Message of Thaqalayn

A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies

The Philantropic Ideals in Imam Ali's Rule

Philanthropy enjoys a unique position in human relations. Issues related to philanthropy have constantly caught the attention of man throughout human history. The concept of philanthropy and its issues have been time and again reviewed and deliberated upon by scholars and intellectuals. Philanthropy is a capacious word. Writing an article on it, or even authoring a book for that matter, would not suffice to discuss all problems surrounding it, as this requires comprehensive research and ample time. However, among the issues directly associated with philanthropy is that of governance, that is, the manner in which the state treats its citizens, and the degree to which the statesmen respect and stand for human dignity in relation to their subjects. This paper examines the ethical ideals in the practice of Imam Ali particularly as illustrated in his letter to Malik al-Ashtar, and demonstrates the philanthropic principles that statesmen ought to observe vis-à-vis their subjects from the viewpoint of the Imam. Being just with people, consulting them in matters related to the society, being open to criticism, fighting against institutionalised discrimination, being answerable to the masses, establishing peace and security in the society, and the like, are among some philanthropic principles given by Imam Ali which shall be reflected upon.



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