IMAM ALI's COLLECTED
SERMONS, LETTERS, AND SAYINGS
COLLECTED BY ALLAMA SYED RAZI

NEHJUL BALAGHA

Translared by Sheikh Hasan Saeed
Chehel Soton Library and Theological School
Masjid e Jame, Tehran, Iran, 1977.

The book comprises 245 sermons, 79 letters and 210 sayings. The compiler has only extracted parts from sermons, letters and sayings are reproduced  as it is, readers should not infer that the material which is not reproduced is less important and meaningful. In the opinion of the compiler, the evolution of this volume and opinions of the Ulemai Ahle Sunnat from 1st century (Hijri) till the 15th century is most important  to be highlighted for all sects of  Muslims, so that part is reproduced in full.

"This book is a translation of the sermons, letters, orders and some of the saying of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) as compiled by Syed Razi and named "NEHJUL BALAGHA." 
 

ABOUT THE BOOK

"These sermons and preachings of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) were so highly valued and venerated in the Islamic world that within a century of his death they were taught and read as the last word on the Phylosophy of mono-theism,as the best lectures for character building, as exalted source of inspiration, as very persuasive sermons toward piety, as guiding beacons toward truth and justice, as marvelous eulogies of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Holy Quran, as convincing discourses on the spiritual values of Islam, as awe inspiring discussions  about the attributes of God, as master piece of literature, and as models of the art of rhetorics". Nehj. Balagha. p. 4

1st CENTURY : According to the famous book of  biographies Rejal-e-Kabeer, the first person to collect these sermons in a book form was Zaid Ibne Wahab Jehny, who died in 90 A.H. and who was regarded as a narrator of Ahadees (Traditions). Thus within 30 years of Hazrat Ali's (A.S.) death and during the first century of Hijrah, his sermons, letters, sayings, Ahadees etc. were collected ,quoted and preserved". Nehjul Balagha. p. 4

2nd CENTURY : With the dawn of 2nd century Ibne Wahab's example was followed by (1) the famous caligraphist of the Abbasite regime,Abdul Hameed-bin-Yahya (132 A.H), (2) and then In-u-l Moqquffa (142 A.H) took up this work of compilation. (3) Ibne-Nadeem in his biographies "The Fahrist" says that Husham Ibne Saeeb-e-KALBEE (146 A.H) had also collected these sermons.

3rd CENTURY : During the third century five famous men took up this work :

1. Abu Oosamn Omero-bin-Bahr-ul-Jahiz who died in 255 A.H. (868 A.D), quoted many sermons in his book Al-bayan-wo-Tabyan.

2. Ibne-Qateeba-e-Daynoori, who died in 276 A.H., in his book O' YOON-ul-Akhbar and Ghareeb-ul-Hadees quoted many sermons and discussed meanings of many words and phrases used by Hazrat Ali (A.S.)  )

3. Ibne-Wazeh-e-Yaqoobee,wo died in 278 A.H, cited many sermons and sayings of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) in his history.  

4. Abu Haneefa-e-Daynoori (280 A.H) is his history Akhbar-e-Tawal quoted many sermons and sayings.

5. Abul Abbas Almobard (286 A.H) in his Kitab-ul-Mobard, collected many sermons and letters.

4th CENTURY :

1. The famous Historian Ibne Jurair-e-Tabaree who died in 310 A.H. quoted some of these sermons in his Tareek-e-Kabeer.

2. Abu Muhammad Hussan-Ibne-Ali-Ibne Shoba-e-Halbee (320 A.H) had collected some sermons in his book"Tahfath-u-l Oquool. This book was later printed in Persia. There are 7 other writers who have quoted the sermons and saying of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) Ibne-Wareed 321 A.H) Masoodi (346 A.H.) in Morravij-ul-Zahab, Yaqooth-e-Hameveene in, Mojam-ul-Adibba, Abul Farz Isphani (356 A.H), Abu Ali Quali (356 A.H), Navadir, and Shaikh Sadook (381A.H) in Kitab-ul-Tauheed.

5th CENTURY :

1.  Shaikh  Moofeed (413 A.H.) in Irshad has quoted many sermons, Ahadees (traditions) sayings and letters of Hazrath.

2.  Syed Razi ( 420 A.H.) compiled the book Nahjul Balagha.

3.  Shaikh-ul-Taa'ye'fa Abu Jaffer Mohammad Ibne-Hussan-e-Toosi (460 A.H) was contemporary of  Syed Razi and had collected some of these sermons etc., long before Syed Razi took up his work.

