Amir al-Mu'mineen (a) to Malik al-Ashtar:
Do not say, ‘I have been given authority, I order and am obeyed’, for this leads to corruption in the heart and the erosion of religion; and it brings closer the adversities of fate. If the authority of your position engenders vanity and arrogance, then look at the grandeur of God’s dominion above you, and at His power to do for you that which you have no power to do for yourself. This will calm your ambition, restrain you from your own vehemence, and restore to you what had strayed from your intellect.
Beware of comparing [yourself] with God in greatness and likening [yourself] to Him in might, for God abases every tyrant and disgraces every braggart. Never be quick to believe a slanderer, for a slanderer is a deceiver, even if he appears in the guise of a good adviser.
Study much with the scholars (al-'Ulama') and hold much discourse with the sages (al-Hukama'), in order to consolidate that which brings well-being to your lands, and to further entrench that which has already been established by your predecessors.
Then—O God, O God!—[pay particular attention to] the lowest class, those who have no wherewithal, the destitute, the needy, the afflicted, the disabled. Within this class are those who beg, and those whose wretchedness calls out to be alleviated but do not beg. Be mindful of God in regard to their rights, for He has entrusted these rights to your care. Assign to them a portion from your public treasury (bayt al-mal), and a portion of the produce of what is taken as booty by the Muslims in every region, for those who are furthest have the same rights as those nearest.
Apportion a part of your time to those who have special needs, making yourself free to attend to them personally, sitting with them in a public assembly with all due humility before God, your Creator. Keep your soldiers, guards and officers away from them, so that they can speak to you in an uninhibited manner for I heard the Messenger of God say—God bless him and his family—on more than one occasion: ‘A nation in which the rights of the weak are not wrested in an uninhibited manner from the strong will never be blessed.’
Perform each day the task proper to it, for to each day belongs a particular task. Set apart the most excellent of your available time, and the greatest portions thereof, for your soul, for what is between you and God, even though all times [and actions performed therein] are for God, if the intention underlying them is good, and if your subjects derive security as a consequence. Let your observance of those duties (fara'idh) relating exclusively to God be the special means by which you purify your religion for God. Give unto God of your vital energy in your nights and your days, and perform fully that by which you draw near to God, doing so perfectly, without becoming dull or deficient, taking your body to its limits.
When you lead the people in prayer, do so without repelling [them] or squandering [it], for there are people with infirmities or special needs. Indeed, I asked the Messenger of God—God bless him and his family—when he sent me [as his representative] to Yemen, ‘How should I lead them in prayer?’ He replied, ‘Lead them according to the prayer performed by the weakest among them; and be merciful to the believers.’
Citation from the letter of Imam Ali to Malik al-Ashtar - Nahjul Balagha Letter 53
'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya