By Abbas Alimohamed
Year 9 / Najm Class, Wessex Madrasah
Food & Clothing
Imam Ali (a.s) was very humble in the way that he dressed and the type of food he ate that even the poorest could afford. It was not because he was poor but it was because he wanted to lead the life of the poor so he could stay humble.
A famous story that outlines the simplicity and humility of Imam Ali (a.s) goes:
Once, after a day's hard work, Imam (a.s) was sitting under a tree eating his barley bread and salt. A passing beggar asked him for food. Imam Ali (a.s) voluntarily offered to share what he was eating and gave the beggar a piece of bread. The old beggar found it difficult to chew and complained that the bread was too hard. Imam Ali (a.s) informed the beggar that he would get good hot food if he cared to go to Imam Hasan (a.s)'s house.
When the beggar arrived at the given address, he found that a banquet was spread out and people were eating. Imam Hasan (a.s) invited the beggar to join them. He started eating and after a while, he would eat one mouthful and put one mouthful in his bowl. Seeing this, Imam Hasan (a.s) asked, "Why are you putting food in your bowl? Have your fill and then you can take some more with you."
The beggar replied, "I am collecting some good food for a man, who is eating dry barley bread and salt." Imam Hasan (a.s) smiled and said, "That man is Imam Ali (a.s) and this house is his house."
Work & Generosity
Imam Ali (a.s) was a very hardworking man. He worked hard while farming and cultivating orchards. He developed several plots and orchards and then gave them all away for the sake of Allah.
One day, Imam Ali (a.s) got a piece of barren land outside Madina which he wanted to farm. In order to do this, Imam Ali (a.s) decided to dig a well, so he chose a place, put his hopes in Allah and began to dig.
Many days went by, but still there was no sign of any water coming out of the well.
A few days later, Imam Ali (a.s) picked up a pickaxe, entered the well and using all his strength and energy worked very hard, but still there was no sign of water. Tired, he came out of the well, rested for a while, and then reentered the well.
Imam Ali (a.s) was swinging the pickaxe with such strength when the ground suddenly split open, and fresh, clear water bubbled up. Imam Ali (a.s) climbed quickly out of what had now become a wonderful well in the dry desert which would soon turn the area into a lovely orchard.
Soon the people gathered around to see it. All of them were saying different things.
"What a hardworking man is Imam Ali (a.s)" one said.
"Since Imam Ali (a.s) is a good and generous man, Allah has been generous to him and given him goodness" said another.
"Imam Ali (a.s) and his family have become rich forever" said another.
Some congratulated Imam Ali (a.s), while some were jealous.
"Bring me a paper and pen" said Imam Ali (a.s) and when they had done so; Imam Ali (a.s) sat down and wrote:
I am giving this well and the land to charity so that the money it makes is used.
- In helping the poor and needy.
- In helping the travelers far away from their homes.
- In providing the means for the marriages of orphans.
- In providing medical care for the poor.
- In the doing of good work from which others can also benefit e.g. building a Mosque or a library.
I have given this well in charity to please Allah and the rewards of the Hereafter, and in order to be saved from the fire of Hell.
What can we learn from Imam Ali (a.s)?
Comfort-loving people increase the necessities of life so much that a drop becomes a sea. On the other hand Imam Ali (a.s) reduced the necessities of life to such an extent that the sea was reduced to a cup. He was content with whatever came his way and thanked the Almighty.
This shows that there is a lot to learn from Imam Ali (a.s) as he is our ultimate role model and whether it is about Akhlaq or simply just how to live our life.
He is the perfect person to learn from. Inshallah, may Allah give us the Tawfiq to follow in the footsteps of such an admirable person, and let not his numerous sacrifices go in vain.