.

When Mu'awiyah got the news of Malik al-Ashtar's appointment through his spies he was perplexed because he had promised 'Amir ibn al-'As that he would give him the governorship of Egypt in reward of his services and he had hoped that 'Amir ibn al-'As would easily defeat Muharnmad ibn Abi Bakr and wrest the power from him, but could not imagine conquering Egypt by defeating Malik al-Ashtar, He therefore decided to do away with him before he took over the charge.

For this he arranged with a landlord of the city of al-'Arish (or al-Qulzum) that when Malik passed through al-' Arish on his way to Egypt he should kill him by some device or other and in reward for this the revenue of his estate would be written off. So, when Malik al-Ashtar reached al-'Arish with retinue and force the chief of al-'Arish gave him a good ovation and insisted on having Malik as his guest.

Malik agreed and stayed at his place. When he finished the meal the host gave him some syrup of honey to drink in which he had mixed poison. Soon after drinking it the poison began to show its effect and before the eyes of everyone this great warrior known for his swordsmanship and for putting the rows of the enemy to flight calmly went into the embrace of death.

When Mu'awiyah got news of his success of this device he was overjoyed and shouted in merriment, "Oh, honey is also an army of Allah”, and then said during a speech:

“Ali ibn Ahi Talib had two right hand men. One was chopped off on the day of Siffin and he was 'Ammar ibn Yasir, and the second has been severed now and he is Malik al-Ashtar.”

But when the news of Malik's assassination reached Amir al-mu'minin, he was highly grieved and sorrowful, and then he said:

“Malik! Who is Malik? If Malik was a stone, he was hard and solid; if he was a rock, he was a great rock which had no parallel. It seems his death has made me also lifeless. I swear by Allah that his death made the Syrians joyous and insulted the Iraqis.

Then he continued:

“Women have become barren to give birth to such as Malik.” (at-Tabari, vol. 1, pp. 3392-3395; Ibn al-Athir, vol.3, pp. 352-353; al-Ya'qubi, vol. 2, p. 194; al-Isti'ab, vol. 3, p. 1366; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, vol. 6, pp. 74-77; Ibn Kathir, vol. 7, pp. 313-314; Abu 'I-Fida', vol. I, p. 179).

The Letter

Preamble

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

This is what Allah's servant 'Ali, Arnir al-mu'minin, has ordered Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar in his instrument (of appointment) for him when he made him Governor of Egypt for the collection of its revenues, fighting against its enemies, seeking the good of its people and making its cities prosperous.

He has ordered him to fear Allah, to prefer obedience to Him, and to follow what He has commanded in His Book (Qur'an) out of His obligatory and elective commands, without following which one cannot achieve virtue, nor (can one) be evil save by opposing them and ignoring them, and to help Allah the Glorified, with his heart, hand and tongue, because Allah whose name is Sublime takes the responsibility for helping him who helps Him, and for protecting him who gives Him support.

He also orders him to break his heart off from passions, and to restrain it at the time of their increase, because the heart leads towards evil unless Allah has mercy.

The qualifications of a governor and his responsibilities

Then, know O' Malik that I have sent you to an area where there have been governments before you, both just as well as oppressive. People will now watch your dealings as you used to watch the dealings of the rulers before you, and they (people) will criticize you as you criticized them (rulers). Surely, the virtuous are known by the reputation that Allah circulates for them through the tongues of His creatures.

Therefore, the best collection with you should be the collection of good deeds. So, control your passions and check your heart from doing what is not lawful for you, because checking the heart means detaining it just half way between what it likes and dislikes.

Habituate your heart to mercy for the subjects and to affection and kindness for them. Do not stand over them like greedy beasts who feel it is enough to devour them, since they are of two kinds, either your brother in religion or one like you in creation. They will commit slips and encounter mistakes.

They may act wrongly, willfully or by neglect. So, extend to them your forgiveness and pardon, in the same way as you would like Allah to extend His forgiveness and pardon to you, because you are over them and your responsible Commander (Imam) is over you while Allah is over him who has appointed you. He (Allah) has sought you to manage their affairs and has tried you through them.

Do not set yourself to fight Allah because you have no power before His power and you cannot do without His pardon and mercy. Do not repent of forgiving or be merciful in punishing. Do not act hastily during anger if you can find way out of it. Do not say: "I have been given authority, I should be obeyed when I order," because it engenders confusion in the heart, weakens the religion and takes one near ruin.

