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Nahj al-Balagha

The Nahj al-Balagha (Arabic: نهج البلاغة "Peak of Eloquence") is the most famous collections of Shi'a hadith, attributed to Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib). It was collected by Al-Sharif al-Radi, or in Persian Seyyed Razi, in the 10th century. It is considered by many to be the epitome of eloquence, a masterpiece of Arab literature and, for Shi'a Muslims, is second only to the Holy Qur'an.

Nahj means open way, road, course, method or manner. Balaghah means eloquence, art of good style and communication, rhetoric etc

Introduction

Nahj al Balagha is a collections of 241 sermons, 79 letters, and 489 utterances by the first Shi'a Imam, Ali, who was the cousin and the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Those numbers vary in different editions of Nahj al- balaghah. The number of sermons varies from 238 to 241 and the number of letters varies from 77 to 79, whereas utterances vary from 463 to 489.

This collection was gathered by Al-Sharif al-Radi (359-406/970-1015) and the reason of gathering of this collection is represented by him:

And these were not collected in any other work, nor found together in any other book ... Amir al-Mu'minin (as) was the fountain of eloquence and (his utterances) the source of rhetoric. Through him hidden delicacies of eloquence and rhetoric came to light, and from him were learnt its principles and rules. Every speaker and orator had to tread on his footprints, and every eloquent preacher availed of his utterances. Even then they could not equal him, for the credit for being the first and foremost remained with him, because his utterances were those that carried the reflection of Divine knowledge and savour of Muhammad's sayings. Accordingly I acceded to their request, as I knew that it meant great reward, handsome reputation and a treasure of recompense. The object of this compilation is that I should bring forth Amir al-Mu'minin's greatness and superiority in the art of rhetoric which is in addition to his countless qualities and innumerable distinctions, and to show that he has risen to the highest pinnacle of this attainment, is singular among all those predecessors whose utterances are quoted here and there, whereas his own utterances are like an onrushing and irresistible stream, and such a treasure of subtleties in language is unmatched.

The misconception about this book that it does not relate to the greatness of Ali after Muhammad is totally wrong, as the literature of the book assures the authenticity of it.

As the sermons of the book narrates the topics such as "the creation of the world" and the "creation of Adam" and about the "End of the Universe" and the arrival of the last Imam of the Muslims, Imam al-Mahdi al-Muntazir, these are the topics containing tons of information about the present, past and future world. These are the topics which exactly match the narrations which are narrated by Muhammad in the most authentic books of sahih hadiths.

The book has been benefitting the mankind since it was developed. Shia's believe that most of the progress this world has made has been brought by following Nahaj-al-Balaghah and Quran Hakeem. Which confirms that this book is nothing but the true narrations quoted by Ali as Amir al-Mu'minin.

Authenticity

This book is basically a literary book not a religious one, because Al-Sharif al-Radi didn't gather all part of but chose some part of sermons and letters, but he chose some parts of them which have more literary value. Also it doesn't contain sources of the contents. But this book contains many religious, historic, sociological, political and folklore aspects of Islam and Arab World in the 7th century. However, in recent years some scholars have tried to find the sources of the texts. "Masadir Nahj al-Balagha wa asaniduh" written by "al-Sayyid `Abd al-Zahra' al-Husayni al-Khatib" introduces some of these sources. and "Nahj al-sa'adah fi mustadrak Nahj al-balaghah" by "Muhammad Baqir al-Mahmudi" represents all of 'Ali's extant speeches, sermons, decrees, epistles, prayers, and sayings have been collected. It includes the Nahj al-balaghah and other discourses which were not incorporated by Al-Sharif al-Radi or were not available to him. Apparently, except for some of the aphorisms, the original sources of all the contents of the Nahj al-balaghah have been determined. Also there are some books written before or about the same time as Nahj al-balaghah (400/1009) which contains Ali's sermons, quotations and letters.

According to one Shi'a source, the first person to raise doubts about its attribution to Ali was Ibn Khallikan (d. 1211/1282). In the 19th century, Muhammad Abduh said that he had no knowledge of "Peak of Eloquence" until he undertook its study far from home in a distant land. It is said that he was struck with wonder and felt as if he had discovered a precious treasure trove. Thereupon, he immediately decided to publish it and introduce it to the Egyptians.

Shi'a

The collection is regarded by Shi'as authentic, although it is not included in their Hadith books, which normally include the sayings and actions of the Shia Imams along with those of Muhammad. However, Shi'a believe that no book is completely authentic except for the Qur'an. Each sermon must be examined individually.

Sunni

The majority of Wahabi scholars do not regard the book as an authentic work, pointing out that while some sayings it contains may be authentic the book as a whole is of "no benefit." The Sunni Scholar Al-Dhahabi said in Siyaar A'laamun Nubalaa:
"I said, he was the compiler of the book Nahj al-Balaagha which is attributed to Imaam ‘Alee radhiallaahu anhu, but the reports contained therein have are no chains of narration. Some of it is false and some of it is true, but it contains some fabricated reports of things that the Imaam would never have said. But who is the fair-minded man who would look at it in an objective manner?! It was said that it was compiled by his brother Shareef al-Radee. It includes slander against the companions of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu alaihi wa salam; we seek refuge with Allaah from knowledge that is of no benefit." about Al-Dhahabi

In addition, other Salafi scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah in his Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah has this to say:

"...and most of the sermons which the author of the book Nahj al Balagha quotes in it are lies upon Ali..."
"But as for the author of Nahj al Balagha and his like, they take many sayings of people, and make them into the sayings of Ali"
Yusuf an-Nabhani strongly warned Salafi's against reading this work.

Sermons

In total Nahj al Balagha has a collection of 245 sermons of Ali.

The following is an incomplete list of summaries on each sermon in the collection.

