Selected Sermons, Letters and Sayings
of Amir al-Mu’minin Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
In this sermon, he recalls the creation
of the earth and sky and the birth of Adam:
Praise is due to Allah Whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate and the depths of understanding cannot reach; He, for whose description no limit has been laid down, no praise exists, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion and made firm the shaking earth with rocks.
The foremost in religion is the acknowledgment of Him. The perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him. The perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness. The perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure. The perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus, whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognizes His like. Who recognizes His like regards Him as two. Who regards Him as two recognizes parts for Him, and who recognizes parts for Him mistakes Him, and who mistakes Him points at Him, and who points at Him admits limitations for Him, and who admits limitations for Him numbers Him.
Whoever said in what is He, held that He is contained, and whoever said on what is He held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He Exists but not of non-Existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence.
Creation of the Universe
He initiated creation and commenced it originally, without undergoing reflection, without making use of any experiment, without innovating any movement and without experiencing any mental aspiration. He allotted all things their times, put together their variations, gave them their properties and determined their features. He knew them before creating them, fully realizing their limits and confines and appreciated their propensities and intricacies.
When the Almighty created the openings of the atmosphere, expanse of firmament and strata of winds, He allowed water, whose waves were stormy and whose surges leapt one over the other, to flow onto it. He loaded dashing winds and breaking typhoons, ordered them to shed it back (as rain), gave the wind control over the vigor of the rain and acquainted it with its limitations. The wind blew under it while water flowed furiously over it.
Then, the Almighty created forth wind and made its movement sterile, perpetuated its status, intensified its motion and spread it far and wide. Then He ordered the wind to raise deep waters and to intensify the waves of the oceans. So the wind churned the water like the churning of curd and pushed it fiercely into the firmament, throwing its front status on the rear while the stationary status flowed till its level was raised and the surface was full of foam. Then Almighty raised the foam to the open wind and vast firmament and made therefrom the seven skies. He made the lower one as a stationary surge and the upper one as protective ceiling and high edifice without any pole to support it or nail to hold it together. Then He decorated them with stars and the light of meteors and hung in it the shining sun and effulgent moon under the revolving sky, moving the ceiling and rotating firmament.
Creation of the Angels
Then He created the openings between the high skies and filled them with all classes of His angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not rise. Others are in kneeling positions and do not stand up. Some of them are in array and do not leave their status. Others are extolling Allah and do not get tired. The sleep of the eye or the slip of wit or languor of the body or effect of forgetfulness does not affect them.
Among them are those who work as trusted bearers of His message, those who serve, speaking tongues for His prophets and those who carry His orders and injunctions. Among them are the protectors of His creatures and guards of the doors of the gardens of Paradise. Among them are those whose steps are fixed on earth but their necks protrude into the skies. Their limbs are out on all sides, their shoulders are in accord with the columns of the Divine Throne, their eyes are cast down before it, they have spread their wings down under it and they have rendered between themselves and all else curtains of honor and screens of power. They do not think of their Creator through image, do not impute created attributes to Him, do not confine Him within abodes and do not point at Him through illustrations.
Creation of Adam, Peace be Upon Him
Allah collected clay from hard, soft, sweet and sour earth, which He moistened with water till it became pure and kneaded it with moisture till it became gluey. From it He carved an image with curves, joints, limbs and segments. He solidified it till it dried up for a fixed time and a known duration. Then He blew into it out of His Spirit whereupon it took the pattern of a human being with a mind that governed him, intelligence which he made use of, limbs that served him, organs that changed his status, sagacity that differentiated between truth and untruth, tastes and smells, colors and species. He was a mixture of clays of different colors, cohesive materials, divergent contradictories and differing properties like heat, cold, softness and hardness.
Then Allah asked the angels to fulfill His promise with them and to accomplish the pledge of His injunction to them by acknowledging Him through prostration to Him and submission to His honored status. So Allah said: “Prostrate to Adam, so they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). (Holy Qur’an, 2: 34; 7: 11; 17: 61; 18: 50; 20: 116).
Self-importance withheld him and vice overcame him. So that he took pride in his own creation with fire and treated the creation of clay contemptuously. So Allah allowed him time in order to let him fully deserve His wrath and to complete (man’s) test and to fulfill the promise (He had made to Satan). Thus, He said: “Verily you have been allowed time till the known Day." (Holy Qur’an, 15: 38, 38: 81).
Thereafter, Allah placed Adam (p.b.u.h.) in a house where He made his life and his stay safe and He cautioned him of Iblis and his enmity. Then his enemy (Iblis) envied Adam’s abiding in Paradise and his contacts with the virtuous. So he changed his conviction into wavering and determination into weakness. He thus converted his happiness into fear and his prestige into shame. Then Allah offered to Adam (p.b.u.h.) the chance to repent, taught him words of His Mercy, promised him return to His Paradise and sent him down to the place of trial and procreation of Progeny.
Allah Chooses His Prophets, Peace be Upon Them
From Adam’s progeny, Allah chose prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. Throughout the course of time many people perverted Allah’s trust with them and ignored His status and took associates along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing Allah and kept them aloof from His worship. Then Allah sent His Messengers and a series of His prophets toward people to get them to fulfill the pledges of His creation, to recall His bounties to them, to exhort them by preaching, to unveil before them the hidden virtues of wisdom and to show them the signs of His Omnipotence. Of these signs He showed the sky which is raised over them, the earth that is placed beneath them, a means of livelihood to sustain, death that makes them die, ailments that turn them old and incidents that successively betake them.
Allah never allowed His creation to remain without a Prophet (p.b.u.h.) deputed by Him, or a book sent down from Him or a binding argument or a standing plea. These Messengers were such that they did not feel little because of smallness of their number or the largeness of the number of their falsifiers. Among them was either a predecessor who would name the one to follow or the follower who had been introduced by the predecessor.
The Prophethood of Muhammad,
Peace be Upon Him and His Progeny
In this way, ages passed by and times rolled on. Fathers passed away while sons took their places till Allah deputed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as His Prophet, in fulfillment of His promise and in completion of His Prophethood. Muhammad’s pledge had been taken from the Prophets (p.b.u.t.), his traits of character were well reputed and his birth was honorable. The people of the earth at this time were divided in different parties, their aims were separate and ways were diverse. They either loved Allah and His creation or twisted His Names or turned to those other than Him. Through Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), Allah guided them out of wrong and with his efforts took them out of ignorance.
Then Allah chose Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) to meet Him, selected him for His own nearness, regarded him too dignified to remain in this world and decided to remove him from this place of trial. So He drew him towards Himself with honor. Allah may shower His blessing on him and his progeny.
The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah
But the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) left among you the same that other prophets left among their people, as Prophets do not leave their people intentionally (in the dark) without a clear path and a standing ensign. He left the Book of your Creator clarifying its permission and prohibitions, its obligations and discretion, its repealing injunctions and the repealed ones, its permissible matters and compulsory ones, its particulars and the general ones, its lessons and illustrations, its long and the short ones, its clear and obscure ones, detailing its abbreviations and clarifying its obscurities.
In it there are some verses whose knowledge is obligatory and others whose ignorance by the people is permissible. It also contains what appears to be obligatory according to the Book but its repeal is signified by the Prophet’s action (Sunnah) or that which appears compulsory according to the Prophet’s action but the Book allows not following it. Or there are those which are obligatory in a given time but not so after that time. Its prohibitions also differ. Some are major ones for which there exists the threat of fire (Hell) and others are minor ones for which there are prospects of forgiveness. There are also those of which a small portion is also acceptable (to Allah) but they are capable of being expanded.
In this Same Sermon, He Spoke thus about the Hajj:
Allah has made obligatory upon you the pilgrimage (hajj) to His sacred House which is the turning point for the people who go to it as beasts or pigeons go towards spring water. Allah, the most Glorified One, made it a sign of their supplication before His Greatness and their acknowledgment of His Dignity. He selected from among His creation those, who on listening to His call, responded to it and testified to His word. They stood in the status of His Prophets and resembled His angels who surround the Divine Throne securing all the benefits of performing His worship and hastening towards His promised forgiveness. Allah, the most Glorified One, made it (His sacred House) an emblem for Islam and an object of respect for those who turn to it. He made obligatory its pilgrimage and laid down its claim for which He held you responsible to discharge it. Thus, Allah, the most Glorified One, said:
“Allah (purely) for Allah, is incumbent upon mankind, the pilgrimage to the House, for those who can afford to journey thither. And whoever denies, then verily Allah is Self-sufficiently independent of the Worlds” (Holy Qur’an, 3: 97).
Delivered on return from Siffin before his Nomination
by the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, for the Caliphate
I praise Allah, seeking completion of His Blessing, submitting to His Glory and expecting safety from committing His sins. I invoke His help being in need of His Sufficiency (of protection). He whom He guides does not get astray. He with whom He is hostile gets no protection. He whom He supports does not remain needy. Praise is most weighty of all that is weighed and the most valuable of all that is treasured.
I testify that there is no god but Allah the One. He has no like. My testimony has been tested in its frankness and its essence shall store it facing the tribulations that overtake us because it is the foundation stone of Belief (iman) and the first step toward good actions and the Divine pleasure. It is the means to keep Satan away.
I also testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is the Prophet. Allah sent him with the illustrious religion, effective emblem, written Book, effulgent light, sparkling gleam and decisive in junctions in order to dispel doubts, present clear proofs, administer warning through signs and to warn of punishments. At that time people had fallen in vices whereby the rope of religion had been broken, the pillars of belief had been shaken, principles had been desecrated, system had become topsy turvy, openings were narrow, passage was dark, guidance was unknown and darkness prevailed.
Allah was being disobeyed, Satan was given support and Belief had been forsaken. As a result the pillars of religion fell down, its traces could not be discerned, its passages had been destroyed and its streets had fallen into decay. People obeyed Satan and tread his paths. They sought water from his watering places. Through them Satan’s emblems flew and his standard was raised in vices which trampled the people under their hoofs and treaded upon them with their feet. The vices stood on their toes (in full stature) and the people immersed in them were strayed, perplexed, ignorant and seduced as though in a Good House with bad neighbors. Instead of sleep, they had wakefulness, and for antinomy, they had tears in the eyes. They were a land where the learned were in bridle (keeping their mouths shut) while the ignorant were honored.
In the same sermon, Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him
referred to Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Them (the Household
of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him) as follows:
They are the trustees of His secrets, shelter for His affairs, source of knowledge about Him, center of His wisdom, valleys for His books and mountains of His religion. With them, Allah straightened the bend of religion’s back and removed the trembling of its limbs.
In the same sermon, he spoke about the hypocrites thus:
They sowed vices, watered them with deception and harvested destruction. Non in the Islamic community can be taken at par with the Progeny of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) (Ahl al-Bayt [p.b.u.t.]). One who was under their obligation cannot be matched with them. They are the foundation of religion and the pillar of belief. The forward runner has to turn back to them while the follower has to overtake them. They possess the chief characteristics for vicegerency. In their favor exists the will and succession (of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)). This is the time when right has returned to its owner and diverted to its center of return.
Known as the sermon as ash-Shaqshaqiyya
Beware! By Allah, the son of Aba Quhafah (Aba Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my status in relationship to it was the same as the status of the axis in relationship to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. I put a curtain against he caliphate and kept myself detached from it.
Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on this death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throats. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to ibn al-Khattab after himself.
Then he quoted a verse by al-A’sha and went on to say:
My days are now passed on the camel’s back (in difficulty) while there were days (of ease) when I enjoyed the company of Jabir’s brother Hayyan.
It is strange that during his lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one after his death. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves. This one put the caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah, people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation.
Nevertheless, I remained patient despite a length of period and stiffness of trial, until when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of Caliphate) in a group4 and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! What had I to do with his “consultation”? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high. One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder. With him his children of the grand-father (Umayyah) also stood up, swallowing up Allah’s wealth5 like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostrate.
At that moment, nothing took me by surprise, but the crowd of people rushing to me. It advanced toward me form every side like the mane of the hyena so much so that Hassan and Hussain were getting crushed and both the ends of my shoulder garment were torn. They collected around me like the herd of sheep and goats. When I took up the reins of government, one party broke away and another turned disobedient while the rest began acting wrongfully as if they had not heard the word of Allah saying:
“That abode in the hereafter, We assign if for those who intend not to exult themselves in the earth, nor (to make) mischief (the rein), and the end is (best) for the pious. (Holy Qur’an 28: 83)
Yes, by Allah, they had heard it and understood it but the world appeared glittering in their eyes and its embellishments seduced them. Behold, by Him who split the grain (to grow) and created living beings, if people had not come to me and supporters had not exhausted the argument and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should no acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the first one. Then you would have seen that in my view this world of yours is not better than the sneezing of a goat.
It is said that when Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) reached this point in his sermon, a man from Iraq stood up and handed him something in writing. Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) began looking at it, whereupon Ibn `Abbas said, “O Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.), I wish you resumed your sermon from where you broke it.” Thereupon, he replied, “O Ibn `Abbas, it was like the foam of a camel which gushed out but subsided.” Ibn `Abbas said that he never grieved over any utterance as he did over this one because Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) could not finish it as he wished to.
Ash-Sharif ar-Razi says the following: The words in this sermon Alike the rider of a camel mean to convey that when a camel rider is stiff in drawing up the rein then in this scuffle the nostril gets bruised, but if he lets it loose in spite of the camel’s unruliness, it would thrown him somewhere and would get out of control. Ash-shaqshaqah is used when the rider holds up the rein and raises the camel’s head upwards. In the same sense the word Ashanaqa an-naqah is use. Ibn as-Sikkit (the renown linguist) has mentioned this in Islah al-Mantiq. Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) has said, “ashnaqa laha” instead of “aslasa laha” and harmony could be retained only by using both in the same form. Thus, Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) has used “ashanaq laha” as though in place of “in rafa’a laha ra saha”, that is, “If he stops it by holding up the reins, etc.”
Amir Al-Mu’minin’s Far-Sightedness and Staunch Conviction
Through us you got guidance in the darkness and secured a high status. And through us you got out of the gloomy night. The ears which do not listen to the cries may become deaf. How can one who remained deaf to the loud cries (of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) listen to (my) feeble voice. The heart that has ever palpitated (with fear of Allah) may get peace.
I always apprehended from you consequences of treachery and I had seen you through in the garb of the deceitful. The curtain of the religion had kept me hidden from you but the truth of my intentions disclosed you to me. I stood for you on the path of truth among misleading tracks were you met each other, but there was no leader and you dug but got no water.
Today, I am making these dumb things peak to you (i.e. my suggestive ideas and deep musing, etc.) which are full of descriptive power. The opinion of the person who abandons me may get astray. I have never doubted the truth since it was shown to me. Musa (Moses) did not entertain fear for his own self. Rather, he feared the mastery of the ignorant and the path towards deviation. Nowadays, we stand on the crossroads of truth and falsehood. The one who is sure of getting water feels no thirst.
Delivered when the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him died
and `Abbas ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and Abu Sufyan ibn Harb offered
to swear allegiance to Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him as the Caliph
O People! Steer clear through the waves of mischief by boats of deliverance, turn away from the path of dissension and put off the gowns of pride. Prosperous is one who rises with wings (i.e. when he has power) or else he remains peaceful and others enjoy ease. It (i.e. The aspiration for Caliphate) is like turbid water or like a morsel that would suffocate the person who swallows it. One who plucks fruits before ripening is like one who cultivated in another’s field.
If I speak out they would call me greedy towards power, but if I keep quiet they would say I was afraid of death. It is a pity that after all the ups and downs (I have been through). By Allah, the son of Aba Talib is more familiar with death than an infant with the breast of its mother. I have hidden knowledge; if I disclose it you will start trembling like ropes in deep wells.
Delivered on being advised not to chase Talhah ibn
`Ubaydillah and az-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam for fighting
By Allah, I shall not be like the badger, which feigns sleep on the continuous (sound of) stone-throwing till he who is in search of it find it or he who is on the look out for it overpowers it. Rather, I shall ever strike the deviators from truth with the help of those who advance toward it and the sinner and doubters with the help of those who listen to me and obey, till my day (of death) comes. By Allah, I have been continually deprived of my right from the day the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) died until today.
About the Hypocrites
They have made Satan the master of their affairs and he has taken them as partners. He has laid eggs and hatched them in their bosoms. He creeps and crawls in their laps. He sees through their eyes and speaks with their tongues. In this way, he has led them to sinfulness and adorned for them foul things like the action of one whom Satan has made partner in his domain and speaks untruth through his tongue.
About Az-Zubayr at a Time for Which it was Appropriate
He asserts that he swore allegiance to me with his hand, but did not swear with his heart. So he does admit allegiance. In regards to his claiming it with his heart he should come forward with a clear argument for it. Otherwise, he should return to wherefrom he has gone out.
Cowardice of the people of Jamal
They thunder like clouds and shone like lightening but despite both these things they exhibited cowardice while we do not thunder till we pounce upon the foe nor do we show flow (of words) until we have virtually rained.
About Talhah and az-Zubayr
Beware! Satan has collected his group and assembled his horsemen and foot soldiers. Surely, with me is my sagacity. I have neither deceived myself nor ever been deceived. By Allah, I shall fill to the brim for them a cistern from which I alone would draw water. They can neither turn away from it nor return to it.
Delivered during the Battle of Jamal when
Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him gave the
standard to his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya
Mountains may move from their status, but you should not move from yours. Grit your teeth. Lend to Allah your head (in fighting for Allah, give yourself to Allah). Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Have your eye on the remotest foe and close your eyes (to their numerical majority). And be sure that succor is but from Allah, the Glorified.
When Allah gave Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him
victory over the enemy at the Battle of Jamal one of his comrades
said on that occasion, “I wish my brother so-and-so had been present
so that he, too, would have seen what success and victory Allah had given you.”
It was then that Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) asked him, “Did you brother hold me as a friend?” The comrade said, “Yes.” Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) said, “In that case, he was with us. Rather, in this army of ours, even those persons were also present who are still in the loins of men and in the wombs of women. Shortly, time will bring them out and faith will get strength through them.”
Condemning the People of Basrah
You were the army of a woman and in the command of a quadruped. When it grumbled you responded and when it was wounded (hamstrung) you fled away. Your character is low and your pledge is broken. Your faith is hypocrisy. Your water is brackish. He who stays with you is laden with sins and he who forsakes you secures Allah’s mercy. As though I see your mosque prominent, resembling the surface of a boat, while Allah has sent chastisement from above and from below it and everyone who is on it is drowned.
Another version of the same sermon:
By Allah! Your city would certainly be drowned so much so that as though I see its mosque like the upper part of a boat or a sitting ostrich (or, in another version of his statement) like the bosom of a bird in the deep sea.
Yet Another Version States the Following:
Your city is the most stinking of all the cities as regarding its clay, the nearest to water and remotest from the sky. It contains nine tenths of evil. He who enters it is surrounded with his sins and he who is out of it enjoys Allah’s forgiveness. It seems as though I look at this habitation of yours that water has so engulfed it that nothing can be seen of it except the highest part of the mosque appearing like the bosom of a bird in the deep sea.
Also Condemning the People of Basrah
Your earth is close to the sea and away from the sky. Your wits have become light and your minds are full of folly. You are the aim of the archer, a morsel for the eater and an easy prey for the hunter.
After Resuming the Land Grants Made By
`Othman Ibn `Affan [To the State Treasury], He Said:
By Allah! Even if I had found that by such money women have been married or bondmaids have been purchased I would have resumed it because there is a wide scope in dispensation of justice and he who find it hard to act justly should find it harder to deal with injustice.
Delivered When Allegiance Was Sworn to Him at Medina
The responsibility for what I say is guaranteed and I am answerable for it. He to whom experiences have clearly shown the past exemplary punishments (given by Allah to people) is prevented by piety from falling into doubts. You should know that the same troubles have returned to you which existed when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was first sent.
By Allah Who sent the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with faith and truth! You will be severely subverted, bitterly shaken s in sieving and fully mixed as by spooning in a cooking pot till your low persons become high and high ones become low, those who were behind would attain forward positions and those who were forward would become backward. By Allah, I have not concealed a single word or spoken any lie and I had been informed of this event and of this time.
Beware that sins are like unruly horses on whom their riders have been placed and their reins have been let loose so that they would jump with them in Hell. Beware that piety is like trained horses on whom the riders have been placed with the reins in the hands so that they would take the riders to Heaven. There is right and wrong and there are followers for each. If wrong dominates, it has (always) in the past been so and if truth goes down that too has often occurred. It seldom happens that a thing that lags behind comes forward.
Ash-Sharif ar-Razi says the following by way of commenting on the above: “In the short speech, there is more beauty than can be appreciated and the quantity of amazement aroused by it is more than can be appreciated. Despite what we have stated, it has so many aspects of eloquence that cannot be expressed, nor can anyone reach its depth. And no one can understand what I am saying unless one has attained this are and known its details.”
“No one appreciates it except those who know.” (Holy Qur’an, 29: 43)
From the Same Sermon:
He who has heaven and hell in his view has no other aim. He who attempts and acts quickly succeeds, while the seeker who is slow may also entertain hope. And he who falls short of actions faces destruction in Hell. On the right and left there are misleading paths. Only the middle way is the (right) path which is the Everlasting book and the traditions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). From it the Sunnah has spread out and toward it is the eventual return.
He who claims (otherwise) is ruined and he who concocts falsehood is disappointed. He who opposes the right with his face gets destruction. It is enough ignorance for a man not to know himself. He who is strong rooted2 in piety does not get destruction and the plantation of the people based on piety never remains without water. Hide yourselves in your houses and reform yourselves. Repentance is at your back. One should praise only Allah and condemn only his own self.
About Those Who Sit for Dispensation
of Justice among People but Are Not Fit for It
Among all the people, the most detested before Allah are two persons. One is he who is devoted to his self. So he is deviated from the true path and loves speaking about (foul) innovations and inviting toward the wrong path. He is, therefore, a nuisance for those who are enamored of him, is himself misled from the guidance of those enamored of him, is himself misled from the guidance of those preceding him, misleads those who follow him in his life or after his death, carries the weight of others’ sins and is entangled in his own misdeeds.
The other man is he who has picked up ignorance. He moves among the ignorant, is senseless in the thick of mischief and is blind to the advantages of peace. Those resembling like men have named him scholar but he is not so. He goes out early morning to collect things whose deficiency is better than plenty, till when he has quenched his thirst form polluted water and acquired meaningless things.
He sits among the people as a judge responsible for solving whatever is confusing to the others. If an ambiguous problem is presented before him he manages a shabby argument about it of his own accord and passes judgment on its basis. In this way, he is entangled in the confusion of doubts as in the spider’s web, not knowing whether he was right or wrong. If he is right, he fears lest he errs, while if he is wrong, he hopes he is right. He is ignorant, wandering astray in ignorance and riding on carriages aimlessly moving in darkness. He does not try to find the reality of knowledge. He scatters the traditions as the wind scatters the dry leaves.
By Allah! He is not capable of solving the problems that come to him nor is he fit of the status assigned to him. Whatever he does not know he doses not regard it worth knowing. He does not realize that what is beyond his reach is within the reach of others. If anything is not clear to him, he keeps quiet over it because he knows his own ignorance. Lost lives are crying against his unjust verdicts and properties (that have been wrongly disposed of) are grumbling against him.
I complain to Allah about persons who live ignorant and die misguided. For them nothing is more worthless than Holy Qur’an if it is recited as it should be recited, nor anything more valuable than the Holy Qur’an if is verses are removed from their places, nor anything more vicious than virtue nor more virtuous than vice.
Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Said in
Disparagement of the Differences of Views among the Theologians
When a problem is put before anyone of them he passes judgment on it from his imagination. When exactly the same problem is placed before another of them he passes an opposite verdict. Then these judges go to the chief who had appointed them and he confirms all the verdicts, although their Allah is One (and the same), their Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is one (and the same), their Book (the Holy Qur’an), is one (and the same).
Is it that Allah ordered them to differ and they obeyed Him? Or He prohibited them from it but hey disobeyed Him? Or (is it that) Allah sent an incomplete Faith and sought their help to complete it? Or they are His partners in the affairs so that it is their share of duty to pronounce and He as to agree? Or is it that Allah, the most Glorified One, sent a perfect faith but the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) fell short of conveying it and handing it over (to the people) ? The fact is that Allah, the most Glorified One, says the following: “We have not neglected anything in the Book (Qur’an).” (Holy Qur’an, 6: 38)
Allah says that one part of the Holy Qur’an verifies another part and that there is no divergence in it as He says the following: “And if it had been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy.” (Holy Qur’an, 4: 82)
Certainly, the outside of the Holy Qur’an is wonderful and its inside is deep (in meaning). Its wonders will never disappear, its amazing things will never pass away and its intricacies cannot be cleared except through itself.
Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him delivering a lecture from
the pulpit of (the mosque of) Kufah when al-Ash`ath ibn Qays objected
and said, “O Amir al-Mu’minin! This thing is not in your favor but against you.”
Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him looked at him with anger and said:
How do you know what is for me and what is against me? Curse of Allah and other be on you. You are a weaver and son of a weaver. You are the son of an unbeliever and yourself a hypocrite. You were arrested once by the unbelievers and once by the Muslims, but you wealth and birth could not save you from either. The man who contrives for his own people to be put to sword and invites death and destruction for them does deserve that the near ones should hate him and the remote ones should not trust him.
As-Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “This man was arrested once when an unbeliever and once in the days of Islam.” As for Amir al-Mu’minin’s words that the man contrived for his own people to be put to the sword, the reference herein is to the incident which occurred to al-Ash`ath ibn Qays in confrontation with Khalid ibn al-Walid at Yamama, where he deceived his people and contrived a trick until Khalid attacked them. After this incident his people nicknamed him, “`Urfan-Nar,” which in the parlance stood for “traitor”.
Death and Learning Lessons from It
If you could see what has been seen by those of you who have died, you would be puzzled and troubled. Then you would have listened and obeyed; but what they have seen is yet curtained off from you. Shortly, the curtain would be thrown off. You have been shown, provided you see and you have been made to listen provided you listen and you have been guided if you accept guidance. I spoke unto you with truth. You have been called aloud by (instructive) examples and warned through items full of warnings. After the heavenly messengers (angels), only man can convey the message from Allah. (So what I am conveying is from Allah).
Advice to Keep Light in this World
Your aim (reward or punishment) is before you. Behind your back is the hour (of resurrection) which is driving you on. Keep (yourself) light and overtake (the forward ones). Your last ones are being awaited by the first ones (who have preceded you).
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “If this utterance of Ali (p.b.u.h.) is weighed with any other utterance except the words of Allah or of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), it would prove heavier and superior in every respect. For example, Ali’s saying “keep light and overtake’ is the shortest expression every heard with the greatest sense conveyed. How broad its meaning is and how clear its spring of wisdom! We have pointed out the greatness and meaningfulness of this phrase in our book Al-Khasa’is.
About Those Who Accused Him of `Othman’s Killing
Beware! Satan has certainly started instigating his forces and has collected his army in order that oppression may reach its extreme ends and wrong may come back to its status. By Allah, they have not put a correct blame on me, nor have they done justice between me and themselves.
They are demanding of me a right which they have abandoned and a blood that they have themselves shed. If I were a partner with them in it then they too have their share of it. But if they did it without me they alone have to face the consequences. Their biggest argument (against me) is really against their own selves. They are suckling from a mother who is already dry and bringing into life innovation that is already dead. How disappointing is this challenger to battle)? Who is this challenger and for what is he being responded to? I am happy that the reasoning of Allah has been exhausted before them and He knows (all) about them. If they refuse (to obey) I will offer them the edge of the sword which is enough of a cure of wrong and supporter of right.
It is strange that they send me word to proceed to them for spearfighting and to keep ready for fighting with swords. May the mourning women mourn over them. I have ever been so that I as never frightened by fighting nor threatened by clashing. I enjoy full certainty of belief from my Allah and have no doubt in my faith.
About Keeping Aloof from Envy
and Good Behavior towards Kith and Kin
Verily the Divine orders descend form heaven to earth like drops of rain bringing to everyone what is destined for him whether plenty or paucity. So if any one of you observes for his brother plenty of progeny or of wealth or of self, it should not be a worry for him. So long as a Muslim does not commit such an act that if it is disclosed, he has to bend his eyes (in shame) and by which low people are emboldened he is like the gambler who expects that the first draw of his arrow would secure him gain and also cover up the previous loss.
Similarly, the Muslim who is free from dishonesty expects one of the two good things; either a cal from Allah and in that case whatever is with Allah is the best for him or the livelihood of Allah. He has already children and property while his faith and respect are with him. Certainly, wealth and children are the plantations of this world while virtuous deeds are the plantation of the next world. Sometimes, Allah joins all these in some groups.
Beware of Allah against what He has cautioned you and keep afraid of Him to the extend that no excuse be needed for it. Act without show or intention of being heard for if a man acts for some one else then Allah makes him over to that one. We ask Allah to grant us) the positions of the martyrs, company of the virtuous and friendship of the prophets.
O people! Surely no one (even though he may be rich) can do without his kinsmen and their support by hands or tongues. They alone are his support from the rear and can ward off from him his troubles and they are the most kind to him when tribulations befall him. The good memory of a man that Allah retains among people is better than the property which others inherit from him.
In the same sermon, he says the following:
Behold! If any one of you finds your near ones in want or starvation, he should not desist from helping them with that which will not increase if this help is not extended nor decrease by thus spending it. Whoever holds up his hand from (helping) his kinsmen, he holds only one hand, but at the same time of his need, many hands remain held up form helping him. One who is sweet-tempered can retain the love of his people for good.
As-Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “In this sermon, al-ghafira means plenty or abundance and this is derived from the Arab saying, aljam` al-ghafir meaning thick crowd. In some versions for al-ghafira, the word afwatan appears. Afwa means the good and selected part of anything. It is said: akaltu afwata’t-ta`am, to mean ‘I ate a choice meal.’” About Awa man yaqbid yadahu an’ashiratihi appearing towards the end, he points out how beautiful the meaning of this sentence is, Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) implies that he who does not help his own kinsmen withholds only his hand but when he is in need of their assistance and would be looking for their sympathy and support, then he would remain deprived of the sympathies and succor of so many of their extending hands and marching feet.
Exhorting people for Jihad
By my life there will be no regard for anyone nor slackening from me in fighting against one who opposes right or gropes in misguidance. O' creatures of Allah, fear Allah and flee unto Allah from His wrath (seek protection in His mercy). Tread on the path He has laid down for you and stand by what He has enjoined upon you. In that case Ali (p.b.u.h.) would stand surety for your success (salvation eventually even though you may not get it immediately (i.e. in this world).
When Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him received successive
news that Mu`awiyah’s men were occupying cities and his own
officers in Yemen namely `Ubaydullah ibn `Abbas and Sa’i d ibn Imran
came to him retreating after being overpowered by Bisr ibn Aba Arta’ah,
he was much disturbed by the slackness of his own men in jihad
and their difference with his opinion. Proceeding on the pulpit, he said:
Nothing (is left to me) but Kufah which I can hold and extend (which is in my hand to play with). (O Kufah) if this is your condition that whirlwinds continue blowing through you then Allah may destroy you.
Then he illustrated with this verse of a poet:
O `Amr! By your good father’s life, I have received only a small bit of fat from this pot (fat that remains sticking to it even after it has been emptied).
Then he went on to say:
I have been informed that Busr has overpowered Yemen. By Allah, I have begun thinking about these people that they would shortly snatch away the whole country through their unity on their wrong and your disunity (from your own right) and separation, your disobedience of your Imam in matters of right and their obedience to their leader in matters of wrong, their fulfillment of the trust in favor of their master and your betrayal, their god work in their cities and your mischief. Even if I give you charge of a wooden bowl I fear you would run away with its handle.
O Lord! They are disgusted of me and I am disgusted of them. They are weary of me and I am weary of them. Change them for me with better ones and change me for them with a worse one. O my Allah melt their hearts as salt melts in water. By Allah I wish I had only a thousand horsemen of Banu Firas ibn Ghanm (as the poet says):
If you call them the horsemen would come to you like the summer cloud.
Thereafter, Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) stepped down from the pulpit.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “In this verse, the word armiyah is plural of ramiyy which means cloud and hamin here means summer. The poet has particularized the cloud of summer because it moves swiftly. This is so because it is devoid of water while a cloud moves slowly when it is laden with rain. Such clouds generally appear (in Arabia) in winter. By this verse, the poet intends to convey that when they are called and referred to for help they approach with rapidity and this is borne by the first line “If you call them, they will reach you.”
Arabia before the Proclamation of Prophethood
Allah sent Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as a warner (against vice) for all the worlds and a trustee of His revelation, while you people of Arabia were following the worst religion and you resided among rough stones and venomous serpents. You drank dirty water and ate filthy food. You shed the blood of each other and cared not for relationships. Idols were fixed among you and sins were clinging to you.
A portion of the same sermon on the attentiveness of
the people after the death of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
I looked and found that there was no supporter for me except my family, so I refrained from thrusting them unto death. I kept my eyes closed despite motes in them. I drank despite a choking of the throat. I exercised patience despite trouble in breathing and despite having to take sour colocynth as food.
Part of the same sermon on the settlement
between Mu`awiyah and `Amr ibn al-`as:
He did not swear allegiance till he got him to agree that he would pay him its price. The hand of this purchaser (of allegiance) may not be successful and the contract of the seller may face disgrace. Now you should take up arms for war and arrange equipment for it. Its flames have grown high and its brightness has increased. Clothe yourself with patience for it is the best to victory.
Exhorting People for Jihad
Now then, surely Jihad is one of the doors to Paradise, which Allah has opened for His chief friends. It is the outfit of piety and the protective armor of Allah and His trustworthy shield. Whoever abandons it Allah covers him with the outfit of disgrace and the clothe s of distress. He is kicked with contempt and scorn and his heart is veiled with screens (of neglect). Truth is taken away from him because of missing jihad. He has to suffer ignominy and justice is denied to him.
Beware! I called you (insistently) to fight these people night and day, secretly and openly and exhorted you to attack them before they attacked you because by Allah, no people have been attacked in the hearts of their houses but they suffered disgrace. But you put it off for others and forsook it till destruction befell you and your cities were occupied. The horsemen of Banu Ghamid have reached al-Anbar and killed Hassan ibn Hassan al-Bakri. They have removed your horsemen from the garrison. I have come to know that everyone of them entered upon Muslim women and other women under the protection of Islam and took away their ornaments from their legs, arms, necks and ears. No woman could resist it except by pronouncing the verse, “We are from Allah and to Him we shall return.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:156) Then they returned, laden with wealth, without any wound or loss of life. If any Muslim dies of grief after all this he is not to be blamed but rather there is justification for him before me.