If the authority in which you are placed produces pride or vanity in you then look at the greatness of the realm of Allah over you and His might the like of which might you do not even possess over yourself. This will curb your haughtiness, cure you of your high temper and bring back to you your wisdom which had gone away from you. "

Beware of comparing yourself to Allah in His greatness or likening yourself to Him in His power, for Allah humiliates every claimant of power and disgraces everyone who is haughty.

Do justice for Allah and do justice towards the people, as against yourse1f, your near ones and those of your subjects for whom you have a liking, because if you do not do so you will be oppressive, and when a person oppresses the creatures of Allah then, instead of His creatures, Allah becomes his opponent, and when Allah is the opponent of a person He tramples his plea; and he will remain in the position of being at war with Allah until he gives it up and repents.

Nothing is more inductive of the reversal of Allah's bounty or for the hastening of His retribution than continuance in oppression, because Allah hears the prayer of the oppressed and is on the lookout for the oppressors.

Ruling should be in favour of the people as a whole

The way most coveted by you should be that which is the most equitable for the right, the most universal by way of justice, and the most comprehensive with regard to the agreement among those under you, because the disagreement among the common people sweeps away the arguments of the chiefs while the disagreement among the chiefs can be disregarded when compared with the agreement of the common people.

No one among those under you is more burdensome to the ruler in the comfort of life, less helpful in distress, more disliking of equitable treatment, more tricky is asking favors, less thankfu1 at the time of giving, less appreciative of reasons at the time of refusal, and weaker in endurance at the time of the discomforts of life than the chiefs.

It is the common people of the community who are the pillars of the religion, the power of the Muslims and the defense against the enemies. Your leanings should therefore be towards them and your inclination with them.

The one among the people under you who is furthest from you and the worst of them in your view should be he who is the most inquisitive of the shortcomings of the people, because people do have shortcomings and the ruler is the most appropriate person to cover them. Do not disclose whatever of it is hidden from you because your obligation is to correct what is manifest to you, while Allah will deal with whatever is hidden from you.

Therefore, cover shortcomings so far as you can; Allah would cover those of your shortcomings which you would like to remain under cover from your subjects. Unfasten every knot of hatred in the people and cut away from yourself the cause of every enmity. Feign ignorance from what is not clear to you. Do not hasten to second a backbiter, because a backbiter is a cheat although he looks like those who wish well.

About Counsellors

Do not include among those you consult a miser who would keep you back from being generous and caution you against destitution, nor a coward who would make you feel too weak for your affairs, nor a greedy person who would make beautiful to you the collection of wealth by evil ways. This is because although miserliness, cowardice and greed are different qualities, yet they are common in having an incorrect idea about Allah.

The worst minister for you is he who has been a minister for mischievous persons before you, and who joined them in sins. Therefore, he should not be your chief man, because they are abettors of sinners and brothers of the oppressors. You can find good substitutes for them who will be like them in their views and influence, while not being like them in sins and vices. They have never assisted an oppressor in his oppression or a sinner in his sin.

They will give you the least trouble and the best support. They will be most considerate towards you and the least inclined towards others. Therefore, make them your chief companions in privacy as well as in public.

Then, more preferable among them for you should be those who openly speak better truths before you and who support you least in those of your actions which Allah does not approve in His friends, even though they may be according to your wishes. Associate yourself with God-fearing and truthful people; then educate them, so that they should not praise you or please you by reason of an action you did not perform, because an excess of praise produces pride and drives you near haughtiness.

The virtuous and the vicious should not be in equal position before you because this means dissuasion of the virtuous from virtue and persuasion of the vicious to vice. Keep everyone in the position which is his. You should know that the most conducive thing for the good impression of the ruler on his subjects is that he should extend good behavior towards them, lighten their hardships, and avoid putting them to unbearable troubles.

You should therefore, in this way follow a course by which you will leave a good impression with your subjects, because such good ideas will relieve you of great worries. Certainly, the most appropriate for good impression of you is he to whom your behavior has not been good.

Do not discontinue the good lives in which the earlier people of this community had been acting, by virtue of which there was general unity and through which the subjects prospered. Do not innovate any line of action which injures these earlier ways because (in that case) the rewards for those who had established those ways will continue, but the burden for discontinuing them will be on you.