  • Sermon 1, in this sermon Ali mentions the genesis of creation of the heavens, earth and Adam.
  • Sermon 2, (some consider this part of the previous sermon), is the sermon in which the creation of Adam is mentioned.
  • Sermon 3, mentions about Hajj (the holy pilgrimage to Mecca).
  • Sermon 4, was delivered by Ali on his return from the Battle of Siffin. In this sermon Ali explained the condition of Arabs in pre-Islamic days and the corrupt conditions in which Islamic society had fallen again.
  • Sermon 5, (some consider this part of the previous sermon), is in praise of Ahl al-Bayt (the progeny of Muhammad). In this sermon Ali mentions that the Ahl al-Bayt are the strong holds of God's commands, and are the ones that can interpret His commands.
  • Sermon 6, is about the hypocrites, considered by Shia's to be Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman Ibn Affan. Ali claims: "None of the Companions of Muhammad could be compared with the Ahl al-Bayt, and none should be considered equal to them."
  • Sermon 7, is the famous speech of Shaqshaqiyyah (Sermon of the roar of a camel), in this sermon Ali again mentions about the caliphate being snatched from him. "By Allah, that man, Abu Bakr, snatched away the caliphate (from me) as it was an insignia..."
  • Sermon 8, in this sermon Ali has depicted the mentality of Quraysh and what the Ahl al-Bayt have done to teach them Islam and to reform their minds. He finished it with an advice to them to accept religion sincerely.
  • Sermon 9, After the death of Muhammad when `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib (uncle of Muhammad) and Abu Sufyan came to Ali to swear allegiance, he advised them in this sermon.
  • Sermon 10, Talhah and Az Zubayr rebelled against Ali and raised an army to occupy the provinces of Kufa and Basra. Ali resolved the issue instead of fighting. Some people tried to dissuade Ali against his decisions, in reply to the dissuation Ali delivered Sermon 10.
  • Sermon 11, In sermon 11 Ali describes the mental conditions of those Muslims who in reality were hypocrites and had in their inner hearts no place for truth, justice and Islam. To serve their purpose they stooped to every vice and evil and Shaitan (Satan) was their guide and lord.
  • Sermon 12, Ali warns Az Zubayr (who turned against Ali).
  • Sermon 13, Ali replies to the propaganda of the opponents.
  • Sermon 14, Ali delivered this speech after Talha and Az Zubayr broke their oath of allegiance to Ali. Ali realised that Muawiyah I was behind this and delivered Sermon 14, Followers of truth and religion! Beware that the Satan (possibly referring to Muawiya, although it could be referring to Iblis) has amassed his followers ...
  • Sermon 15, Ali instructs Muhammad ibn Hanafiya (commander of Ali's army at the Battle of Bassorah (also called the Battle of the Camel or the Battle of Jamal).
  • Sermon 16, Speech given after the victory at the Battle of Bassorah.
  • Sermon 17, Ali condemned the activities of the people of Basra (who had fought against him at the Battle of Bassorah).
  • Sermon 18, In this sermon Ali again condemned the actions of the people of Basra.
  • Sermon 19, is in context of the conquest of Armenia, where the Khums income had been transferred from the state to Marwan I (Marwan ibn Hakam), (a process that Ali would later reverse).{fact}
  • Sermon 20, this sermon was delivered after the death of caliph Uthman Ibn Affan, when Ali was being offered the caliphate. In it Ali told people what to expect under his Caliphate.
  • Sermon 21, Ali describes three kind of people found in society and also the best course to be followed in life.
  • Sermon 22, Ali condemns people who assume the status/title of a Qadi (Judge) without having qualification or enough knowledge for this kind of responsible work.
  • Sermon 23, remarks of Ali on differences of opinions amongst jurists on the same question of Sharia (Islamic law).
  • Sermon 24, While Ali was delivering a speech in the mosque of Kufa, Ash'ath ibn Qays (who was the chief of Muawiya's army at the Battle of Siffin) intervened saying that such a speech was harmful to Ali. Sermon 24 was a reply to Ash'ath; "You a wicked son of a depraved father, a hypocrite, son of an infidel, do you know which part of my speech is harmful and which part is beneficial to me? ..."
  • Sermon 25, Ali explains how and from whom we can take lessons to mould and reform our lives. In it Ali also reminds people of the hereafter; "If you had only a true conception of what would happen after death, you would have screamed with horror and trembled with fright ..."
  • Sermon 26, Ali tells that this life is just a journey and by reducing our sins we could make this journey easy; "Reduce the burden of your sins and vices so that you may carry on the journey with ease".
  • Sermon 27, Talhah and Az Zubayr had wanted to take over the caliphate and therefore murdered Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan, the only obstacle remaining in their way was Ali. They decided to falsely accuse Ali for the murder. In Sermon 27, Ali tells Talhah and Az Zubayr to be afraid of Allah.
  • Sermon 28, Ali advises the poor not to envy the rich and the rich to support and help the poor.
  • Sermon 29, Ali advises people to follow Allah's commands, as that is the only way one can enjoy the hereafter; And, if you are not rewarded in this life, I guarantee for your reward in the hereafter.
  • Sermon 30, was delivered in the context of Muawiyah I's seizure of some provinces (previously under the control of Ali's caliphate) and the subsequent flight of Ali's Governors.
  • Sermon 31, believed to be given before Sittin, Ali highlights three points. He illustrates the condition of Arabs in pre-Islamic days, the reasons why he did not take serious steps to defend his causes before the Battle of Bassorah, and how Muawiyah I allegedly purchased the allegiance of 'Amr ibn al-'As.
  • Sermon 32, This sermon is in praise of Jihad, it shows what it means and what one can achieve from it.
  • Sermon 33, Ali advises people to abandon corrupt ways of life and try to achieve salvation.
  • Sermon 34, Ali criticised those people who said that they were ready to fight for Islam, but practically used excuses, whenever Islam needed defence.
  • Sermon 35, Ali explains the causes of the murder of Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan and also clarifies himself of not having any connection with the incident. "If I had ordered him to be killed I undoubtedly would have been his murderer, and if I had prevented people from killing him I would have been his helper. But I have no connection whatsoever with that affair."
  • Sermon 36, in this sermon Ali gives advice to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas when he is sent to Az Zubayr before the Battle of Bassorah.
  • Sermon 37,Ali advises people to lead a honest and pious life, he also explained the condition in which people were living in at that time.