How strange! How strange! By Allah! My heart sinks to see the unity of these people in their wrong-doings and your dispersion from the right. May woe and grief befall you. You have become the target at which arrows are shot. You are being killed and you do not kill. You are being attacked but you do not attack. Allah is being disobeyed and you remain agreeable to it. When I ask you to move against them in the summer you say it is hot weather, spare us until the heat subsides from us. When I order you to march in winter you say it is severely cold; give us time until the cold clears from us. These are just excuses of evading heat or cold because if you run away from heat and cold, you would be, by Allah, running away (in a greater degree) from the sword (war).
O you semblance of men, not men, your intelligence is that of children and your wit is that of the occupants of the curtained canopies (women kept in seclusion from the outside world). I wish I had not seen you nor known you. By Allah, this acquaintance has brought about shame and resulted in repentance. May Allah fight you! You have filled my heart with puss and loaded my bosom with rage. You made me drink mouthful after mouthful of grief. You shattered my counsel by disobeying and leaving me so much so that Quraish started saying that the son of Aba Talib is brave but does not know (tactics of) war. Allah bless them! Is any one of them more fierce in war and more older in it than I am? I rose for it although yet within my twenties and here I am, have crossed over sixty, but one who is not obeyed can have no opinion.
About the Transient Nature of this World
and the Importance of the next World
So now, surely this world has turned its back and announced its departure while the next world has appeared forward and proclaimed its approach. Today is the day of preparation while tomorrow is the day of race. The place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell. Is there no one to offer repentance over his faults before his death? Or is there no one to perform virtuous acts before the day of trial?
Beware, surely you are in the days of hopes behind which stands death. Whoever acts during the days of his hope before the approach of his death, his action would benefit him and his death would not harm him. But he who fails to act during the period of hope before the approach of death, his action is a loss and his death will harm him. Beware and act during a period of attraction just as you act during a period of dread.
Beware, surely I have not seen one who covets Paradise asleep nor dreads Hell to be asleep. Beware, he whom right does not benefit must suffer the harm of the wrong and he whom guidance does not keep firm will be led away by misguidance towards destruction.
Beware, you have been ordered insistently to march and have been guided as how to provide for the journey. Surely the most frightening thing which I am afraid of about you is to follow desires and to widen the hopes. Provide for yourself from this world what would save you tomorrow (on the Day of Judgment).
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “If there could be an utterance which would drag the neck towards renunciation in this world and force action for the next world, it is this sermon. It is enough to cut one off from the entanglements of hopes and to ignite the flames of preaching (for virtue) and warning (against vice). His most wonderful words in this sermon are: `Today is the day of preparation, while tomorrow is the day of race.’ The place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell.’ Besides the sublimity of these words, the greatness of their meaning, the true similes and factual illustrations, there are wonderful secrets and delicate implications the rein.”
It is his saying that his place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell. Here he has used two different words to convey two different meanings. For Paradise he has used the expression “place to proceed to” but for Hell this word has not been used. One proceeds to a place which he likes and desires and this can be true for Paradise only. Hell does not have the attractiveness that it may be liked or proceeded to. We seek Allah’s protection from it. Since for Hell it was not proper to say “to be proceeded to” Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) employed the word doom, implying the last place of stay where one reaches even though it may mean grief and worry or happiness and pleasure.
This word is capable of conveying both senses. However, it should be taken in the sense of al-masir or al-ma’al, that is, the last resort. Qur’anic verse is “Say: Enjoy you (your pleasures for a while), for your last resort is into (hell) fire” (Qur’an, 14: 30). Here, to say sabqatakum, that is, “the place for you to proceed to,” in place of the word “masirakum,” that is, your doom or last resort would not be proper in any way. Think and ponder over it and see how wondrous is its inner implication and how far its depth goes with beauty. Amir al-Mu’minin’s utterance is generally on these lines. In some versions the word sabqah is shown as subqah, which is applied to a reward fixed for the winner in a race. However, both meanings are close to each other because a reward is not for an undesirable action but for a good and commendable performance.
About Those Who Found Pretexts at the Time of Jihad
O people! Your bodies are together but your desires are divergent. Your talk softens the hard stones and your action attracts your enemy towards you. You claim in your sittings that you would do this and that, but when fighting approaches, you say (to war), “turn away” (i.e. flee away). If one calls you (for help), the call receives no heed. And he who deals harshly with you his heart has no solace. The excuses are amiss like that of a debtor unwilling to pay. The ignoble cannot ward off oppression. Right cannot be achieved without effort. Which is the house besides this one to protect? And with which leader (Imam) would you go for fighting after me?
By Allah! Deceived is one whom you have deceived while, by Allah, he who is successful with you receives only useless arrows! You are like broken arrows thrown over the enemy. By Allah! I am now in the status that I neither confirm your views nor hope for your support, nor challenge the enemy through you. What is the matter with you? What is your ailment? What is your cure? The other party is also men of your shape (but they are so different in character). Will there be talk without action, carelessness without piety and greed in things not right!?
Disclosing Real Facts about the Assassination of `Othman Ibn `Affan,
Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Said:
If I had ordered his assassination I should have been his killer, but if I had refrained others from killing him I would have been his helper. The status was that he who helped him cannot now say that he is better than the one who deserted him while he who deserted him cannot say that he is better than the one who helped him. I am putting before you his case. He appropriated (wealth) and did it badly. You protested against it and committed excess the rein. With Allah lies the real verdict between the one who appropriates and that who protests.
Delivered Before the Commencement of the Battle of Jamal
Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) sent `Abdullah ibn `Abbas to az-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam with the purpose that he should advise him to obey. He said the following to him on that occasion:
Do not meet Talhah (ibn `Ubaydillah). If you meet him you will find him like an unruly bull whose horns are turned towards its ears. He rides a ferocious riding beast and says it has been tamed. Instead, meet with az-Zubayr because he is soft-tempered. Tell him that your maternal cousin says that, “(It looks as if) in the Hijaz you knew me (accepted me), but (on coming here to) Iraq you do not know me (do not accept me). So, what has dissuaded (you) from what was shown (by you previously)?”
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “The last sentence of this sermon, i.e. Fama `ada minna bada, has been heard only from Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.).”
About the Disparagement of the World
and Categories of its People
O people! We have been born in such a wrongful and thankless period wherein the virtuous is deemed vicious and the oppressor goes on advancing in his excess. We do not make use of what we know and do not discover what we do not know. We do not fear calamity till it befalls.
People are of four categories. Among them is one who is prevented from mischief only by his low status, lack of means and paucity of wealth.
Then there is he who has drawn his sword, openly commits mischief, has collected his horsemen and foot-man and has devoted himself to securing wealth, leading troops, rising on the pulpit and has allowed his faith to perish. How bad is the transaction that you allow, (enjoyment of) this world to be a price for yourself as an alternative for what there is with Allah for you.
And among them is he who seeks (benefits of) this world through actions meant for the next world, but does not seek (good of) the next world through actions of this world. He keeps his body calm (in dignity), raises small steps, holds up his clothe s, embellishes his body for appearance of trust-worthiness and uses the status of Allah’s connivance as a means of committing sins.
Then there is one whose weakness and lack of means have held him back from conquest of lands. This keeps down his status and he has named it contentment and he clothes himself with the robe of renunciation although he has never had any connection with these qualities.
Then there remain a few people in whose case the remembrance of their return (to Allah on the Last Day) keeps their eyes bent and the fear of resurrection moves their tears. Some of them are scared away (from the world) and dispersed. Some are frightened and subdued; some are quiet as if muzzled; some are praying sincerely. Some are grief-stricken and pain-ridden whom fear has confined to namelessness and disgrace has shrouded them, so they are in (The sea of) bitter water. Their mouths are closed and their hearts are bruised. They preached till they were tired, they were oppressed till they were disgraced and they were killed till they remained few in number.
The world in your eyes should be smaller than the bark of the acacia and the clippings of wool. Seek instruction from those who preceded you before those who follow you take instruction from you and keep aloof from it realizing its evil because it cuts off even from those who were more attached to it than you.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Some ignorant persons attributed this sermon to Mu`awiyah but it is the speech of Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.). There should be no doubt about it. What comparison is there between gold and clay or sweet and bitter water.” This has been pointed out by the skillful guide and the expert critic `Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz as he has mentioned this sermon in his book, Al-Bayan wal-Tabyin (Vol. 2, pp. 59-61). He has also mentioned who attributed it to Mu`awiyah then states that it is most akin to be the speech of Ali and most in accord with his way of categorizing people and information about their oppression, disgrace, apprehension and fear. (On the other hand) we never found Mu`awiyah speaking on the lives of those who renounce this world or worshippers.
Abdullah ibn `Abbas says that when Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be
Upon Him set out to fight the people of Basrah, he came to his audience
at Thi-Qar and saw that Abdullah [ibn Abbas] was stitching his shoe.
Then Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him, said to me,
“What is the price of this shoe?” I said: “It has no value now.”
He then said, “By Allah! It should have been more dear to me than
ruling over you except for the fact that I have established right and warded off wrong.” Then the Imam, Peace be Upon Him came out and spoke thus:
Verily, Allah sent Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) when none among the Arabs read a book or claimed Prophethood. He guided the people till he took them to their (correct) status and their salvation and their spears (i.e. officers) became straight and their conditions settled down.
By Allah, surely I was in their lead till it took shape with its walls. I did not show weakness or cowardice. My existing march is also like that. I shall certainly pierce the wrong till right comes out of its side.
What (cause of conflict) is there between the tribesmen of Quraish and me? By Allah, I have fought them when they were unbelievers and I shall fight them when they have been misled. I shall be the same for them today as I was for them yesterday.
By Allah, the tribesmen of Quraish only take revenge against us because Allah has given us (i.e. The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his progeny) preference over them. So, we have allowed them into our domain, whereupon they have become as the former poet says the following:
By my life, you continued drinking fresh milk every morning,
And (continued) eating fine stoned dates with butter;
We have given you the nobility which you did not possess before;
And surrounded (protected) you with thoroughbred horses and tawny colored spears (strong spears).
To Prepare the People for Fighting with the People
of Syria (Ash-sham) Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Said:
Woe unto you! I am tired of rebuking you. Do you accept this worldly life in place of the next life? Or disgrace in place of dignity? When I invite you to fight your enemy your eyes revolve as though you are in the clutches of death and in the senselessness of last moments. My pleadings are not understood by you and you remain stunned. It is as though your hearts are affected with madness so that you do not understand. You have lost my confidence for good. Neither are you a support for me to lean upon nor a means to honor and victory. Your example is that of the camels whose protector has disappeared, so that if they are collected from one side they disperse away from the other side.
By Allah, how bad are you for igniting flames of war. You are intrigued against but do not intrigue (against the enemy). Your boundaries are decreasing but you do not get enraged over it. Those against you do not sleep but you are unmindful. By Allah, those who leave matters one for the other are subdued. By Allah, I believed about you that if battle rages and death hovers around you, you will cut away from son of Aba Talib like the severing of head from the trunk.
By Allah, he who makes it possible for his adversary to so overpower him as to remove the flesh (from his bones), crush his bones and cut his skin into pieces, then it means that his helplessness is great and that his heart surrounded within the sides of his chest is weak. You may become like this if you wish. But for me, before I allow it I shall use my sharp-edged swords of al-Mushrafiyyah which would cut under the bones of the head and cause arms and feet to fly. Thereafter, Allah will do whatever He wills.
O people! I have a right over you and you have a right over me. As for your right over me, that is to counsel you, to pay your dues fully, to teach you that you may not remain ignorant and instruct you in acceptable behavior that you may act upon. As for my right over you, it is fulfillment of (the obligation of) allegiance, well-wishing in presence or in absence, response when I call you and obedience when I order you.
Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him
Delivered this Sermon after the Arbitration
All praise is due to Allah even though time has brought (to us) crushing calamity and great occurrence. And I testify that there is no god but Allah the One, there is no partner for Him nor is there with Him any god other than Himself and that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and Prophet (May Allah’s blessing and greeting be upon him and his progeny).
So now, certainly the disobedience of a sympathetic counselor who has knowledge as well as experience brings about disappointment and that results in repentance. I had given you my orders about this arbitration and put before you my hidden view that if Qasir’s orders were fulfilled but you rejected it (my orders) like rough opponents and disobedient insurgents till the counselor himself fell in doubt about his counsel and the flint (of his wit) ceased to give flame. Consequently, my status and yours became as the poet of Hawazin says the following:
I gave you my orders at Mun’arajil-Liwa’ but you did not see the good of my counsel till the noon of next day (when it was too late).
Warning the People of Nahrawan of Their Fate
I am warning you that you will be killed on the bend of this canal and on the levee of this low area while you will have no clear excuse before Allah nor any open authority with you. You have come out of your houses then the Divine decree entangled you. I had advised you against this arbitration but you rejected my advice like adversaries and opponents till I turned my ideas in the direction of your wishes. You are a group whose heads are devoid of wit and intelligence. May you have no father! (Allah’s woe be to you!) I have not put you in any calamity nor wished you harm.
Amir Al-Mu’minin’s Utterance Which Runs like a Sermon about
His Own Steadfastness in Religion and Precedence in (Acceptance of) Conviction
I discharged duties when others lost courage (to do so) and I came forward when others hid themselves. I spoke when others remained mum. I struck with the Divine light when others remained standing. I was the quietest of them in voice but the highest in going forward. I cleaved to its rein and applied myself solely to its pledge, like the mountain which neither sweeping wind could move nor storm could shake. No one could find fault with me nor could any speaker speak ill of me.
The low is in my view worthy of honor till I secure (his) right for him while the strong is in my view weak till I take their (assumed) right from them. We are happy with the destiny ordained by Allah and have submitted to the command of Allah. Do you think I would speak lies about the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)? By Allah, I am surely the first to testify of him, so I will not be the first to falsify him. I looked at my affairs and found that my obedience should have precedence over my allegiance while my pledge to him is a burden on my neck.
About the Naming of Doubt as Such
and Disparagement of Those in Doubt:
Doubt is named doubt because it resembles truth. As for lovers of Allah, their conviction serves them as light and the direction of the right path (itself) serves as their guide; while the enemies of Allah, in time of doubt call to misguidance in the darkness of doubt and their guide is blindness (of intelligence). One who fears death cannot escape it nor one who fears for eternal life secure it.
In Disparagement of Those Who Shrink from Fighting
I am faced with men who do not obey when I order and do not respond when I call them. May you have no father (Woe unto you!) What are you waiting for to rise in the cause of Allah? Does not faith join you together, or sense of shame rouse you? I stand among you shouting and I am calling you for help, but you do not listen to my word and do not obey my orders, till circumstances show their bad consequences. No blood can be avenged through you and no purpose can be achieved with you. I called you to help your brethren but (instead) you made noises like the camel having pain in the stomach and became loose like the camel with a thin back. Then a wavering weak contingent came to me from among you: “as if they are being led to death and they are only watching.” (Holy Qur’an, 8: 6).
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Amir al-Mu’minin’s word mutadha’ib means mudtarib (i.e. moved or troubled), as they say tadha’ Abat ar-rih (i.e. the winds blow in troubled manner). Similarly the wolf is called dhi’b because of its troubled movement.
When Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Heard
the Cry of Kharijites That Verdict Is Only That of Allah, He Said:
The statement is right, but what (they think) it means is wrong. It is true that verdict lies but with Allah, but these people say that (the function of) governance is only for Allah. The fact is that there is no escape for men from rulers - good or bad. The faithful persons perform (good) acts in his rule while the unfaithful enjoys (worldly) benefits in it.
During the rule, Allah would carry everything to end. Through the ruler tax is collected, the enemy is fought, roadways are protected and the right of the weak is taken from the strong till the virtuous enjoy peace and allowed protection from (the oppression of) the wicked.
Another version of the same sermon:
When Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) heard the cry of the Kharijites on the aforementioned verdict he said: “I am expecting the verdict (destiny) of Allah on you.” Then he went on to say: “As for good government, the pious man performs good deeds in it, while in a bad government the wicked person enjoys till his time is over and death overtakes him. ”
O people! Surely the fulfillment of a pledge is the twin of truth. I do not know a better shield (against the assaults of sin) than it. One who realizes the reality of return (to the next world) refuses (submission to the dynamic of) betrayal. We are in a period when most of the people regard betrayal as wisdom. In these days the ignorant call it excellence of cunning. What is the matter with them? Allah may destroy them. One who has been through the thick and thin of life finds the excuses to be preventing him from acquiescing to the orders and prohibitions of Allah. Yet he disregards them despite the capability (to succumb to them and follows the commands of Allah), while one who has no restraints of religion seizes the opportunity (and accepts the excuses for not following the commands of Allah).
About Heart’s Desires and Extended Hopes
O people what I fear most about you are two things – acting according to desires and the extending of hopes. Acting according to (personal) desires prevents (the experiential admission of) truth; regarding extensive hope, it makes one forget the next world. You should know this world is moving rapidly and nothing has remained out of it except the last particles like the dregs of a vessel which has been emptied by some one. Beware, the next world is advancing and either of them has sons i.e. followers. You should become sons of the next world and not become sons of this world because on the Day of Judgment every son would cling to his mother. Today is the Day of action and there is no reckoning while tomorrow is the Day of reckoning wherein there would be no (opportunity for) action.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Al-hadhadha means rapid, but some people have read it jadhdha. According to this version, the meaning, it could be that the cycle of worldly enjoyments would end soon.
After Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Had Sent
Jarir Ibn `Abdillah Albajali to Mu`awiyah (For Securing His Oath of Allegiance),
Some of His Companions Suggested Preparation to Fight with Him. Then He Said:
My preparation for war with the people of Syria while Jarir ibn `Abdillah al-Bajali is still there would be closing the door on Syria and thereby preventing its people from a good action (i.e. allegiance) if that indeed was their intention. However, I have fixed a time limit of Jarir after which he would not stay without either deception or in disobedience. My opinion is in favor of patience, so wait a while. (In the meantime) I do not dislike your preparation.
I have observed this matter thoroughly from all sides but I do not find any way except war or heresy. Certainly, there was a ruler over the people (before me) who brought about new (un-Islamic) things and compelled the people to speak out. So they did speak, then rose and changed the whole system.
Masqalah Ibn Hubayrah ash-Shaybani Fled to Mu`awiyah Because
He Had Purchased Some Prisoners of Banu Najiyah from an Executive of
Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him, but When He Demanded the Price,
the Latter Avoided and Ran to Syria. Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Said:
May Masqalah be condemned. He acted like the noble but fled like a slave. Before his admirer could speak (about him) he silenced him and before his eulogist could testify to his good deeds he closed his mouth. If he had stayed behind we would have taken from him what he could easily pay and waited for the balance till his money increased.
About Allah’s Greatness and the Lowliness of this World
Praise is due to Allah from Whose mercy no one loses hope, from Whose bounty no one is deprived, from Whose forgiveness no one is disappointed and for Whose worship no one is too high. His mercy never ceases and His bounty is never missed.
This world is a place for which destruction is ordained and departure, for its inhabitants, is destined. It is sweet and green. It hastens towards its seeker and attaches to the heart of the viewer. So depart from here with the best of provision available with you and do not ask herein more than what is enough and do not demand from it more than subsistence.
When Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him
Decided to March Towards Syria, He Made These Statements:
Lord! I seek Your protection from the hardships of the journey, from the grief of returning and from the scene of devastation of property and men. O Allah, You are the companion in journey and You are one who is left behind for (protection of the ) family. None except You can join these two because one who is left behind cannot be a companion on a journey nor one who is in company on a journey at the same time can be left behind.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: The earlier part of his sermon is related from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) has completed it very aptly by adding most eloquent sentences at the end. This addition is from “None except You can join” up to the end.
About Calamities Befalling Kufah:
O Kufah! It is as though I see you being drawn like the tanned leather of `Ukazi in the market. You are being scraped by calamities and being ridden by severe troubles. I certainly know that if any tyrant intends evil for you Allah will afflict him with worry and fling him with a killer (set someone on him to kill him).
Delivered at the Time of Marching Towards Syria
Praise is due to Allah when night spreads and darkens and praise be to Allah whenever the star shines and sets. And praise be to Allah Whose bounty never misses and whose favors cannot be repaid.
Well, I have sent forward my vanguard and have ordered them to remain in the camp on this bank of the river till my order reaches them.
My intention is that I should cross this water over to the small habitation of people residing on the sides of the Tigris and rouse them to march with you towards the enemy and keep them as an auxiliary force for you.
About Allah’s Greatness and Sublimity
Praise be to Allah Who lies inside all hidden things and towards Whom all open things are guided. He cannot be seen by the eye of an onlooker, but the eye which does not see Him cannot deny Him while the mind that proves His existence cannot perceive Him. He is so high in sublimity that nothing can be more sublime than He, while in nearness, He is so near that no one can be nearer than He. But his sublimity does not put Him at a distance from anything of His creation, nor does His nearness bring them on equal level to Him. He has not informed (human) wit about the limits of His qualities. Nevertheless, He has not prevented it from securing any essential knowledge of Him. He is such that all signs of existence testify for Him till the denying mind also believes in Him. Allah is sublime beyond what is described by those who liken Him to things or those who deny Him.
About Mixing Right with Wrong
The basis of the occurrence of evils are those desires which are acted upon and the orders that are innovated. They are against the Book of Allah. People cooperate with each other about them even though it is against the religion of Allah. If wrong had been pure and unmixed it would not be hidden from those who are in search of it. And if right had been pure without admixture of wrong those who bear hatred towards it would have been silenced. However, what is done is that something is taken from here and something from there and the two are mixed! At this stage Satan overpowers his friends and they alone escape for whom virtue has been apportioned by Allah from before.
During the Battle of Siffin, the men who were fighting on
the side of Mu`awiyah overpowered the men of Amir al-Mu’minin,
Peace be Upon Him occupying the bank of the River Euphrates and
preventing them from having access to its water.
It is then that Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him said the following:
They are asking you for morsels of battle. So, either you remain in ignominy and the lowest status or drench your swords with blood and quench your thirst with water. Real death is living in subjugation, while real life is in dying as subjugators. Beware, Mu`awiyah is leading a small group of insurgents and has kept them in the dark about the true facts with the result that they have made their bosoms the targets of death.
This Sermon Has Already Been Cited But, Due to the Difference
Between the Two Versions, We Have Quoted it Again Here. Its Subject
Is the Downfall of the World and Reward and Punishment in the Hereafter.
Beware! The world is wrapping itself up and has announced its departure. Its known things have become strangers and it is speedily moving backward. It is advancing its inhabitants towards destruction and driving its neighbors towards death. Its sweet things (enjoyments) have become sour and its clear things have become polluted. Consequently, what has remained of it is just like the remaining water in a vessel or a mouthful of water in the measure. If a thirsty person drinks it his thirst shall not be quenched.
O servants of Allah! get ready to go out of this world for whose inhabitants decay is ordained. (Beware) heart’s wishes should overpower you, nor should you take your stay (in life) to be long. By Allah, if you cry like the she-camel that has lost its young one or call out like the cooing of pigeons or make noise like devoted recluses and turn to Allah, leaving your wealth and children as a means to secure His nearness and high status with Him or the forgiveness of sins which have been covered by His books and recorded by His angels, it would be less than His reward that I expect for you or His retribution that I fear about you.
By Allah, if your hearts thoroughly melt and your eyes shed tears of blood either in hopes for Him or for fear of Him and, if you are also allowed to live in this world all the time that it lasts, even then, your actions cannot pay for His great bounties over you and His having guided you towards faith.
A portion of the same sermon describing the Feast of
Sacrifice (`Id al-Azha) and the qualities of the animal for sacrifice
For an animal to be fully fit for sacrifice it is necessary that both its ears be raised upwards and its eyes should be healthy. If the ears and the eyes are sound the animal of sacrifice is sound and perfect, even though its horn be broken or it drags its feet to the place of sacrifice.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: Here place of sacrifice means place of slaughter.
On the Oath of Allegiance
They leaped upon me as the camels leap upon each other on their arrival for drinking water, having been let loose after unfastening of their four legs till I thought they would either kill me or kill one another in front of me. I thought over this matter in and out to the extent that it prevented me from sleeping. But I found no way except to fight them or else to reject whatever has been brought by Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). I found that to face war was easier for me than to face the retribution and the hardships of this world were easier than the hardships of the next world.
When Amir Al-Mu’minin’s Showed Impatience on His
Delay in Giving Them Permission to Fight in Siffin, He Said:
As for your idea whether this (delay) is due to my unwillingness for death, then by Allah I do not care whether I proceed towards death or death advances towards me. As for your impression that it may be due to my misgivings about the people of Syria, by Allah, I did not put off war even for a day except in the hope that some group may join me, find guidance through me and see my light with their weak eyes. This is dearer to me than to kill them in the state of this misguidance although they would be bearing their own sins.
About Steadfastness on the Battlefield
In the company of the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.), we used to fight our parents, sons, brothers and uncles. This continued us in our faith, in submission, in our following the right path, in endurance over the pangs of pain and in our fight against the enemy. A man from our side and one from the enemy would pounce upon each other like energetic men contesting as to who would kill the other; sometimes our man gets over his adversary and sometimes the enemy’s man gets over ours.
When Allah had observed our truth He sent ignominy to our foe and sent His succor to us till Islam was established (like the camel) with its neck on the ground and resting in its place. By my life, if we had also behaved like you, no pillar of (our) religion could have been raised, nor the tree of faith could have borne leaves. By Allah, certainly you will now milk our blood (instead of milk) and eventually you will face shame.
Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him
Said the Following to his Companions about Mu`awiyah:
Soon after me a man will be placed over you with a broad mouth and a big belly. He will swallow whatever he gets and crave what he does not get. You should kill him but (I know) you will not. He will command you to abuse me and to renounce me. As for abusing me, you will because that would mean purification for me and salvation for you. As regarding renunciation, you should not renounce me because I have been born on the natural religion (Islam) and was foremost in (accepting) it as well as in Hijra (migrating from Mecca to Medina).
Addressing the Kharijites, Amir Al-Mu’minin,
Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
A storm may overtake you while there may be none to awaken you (for reforms). Shall I be a witness to my becoming heretic after the acceptance of faith and fighting in the company of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)?! “In that case I shall be misguided and I shall not be on the right path.” (Holy Qur’an, 6: 56) So you should return to your evil places and get back on the traces of your heels. Beware! Certainly, after me, you will meet overwhelming disgrace, sharp swords and traditions that will be adopted by the oppressors as a norm towards you.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “In the words wala baqiyah minkum abirun used by Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.), the abir has been related with ba and ra, and it has been taken from the Arab saying Rajulun abirun which means the man who prunes the date-palm trees improves them. In one version, the word is athir and its meaning is “relater of news.’ In my view, this is more appropriate, as though Amir al-Mu’minin (p.b.u.h.) intends to say that there should remain none to carry news.
In another version of the same sermon, the word appears as Abiz with Aza’ which means one who leaps. One who dies is also called Abiz.
When Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Announced
His Intention to Fight the Kharijites, He Was Told That They Had
Crossed the Bridge of Nahrawan and Gone over to the Other Side.
It Was Then That Amir Al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
Their falling place is on this side of the river. By Allah, not even ten of them will survive while from your side not even ten will be killed.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “In this sermon, nutfa implies the River Euphrates and for water this is the nicest expression even though water may be much.”
When Amir al-Mu’minin, Peace be Upon Him Was Told
That the Kharijites Had Been Totally Killed, He Said the Following:
By Allah! No, not yet! They still exist in the loins of men and wombs of women. Whenever a chief would appear from among them he would be cut down till the last of them would turn thieves and robbers.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Also Said the Following:
Do not fight the Kharijites after me because one who seeks right but does not find it is not like one who seeks wrong and does find it.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) means Mu`awiyah and his men.”
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Was Warned of Being Killed by Deceit, He Said the Following:
Surely, there is a strong shield of Allah over me. When my day would come it would get away from me and hand me to death. At that time neither an arrow would go amiss nor a wound would heal.
About the Transience of the World
Beware! Surely this world is a place from which protection cannot be sought except while one is in it. The action which is performed only for this world cannot secure salvation. People are tested in it through calamities. Those who have taken worldly pleasures here will be taken out from them (by death) and will be questioned about them. And whatever (good actions) they have achieved for the other world, they will get them there and stay in them. For the intelligent, this world is like the shade; one moment it is spread out and extended but soon it shrinks and contracts.
About Decline and Destruction of the World
O servants of Allah! Fear Allah and anticipate your death by good actions. Purchase everlasting joy by paying transitory things - pleasures of this world. Get ready for the journey, for you are being driven and prepare yourselves for death, since it is hovering over you. Be a people who wake up when called and who know that this world is not their abode and so have changed it (with the next).
Certainly, Allah has not created you aimlessly nor left you useless. There is nothing between anyone of you and Paradise or Hell except death that must befall him. The life that is being shortened every moment and being dismantled every hour must be regarded very short. The hidden thing, namely death, which is being driven (to you) by two phenomena which are day and night is certainly quick to approach. The traveler which is approaching with success or failure (namely death) deserves the best of provision. So acquire such provision from this world while you are here with which you may shield yourself tomorrow (on the Day of Judgment).
So everyone should fear Allah, admonish himself, send forward his repentance and overpower his desire because his death is hidden from him, his desires deceive him and Satan is posted on him. He beautifies sin for him so that he may commit it and prompts him to delay repentance till his desires make him the most negligent. Piety is for the negligent person whose life itself would be a proof against him and his own days (passed in sin) would lead him to punishment.
We ask Allah, the Glorified One, that He may make us and you like one whom bounty does not mislead, whom nothing can stop from obedience of Allah and whom shame and grief do not befall after death.
About Allah’s Attributes
Praise be to Allah for Whom one condition does not proceed another so that He may be the First before being the Last or He may be Manifest before being Hidden. Everyone called one (alone) save Him is by virtue of being small (in number), and everyone enjoying honor other than Him is humble. Every powerful person other than Him is weak. Every master (owner) other than Him is slave (owned).
Every knower other than Him is a seeker of knowledge. Every controller other than Him is sometimes imbued with control and sometimes with disability. Every listener other than Him is deaf to light voices while loud voices make him deaf and distant voices also leave him. Every on-looker other than Him is blind to hidden colors and delicate bodies. Every manifest thing other than Him is hidden, but every hidden thing other than Him is incapable of becoming manifest.
He did not create what He created to fortify His authority nor for fear of the consequences of time, nor to seek help against the attack of an equal or a boastful partner or a hateful opponent. On the other hand all the creatures are reared by him and are His humbled slaves. He is not conditioned in anything so that it be said that He exists the rein, nor is He separated from anything so as to be said that He is away from it. The creation of what He initiated or the administration of what He controls did not fatigue Him. No disability overtook Him against what He created. No misgiving ever occurred to Him in what He ordained and resolved it. But His verdict is certain, His knowledge is definite, His governance is overwhelming. He is wished for at times of distress and He is feared even in bounty.
In Some of the Fighting Days of the Battle of Siffin,
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following
to His Followers about the Methods of Fighting:
O crowd of Muslims! Make fear of Allah the routine of your life. Cover yourselves with peace of mind and clinch your teeth because this makes the sword slip off from the skull. Complete your armor and shake your swords in their sheathe s before showing them out. Have your eyes on the enemy. Use your spears on both sides and strike (the enemy) with swords. Keep in mind that you are before Allah and in the company of the Prophet’s cousin. Repeat your attacks and feel ashamed of running away because it is a shame for posterity and (the cause of awarding you) fire on the Day of Judgment. Give your lives (to Allah) willingly and walk towards death with ease. Beware of this great majority and the pitched tent and aim at its entirety as Satan is hiding in its corner. He has extended his hand for assault and has kept back his foot for running away. Keep on enduring till the light of Truth dawns upon you.
“While you have the upper hand and Allah is with you and never will He depreciate your deeds.” (Holy Qur’an, 47: 35)
When after the Death of the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
News Reached Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him about
the Happening in Saqifa of Bani Sa’i-dah, He Inquired What the Ansar Said.
People Said That They Were Asking for One Chief from among Them and
One from the Others, Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
Why did you not argue against them (Ansar) that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had left his will that whoever is good among the Ansar should be treated well and whoever is bad should be forgiven.
People said the following: “What is there against them in it?” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said, “If the Government was for them there should have been no will in their favor.” Then he said the following: “What did the tribesmen of Quraish plead?” People answered: “They argued that they belong to the lineal tree of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said, “They argued with the tree but spoiled the fruits.”
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Appointed Muhammad Ibn Aba Bakr as the Ruler of Egypt,
and the Latter Was Overpowered and Killed,
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
I had intended to send Hashim ibn `Utbah to Egypt and had I done so he would have neither made a way for the opponents nor given them time (to get hold of him). This is without reproach to Muhammad ibn Aba Bakr as I loved him and had raised him.
Admonishing His Companions Not to Be Careless in Their Behavior,
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
How long shall I accord you consideration that is accorded to camels with hollow humps, or to worn clothe s which when stitched on one side give way on the other. Whenever a vanguard force of Syria hovers over you, everyone of you shuts his door and hides himself like the lizard in its hole or a badger in its den. By Allah, he whom people like you support must suffer disgrace and he who throws arrows with your support is as if he throws arrows that are broken both at head and tail. By Allah, within the courtyard you are quite numerous but under the banner you are only a few. Certainly, I know what can improve you and how your crookedness can be straightened. But I shall not improve your condition by marring myself. Allah may disgrace your faces and destroy you. You do not understand the right as you understand the wrong and do not crush the wrong as you crush the right.
Delivered in the Morning of the Day When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him Was Fatally Struck with a Sword’s Blow:
I was sitting when sleep overtook me. I saw the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) appear before me and I said, “O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! What crookedness and animosity I had to face from the people.” The Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said the following: “Invoke (Allah) evil upon them, but I said, “Allah may change them for me with better ones and change me for them with a worse one.”
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Al-awad means crookedness and al-ladad means animosity; this is a most eloquent expression.”
Condemning the Then People of Iraq:
Now, then, O folks! You are like the pregnant woman who, on completion of the period of pregnancy delivers a dead child and her husband is also dead and her period of widowhood is long while only remote relationship inherits her. By Allah, I did not come to you of my own accord. I came to you by force of circumstances. I have come to know that you say Ali speaks lies. May Allah fight you! Against whom do I speak lies? Against Allah? But I am the first to have believed in Him. Against His Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? But I am the first who testified to him. Certainly not. By Allah it was a way of expression which failed to appreciate and you were not capable of it. Woe unto you. I am giving out these measures of nice expression free of any cost. I wish there were vessels good enough to hold them.