NOTE : It is reported that what Allama Syed Razi couldcompiled in Nahjul Balagha does not contain all the sermons, letters and sayings of Hazrat Ali (A.S.). Masoodi (346 A.H) in his famous history Morravej-ul-Zahab (Vol II page 33 printed in Cairo) says that only sermons of Hazrat Ali, which have been preserved by various people, number more than four hundred and eighty. Nahjul Balagha op. Cit. pp 5-6.

The author contends that "If I quote all of what has been said by Muslims and the Christian Arab Scholars, Theologians, Philosophers and Historians in praise of sermons, sayings and letters it will cover volumes as big as the book". Only a selected few are quoted here :

1.  Abu Sa'adath Mubarak Majud din-ibne-Aseer Jazaree (606 A.H) is recognised even today not only for narator of Ahadees(traditions) but also as alexigolist of great eminence. His book "NEHAYA", is a study of the history and meanings of difficult words of  Holy Quran and the traditions. In this book he has at great length discussed many words,  phrase and sentenses of Hazar Ali's sermons from the Book Nehjul Balagha. He says so far as comprehensive ness is concerned Ali's wods come next to the Quran.

2.  Allama Shaikh Kamaluddin-ibne-Mohammad-ibne-Talha-e-Shafayee (who died in 652 A.H.) in his famous book "MOTHALEB-UL-SOAOL write :

"The fourth attribute of Hazrat Ali (A.S) was his eloquence and rhetoric’s. He was such a Imam in these arts that none can  aspire to rise up to the level of the dust  of his shoes. One who has studied Nahjil Balagha can form some idea of his supreme  eminence in this sphere"

3.  Maulana Abu Hamid Abdul Hameed-Ibne- Hinathulah, known as Ibne-Abil Hameed-e-Moathazalee, who died in 655 A.H.), and who has written a really great commentary on the sermons says :

(i) His speeches, letters and sayings are so supremely eminent that they are above the sayings of man and below only to the words of God. None can surpass it but Holy Quran.

(ii) At another place he says that "His (Hazrat Ali) sayings are miracles of the Holy Pophet (S.A.W.). His prophecies show that his knowledge was superhuman".

4. Allama Sa'aduddin Thafthazani (791 A.H.) in  "Sharah-e-Maquasid" says that :

"Ali had supreme command over language, over ethics and over tenets of religion at the same time he was great orator, his sermons compile in Nahjul Balagha bear witness to these facts"

5.  Allama Alauddin Quoshjee (875 A.H) in "Sharah-e-Tujreed says that :

"The book Nahjul Balagha that is sermons and sayings contained therein prove that none can surpass it one these lines but  the Holy Quran".

6. Mufthi Of Egypt Shaikh Mohammad Abdahoo (1323 A.H) has written commentary on the book Nahjul Balagha. He was among the modern thinkers, who made the modern world realize the beauties of the teachings of Islam. In his commentary of Nahjul Balagha he says" :

"That every one who fully understands Arabic language, must agree that sermons and sayings of Harat Ali (A.S.) are next to the words of God and the Holy Prophet (A.S). Ali's words are so full of meanings and they convey such ideas that they should be very carefully studied referred and quoted. This Professor of Arabic Literature and Philosophy persuaded the University of Cairo and Beirut to include the book Nehjul Balagha in their courses for advanced studies of literature and Philosophy."

7.  The famous author and orator Shaikh Mustafa Ghala' Aenee of  Beirut, who is considered as an authority on Commentries (Tafseer of Quran) and also an Arabic Literature in his book "Areezu-ul-Zahr' in Chapter" The styles of Language writes :

"Who can write better than Ali except the Holy Prophet (A.S) and God. Those who want to study supremely eminent standards of  literature should study the book Nahjul Balagha. It contains such depth of knowledge and such wonderful advises on the subject of  ethics and religion that its constant study will make a man wise, pious and noble minded and will train him to be an orator of great standing".

8.  Usthad Mohammad Mohiuddin, the Professor of Arabic Language, Alazhar University of Cairo says that the Nahjul Balagha is a collection of the works of Hazrat Ali.It is compiled by Syed Razi :

"It contains such examples of chaste language, noble eloquence and superior wisdom that none but Ali can produce such a work because next to the Holy Prophet (A.S.), he was the greatest orator,the greatest authority on language and literature and the greatest source of wisdom of the religion (Islam). He was such philosopher that from his words flow streams of knowledge and  wisdome."

