Imam Ali (a.s.) And The Candle
A candle burnt by his side, as he sat down meticulously recording all the
revenue and the expenses of the treasury.
Just then Talha and Zubair appeared.
They aspired to some positions of authority in Imam Ali's (a.s.) rule and had
come to strike a deal. If Imam Ali's (a.s.) gave them a place of distinction,
they would in turn pledge their full support. Imam Ali's (a.s.) knew of this.
Just as they sat down, Imam Ali's (a.s.) puts out the candle and lit another
Talha and Zubair exchanged a glance of surprise and then one of them said:
"O Ali, we have come on some important business. But why did you extinguish the
Imam Ali's (a.s.) replied: "That was a candle bought of Treasury funds. As
long as I worked for the Treasury, I used it. Now you have come for some
personal work, so I use the candle bought of my personal fund."
Talha and Zubair left him without saying another word.
The Five loaves
Zarr Bin Hobeish relates this story: Two travelers sat together on the way to
their destination to have a meal. One had five loaves of bread. The other had
three. A third traveler was passing by and at the request of the two joined in
The travelers cut each of the loaf of bread in three equal parts. Each of the
travelers ate eight broken pieces of the loaf.
At the time of leaving the third traveler took out eight dirhams and gave to the
first two men who had offered him the meal, and went away. On receiving the
money the two travelers started quarrelling as to who should have how much of
The five-loaf-man demanded five dirhams. The three-loaf-man insisted on dividing
the money in two equal parts.
The dispute was brought to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (the Caliph of the time in
Arabia) to be decided.
Imam Ali (a.s.) requested the three-loaf-man to accept three dirhams. The man
refused and said that he would take only four dirhams. At this Imam Ali (a.s.)
returned, "You can have only one dirham. You had eight loaves between
yourselves. Each loaf was broken in three parts. Therefore, you had 24 equal
parts. Your three loaves made nine parts out of which you have eaten eight
portions, leaving just one to the third traveler. Your friend had five loaves
which divided into three made fifteen pieces. He ate eight pieces and gave seven
pieces to the guest. As such the guest shared one part from your loaves and
seven from those of your friend. So you should get one dirham and your friend
should receive seven dirhams.
In The Company Of The Caliph
When Imam Ali (a.s.) was coming to Kufa, he entered the city of Anbar populated
by Iranians. The Iranian farmers were very happy to see their beloved caliph
passing through their town. They came to his visit. When it was time for Imam
Ali (a.s.) to leave, they started running in front of his horse. Imam Ali (a.s.)
inquired about this behavior.
"This is one way that we extend respect to our leaders and respectful
individuals. This is our custom that has been practiced for years."
"This behavior puts you in discomfort in this world, and brings about
humiliation in the next world. Always stay away from practices that humiliate
you. After all what benefit is there in such a practice to the recipients?"