Many believe that when someone enters the turbulent scene of politics and state management he has to ignore some ethical rules and principles in order to be able to manage the society in the best possible way. They argue that ethical codes in politics are different from the ordinary ethics. This opinion, i.e. the unethical political performance, is against the ethical precepts of the great leader of Islam, Imam Ali (AS). He abided by ethical codes when he entered politics from the very beginning. He never violated ethical codes either in war or in government to gain victory over his enemies.

Ethical Politics

A glance at the political life of Imam Ali (AS) will clearly show his abidance by the ethical rules in his belief and behavior and in his political performance. Imam Ali (AS) used to recommend his state officials to observe ethical codes in administrative affairs. Addressing his intensely politicized society he said: “I revealed to you ethical virtues.”

What distinguished Imam Ali’s (AS) moralism in politics was his political behavior which depended on ethics in two ways: On the one hand, he sought ethical goals and on the other hand, he consolidated infrastructures to facilitate access to the ethical norms. In better words, both the goals and ways of access to these objectives were ethical in nature.

In the civil conflicts, uprisings, and breaches of the promises by others during his reign, Imam Ali (AS) did not fulfill the illegitimate requests of Talha and Zubair nor did he reinstate Muawiyah in his throne. Perhaps his government would be saved from harms if he had done so, but Imam Ali (AS) was not the one who would sacrifice ethical criteria for government. This is because rulership must revive values, and values are not to revive government.