The following letter is viral on the internet which advocates the noble rule of the fourth caliph of Islam, So is it really coming from UN?


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    From a cursory glance at Wikipedia, it appears that the status of Ali bin Ali Talib is one of the major points of disagreement between the Sunni and Shi'a branches of Islam, so this statement would seem to be extremely fraught with sectarian and political implications. If so, it is hard to believe that former Secretary-General Annan would have made such a statement on his own authority. Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 13:27
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    I can't find any reference to this letter on any reasonably reliable site, most results are social media.
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 13:41
  • This site refers to the letter in conjunction with the 2002 Arab Human Development Report, which appears to have been a real UN-sponsored document. That might be a good starting point for further research. Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 13:54
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    To believe that the Secretary General of the UN would make a statement that would inflame and infuriate half the Arab world and the entire non-Muslim world, and utterly discredit himself politically, is well beyond the limits of skepticism. Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 22:50
  • On skimming the aforementioned 2002 Arab Human Development Report, it does quote a few pithy sayings from Ali, but doesn't contain any explicit praise for him. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 5:04

1 Answer 1


The source of the text of the above letter originates from a facebook posting by a Shia advocacy organization, which went viral from there. The text in the letter in itself does not appear in any UN archive or documents but this UN report does quote few of the sayings attributed to Ali the fourth caliph of Islam. But nothing claiming he was "fairest" governor in history of mankind and hence most likely this letter is a fabrication which uses publicly available signatures and letterheads of Kofi Annan. From historical evidences we know that only the governance of Muhammad and his 2nd caliph Umar were prominent, prosperous and set examples. The rule of Ali was marred by internal rebellion and uprisings carried over by his previous incumbent Uthman.

  • While trying to answer, I did see that document (and shook my head at the idea that Facebook was a source), but I assumed this text came from someone (Sarah Jaffery) who was merely forwarding on the viral message (probably the image we see above), not a person who started a hoax.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 6:15
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    "The text in the letter in itself does not appear in any UN archive or documents" How do you know this?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 6:15
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    @Oddthinking search.un.org/…
    – user11777
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 12:39
  • also the source only refers to 2002 report which clearly does not contain that text .
    – user11777
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 12:44
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    I do see a UN press release from 1997 where Kofi Annan is quoted as saying that "Imam Ali, the fourth Khalifa after Prophet Muhammed, instructed the governor of Egypt to rule with mercy and tolerance towards all his subjects" to an Iranian audience. I don't see this as evidence of the claim, but I'm guessing it may have inspired it.
    – Brian Z
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:56

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