“Certainly, you will understand it after some time.” (Holy Qur’an, 38: 88)
Here, Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Tells People How to Pronounce the Salawat
(To Invoke Divine Blessings on the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him)):
Lord! Spreader of the surfaces (of earth) and Keeper (intact) of all skies, Creator of hearts on good and evil nature, (I invoke You to) send Your choicest blessings and growing favors on Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), Your servant and last Prophet (p.b.u.h.), opener for what is closed, proclaimer of truth with truth, repulser of the forces of wrong and crusher of the onslaughts of misguidance. As he was burdened (with responsibility of Prophethood) so he bore it standing by Your commands, advancing towards Your will, without shrinking of steps of weakness of determination, listening to Your revelation, preserving Your testament, proceeding forward in the spreading of Your commands till he lit fire for its seeker and lit the path for the groper in the dark.
Hearts achieved guidance through him after being ridden with troubles. He introduced clear guiding signs and shining injunctions. He is Your trusted trustee, the treasurer of Your treasured knowledge, Your witness on the Day of Judgment, Your envoy of truth and Your Messenger towards the people.
My Allah prepare a large place for him under Your shade and award him multiplying good by Your bounty. My God, give height to his construction above all other constructions, heighten his status with You, grant perfection to his glory and perfect for him his light. In reward for his discharging Your Prophethood, grant him that his testimony be admitted and his speech be loved for his speech is just and his Judgments are clear-cut. My Allah put us and him together in the pleasure of life, continuance of bounty, satisfaction of desires, enjoyment of pleasures, ease of living, peace of mind and gifts of honor.
When Marwan ibn al-Hakam was taken captive during the
Battle of the Camel (Jamal) in Basrah, he asked Hassan and Hussain,
peace be upon them to intercede on his behalf before Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him. So they spoke to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
about him and he released him. Then they said, “O Imam Ali! Marwan desires to swear his allegiance to you, whereupon Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following:
Did he not swear me allegiance after the killing of `Othman? Now I do not need his allegiance because his is the hand of a Jew. If he swears me allegiance with his hand he would violate it after a short while. Well, he is to get power for so long as a dog licks his nose. He is the father of four rams (who will also rule). The people will face hard days through him and his sons.
When the Consultative Committee (Or Shura)
Decided to Swear the Oath of Allegiance to `Othman,
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following:
You have certainly known that I am the most rightful of all others for the Caliphate. By Allah! So long as the affairs of the Muslims remain intact and there is no oppression in it save on myself I shall be keeping aloof from its attractions and allurements for which you aspire.
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Learned That the Umayyads Blamed Him
for Killing `Othman, He Said the Following:
The Umayyads’ knowledge of my personality did not desist them for accusing me, nor did my precedence (in accepting Islam) keep these ignorant people from blaming me. Allah’s admonitions are more eloquent than my tongue. I contest against those who break away from Faith and oppose those who entertain doubts. Uncertainties should be placed before Holy Qur’an, the Book of Allah (for clarification). Certainly, people will be recompensed according to what they have in their hearts.
About Preaching and Counseling
May Allah bless one who listens to a point of wisdom and retains it. When he is invited to the right path he approaches it. He follows a leader (by catching his waistband) and finds salvation, keeps Allah before his eyes and fears his sins. He performs actions sincerely and acts virtuously, earns treasure of heavenly rewards, avoids vice, aims at (good) objective and reaps recompense. He faces his desires and rejects (fake) hopes, makes endurance the means to his salvation and piety the provision for his death. He rides on the path of honor and sticks to the highway of truth. He makes good use of his time and hastens towards the end and takes with him the provision of (good) actions.
About the Umayyads
Banu Umayyah (the Umayyads) are allowing me the inheritance of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) bit by bit. By Allah, if I live I would throw them away as the butcher removes the dust from the dust-covered piece of flesh.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: In one version for “alwidhamu’ttaribah” (dust covered piece of flesh) the words Aatturabulwadhimah (the soil sticking on a piece of flesh) have been shown. That is, for the adjective the qualified noun and for the qualified noun the adjective has been placed. As for the word “layufawwiqunani”, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) implies that they allow him bit by bit just as a shecamel may be milked a little then its young one may be made to suck milk so that it may be ready to be milked. And “al-widham” is the plural of “wadhamah” which means the piece of stomach or of liver which falls on the ground then the dust is removed from it.
Supplications by Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him:
O Lord! Forgive what You know about me more than I do. If I return (to the sins) You return to forgiveness. My Allah forgive me for what I had promised to myself but You did not find its fulfillment with me. My Allah forgive me with what I sought nearness to You with my tongue but my heart opposed and did not perform it. My Allah forgive my winking of the eye, vile utterances, desires of the heart and errors of speech.
When Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him decided to set out
for the battle with the Kharijites someone said, “If you set out at this moment
then according to astrology I fear you will not be successful in your aim,”
whereupon Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following:
Do you think you can tell the hour when a man goes out and no evil will befall him or can warn of the time at which if one goes out harm will accrue? Whoever testifies to this, falsifies the Holy Qur’an and becomes unmindful of Allah in achieving his desired objective and in warding off the undesirable. You cherish saying this so that he who acts on what you say should praise you rather than Allah because according to your misconception you have guided him about the hour in which he would secure benefit and avoid harm.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) then advanced towards the people and said the following:
O People! Beware of learning the science of stars except that with which guidance is sought on land or sea because it leads to divining and an astrologer is a the Diviner, while the Diviner is like the sorcerer, the sorcerer is like the unbeliever and the unbeliever would be in Hell. Proceed forward in the Name of Allah.
After the Battle of Jamal, Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said the Following about Physical Defects of Women:
O people! Women are deficient in faith, deficient in shares and deficient in intelligence. As regarding the deficiency in their faith, it is their abstention from prayers and fasting during their menstrual period. As regarding deficiency in their intelligence it is because the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man. As for the deficiency of their shares that is because of their share in inheritance being half of men. So beware of the evils of women. Be on your guard even from those of them who are (reportedly) good. Do not obey them even in good things so that they may not attract you to evils.
About the Methods of Preaching and Counseling
O people! Abstinence is to shorten desires, to be thankful for bounties and to keep from prohibitions. If this is possible then (at least) the prohibitions should not overpower your patience. Allah has exhausted the excuse before you through clear, shining arguments and open, bright books.
About the World and its People
How shall I describe this world whose beginning is grief and whose end is destruction? The lawful actions performed here have to be accounted for, while for the forbidden one there is punishment. Whoever is rich here faces mischief and whoever is poor gets grief. One who hankers after it does not get it. If one keeps away from it then it advances towards him. If one sees through it, it would bestow him sight, but if one has his eye on it then it would blind him.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “If a thinker thinks over this phrase of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) waman absara biha bassarat’hu (If one sees through it, it would bestow him sight), he would find the rein a very amazing meaning and far-reaching sense the purpose of which cannot be appreciated and whose aim cannot be understood particularly when he joins it with Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s phrase waman absara ilayha a a`matahu (If one has his eye on it, then it would blind him), he would find the difference between absara biha and absara laha, clear, bright, wonderful and shining.”
This Sermon Is Called Al-Gharra’, and It Is One of the Most
Wonderful Sermons of Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him:
Praise be to Allah Who is High above all else and is Near (the creation) through His bounty. He is the Giver of all rewards and distinction and Dispeller of all calamities and hardships. I praise Him for His continuous mercy and His copious bounties.
I believe in Him as He is the First of all and He is Manifest. I seek guidance from Him as He is Near and is the Guide. I seek His succor as He is Mighty and the Subduer. I depend upon Him as He is the Sufficer and Supporter. And I testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) (blessing of Allah be on him and his progeny) is His slave and His Prophet (p.b.u.h.). He sent him for enforcement of His commands, for exhausting His pleas and for presenting warnings (against eternal punishment).
Enjoining People to be Pious
O servants of Allah! I admonish you to fear Allah Who has furnished illustrations and Who has timed for you your lives. He has given you the covering of outfit and He has scattered for you livelihood. He has surrounded you with His knowledge. He has ordained rewards. He has bestowed upon you vast bounties and extensive gifts. He has warned you through far reaching arguments and He has counted you by numbers. He has fixed for you ages (to live) in this place of test and house of instruction.
Cautioning Against this World
You are tested in this world and have to render an accounting. Certainly this world is a dirty watering place and a muddy source of drinking.
Its appearance is attractive and its inside is destructive. It is a delible deception, a vanishing reflection and a bent pillar. When its despiser begins to like it and he who is not acquainted with it feels satisfied with it, then it praises and puts down its feet (in joy). It entraps him in its trap, makes him the target of its arrows and puts round his neck the rope of death taking him to the narrow grave and fearful abode in order to show him his place of stay and the recompense of his acts. This goes on from generation to generation. Neither death stops from cutting them asunder nor do the survivors keep aloof from committing sins.
Death and Resurrection
They are emulating each other and proceeding in groups towards the final objective and the rendezvous of death, till when matters come to a close, the world dies and resurrection draws near. Allah will take them out from the corners of the graves, the birds’ nests, the beasts’ dens and the centers of death. They will hasten towards His command and run towards the place fixed for their final return group by group, quiet, standing and arrayed in rows. They will be within Allah’s sight and He will hear everyone whom He calls.
They will be wearing the outfit of helplessness and the covering of submission and indignity. (At this time) contrivances will disappear, desires will be cut, hearts will quietly sink, voices will be curbed, sweat will choke the throat, fear will increase and ears will resound with the thundering voice of the announcer calling them towards final Judgment, awarding recompense, striking with punishment and paying rewards.
The Limitation of Life
People have been created as a proof of (His) power. They have been brought up with authority, they are made to die through pangs and placed in graves where they turn into crumbs. Then they will be resurrected one by one, awarded their recompense and will have to account for their actions, each one separately. They had been allowed time to seek deliverance, had been shown the right path and had been allowed to live and seek favors. The darkness of doubts had been removed. They had been let free in this period of life as a training place in order to make preparation for the race on the Day of Judgment, to search for the objective with thoughtfulness, to get time necessary to secure benefits and provide for the next place of stay.
No Happiness without Piety
How appropriate are these illustrations and effective admonitions provided they are received by pure hearts, open ears, firm views and sharp wits. Fear Allah like him who listened (from good advice) and bowed before it, when he committed sin he admitted it, when he felt fear he acted virtuously. When he apprehended he hastened (towards good deeds), when he believed he performed virtuous acts, when he was asked to take lesson (from the happenings of this world) he learned. When he was asked to desist he abstained (from evil), when he responded to the call (of Allah) he leaned (towards him), when he turned back (to evil) he repented, when he followed he almost imitated and when he was shown (the right path) he saw it.
Such a man was busy in search of truth and got rid (of the worldly evils) by running away. He collected provision (of good deeds) for himself, purified his inner self, built for the next world and took provision for the day of his departure, keeping in view his journey, his requirement and the status of his need. He sent ahead for the abode of his stay (in the next world). O servants of Allah!, fear Allah keeping in view the reason why He created you and be afraid of Him to the extent He has advised you to do. Make yourself deserve what He has promised you, by having confidence in the truth of His promise and entertaining fear for the Day of Judgment.
Part of the Same Sermon
Reminding People of Allah’s Bounties
He has made for you ears to preserve what is important, eyes to have sight in place of blindness and limbs which consist of many (smaller) parts, whose curves are in proportion with the molding of their shapes and lengths of their ages. He has also given you bodies that sustain themselves and hearts that are busy in search of their food, besides other big bounties, obliging the bestowing (of His blessings) and a fortress of safety. He has fixed for you ages that are not known to you. He has retained for you remains of the past people for your instruction. Those people enjoyed themselves fully and were completely unhampered. Death overtook them before (satisfaction of) their desires, from which the hands of death separated them. They did not provide for themselves during the health of their bodies nor take lessons during the stages of youth. Are these people who are in youth waiting for the back-bending of old age, those enjoying fresh health waiting for ailments and these living persons looking for the hour of death? When the hour of departure comes closer, the journey is at hand with pangs of grief and trouble. When the suffering of sorrows, suffocation of saliva and the time would arrive for calling relations and friends for help and changing sides on the bed, could then the near ones stop death, or the mourning women do any good? He would rather be left alone in the graveyard confined to the narrow corner of his grave.
His skin has been pierced all over by reptiles and his freshness has been destroyed by these tribulations. Storms have removed his traces and calamities have obliterated even his signs. Fresh bodies have turned thin and withered and bones have become rotten. The spirits are burdened with the weight of sins and have become conscious of the unknown things. But now neither the good deeds can be added to nor evil acts can be atoned for by repentance. Are you not sons, fathers, brothers and relations of these dead and will you not follow their footsteps and pass by their paths? But hearts are still unmoved, heedless of guidance and moving on wrong lines, as though the addressee is someone else and the correct way is to amass worldly gains.
Prepare Yourself for the Day of Judgment
And be informed that you have to pass over the pathway (of Sirat) where steps waver, feet slip, and there are fearful dangers at every step. O servants of Allah! Fear Allah like the fearing of a wise man whom the thought (of next world) has turned away from other matters. The fear (of Allah) has afflicted his body with trouble and pain, his engagement in the night prayer has turned even his short sleep into awakening, hope (of eternal recompense) keeps him thirsty in the day, abstention has curbed his desires and remembrance of Allah is ever moving his tongue. He entertains fear before dangers. He avoids uneven ways in favor of clear ones. He follows the shortest route to secure his purpose, wishfulness does not twist his thinking and ambiguities do not blind his eyes. He enjoys deep sleep and passes his day happily because of the happiness of good tidings and pleasure of (eternal bounties).
He passes the pathway of this world in a praiseworthy manner. He reaches the Hereafter with virtues. He hastens (towards virtue) out of fear (for vice). He moves briskly during the short time (of life in this world). He devotes himself in seeking (eternal good), he runs away from evil. During today he is mindful of tomorrow and keeps the future in his view. Certainly Paradise is the best reward and achievement, which hell is appropriate punishment and suffering. Allah is the best Avenger and Helper and the Holy Qur’an is the best argument and the best to confront (them).
Warning Against Satan
I enjoin upon you fear of Allah Who has left no excuse against what He has warned, has exhausted argument (of guidance) about the (right) path He has shown. He has warned you of the enemy that steals into hearts and stealthily speaks into ears and thereby misguides and brings about destruction, makes (false) promises and keeps under wrong impression. He represents evil sins in attractive shape and shows as light even serious crimes. When he has deceived his comrades and exhausted the pledge he begins to find fault with what he presented as good and considers serious what he had shown as light and threatens from what he had shown as safe.
Part of the Same Sermon Dealing with Creation of Man
Or look at man whom Allah has created in the dark wombs and layers of curtains an from what was overflowing semen, then a shapeless clot, then embryo, then a suckling infant, then a child then a fully grown young man. Then He gave him heart with a memory, a tongue to talk and eyes to see with in order that he may take lesson (from whatever is around him), understand, follow the admonition and abstain from evil.
When he attained the normal growth and his structure gained its average development, he fell in self-conceit and became perplexed. He drew buckets of desires, became immersed in fulfilling his wishes for pleasures of the world and his (sordid) aims. He did not fear any evil nor became frightened of any apprehension. He died infatuated with his vices. He spent his short life in rubbish pursuits. He earned no reward nor did he fulfill any obligation. Fatal illness overtook him while he was still in his enjoyments and perplexed him. He passed the night in the wakefulness of the hardships of grief and the pricking of pains and ailments. He suffered in the presence of real brother, loving father, wailing mother and crying sister, while he himself was under a maddening uneasiness, serious senselessness, fearful cries, suffocating pains, anguish of suffocating sufferings and the pangs of death.
Thereafter, he was clad in the shroud while he remained quiet and thoroughly submissive to others. Then he was placed on planks in such a state that he had been down-trodden by hardships and thinned by ailments. The crowd of young men and helping brothers carried him to his house of loneliness where all connections of visitors are severed. Thereafter those who accompanied him went away and those who were wailing for him returned. He was made to sit in his grave for a terrifying questioning and a slippery examination. The great calamity of that place is the hot water and entry into Hell, flames of eternal Fire and intensity of blazes. There is no resting period, no gap for ease, no power to intervene, no death to bring about solace and no sleep to make him forget pain. He rather lies under several kinds of deaths and moment-to-moment punishment. We seek refuge with Allah.
The Lesson to Be Learned from Those Who Have Passed Away
O servants of Allah! Where are those who were allowed (long) ages to live and they enjoyed bounty? They were taught and they learned. They were given time and they passed it in vain. They were kept healthy and they forgot (their duty). They were allowed a long period (of life), were handsomely provided, were warned of grievous punishment and were promised big rewards. You should avoid sins that lead to destruction and vices that attract the wrath (of Allah).
O people who possess eyes and ears, health and wealth! Is there any place of protection, any shelter of safety, or asylum or haven, or occasion to run away or to come back (to this world)? If not, “how are you then turned away” (Holy Qur’an, 6: 95; 10: 34; 35: 3; 40: 62) and whither are you averting? By what things have you been deceived? Certainly, the share of every one of you from this earth is just a piece of land equal to his owns stature and size where he would lie on his cheeks covered with dust. The present is an opportune moment for acting.
O servants of Allah! Since the neck is free from the loop and spirit is also unfettered, now you have time for seeking guidance. You are in ease of body; you can assemble in crowds, the rest of life is before you; you have opportunity of acting by will; there is opportunity for repentance and peaceful circumstances. (But you should act) before you are overtaken by narrow circumstances and distress, or fear and weakness, before the approach of the awaited death and before seizure by the Almighty, the Powerful.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “It is related that when Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) delivered this sermon people began to tremble, tears flowed from their eyes and their hearts were frightened. Some people call this sermon the Brilliant Sermon (al-Khutbatul-Gharra’).”
About `Amr ibn al-`As
I am surprised at the son of an-Nabighah that he says among the people of Syria that I am a jester and that I am engaged in frolic and fun. He said wrong and spoke sinfully. Beware, the worst speech is what is untrue. He speaks and lies. He promises and breaks the promise. He begs and sticks, but when someone begs from him he withholds miserly. He betrays the pledge and ignores kinship. When in a battle, he commands and admonishes but only until the swords do not come into action. When such a moment arrives his great trick is to turn naked before his adversary. By Allah, surely the remembrance of death has kept me away from fun and play while obliviousness about the Hereafter has prevented him from speaking truth. He has not sworn allegiance to Mu`awiyah without purpose; but has beforehand got him to agree that he would have to pay its price and gave him an award for forsaking religion.
About the Perfection of Allah and Counseling
I testify that there is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no partner with Him. He is the First, such that nothing was before Him. He is the Last, such that there is no limit for Him. Imagination cannot catch any of His qualities. Hearts cannot entertain belief about His nature. Analysis and division cannot be applied to Him. Eyes and hearts cannot compare Him.
Part of the Same Sermon:
O servants of Allah! Take lesson from useful items of instruction and shining indications. Be cautioned by effective items of warning. Get benefit from preaching and admonition. It is as though the claws of death are pressed in you, the connection of hope and desires has been cut asunder, hard affairs have befallen you and your march is towards the place where everyone has to go, namely death. Hence, “with every person there is a driver and a witness” (Holy Qur’an, 50: 21). The driver drives him towards resurrection while the witness furnishes testimony about his deeds.
Part of the same sermon (about Paradise):
In Paradise, there are high classes and different abodes. Its boundary never ends. He who stays in it will never depart from it. He who is endowed with everlasting abode in it will not get old and its resident will not face want.
About Getting Ready for the next World
and Following Allah’s Commandments:
Allah knows hidden matters and is aware of inner feelings. He encompasses everything. He has control over everything and power over everything. Everyone of you should do whatever he has to do during his days of life before the approach of death. In its leisure before his occupation and during the breathing of his breath before it is overtaken by suffocation, he should provide for himself and his journey and should collect provisions from his place of halt for his place of stay.
So remember Allah, O people! about what He has asked you in His Book to take care of and about His rights that He has entrusted to you. Verily, Allah has not created you in vain nor left you unbridled nor let you alone in ignorance and gloom. He has defined what you should leave behind, taught you your acts, ordained your death and sent down the Book (Holy Qur’an) explaining everything (Holy Qur’an, 16: 89). He has made His Prophet (p.b.u.h.) live among you for a long time till He completed for him and for you a message sent through the Holy Qur’an namely the religion liked and clarified through him His good and evil acts, His prohibitions and His commands.
He placed before you His arguments and exhausted his excuses upon you. He put forth to you His promises and warned you of severe retribution. You should, therefore, make full atonement during your remaining days and let yourselves practice endurance in these days. These days are fewer as against the many days during which you have shown obliviousness and heedlessness towards admonition. Do not allow time to yourselves because it will put you on the path of wrong-doers and do not be easy-going because this will push you towards sinfulness.
O servants of Allah! The best advise for himself is he who is the most obedient to Allah and the most deceiving for himself is he who is the most disobedient to Allah. Deceived is he who deceived his own self. Enviable is he whose faith is safe. Fortunate is he who takes lessons from others, while unfortunate is he who falls victim to his desires. You should know that even the smallest hypocrisy is like believing in more than one Allah and keeping company of people who follow their desires is the key to obliviousness from religion and is the seat of Satan.
Be on your guard against falsehood because it is contrary to faith. A truthful person is on the height of salvation and dignity, while the liar is on the edge of ignominy and degradation. Do not be jealous because jealousy eats away faith just as fire eats away dried wood. Do not bear malice because it is a scraper (of virtues). And know that desires make one forgetful and make memory oblivious. You should falsify desire because it is a deception and he who has desires is in deceit.
Qualities of a Faithful Believer:
O servants of Allah! The most fearful of Allah is one whom Allah has given power (to act) against his own passions, so that his inner side is (submerged in) grief and the outside is covered with fear. The lamp of guidance is burning in his heart. He has provided entertainment for the day that is to befall him. He regards what is distant to be near himself and takes the dark to be light. He looks at and perceives; he remembers (Allah) and enhances (the tempo of his) actions. He drinks sweet water to whose source his way has been made easy. So he drinks to satisfaction and takes the level path. He has taken off the clothe s of desires and has rid himself of worries except one worry peculiar to him. He is safe from misguidance and the company of people who follow their passions. He has become the key to the doors of guidance’ and the lock for the doors of destruction.
He has seen his way and is walking on it. He knows his pillar (of guidance) and has crossed over his deep water. He has caught hold of the most reliable supports and the strongest ropes. He is on that level of conviction which is like the brightness of the sun. He has set himself for Allah, the Glorified One, for performance of the most sublime acts by facing all that befalls him and takes every step needed for it. He is the lamp in darkness. He is the dispeller of all blindness, key to the obscure, remover of complexities and a guide in vast deserts. When he speaks he (makes himself understood) whereas when he remains silent then it is safe to do so. He does everything only for Allah and so Allah also makes him His own. Consequently, he is like the mines of His faith and a stump in His earth. He has enjoined upon himself (to follow) justice.
The first step of his justice is the rejection of desires from his heart. He describes right and acts according to it. There is no good which he has not aimed at nor any likely place (of virtue) of the Holy Qur’an, therefore, the Holy Qur’an is his guide and leader. He gets down when the Holy Qur’an puts down his weight and he settles where the Holy Qur’an settles him down.
Characteristics of an Unfaithful Believer:
While the other (kind of) man is he who calls himself learned but he is not so. He has gleaned ignorance from the ignorant and misguidance from the misguided. He has set for the people a trap (made) of the ropes of deceit and untrue speech. He takes the Holy Qur’an according to his own views and right after his passions. He makes people feel safe from big sins and takes light the serious crimes. He says that he is waiting for (clarification) of doubts but he remains plunged the rein and that he keeps aloof from innovations but actually he is immersed in them. His shape is that of a man, but his heart is that of a beast. He does not know the door of guidance to follow nor the door of misguidance to keep aloof therefrom. These are the living-dead bodies.
About the Descendants (`Itra) of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
So where are you going?! (Holy Qur’an, 81: 26); How are you then turned away?! (Holy Qur’an, 6: 95; 10: 34; 35: 3; 40: 62). Ensigns (of guidance) are standing, indications (of virtue) are clear and the minarets (of light) have been fixed. Where are you being taken astray and how are you groping while you have among you the descendants of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? They are the reins of Right, ensigns of Faith and tongues of truth. Accord to them the same good status as you accord to the Holy Qur’an and come to them (for quenching the thirst of guidance) as the thirsty camels approach the water spring.
O people take this saying of the last of the prophets that he who dies from among us is not dead and he who decays (after dying) from among us does not really decay. Do not say what you do not understand because most of the Right is in what you deny. Accept the argument of one against whom you have no argument. It is I. Did I not act before you on the greater thiqal (ath-thiqal al-akbar, i.e. The Holy Qur’an) and did I not retain among you smaller thiqal (ath-thiqal al-asghar, i.e. the descendants of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.))? I fixed among you the standard of faith and I taught you the limits of lawful and unlawful. I clothed you with the garments of safety with my justice and spread for you (the carpet of) virtue by my words and deeds. I showed you high manners through myself. Do not exercise your imagination about what the eye cannot see or the mind cannot conceive.
Part of the Same Sermon about Banu Umayyah:
Till people begin thinking that the world is attached to the Umayyads, would be showering its benefits to them and lead them to its clear spring for watering and that their whip and sword will not be removed from the people. Whoever thinks which they would suck for a while then vomit out the whole of it.
About the Division of the Community into Factions:
So now, certainly, Allah did not break the neck of any unruly tyrant in this world except after allowing him time and opportunity and did not join the broken bone of any people (umma) until He did not inflict calamity and distress upon them. Even less than what sufferings and misfortunes have yet to fall upon you or have already befallen you are enough for giving lessons. Every man with a heart is not intelligent, every ear does not listen and every eye does not see. I wonder and there is no reason why I should not wonder, about the faults of these groups who have introduced alterations in their religious pleas, who do not move on the footsteps of their Prophet (p.b.u.h.) nor follow the actions of the vicegerent. They do not believe in the unknown and do not avoid the evil. They act on the doubts and tread in (the way of) their passions. For them good is whatever they consider good and evil is whatever they consider evil. Their reliance for resolving distress is on themselves. Their confidence with regard to dubious matters is on their own opinions as if everyone of them is the Leader (Imam) of himself. Whatever he has decided himself he considers to have been taken from reliable sources and strong factors.
About the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Allah sent the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) when the mission of other Prophets had stopped and the peoples were in slumber a long time. Evils were raising heads, all matters were under disruption and in flames of wars, while the world was devoid of brightness and full of open deceitfulness. Its leaves had turned yellow and there was absence of hope about its fruits. Water had gone underground. The minarets of guidance had disappeared and signs of destruction had appeared. It was stern to its people and frowned in the face of its seeker. Its fruit was vice and its food was carcass. Its inner outfit was fear and outer cover was the sword.
So take lesson, O servants of Allah, and recall that (evil doing) with which your fathers and brothers are entangled and for which they have to account. By my life, your time is not much behind theirs, nor have long periods or centuries lapsed between you and them, nor are you much distant from when you were in their loins.
By Allah, whatever the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told them, I am here telling you the same and whatever you hear today is not different from what they heard yesterday. The eyes that were opened for them and the hearts that were made for them at that time, just the same have been given to you at this time. By Allah, you have not been told anything that they did not know and you have not been deprived of anything which they were deprived of. Certainly you have been afflicted by a calamity (which is like a she-camel) whose nose-string is moving about and whose strap is loose. So in whatever condition these deceitful people are should not deceive you because it is just a long shadow whose term is fixed.
Allah’s Attributes; Some Other Pieces of Advice:
Praise be to Allah Who is well-known without being seen, Who creates without pondering, Who has even been existent when there was no sky with domes, nor curtains with lofty doors, nor gloomy night, nor peaceful ocean, nor mountains with broad pathways, nor curved mountain roads, nor earth of spread floors, nor self-reliant creatures. He is the Originator of creation and their Master. He is the Allah of the creation and its feeder. The sun and the moon are steadily moving in pursuit of His will. They make every fresh thing old and every distant thing near.
He distributed their sustenance and has counted their deeds and acts, the number of their breaths, their concealed looks and whatever is hidden in their bosoms. He knows their places of stay and places of last resort in the loins and wombs till they reach their end.
His punishment on the enemies is harsh despite the extent of His Mercy and His compassion toward His friends is vast despite His harsh punishment. He overpowers one who wants to overcome Him and destroys one who clashes with Him. He disgraces one who opposes Him and gains sway over one who bears hostility toward Him. He is sufficient for one who relies on Him. He gives to one who asks of Him. He repays one who lends to Him. He rewards one who thanks Him.
O servants of Allah! Weigh yourselves before you are weighed and assess yourselves before you are assessed. Breath before suffocation of the throat. Be submissive before you are harshly driven.
This sermon is known as the sermon of Skeletons
(Khutbatul-Ashbah) and it holds one of the highest positions
among the sermons of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him.
Mas`adah ibn Sadaqah has related from Imam Ja`far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (p.b.u.h.) saying: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) delivered this sermon from the pulpit of (the mosque of) Kufah when someone asked him, ‘O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.)! Describe Allah for us in such a way that we may imagine that we see Him with eyes so that our love and knowledge may increase about Him.’ Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) became angry at this (request of the inquirer) and ordered the Muslims to gather in the mosque. So many Muslims gathered in the mosque that the place was over-crowded. Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) ascended the pulpit while he was still in a state of anger and his color was changed. Having praised and extolled Allah and sought His blessings on the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), he said the following:
Praise be to Allah Whom refusal to give away and stinginess do not reach and Whom munificence and generosity do not make poor, although everyone who gives away loses (to that extent) except He and every miser is blamed for his niggardliness. He obliges through beneficial bounties and plentiful gifts and grants. The whole creation is His dependents (in sustenance). He has guaranteed their livelihood and ordained their sustenance. He has prepared the way for those who turn to Him and those who seek what is with Him. He is as generous about what He is asked as He is about that for which He is not asked. He is the First for whom there was no before so that there could not be anything before Him. He is the Last for whom there is no after, so that there could not be anything after Him. Time does not change over Him, so as to admit of any change of condition about Him. He is not in any place so as to allow Him movement (from one place to another).
If He gives away all that the mines of the mountains emit of the gold, silver, pearls and cuttings of coral which the shells of the ocean vomit out, it would not affect his munificence, nor diminish the extent of what He has. (In fact) He would still have such treasures of bounty as would not decrease by the demands of the creatures because He is that generous. Being Whom the begging of beggars cannot make poor nor the pertinacity of those who beseech make miser.
Attributes of Allah as Described in the Holy Qur’an:
Then look at the inquirer, be confined to those of His attributes which the Holy Qur’an had described and seek light from the glory of its guidance. Leave to Allah that knowledge which Satan has prompted you to seek and which neither the Holy Qur’an enjoins you to seek nor is there any trace of it in the actions or sayings of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and other leaders (Imams) of guidance. This is the extreme limit of Allah’s claim upon you. Be informed that firm in knowledge are those who refrain from opening the curtains that lie against the unknown and their acknowledgment of ignorance about the details of the hidden unknown prevents them from further probing. Allah praises them for their admission that they are unable to get knowledge not allowed to them. They do not go deep into the discussion of what is not enjoined upon them about knowing Him and they call it firmness. Be content with this and do not limit the Greatness of Allah after the measure of your own intelligence, or else you would be among the destroyed ones.
He is Powerful, such that when the imagination shoots its arrows to comprehend the extremity of His power, the mind, making itself free of the dangers of evil thoughts tries to find Him in the depth of His realm, the hearts long to grasp realities of His attributes and the openings of intelligence penetrate beyond description in order to secure knowledge about His Being, crossing the dark pitfalls of the unknown and concentrating towards him, He would turn them back. They would return defeated admitting that the reality of His knowledge cannot be comprehended by such random efforts, nor can an iota of the sublimity of His Honor enter the understanding of thinkers.
He originated the creation without any example which He could follow and without any specimen prepared by any known creator that was before Him. He showed us the realm of His Might and such wonders which speak of His Wisdom. The confession of the created things that their existence owes itself to Him made us realize that argument has been furnished about knowing Him (so that there is no excuse against it). The signs of His creative power and standard of His wisdom are fixed in the wonderful things He has created. Whatever He has created is an argument in His favor and a guide towards Him. Even a silent thing is a guide towards Him as though it speaks and its guidance towards the Creator is clear. (O Allah!) I testify that he who likens You with the separateness of the limbs or with the joining of the extremities of his body did not acquaint his inner self with knowledge about You and his heart did not secure conviction to the effect that there is no partner for You. It is as though he has not heard the (wrongful) followers declaiming their false gods by saying, “By Allah! We are certainly in manifest error when we equaled you with the master of the worlds” (Holy Qur’an, 26: 97-98). They are wrong who liken You to their idols and outfit You with apparel of the creatures by their imagination, attribute to You parts of body by their own thinking and consider You after the creatures of various types, through the working of their intelligence. I testify that whoever equated You with anything out of Your creation took a match for You and whoever takes a match for You is an unbeliever, according to what is stated in thy unambiguous verses and indicated by the testimony of Your clear arguments. (I also testify that) You are that Allah Who cannot be confined in (the fetters of) intelligence so as to admit change of condition by entering its imagination nor in the shackles of mind so as to become limited and an object of alterations.
Part of the Same Sermon
About the Greatest Perfection in Allah’s Creation:
He has fixed limits for everything He has created and has made the limits firm and He has fixed its working and has made the working delicate. He has fixed its direction and it does not transgress the limits of its status nor fall short of reaching the end of its aim. It did not disobey when it was commanded to move at His will. How could it do so when all matters are governed by His will. He is the Producer of a variety of things without exercise of imagination, without the urge of an impulse hidden in Him, without (the benefit of) any experiment taken from the vicissitudes of time and without any partner who might have assisted Him in creating wonderful things.
Thus, the creation was completed by His order and it bowed to His obedience and responded to His call. The laziness of any slug or the inertness of any excuse-finder did not prevent it from doing so. So He straightened the curves of the things and fixed their limits. With His power He created coherence in their contradictory parts and joined together the factors of similarity. Then He separated them in varieties which differ in limits, quantities, properties and shapes. All this is new creation. He made them firm and shaped them according as He wished and invented them.