Keep on increasing your conversations with the scholars and discussions with the wise to stabilize the prosperity of the areas under you, and to continue with that in which the earlier people had remained steadfast.

The different classes of people

Know that the people consist of classes who prosper only with the help of one another, and they are not independent of one another. Among them are the army of Allah, then the secretarial workers of the common people and the chiefs, then the dispensers of justice, then those engaged in law and order, then the payers of bead tax (jizyah) and land tax (kharaj) from the protected unbelievers and the common Muslims.

Then there are the traders and the men of industry and then the lowest class of the needy and the destitute. Allah has fixed the share of every one of them and laid down His precepts about the limits of each in His Book (Qur'an) and the sunnah of His Prophet by way of a settlement which is preserved with us.

Now the army is, by the will of Allah, the fortress of the subjects, the ornament of the ruler, the strength of the religion and the means of peace. The subjects cannot exist without them while the army can be maintained only by the funds fixed by Allah in the revenues, through which they acquire the strength to fight the enemies, on which they depend for their prosperity, and with which they meet their needs.

These two classes cannot exist without the third class namely the judges, the executives and the secretaries who pass judgments about contracts, collect revenues and are depended upon in special and general matters.

And these classes cannot exist except with the traders and men of industry, who provide necessities for them, establish markets and make it possible for others not to do all this with their own hands. Then is the lowest class of the needy and the destitute support of and help for whom is an obligation, and every one of them has (a share in) livelihood in the name of Allah. Every one of them has a right on the ruler according to what is needed for his prosperity.

The ruler cannot acquit himself of the obligations laid on him by Allah in this matter except by striving and seeking help from Allah and by training himself to adhere to the right and by enduring on that account all that is light or hard.

1. The Army

Put in command of your forces the man who in your view is the best well-wisher of Allah, His Prophet and your Imam. The chestiest of them in heart and the highest of them in endurance is he who is slow in getting enraged, accepts excuses, is kind to the weak and is strict with the strong; violence should not raise his temper and weakness should not keep him sitting.

Also associate with considerate people from high families, virtuous houses and decent traditions, then people of courage, valor, generosity and benevolence, because they are repositories of honor and springs of virtues. Strive for their matters as the parents strive for their child.

Do not regard anything that you do to strengthen them as big nor consider anything that you have agreed to do for them as little (so as to give it up), even though it may be small, because this will make them your well-wishers and create a good impression of you. Do not neglect to attend to their small matters, confining yourself to their important matters, because your small favors will also be of benefit to them while the important ones are such that they cannot ignore them.

That commander of the army should have such a position before you that he renders help to them equitably and spends from his money on them and on those of their families who remain behind so that all their worries converge on the one worry for fighting the enemy. Your kindnesses to them will tum their hearts to you.

The most pleasant thing for the rulers is the establishment of justice in their areas and the manifestation of the love of their subjects, but the subjects' love manifests itself only when their hearts are dean. Their good wishes prove correct only when they surround their commanders (to protect them). Do not regard their positions to be a burden over them and do not keep watching for the end of their tenure.

Therefore, be broad-minded in regard to their desires, continue praising them and recounting the good deeds of those who have shown such deeds, because the mention of good actions shakes the brave and rouses the weak, if Allah so wills.

Appreciate the performance of every one of them, do not attribute the performance of one to the other, and do not minimize the reward below the level of the performance. The high position of a man should not lead you to regard his small deeds as big, nor should the low position of a man make you regard his big deeds as small.

Refer to Allah and His Prophet the affairs which worry you and matters which appear confusing to you, because, addressing the people whom Allah the Sublime, wishes to guide, He said:

O' you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those vested with authority from among you; and then if you quarrel about anything refer it to Allah and the Prophet if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day (of Judgment) -(Qur'an, 4:59)

Referring to Allah means to act according to what is clear in His Book and referring to the Prophet means to follow his unanimously agreed sunnah in regard to which there are no differences.

2. The Chief Judge

For the settlement of disputes among people select him who is the most distinguished of your subjects in your view. The cases (coming before him) should not vex him, disputation should not enrage him, he should not insist on any wrong point, and should not grudge accepting the truth· when he perceives it; he should not lean towards greed and should not content himself with a cursory understanding (of a matter) without going thoroughly into it.