Ali also describes four main types of people:

**"Firstly there are those, who abstain from vice, villainy and violence because they are timid and cowards, and have neither means nor enough wealth."
**"Then there are those, who have drawn their swords, have openly declared their evil intentions and have gathered armies around them." (possibly referring to Muawiyah I)
**"And there are some, who instead of trying to gain blessings of Allah with sincere good deeds, want to secure a high place in this world with pretense of piety and holiness."
**"Lastly there are people weak in mind and depraved in character. They can neither create resources, nor can secure assistance from others, and thus find themselves deprived of wealth and social status. ... cover their humility and poverty under the guise of a religious and contended life ...".
Then Ali mentions a fifth group of people:
**"...there is also an insignificant minority of those pious people, whom the true conception of His Divine Greatness and Might does not allow to be cruel, villainous, and haughty; and whom the fear of the Day of Judgment does not permit to lead a frivolous life."

  • Sermon 38,Ali tells people that his mission is the same as it was in Muhammad's time, My mission today is the same as it was during the time of Muhammad. I shall thrive till I eradicate impiety and injustice, and till I establish a rule of justice and truth, - a humane and divine regime.
  • Sermon 39, in this sermon Ali has expressed his sorrow over the mental condition of Iraqis, warning them of the results of negligence of duty and indifference to religion.
  • Sermon 40, when Muawiyah I 's army was on verge of a defeat at the Battle of Siffin, his commander 'Amr ibn al-'As bribed some of Ali's Army officers. Some of the officers came back to Ali and apologised for their betrayal. On this occasion Ali delivered Sermon 40.
  • Sermon 41, the Battle of Nahrawan took place between Ali and the Kharijites. Before the battle began Ali warned the Kharijites in Sermon 41, I want to warn and advise you against this battle, for you may be killed in it, and the next day sun may shed its morning light upon your mutilated and blood-stained bodies ...
  • Sermon 42, Ali describes his sincere efforts, courage and fortitude for the cause of Islam.
  • Sermon 43, is a very short sermon, in which he talks about how pious people "walk through the darkness", but because of their strong believe in Allah stay on the right path.
  • Sermon 44, talks about Malik ibn Ka'ab, who was the Governor of Aynut Tamr (a province), he only had an army of about 100 men to guard this province. Without any prior warning Muawiyah I sent an army to invade the province. When Ali found out, he urged the Muslims to go help Malik ibn Ka'ab. The Muslims were timid and unwilling to go help Malik ibn Ka'ab, seeing this Ali gave Sermon 44. After this sermon finished, Adi ibn Hatim came to Ali with a 1000 soldiers from the Bani Hatim. Ali made Adi the commander of the army. Adi was preparing to depart to Aynut Tamr, when news reached that Malik ibn Ka'ab and his small army of 100 men had defeated Muawiya's horde of a thousand soldiers.
  • Sermon 45, After breaking away from Ali, the Kharijites used the slogan "Only Allah is the judge". Ali in this sermon throws light upon this slogan and the false meaning they wanted to derive from it, the slogan they repeat is true indeed but they deduce wrong meaning and infer from it conclusions which are harmful to mankind.
  • Sermon 46, To be edited
  • Sermon 47, Ali tells his people that inordinate cravings and bad deeds would only bring harm. He also points out that good deeds, do not necessarily mean a reward in this life, but will definitely be rewarded in the hereafter.
  • Sermon 48, Ali delivered this sermon when he got informed that Muawiyah I was getting ready for a war. "I find that no choice has been left to me; either I have to crush the rebellion by force (therefore go on war) or submit to paganism (do nothing and let Muawiyah I takeover power).
  • Sermon 49, was delivered when Ali found out that Masqala ibn Hubayra Shaybani, had ran away to Muawiyah I with some money of state treasury. "May Allah not forgive Masqala. In the beginning he acted like a chieftain, but in the end he fled like a slave."
  • Sermon 50, Ali advices people to lead a good life, "My advice to you is that you should pass through life in such a way that it may carry good results for you in the next world..."
  • Sermon 51, was delivered by Ali on his journey to Syria.
  • Sermon 52, Ali's prediction on the future of Kufa.
  • Sermon 53, was delivered at a place called Nukhayla, while he was on his journey to Syria.
  • Sermon 54, Ali explains the theory of accepting the existence of God. "...those who have not seen Him physically cannot deny his existence ..."
  • Sermon 55, throws light on the causes of people going astray. "Surely the causes of discord and rebellion against religion are that people follow the dictates of their minds and introduce innovations and schisms against the explicit orders of the Book of Allah."
  • Sermon 56, delivered at the Battle of Siffin, when Muawiya's forces had occupied the Euphrates and stopped the supply of water to Ali and his army. Ali's forces re-captured the river and allowed Muawiya's army to use as much water as they'd like. Before the Battle for the re-capturing of The Euphrates began, Ali delivered this sermon.
  • Sermon 57, is a warning to those people that do not attach any importance to the hereafter. Most scholars think that this sermon is incomplete and found scattered as separate sermons throughout the collection.
  • Sermon 58, Ali explains what kind of animals can be sacrificed on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. "If the ears and eyes of an animal are healthy and sound it is fit for sacrifice, no matter if its horns are broken and even if it is slightly lame and it limps to the place of slaughter."
  • Sermon 59, delivered just before the Battle of Siffin, when the forces of Ali were asking permission to fight.
  • Sermon 60, Ali was trying to delay the war (at the Battle of Siffin). Some people thought that Ali was afraid of death, this sermon was a reply to those people. "It is not right for you to say that I am hesitating to start the war because I am afraid of death. By Allah I never delayed war even for a day but with the hope that some rebels might come back to me and through to me they might be guided towards religion ..."
  • Sermon 61, as mentioned in the previous sermon, Ali was trying to delay the war, some people started complaining, saying that they could wait no longer. But when war broke out, these same people started acting cowardly. This sermon was for these people.