Part of the same sermon
Description of the Sky:
He has arranged the depressions and elevations of the openings of the sky. He has joined the breadths of its breaches and has joined them with one another. He has made easy the approach to its heights for those (angels) who come down with His commands and those (angels) who go up with the deeds of the creatures. He called it when it was yet (in the form of) vapor. At once the links of its joints joined up. Then Allah opened up its closed door and put the sentinels of meteors at its holes and held them with His hands (i.e. power) from falling into the vastness of air.
He commanded it to remain stationary in obedience to His commands. He made its sun the bright indication for its day and its moon the gloomy indication for its night. He then put them in motion in their orbits and ordained their (pace of) movement in the stages of their paths in order to distinguish with their help between night and day and in order that the reckoning of years and calculations may be known by their fixed movements. Then He hung in its vastness its sky and put the rein its decoration consisting of small bright pearls and lamp-like stars. He shot at the over-hearers arrows of bright meteors. He put them in motion on their appointed routine and made them into fixed stars, moving stars, descending stars, ascending stars, ominous stars and lucky stars.
Part of the same sermon
Describing the Angels:
Then Allah, the Glorified One, created for inhabiting of His skies and populating the higher strata of his realm new (a variety of) creatures namely the angels. With them He filled the openings of its cavities and populated them with the vastness of its circumference. In between the openings of these cavities there resounds the voices of angels glorifying Him in the enclosures of sublimity, (behind) curtains of concealment and in veils of His Greatness. And behind this resounding which deafens the ears there is the glory of light which defies the approach of sight to it and consequently the sight stands, disappointed at its limitation.
He created them in different shapes and with diverse characteristics. They have wings. They glorify the sublimity of His Honor. They do not appropriate to themselves His skill that shows itself in creation. Nor do they claim they create anything in which He is unparalleled. “But they are rather honored creatures who do not take precedence over Him in uttering anything and they act according to His command” (Holy Qur’an, 21: 26-27). He has made them the trustees of His revelation and sent them to prophets as holders of His injunctions and prohibitions. He has immunized them against the waviness of doubts. Consequently no one among them goes astray from the path of His will. He has helped them with the benefits of succor and has covered their hearts with humility and peace. He has opened for them doors of Submission to His Glories. He has fixed for them bright minarets as signs of His Oneness. The weights of sins do not burden them and the rotation of nights and days does not make them move. Doubts do not attack with arrows the firmness of their faith. Misgivings do not assault the bases of their beliefs. The spark of malice does not ignite among them. Amazement does not tarnish what knowledge of Him their hearts possess, or His greatness and awe of His glory that resides in their bosoms. Evil thoughts do not lean towards them to affect their imagination with their own rust.
Among them are those who are in the frame of heavy clouds, or in the height of lofty mountains, or in the gloom of over-powering darkness. And there are those whose feet have pierced the lowest boundaries of the earth. These feet are like white ensigns which have gone forth into the vast expanse of wind. Under them blows the light wind which retains them until its last end.
Occupation in His worship has made them carefree and realities of Faith have served as a link between them and His knowledge. Their belief in Him has made them concentrate on Him. They long for Him not for others. They have tasted the sweetness of His knowledge and have drunk from the satiating cup of His love. The roots of His fear have been implanted in the depth of their hearts. Consequently they have bent their straight backs through His worship. The length of the humility and extreme nearness has not removed from them the rope of their fear.
They do not entertain pride so as to make much of their acts. Their humility before the glory of Allah does not allow them to esteem their own virtues. Languor does not affect them despite their long affliction. Their longings (for Him) do not lessen so that they might turn away from hope in (Allah) their Sustainer. The tips of their tongues do not get dry by constant prayers (to Allah). Engagements (in other matters) do not betake them so as to turn their (loud) voices for Him into faint ones. Their shoulders do not get displaced in the postures of worship. They do not move their necks (this and that way) for comfort in disobedience of His command. Follies of negligence do not act against their determination to strive and the deceptions of desires do not overcome their courage.
They regard the master of the Throne (Allah) as the store for the day of their need. Because of their love (for Him) they turn to Him even when others turn to the creatures. They do not reach the ending limit of His worship. Their passionate fondness for His worship does not turn them except to the springs of their own hearts, springs which are never devoid of His hope and His fear. Fear of (Allah) never leaves them so that they might slacken in their efforts, nor have temptations entrapped them so that they might prefer this light search over their (serious) effort.
They do not consider their past (virtuous) deeds as big, for if they had considered them big then fear would have wiped away hopes from their hearts. They did not differ (among themselves) about their Sustainer as a result of Satan’s control over them. The vice of separation from one another did not disperse them. Rancor and mutual malice did not overpower them. Ways of wavering did not divide them. Differences of degree of courage did not render them into divisions. Thus they are devotees of faith. Neither crookedness (of mind), nor excess, nor lethargy nor languor breaks them from its rope. There is not the thinnest point in the skies but there is an angel over it in prostration (before Allah) or (busy) in quick performance (of His commands). By long worship of their Sustainer they increase their knowledge and the honor of their Sustainer increases in their hearts.
Part of the Same Sermon
Description of the Earth and its Expansion over Water:
Allah spread the earth on stormy and tumultuous waves and the depths of swollen seas, where waves clashed with each other and high surges leapt over one another. They emitted foam like the he-camel at the time of sexual excitement. So the tumult of the stormy water was subdued by the weight of the earth, when the earth pressed it with its chest its shooting agitation eased and when the earth rolled on it with its shoulder bones the water meekly submitted. Thus, after tumult of its surges it became tame and overpowered and an obedient prisoner of the shackles of disgrace, while the earth spread itself and became solid in the stormy depth of this water. (In this way) the earth put an end to the pride, self conceit, high status and superiority of the water and muzzled the intrepidity of its flow. Consequently, it stopped after its stormy flow, settling down after its tumult.
When the excitement of water subsided under the earth’s sides and under the weight of the high and lofty mountains placed on its shoulders, Allah flowed springs of water from its high tops and distributed them through plains and low places and moderated their movement by fixed rocks and high mountain tops. Then its trembling came to a standstill because of the penetration of mountains in (various) parts of its surface and their being fixed in its deep areas and their standing on its plains. Then Allah created the vastness between the earth and firmament and provided the blowing wind for its inhabitants. Then He directed its inhabitants to spread all over its convenient places. Thereafter He did not leave the barren tracts of the earth alone where high portions lacked in water-springs and where rivers could not find their way, but created floating clouds which enliven the unproductive areas and grow vegetation.
He made a big cloud by collecting together small clouds and when water collected in it and lightning began to flash on its sides and the flash continued under the white clouds as well as the heavy ones He sent it heavily raining. The cloud was hanging towards the earth and southerly winds were squeezing it into shedding its water like a she-camel bending down for milking. When the cloud prostrated itself on the ground and delivered all the water it carried on itself Allah grew vegetation on the plain earth and herbage on dry mountains. As a result, the earth felt pleased at being decorated with its gardens and wondered at her outfit of soft vegetation and the ornaments of its blossoms. Allah made all this the means of sustenance for the people and feed for the beasts. He has opened up highways in its expanse and has established minarets (of guidance) for those who tread on its highways.
On the Creation of Man and the
Sending of the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Once He had spread out the earth and enforced His commands, He chose Adam (p.b.u.h.) as the best of His creation, making him the first [human being] to create. He made him to reside in Paradise and arranged for his eating in it and also indicated from what He had prohibited him. He told him that proceeding towards it meant His disobedience and endangering his own status. But Adam did what he had been refrained from, just as Allah already knew beforehand. Consequently, Allah sent him down after (accepting) his repentance, to populate His earth with his progeny and to serve as a proof and plea for Him among his creatures.
Even when He made Adam die He did not leave them without one who would serve among them as proof and plea for His Godhead and serve as the link between them and His knowledge. But He provided to them the proofs through His chosen Messengers and bearers of the trust of His Message, age after age till the process came to end with Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and His pleas and warnings reached finality.
He ordained livelihoods with plenty and with paucity. He distributed them narrowly as well as profusely. He did it with justice to test whomever He desired, with prosperity or with destitution and to test through it the gratefulness or endurance of the rich and the poor. Then He coupled plenty with the misfortune of destitution, safety with the distresses of calamities and pleasures of enjoyment with pangs of grief. He created fixed ages and made them long or short and earlier or later, ending them with death. He had made death capable of pulling up the ropes of ages and cutting them asunder.
He knows the secrets of those who conceal them, the secret conversation of those who engage in it, the inner feelings of those who indulge in guesses, the established certainties, the inklings of the eyes, the inner contents of hearts and the depths of the unknown. He also knows what can be heard only by bending the holes of the ears, the summer resorts of ants and winter abodes of the insects, resounding of the cries of wailing women and the sound of steps. He also knows the spots in the inner sheaths of leaves where fruits grow, the hiding places of beasts namely caves in mountains and valleys, the hiding holes of mosquitoes on the trunks of trees and their herbage, the sprouting points of leaves in the branches, the dripping points of semen passing through passages of loins, small rising clouds and the big giant ones, the drops of rain in the thick clouds, the particles of dust scattered by whirlwinds through their skirts, the lines erased by rain floods, the movements of insects on sand-dunes, the nests of winged creatures on the cliffs of mountains and the singing of chattering birds in the gloom of their brooding places.
And He knows whatever has been treasured by the mother-of-pearls and covered under ocean waves, all that which is concealed under the darkness of night and all that on which the light of day is shining, as well as all that on which sometimes darkness prevails and sometimes light shines, the trace of every footstep, the feel of every movement, the echo for every sound, the motion of every lip, the abode of every living being, the weight of every particle, the sobs of every sobbing heart and whatever is on the earth like fruits of trees or falling leaf, or settling place of semen, or the congealing of blood or clot and the developing of life and embryo.
On all this, He suffers no trouble and no impediment hampers Him in the preservation of what he created nor any languor or grief hinders Him from the enforcement of commands and management of the creatures, His knowledge penetrates through them and they are within His counting. His justice extends to all of them and His bounty encompasses them despite their falling short of what is due to Him.
O Lord! You deserve handsome description and the highest esteem. If wish is directed towards You, You are the best to be wished for. If hope is reposed in You, You are the most Honored to be hoped for. O Lord! You hast bestowed on me such power that I do not praise any one other than You and I do not eulogize any one save You. I do not direct my praise towards others who are sources of disappointment and centers of misgivings. You hast kept away my tongue from the praises of human beings and eulogies of the created and the sustained. O Lord! Every who praises has on whom he praises the right of reward and recompense. Certainly, I have turned to You with my eye at the treasures of Your Mercy and stores of forgiveness.
O Lord! Here stands one who has singled You with Oneness that is Your due and has not regarded any one deserving of these praises and eulogies except You. My want towards You is such that nothing except Your generosity can cure its destitution, nor provide for its need except Your obligation and Your generosity. So do grant us in this place Your will and make us free from stretching hands to anyone other than You. “Certainly, You are powerful over everything” (Holy Qur’an, 66: 8).
When People Decided to Swear Allegiance to
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib’s Hand after the
Murder of `Othman, He Said the Following:
Leave me and seek someone else. We are facing a matter which has (several) faces and colors, which neither hearts can stand nor intelligence can accept. Clouds are hovering over the sky and faces are not discernable. You should know that if I respond to you I would lead you as I know and would not care about whatever one may say or abuse. If you leave me then I am the same as you are. It is possible I would listen to and obey whomever you make in charge of your affairs. I am better for you as a counselor than as chief.
About the Annihilation of the Kharijites, The Mischief Mongering
of Umayyads and the Vastness of His Knowledge:
So now, Praise and Glorification belong to Allah. O people! I have put out the eye of rebellion. No one except me advanced towards it when its gloom was swelling and its madness was intense. Ask me before you miss me, because, by Allah, who has my life in His hands, if you ask me anything between now and the Day of Judgment or about the group who will guide a hundred people and also misguide a hundred people, I will tell you who is announcing its march, who is driving it in the front and who is driving it at the rear, the stages where its riding animals will stop for rest and the final place of stay and who among them will be killed and who will die a natural death.
When I am dead hard circumstances and distressing events will befall you. Many persons in the status of asking questions will remain silent with eyes cast down while those in the status of replying will lose courage. This will be at a time when wars will descend upon you with all hardship and days will be so hard on you that you will feel them prolonged because of hardship till Allah will give victory to those remaining virtuous among you.
When mischief comes they confuse (right with wrong) and when they clear away they leave a warning. They cannot be known at the time of approach but are recognized at the time of return. They blow like the blowing of winds, striking some cities and missing others.
Beware that the worst mischief for you in my view is the mischief of Banu Umayyah because it is blind and also creates darkness. Its sway is general but its ill effects are for particular people. He who remains clear-sighted in it will be affected by distress and he who remains blind in it will avoid the distress. By Allah, after me you will find Banu Ummayyah the very worst for yourselves, like the old unruly she-camel who bites with its mouth, beats with its fore-legs, kicks with its hind legs and refuses to be milked. They will remain over you till they will leave among you only those who benefit them or those who do not harm them. Their calamity will continue till your seeking help from them will become like the seeking of help by the slave from his master or of the follower from the leader.
Their mischief will come to you like evil-eyed fear and pre-Islamic fragments, wherein there will be no minaret of guidance nor any sign (of salvation) to be seen. We Ahl al-Bayt (p.b.u.t) (the Household of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) are free from this mischief and we are not among those who will engender it. Thereafter, Allah will dispel it from you like the removal of the skin (from flesh) through him who will humble them, drag them by their necks, make them drink full cups (of hardships), not extend to them anything but sword and not clothe them except with fear. At that time Quraish will wish at the cost of the world and all its contents to find me even only once and just for the duration of the slaughter of a camel in order that I may accept from them (the whole of) that of which at present. I am asking them only a part but they are not giving me.
Praising Allah and Lauding His Prophets:
Exalted is Allah Whom heights of daring cannot approach and fineness of intelligence cannot find. He is such First that there is no extremity for Him so that He be contained within it, nor is there an end for Him where He will cease (being Existent).
Part of the Same Sermon
about the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Allah kept the Prophets in the best place and made them stay in the best of way. He moved them in succession from distinguished forefathers to the wombs of chaste women. Whenever a predecessor from among them died, the follower stood up for the cause of the religion of Allah.
About the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
and his Descendants (`Itra):
... until this elevation of status by Allah, the Glorified One, reached Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). Allah brought him out of the most distinguished sources of origin and the most honorable places of planting, namely from the same (lineal) tree from which He brought forth other Prophets and from which He selected His trustees. Muhammad’s descendants are the best descendants, his kinsmen the best of kin and his lineal tree the best of trees. It grew in esteem and rose in distinction. It has tall branches and unapproachable fruits. He is the leader (Imam) of all who are steadfast in your fear (of Allah) and the light for all those who seek guidance. He is a lamp whose flame is burning, a meteor whose light is shining and a flint whose spark is bright. His conduct is upright, his behavior is guiding, his speech is decisive and his decision is just. Allah sent him after an interval from the previous Prophets when people had fallen into errors of action and ignorance.
May Allah have mercy on you! Do act according to the clear signs because the way is straight and leads to the house of safety while you are in the place of seeking Allah’s favor and have time and opportunity. The books (of your doings) are open and pens (of angels) are busy (to record your actions) while your bodies are healthy, tongues are free, repentance is accepted and deeds are accorded recognition.
About the Condition of the People at the Time
of the Prophet’s Proclamation and about His Actions
Having to Do with the Dissemination of His Message:
Allah sent the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) at a time when the people were going astray in perplexity and were moving here and there in mischief. Desires had deflected them and self-conceit had swerved them. Extreme ignorance had made them foolish. They were confounded by the unsteadiness of matters and the evils of ignorance. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) did his best in giving them sincere advice, himself trod on the right path and called (them) towards wisdom and good counsel.
In Praise of Allah and of the
Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Praise be to Allah Who is the First: nothing is before Him, and He is the Last, nothing is there after Him. He is such Manifest that there is nothing above Him and such Hidden that there is nothing nearer than He.
Part of the Same Sermon about
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
His place of stay is the best of all places and his origin the noblest of all origins in the minds of honor and the cradles of safety. Hearts of virtuous persons have been inclined towards him and the reins of eyes have been turned towards him. Through him, “Allah buried mutual rancor and put off the flames of rebellion. Through him He gave them affection like brothers and separated those who were together (through unbelief). His speaking is clear and his silence is (indicative of) the tongue.
Imam Ali, Peace be Upon Him Admonishing His Companions:
Although Allah gives a respite to the oppressor, His might does not spare him. Allah takes hold of him on the passage of his way and the status of that which suffocates the throats.
By Allah in Whose power my life lies! These people (Mu`awiyah and his men) will overcome you not because they have a better right than you but because of their hastening towards the wrong with their leader and your slowness about my right (to be followed). People are afraid of the oppression of their rulers while I fear the oppression of my subjects.
I called you forward but you did not come. I warned you but you did not listen. I called you secretly as well as openly, but you did not respond. I gave you sincere counsel, but you did not accept it. Are you present like the absent and slaves like masters? I recite before you points of wisdom but you turn away from them and I admonish you with far reaching advice but you disperse away from it. I rouse you for jihad against the people of rebellion but before I come to the end of my speech, I see you disperse like the sons of SAba. You return to your places and deceive one another by your counsel. I straighten you in the morning but you are back to me in the evening as curved as the back of a bow. The one who straightens has become weary while those to be straightened have become incorrigible.
O those whose bodies are present but wits are absent and whose wishes are scattered and their rulers are on trial. Your leader obeys Allah but you disobeyed him while the leader of the people of Syria disobeys Allah but they obey him. By Allah, I wish Mu`awiyah will exchange with me dinars for dirhams, so that he gives from me ten of you and gives me one from them.
O people of Kufah! I have experienced in you three things and two others: you are deaf in spite of having ears, dumb in spite of speaking and blind in spite of having eyes. You are neither true supporters in combat nor dependable brothers in distress. Your hands may be soiled with earth. O examples of those camels whose herdsman has disappeared, if they are collected together from one side they disperse from the other. By Allah, I see you in my imagination that if war becomes intense and action is in full swing you will run away from the son of Aba Talib like the woman who becomes naked in the front. I am certainly on clear guidance from my Master (Allah) and on the path of my Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and I am on the right path which I adhere to regularly.
About the Household of the
Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Behold the people of the Prophet’s family! Adhere to their direction. Follow their footsteps because they will never let you out of guidance and never throw you into destruction. If they sit down, you sit down and if they rise up you rise up. Do not go ahead of them, as you will thereby go astray and do not lag behind them as you will thereby be ruined.
I have seen the companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but I do not find anyone resembling them. They began the day with dust on the hair and face (in hardship of life) and passed the night in prostration and standing in prayers. Sometimes they put down their foreheads and sometimes their cheeks. With the recollection of their resurrection it seemed as though they stood on live coals. It seemed that in between their eyes there were signs like knees of goats, resulting from long prostrations. When Allah was mentioned their eyes flowed freely till their shirt collars were drenched. They trembled for fear of punishment and hope of reward as the tree trembles on the day of stormy wind.
Oppressiveness of the Umayyads:
By Allah! They will continue like this till there will remain no unlawful act before Allah except that they will make it lawful, nor a pledge except that they will break it and till there will remain no house of bricks or of woolen tent but their oppression will enter it. Their bad dealings will make them wretched, till two groups of crying complainants will rise. One will cry for his religion and the other for this world and the help of one of you to one of them will be like the help of a slave to his master, namely when he is present he obeys him, but when the master is away he backbites him. The highest among you in distress will be he who bears best belief about Allah. If Allah grants you safety accept it and if you are put in trouble endure it because surely (good) result is for the God-fearing.
About Abstinence from the World and Vicissitudes of Time:
We praise Allah for what has happened and seek His succor in our affairs for what is yet to happen and we beg Him for safety in the faith just as we beg Him for safety in our bodies.
O servants of Allah! I admonish you to keep away from this world which will (shortly) leave you even though you do not like its departure and which will make your bodies old even though you will like to keep them fresh. Your example and its example is like the travelers who travel some distance then as though they traverse it quickly or they aimed at a sign and reached it at once. How short is the distance to the aim if one heads towards it and reaches it. And how short is the stage of one who has only a day which he cannot exceed while a swift driver is driving him in this world till he departs from it.
So do not hanker after worldly honor and its pride and do not feel happy over its beauties and bounties nor wail over its damages and misfortune because its honor and pride will end while its beauty and bounty will perish and its damages and misfortunes will pass away. Every period in it has an end and every living being in it is to die. Is there not for you a warning in the relics of the predecessors and an eye opener and lesson in your forefathers, provided you understand?
Do you not see that your predecessors do not come back and the surviving followers do not remain? Do you not observe that the people of the world pass mornings and evenings in different conditions? Thus, (somewhere) the dead is wept for, someone is being condoled, someone is prostrate in distress, someone is inquiring about the sick, someone is passing his last breath, someone is hankering after the world while death is looking for him. Someone is forgetful but he is not forgotten (by death) and on the footsteps of the predecessors walk the survivors.
Beware! At the time of committing evil deeds remember the destroyer of joys, the spoiler of pleasures and the killer of desires (namely death). Seek assistance of Allah for fulfillment of His obligatory rights and for (thanking Him) for His countless bounties and obligations.
About the Holy Prophet,
Peace be Upon Him and his Descendants:
Praise be to Allah Who spreads His bounty throughout the creation and extends His hand of generosity among them. We praise Him in all His affairs and seek His assistance for fulfillment of His rights. We testify that there is no god except He and that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and Prophet (p.b.u.h.). He sent him to manifest His commands and speak about His remembrance. Consequently, he fulfilled it with trustworthiness and he passed away while on the right path.
He left among us the standard of right. Whoever goes further from it goes out of faith, whoever lags behind it is ruined. Whoever sticks to it will join (the right). Its guide is short of speech, slow of steps and quick when he rises. When you have bent your necks before him and pointed towards him with your fingers his death will occur and will take him away. They will live after him as long as Allah wills till Allah brings out for you one who will collect you together and fuse you after diffusion. Do not place expectation in one who does not come forward and do not lose hope in one who is veiled because it is possible that one of the two feet of the veiled one may slip while the other may remain sticking, till both return to status and stick.
Beware! The example of the descendant of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is like that of stars in the sky. When one star sets, another rises. So you are in a status that Allah’s blessings on you have been perfected and He has shown you what you once wished for.
About the Vicissitudes of Time:
He (Allah) is the First before every first and the Last after every last. His Firstness necessitates that there is no (other) first before Him and His Perpetuity necessitates that there is no other to last after Him. I do testify, both openly as well as secretly, with heart as well as with tongue, that there is no god but Allah.
O people! Do not commit the crime of opposing me, do not be seduced into disobeying me and do not wink at each other with eyes when you hear me. By Allah, Who germinates the seed and blows the wind, whatever I convey to you is from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Neither the conveyor (of Allah’s message, i.e. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) lied, nor the hearer misunderstood.
Well, it is as though I see a misguided man who is shouting in Syria and has put his banners in the outskirts of Kufah. When his mouth will be fully opened, his recalcitrance will become intense and his steps on earth will become heavy (and tyrannical) then the disorder (so created) will cut the people with its teeth and war will rage with (all) its waves. Days will become severe and nights full of toil. So when the crops grow and stand on stalks, its foam shoots forth and its lightning shines, the banners of misguiding rebellion will fire up and shoot forth like darkening night and surging sea. This and how many other storms will rend Kufah and gales will sweep over it? Shortly, heads will clash with heads, the standing crop will be harvested and the harvest will be smashed.
On the Same Subject
The Day of Judgment:
That Day will be such that Allah will collect on it the interiors and the posteriors, to stand in obedience for exaction of accounts and for award of recompense for deeds. Sweat will flow to their mouths like rains while the earth will be trembling under them. In the best condition among them will be he who has found a resting place for both his feet and an open place for his breath.
Part of the same sermon about future troubles (fitan):
The troubles are like a dark night. Horses will not stand for (facing) them nor will their banners turn back. They will approach in full reins and ready with saddles. Their leader will be driving them and the rider will be exerting (them). The trouble-mongers are a people whose attacks are severe. Those who will fight them for the sake of Allah will be a people who are low in the estimation of the proud, unknown in the earth but well known on the sky. Woe to you O Basrah, when an army of Allah’s infliction will face you without (raising) their dust of cries! Your inhabitants will then face bloody death and a dire hunger.
About Gluttony, Fear of Allah:
O people! Look at the world like those who abstain from it and turn away from it. By Allah, it will shortly turn out its inhabitants and cause grief to the happy and the safe. That which turns and goes away from it never returns and that which is likely to come about is not known or anticipated. Its joy is mingled with grief. Herein men’s firmness inclines towards weakness and languidness. The majority of what pleases you here should not mislead you because that which will help you will be little.
Allah may shower His mercy on him who ponders and takes lesson thereby and when he takes lesson he achieves enlightenment. Whatever is present in this world will shortly not exist, while whatever is (perceived) to Exist in the Hereafter is already in existence. Every countable thing will pass away. Every anticipation should be taken to be coming up and everything that is to come up should be taken as just near.
Part of the Same Sermon on the Attributes of a Learned Person:
Learned is he who knows his worth. It is enough for a man to remain ignorant if he knows not his worth. Certainly, the most hated man with Allah is he whom Allah has left for his own self. He goes astray from the right path and moves without a guide. If he is called to the plantation of the Hereafter he is slow. As though what he is active for is obligatory upon him whereas in whatever he is slow was not required of him.
Part of the same sermon about future times:
There will be a time wherein only a sleeping (inactive) believer will be safe (such that) if he is present he is not recognized but if he is absent he is not sought after. These are the lamps of guidance and banners of night journeys. They do not spread calumnies nor divulge secrets, nor slander. They are those for whom Allah will open the doors of His mercy and keeps off from them the hardships of His chastisement.
O people! Time will come when Islam will be capsized as a pot is capsized with all its contents. O people! Allah has protected you from that. He might be hard on you but He has not spared you from being put on trial. Allah the most Sublime of all speakers has said the following: “Verily in this are signs and We do only try (the people).” (Holy Qur’an, 23: 30)
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “As regarding Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s words Akullu Mu’minin nuwamah (every sleeping believer), he implies thereby one who is talked of little and causes no evil. And the word “al-masayth” is the plural of “misyah”. He is one who spreads trouble among people through evils and calumny. And the word almadhayi is the plural of “midhya”. He is one who upon hearing of an evil about some one spreads it and shouts about it. And al-budhur is the plural of badur. He is one who excels in foolishness and speaks rubbish.
About the Condition of the People Before the Proclamation of
Prophethood and the Prophet’s Performance in Spreading His Message:
So now, certainly Allah deputed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) while no one among the Arabs read the Book nor claimed Prophethood or revelation. He had to fight those who disobeyed him in the company with those who followed him, leading them towards their salvation and hastening with them lest death overtake them. When any weary person sighed or a distressed one stopped, he stood with him till he got him his desire, except the worst in whom there was no virtue at all. Eventually he showed them their goal and carried them to their places (of deliverance). Consequently their affairs moved on and their hand-mill began to rotate (i.e. a status gained strength), their spears got straightened.
By Allah, I was among their rear-guard till they turned back on their sides and were flocked in their rope. I never showed weakness or lack of courage, nor did I betray or become languid. By Allah, I shall split the wrong till I extract right from its flanks.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: I have quoted a selected part of this sermon before, but since I have found in the narration that this part differs from the previous one, more or less, I deemed it necessary to quote it again here.
In Praise of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Then Allah deputed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as a witness, giver of good tidings and warner, the best in the universe as a child and the most chaste as a grown man, the purest of the purified in conduct and the most generous of those who are approached for generosity.
About the Ummayads:
This world did not appear sweet to you in its pleasures and you did not secure milk from its udders except after having met it when its nose rein was trailing and its leather girth was loose. For certain peoples its unlawful items were like bent branches (laden with fruit) while its unlawful items were far away, not available. By Allah, you will find liken a long shade until a fixed time. So the earth is with you without let or hindrance and your hands in it are extended while the hands of the leaders are held away from you. Your swords are hanging over them while their swords are held away from you.
Beware that for every blood (that is shed) there is an avenger and for every right there is a claimant. The avenger for our blood is like the judge for his own claim and it is Allah Who is such that if one seeks Him, then He does not disappoint him and one who runs away from Him, cannot escape Him.
I swear by Allah, O Banu Umayyah! Soon you will see it (i.e. your possession, that is, power) in the hands of others and in the house of your enemy. Be informed that the best looking eye is that whose sight catches virtue and know that the best hearing ear is that which hears good advice and accepts it.
About the Functions of the Imams:
O people! secure light from the flame of lamps of the preacher who follows what he preaches and draw water from the spring which has been cleaned of dirt.
O servants of Allah, do not rely on your ignorance. Do not be obedient to your desires because he who stays at this place is like one who stays on the brink of a bank undermined by water carrying ruin on his back from one portion to the other and following his opinion which he changes (one after the other). He wants to adhere what cannot adhere and to bring together what cannot keep together. So fear Allah and do not place your complaints before him who cannot redress your grievance, nor undo with his opinion what has been made obligatory for you.
Certainly, there is no obligation on the Imam except what has been devolved on him from Allah, namely to convey warnings, to exert in good advice, to revive the Sunnah, to enforce penalties on those liable to them and to issue shares to the deserving. So hasten toward knowledge before its vegetation dries up and before you turn yourselves away from seeking knowledge from those who have it. Desist others from the unlawful and abstain from it yourself because you have been commanded to abstain (yourself) before abstaining (others).
Praise be to Allah Who established Islam and made it easy for those who approach it and gave strength to its columns against any one who tries to overpower it. So Allah made it (a source of) peace for whoever clings to it, safety for whoever enters it, argument for whoever speaks about it, witness for whoever fights with its help, light for whoever seeks light from it, understanding for whoever provides it, sagacity for whoever exerts, a sign (of guidance) for whoever perceives, sight for whoever resolves, lesson for whoever seeks advice, salvation for whoever testifies, confidence for whoever trusts, pleasure for whoever entrusts and a shield for whoever endures.
It is the brightest of all paths and the clearest of all passages. It has dignified minarets, bright highways, burning lamps, prestigious fields of activity and high objectives. It has a collection of race horses. It is approached eagerly. Its riders are honorable. A testimony (to Allah, Prophet (p.b.u.h.), etc.) is its way, good deeds are its minarets, death is in extremity, this world is its race-course. The Day of Judgment is its horses and Paradise is its point of approach.
Part of the same sermon About
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) lit flames for the seeker and put bright signs for the impeded. So he is Your trustworthy trustee, Your witness on the Day of Judgment, Your deputy as a blessing and Your messenger of truth as mercy. May Allah distribute to him a share from Your Justice and award him multiples of good by Your bounty. May Allah heighten his construction over the construction of others, honor him when he comes to You, dignify his status before You, give him honorable status and award him glory and distinction and bring us out (on Day of Judgment) among his party, neither ashamed, nor repentant, nor deviators, nor pledge-breakers, nor strayers, nor misleading others, nor seduced.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: This sermon had already appeared earlier but we have repeated it here because of the difference between the two versions.
Part of the same sermon addressing his followers:
By the bounty of Allah over you, you have acquired a status where even your slave maids are honored, your neighbors are treated well. Even he over whom you enjoy no distinction or obligation honors you. Even those people fear you who had no apprehension of attack from you or any authority over you. You now see pledges of Allah being broken but do not feel enraged although you fret and frown on the breaking of traditions of your forefathers. Allah’s matters have been coming back to you; but you have given your place to wrongdoers and thrown your responsibilities toward them. You have placed Allah’s affairs in their hands. They act in doubts and tread in (fulfillment of) desires. By Allah, even if they disperse you under every star Allah will surely collect you on the day that will be worst for them.
Delivered During One of the
Fighting Days of the Battle of Siffin:
I have seen your flight and your dispersal from the lines. You were surrounded by rude and low people and Bedouins of Syria, although you are the chiefs of Arabs and the summit of distinction and you possess dignity as that of the high nose and the big hump of a camel. The sigh of my bosom can subside only when I eventually see you surrounding them as they surrounded you and see you dislodging them from their status as they dislodged you, killing them with arrows and striking them with spears so that their forward rows might fall on the rear ones just like the thirsty camels who have been turned away from their place of drink and removed from their water-points.
One of the Sermons about the Vicissitudes of Time:
Praise be to Allah Who is Manifest before His creation because of themselves. Who is apparent to their hearts because of clear proof; Who created without meditating, since meditating does not befit except one who has thinking organs while He has no thinking organ in Himself. His knowledge has split forth the inside of unknown secrets and covered the bottom of deep beliefs.
Part of the same sermon about
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
Allah chose him from the lineal tree of prophets, from the flame of light, from the forehead of greatness, from the best part of the valley of al-Bat’ha’, from the lamps for darkness and from the sources of wisdom.
Part of the same sermon:
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was like a roaming physician who has readied his ointments and heated his instruments. He uses them wherever the need arises for curing blind hearts, deaf ears and dumb tongues. He followed with his medicines the spots of negligence and places of perplexity.
Remonstrating with the Muslims:
They (people) did not take light from the lights of his wisdom nor did they produce flame from the flint of sparkling knowledge. So in this matter they are like grazing cattle and hard stones. Nevertheless hidden things have appeared for those who perceive. The face of right has become clear for the wanderer, the approaching moment has raised the veil from its face and signs have appeared for those who search for them.
What is the matter with me! I see that you are just bodies without spirits and spirits without bodies, devotees without good, traders without profits, wakeful but sleeping, present but unseen, seeing but blind, hearing but deaf and speaking but dumb.
I notice that misguidance has stood on its center and spread (all around) through its off-shoots. It weighs you with its weights and confuses you with its measures. Its leader is an out-cast from the community. He persists on misguidance. So on that day none from among you will remain except as the sediment in a cooking pot or the dust left after dusting a bundle. It will scrape you as leather is scraped and trample you as harvest is trampled and pick out the believer as a bird picks out a big grain from the thin grain.
Where are these ways taking you, gloom misleading you and falsehoods deceiving you? Whence are you brought and where are you driven? For every period there is a written document and everyone who is absent has to return. So listen to your godly leader and keep your hearts present. If he speaks to you be wakeful. The forerunner must speak truth to his people, should keep his wits together and maintain presence of mind. He has clarified to you the matter as the stitch hole is cleared and scraped it as the gum is scraped (from the twigs).