9.  Ustad Abdul Wahab Hamodha, an authority of Arabic Literature and the "Traditions", and a Professor of the Fuwad I University of Cairo, in 1951, writes :

"The Book Nahjul Balagha contains all the great  scholars,professors of ethics, philosophers scientists, authorites on religion and politicians can say and write. The wonderful force of advises and superfine way of presenting arguments and the depth of vision prove that it is work of a super mind like that of  Ali".

NOTE : FOR SOME OTHER authorities THE INTERESTED READER MAY SEE NAHJUL BLAGHA, Translated by Sheikh Hassan Saeed, Chehel Satoon Library, Masjid Jame, Tehran Iran, 1977, pages 6 and 7,  Appendixes 29 (a)
p. 297, Appendix (b) p. 299.

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SAYINGS

Out of the 210 Sayings a few have been reproduced here, because of the limited space. Order of the a few have been changed keeping their original numbers  intact. The sayings regarding death have been preceded the others because, a man who is sure about this will abstain from doing misdeeds and evils for the society. A famous Economist and Philosopher (Adam Smith), who may have either gone through Quran or the sayings, have observed (in His Theory of Moral Sentiment 1759) that "The dread of death poisons our happines but restrains injustice to mankind; this dread afflicts and mortifies individuals, but it guards the society".
 

S E L E C T E D    S A Y I N G S

150.  Every man has an end ,it may be pleasant or sorrowful.

151.  Everyone who is born has to die and once dead he is as good as he had never came into existence.

167.  Death is so near and time for friendly actions in life is so limited.

186.  Death is never very far.

125.  How I wonder at the arrogance of a haughty and vain person. Yesterday he was only a cell and tomorrow he will be a dead body.

I wonder at the man who see people dying around him and yet has forgotten his end.

74.    Every breath that you take is a step you put forward towards death.

75.    Anything which can be counted or reckoned is finite and will come to an end.

44.   Happy is the man who always kept the life after death in his view, who remembered the day of  Reckoning through all his deeds, who led a contented life and who was happy with the lot God hath destined for him.

64.  Peoples in this world are like travelers whose journey is going on though they are asleep (Life's journey is going one though men may not feel it).

2.    One who develops the trait of greediness and avarice invites degra dation; one who keeps on advertising his poverty and ill-luck will always be humiliated; one who has no control over his tongue have to face embarrassment and discomfort.

4.   Surrender and acceptance to the will of God are the best companions; wisdom is the noblest heritage; theoretical and practical knowledge are best marks of distinction.

5. A wiseman's mind is the safest custody of secrets;an open and pleasant countenance gets more friends;patience and forbearance will hide and cover many defects.

6.   A conceited and self-admiring person is disliked by others;charity and alms are the best treatments for ailments and calamities; one has to face it after life the deeds that he has done in this world.

7.   Man is the wonderful creature, he sees through layers of fat (fatty tissues), he hears through a bone, he speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue).

8.   When this world favors anybody it lends qualifications, attributes and surpassing merits of others, and when it turns its face away from him it snatches away even his own excellence and fame.

9.   Treat people in such a way and live among them in such a manner that  if you die they weep over you, if you are alive they crave for your company. 

10.  If you get an opportunity and power over your enemy then, in   thankfulness to God for this, forgive him.

12.  When few blessings come your way, do not derive them away through thanklessness.

15.  Our affairs are hinged to the destiny decreed by the Lord; even our best  thought out programmes may lead us to to death and destruction.

18.  One who rushes madly after inordinate desires runs the risk of  encountering destruction and death.

19.   Overlook and forgive weaknesses of generous people, because if they fall down Hand of God lifts them.

20.   Failures are often result of timidity and fears; disappointments are result of uncalled modesty; hours of leisure pass away like summer clouds, therefore, do not waste opportunity doing good.