  • Sermon 62, this is a prediction of Ali about the rule of Muawiyah I after him. The tells that Muawiyah I will force people to calumniate and dishonour him (Ali). In this sermon Ali advices people what to do then. "Certainly after my death you will be overpowered and ruled by a pot-bellied glutton (Muawiyah I). Beware! He will ask you to calumniate me and to disown me. So far as calumniation is concerned you can obey his orders because it will save you from his wrath and tyranny... but so far as disowning me is concerned you should not do so, because I am a Muslim by birth and I was the first to testify ..."
  • Sermon 63, was given when Muawiyah I violated the terms of the Treaty of Siffin and started getting ready to invade Kufa, Ali decided to invade Shaam first. He asked the Kharijites to come for help, they refused because of the arbitration in the Battle of Siffin. In the reply of the refusal, Ali delivered Sermon 63. "May you be punished by Allah ... Beware! Your misguided policy will bring death and destruction to you."
  • Sermon 64, was delivered when Ali got informed that the Kharijites were trying to invade Basra.
  • Sermon 65, was delivered when Ali was informed that some people were planning to assassinate him. In this sermon he declared: "Allah's protecting shield is still protecting me. On the day which is fixed for my death, the shield will disappear and hand me over to death. On that day death will not miss its target and the mortal wound will not heal."
  • Sermon 66, is believed to be part of Sermon 57, by some commentators. In it Ali has recounted the realities of life, what one has to face and how to deal with it.
  • Sermon 67, Ali warns people of certain basic facts about life. He also advices people to lead a pious life.
  • Sermon 68, to be edited
  • Sermon 69, is regarding the Battle of Siffin. One day both the armies fought continuously for 24 hours, the fighting in the night was terrible and is known as Laylatul Harir. The next morning the delivered sermon 69, in this sermon Ali refers to the Battle of Siffin as Jihad. "Remember that Allah is watching you and you are fighting under command of the cousin and son-in-law of the [Muhammad]... do not accept the shame and disgrace of a defeat or a rout, for which you shall be punished on the Day of Judgement, because yours is a Jihad in defence of Islam, truth and justice."
  • Sermon 70, refers to Abu Bakr's claim to caliphate and the incident of Saqifah.
  • Sermon 71, Sermon delivered on the death of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (who was killed by Muawiyah I's forces).
  • Sermon 72, directed to some of the companions of Ali.
  • Sermon 73, Ali narrated this dream on the eve of his martyrdom. Next morning he received a mortal wound during the morning prayers. "As I was sitting I fell asleep and dreamt that Muhammad came in front of me. I told him of intrigues, enmities and suffering that fell to my lot from the hands of his followers. He (Muhammad) told me to curse them. And I prayed to Allah to give me better companions than they and to them a tyrant ruler in my place."
  • Sermon 74, to the people of Iraq.
  • Sermon 75, is regarding the way to supplicate for peace and blessings on Muhammad.
  • Sermon 76, was given after the Battle of Bassorah. Marwan I (one of the chiefs of the enemy forces) was taken prisoner. Marwan requested Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali (the two sons of Ali and Fatimah) to request Ali to release him, in return he would pay his oath of allegiance to Ali. Ali released Marwan, but on the issue of the oath of allegiance, the delivered sermon 76. "Did he not swear oath of allegiance to me after the death of Uthman Ibn Affan..." The sermon also contains a prophecy on the future of the Islamic world, "Remember he (Marwan) is going to have a kingdom and it will last only so long as it takes a dog time to lick its nose. He will be father of four chieftains and very soon he and his sons will bring disaster to the Muslim World". The prediction of Marwan ruling a kingdom became true, Marwan I was the Umayyad caliph after Yazid I and ruled only for four months and ten days.
  • Sermon 77, is delivered after Uthman Ibn Affan became caliph. In it Ali says that he had to suffer injustice and tyranny in order to prevent bloodshed and oppression of Muslims. ''"You (Uthman Ibn Affan) know very well that I deserve the caliphate more that anyone else... I shall keep on bearing this injustice as long as oppression and bloodshed of Muslims are resorted to, and as long as I alone remain a target to their (the early Muslim caliphs) tyrannies.
  • Sermon 78, This sermon was delivered when news reached Ali that Banu Ummaya were falsely accusing Ali of the murder of Uthman Ibn Affan. "Did the fact of me being the first to testify Islam and of my services to Islam and Muslims not dissuade and check these wicked people from calumniating or slandering me ..."
  • Sermon 79, describes the qualities of a true Muslim.
  • Sermon 80, is a complaint of Ali against the behaviour of Banu Ummaya, during the rule of Uthman Ibn Affan.
  • Sermon 81, A prayer to Allah.
  • Sermon 82, When Ali decided to head towards Kufa, to face the rebellion of the Kharijites, an astrologer advised Ali not to take the journey, as according to astrology it was an inauspicious moment. Ali in this sermon gave a reply to the astrologer.
  • Sermon 83, This sermon was delivered after the Battle of Bassorah.
  • Sermon 84, A sermon on piety and devotion.
  • Sermon 85, A sermon on the world.
  • Sermon 86, Is a very long and famous sermon. It is also known as Khutba-e-Gharra (an eminent sermon) and Khutba-e-Ajiba (a wonderful sermon). "I glorify Him (Allah) for His constant favours, vast bounties and lasting protection. It is my firm belief that he is Eternal; He existed before anything came into existence and that he is the Mighty Creator."
  • Sermon 87, Ali talks about the propaganda carried out against him by 'Amr ibn al-'As.
  • Sermon 88, A few attributes to God and a few pieces of advice to his followers and companions. Some consider this only a part of a very long sermon.
  • Sermon 89, Advising people to believe in religion and to sincerely follow the teachings of it.
  • Sermon 90, Ali described the kind of people liked by Allah and the acts of a true Muslim. "O people! The person who is liked most by Allah is he who implores him for help to overcome his passions, who accepts the unpleasantness of life, and fears Him..."
  • Sermon 91, When the Muslims during the caliphate of Ali started to go astray, Ali delivered this sermon.
  • Sermon 92, Ali reminds Muslims of the conditions in which society was before God sent Muhammad with His Message. "The Almighty Allah sent our [Muhammad] with His Message at a time when the world was for a long time without any prophet or reformer; when nations had passed through years without realizing the duty of man towards man and Allah..."
  • Sermon 93, Attributes to Allah and his creations.