Nevertheless, now the wrong has set itself on its places and ignorance has ridden on its riding beasts. Unruliness has increased while the call for virtue is suppressed. Wrong has pounced in time like a devouring carnivore and shouts like a camel after remaining silent. People have become brothers over ill-doings, have forsaken the essential unity of the religion but have instead, united in speaking lies and bear mutual hatreds in the matter of truth. When such is the case, the son will be a source of anger (instead of coolness of the eye to parents) and rain the cause of heat, the wicked will abound and the virtuous will diminish. The people of this time will be wolves, its rulers beasts, the middle class men gluttons and the poor (almost) dead. Truth will go down, falsehood will overflow, affection will be claimed with tongues but people will be quarrelsome at heart. Adultery will be the key to lineage while chastity will be rare and Islam will be worn unturned like (dead) skin.
About the Might of Allah:
Everything submits to Him and everything exists by Him. He is the satisfaction of the poor, the dignity of the low, the energy for the weak and shelter for the oppressed. Whoever speaks, He hears his speaking and whoever keeps quiet, He knows his secret. On Him is the livelihood of everyone who lives and whoever dies returns to Him.
(O Allah!) The eyes have not seen You, so as to be aware of You, but You were before the describers of Your creation. You did not create the creation on account of loneliness, nor did You make them work for gain. He whom You catches cannot go farther than You and he whom You holds cannot escape You. He who disobeys You does not decrease Your authority and he who obeys You does not add to Your Might. He who disagrees with Your Judgment cannot turn it and he who turns away from Your command cannot do without You. Every secret before You is open and for You every absent is present.
You are everlasting, there is no end to You. You are the highest aim, there is no escape from You, You are the promised (point of return) from which there is no deliverance except towards You. In Your hand is the forelock of every creature and to You is the return of every living being. Glory to You! How great is Your creation that we see, but how small is this greatness by the side of Your Might. How awe-striking is Your realm that we notice, but how humble is this against what is hidden from us out of Your authority. How extensive are Your bounties in this world, but how small are they against the bounties of the next world.
Part of the Same Sermon about the Angels:
You (O Allah) made angels reside in Your skies and placed them high above from Your earth. They have the most knowledge about You and Your whole creation, the most fearing from You and the nearest to You. They never stayed in loins nor were retained in wombs. They were not created “from mean water (semen)” (Holy Qur’an, 32: 8; 77: 20). They were not dispersed by vicissitudes of time. They are on their places (distinct) from You and in their positions near You. Their desires are concentrated in You. Their worship for You is much. Their neglect from Your command is little. If they witness what remains hidden about You they will regard their deeds as very little, they will criticize themselves and will realize that they did not worship You according to Your right for being worshipped and did not obey You as You has the right for being obeyed.
About the Bounties and Guidance
of Allah and Those Who Are Ungrateful:
Glorified are You, O Creator, the One worshipped by all, on account of Your good trials of Your creatures. You created a house (the Paradise) and provided in it for feasting, drinks, foods, spouses, servants, places, streams, plantations and fruits. Then You sent a messenger to invite towards it. But the people did not respond to the caller and did not feel persuaded to what You persuaded them nor showed eagerness towards what You desired them to eagerly feel. They jumped on the carcass (of this world), earned shame by eating it and became united in loving it.
When one loves a thing it blinds him and sickens his heart. Then he sees but with a diseased eye, hears but with unhearing ears. Desires have cut asunder his wit and the world has made his heart dead, while his mind is all longing for it. Consequently, he is a slave of it and of everyone who has any share in it. Wherever it turns, he turns towards it and wherever it proceeds, he proceeds towards it. He is not desisted by any disaster from Allah, nor takes admonition from any preacher. He sees those who have been caught in neglect whence there is neither rescission nor reversion (repentance).
Whatever they were ignoring has befallen them, separation from this world, from which they took themselves safe, has come to them and they have reached that in the Hereafter which they had been promised. Whatever has befallen them cannot be described. Pangs of death and grief for losing (this world) have surrounded them. Consequently their limbs become languid and their complexion changes. Then death increases its struggle over them.
In some it stands in between him and his power of speaking although he lies among his people, looking with eyes, hearing with his ears, with full wits and intelligence. He then thinks over how he wasted his life and in what (activities) he passed his time. He recalls the wealth he collected when he had blinded himself in seeking it and acquired it from fair and foul sources. Now the consequences of collecting it have overtaken him. He gets ready to leave it. It will remain for those who are behind him. They will enjoy it and benefit by it.
It will be an easy acquisition for others but a burden on his back and the man cannot get rid of it. He will thereupon, bite his hands with his teeth out of shame for what was disclosed to him about his affairs at the time of his death. He will dislike what he coveted during the days of his life and he will wish that he who envied him on account of it and felt jealous over him for it should have amassed it instead of he himself.
Death will go on affecting his body till his ears too will behave like his tongue (and lose functioning). So he will lie among his people, neither speaking with his tongue or hearing with his ears. He will be rotating his glance over their faces, watching the movements of their tongues, but not hearing their speaking. Then death will increase its sway over him and his sight will be taken by death as the ears had been taken and the spirit will depart from his body. He will then become a carcass among his own people. They will feel loneliness from him and get away from him. He will not join a mourner or respond to a caller. Then they will carry him to a small place in the ground and deliver him in it to (face) his deeds. They will abandon visiting him.
About the Day of Judgment:
Until whatever is written as ordained approaches its and the affairs complete their destined limits, the posteriors join the anteriors and whatever Allah wills takes place in the shape of resurrection of His creation. Then He will convulse the sky and split it. He will quake the earth and shake it. He will root out the mountains and scatter them. They will crush each other out of awe of His Glory and fear of His Dignity.
He will take out everyone who is in it. He will refresh them after they had been worn out and collect them after they had been separated. Then He will set them apart for questioning about the hidden deeds and secret acts. He will then divide them into two groups, rewarding one and punishing the other. As regarding the obedient people He will reward them with His nearness and will keep them forever in His house from where those who settle the rein do not move out. Their status will not undergo change, fear will not overtake them, ailments will not befall them, dangers will not affect them and journey will not force them (from place to place).
As for people of sins, He will settle them in the worst place, will bind their hands with the necks, bind the forelocks with feet and will clothe them in shirts of tar and dresses cut out of flames. They will be in punishment whose heat will be severe, the door will be closed on the inmates - in fire which is full of shouts and cries and rising flames and fearful voices. Its inmate does not move out of it, its prisoner cannot be released by ransom and its shackles cannot be cut. There is no fixed age for this house so that it might perish, nor period for its life that might pass away.
Part of the Same Sermon about
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
He treated this world disdainfully and regarded it low. He held it contemptible and hated it. He realized that Allah kept it away from him with intention and spread it out for others by way of contempt. Therefore, he remained away from it by his heart, banished its recollection from his mind and wished that its attraction should remain hidden from his eye so that he should not acquire any clothing from it, or hope for staying in it. He conveyed from Allah the pleas (against committing sins), counseled his people as a Warner (against the Divine chastisement) and he called (people) towards Paradise as a conveyor of good tidings.
About the Descendants of the
Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
We are the tree of Prophethood, staying place of (the Divine) Message, descending place of angels, mines of knowledge and the sources of wisdom. Our supporter and lover awaits mercy while our enemy and he who hates us awaits wrath.
The best means by which seekers of nearness to Allah, the Glorified One, the Exalted, seek nearness, is the belief in Him and His Prophet (p.b.u.h.), fighting in His cause, for it is the high pinnacle of Islam and (to believe) in kalimatul-ikhlas (the expression of the Divine purification). It is a just nature and the establishment of prayer for it is (the basis of) community. The payment of zakat for it is a compulsory obligation, fasting for the month of Ramadan for it is the shield against chastisement. The performance of hajj to the House of Allah (i.e. The Ka`ba) and its `umrah (other than annual visit) for these two acts banish poverty and wash away sins. Regard for kinship for it increases wealth and length of life. Giving alms secretly for it covers shortcomings, giving alms openly for it protects against a bad death and extending benefits (to people) for it saves from positions of disgrace.
About the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah:
Go ahead with the remembrance of Allah for it is the best remembrance and long for that which He has promised to the pious, for His promise is the most true promise. Tread the course of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) for it is the most distinguished course. Follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) for it is the most right of all behaviors. Learn the Holy Qur’an for it is the fairest of discourses and understand it thoroughly for it is the best blossoming of hearts. Seek cure with its light for it is the cure for hearts. Recite it beautifully for it is the most beautiful narration. Certainly, a scholar who acts not according to his knowledge is like the off-headed ignorant who does not find relief from his ignorance; but on the learned the plea of Allah is greater and grief more incumbent and he is more blameworthy before Allah.
Cautioning about this World:
So now, certainly I frighten you from this world for it is sweet and green, surrounded by lusts and liked for its immediate enjoyments. It excites wonder with small things, is ornamented with (false) hopes and decorated with deception. Its rejoicing does not last and its afflictions cannot be avoided. It is deceitful, harmful, changing, perishable, exhaustible, liable to destruction, gnawing and destructive. When it reaches the extremity of desires of those who incline towards it and feel happy with it, the status is just what Allah, the most Glorified One, says (in the Holy Qur’an): “... like water which We send down from the heavens and the herbage of the earth mingles with it, then it becomes dry stubble which the winds scatter; for Allah over all things has power.” (Holy Qur’an, 18: 45)
Nobody rejoices about this world except that tears come to him after it, and no one enjoys its comforts except that he has to face hardships in thereafter. No one receives the light rain of ease in it but the heavy rain of distress pours upon him. It is worthy of this world that in the morning it supports a man but in the evening it does not recognize him. If one side of it is sweet and pleasant the other side is bitter and distressing.
No one secures enjoyment from its freshness but he has to face hardship from its calamities. No one will pass the evening under the wing of safety but that his morning will be under the feathers of the wing-tip of fear. It is deceitful and all that is the rein is deception. It is perishable and all that is on it is to perish. There is no good in its provisions except in piety. Whoever takes little from it collects much of what will give him safety, while one who takes much from it takes much of what will ruin him. He will shortly depart from his collection. How many people relied on it but it distressed them; (how many) felt peaceful with it but it made them tumble; how many were prestigious but it made them low and how many were proud but it made them disgraceful.
Its authority is changing. Its life is dirty. Its sweet water is bitter. Its sweetness is like myrrh. Its food are poisons. Its means are weak. The living in it are exposed to death; the healthy in it are exposed to disease. Its realm is (liable to be) snatched away. The strong in it are (liable to be) defeated and the rich are (liable to be) afflicted with misfortune. The neighbor in it is (liable to be) plundered.
Are you not (residing) in the houses of those before you, who were of longer ages, better traces, had bigger desires, were more in numbers and had greater armies? How they devoted themselves to the world and how they showed preference to it! then they left it without any provision that could convey them through, or the back (of a beast for riding) to carry them.
Did you get the news that the world was ever generous enough to present ransom for them, or gave them any support or afforded them good company? It rather inflicted them with troubles, made them languid with calamities, assaulted them with catastrophes, threw them down on their noses, trampled them under hoofs and helped the vicissitudes of time against them. You have observed its strangeness towards those who went near it, acquired it and appropriated it, till they departed from it for good. Did it give them any provision other than starvation, or make them stay in other than narrow places, or give them light other than gloom, or give them in the end anything other than repentance? Is this what you ask for so much or remain satisfied with, or towards which you feel greedy? How bad is this abode for him that he did not suspect it (to be so) and did not entertain fear from it?
You should know, as you do know, that you have to leave it and depart from it. While in it, take lesson from those “who proclaimed who is more powerful than us?’ ” (Holy Qur’an, 41: 15), but they were carried to their graves, though not as riders. They were then made to stay in the graves, but not as guests. Graves were made for them from the surface of the ground. Their shrouds were made from earth. Old bones were made their neighbor. They are neighbors who do not answer a caller nor ward off trouble, nor pay heed to a mourner.
If they get rain they do not feel happy and if they face famine they do not get disappointed. They are together but each one apart. They are close together but do not see each other. They are near but do not meet. They are enduring and have no hatred. They are ignorant and their malice has died away. There is no fear of trouble from them and no hope of their warding off (troubles). They have exchanged the back (surface) of the earth with its stomach (interior), vastness with narrowness, family with loneliness and light with darkness. They have come to it (this world) as they had left it with bare feet and naked bodies. They departed from it with their acts towards the continuing life and everlasting house as Allah has said the following:
... As we caused the first creation, so will We cause its return. (It is) a promise binding Us, verily We were doing it. (Holy Qur’an, 21: 104)
About the Angel of Death and the Soul Taking Leave:
Do you feel when the Angel of Death enters a house, or do you see him when he calls the life out from someone? How does he take out the life of an embryo in the womb of his mother? Does he reach it through any part of her body or does the spirit respond to his call with the permission of Allah? Or does he stay with him in the mother’s inside? How can he who is unable to describe a creature like this, describe Allah?
About the World and its People:
I warn you of the world for it is the abode of the unsteady. It is not a house for foraging. It has decorated itself with deception and deceives with its decoration. It is a house which is low before Allah. So He has mixed its lawful with its unlawful, its good with its evil, its life with its death and its sweetness with its bitterness. Allah has not kept it clear for His lovers, nor has He been niggardly with it towards His foes. Its good is sparing. Its evil is ready at hand. Its collection will dwindle away. Its authority will be snatched away. Its habitation will face desolation. What is the good of a house which falls down like fallen construction or what (Existent) good is there in an age which expires as the provision exhausts, or of time which passes like walking?
Include whatever Allah has made obligatory on you in your demands. Ask from Him fulfillment of what He has asked you to do. Make your ears hear the call of death before you are called by death. Surely the hearts of the abstemious weep in this world even though they may(apparently) laugh and their grief increases even though they appear happy. Their hatred for themselves is much even though they may be envied for the subsistence they are allowed. Remembrance of death has disappeared from your hearts while false hopes are present in you. So this world has mastered you more than the next world and the immediate end (of this world) has removed you away from the remote one (of the next life). You are brethren in the religion of Allah. Dirty natures and bad conscience have caused separation (disunity) among you. As a consequence you do not bear one another’s burdens, nor do you advise each other, nor spend on each other, nor do you love one another.
What is your condition? You feel satisfied with what little you have secured from this world while much of the next world of which you have been deprived does not grieve you. The little of this world which you lose pains you so much so that it becomes apparent in your faces and in the lack of your endurance over whatever is taken away from you; as though this world is your permanent abode and as though its wealth will stay with you for good. Nothing prevents anyone among you to disclose to his comrade the shortcomings he is afraid of, except the fear that the comrade will also disclose to him similar defects. You have been deceived together on leaving the next world and loving this world. Your religion has become just licking with the tongue. It is like the work of one who has finished his job and secured satisfaction of his master.
About Abstemiousness, Fear of Allah
and Importance of Providing for the next Life:
Praised be to the One Who follows praise with bounty and bounty with gratefulness. We praise Him for His bounties as for His trails. We seek His help against these hearts which are slow to obey what they have been commended but quick towards what they have been desisted from. We seek His forgiveness from that which His knowledge covers and His document preserves knowledge which does not leave anything and document which does not omit anything. We believe in Him like the belief of one who has seen the unknown and has attained the promised rewards - belief, the purity whereof keeps off from belief in partners of Allah and whose conviction removes doubt.
We testify that there is no god but Allah, the One, Who has no partner for Him and that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and His Prophet (p.b.u.h.), Allah may bless him and his descendants. These two testimonials intensify the utterance and raise the act. The scale wherein they will be placed will not be light while the scale from which they are removed will not become heavy.
Enjoining People to Piety:
O servants of Allah! I admonish you to fear Allah which is the provision (for next world) and with it is (your) return. The provision will take you (to your destination) and the return will be successful. The best one, who is able to make people listen has called toward it and the best listener has listened to it. So the caller has proclaimed and the listener has listened and preserved.
O creations of Allah! Certainly fear of Allah has saved the lovers of Allah from unlawful items and gave His dread to their hearts till their nights are passed in wakefulness and their days in thirst. So they achieve comfort through trouble and copious watering through thirst. They regarded death to be near and, therefore, hastened towards (good) actions. They rejected their desires and so they kept death in their sight.
Then, this world is a place of destruction, tribulations, changes and lessons. As for destruction, the time has its bow pressed (to readiness) and its dart does not go amiss, its wound does not heal; it afflicts the living with death, the healthy with ailment and the safe with distress. It is an eater who is not satisfied and a drinker whose thirst is never quenched. As for tribulation, a man collects what he does not eat and builds wherein he does not live. Then he goes out to Allah without carrying the wealth or shifting the building.
As for its changes, you see a pitiable man becoming enviable and an enviable man becoming pitiable. This is so because the wealth has gone and misfortune has come to him. As for its lessons, a man reaches near (realization of) his desires when (suddenly) the approach of his death cuts them; then neither the desire is achieved nor the one who desires is spared. Glory to Allah, how deceitful are its pleasures, how thirst-rousing its quenching and how sunny its shade. That which approaches (i.e. death) cannot be sent back, he who goes away does not return. Glory to Allah, how near is the living to the dead because he will meet him soon and how far is the dead from the living because he has gone away from him.
Certainly nothing is viler than evil except its punishment and nothing is better than good except its reward. In this world everything that is heard is better than what is seen, while of everything of the next world that is seen is better than what is heard. So you should satisfy yourself by hearing rather than seeing and by the news of the unknown. You should know that what is little in this world but much in the next is better than what is much in this world but little in the next. In how many cases little is profitable while much causes loss.
Certainly that which you have been commanded to do is wider than what you have been refrained from and what has been made lawful for you is more than what has been prohibited. Then give up what is less for what is much and what is limited for what is vast. Allah has guaranteed your livelihood and has commanded you to act. Therefore, the pursuit of that which has been guaranteed to you should not get preference over that whose performance has been enjoined upon you.
But by Allah, most certainly the status is that doubt has overtaken and certainty has been shattered and it seems as if what has been guaranteed to you is obligatory on you and what was made obligatory on you has been taken away from you. So, hasten towards (good) actions and dread the suddenness of death because the return of age cannot be hoped for tomorrow, as the return of livelihood can be hoped. Whatever is missed from livelihood today may be hoped tomorrow with increase, but whatever is lost from the age yesterday, its return cannot be expected today. Hope can be only for that which is to come, while about that which is passed there is only disappointment. So “fear Allah as He ought to be feared and do not die until you are (true) Muslim.” (Holy Qur’an, 3: 102)
Praying for Rain:
O Lord! Surely our mountains have dried up and our earth has become dusty. Our cattle are thirsty and are bewildered in their enclosures. They are moaning like the moaning of mothers for their (dead) sons. They are tired of going to their meadows and longing for their watering places. O Lord! Have mercy on the groan of the groaning and yearn of the yearning.
O Lord! Have mercy on their bewilderment and their passages and their groaning in their yards. Lord! We have come out to You when the years of drought have crowded over us like (a herd of) thin camels and rain clouds have abandoned us. You are the hope for the afflicted and succor for the seeker. We call You when the people have lost hope, when cloud have been denied and cattle have died; do not seize us for our deeds and do not catch us for our sins. Spread Your mercy over us through raining clouds, rain fed blossoming, amazing vegetation and heavy downpours with which all that was dead regains life and all that was lost returns.
Lord! Give rain from You which should be life-giving, satisfying, thorough, widely scattered, pure, blissful, plentiful and invigorating. Its vegetation should be exuberant and its branches full of fruits and its green leaves. With it You invigorates the weak among Your creatures and brings back to life the dead among Your cities.
Lord! Give rain from You with which our highlands get covered with green herbage, streams get flowing, our slopes grow green, our fruits thrive, our cattle prosper, our far flung areas get watered and our dry areas get its benefit, with Your vast blessing and immeasurable grant on Your distressed universe and Your untamed beasts. And pour upon us rain which is drenching, continuous and heavy; wherein one cycle of rain clashes with the other and one rain drop pushes another (into a continuous chain). Its lightning should not be deceptive, its cheek not rainless, its white clouds not scattered and rain not light, so that the famine-stricken thrive with its abundant herbage and the drought stricken come to life with its bliss. Certainly, You pours down rain after the people lose hopes and spreads Your mercy, since You are the Guardian, the praiseworthy.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “The wonderful expressions of this sermon are: Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s words insahat jibaluna means the mountains cracked on account of drought. It is said that insaha thawbah when it is torn. It is also said that insaha’n-nabtu or sAba or sawwaha when vegetation withers and dries up.” His words wa hamat dawabbuna means became thirsty, as huyam means thirst. His words hadabiru’s-sinin are the plural of hidbar. It means: The camel whom treading has thinned. So Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) likened with such or camel the year in which drought had occurred. The Arab poet Dhu ar-Rumma has said the following:
These thin camels remain in their places, facing hardships
and move only when we take them to some dry area.
Notice his words wa la qaza’in rAbabuha. Here, al-qaza means small pieces of cloud scattered all around. His words wa la shaffanin dhihabuha stand for wa la dhata shaffanin dhihabuha. Ash-shaffan means the cold wind and adh-dhihab means light rain. He omitted the world dhata from here because of the listener’s knowledge of it.
About Troubles Which Will
Arise and the Day of Judgment:
Allah deputed him (the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) as a caller towards Truth and a witness over the creatures. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) conveyed the messages of Allah without being lazy and without any short-coming and he fought His enemies in the cause of Allah without being languid and without pleading excuses. He is the foremost of all who practice piety and the power of perception of all those who achieve guidance.
Part of the same Sermon,
Complaining about His Men:
If you know what I know of the unknown that is kept wrapped up from you certainly you will have gone out into the open weeping over your deeds and beating yourselves in grief. You will have abandoned your properties without any guard for it or any substitute over it. Everyone will then have cared for his own self without paying attention to anyone else. But you have forgotten what was recalled to you and felt safe from what you had been warned. Consequently, your ideas went astray and your affairs were dispersed.
I do wish that Allah may cause separation between you and me and give me those who have a better knowledge of what is right than you to be with me. By Allah! Such are people of blissful ideas, enduring wisdom and true speech. They keep aloof from rebellion. They trod forward on the path (of Allah) and ran on the high road. Consequently, they achieved the everlasting next life and honors of ease.
Beware! By Allah! A tall lad of a swinging gait from Banu Thaqif will be placed over you. He will eat away your vegetation and melt your fat. So, O Aba Wadhahah, is that all?
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Al-Wadhahah means alkhunfusa (dung-beetle). In this sentence, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) has referred to al-Hajjaj ibn Yasuf ath-Thaqafi who had an incident with al-Khunfusa, which needs not be related here.
You spend no wealth in the cause of the One Who gave it to you, nor do you risk your lives for the sake of the One Who created such lives. You enjoy honor through Allah among His creatures, but you do not honor Allah among His creatures. You should derive lessons from occupying the places of those who were before you and from the departure of your nearest brothers.
In Praise of His Faithful Companions:
You are supporters of Truth and brethren in faith. You are the shield on the day of tribulation and (my) trustees among the rest of the people. With your support I strike the runner away and hope for the obedience of him who advances forward. Therefore, extend to me support which is free from deceit and pure from doubt because, by Allah, I am the most preferable of all for the people.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him collected
the people and exhorted them to jihad but they observed a long silence.
Then he said the following: “What is the matter with you. Have you lost your wits?!” A group of them replied: “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.)! If you go forth we shall be with you”, whereupon Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following:
What has happened to you?! You may not be guided aright or shown the right path. Should I, under such circumstances, go forth?! In fact, at this time one of the brave and the valorous among you whom I select should go out. It does not suit me to leave the army, the city, the public treasury, the land revenue, the dispensation of justice among Muslims and looking after the demands of the claimants and to follow one contingent after the other moving here and there like featherless arrow moving in the quiver.
I am the axis of the mill. It rotates on me while I remain in my status. As soon as I leave, the center of its rotation will be disturbed and its lower stone will also be disturbed. By Allah, this is very bad advice. By Allah! If I had not been hoping for martyrdom by my meeting with the enemy, and my meeting with them has been ordained, I will have secured my carrier and went away from you and will not have sought you so long as the north and South differed.
There is no benefit in the majority of your numbers because of a lack of unity of your hearts. I have put you on the clear path whereon no one will perish except who perishes by himself. He who sticks to it will achieve Paradise and he who deviates goes to Hell.
About The Greatness of Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Them
And The Importance of The Laws of Islam:
By Allah! I have knowledge of the conveyance of messages, fulfillment of promises and of entire expressions. We the people of the house (Ahl al-Bayt [p.b.u.t.]) possess the doors of wisdom and light of governance. Beware that the paths of religion are one and its highways are straight. He who follows them achieves (the aim) and secures (the objective). And he who stood away from it went astray and incurred repentance.
Do act for the day for which provisions are stored and when the intentions will be tested. If a person’s own intelligence which is present with him does not help him, the wits (of others) which are remote from him are more unhelpful and those which are away from him more useless. Dread the fire whose flame is severe, whose hollow is deep, whose outfit is iron and whose drink is bloody puss. Beware! The good name of a man retained by Allah, the Sublime, among the people is better than wealth inherited by those who will not praise him.
A man from among the companions of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him stood up and said, “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib!
You first stopped us from the arbitration, then you gave order for it.
We do not know which of the two was more appropriate?”
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
struck one hand over the other and said the following:
Such is the reward of one who breaks a pledge. By Allah! When I gave you my orders (namely) to abide by arbitration I had led you to an undesirable thing (namely war) in which Allah had ordained good. If you had been steadfast I will have guided you, if you had been bent I will have straightened you and if you had refused I will have rectified you. This was the surest way. But with whom and through whom? I wanted my treatment from you but you proved to be my disease, like the one who extracts a thorn with another thorn when he knows that the thorn bends toward itself.
Lord! The physicians have despaired of this fatal ailment and water-drawers have become tired with the rope of this well. Where are those who were invited to Islam and they accepted it? They read the Holy Qur’an and decided according to it. They were exhorted to fight and they leapt (toward it) as she-camels leap towards their young. They took their swords out of the sheaths and went out into the world in groups and rows. Some of them perished and some survived. The good news of survival does not please them nor do they get condoled about the dead. Their eyes have turned white with weeping. Their bellies are emaciated because of fasting. Their lips are dry because of (constant) praying. Their color is pale because of wakefulness. Their faces bear the dust of God-fearing. These are my comrades who have departed. We should be justified if we feel eager for them and bite our hands in their separation.
Certainly, Satan has made his ways easy for you and wants to unfasten the knots of religion one by one and to cause division among you in place of unity. Keep away from his evil ideas and enchantments and accept good advice of one who offers it to you and preserve it in your minds.
When the Kharijites Persisted in Their Rejecting the Arbitration,
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Went to Their Camp and Addressed Them Thus:
Were all of you with us in Siffin? They replied that some of them were but some of them were not. Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following: Then you divide yourself into two groups. One of those who were in Siffin and other of those who were not present the re, so that I may address each as I see suitable.
Then the Imam, Peace be Upon Him
shouted the following to the people:
Stop talking and keep quiet to listen to what I say. Turn your hearts to me. Whomever we ask for testimony, he should give it according to his knowledge about it.
Then he conversed with them in length.
During the conversation, he said the following:
When they raised the Holy Qur’an by way of deceit, craft, artifice and cheating, did you not say that they are our brothers and comrades in accepting Islam? They want us to cease fighting and ask for protection through the Book of Allah, the Glorified. Our opinion is to agree with them and to end their troubles. Then I said to you, In this affair, the outer side is Faith but the inner side is enmity. Its beginning is pity and the end is repentance. Consequently you should stick to your status and remain steadfast on your path. You should press your teeth (to put all your might) in jihad and should not pay heed to the shouts of one who shouts. If he is answered, he will mislead, but if he is left (answered), he will be disgraced.
But when this thing (arbitration) was done I found that you agreed to it. By Allah, if I had refused it, it will not have been obligatory on me. Nor will Allah have laid its sin on me. And by Allah, not that I have accepted it, I alone am the rightful person who should be followed, for certainly the Holy Qur’an is with me. I have never forsaken it since I adopted its company. We have been with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) in battles wherein those killed were fathers, sons, brothers and relations of one another. Nevertheless, every trouble and hardship just increased us in our belief, in our treading on the right path, in submission to (the Divine) command and in endurance of the pain of wounds.
We now had to fight our brethren in Islam because of entry into Islam of misguidance, crookedness, doubts and (wrong) interpretation. However, if we find any way by which Allah may collect us together in our disorder and by which we may come near each other in whatever common remains between us we will accept it and will give up everything else.
Address of Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
to His Followers on the Battlefield of Siffin About Providing a
Moral Support For the Weak and the Low-spirited During the Fighting:
Whoever among you feels spiritedness of heart during the action and finds any of his comrades feeling disheartened should ward off (the enemies) from him just as he will do from himself because of the superiority he enjoys over the other, for if Allah had willed He will have made the former also like him. Certainly death is a quick seeker. Neither does the steadfast escape it nor can the one who runs away defy it. The best death is to be killed. By Allah in Whose hand (power) lies the life of the son of Aba Talib, certainly a thousand strikes of the sword on me are easier to me than a death in bed which is not in obedience to Allah.
Part of the same sermon:
It is as if I see you uttering voices like the rustling sound of lizards! You do not seek your own claims nor do you defend against oppression. You have been let free on the path. He who rushes (into the battle) achieves salvation, while he who lags behind, hesitating, gets destruction.
Exhorting His Followers to Fight:
Put the armored man forward and keep the unarmored one behind. Grit your teeth because this will make the swords skip off the skull and dodge on the sides of the spears for it changes the direction of their blades. Close the eyes because it strengthens the spirit and gives peace to the heart. Kill the voices because this will keep off spiritlessness.
Do not let your banner bend, nor leave it alone. Do not give it to anyone except the brave and the defenders of honor among you because they alone endure the befalling of troubles; they surround the banners and encircle them on both sides, their rear and their front.
They do not separate from them lest they give them (to the enemy). They do not go ahead of them lest they leave them alone. Everyone should deal with his adversary and also help his comrade by his own life and should not leave the adversary to his comrade lest both his own adversary and his comrade join against him.
By Allah! Even if you run away from the sword of today you will not remain safe from the sword of the next world. You are the foremost among the Arabs and great figures. Certainly in running away there is the wrath of Allah, unceasing disgrace and lasting shame. And certainly run who runs does not lengthen his life, nor does anything come to intervene between him and his day (of death). Who is there to go towards Allah like the thirsty going to the water? Paradise lies under the edges of spears. Today the reputations (about the valor of warriors) will be tested.
By Allah! I am more eager to meet them (in combat) than they are for (returning to) their houses. O Lord! If they reject truth, disperse their group, divide their words (opinion) and destroy them on account of their sins.
They will not budge from their stand till the continuous striking of spears causes piercing (of wounds) through which wind may pass. And the hitting of swords cuts through the skull, cleaves bones and breaks forearms and legs, till they are attacked by contingent after contingent and assaulted by detachments which are followed by reserves for support, till their cities are continuously assailed by force after force and till the horses trample even the extreme ends of the lands, the tracks of their beast and their meadows.
About the Kharijites and
Their Opinion on Arbitration:
We did not name people arbitrators, but we named the Holy Qur’an the Arbitrator. The Holy Qur’an is a book covered between two flaps and it does not speak. It should, therefore, necessarily have an interpreter. Men alone can be such interpreters. When these people invited us to name the Holy Qur’an as the arbitrator between us, we could not be the party turning away from the Book of Allah, since Allah has said the following: “If you quarrel about anything refer it to Allah and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).” (Holy Qur’an, 4: 59)
Reference to Allah means that we decide according to the Holy Qur’an while reference to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) means that we follow his Sunnah. Now therefore, if arbitration were truly done through the Book of Allah (Holy Qur’an), we will be the most rightful of all people for the Caliphate; or if it were done by the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), we will be the most preferable of them.
Concerning your point why I allowed a time lag between myself and them with regard to the Arbitration, I did so in order that the ignorant may find out (the truth) and one who already knows may hold with it firmly. Possibly Allah may, as a result of this peace, improve the condition of these people and they will not be caught by the throats and will not, before indication of the right, fall into rebellion as before. Certainly the best man before Allah is he who loves most to act according to right, even though it causes him hardship and grief, rather than according to wrong, even though it gives him benefit and increase.
So, where are you being mislead and from where have you been brought (to this state)? Be prepared to march to the people who have deviated from the right and do not see it, have been entangled in wrongdoing and are not corrected. They are away from the Book and turned from the (right) path. You are not trustworthy to rely upon, nor are you holders of honor to be adhered to. You are very bad in kindling the fire of fighting. Woe to you! I had to bear a lot of worries from you. Some days I call to you (to jihad) and some days, I speak to you in confidence. You are neither true free men at the time of call, nor trustworthy brothers at the time of speaking in confidence.
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
was spoken Ill of for Showing Equality in the Distribution (Of Shares
from Bayt al-Mal or the Muslim Public Treasury) He Said the Following:
Do you command me that I should seek support by oppressing those over whom I have been placed? By Allah, I will not do so as long as the world goes on and as long as one star leads another in the sky. Even if it were my property, I will have distributed it equally among them, then why not when the property is that of Allah. Beware; certainly that giving of wealth without any right for it is wastefulness and lavishness. It raises its doer in this world, but lowers him in the next world. It honors him before people, but disgraces him with Allah. If a man gives his property to those who have no right for it or do not deserve it, Allah deprives him of their gratefulness and their love too will be for others. Then if he falls on bad days and needs their help, they will prove the worst comrades and ignoble friends.
About the Kharijites:
If you do not stop believing that I have gone wrong and have been misled, why do you consider that the common men among the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) have gone astray like me and accuse them with my wrong and hold them unbelievers on account of my sins. You are holding your swords on your shoulders and using them right and wrong. You are confusing those who have committed sins with those who have not. You know that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) stoned the protected (married) adulterers, then he also said his burial prayer and allowed his successors to inherit from him. He amputated (the hand of) the thief and whipped the unprotected (unmarried) adulterer, but thereafter allowed their shares from the booty and they married Muslim women. Thus the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) took them to ask for their sins and also abided by Allah’s commands about them, but did not disallow them their rights created by Islam, nor did he remove their names from its followers.
Certainly you are the most evil of all persons and are those whom Satan has put on his lines and thrown out into his wayless land. With regard to me, two categories of people will be ruined, namely he who loves me too much and the hatred which takes him away from rightfulness. The best man with regard to me is he who is on the middle course. So be with him and be with the great majority (of Muslims) because Allah’s hand (of protection) is on keeping unity. You should beware of division because the one isolated from the group is (a prey) to Satan just as the one isolated from the flock of sheep is (a prey) to the wolf.