He should be most ready to stop (to ponder) on doubtful points, most regardful of arguments, least disgusted at the quarrel of litigants, most patient at probing into matters and most fearless at the time of passing judgment. Praise should not make him vain and elation should not make him lean (to any side). Such people are very few.

Then, very often check his decisions and allow him so much money (as remuneration) that he has no excuse worth hearing (for not being honest) and there remains no occasion for him to go to others for his needs.

Give him that rank in your audience for which no one else among your chiefs aspires, so that he remains safe from the harm of those around you. You should have a piercing eye in this matter because this religion has formerly been a prisoner in the hands of vicious persons when action was taken according to passion, and worldly wealth was sought.

3. Executive Officers

Thereafter, look into the affairs of your executives. Give them appointment after tests and do not appoint them according to partiality or favoritism, because these two things constitute sources of injustice and unfairness.

Select from among them those who are people of experience and modesty, hailing from virtuous houses, having been previously in Islam, because such persons possess high manners and untarnished honor. They are the least inclined towards greed and always base their eyes on the ends of matters.

Give them an abundant livelihood (by way of salary) because this gives them the strength to maintain themselves in order and not to have an eye upon the funds in their custody, and it would be an argument against them if they disobeyed your order or misappropriated your trust. You should also check their activities and have people who report on them who should be truthful and faithful, because your watching their actions secretly will urge them to preserve trust with and to be kind to the people.

Be careful of assistants. If any one of them extends his hands towards misappropriation and the reports of your reporters reaching you confirm it that should be regarded enough evidence. You should then inflict corporal punishment on him and recover what he has misappropriated you should put him in a place of disgrace, blacklist him with (the charge of) misappropriation and make him wear the necklace of shame for his offence.

4. The Administration of Revenues

Look after the revenue (kharaj or land tax) affairs in such a way that those engaged in it remain prosperous because in their prosperity lies the prosperity of all others. The others cannot prosper without them, because all people are dependent on revenue and its payers.

You should also keep an eye on the cultivation of the land more than on the collection of revenue because revenue cannot be had without cultivation and whoever asks for revenue without cultivation, ruins the area and brings death to the people. His rule will not last only a moment.

If they complain of the heaviness (of the revenue) or of diseases, or dearth of water, or excess of water or of a change in the condition of the land either due to flood or to drought, you should remit the revenue to the extent that you hope will improve their position.

The remission granted by you for the removal of distress "from them should not be grudged by you, because it is an investment which they will return to you in the shape of the prosperity of your country and the progress of your domain in addition to earning their praise and happiness for meting out justice to them.

You can depend upon their strength because of the investment made by you in them through catering for their convenience, and can have confidence in them because of the justice extended to them by being kind to them.

After that, circumstances may so turn that you may have to ask for their assistance, when they will hear it happily, for prosperity is capable of bearing what· ever you load on it. The ruin of the land is caused by the poverty of the cultivators, while the cu1tivators become poor when the officers concentrate on the collection (of money), having little hope for continuance (in their posts) and deriving no benefit from objects of warning.

5. The Clerical Establishment

Then you should take care of your secretarial workers. Put the best of them in charge of your affairs. Entrust those of your letters which contain your policies and secrets to him who possesses the best character, who is not elated by honors, lest he dares speak against you in common audiences.

He should also not be negligent in presenting the communications of your officers before you and issuing correct replies to them on your behalf and in matters of your receipts and payments. He should not make any damaging agreement on your behalf and should not fail in repudiating an agreement against you. He should not be ignorant of the extent of his own position in matters because he who is ignorant of his own position is (even) more ignorant of the position of others.

Your selection of these people should not be on the basis of your understanding (of them), confidence and your good impression, because people catch the ideas of the officers through affectation and personal service and there is nothing in it which is like well-wishing or trustfulness. You should rather test them by what they did under the virtuous people before you.

Take a decision in favor of one who has a good name among the common people and is the most renowned in trustworthiness, because this will be a proof of your regard for Allah and for him on whose behalf you have been appointed to this position (namely your Imam). Establish one Chief for every department of work.

He should not be incapable of big matters, and a rush of work should not perplex him. Whenever there is a defect in your secretaries which you overlook, then you will be held responsible for it.