  • Sermon 94, This an another famous and long Sermon, called al-Ashbah. Once somebody asked Ali to describe Allah in such a way that he could feel that he is seeing Allah (in a physical state). Ali felts annoyed by this request, as God cannot be described in such a way by which men could imagine Him physically. On this occasion this sermon was delivered by Ali.
  • Sermon 95, After the death of Uthman Ibn Affan, the Muslims of the time requested Ali to assume the caliphate, which Shi'ites believe was corrupt until the death of Uthman Ibn Affan. Ali then delivered sermon 95. In it Ali tells people what to accept under his caliphate, "Remember that if I accept your caliphate I shall make you follow the religion according to my own conscience and sense of judgement..."
  • Sermon 96, Ali delivered this sermon after the Battle of Nahrawan, in which the Kharijites were heavily defeated. In it Ali tells people to ask him whatever they wanted, as they were soon lose their Imam (Ali died shortly afterwards in Kufa). "...ask me anything you like, before you lose sight of me." Ali also tells in this sermon that he has knowledge of the unknown and future, Ilm-e-Ghaib, "...if you ask any questions about important events that would happen from today onwards to the Day of Judgement, I shall explain them all to you."
  • Sermon 97, A sermon in praise of Muhammad. "The last and most exalted of them all was Muhammad."
  • Sermon 98, is a sermon about the Arabs during Muhammad's lifetime.
  • Sermon 99, is a sermon in praise of Allah and Muhammad.
  • Sermon 100, Ali condemns those Muslims that did not respond to the call of Ali before the early Islamic Civil Wars. "I swear by Allah that this group (Umayyads) will defeat you, not because they are defending justice or protecting the truth, but simply because they implicitly and willingly obey their leader even in vice and sin, and you lazily gather around me when I call upon you to defend the cause of religion and Allah."
  • Sermon 101, This sermon is a prediction on the future of Muslims and the Muslim empire. "...these Umayyads will remain in power till they force the people to discard Islam so flagrantly that every act forbidden by Allah will be considered and enacted as legitimate and lawful."
  • Sermon 102, is a description of life and advice on how to live it according to the Islamic way.
  • Sermon 103, is a sermon about himself and the leaders after his death.
  • Sermon 104, is prophesy of the Umayyad rule. A famous quote from this is: "I am thinking of a person from Syria (thought to be referring to Muawiyah I), who is misguided and is misleading people with loud and flagrant lies..."
  • Sermon 105, this sermon is about three main topics, the Day of Judgment, the Islamic world after the death of Ali (a prophecy) and another prophecy about Basra.
  • Sermon 106, Ali mentions about the things in the world that lure one towards evil and vice.
  • Sermon 107, is an attempt to show the condition of the world before Muhammad.
  • Sermon 108, explains the mission of Muhammad and a prophecy about the Umayyad's.
  • Sermon 109, is about Islam, Muhammad and Muslims.
  • Sermon 110, During the Battle of Siffin some soldiers of Ali's army retreated, but later regained the lost position. On this occasion Ali delivered this sermon.
  • Sermon 111, mentions some attributes to Allah.
  • Sermon 112, is regarding the attributes to Allah and mentions about his faithful companions.
  • Sermon 113, A sermon advising people to have true faith in Allah and believe in the Qur'an.
  • Sermon 114, A sermon advising people not to be trapped in worldly desires as the ultimate destination is in the hereafter.
  • Sermon 115, A sermon about the Angel of Death.
  • Sermon 116, Ali warns people against the vicious pleasures of the world.
  • Sermon 117, In this sermon Ali praises Allah and talks about the ways of life.
  • Sermon 118, This sermon is said to have been delivered during a period of severe drought. In it Ali prays to God for rain.
  • Sermon 119, A sermon in praise of Muhammad and a prophecy about Hajjaj ibn Yusuf (who later became the Governor of Iraq, during the rule of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan).
  • Sermon 120, Ali advices people to spend their wealth in good causes.
  • Sermon 121, Ali praises his loyal and faithful companions. "You are supporters of truth and justice".
  • Sermon 122, A sermon to those people that claimed to be true supporters of Ali, but whenever were needed during war, would cowardly back down.
  • Sermon 123, Reminds people that the Ahl al-Bayt are the true guardians of Islam. "We, the progeny of the [Muhammad] are the doors through which real wisdom and true knowledge reaches mankind; we are the lights of religion."
  • Sermon 124, A sermon about the Battle of Siffin.
  • Sermon 125, A sermon directed to the Kharijites.
  • Sermon 126, Part of a sermon delivered on a battlefield containing advice to strong and brave people to help the weak and nervous.
  • Sermon 127, Instructions to his soldiers, some consider this part of the previous sermon.
  • Sermon 128, A sermon considering the arbitration at the Battle of Siffin, which led to the creation of the Kharijites sect.
  • Sermon 129, When Ali started distributing the Baytul Mal or Public Treasury to all muslims irrespective of race and status, the rich felt that Ali's caliphate was more sympathetic to the poor. The rich and wealthy decided to send a delegation to Ali to protest. At this occasion Ali delivered this sermon.
  • Sermon 130, This sermon was delivered when Ali found out that the Kharijites were massacring Muslims simply because they has different views. "Of all the wicked and sinful people of this world you are the worst."
  • Sermon 131, A prophecy about a future war.
  • Sermon 132, A sermon commenting on worldly activities.
  • Sermon 133, Part of a sermon believed to be delivered when Ali went to see Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a companion of Muhammad who was forced into exile by Uthman Ibn Affan.
  • Sermon 134, An advice to the people of Kufa who had gathered around Ali.
  • Sermon 135, A sermon on death and how to be prepared for it.
  • Sermon 136, Thought to be a portion of a very long sermon, containing attributes to Allah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah and the Qur'an. "It (the Qur'an)always guides you towards Islam."
  • Sermon 137, When the Second Sunni Caliph, Umar wanted to invade the Roman Empire, he consulted Ali whether he (Umar) should head the invasion. This sermon was the reply of Ali. In the sermon Ali gives the second Caliph permission to appoint an experienced officer but not to head the invasion himself. "You may appoint an experienced officer to take charge of the expedition ..."
  • Sermon 138, When a contention took place between Ali and the third Sunni Caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan, Mughira ibn Akhnas claimed he would defend the third caliph against Ali. In this sermon Ali criticizes Mughira,