Beware! Whoever calls to this course, kill him, even though he may be under this headband of mine. Certainly the two arbitrators were appointed to revive what the Holy Qur’an revives and to destroy what the Holy Qur’an destroys. Revival means to unite on it (in a matter) and destruction means to divide on a matter. If the Holy Qur’an drives us to them we should follow them and if it drives them to us they should follow up. May you have no father! (Woe to you), I did not cause you any misfortune, nor have I deceived you in any matter, nor created any confusion. Your own group had unanimously suggested in favor of these two men and we bound them that they will not exceed the Holy Qur’an but they deviated from it and abandoned the right although both of them were conversant with it. This wrong-doing was the dictate of their hearts. So they trod upon it, although we had stipulated that in arbitrating with justice and sticking to rightfulness they will avoid the evil of their own views and the mischief of their own verdict (but since this has happened the award is not acceptable to us).
About Important Events in Basrah:
O Ahnaf! It is as though I see him advancing with an army which has neither dust nor noise, nor rustling of reins, nor neighing of horses. They are trampling the ground with their feet as if they are the feet of ostriches.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) pointed to the Chief of the Blacks (Sahibuz-Zanj).” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said: “Woe unto you (O people of Basrah’s) inhabited streets and decorated houses which possess wings like the wings of vultures and trunks like the trunks of elephants. They are the people from among whom if one is killed he is not mourned and if one is lost he is not searched for. I turn this world over on its face, value it only according to its (low) value and look at it with an eye suitable to it.”
Part of the same sermon:
Referring to the Turks (Mongols), he said:
I can see a people whose faces are like shields covered with roughly-scraped skins. They outfit themselves in silken and woolen clothes and hold dear excellent horses. Their killing and bloodshed shall take place freely till the wounded shall walk over the dead and the number of runners-away shall be less than those taken prisoner.
One of his companions said to him, “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib! You have been given knowledge of hidden things,” whereupon Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) smiled and said to the man who belonged to the tribe of Banu Kalb:
O brother of Kalb! This is not knowledge of hidden things (ilmul-ghayb)! These matters have been acquired from him (namely in Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) who knew them. As regard knowledge of hidden things, that means knowledge of the Day of Judgment and the things covered by Allah in the verse; “Verily, Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the Hour.” (Holy Qur’an, 31: 34)
Therefore, Allah, and only Allah, knows what is there in the wombs, whether male or female, ugly or handsome, if he/she will be generous or miserly, mischievous or pious, a fuel for Hell or in the company of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) in Paradise. This is the knowledge of the hidden things which is not known to anyone save Allah. All else is that whose knowledge Allah passed on to His Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and he passed it on to me and prayed for me that my bosom may retain it and my ribs may hold it.
About Measures and Weights, the Transience
of this World and the Condition of its People:
O servants of Allah! You and whatever you desire from this world are like guests with fixed period of stay and like debtors called upon to pay. Life is getting short while (the records of) actions are being preserved. Many strivers are wasting (their efforts) and many of those who exert are heading towards harm. You are in a period when steps of virtue are moving backwards, steps of evil are moving forward and Satan is increasing his eagerness to ruin people. This is the time that his equipment is strong, his traps have been spread and his prey has become easy (to catch).
Cast your glance over people wherever you like, you will see either a poor man suffering from poverty, or a rich man ignoring Allah despite His bounty over him, or a miser increasing his wealth by trampling on Allah’s obligations, or an unruly person closing his ears to all counsel. Where are your good people; where are your virtuous people? Where are your high-spirited men and generous men? Where are those of you who avoid deceit in their business and remain pure in their behavior? Have they not all departed from this ignoble, transitory and troublesome world? Have you not been left among people who are just like rubbish and so low that lips avoid mention of them and do not move even to condemn their low status? “Verily we are Allah’s, and verily unto Him shall we return.” (Holy Qur’an, 2: 156).
Mischief has appeared and there is no one to oppose and change it, nor anyone to dissuade from it or desist from it. Do you, with these qualities, hope to secure abode in the purified neighborhood of Allah and to be regarded His staunch lovers? Alas! Allah cannot be deceived about His paradise and His will cannot be secured save by His obedience. Allah may curse those who advise good but they themselves avoid it and those who desist others from evil but they themselves act upon it.
Delivered When Abu Dharr (May God be Pleased With Him)
Was Exiled to Rabadha:
O Abu Dharr! You demonstrated your anger in the Name of Allah; therefore, have hope in Him for Whom you became angry. The people were afraid of you in the matter of their (seeking the pleasure of this) world while you feared them for your faith. Then leave to them that for which they are afraid of you and get away from them taking away what you fear them about. How needy are they for what you dissuade them from and how heedless are you towards what they are denying you. You will shortly know who is the gainer tomorrow (on the Day of Judgment) and who is more enviable. Even if these skies and earth were closed to some individual and he feared Allah, then Allah will open them for him. Only rightfulness should attract you while wrongfulness should detract you. If you had accepted their worldly attractions they will have loved you and if you had shared in it they will have given you asylum.
Grounds for Accepting the Caliphate
and the Qualities of a Ruler and Governor
O (people of) differing minds and divided hearts, whose bodies are present but wits are absent. I am leading you (amicably) towards truthfulness, but you run away from it like goats and sheep running away from the howling of a lion. How hard it is for me to uncover for you the secrets of justice, or to straighten the curve of truthfulness.
O Lord! You know that what we did was not to seek power nor to acquire anything from the vanities of the world. We rather wanted to restore the signs of Your religion and to usher prosperity into Your cities so that the oppressed among thy creatures might be safe and Your forsaken commands might be established. O Lord! I am the first who leaned (towards You) and who heard and responded (to the call of Islam). No one preceded me in prayer (salat) except the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
You certainly know that he who is in charge of honor, life, booty (enforcement of), legal commandments and the leadership of the Muslims should not be a miser as his greed will aim at their wealth. Nor should he be ignorant as he will then mislead them with his ignorance, nor be of rude behavior who will estrange them with his rudeness. Nor should he deal unjustly with wealth thus preferring one group over another, nor should he accept a bribe while taking decisions, as he will forfeit (others) rights and hold them up without finality, nor should he ignore Sunnah as he will ruin the people.
Warning About Death
We praise Him for whatever He takes or gives or whatever He inflicts on us or tries us with. He is aware of all that is hidden and He sees all that is concealed. He knows all that breasts contain or eyes hide. We render testimony that there is no god except He and that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) - peace be upon him and his progeny - has been chosen by Him and deputed by Him - testimony tendered both secretly and openly, by heart and by tongue.
Part of the same sermon:
By Allah! Certainly it is reality not fun, truth not falsehood. It is none else than death. Its caller is making himself heard and its dragsman is making haste. The majority of the people should not deceive you.
You have seen those who lived before you, amassed wealth, feared poverty and felt safe from its (evil) consequences, the longevity of desires and the (apparent) distance from death. How, then, death overtook them, turned them out of their homelands and took them out of their places of safety. They were borne on coffins, people were busy about them one after another, carrying them on their shoulders and supporting them with their hands.
Did you not witness those who engaged in long-reaching desires, built strong buildings, amassed much wealth but their houses turned to graves and their collections turned into ruin. Their property devolved on the successors and their spouses on those who came after them. They cannot (now) add to their good deeds nor invoke (Allah’s) mercy with regard to evil acts. Therefore, whoever makes his heart habituated to fear Allah achieves a forward status and his action is successful. Prepare yourself for it and do all that you can for Paradise. Certainly this world has not been made a place of permanent stay for you. But it has been created as a pathway in order that you may take from it the provisions of your (good) actions for the permanent house (in Paradise). Be ready for departure from here and keep close your riding animals for setting off.
On the Glory of Allah
This world and the next have submitted to Him their reins and the skies and earth have flung their keys towards Him. The thriving trees bow to Him in the morning and evening and produce for Him - flaming fire from their branches and at His command, turn their own feed into ripe fruits.
Part of the Same Sermon about the Holy Qur’an
The Book of Allah is among you. It speaks and its tongue does not falter. It is a house whose pillars do not fall down and a power whose supporters are never routed.
Part of the Same Sermon about
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Allah deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) after a gap from the previous prophets when there was much talk (among the people). With him, “Allah exhausted the series of prophets and ended the revelation. He then fought for Him those who were turning away from Him and were equating others with Him.
Part of the same sermon about this world
Certainly this world is the end of the sight of the (mentally) blind who see nothing beyond it. The sight of a looker (who looks with the eye of his mind) pierces through and realizes that the (real) house is beyond this world. The looker, therefore, wants to get out of it while the blind wants to get into it. The looker collects provision from it (for the next world) while the blind collects provision for this very world.
Part of the same sermon
You should know that a man gets satiated and wearied with everything except life because he does not find for himself any pleasure in death. It is in the status of life for a dead heart, sight for the blind eye, hearing for the deaf ear, quenching for the thirsty and it contains complete sufficiency and safety.
The Book of Allah is that though which you see, you speak and you hear. Its one part speaks for the other part and one part testifies to the other. It does not create differences about Allah nor does it mislead its own follower from (the path of) Allah. You are joined together in hatred of each other and in the growing of herbage on your filth (i.e. for covering inner dirt by good appearance outside). You are sincere with one another in your love of desires and bear enmity against each other in earning wealth. The evil spirit (Satan) has perplexed you and deceit has misled you. I seek the help of Allah for myself and you.
Delivered when `Umar ibn al-Khattab consulted
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him about himself,
taking part in the march towards Rome (Byzantine Empire)
Allah has taken upon Himself for the followers of this religion the strengthening of boundaries and hiding of the secret places. Allah helped them when they were few and could not protect themselves. He is living and will not die. If you will yourself proceed towards the enemy and clash with them and fall into some trouble, there will be no place of refuge for the Muslims other than their remote cities, nor any place they will return to. Therefore, you should send there an experienced man and send with him people of good performance who are well-intentioned. If Allah grants you victory, then this is what you want. If it is otherwise, you will serve as a support for the people and a returning place for the Muslims.
There was some exchange of words between `Othman ibn
`Affan and Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him when
al-Mughirah ibn al-Akhnas said to `Othman that he will deal with
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him on his behalf whereupon
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said to al-Mughirah:
O son of the accursed and issueless and of a tree which has neither root nor branch. Will you deal with me? By Allah, Allah will not grant victory to him whom you support, nor will he be able to stand up whom you raise. Get away from us. Allah may keep you away from your purpose. Then do whatever you like. Allah may not have mercy on you if you have pity on me.
About the Sincerity of His Own
Intention and Support of the Oppressed
Your allegiance to me was not without thinking, nor is my and your status the same. I seek you for Allah’s sake but you seek me for your own benefits. O people! support me despite your heart’s desires. By Allah, I will take revenge for the oppressed from the oppressor and will put a string in the nose of the oppressor and drag him to the spring of truthfulness even though he may grudge it.
About Talhah and az-Zubayr
By Allah, they did not find any disagreeable thing in me, nor did they do justice between me and themselves. Surely, they are now demanding a right which they have abandoned and blood which they have themselves shed. If I partook in it with them then they too have a share in it, but if they committed it without me the demand should be against them. The first step of their justice should be that they pass verdict against themselves. I have my intelligence with me.
I have never mixed matters nor have they appeared mixed to me. Certainly, this is the rebellious group in which there is the near one (az-Zubayr), the scorpion’s venom (`A’isha) and doubts which cast a veil (on facts). But the matter is clear and the wrong has been shaken from its foundation. Its tongue has stopped uttering mischief. By Allah, I will prepare for them a cistern from which I alone will draw water. They will not be able to drink from it nor will they be able to drink from any other place.
Part of the same sermon:
You advanced towards me shouting allegiance, allegiance like she-camels having delivered newly born young ones leaping towards their young. I held back my hand but you pulled it towards you. I drew back my hand but you dragged it. O Lord! These two have ignored my rights and did injustice to me. They both have broken allegiance to me and roused people against me. Unfasten You what they have fastened and do not make strong what they have woven. Show them the evil in what they aimed at and acted upon. Before fighting I asked them to be steadfast in allegiance and behaved with them with consideration but they belittled the blessing and refused (to adopt the course of safety).
Referring to Future Events
He will direct desires towards (the path of) guidance while people will have turned guidance towards desires and he will turn their views to the direction of the Holy Qur’an while the people will have turned the Holy Qur’an to their views.
Part of the same sermon:
Before this Enjoiner of Allah, matters will deteriorate till war will rage among you with full force, showing forth its teeth, with udders full of sweet milk but with a sour tip. Beware, it will be tomorrow and the morrow will come soon with things which you do not know. The man in power, not from this crowd, will take to task all those were formerly appointed for their ill deeds and the earth will pour forth its internal treasures and fling before him easily her keys. He will show you the just way of behavior and revive the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah which have become lifeless (among people).
Part of the same sermon:
As if I see (him), he (the Enjoiner of Evil) is shouting in Syria and is extending his banners to the outskirts of Kufah. He is bent towards it like the biting of the she-camel. He has covered the ground with heads. His mouth is wide open and (the trampling of) his footsteps on the ground have become heavy. His advance is broad and his attacks are severe.
By Allah, he will disperse you throughout the earth till only a few of you remain, like kohl in the eye. You will continue like this till the Arabs return to their sense. You should, therefore, stick to established ways, clear signs and the early period which has the lasting virtues of the Prophethood. You should know that Satan makes his ways easy so that you may follow him on his heels.
On the Occasion of the Consultative Committee
(After the Death of `Umar Ibn al-Khattab)
No one preceded me in inviting people to truthfulness, in giving consideration to kinship and practicing generosity. So, hear my word and preserve what I say. Maybe you will see soon after today that over this matter swords will be drawn and pledges will be broken, so much so that some of you will become leaders of the people of misguidance and followers of people of ignorance.
About Backbiting and Speaking Ill of Others
Those who do not commit sins and have been gifted with safety (from sins) should take pity on sinners and other disobedient people. Gratitude should be mostly their indulgence and it should prevent them from (finding faults with) others. What about the backbiter who blames his brother and finds fault with him? Does he not remember that Allah has concealed the sins which he committed while they were bigger than his brother’s sins pointed out by him? How can he vilify him about his sins when he has himself committed one like it? Even if he has not committed a similar sin he must have committed bigger ones. By Allah, even if he did not commit big sins but committed only small sins, his exposing the sins of people is itself a big sin.
O servants of Allah! Do not be quick in exposition anyone’s sin for he may be forgiven for it and do not feel yourself safe even for a small sin because you may be punished for it. Therefore, everyone of you who comes to know the faults of others should not expose them in view of what he knows about his own faults and he should remain busy in thanks that he has been saved from what others have been indulging in.
Reliance on Hearsay Revisited
O people! If a person knows his brother to be steadfast in faith and of correct ways he should not lend ear to what people may say about him. Sometimes the bowman shoots arrows but the arrow goes astray; similarly talk can be off the point. Its wrong perishes, while Allah is the Hearer and the Witness. There is nothing between truth and falsehood except four fingers.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) was asked the meaning of this whereupon he closed his fingers together and put them between his ear and eye and said the following: “It is falsehood when you say, ‘I have heard so,’ while it is truth when you say, ‘I have seen’.”
Against Misplaced Generosity
He who shows generosity to those who have no claim to it or who are not fit for it will not earn anything except the praise of the ignoble and appreciation of bad persons. Although as long as he continues giving, the ignorant will say how generous his hand is, even though in the affairs of Allah he is a miser.
Therefore, to whosoever Allah gives wealth he should use it in extending good behavior to his kinsmen, in entertaining, in releasing prisoners and the afflicted; in giving to the poor and to debtors. And he should endure (the troubles arising out of) the fulfillment of rights (of others) and hardships in expectation of reward. Certainly, the achievement of these qualities is the height of greatness in this world and achievement of the distinctions of the next world, if Allah so wills.
Praying for Rain
Beware; the earth which bears you and the sky which overshadows you are obedient to their Sustainer (Allah). They have not been bestowing their blessings on you for any feeling of pity on you or inclination towards you, nor for any good which they expect from you. But they were commanded to bestow benefits on you and they are obeying and were asked to maintain your good and so they are maintaining it.
Certainly, Allah tries his creatures with regard to their evil deeds by decreasing fruits, holding back blessings and closing the treasures of good, so that he who wishes to repent may repent, he who wishes to turn away (from evils) may turn away, he who wishes to recall (forgotten good) may recall and he who wishes to abstain (from evil) may abstain. Allah, the Glorified One, has made the seeking of (His) forgiveness a means for the pouring down of livelihood and mercy on the people as Allah has said the following: “Seek the forgiveness, all of you, of your Lord! Verily, He is the most forgiving; He will send (down) upon you the cloud raining in torrents and help you with wealth and sons (children).” (Holy Qur’an, 17: 10-12).
Allah may shower mercy on him who took up repentance, gave up sins and hastened (in performing good deeds before) his death. O Lord! We have come out to You from under the curtains and coverings (of houses) when the beasts and children are crying, seeking Your Mercy, hoping for the generosity of Your bounty and fearing Your chastisement and retribution. O Lord! Give us to drink from Your rain and do not disappoint us, nor kill us by years (of drought) nor punish us for what the foolish among us have committed, O the most Merciful of all.
O Lord! We have come out to You to complain to You what is (already) not hidden from You, when the seven troubles have forced us, droughty famines have driven us, distressing wants have made us helpless and troublesome mischief has incessantly befallen us. O Lord! We beseech You not to send us back disappointed, nor to return us with down-cast eyes, nor to address us (harshly) for our sins, nor deal with us according to our deeds.
O Lord! Do pour on us Your mercy, Your blessing, Your sustenance and Your pity and make us enjoy a drink which benefits us, quenches our thirst, produces green herbage with which all that was lost gets a growing and all that had withered comes to life again. It should bring about the benefit of freshness and plenty of ripe fruits. With it plains may be watered, rivers may begin flowing, plants may pick up foliage and prices may come down. Surely, You are powerful over whatever You wills.
Deputation of the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Allah deputed prophets and distinguished them with His revelation. He made them as pleas for Him among His creation, so that there should not remain any excuse for people. He invited people to the right path through a truthful tongue. You should know that Allah fully knows creation. Not that He was not aware of what they concealed from among their hidden secrets and inner feelings, but in order to try them as to whom from among them performs good deeds, so that there is reward with regard to good deeds and chastisement with regard to evil acts.
The status of Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Them
(the Household of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him)
Where are those who falsely and unjustly claimed that they are deeply versed in knowledge, as against us, although Allah raised us in status and kept them down, bestowed upon us knowledge but deprived them and entered us (in the fortress of knowledge) but kept them out. With us guidance is to be sought and blindness (of misguidance) is to be changed into brightness. Surely Imams (the Divine leaders) will be from the tribesmen of Quraish. They have been planted in this line through Hashim. It will not suit others nor will others be suitable as heads of affairs.
Part of the same sermon about those who
are against Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Them:
They have adopted this world and abandoned the next world; left clean water and drunk stinking water. I can almost see their wicked one who committed unlawful acts, associated himself with them, befriended them and accorded with them till his hair became gray and his nature acquired their tinge. He proceeded onward emitting foam like a torrential stream not caring whom he drowned, or, like fire in straw, without realizing what he burnt.
Where are the minds which seek light from the lamps of guidance and the eyes which look at minarets of piety? Where are the hearts dedicated to Allah and devoted to the obedience of Allah? They are all crowding towards worldly vanities and quarreling over unlawful issues. The ensigns of Paradise and Hell have been raised for them but they have turned their faces away from Paradise and proceeded to Hell by dint of their performances. Allah called them but they showed dislike and ran away. When Satan called them they responded and proceeded (towards him).
About this World
O people! You are, in this world, the target for the arrows of death. With every drinking there is choking and with every eating there is suffocation. You do not get any benefit in it except by foregoing another (benefit) and no one among you advances in age by a day except by the taking away of a day from his life. Nothing more is added to his eating unless it reduces what was there before. No mark appears for him unless a mark disappears. Nothing new comes into being unless the new becomes old. No new crop comes up unless a crop has been reaped. Those roots are gone whose off-shoots we are. How can an off-shoot live after the departure of its root?
Part of the same sermon: on Innovation (bid’ah):
No innovation is introduced unless one Sunnah is forsaken, keep away from innovations and stick to the broad road. Surely the old tested ways are he best and the innovated ones are bad.
Delivered When `Umar Ibn al-Khattab
Consulted Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
About Taking Part in the Battle of Then Persia
Victory or defeat is not dependent on the small or the large number of forces. It is Allah’s religion which He has raised above all faiths and His army which He has mobilized and extended, till it has reached the point where it stands now and has arrived its present positions. We hold a promise from Allah and He will fulfill His promise and support His army.
The status of the head of government is that of the thread for beads, as it connects them and keeps them together. If the thread is broken, they will disperse and be lost and will never come together again. The Arabs today, even though small in number are big because of Islam and strong because of unity. You should remain like the axis for them and rotate the mill (of government) with (the help of) the Arabs and be their root. Avoid battle because if you leave this place the Arabs will attack you from all sides and directions till the unguarded places left behind by you will become more important than those before you.
If the Persians see you tomorrow they will say, “He is the root (chief) of Arabia. If we do away with him we will be in peace. In this way this will heighten their eagerness against you and their keenness to aim at you. You say that they have set out to fight against the Muslims. Well, Allah detests their setting out more than you do and He is more capable of preventing what He detests. As regarding your idea about their (large) number, in the past we did not fight on the strength of large numbers but we fought on the basis of Allah’s support and assistance.”
The Purpose of the Deputation of the Holy Prophet,
Peace be Upon Him and the Condition of the Time
When People Will Go Against the Holy Qur’an:
Allah deputed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) with Truth so that he may take out His people from the worship of idols towards His worship and from obeying Satan towards obeying Him and sent him with the Holy Qur’an which He explained and made strong, in order that the people may know their Sustainer (Allah) since they were ignorant of Him, may acknowledge Him since they were denying Him and accept Him since they were refusing (to believe in) Him. Because He the Glorified One, revealed Himself to them through His Book without their having seen Him, by means of what He showed them out of His might and made them fear His sway. How He destroyed those whom He wished to destroy through His chastisement and ruined those whom He wished to ruin through His retribution!
On the Future
Certainly, a time will come upon you after me when nothing will be more concealed than rightfulness, nothing more apparent than wrongfulness - and nothing more current than untruth against Allah and His Prophet (p.b.u.h.). For the people of this period nothing will be more valueless than the Holy Qur’an being recited as it ought to be recited, nor anything more valuable than the Holy Qur’an being misplaced from its status. And in the towns nothing will be more hated than virtue, nor anything more acceptable than vice.
The holders of the book will throw it away and those who memorize it will forget it. In these days the Holy Qur’an and its people will be exiled and expelled. They will be companions keeping together on one path, but no one will offer them asylum. Consequently at this time the Holy Qur’an and its people will be among the people but not among them, will be with them but not with them because misguidance cannot accord with guidance even though they may be together. The people will have united on division and will, therefore, have cut away from the community, as though they were the leaders of the Holy Qur’an and not the Holy Qur’an their leader. Nothing of it will be left with them except its name and they will know nothing save its writing and its words. Before that, they will inflict hardships on the virtuous, naming the latter’s truthful views about Allah false allegations and enforcing for virtues the punishment of the vice.
Those before you passed away because of the lengthening of their desires and the forgetting of their death, till that promised event befell them about which excuses are turned down, repentance is denied and punishment and retribution is inflicted.
About Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Them
O people! He who seeks counsel from Allah secures guidance and he who adopts His word as guide is led towards what is more straight because Allah’s lover feels secure and His opponent feels afraid. It does not behoove one who knows His greatness to assume greatness, but the greatness of those who know His greatness is that they should know before Him and the safety for those who know what His power is lies in submitting to Him. Do not be scared away from the truth like the scaring of the healthy from the scabbed person, or the sound person from the sick.
You should know that you will never know guidance unless you know who has abandoned it; you will never abide by the pledges of the Holy Qur’an unless you know who has broken them and will never cling to it unless you know who has forsaken it. Seek these things from those who own them because they are the life spring of knowledge and death of ignorance. They are the people whose commands will disclose to you their (extent of) knowledge, their silence will disclose their (capacity of) speaking and their outer appearance will disclose their inner self. They do not go against religion and do not differ from one other about it, while it is among them a truthful witness and a silent speaker.
About Talhah and az-Zubayr and the People of Basrah
Both of these men (Talhah and az-Zubayr) wish the Caliphate for himself and is drawing towards himself as against the other fellow.
They do not employ any connection for getting access to Allah nor proceed towards Him through any means. Both of them bear malice against the other. Shortly his veil over it will be uncovered. But Allah, if they achieve what they aim at, one of them will kill the other and one will finish the other. The rebellious party has stood u, p. Where are the seekers of virtue; for the paths have already been determined and they have been given the news. For every misguidance there is a cause and for every break of pledge there is a misrepresentation. By Allah, I shall not be like him who listens to the voice of mourning, hears the man who brings news of death and also visits the mourner yet does not take lesson.
Before His Passing Away (Last Will)
O people! Everyone has to meet what he wishes to avoid by running away. Death is the place to which life is driving. To run away from it means to catch it. How many days did I spent in searching for the secret of this matter, but Allah did not allow save its concealment. Alas! It is a treasured knowledge. As for my last will, it is that concerning Allah, do not believe in a partner for Him and concerning Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), do not disregard his Sunnah. Keep these two pillars and burn these two lamps. Till you are not divided, no evil will come to you. Every one of you has to bear his own burden. It has been kept light for the ignorant. Allah is Merciful. Faith is straight. The leader (Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) is the holder of knowledge. Yesterday I was with you; today I have become the object of a lesson for you, and tomorrow I shall leave you. Allah may forgive me and you.
If the foot remains firm in this slippery place, well and good. But if the foot slips, this is so because we are under the shade of branches, the passing of the winds and the canopy of the clouds whose layers are dispersed in the sky and whose traces disappeared in the earth. I was your neighbor. My body kept you company for some days and shortly you will find just an empty body of mine which will be stationary after (all its) movement and silent after speech so that my calmness, the closing of my eyes and the stillness of my limbs may provide you counsel because it is more of a counsel for those who learn a lesson (from it) than eloquent speech and a ready word. I am departing from you like one who is eager to meet (someone). Tomorrow you will look at my days, then my inner side will be disclosed to you and you will understand me after the vacation of my place and its occupation by someone else.
About Future Events and
Some Activities of the Hypocrites
They took to the right and the left piercing through to the ways of evil and leaving the paths of guidance. Do not make haste for a matter which is to happen and is awaited and do not wish for delay in what the morrow is to bring for you. For, how many people make haste for a matter, but when they get it they begin to wish they had not got it. How near is today to the dawning of tomorrow. O my people, this is the time for the occurrence of every promised event and the approach of things which you do not know. Whoever from among us will be during these days will move through them with a burning lamp and will tread on the footsteps of the virtuous, in order to unfasten knots, to free slates, to divide the united and to unite the divided. He will be in concealment from people. The stalker will not find his footprints even though he pursues with his eye. Then a group of people will be sharpened like the sharpening of swords by the blacksmith. Their sight will be brightened by revelation, the (delicacies of) commentary will be put in their ears and they will be given drinks of wisdom, morning and evening.
Their period became long in order that they might complete (their status of) disgrace and deserve vicissitudes, till the end of the period was reached and a group of people turned towards mischief and picked up their arms for fighting. The virtuous did not show any obligation to Allah but calmly endured and did not feel elated for having engaged themselves in truthfulness. Eventually the period of trial came to an end according to what was ordained. Then they propagated their good views among others and sought nearness to Allah according to the command of their leader.
When Allah took the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) (to himself) a group of men went back on their tracks. The ways (of misguidance) ruined them and they placed trust in deceitful intriguers, showed consideration to other than kinsmen, abandoned the kin whom they had been ordered to love and shifted the building from its strong foundation and built it in other than its (proper) place. They are the source of every shortcoming and the door of gropes in the dark. They were moving to and fro in amazement and lay intoxicated in the way of the people of the Pharaohs. They were either bent on this world and taking support on it or away from the fait and removed from it.
The Condition of the People During Disorder
and Advice Against Oppression and Unlawful Earning
I praise Allah and seek His help from (what led to the) punishment of Satan and his deceitful acts and (I seek His) protection from Satan’s traps and way-layings. I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and His Prophet - peace be upon him and his progeny - and his chosen and his selected one. Muhammad’s distinction cannot be paralleled nor can his loss be made good. Populated places were brightened through him when previously there was dark misguidance, overpowering ignorance and rude habits and people regarded unlawful as lawful, humiliated the man of wisdom, passed lives when there were no prophets and died as unbelievers.
You, O people of Arabia, will be victims of calamities which have come near. You should avoid the intoxication of wealth, fear the disasters of chastisement, keep steadfast in the darkness and crookedness of mischief when its hidden nature discloses itself, its secrets become manifest and its axis and the pivot of its rotation gain strength. It begins in imperceptible stages but develops into great hideousness.
Its youth is like the youth of an adolescent and its marks are like the marks of beating by stone. Oppressors inherit it by (mutual) agreement. The first of them serves as a leader for the latter one and the latter one follows the first one. They vie with each other in (the matter of) this lowly world and leap over this stinking carcass. Shortly the follower will denounce his connection with the leader and the leader with the follower. They will disunite on account of mutual and curse one another when they meet. Then after this there will appear another arouser of mischief who will destroy ruined things. The heart will become wavering after being normal, men will be misled after safety, desires will multiply and become diversified and views will become confused.
Whoever proceeds towards this mischief will be ruined and whoever strives for it will be annihilated. They will be biting each other during it as the wild asses bite each other in the herd. The coils of the rope will be disturbed and the face of affairs will be blinded. During it sagacity will be on the ebb and the oppressors will (get the opportunity to) speak. The mischief will smash the Bedouins with its hammers and crush them with its chest. In its dust the single marchers will be lost and in its way the horsemen will be destroyed. It will approach with the bitterness of destiny and will give pure blood (instead of milk). It will breach the minarets of faith and shatter the ties of firm belief. The wise will run away from it while the wicked will foster it. It will thunder and flash (like lightning). It will create a severe disaster. In it kinship will be forsaken and Islam will be abandoned. He who declaims it will also be affected by it and he who flees from it will (be forced to) stay in it.
Part of the same sermon:
Among them some will be un-avenged martyrs and some will be stricken with fear and seek protection. They will be deceived by pledges and fraudulent belief. You should not become landmarks of mischief and signs of innovations but should adhere to that on which the rope of the community has been wound and on which the pillars of obedience have been founded. Proceed towards Allah as oppressed and do not proceed to Him as oppressors. Avoid the paths of Satan and the places of rebellion. Do not put in your bellies unlawful morsels because you are facing the One Who has made disobedience unlawful for you and made the path of obedience easy for you.
About the greatness and the attributes of Allah
Praise be to Allah Who is proof of His existence through His creation, of His being external through the newness of His creation and through their mutual similarities of the fact that nothing is similar to Him. Senses cannot touch Him and curtains cannot veil Him because of the difference between the maker and the made, the Limiter and the limited and the Sustainer and the sustained.
He is One but not by the first in counting, is Creator but not through activity or labor, is Hearer but not by means of any physical organ, is Looker but not by a stretching of eyelids, is Witness but not by nearness, is Distinct but not by measurement of distances, is Manifest but not by seeing and is Hidden but not by subtlety (of body). He is Distinct from things because He overpowers them and exercises might over them, while things are distinct from Him because of their subjugation to Him and their turning towards Him.
He who describes Him limits Him. He who limits Him numbers Him. He who numbers Him rejects His eternity. He who asks “How?” seeks a description for Him. He who asks “Where?” limits Him. He is the One Who knows everything. He is the Sustainer even though there be nothing to be sustained. He is the Powerful One even though there is nothing to be overpowered.
Part of the same sermon
about the Divine leaders (Imams)
The riser has risen, the sparkler has sparkled, what appears has appeared and the curved has been straightened. Allah has replaced one people with another and one day with another. We awaited these changes as the famine-stricken await the rain. Certainly the Imams are the vicegerents of Allah over His creatures and they make the creatures know Allah. No one will enter Paradise except he who knows them and knows Him and no one will enter Hell except he who denies them and denies Him.
Allah, the most Glorified One, has distinguished you with Islam and has chosen you for it. This is so because it is the name of safety and the collection of honor. Allah, the most Glorified One, chose its way and disclosed its pleas through open knowledge and secret maxims. Its (Holy Qur’an) wonders are not exhausted and its delicacies do not end. It contains blossoming bounties and lamps of darkness. (The doors of) virtues cannot be opened save with its keys, nor can gloom be dispelled save with its lamps. Allah has protected its inaccessible points (from enemies) and allowed grazing (to its followers) in its pastures. It contains cover (from the ailment of misguidance) for the seeker of cure and full support for the seeker of support.
About Negligent Persons and the
Characteristics of Beasts, Carnivores and Women
He has been allowed time by Allah. He is falling into error along with negligent persons and goes early in the morning with the sinners, without any road to lead or any Imam to guide.
Part of the same sermon:
At last, when Allah will make clear to them the reward for their sins and take them out from the veils of their neglectfulness, they will proceed to what they were running away from and run away from what they were proceeding to. They will not benefit from the wants they will satisfy or the desires they will fulfill.
I warn you and my own self from this situation. A man should derive benefit from his own self. Certainly, prudent is he who hears and ponders over it, who sees and observes and who benefits from instructive material then treads on clear paths wherein he avoids falling into hollows and straying into pitfalls and does not assist those who misguide him by turning away from truthfulness, changing his words or fearing truth.
O my listener! Be cured from your intoxication, wake up from your slumber, decrease your hasty activity and ponder over what has come to you through the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), the Ummi which is inevitable and inescapable. You should turn away from him who opposes him and leave him and leave whatever he has adopted for himself. Put off your vanity, drop your haughtiness and recall your grave because your way passes over it. You will be dealt with as you deal with others, you will reap what you sow and what you send today will meet you tomorrow. So provide for your future and send (some good deeds) for your day (of reckoning). Fear, fear, O listener! Act, act, O careless one! No one will warn you like him who knows.