21.   If the right usurped by us is given back to us we shall take, if not  we shall keep on claiming.

23.   To come to the relief of the distressed and to help the oppressed act as expatiation and amends to many sins.

27.   The best form of devotion to the service of God is not to make  a show of it.

33.   Be generous but not extravagant, be fraught but not miserly.

34.   To give up inordinate desires is the best kind of wealth and fortune.

35.   One who is quick in saying unpleasant things about others, will  himself quickly become a target of their scandal.

39.   Optional prayers cannot attain the pleasure of God for you when compulsory daily prayers are left unattended.

40.    A wise man first thinks and then speaks and a fool speaks first and  then thinks

52.    Only he can forgive who has power to punish.

54.    There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance, no greater heritence than culture and no greater friend and helpmate than consultation.

62.    If you are wished and saluted then return the wish in the most appropriate manner. If you are favored then repay the obligation manyfold; but he will always excel in merit who takes the initiative.

63.    The best source of success of a claimant is the mediator.

73.   Whoever wants to be a leader and guide, should educate himself before educating others, before teaching morality to others he should  improve his morals and character.

85.   One who imagines himself all knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

87.    How I wonder at a man who loses hope of salvation when the door of repentance is open for him.

95.    Importance of deeds that you have done with fear of God in your mind cannot be minimised, and how can the deeds which are acceptable to God be considered unimportant.

105.  Those who give up religion to better their circumstances in life seldom succeed. The Wrath of God makes them go through more calamities and losses than gain they gather from themselves.

111.  Any one who loves us, Ahl- ul- Baith (descendants of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) must be ready to face a life of austerity.

113.  When a community is composed of really honest, sober and virtuous people then your forming a bad opinion about anyone of its members when nothing wicked has been seen of him is a great injustice  to him; on the contrary in a currupt society to form good opinion of  any one out of those people and to trust him is doing harm to yourself.

116.  Two kinds of people will be damned on my account; those who form exaggerated opinion about me and those who under-estimate me because they hate me.

124.  I define Islam for you in a way that nobody dare to do it before me.  Islam means obedience to God; Obedience to God means having sincere faith in Him; such a faith means,  accepting His Majesty; acceptance of His Majesty means fulfilling the obligation laid down by Him; and fullfilment of obligation means action (therefore Islam does not mean mere faith, but faith with action)

131.  An Angel announces daily "Birth of more human beings means so many more will die; collection of more wealth means so much more will be destroyed; erection of more buildings means so many more ruins in time to come.

135.  Daily prayers are the best medium to advance oneself in favor of  the Lord. Haj is Jehad (Holy War) for every weak person. For everything that you own there is Zakat, a tax paid to the Lord, and tax of your health is to keep fast. The best defense of a woman against man is to render his home life pleasing and congenial.

136.  If you want to pray to the Lord for better means of subsistence then first give something in charity.

140.  One of the two conveniences in life is to have fewer children.

145.  Defend your faith (in God) with the help of charity. Protect your wealth with the aid of Zakaath (Poor-rate levied by Islam). Let the prayers guard you from calamities and disasters.

152.  One who adopts patience will never be deprived of success though the success may take long time to reach him.

153.  One who ascents or subscribes to the action of a group or party  is as good as he committed the deed himself. A man who joins a sinful deed makes himself responsible for two fold punishment, one for doing the deed and the other for assenting and subscribing to it.

156.   You have been shown, if you only care to see;you have been advised  if yopu care to take advantage of advises; you have been told if you care to lend you ears to good counsels.

159.   One who acquires power cannot avoid favoritism.

160.   One who is wilful and conceited will suffer losses and calamities and one who seeks advice can secure advantages of many counsels.

161.   One who guards his secrets has complete control over his affairs.

162.   Poverty is the worst form of death.

163.   One who serves such a person from whom he gets no reciprocal performance of duties in fact, worship him.

164.   By disobeying God you do not actually obey any human-being.

165.   Do not find fault with or speak ill of a man who delays in securing what are his just rights, it is more vicious to grasp the rights which  do not belong to you.

168.   There is enough light for one who wants to see.

197.    Bear sorrows and calamities patiently otherwise you will be never happy.

203.    Best deeds of a great man is to forgive and forget.

206.    Be a partner of a successful man because he knows how to achieve success.

207.    The little that you give in the way of God will bring greater return to you.

208.    There are people who obey God to gain His favors, they are like businessmen trading with God, while there are some who obey Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, they act as slaves, but they are few who obey Him out of their sense of gratitude and obligation, they act as gentlemen and noblemen.Nehjul Balagha, Hasan Saeed: pp. 273-294.      

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