"By Allah! The Lord will never grant victory to those whom you support (the third Sunni caliph)."

  • Sermon 139, to be edited
  • Sermon 140, Ali tells people in this sermon that Talhah and Az Zubayr were responsible for the murder of the third Sunni Caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan.
  • Sermon 141, A sermon about the Mahdi and the Dajjal."...and you must abide by the orders of a man from the Ahl al-Bayt who will be amongst you."
  • Sermon 142, The again claims to be the rightfull and legitimate Caliph, "The time is near when the caliphate will be claimed at the point of a drawn sword, and when promises will be recklessy broken."
  • Sermon 143, Sermon considering the evils of backbitting and slandering
  • Sermon 144, to be edited
  • Sermon 145, to be edited
  • Sermon 146, to be edited
  • Sermon 147, to be edited
  • Sermon 148, to be edited
  • Sermon 149, Umar, the second Sunni Caliph sought the advice of Ali when leading an army to confront the Persians. Ali told the Caliph not to lead the army himself but rather appoint someone else to lead the army.
  • Sermon 150, to be edited

Letters

Nahj al Balagha also contains a collection of 79 letters, including letters to Muawiyah I. The following is a short summary to each letter, relevant quotes have been used out of the original letters.

  • Letter 1, Sent to the people of Kufa, before Ali proceeded to Basra for the Battle of Bassorah
  • Letter 2, Sent to the people of Kufa after the victory at the Battle of Bassorah.
  • Letter 3, to Shuray bin Harith, Chief Judge (Qadi) of Kufa, after Shuray purchased a very expensive house (which did not suit a Qadi's lifestyle).
  • Letter 4, A Letter to one of the commanders of his army.
  • Letter 5, A letter to Ash'ath ibn Qays.
  • Letter 6, To Muawiyah I considering the election in which Ali became Caliph.
  • Letter 7, Muawiyah I had been sending Ali letters giving him hypocritical advice and falsely accusing him. Letter 7 was reply to Muawiya's false accusations on Ali.
  • Letter 8, Jarir ibn Abdullah Bajali (a companion of Ali) was sent by Ali to Damascus to deliver a letter to Muawiyah I. Some delay occurred in Jarir's return which made Ali worried about his safety. Ali wrote this letter to Jarir, in this letter he told Jarir to force Muawiyah I to reply to Ali's previous letter giving a final answer; Peace (in which case Muawiyah I would have to swear oath of allegiance to Ali) or War.
  • Letter 9, Another letter to Muawiyah I, in which Ali told Muawiyah I that he (Muawiyah) had done nothing for Islam while he (Ali) had devoted his whole life to Islam. In it Ali mentions that he has no comparison with Muawiyah; "In Islam there is no rank, no honour, no position and no merit for him as it is for me".
  • Letter 10, Ali reminds Muawiyah I that all his wealth is only in this world and would not help in the hereafter; "The possessions, the riches and the luxuries that you have surrounded yourself with, belong to this world ...".
  • Letter 11, Instructions to his marshal when Ali sent to a battle. In it Ali tell them what to do before and during the battle.
  • Letter 12, Instructions to an expedition of 3000 soldiers, who were sent to fight against the Syrians.
  • Letter 13, Instructions to two of his commanders, in it he tells his commanders that he has appointed Malik ibn Harith as the Chief of Staff and they must follow his orders.
  • Letter 14, At the Battle of Siffin Ali gave instruction in Letter 14 to his soldiers before the battle began.
  • Letter 15, This letter has the words in which Ali used to invoke Allah whenever he faced an enemy.
  • Letter 16, This letter has the words in which Ali used to advise his followers during a battle.
  • Letter 17, A reply to a letter of Muawiyah I, Your claim that your clan is also descended from Abd Manaf ibn Qusai is true but you must remember, as the history of Arabs will convince you, that your ancestor Umayya was not equal to our ancestor, the famous Hashim, neither Harb, another ancestor of yours, was equal to our Abdul Muttalib ... nor Abu Sufyan could claim himself equal to Abi Talib ... and one coming from a doubtful lineage (pointing to Muawiyah I) cannot claim to be equal to those who come from the noble parentage (meaning himself and the Banu Hashim)
  • Letter 18, A letter to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas. Abdullah was appointed as 'acting governor' of Basra, he was accused of ill treating the Banu Tamim clan. Ali wrote this letter to Ibn Abbas, to treat them equally.
  • Letter 19, A letter to one of his governors. In it Ali tells about the ways of divine rule. It shows how Ali was training Muslims to behave tolerantly towards other religions, how a minority was to be treated and what should those who hold a different creed, expect of a Muslim ruler.
  • Letter 20, By ibn Abbas, Ziyad was appointed commissioner of Basra. He was totally corrupt and was therefore dismissed by Ali. At the time of Ziyad's birth he was branded as illegitimate as no one claimed to be his father. He was known as "His Father's son" (a nickname given to him by Aisha). Later on Muawiyah I, in order to get support from Ziyad, claimed that Ziyad was his half-brother, thus Abu Sufyan's illegal son. Because of this Ziyad became a staunch ally of Muawiyah I. Ali wrote this letter to Ziyad when he was still commissioner of Basra.
  • Letter 21, Another letter to Ziyad, in it Ali tells Ziyad the right way of living.
  • Letter 22, This letter was an advice to ibn Abbas. Ibn Abbas later reported that except the advice of Mohammad, no other advice had been more beneficial to him.
  • Letter 23, Was a letter by Ali, to his family, shortly before he was martyred in Kufa.
  • Letter 24, is Ali's will. It was written shortly after the Battle of Siffin.
