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Criteria of Rightful and Unlawful Leadership (Part 1)

 

imam ali (a.s)

Leader-Follower Relationship with the Prophet (PBUH)

According to Imam Ali (A.S) the legitimate Imam or the righteous leader is the enforcer of Allah’s order and he has no command or request of his own.

Much can be said on the criteria of leadership and characteristics of rightful and unlawful leadership. The following is a brief discussion on this.

According to Imam Ali (A.S) the first criterion in this connection is leader-follower relationship with the Prophet (PBUH), as he says: “The Imam of guidance and the Imam of ignorance and destruction, the friend of the Prophet and his enemy are never the same.”‌[1]

In another explanation, Imam Ali (A.S) highlights characteristics of a rightful leader and the criteria for friendship of the Prophet (PBUH) where he says: “The most merited people to the Prophet (PBUH), the wisest man for Sharia or Islamic law, and the true friend of the Prophet (PBUH) is he who obeys him no matter he is a close relative of the Prophet (PBUH).”‌[2]

In Imam Ali’s viewpoint, the legitimate Imam or the pious leader is the enforcer of Allah’s order and he has no command or request of his own. This is a distinctive criterion.

“You people! Do not rely on your ignorance and do not follow your whims … He who does not give a good advice according to what has been commanded by Allah, does not practice goodwill, does not revive traditions, does not observe religious obligations, and does not work in favor of people is not a true follower of Imam.”‌[3]

This suggests that a corrupt and illegitimate leader pursues his own whims. Such a leader is ignorant. There is no trace of the word advice in his lexicon. He pays more attention to innovation than tradition. He totally ignores observing religious obligations, and he is of no use to the people.

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi


Notes:

[1] Nahjul Balagha, Letter 27

[2] Ibid, Letter 96

[3] Ibid, Sermon 105


Other links:

Mawla and Imam

The meaning of ‘Mawla’

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