One of the firm decisions of Allah in the Wise Reminder (Holy Qur’an) upon which He bestows reward or gives punishment and through which He likes or dislikes is that it will not benefit a man, even though he exerts himself and acts sincerely if he leaves this world to meet Allah with one of these acts without repenting, namely that he believed in a partner with Allah during his obligatory worship, or appeased his own anger by killing an individual, or spoke about acts committed by others, or sought fulfillment of his needs from people by introducing an innovation in his religion, or met people with a double face, or moved among them with a double tongue. Understand this because an illustration is a guide for its like.
Beasts are concerned with their bellies. Carnivores are concerned with assaulting others. Women are concerned with the adornments of this ignoble life and the creation of mischief herein. (On the other hand) believers are humble, believers are admonishers and believers are afraid (of Allah).
About Ahl al-Bayt,
Peace be Upon Them and their Opponents
He who has an intelligent mind looks to his goal. He knows his low road as well as his high road. The caller has called. The shepherd has tended (his flocks). So respond to the caller and follow the shepherd.
Those who oppose have entered the oceans of disturbance and have taken to innovations instead of the Sunnah (the Prophet’s holy deeds, utterances and his unspoken approvals), while the believers have sunk down and the misguided and the liars are speaking. We are the near ones, companions, treasure holders and doors (to the Sunnah). Houses are not entered save through their doors. Whoever enters them from other than the door is called a thief.
Part of the same sermon:
The delights of the Holy Qur’an are about them (Ahl al-Bayt [p.b.u.t.], descendants of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)). They are the treasurers of Allah. When they speak, they tell the truth, but when they keep quiet, no one can speak unless they speak. The forerunner should report correctly to his people, should retain his wits and should be one of the children (a man) of the next world because he has come from there and will return to it.
The beginning of the action of one who sees with the heart and acts with the eyes is to assess whether the action will go against him or for him. If it is for him he indulges in it, but if it is against him he keeps away from it. For, he who acts without knowledge is like one who treads without a path. Then his deviation from the path keeps him at a distance from his aim. And he who acts according to knowledge is like he who treads the clear path. Therefore, he who can see should see whether he should proceed or return.
You should also know that the outside (of everything) has a similar inside. Of whatever the outside is good, its inside too is good and whatever the outside is bad, its inside too is bad. The truthful Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said that: “Allah may love a man but hate his action and may love the action but hate the man. You should also know that every action is like vegetation and vegetation cannot do without water while waters are different. So where the water is good the plant is good and its fruits are sweet, whereas where the water is bad, the plant will also be bad and its fruits will be bitter.
About the Wonderful Creation of the Bat
Praise to Allah Who is such that it is not possible to describe the reality of knowledge about Him, since His greatness has restrained the intellects and, therefore, they cannot find the way to approach the extremity of His realm. He is Allah, the True, the manifester of Truth. He is more True and more Manifest than eyes can see. Intellects cannot comprehend Him by fixing limits for Him since in that case to Him will be to attribute shape. Imagination cannot catch Him by fixing quantities for Him for in that case to Him will be attributed body. He created creatures without any example and without the advice of a counsel, or the assistance of a helper. His creation was completed by His command and bowed to His obedience. It responded (to Him) and did not defy (Him). It obeyed and did not resist.
An example of His delicate production, wonderful creation and deep sagacity which He has shown us is found in these bats which keep hidden in the daylight although daylight reveals everything else and are mobile in the night although the night shuts up every other living being, and how their eyes get dazzled and cannot make use of the light of the sun so as to be guided in their movements and so as to reach their known places through the direction provided by the sun.
Allah has prevented them from moving in the brightness of the sun and confined them to their places of hiding instead of going out at the time of its shining. Consequently they keep their eyelids down in the day and treat night as a lamp and go with its help in search of their livelihood. The darkness of night does not obstruct their sight nor does the gloom of darkness prevent them from movement. As soon as the sun removes its veil and the light of morning appears and the rays of its light enter upon the lizards in their holes, the bats pull down their eyelids on their eyes and live on what they had collected in the darkness of the night. Glorified is He who has made the night as day for them to seek livelihood and made the day for rest and stay.
He has given them wings of flesh with which, at the time of need, they rise upwards for flying. They look like the ends of ears without feathers or bones. Of course, you can see the veins quite distinctly. They have two wings which are neither too thin so that get turned in flying, nor too thick so that they prove heavy. When they fly their young ones hold on to them and seek refuge with them, getting down when they get down and rising up when they rise. The young does not leave them till its limbs become strong, its wings can support it for rising and it begins to recognize its places of living and its interest. Glorified is He who creates everything without any previous sample by someone else.
About the Malice Borne by `A’isha,
and Warning the People of Basrah about What Was to Occur
Whoever can at this time keep himself clinging to Allah should do so. If you follow me I shall certainly carry you, if Allah so wills, on the path of Paradise, even though it may be full of severe hardship and of bitter taste.
As regarding a certain woman, she is in the grip of womanly views and malice is boiling in her bosom like the furnace of the blacksmith. If she were called upon to deal with others as she is dealing with me she will not have done it. (As for me), even hereafter she will be allowed her original respect, while the reckoning (of her misdeeds) is an obligation of Allah.
Part of the same sermon:
This path is the lightest course and the brightest lamp. Guidance towards virtuous actions is sought through faith while guidance towards faith is achieved through virtuous actions. Knowledge is made to prosper through faith and death is feared because of knowledge. This world comes to an end with death, while the next world is secured (by virtuous actions) in this world. For people there is no escape from resurrection. They are heading for this last end in its appointed course.
Part of the same sermon:
They have got up from the resting places in their graves and have set off for the final objectives. Every house has its own people. They are not changed nor shifted from the re. Commanding for good and refraining from evil are two characteristics of Allah, the Glorified. They can neither bring death near nor lessen sustenance.
You should adhere to the Book of Allah because it is the strong rope, a clear light, a benefiting cure, a quenching for thirst, protection for the adherent and deliverance for the attached. It does not curve so as to need straightening and does not deflect so as to be corrected. Frequency of its repetition and its falling on ears does not make it old. Whoever speaks according to it, speaks truth and whoever acts by it is forward (in action).
A man stood up and said the following: “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.)! Tell us about this disturbance and whether you inquired about it from the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.).” Thereupon, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following:
When Allah, the Glorified sent down the verse: “Aleef laam meem (A.L.M.) What?! Do people imagine that they will be let off on (their) saying: ‘We believe!’ and they will not be tried?!” (Holy Qur’an, 29: 1-2), I came to know that the disturbance will not befall us so long as the Prophet - peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his progeny - is among us. So I said, “O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! What is this disturbance of which Allah, the Sublime, has informed you?” He replied, “O Ali! My people will create trouble after me.” I said, “O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! On the day of Uhud, when people had fallen martyrs and I was not among them, and this had been very much annoying me, did you not say to me, `Cheer up, for martyrdom is yours later on’?” The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) replied, “Yes it is so, but what about you enduring the present?” I said, “O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! This is not an occasion for endurance, but rather an occasion for cheering up and gratitude.” Then he said the following: “O Ali (p.b.u.h.)! People will fall into mischief through their wealth, will show obligation to Allah on account of their faith, will expect His mercy, will feel safe from His anger and regard His unlawful matters as lawful by raising false doubts and by their misguiding desires. They will then hold lawful (the use of) wine by calling it barley water, a bribe by calling it a gift and taking of usurious interest by calling it sale.” I said, “O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! How should I deal with them at the time, whether to hold them to have gone back in heresy or just in rebellion?” He said, “In rebellion.”
Urging People Towards Piety (Taqwa)
Praise be to Allah Who made praise the key for His remembrance, a means for an increase of His bounty and a guide for His Attributes and Dignity. O servants of Allah! Time will deal with the survivors just as it dealt with those gone by. The time that has passed will not return and whatever there is in it will not stay for ever. Its later deeds are the same as the former ones. Its trouble try to excel one another. Its banners follow each other. It is as though you are attached to the last day which is driving you as rapidly as are driven the she-camels which are dry for seven months. He who busies himself with things other than improvement of his own self becomes perplexed in darkness and entangled in ruination. His evil spirits immerse him deep in vices and make his bad actions appear handsome. Paradise is the end of those who are forward (in good deeds) and Hell is the end of those who commit excesses. Know O servants of Allah! that piety is a strong house of protection while impiety is a weak house which does not protect its people and does not give security to him who takes refuge the rein. Be informed that the sting of sins is cut by piety and the final aim is achieved by conviction of belief.
O servants of Allah! (Fear) Allah, (fear) Allah, in the matter of your own selves, which are the most beloved and dear to you because Allah has clarified to you the way of truthfulness and has lit its paths. So (you may choose) either ever-present misfortune or eternal happiness. You should, therefore, provide in these mortal days for the eternal days. You have been informed of the provision, ordered to march and told to make haste in setting off. You are like staying riders who do not know when they will be ordered to march on. Beware, what will he, who has been created for the next world, do with this world? What will a person do with wealth which he will shortly be deprived of while only its ill effects and reckoning will be left behind for him?
O servants of Allah! The good which Allah has promised should not be abandoned and the evil from which He has refrained should not be coveted. O servants of Allah! Fear the day when actions will be reckoned; there will be much quaking and even children will get old.
Be informed, O servants of Allah! that your own self is a guard over you; limbs are watchmen and truthful vigil-keepers who preserve (the record of) your actions and the numbers of your breaths. The gloom of the dark night cannot conceal you from them, nor can closed doors hide you from them. Surely tomorrow is close to today. Today will depart with all that is has and tomorrow will come in its wake. It is as though every one of you has reached that place on earth where he will be alone, namely the location of his grave. So, what to say of the lonely house, the solitary place of staying and the solitary exile. It is as though the cry (of the Horn) has reached you, the Hour has overtaken you and you have come out (of your graves) for the passing of Judgment. (The curtains of) falsehood have been removed from you and your excuses have become weak. The truth about you has been proved. All your matters have proceeded to their consequences. Therefore, you should (now) take counsel from examples, learn lessons from vicissitudes and take advantage of those who warn.
About the Holy Prophet,
Peace be Upon Him and the Holy Qur’an
Allah deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) at a time when there had been no prophets for some time. People had been in slumber for a long time and the twist of the rope had loosened. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) came with (a Book containing) testimonials to what (Vols.) were already there and also with a light to be followed. It is the Holy Qur’an. If you ask it to speak it will not do so; but I will tell you about it. Be informed that it contains knowledge of what is to come about, stories of the past, cure for your ills and regulation for whatever faces you.
Part of the same sermon:
Autocracy of the Umayyads
At that time, there will remain no house or tent but oppressors will inflict it with grief and inject sickness in it. On that day, no one in the sky will listen to their excuse, and no one on the earth will come to their help. You selected for the government (caliphate) one who is not fit for it, and you raised him to a status which was not meant for him. Soon Allah will take revenge against everyone who has oppressed. They will be given food for food and drink for drink: colocynth for eating, myrrh and aloes for drinking, and fear for an inner and the sword for an outer covering.
They are nothing but beasts of burden laden carrying sins and like camels laden with evil loads of deeds. I swear, and again swear, that the Umayyads will have to spit out the caliphate as phlegm is spat and, thereafter, they will never taste it nor relish its flavor so long as day and night rotate.
Good Conduct with People, Ignoring Their Faults
I lived like a good neighbor to you and tried my best to look after you. I freed you from the snare of humbleness and the fetters of oppression through my gratefulness for the little good (from your side). I closed my eyes to your many misdeeds which my eyes had observed and my body had witnessed.
Praise of Allah
Allah’s verdict is judicious and full of wisdom. His Pleasure implies protection and mercy. He decides with knowledge and forgives with forbearance.
O Lord! Praise to You for what You take and give, and for that from which You cure or with which You afflict. I praise You in away which is the most acceptable to You, the most liked by You and the most dignified before You, praise which fills all Your creation and reaches where You desires, praise which is not veiled from You and does not end and whose continuity does not cease.
Greatness of Allah
We do not know the reality of Your greatness except that we know that you are Ever-living and Self-subsisting, the One by Whom all things subsist. Drowsiness or sleep do not overtake You; vision does not reach You and sight does not grasp You. You see the eyes and counts the ages. You hold (people as slaves) by their forelocks and feet. We see Your creation and contemplate on it because of Your might and describe it as (a result of) Your great authority, whereas what is hidden from us, of which our sight has fallen short, which our intelligence has not attained and between which and ourselves curtains of the unknown have been cast, is far greater.
He who frees his heart (from all other engagements) and exerts his thinking in order to know how You established Your throne, how You created Your creatures, how You suspended the air in Your skies and how You spread Your earth on the waves of water... his eyes will return tired, his intelligence defeated, his ears eager and his thinking wandering.
Part of the Same Sermon
about Hope and Fear in Allah
One claims, according to his own thinking, that he sets his hopes on Allah. By Allah, the Great One, he speaks a lie. His status is that his hope (in Allah) does not appear through his action, although the hope of everyone who hopes is known through his own action. Every hope is so, except the hope in Allah, the Sublime, if it is impure. Every fear is established except the fear for Allah, if it is unreal.
He hopes big things from Allah and small things from men, but he gives to man (such consideration as) he does not give to Allah. What does he think is the matter with Allah, glorified be His praise?! He is accorded less (consideration) than what is accorded to His creatures. Do you ever fear to be false in your hope in Allah? Or do you not regard Him as the center of your hope? Similarly, if a man fears another man, he gives him (such consideration) out of his fear which he does not give to Allah. Thus, he has made his fear for men ready currency, while his fear of the Creator is mere deferment or promise. This is the case of everyone in whose eye this world appears big (and important) and in whose heart its status is great. He prefers it over Allah, so he inclines towards it and becomes its devotee.
The Example of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Certainly in the Prophet of Allah Prophet - peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his progeny - was a perfect example for you and a proof concerning the vices of this world, its defects, the multitude of its disgraces and evils. Because its sides had been constrained for him, while its flanks had been spread for others, he was deprived of its milk and turned away from its adornments.
The Example of Musa (Moses)
If you want, I will, as a second example, relate to you concerning Musa, the Interlocutor of Allah (p.b.u.h.), when he said: “O Allah! I am in need of whatever good You may grant me” (Holy Qur’an, 28: 24). By Allah, he asked Him only for bread to eat because he was used to eating the herbs of the earth, so much so that the greenness of the herbs could be seen from the delicate skin of his belly due to his thinness and the paucity of his flesh.
The Example of Dawud (David)
If you desire, I can give you a third example of Dawad (p.b.u.h.). He is the holder of the Psalms and the reciter among the people of Paradise. He used to prepare baskets of palm-tree leaves with his own hands and would say to his companions: “Which of you will help me by purchasing it?” He used to eat barley bread (bought) out of its prices.
The Example of `Isa (Jesus)
If you desire, I will tell you about `Isa (p.b.u.h.) son of Maryam (Mary). He used a stone for his pillow, put on coarse clothes and ate rough food. His condiment was hunger. His lamp at night was the moon. His shade during the winter was just the expanse of earth eastward and westward. His fruits and flowers were only what grows out of the earth for the cattle. He had no wife to allure him, nor any son to grieve him, nor wealth to deviate (his attention), nor greed to disgrace him. His two feet were his conveyance and his two hands his servant.
Following the Example of the
Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
You should follow your Prophet (p.b.u.h.), the pure, the chaste, Allah bless him and his descendants. He is the role model for his follower and the consolation for the seeker of consolation. The most beloved person before Allah is he who follows His Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and who treads in his footsteps. He took the least (share) from this world and even then did not take a full glance at it. Of all the people of the world he was the least satiated and the most empty of stomach. The world was offered to him but he refused to accept it. When he knew that Allah, the Glorified One, hated a thing, he, too, hated it. When he knew that Allah regarded a thing as low, he, too, regarded it as low. When he knew that Allah regarded a thing as small, he too regarded it as small. If we love what Allah and His Prophet (p.b.u.h.) hate and deem as great what Allah and His prophet hold as small, that by itself will be enough to isolate us from Allah and a transgression against His Commands.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to eat on the ground and sit like a slave. He repaired his shoe with his hand and likewise patched his clothes. He would ride an unsaddled ass and seat someone behind him. If there was a curtain on his door with pictures on it, he would say to one of his wives, “Take it away out of my sight because if I look at it, I will then recall the world and its allurements.” Thus, he swayed his heart away from this world and destroyed its remembrance from his mind. He loved that its allurements should remain hidden from his eyes so that he would not secure any good outfit from it, should not regard it as a place of stay and not hope to linger in it. Consequently, he removed it from his mind, let it go away from his heart and kept it hidden from his eyes. In the same way, he who hates a thing should hate to look at it or to hear about it.
Certainly there was in the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) all that would warn you of the evils of this world and its defects: He remained hungry along with his main companions. Despite his great nearness, the allurements of the world remained remote from him. Now, one should see with one’s intelligence whether Allah honored Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as a result of this or disgraced him. If he says that Allah disgraced him, he certainly lies and perpetrates a great falsehood. If he says, “Allah honored him,” he should know that Allah dishonored the others when He extended the (benefits of the ) world for them. Allah holds the same away from anyone who is the nearest to Him from among all men. Therefore, one should follow His Prophet (p.b.u.h.), tread in his footsteps and do as he did; otherwise, he will not be safe from ruin. Certainly Allah made Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) a sign for the Day of Judgment, a conveyor of tidings for Paradise and a warner of retribution. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) left this world hungry but entered upon the next world safely. He did not lay one stone upon another (to make a house) till he departed and responded to the call of Allah. How great is Allah’s blessing in that He blessed us with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as a predecessor whom we should follow, a leader behind whom we should all march!
His Own Example
By Allah! I have been putting patches in my shirts, so much so that now I feel shy of the patches themselves. Someone asked me whether I should put them [such patched garments] away, but I said, “Get away from me! Only in the morning do people (realize the advantage of and) speak highly of the night journey [which they had undertaken].”
Deputation of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Allah deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with a glittering light, a clear argument, an open path and a guiding Book. His tribe is the best tribe, and his lineal tree is the best, one the branches of which are in good proportion and fruits hanging (abundantly). His birthplace was Mecca and the place of his migration Taybah (Medina), from where his name rose high and his voice spread far and wide.
Allah sent him with a sufficing plea, a convincing argument and a rectifying announcement. Through him did Allah disclose the ways that had been forsaken and destroy the innovations that had been introduced. Through Him he explained the detailed Commandments. Now, whoever adopts a religion other than Islam, his misery is definite, his pillar (of support) will be cracked, his fate will be in peril, his end will be a long grief and a distressing punishment.
Drawing Lessons from this World:
I trust in Allah, the trust of bending towards Him, and I seek His guidance for the way that leads to His Paradise and takes to the place of His pleasure. I admonish you, O servants of Allah, to fear Allah and to obey Him because doing so is salvation tomorrow and deliverance forever. He warned (you of chastisement) and did so thoroughly. He persuaded (you towards virtues) and did so fully. He described this world, its cutting away from you, its decay and shifting. Therefore, keep aloof from its attractions because very little of it will accompany you [on your journey back to Allah]. This abode is the closest to the displeasure of Allah and the remotest from the pleasure of Allah.
So close your eyes, O servants of Allah, from its worries and entanglements because you are sure about its separation and its changing conditions. Fear it like one who sincerely fears and one who struggles hard. Takes a lesson from what you have seen about the falling places of those before you, namely those whose their joints vanished, their eyes and ears destroyed, their honor and prestige disappeared and their pleasure and wealth came to an end. The nearness of their children changed into remoteness. The company of their spouses changed into separation from them. They do not boast over each other, nor do they beget children, nor do they meet each other nor live as neighbors. Therefore, have fear, O servants of Allah, like the fear of one who has control over himself, who can check his passions and perceive with his wisdom. Surely, the matter is quite clear, the banner is standing, the course is level and the way is straight.
One of the companions of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
(from Banu Asad) asked him: “How was it that your tribe (Quraish)
deprived you of this status (Caliphate) although you deserved it most?”
In his reply, the Imam said the following:
O brother of Banu Asad! Your girth is loose and you have put it on the wrong way. Nevertheless, you enjoy in-law kinship and also the right to ask. Since you have asked, listen. As regarding the oppression against us in this matter, although we were the highest in descent and the strongest in kinship to the Messenger of Allah, it was a selfish act over which the hearts of people became greedy, although some people did not care for it. The Arbiter is Allah and to Him is the return on the Day of Judgment. Now leave alone this story of devastation about which there is hue and cry all around.
Come and look at the son of Abu Sufyan (Mu`awiyah). Time has made me laugh after weeping. No wonder, by Allah; what is this affair which surpasses all wonder and which has increased wrongfulness? These people have tried to put out the flame of Allah’s light from His lamp and close His fountain from its source. They mixed epidemic-producing water between them and myself. If the trying hardships were removed from us, I will take them on the course of truthfulness otherwise: “So let not thy self go (in vain) in grief for them; verily Allah knows all that they do.” (Holy Qur’an, 35: 8)
The Attributes of Allah
Praise be to Allah, Creator of beings and things; He has spread the earth. He makes streams flow and vegetation grow on high lands. His primality has no beginning, nor has His eternity any end. He is the First and forever. He is the everlasting without limit. Foreheads bow before Him and lips declare His Oneness. He determined the limits of things at the time when He created them, keeping Himself away from any likeness.
Imagination cannot conceive Him as having any limits of movements, or having any limbs or faculties [such as those of His creatures]. It cannot be asked about Him: “Whence?” and no time limit can be attributed to Him by saying, “till then.” He is apparent, but it cannot be asked, “from what?” He is hidden, but it cannot be asked, “in what?” He is not a body which can die, nor is He veiled so as to be enclosed. He is not near to things by way of touch, nor is He remote from them by way of separation.
The gazes of people’s eyes are not hidden from Him, nor the repetition of words, nor the glimpse of hillocks, nor the tread of a footstep in the dark night or in the deep gloom, where the shining moon casts its light and the effulgent sun comes in its wake, through its setting and appearing again and again with the rotation of time and periods, by the approach of the advancing night or the passing away of the fleeting day.
He precedes every extremity and limit, every counting and numbering. He is far above what those who attribute any limited attribute to Him, such as the qualities of measure, having extremities, living in houses and dwelling in abodes because limits are meant for creation and are attributable only to those other than Allah.
Originates from Nothing
He did not create things from eternal matter nor after existing examples. Rather, He created whatever He created then He fixed limits thereto. He shaped whatever He shaped, gave the best shape thereto. Nothing can disobey Him, but anyone’s obedience is of no benefit to Him. His knowledge about those who died in the past is the same as His knowledge about the survivors. His knowledge about whatever there is in the high skies is like His knowledge of whatever there is in the low earth.
Part of the Same Sermon:
Creation of Mankind, the requirements of life
O creature who has been equitably created and who has been nurtured and looked after in the darkness of wombs with multiple curtains! You were originated “from the essence of clay” (Holy Qur’an, 23:12), placed “in a still place for a known length” (Holy Qur’an, 77: 21-22) and an ordained time. You used to move in the womb of your mother as an embryo, neither responding to a call nor hearing any voice.
Then you were taken out of your place of stay to a place you had not seen before and you were not acquainted with the means of awaiting its benefits, or with who guided you to eke out your sustenance from the udder of your mother. And when you were in need, He appraised you of the location of what you required or aimed at. Alas! Certainly he who is unable to understand the qualities of a being with shape and limbs is more unable to understand the qualities of the Creator and the more remote from appreciating Him through the limitations.
When people went to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
in a deputation and complained to him about `Othman, requesting
him to speak to him on their behalf and to admonish him for their sake,
he went to see `Othman to whom he said the following:
The people are behind me and they have made me an ambassador between you and themselves; but by Allah, I do not know what to say to you. I know nothing (in this matter) which you do not know, nor can I lead you to any matter of which you are not aware. You certainly know what we know. We have not come to know anything before you which we could tell you, nor did we learn any secret which we should reveal to you. You have seen as we have seen and you have heard as we have heard. You sat in the company of the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) as we did. (Abu Bakr) the son of Abi Quhafah as well as (`Umar) ibn al-Khattab were no more responsible for acting righteously than you, since you are nearer than both of them to the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) through kinship and you also hold relationship to him by marriage which they do not have.
Then (fear) Allah, with regard to your own self for, by Allah, you are not being shown anything as if you are blind or being apprised of anything as if you are ignorant. Everything is clear while the banners of faith are fixed. You should know that among the servants of Allah, the most distinguished person before Allah is the just imam who has been guided (by Allah) and who guides others. So, he stands by the recognized ways of the Prophet’s behavior and destroys unrecognized innovations. The (Prophet’s) ways are clear and they have signs, while innovations are also clear and they, too, have signs. Certainly, the worst man before Allah is the oppressive imam who has gone astray and through whom others go astray. He destroys the accepted Sunnah and revives abandoned innovations. I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “On the Day of Judgment, the oppressive imam will be brought with none to support him or to advance excuses on his behalf. Then he will be thrown into Hell where he will rotate as the hand-mill rotates, then (eventually) he will be confined to its hollow.
I swear to you by Allah that you should not be such an imam of the people who will be killed because it has been said that an imam of this people will be killed after which killing and fighting will be made open for them till the Day of Judgment and he will confuse their matters and spread troubles over them. As a result, they will not distinguish right from wrong. They will oscillate like waves and will be utterly misled. You should not behave as the beast of burden for Marwan [ibn al-Hakam, your cousin] so that he may drag you wherever he likes, despite (your) seniority of age and length of life.
It was then that `Othman said the following to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.): “Ask the people to give me time till I redress their grievances.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said, “As far as Medina is concerned, time is out of the question. As for more remote areas, you can have the time needed for your order to reach your objectives.”
Describing the Wonderful Creation
of the Peacock, the Wonderful Creation of Birds
Allah has provided wonderful creations including the living, the lifeless, the stationary and the moving. He has established such clear proofs for His delicate creative power and great might that minds bend down to Him in acknowledgment thereof and in submission to Him and arguments about His oneness strike our ears. He has created birds of various shapes which live in the burrows of the earth, in the openings of high passes and on mountain peaks.
They have different kinds of wings and various characteristics. They are controlled by the rein of (Allah’s) authority. They flutter with their wings in the expanse of the vast firmament and the open atmosphere. He brought them into existence from non-existence in strange external shapes and composed them with joints and bones covered with flesh. He prevented some of them from flying easily in the sky because of their heavy bodies and allowed them to use their wings only close to the ground. He has set them in different colors by His delicate might and exquisite creative power. Among them are those which are tinted with one hue and there is no other hue except the one in which they have been dyed. There are others which are tinted with one color and they have a neck ring of a different color than that with which they are tinted.
About the Peacock
The most amazing among them in its creation is the peacock which Allah has created in the most symmetrical dimensions and arranged its hues in the best arrangement with wings the ends of which are inter-weaved together and with a long tail. When it approaches its female, it spreads out its folded tail and raises it up so as to cast a shade over its head, as if it were the sail of a boat being pulled by the sailor. It feels proud of its colors and sways with its movements. It copulates like the cocks. It leaps (on the female) for cohabitation like lustful energetic men at the time of fighting.
I am telling you all this from observation, unlike he who narrates on the basis of a weak authority. For example, it is the belief of some people that it cohabits with the female by a tear which flows from its eyes. When it stops on the edges of the eyelids, the female swallows it and lays its eggs thereby, not through cohabitation by a male other than by means of this flowing tear. Even if they say this, it will be no more amazing than (what they say about) the mutual feeding of the crows (prior to cohabitation). You will imagine its feathers to be like sticks made of silver and the wonderful circles and sun-shaped feathers growing there to be of pure gold and pieces of green emerald. If you likened them to anything growing on land, you will say that it is a bouquet of flowers collected during every spring. If you likened them to clothes, they will be like printed apparels or amazing variegated clothes of Yemen. If you likened them to ornaments, then they will be like gems of different color with studded silver.
The peacock walks with vanity and pride, throwing open its tail and wings, laughing, admiring the handsomeness of its outfit and the hues of its necklace of gems. But when it casts its glance at its legs, it cries loudly with a voice which indicates its call for help, displaying its true grief because its legs are thin like the legs of Indo-Persian cross-bred cocks. At the end of its shin, there is a thin thorn, and on the crown of its head, there is a bunch of green variegated feathers. Its neck begins in the shape of a goblet and it stretches up to its belly like the hair-dye of Yemen in color or like silk cloth put on a polished mirror which looks as if it has been covered with a black veil. Other than that, on account of its excessive luster and extreme brightness, it appears that a lush green color has been mixed with it. Along the openings of its ears there is a line of shining bright daisy color like the thin end of a pen. Whiteness shines on the black background. There is hardly a hue from which it has not taken a bit and improved it further by regular polish, luster, silken brightness and brilliance. It is, therefore, like scattered blossoms which have not been seasoned by the rains of spring or the summer sun.
It also sheds its plumage and puts off its outfit. They all fall away and grow again. They fall away from the feather stems like the falling of leaves from twigs, then they begin to join together and grow till they return to the state that existed before their falling away. The new hues do not change from the previous ones, nor does any color occur anywhere other than in its own place. If you carefully look at one hair from the hairs of its feather stems, it will look like a red rose, then like emerald green, then like golden yellow.
How can sharpness of intellect describe such a creation, or faculty of mind, or the utterances of describers manage to tell of it? Even its smallest parts have made it impossible for the imagination to pick them out or for tongues to describe them. Glorified is Allah Who has disabled intellects from describing the creation which He placed openly before the eyes and which they see bounded, shaped, arranged and colored. He also disabled tongues from briefly describing its qualities and also from expanding in its praise.
The magnificence of the Creator
in Great and Small Creations
Glorified is Allah Who has assigned feet to small ants and gnats and also to those above them, the serpents and the elephants. He has made it obligatory upon Himself that no skeleton in which He infuses a spirit will move, but that death is its promised place and destruction its final end.
Part of the Same Sermon:
If you cast your mind’s eye at what is described to you about Paradise, your heart will begin to hate the delicacies of this world that have been displayed here, namely its desires and its pleasures and the beauties of its scenes. And you will be lost in the rustling of the trees whose roots lie hidden in the mounds of musk on the banks of the rivers in Paradise and in the attraction of the bunches of fresh pearls on the twigs and branches of those trees and in the appearance of different fruits from under the cover of their leaves. These fruits can be picked without difficulty as they come down at the desire of their pickers. Pure honey and fermented wine will be handed round to those who settle down in the courtyards of its palaces.
They are a people whom honor has always followed till they were made to settle in the house of eternal abode, and they obtained rest from the movement of journeying. O listener! If you busy yourself in advancing towards these wonderful scenes which will rush towards you, then your heart will certainly die due to eagerness for them, and you will be prepared to seek the company of those in the graves, straight away from my audience here, and hasten towards them. May Allah, through His mercy, include us and yourselves, too, among those who strive with their hearts for the abodes of the virtuous.
Note explaining some of the wonderful and obscure portions of this sermon:
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “In the words of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.): ‘Aya’urru bimalaqihihi, ‘al-arr’ implies copulation, e.g. When it is said, ‘arra’r-rajulu al-mar’ata ya’urruha,’ it means ‘He copulated with the woman.’”
In his words “Aka’annahu qal’u dariyyin anajahu nutiyyuhu, alqal,” he means the sail of a boat. “Dari” means belonging to Darin, a small town on the coast from where scents are bought. And “anajahu” means Aturned it. It is said, “anajtun’n-naqata” like “nasartu - a’najuha anjan” when you turn the she-camel. And “an-nuti” means “sailor”. His words “daffatay jufunihi” mean: edges of the eyelids, since “ad-daffatan” means: The two edges. As for his words “wa filadhu’z-zAbarjadi,” “alfiladh” is the plural of “al-fildhah”; it means “piece”. His words “ka ba’isi’l-lulu’i’r-ratibi”: “al-kibasah” means “bunch of dates”. “Al-`asalij” means twigs. Its singular is “`Usluj”.
Advice for Observing Courtesy and
Kindness and Keeping in and out of the Same
The young among you should follow the elders while the elders should be kind to the young. Do not be like those rude people of the pre-Islamic (al-jahiliyyah) period who did not exert themselves in religion nor use their intellects in the matter of Allah. They are like the breaking of eggs in the nest of a dangerous bird because their breaking looks bad, but keeping them intact will mean the production of dangerous young ones.
Part of the same sermon about the autocracy
and oppression of the Umayyads and their fate
They will divide after their unity and scatter away from their nucleus. Some of them will stick to the branches and bend down as the branches bend, until Allah, the Sublime, will gather them together for the Day that will be the very worst for the Umayyads just as the scattered bits of clouds assemble in the autumn. Allah will create affinity among them. Then He will make them into a strong mass like the mass of clouds. Then He will open doors for them to flow out of their starting place like the flood of the two gardens (of Saba’) from which neither high rocks remained safe nor small hillocks. Its flow could be repulsed neither by strong mountains nor by high lands. Allah will scatter them in the low lands of valleys, then will He make them flow like streams throughout the earth. Through them He will arrange the taking of rights of one people by another people and make one people stay in the houses of those of other people’s. By Allah, all their status and esteem will dissolve as fat dissolves on the fire.
The Cause of Tyranny
O people! If you had not evaded support for the truth and had not felt weakness from crushing wrong, then he who does not match you will not have aimed at you, and he who over-powered you will not have overpowered you. But you roamed about the deserts (of disobedience) like Banu Isra’il (Children of Israel). I swear by my life that after me your tribulations will increase manifold because you will have abandoned the truth behind your backs, severed your ties with your near ones and established relations with remote ones. Be informed that if you had followed the one who was calling you (to guidance), he will have let you tread the ways of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), then you will have been spared the difficulties of misguidance, and you will have thrown away the crushing burden from round your necks.
Delivered at the Inception of his Caliphate
Fulfillment of rights and obligations and advice to fear Allah in all matters:
Allah, the One Glorified by all, has revealed [for you] a Book of guidance wherein He has explained virtue and vice. You should adopt the course of virtue whereby you will have guidance and keep aloof from the path of vice so that you may remain on the right path. (Mind) the obligations, (mind) the obligations! Fulfill them for the sake of pleasing Allah and they will take you to Paradise. Surely, Allah has made unlawful the things which are not unknown and made lawful the things which are without defect. He has declared paying regard to Muslims as the highest of all regards. He has placed the rights of Muslims in the same level (of importance) as devotion (to Him and to His oneness). Therefore, a Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand every (other) Muslim is safe except in the matter relevant to the truth. It is not, therefore, lawful to assault a Muslim except when it is obligatory.