  • Letter 25, Directions to assessors and collectors of Zakat
  • Letter 26, has instructions to Zakat collectors.
  • Letter 27, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of the first Caliph, but was raised by Ali. During the caliphate of Ali he was appointed Governor of Egypt. This Letter was sent to Muhammad by Ali, in it Ali instructs Muhammad how to govern in a fair and just way.
  • Letter 28, is a famous reply of Ali to Muawiya's letters.
  • Letter 29, A letter to the people of Basra.
  • Letter 30, A letter to Muawiyah I.
  • Letter 31, A letter to one of his son's (either Hasan ibn Ali or Muhammad ibn Hanafiya). In it Ali advises him how to lead a successful life.
  • Letter 32, Another letter to Muawiyah I, "You have misguided the whole generation of men around you. Having no faith in the truth of Islam you have led others to go astray. O Muawiya! Fear Allah, do not let the Devil lead you to Hell ..."
  • Letter 33, A letter to Qutham ibn Abbas, brother of `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas (Ali's Governor of the Hejaz Province).
  • Letter 34, A letter to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Muhammad was appointed Governor of Egypt by Ali, later on Ali replaced him and appointed Malik al-Ashtar as the new Governor. Muhammad felt sad about this, when Ali found out about the sadness of Muhammad, he wrote letter 34 to him.
  • Letter 35, When Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (former Governor of Egypt was killed by the guerrillas of Muawiyah I, Ali wrote this letter to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas (the new Governor).
  • letter 36, A letter to his (Ali's) brother, Aqeel ibn Abi Talib.
  • Letter 37, A short letter to Muawiyah I. "Allaho Akbar. How hopelessly you are engulfed in your inordinate and sinful desires."
  • Letter 38, A letter to the people of Egypt, telling them about Malik al-Ashtar, when he was appointed Governor of Egypt.
  • letter 39, A letter to 'Amr ibn al-'As.
  • Letter 40, A letter to a commissioner of a province, it is unknown to whom this letter was addressed.
  • Letter 41, An unknown Governor of a province ran away with the public treasury. This letter is to the unknown Governor.
  • Letter 42, written to Umar ibn Abu Salama Mukhzumi, when Ali replaced him with Nu'man ibn Ajlan Zuraqi for the Governorship of Bahrain.
  • Letter 43, A letter to Muskala ibn Hubayra Shaybani who was the Governor of Ardshir Khurra.
  • Letter 44, Ziyad was a Governor of Ali, when Muawiyah I came to power in Bilad al-Sham he tried to bribe Ziyad, in order to befriend him. When Ali found out about this he wrote this letter to Ziyad. "... Beware, he wants to make a fool of you, ...".
  • Letter 45, Uthman ibn Hunayf was appointed Governor of Basra. Once he attended a luxurious dinner given by a rich man of Basra. Ali wrote this letter regarding this matter.
  • Letter 46, A letter to one of his Governors.
  • Letter 47, contains the words in which Ali advised Husayn ibn Ali and Hasan ibn Ali, shortly after being wounded by Abdur Rahman ibn Muljim, while offering the Fajr Salah (morning prayers).
  • Letter 48, A letter to Muawiyah I. "Remember that inequity and falsehood bring disgrace to a man in this world and in the hereafter"
  • Letter 49, Another short letter to Muawiyah I.
  • Letter 50, A circular to the chiefs of his army.
  • Letter 51, A letter to the collectors of taxes and revenues. In it Ali tells the tax collectors that they have a huge responsibility, and they must carry out the duty sincerely and with fairness and justice. "In collection of taxes and revenues do not sell their winter and summer clothings ... do not resort to whipping; do not touch their property; be they Muslims or non-Muslims."
  • Letter 52, is a highly valuable source to determine the timing of Salah. In it Ali informs the timing of prayers. "Lead the Zohr prayers till the shadow of a wall becomes equal to the height of the wall. The Asr prayers can be performed till the sun is still bright and enough time of the day is left for a person to cover a distance of six miles. The maghrib prayers should be performed when people open their fast and when Hajj pilgrims return from Arafat. And the time for Isha prayers is when the red glow of the evening twilight disappears from the west... The morning prayers are to be performed when there appears enough light of the dawn for a man to recognize the face of his companion."
  • Letter 53, Is a very long letter that contains instructions to Malik al-Ashtar, after he was appointed Governor of Egypt. Never say to yourself, "I am their lord, their ruler and all in all over them and that I must be obeyed submissively and humbly".
  • Letter 54, A letter to Talhah and Al-Zubayr, "...both of you know very well that I did not approach the people to get the oath of allegiance but they came to me with their desire to make me their Amir (ruler)... And you to were among those who had flocked round me to swear the oath".
  • Letter 55, A letter to Muawiya, "I swear, and my oath is such that I have no intention of breaking it, that if fate so arranges as to bring us face to face against each other than I shall not leave the battle field: Until Allah judges between us, and He is the best judge. (surah al-Araf, 7:87)
  • Letter 56, Shuray ibn Hani was appointed commanding officer of the vanguard of Ali's army, which was marching towards Syria. Instructions to Hani were sent through this Letter.
  • Letter 57, When leaving Medina for Basra, Ali wrote this letter to the people of Kufa. "... I invite in the Name of Allah those to whom this letter reaches, to come and see for themselves whether I am in the right or in the wrong."
  • Letter 58, A letter sent by Ali to people of various provinces, giving them the reasons of the Battle of Siffin.
  • Letter 59, A letter to Aswad ibn Qatiba, the Governor of Hulwan. In it Ali gives Aswad a great piece of advice, "Keep yourself away from what you consider bad and evil in others".
  • Letter 60, A circular-letter sent to those Governors and State officials, through whose territory the armies of Ali were to pass.
  • Letter 61, Kumayl ibn Ziyad Nakhai was Governor of Hayit. Once he left his province unguarded, which gave the Syrian guerrillas to attack and loot the people of Hiyat. After this incident Hiyat sent a letter to Ali asking for permission to take revenge on the Syrian province of Kirkisiya. Kumayl was let known that Ali had not given him permission to invade Kikisiya through letter 61.
  • Letter 62, When Ali appointed Malik ibn Harith Ashtar the Governor of Egypt, he gave him this letter to be read out to the people of Egypt.
  • Letter 63, Abdullah ibn Qays (also known as Abu-Musa al-Asha'ari), was a man with weak faith, who was attracted to wealth and worldly desires even at the cost of religion. When Ali assumed the Caliphate, Abu Musa was in Kufa. When he found out that Talhah, Az Zubayr and Aisha were preparing for the Battle of Bassorah, he decided to act wisely and be friendly to both parties, he started saying, "Though Ali was the lawful Caliph of Muslims, yet it was not correct for him to fight against other Muslims". When Ali found out that through this statement he (Abu Musa) was trying to persuade people not to help him (Ali), Ali replied in Letter 63. "I shall not allow you to sit peacefully at home with a double face, one for each party and I shall expose you to the people."
  • Letter 64, A reply to Muawiyah I. In it Ali accuses Muawiyah I of revolting against Islam. "... we are faithful and staunch followers of Islam and you have revolted against it."
  • Letter 65, Another letter to Muawiyah I. "It will be great misfortune for Muslims if you become their despotic ruler after me ..."
  • Letter 66, A letter containing advice given to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas. Later Abdullah stated that except the advice of Muhammad, no other advice had been so useful to him.
  • Letter 67, A letter to the Governor of Mecca, Qutham ibn Abbas (the brother of `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas).
  • Letter 68, Ali wrote this letter to Salman the Persian, before the start of Ali's caliphate.
  • Letter 69, A letter to Harith Hamdani.
  • Letter 70, A letter to his Governor of Medina, Suhayl ibn Hunayf. The letter was written when some Medinites had left Suhayl and gone over to Muawiyah I. "Do not feel sorry for those who have left you ... Their turning of faces away from Allah ... and of stealthily walking over to sin and vice..."
  • Letter 71, Ali had entrusted Munzir ibn Jarud Abdi to a high ranking official position. Munzir misused his position, thereupon Ali wrote this letter to him. "I thought you were a worthy son of a worthy father ... If all that is reported to me about you is correct, then the very camel you own or even the shoe-strap is superior to you."
  • Letter 72, A letter to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas.
  • Letter 73, A letter to Muawiyah I. "Beware that Satan has made you incorrigible, it has made you blind to good things as shown by the [Muhammad] and deaf to his teachings."
  • Letter 74, is a treaty (which Ali worded) between the Yemanites and the Bani Rabia tribe.
  • Letter 75, After all Muslims accepted Ali ibn Abi Talib as the rightful caliph, he wrote this letter to Muawiyah I. In it Ali tells Muawiyah I to pay his oath of allegiance to him.
  • Letter 76, This letters contains the instructions given to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, when he was appointed as Ali's representative to Basra.
  • Letter 77, Another letter containing instruction to `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, when he was sent to the Kharijites.
  • Letter 78, A letter to Abdullah ibn Qays (also known as Abu Musa Ashari).
  • Letter 79, This the final letter in the collection. It is an order issued by Ali to his generals when he took over the Caliphate of the Muslims Empire. In it Ali attacks the first (Abu Bakr), second (Umar) and third (Uthman Ibn Affan) Sunni Caliphs. "Verily previous rulers have come to sad ends because they prevented people from getting their just rights. They got corrupted and could be purchased, when they were tempted by sins and vices; they were led astray and they followed the wicked lead."

Interpretations

There are some interpretations about Nahj al Balagha. The most famous one is written by Ibn Abi al-Hadid al-Mu`tazili (d. 656/1258). In the 20 century Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, the former mufti of Egypt, edited and published the Peak of Eloquence with a brief commentary and for the first time introduced this book to the Egyptians.

Sayings

See Wikiquote for a collection of quotes from Ali.

Some translations of Nahj al-Balagha in European languages

English

  • Nahj al-balaghah / Peak of Eloquence. 3rd ed. Trans. Sayed ‘Ali Reza. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile, 1984.
  • Nahj al-balaghah. Ed. Muhyi al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid with commentary from al-Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh. 3 vols. al-Qahirah: Matba‘at al-Istiqamah, n.d.

French

  • La voie de l’éloquence. Ed. Sayyid ‘Attia Abul Naga. Trans. Samih ‘Atef El Zein et al. 2nd ed. Qum: Ansariyan, n.d.

Romanian

  • Nahj al-balagha / Calea vorbirii alese. Trans. : George Grigore. Cluj-Napoca : Kriterion, 2008.

Spanish

  • La cumbre de la elocuencia. Trans. Mohammed ‘Alí Anzaldúa-Morales. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile, 1988.

See also

Notes

External links

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