Hasten towards the most common matter which is peculiar to everyone, and it is death. Certainly, people (who have already gone) are ahead of you while the hour (Day of Judgment) is driving you from behind. Remain light, in order that you may overtake them. Your backs are being protected for the sake of protecting the fronts. Fear Allah in the matter of His creatures and His cities because you will be questioned even about lands and beasts. Obey Allah and do not disobey Him. When you witness virtue (being done) adopt it, and when you witness vice (being committed) avoid it.
Having sworn allegiance to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him, some people from among the companions of
the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him said to him. “You should punish the
people who assaulted `Othman,” whereupon he said the following:
O Brethren! I am not ignorant of what you know, but how do I have the power for it while those who assaulted him are in the height of their power? They have superiority over us, not we over them. They are now in the status that even your slaves have risen with them and Bedouin Arabs, too, have joined them. They are now among you and are harming you as they please. Do you see any way to be able to do what you aim at?
This demand is certainly that of the pre-Islamic (jahiliyya) period, and these folks have support behind them. When the matter is taken up, people will have different views about it. One group will think as you do, but another will not think as you think, and there will be still another group that will be neither this way nor that. Be patient till people quiet down and hearts settle in their places so that rights can be achieved for people easily. Rest assured from me and see what is given to you by me. Do not do anything which shatters your power, weakens your strength and engenders feebleness and disgrace. I shall control this affair as far as possible, but if I find it necessary, the last treatment will, of course, be branding with a hot iron (through fighting).
When the people of Jamal set out for Basrah,
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following:
There is no doubt that Allah sent down the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as a guide with an eloquent Book and a standing command. No one will be ruined by it except one who ruins his own self. Certainly, only doubtful innovations cause ruin except those from which Allah may protect you. In Allah’s authority lies the safety of your affairs. Therefore, render Him such obedience as is neither blameworthy nor insincere. By Allah, you must do so; otherwise, Allah will take away from you the power of Islam and will never thereafter return it to you till it reverts to others.
Certainly, these people are in agreement in disliking my authority. I will carry on till I perceive disunity among you because if they succeed in spite of the unsoundness of their view, the whole organization of the Muslims will be shattered. They are hankering after this world out of jealousy against him on whom Allah has bestowed it. So they intend to revert the matters on their backs (return to the pre-Islamic period), while on us it is obligatory, for your sake, to abide by the Book of Allah (Holy Qur’an), the Sublime and the conduct of the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.), to stand by His rights and to revive his Sunnah.
When Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him approached Basrah, a bedouin met him and spoke to him, as he had been sent to him by a group of people of Basrah to inquire from him on their behalf his status vis-a-vis the people of Jamal. Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him explained to him his status with regard to them. From it, he became convinced that Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him was on the right track. Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him asked him to swear the oath of allegiance to him, but he replied, “I am just a messenger of people and shall not do anything till I get back to them. Upon this, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said to him the following:
“If those whom you left behind send you as a forerunner to search out a rain-fed area for them, and you return to them and appraise them of greenery and water, but they disagree with you and go towards dry and barren land, what will you do then?” The man said, “I will leave them and go towards greenery and water.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) then said, “So, then, stretch your hand!” This man related later saying, “By Allah! By such a clear argument, I could not refrain from swearing allegiance to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.). This man was known as Kulayb al-Jarmi.
When Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
decided to fight the enemy face-to-face at Siffin he said the following:
“O Lord! O Sustainer of the high sky, Suspender of the firmament which You have made a shelter for the night and the day, an orbit for the sun and the moon and a path for the rotating stars and for populating it! You have created a group of Your angels who do not get weary of worshipping You. O Sustainer of this earth which You have made an abode for people and a place for the movement of insects, beasts and countless other creatures, seen and unseen! O Sustainer of strong mountains which You have made as pegs for the earth and (a means of) support for people! Grant us victory over our enemy, O Lord, save us from excesses and keep us on the straight path of truth! But if You grant them victory over us, then grant us martyrdom and save us from mischief.
Where are those who protect honor and those self-respecting persons who defend respectable people in the time of hardship? Shame is behind you while Paradise is in front of you.
About the Consultative Committee and the Battle of Jamal
Praise be to Allah from Whose view one sky does not conceal another sky nor one earth another earth!
Part of the same sermon
About the “Consultative Committee”
After the Death of `Umar ibn al-Khattab:
Someone said to me, “O son of Aba Talib! You covet the caliphate.” I said to him, “Rather, you are, by Allah, more greedy, although more remote from it, while I am more suited as well as nearer. I have demanded it as my right, while you are intervening between me and it and you are turning my face from it.” When I knocked at his ears with arguments among the crowd of those present he was startled as if he was stunned not knowing what reply to give me about it.
O Lord! I seek Your succor against the tribesmen of Quraish and those who are assisting them because they are denying me (the rights of) kinship, have lowered my high status and are united in opposing me in the matter (of the caliphate) which is my right then they said, “Be informed that the rightful thing is that you have it and also that you may leave it.”
Part of the same sermon
Describing the People of Jamal
They (Talhah, az-Zubayr and their supporters) came out dragging the wife of the Messenger of Allah (`A’isha) just as a bondmaid is dragged for sale. They took her to Basrah where those two (Talhah and az-Zubayr) put their own women in their houses while exposing the wife of the Messenger of Allah to themselves and to others in the army in which there was not a single individual who had not pledged his obedience and sworn to me allegiance quite willingly, without any compulsion.
Here in Basrah, they approached my Governor and coffers of the public treasury, the funds of its other inhabitants. They killed some of them in captivity as well as others in treachery. By Allah, even if they had willfully killed only one individual from among the Muslims without any fault, it will have been lawful for me to kill all of this army because they were present in it but did not disagree with it nor prevented it by tongue or hand, not to say that they killed from among the Muslims a number equal to that with which they had marched on them.
On the Eligibility for Caliphate
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is the trustee of Allah’s revelation, the Last of His Prophets, the giver of tidings of His mercy and the warner of His chastisement.
O people! The most rightful of all persons for this matter (the caliphate) is he who is most competent among them to maintain it and he who best knows Allah’s commands in its regard. If any mischief is created by a mischief-monger, he will be called upon to repent. If he refuses, he will be fought. By my life, if the question of Imamate was not to be decided unless all the people were present, then there would be no such case. But those who agreed about it imposed the decision on those who were absent, so much so that he who was present could not dissent, and the one who was absent could not choose (any one else). Be informed that I shall fight two persons: one who claims what is not his, and the other who ignores what is obligatory upon him.
The Need for Wisdom in Fighting Against Muslims
O servants of Allah! I admonish you to fear Allah because it is the best advice to be mutually given by persons and the best of all things before Allah. The door of war has been opened between you and the other Muslims. And this banner will be borne only by him who is a man of foresight, of endurance, and of knowing the status of rightfulness. Therefore, you should go ahead with that whereby you are ordered and desist from what you are required to refrain. Do not make haste in any matter till you have clarified it. In the case of every matter which you dislike, we have the right to change it.
The Behavior of this World with those who Cling to it
Be informed that this world which you have started to covet, and in which you are interested, and which sometimes enrages you and sometimes pleases you, is not your (permanent) abode, nor is it the place of your stay for which you might have been created, nor is it the one to which you have been invited. Be informed that it will not last for you, nor will you live along with it. If anything out of this world deceives you (i.e. attracts you), its own evils warn you, too. You should give up (the objects of) its deceit in favor of (the objects of) its warning and (the objects of) its attraction in favor of (the objects of) its horrors. And while being in it, advance towards that house to which you have been called and turn your hearts away from the world. None of you should cry like a bondmaid over anything which she has been deprived of. Seek the perfection of Allah’s bounty over you through endurance in obeying Allah and in safeguarding what He has asked you to safeguard, namely His Book.
Be informed that the loss of anything of this world will not harm you so long as you have guarded the principles of your religion. Know also that after the loss of your religion, nothing of this world, for which you have cared, will ever benefit you. May Allah carry our hearts and yours towards what is right, and may He grant you and ourselves endurance.
About Talhah ibn `Ubaydillah
(Delivered when he received the news that Talhah and az-Zubayr had already left for Basrah to fight him):
As far as I am concerned, I will never be too afraid to fight or to initiate a battle because I am satisfied with the promise of Allah’s support for me. By Allah, Talhah has hastened with an oath to avenge `Othman’s murder fearing lest the demand for `Othman’s blood be made against his own self. This is so because the people’s idea in this matter is about him and, in fact, he was the most anxious among them for killing Othman. Therefore, he has tried to create a misunderstanding by collecting forces in order to confuse the matter and to create doubt.
By Allah, he did not act in either of three ways about `Othman: If the son of `Affan (`Othman) was wrong, as Talhah believed, it is necessary for him to support those who killed him or to keep away from his supporters. If `Othman was the victim of oppression, then Talhah should have been among those who were keeping (the assailants) away from him or were advancing pleas on his behalf. If he was in doubt about these two alternatives, then it was incumbent upon him to leave him (`Othman) and to retire, to leave the men with him. But he adopted none of these three ways and came out with a thing in which there is nothing good and his excuses are not acceptable.
Warning Neglectful People
the Vastness of His Knowledge
O people who are (negligent of Allah but) not neglected (by Allah) and those who miss (doing good deeds) but are to be caught! How is it that I see you becoming distanced from Allah and becoming interested in others? You are like the camel whom the shepherd drives to a disease-stricken pasture and a disastrous watering place. They are like animals who are fed in order to be slaughtered, but they do not know what is intended for them. When they are treated well, they consider that day to be their whole life and eating to their fill as their aim.
By Allah, if I wish, I can tell every one of you from where he has come, where he has to go and all his affairs. But I fear lest you (in such case) should abandon the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) in my favor. I shall certainly convey these things to the selected ones who will remain safe from such a dreadful thing. By Allah Who deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with the truth and distinguished him over all creation, I do not speak save the truth. He (the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) informed me of all this and also of the death of everyone who dies, the salvation of everyone who is granted salvation and the consequences of this matter (the caliphate). He left nothing (that could) pass into my head without putting it in my ear and telling me about it.
O people! By Allah, I do not impel you to any obedience unless I practice it before you, nor do I restrain you from any disobedience unless I desist from it before you.
(O creatures!) Seek benefit from the sayings of Allah, be admonished of Allah and accept the advice of Allah because Allah has left no excuse for you when He has provided clear guidance for you, has put before you the plea and clarified for you what deeds He likes and what deeds He hates, so that you may ac upon one and avoid the other. The Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) used to say, “Paradise is surrounded by unpleasant things, while Hell is surrounded by desires.”
You should know that every act of obedience to Allah is unpleasant in appearance while every disobedience to Allah has the appearance of enjoyment. May Allah have mercy on the person who keeps aloof from his desire and uproot the appetite of his heart because this heart has far-reaching aims, yet it goes on pursuing disobedience through desires.
You should know, O servants of Allah, that a believer should be distrustful of his heart every morning and evening. He should always blame it (for shortcomings) and ask it to add to (its good deeds). You should behave like those who have gone before you and those ahead. They left this world like a traveler and covered it as distance is covered.
The Greatness of the Holy Qur’an
And be aware that this Holy Qur’an is an adviser that never deceives, a leader who never misleads, and a narrator who never speaks a lie. No one will sit in the company of this Holy Qur’an except that when he rises, he will achieve one addition or one diminution: addition in his guidance or elimination in his (spiritual) blindness. You should also know that no one will need any thing beyond (guidance from) the Holy Qur’an and no one will be free from want beyond (guidance from) the Holy Qur’an. Therefore, seek cure from it for your ailments and seek its assistance in your distresses. It contains a cure for the most serious diseases, namely unbelief, hypocrisy, rebellion (against God’s commandments) and misguidance. Pray to Allah through it and turn to Allah through loving it. Do not ask the people through it. There is nothing like it through which the people should turn to Allah, the Sublime.
Be informed that it intercedes. Its intercession will be accepted. It is a speaker that testifies. For whoever the Holy Qur’an intercedes on the Day of Judgment, its intercession for him will be accepted. He about whom the Holy Qur’an speaks ill on the Day of Judgment shall testify to it. On the Day of Judgment, an announcer will announce: ‘Beware! Everyone who sow a crop is in distress except those who sow (the seeds) of the Holy Qur’an.” Therefore, you should be among the sowers of the Holy Qur’an and of its followers. Make it your guide towards Allah. Seek its advice for yourselves. Do not trust your views against it and regard your desires in the matter of the Holy Qur’an as deceitful.
About the believers and their good deeds,
and the hypocrites and their bad deeds
Action! Action! Then (look at) the end results (of your actions and remain) steadfast. Steadfast! Thereafter, (exercise) endurance. Endurance and piety, piety! You have an objective. Proceed towards your objective. You have a sign. Take guidance from your sign. Islam has an objective. Proceed towards its objective. Proceed towards Allah by fulfilling His rights which He has enjoined upon you. He has clearly stated His demands. I am a witness for you and shall plead for excuses on your behalf on the Day of Judgment.
Wisdom to Humanity
Beware! What had been ordained has occurred, and that which had been destined has come to pass. I am speaking to you with the promise and pleas of Allah. Allah the Sublime has said the following: “Verily, those who say: ‘Our Master is Allah! and who persevere rightly, the angels descend upon them (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve and receive the glad tidings of the Garden which you were promised’” (Holy Qur’an, 41: 30).
You have said, “Our Master is Allah;” so, remain steadfast to His Book, to the way of His command, and to the virtuous course of worshiping Him. Thereafter, do not go out of it, do not introduce innovation in it, and do not turn away from it because those who shrink from this course will be cut off from (the mercy of) Allah on the Day of Judgment.
Beware of corrupting your manners and altering them. Maintain one stand. A man should control his tongue because the tongue is obstinate with its master. By Allah, I do not find fear of Allah benefiting a man who practices such fear unless he controls his tongue. Certainly the tongue of a believer is at the back of his heart, while the heart of a hypocrite is at the back of his tongue. When a believer intends to say anything, he thinks it over in his mind. If it is good, he discloses it, but if it is bad, he keeps it concealed. A hypocrite articulates whatever comes to his tongue, without knowing what is in his favor and what goes against him.
The Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said the following: “The belief of a person cannot be firm unless his heart is firm, and his heart cannot be firm unless his tongue is firm.” So, anyone of you can manage to meet Allah, the Sublime, in such a status that his hands are not smeared with the blood of Muslims and their property and his tongue are safe from exposition, he will do so.
Following the Sunnah
and Refraining from Innovation
Be informed, O servants of Allah, that a believer should regard lawful this year what he regarded lawful the past year and should consider unlawful this year what he considered unlawful in the past year. Certainly people’s innovation cannot make lawful for you what has been declared as unlawful. Rather, lawful is that which Allah has made lawful, and unlawful is that which Allah has made unlawful. You have already tested the matters and tried them; you have been admonished by those before you. Illustrations have been drawn for you, and you have been called to clear facts. Only a deaf man can remain deaf to all this, and only a blind man can remain blind to all this.
He whom Allah does not allow to benefit from trials and experiences cannot benefit from preaching. He will be confronted by losses as he witnesses them, so much so that he will approve what is bad and disapprove what is good. People are of two categories; followers of the Shari`a (religious laws) and followers of innovations to which Allah has not given any testimony by way of Sunnah or the light of any plea.
Guidance from the Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an is the strong rope of Allah and the trustworthy means to reach out to Him. It contains the blossoming of the heart and the springs of knowledge. For the heart, there is no other gloss than the Holy Qur’an, although those who remembered it have passed away while those who forgot or pretended to have forgotten it have remained. If you see anything good, give your support to it, but if you see evil, avoid it because the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) used to say: “O son of Adam! Do good and shun evil; by doing so, you will be treading the Path correctly.”
Categories of Oppression
Be informed that injustice is of three kinds: 1) the injustice that will not be forgiven; 2) one, that will not be left unquestioned and 3) the one that will be forgiven without being questioned. The injustice that will not be forgiven is duality of Allah. Allah has said the following: “Verily, Allah does not forgive that (anything) be associated with Him” (Holy Qur’an, 4: 48, 116). The injustice that will be forgiven is the injustice one does to his own self by committing minor sins. The injustice that will not be left unquestioned is the injustice of men against other men. The retribution in such a case is severe. It is not wounding with knives, nor striking with whips, but it is so severe that all these things are insignificant compared to it. You should, therefore, avoid alteration with regard to Allah’s religion, for your unity with regard to something right which you dislike is better than your disunity with regard to something wrong that you like. Certainly, Allah, the Glorified One, has not given any person, whether among the dead or among the living, anything good from disunity.
The Necessity of Obedience
O people! Blessed is the man whose own shortcomings keep him away from (looking into) the shortcomings of others. Also blessed is the man who is confined to his house, who eats his meal, buries himself in obedience to his Lord and weeps over his sins, so he keeps himself thus busy while people are safe from his harm.
About the Two Arbiters
(Following the Battle of Siffin)
Your party decided to select two persons, so we took their pledge that they would adhere to the Holy Qur’an and would not commit excesses, that their tongues should be with it and their hearts should follow it. But they deviated from it, abandoned what was right although they had it before their very eyes. Wrong-doing was their desire and going astray was their conduct. Although we had settled with them to decide with justice, to act according to what is right and without the interference of their evil views and wrong Judgment. Now that they have abandoned the course of right, coming out with just the opposite of what was settled, we have strong grounds (to reject their verdict).
Praising Allah, Transience of this World
and Causes of the Decline of Allah’s Blessings
(Delivered at the Beginning of His Caliphate after the Killing of `Othman)
One condition does not prevent Him from (getting into) another condition, time does not change Him, place does not locate Him and the tongue cannot describe Him. The number of drops of water, of stars in the sky, or of currents of winds in the air, are not unknown to Him, nor are the movements of ants on rocks, or the resting places of grubs in the dark night. He knows the places where leaves fall and the secret movements of the eyes.
I testify that there is no god but Allah Who has no equal, Who is not doubted, Whose religion is not denied and Whose creativeness is not questioned. My testimony is like that of a man whose intention is free, whose conscience is clear, whose belief is pure and whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy. I also testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His servant and Messenger, the chosen one from among His creations, the one selected for explaining His realities, chosen for His honors and to convey His sacred messages. Through him, the signs of guidance have been lit and the gloom of blindness (misguidance) has been dispelled.
O people! Surely this world deceives him who yearns for it and who is attracted to it. It does not behave niggardly with him who aspires for it and overpowers him who overpowers it. By Allah, no people are deprived of the lively pleasures of life after having enjoyed them except as a result of sins committed by them because certainly Allah is not unjust to His creatures. Even then, when calamities descend upon people and pleasures depart from them, they turn towards Allah with a true intention and the feeling in their hearts that He will return to them everything that has fled away from them, that He will cure all their ills.
I fear about you lest you should fall into ignorance (that prevailed before the mission of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)). In the past, there were certain matters in which you were deflected, and in my view, you were not worthy of admiration. But if your previous status could be returned to you, then you will become virtuous. I can only strive; but if I were to speak, I will (only) say: May Allah forgive your past actions.
Di’bil al-Yemeni asked Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Whether he had seen Allah. The Imam, Peace be Upon Him then replied,
“Do I worship One Whom I have not seen?!”
The man then inquired, “How have you seen Him?”
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him replied as follows:
Eyes do not see Him face-to-face, but hearts perceive Him through the realities of belief. He is near to things but not (physically) contiguous. He is far from them but not (physically) separate. He speaks but not with reflection. He intends, but not with preparation. He molds, but not with (the assistance of) limbs. He is subtle but cannot be said as being concealed. He is great but cannot be said to be haughty. He sees but the faculty of vision cannot be attributed to Him. He is Merciful, but this cannot be attributed to a weakness of heart. Faces bow down before His greatness and hearts tremble out of fear of Him.
Condemning His Disobedient Men
I praise Allah for whatever matter He ordained, for whatever action He destines, and for my trial with you, O folks who do not obey when I order and do not respond when I call upon! If you are at ease, you engage in (conceited) conversations, but if you are faced with battle, you show weakness. If people agree on one Imam, you taunt each other. If you are faced with an arduous matter, you turn away from it. May the others (your foes) have no father! What are you waiting for with regard to your endeavor, when fighting for your rights? For you there is either death or disgrace. By Allah! If my day (of death) comes, and it is sure to come, it will cause separation between me and you, although I am sick of your company and feel lonely while being in your company.
May Allah deal with you! Is there any religion which may unite you?! Do not you have any sense of shame that may sharpen you? Is it not strange that Mu`awiyah calls upon some rude low people and they follow him without any support or grant, but when I call upon you, although you are the promoters of Islam, the (worthy) survivors of the people, with support and grants, yet you run away from me and oppose me?! Truly, there is nothing between us which I like and you, too, like, or anything with which I am angry and you may also unite against it. What I love most is death. I have taught you the Holy Qur’an, clarified to you its arguments, informed you of that with which you were ignorant and made you swallow what you were spitting out. Even a blind man will have been able to see and he who was sleeping will have been awakened. How ignorant of Allah is their leader, Mu`awiyah, and their mentor, the son of an-Nabighah?
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him sent one of his men
to bring him news of a group of the army of Kufah who had decided
to join the Kharijites but were afraid of him. When the man came
back, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said to him:
“Are they satisfied and staying or feeling weak and going astray?”
The man replied, “They have gone away, O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib!”
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following:
May Allah’s mercy remain away from them as in the case of Thamud. Be informed that when the spears are hurled towards them and the swords strike their heads, they will repent their deeds. Surely today Satan has scattered them and tomorrow he will deny having anything to do with them and will abandon them. They have departed from guidance and returned to misguidance and blindness. They have turned away from truth and fallen into wrong; such suffices (for their chastisement).
It has been related by Nawf al-Bikali that Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him delivered this sermon at Kufah standing on a stone
which Ja’dah ibn Hubayrah al-Makhzami had placed for him.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him had a woollen apparel
on his body, the belt of his sword was made of leaves and the sandals on
his feet too were of palm leaves. His forehead had a hardened spot like
that a camel (on its knee, due to many and long prostrations).
About Allah’s attributes, His creatures and His being above physical limitations:
Praise be to Allah to Whom is the return of all creation and the end of all matters. We render Him praise for the greatness of His generosity, the charity of His proofs, the increase of His bounty... And for His favors, a praise which may fulfill His right, repay His thanks, take (us) near His reward and produce an increase in His kindness. We seek His help like one who is hopeful of His bounty, desirous of His benefit and confident of His warding (calamities) off, one who acknowledges His gifts and is obedient to Him in word and in deed. We believe in Him like one who reposes hope in Him with conviction, inclines to Him as a believer, humbles himself before Him obediently, believes in His Oneness exclusively, regards Him as great, acknowledging His dignity and seeks refuge with Him with inclination and exertion.
Allah, the most Glorified One, has not been born so that someone could be (His) partner in glory. Nor has He begotten anyone so as to be inherited. Time has not preceded Him. Increase and decrease do not apply to Him. But He has manifested Himself to our understanding when we observe His strong control and firm decree. Among the proofs of His creation is the creation of the skies which are fastened without pillars, standing without support. He called them and they responded obediently and humbly without being reluctant or loathsome. If they had not acknowledged His being the Lord and not obeyed Him, He would not have made them the place for His throne, the abode of His angels and the destination of the pure utterances and righteous deeds of the creatures.
He has made the stars in the skies by way of signs for the guidance of travelers who traverse the various routes of the earth. The gloom of the dark curtains of the night does not prevent the flame of their light, nor do the veils of blackish nights have the power to turn back the light of the moon when it spreads in the skies. Glory to Allah from Whom neither the blackness of dark dusk nor of gloomy nights in the low parts of the earth or on high dim mountains is hidden, nor the thundering of clouds on the horizons of the skies, nor the sparking of lightning in the clouds, nor the falling of leaves blown away from their falling places by the winds of hurricanes or by downpour from the sky. He knows where the drops fall and where they settle, where the grubs leave their trails or drag themselves, what livelihood will suffice the mosquitoes and what a female bears in its womb.
Praise be to Allah Who exists before the existence of the seat, the throne, the sky, the earth, the jinns or the humans. He cannot be perceived by imagination nor measured by comprehension. He who pleads to Him does not divert Him (from others), nor does giving away cause Him diminution. He does not see by means of an eye, nor can He be confined to a place. He cannot be said to have companions. He does not create with (the help of) limbs. He cannot be perceived by senses. He cannot be thought of as we think of people.
It is He who spoke to Musa (Moses) clearly and showed Him His great signs without the use of bodily parts, the means of speech or the uvula. O you who exert yourself in describing Allah! If you are serious, then (first try to) describe Gabriel, Michael or the host of angels who are close (to Allah) in the receptacles of sublimity. But their heads are bent downwards and their wits are perplexed as to how to assign limits (of definition) to the Highest Creator. This is so because those things can only be perceived through qualities which have shape and parts and which succumb to death after reaching the end of their times. There is no god but He. He has lighted every darkness with His glory and has darkened every light with the darkness (of death).
An Account of Bygone Peoples and Learning from Them
I admonish you, servants of Allah, to fear Allah Who clothed you well and bestowed upon you an abundance of sustenance. If there was anyone who could secure a ladder to everlasting life or a way to avoid death, it was Sulayman ibn Dawad (p.b.u.h.) [Solomon son of David] who was given control over the domain of the jinns and men along with Prophethood and a great status with Allah. But when he exhausted appointed ration (of this world) and his (fixed) time expired, the bow of destruction shot him with an arrow of death. His mansions became vacant and his habitations became empty. Another group of people inherited them. Certainly, the by-gone centuries have a lesson for you.
Where are the Amalekites and the sons of the Amalekites? Where are the Pharaohs? Where are the people of the cities of ar-Rass who killed the prophets, destroyed the traditions of the holy messengers and revived the traditions of the despots? Where are those who advanced with armies, defeated thousands, mobilized forces and populated cities?
Part of the same sermon about
Imam al-Mahdi, Peace be Upon Him
He will be wearing the amour of wisdom, which he will have secured with all its conditions, such as full attention towards it, (complete) knowledge of and exclusive devotion to it. For him, it is like a thing which he had lost and which he was then seeking, or a need which he was trying to fulfill. If Islam is in trouble, he will feel forlorn like a traveler and like a (tired) camel beating the end of its tail, with its neck flattened on the ground. He is the last of Allah’s proofs and one of the vicegerents of His prophets.
On the Method of His Ruling and
Grief over the Martyrdom of His Companions
O people! I have divulged to you advice which the prophets used to preach to their peoples, and I have conveyed to you what the vicegerents (of the prophets) conveyed for the benefit of those coming after them. I tried to train you with my whip but you could not be straightened. I drove you with admonition but you did not acquire proper behavior. May Allah deal with you! Do you want an Imam other than me to take you on the (right) path and show you the correct way?
Beware, the things in this world which were forward have become things of the past, and those which were behind are going ahead. The virtuous people of Allah have made up their minds to leave and they have traded, with a little perishable (pleasure) of this world, a lot of such (reward) in the next world that will remain forever. What loss did our brothers, whose blood was shed in Siffin, suffer by not being alive today? Only that they are not suffering from choking upon swallowing and not drinking turbid water. By Allah, surely they have met Allah and He has bestowed upon them their rewards; He has lodged them in safe houses after their (having suffered) fear.
Where are my brethren who took the (right) path and trod in righteousness/ Where is `Ammar? Where is ibn at-Tayyihan? Where is Dhul-Shahadatayn? And where are others like them7 from among their comrades who had pledged themselves to remain steadfast till death and whose (severed) heads were taken to the wicked enemy?
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) wiped his hand over his auspicious, honored beard and wept for a long time, then he went on to say:
O brothers who recited the Holy Qur’an and strengthened it, thought over their obligation and fulfilled it, revived the Sunnah and destroyed innovation! When they were called to jihad, they responded and trusted in their leader then followed him.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Shouted the Following at the Top of His Voice:
Al-Jihad, al-Jihad! O servants of Allah! By Allah, I am mobilizing the army today. He who desires to proceed towards Allah should come forward.
Nawf says the following: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) put Hussain (p.b.u.h.) in charge of (a force of) ten thousand, Qays ibn Sa`d (mercy of Allah be upon him) over ten thousand, Aba Ayyab al-Ansari over ten thousand and others over different numbers, intending to return to Siffin. But on Friday, the Imam (p.b.u.h.) did not appear in public again; the damned Ibn Muljim (may Allah curse him) killed him. Consequently, the armies came back and were left like sheep who had lost their shepherd while wolves were snatching them away from all sides.
Praising Allah for His Bounties
Praise be to Allah Who is recognized without being seen and Who creates without weariness. He created everything with His Might, and He receives the devotion of rulers by virtue of His dignity. He exercises superiority over great men through His generosity. It is He who made His creation populate the world and sent to the jinns and human beings His messengers to clarify His Message for them, to warn them of taking it lightly, to present to them its examples, and to place before them a whole collection of matters containing lessons about the changing of health and sickness in life of this world, what is lawful and what is unlawful, and all that Allah has ordained for the obedient ones as well as for the disobedient, namely, Paradise and Hell, honor and disgrace, respectively. I extend my praise to His Being as He desires His creation to praise Him. He has fixed for everything a measure, for every measure a time limit, and for every time limit a record.
Part of the Same Sermon:
the Greatness and Importance of the Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an bids and forbids, remains silent and speaks. It is the Argument of Allah before His creation. He has taken from them a pledge (to act) upon it. He has perfected its glory and completed through it His creed. He let the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) leave this world once he had conveyed to the people all His commandments of guidance through the Holy Qur’an. You should, therefore, regard Allah as Great as He has held Himself Great because He has not concealed anything of His religion from you, nor has He left out anything which He likes or dislikes. He made for everything a clear sign (of guidance) and a definite indication, either prohibiting (us) from doing it or calling upon us to uphold it. What pleases Him is the same for now, in the past, and for all times to come.
You should know that He will not be pleased with you if you do anything with which He was displeased by those before you who committed it, and He will not be displeased with you for anything for which won His pleasure when acted upon by those before you. You are treading on a clear path and are speaking the same as the people before you had spoken. Allah suffices you for the achievement of your worldly needs. He has persuaded you to remain thankful (with your hearts) and has made it obligatory on you to mention Him with your tongues.
Warning Against the
Punishment on the Day of Judgment
He has advised you to be pious, making piety the highest point of earning His pleasure and all that He requires from His creatures. You should, therefore, fear Allah in such a way as if you stand in front of Him. Your forelocks are in His grip and your change of condition is in His control. If you conceal a matter from anyone, you cannot conceal it from Him. If you disclose a matter, He will record it. For this, He has appointed honored guards (angels) who do not omit any rightful matter nor insert anything of their own. You should know that whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way to get out of troubles and (grant him) a light (to help him get) out of darkness. He will always keep him in whatever (condition) He wishes and will make him stay in a status of honor near Him, in the abode (of bliss)which He has made for Himself. The shade of this abode is His throne; its light is His glory, its visitors are His angels, and its companions are His prophets.
Therefore, hasten towards such a place of return and proceed to (your) ends (by collecting provision for the next world). Shortly, the expectations of the people will be cut short and death will overtake them, while the door of repentance will be closed for them. You are still in a place to which those who were before you have been wishing to return. In this world, which is not your [eternal] abode, you are just like a traveler in motion. You have been given the call to leave from here, and you have been ordered to collect provisions while you are still here. You should know that this thin skin cannot tolerate the Fire (of Hell). So, have pity on your own selves because you have already tried it in the tribulations of this world.
Have you ever seen how a person cries of the pain when he has been pricked with a thorn or who bleeds due to stumbling or whom hot sand has burnt? How will he feel when he is between two frying pans of Hell with stones all around, with Satan as his companion? Do you know that when Malik (the custodian of Hell) is angry with the fire, its parts begin to clash with each other (in rage), and when he scolds it, it leaps between the doors of Hell crying on account of his scolding?
O you old folks whom old age has made hoary, how will you feel when rings of fire touch the bones of your neck and when handcuffs hold you so hard that they eat away the flesh of your forearms? (Fear) Allah! (Fear) Allah! O crowd of men, while you are in good health before sickness (grips you), when you are in ease before hardship (overtakes you). You should aspire to release your necks before their mortgage is foreclosed, and your eyes; thin down your bellies, use your feet (to go where you earn the Pleasure of Allah); spend your wealth (rather than hoard it); take your bodies and wear them out for the goodness of your own souls, and do not be niggardly about them because Allah, the most Glorified One, has said the following: “If you help (yourselves and others in the way) of Allah, He will (also) help you and will set your feet firm (on His Straight Path) (Holy Qur’an, 47: 7). And He, the most Sublime One, has said the following: “Who will loan unto Allah a goodly loan so that He may double it for him and for him shall be a noble recompense?” (Holy Qur’an, 57: 11).
He does not seek your support because of being weak, nor does He demand a loan from you because of being in need. He seeks your help, although He possesses all the armies of the skies and of the earth, and He is strong and wise. He seeks a loan from you, although He owns the treasures of the skies and of the earth, and He is rich and praiseworthy. (Rather) He intends to try you as to which of you performs good deeds. You should, therefore, be quick in performance of (good) deeds so that your way may be with His neighbors in His abode. He made His Prophet’s companions from among these neighbors and made the angels visit them. He has honored their ears so that the sound of Hell-fire may never reach them, and He has afforded protection to their bodies from weariness and fatigue.
... That is the grace of Allah, He bestows it upon whomsoever He pleases, and Allah is the master of Mighty Grace (Holy Qur’an, 57: 21).
I say you hear me. I seek Allah’s help for myself and for you. He suffices me, and He is the best dispenser (of bounties).
One of the Kharijites, namely al-Burj ibn Mus’hir at-Ta’i,
raised the call of “Command is fit for only Allah” in such a way
that Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him heard it.
On hearing it he said the following:
Keep quiet, may Allah expose your ugliness, O you with the broken tooth! Certainly, by Allah, when the truth becomes manifest, even then, your personality is weak and your voice is loose. But when wrong began to shout loudly, you again shouted up like the (blown) horns of a kid.
Praising Allah and His Wonderful Creatures
Praise be to Allah! He is such that senses cannot perceive Him, place cannot contain Him, eyes cannot see Him and veils cannot cover Him. He proves His eternity by the bringing His creation into existence and (also) by originating His creation. (He proves) His existence, and through their spirituality, He proves that there is nothing similar to Him. He is true to His promise. He is too Sublime to be unjust to His creatures. He stands by equity among His creation and implements justice over them in His commands. He provides testimony of His own being through the creation of things from ever, through their marks of incapability of His power and through their powerlessness against death of His eternity.
He is One, but not by counting. He is everlasting without any limit. He is existent without any support. Minds admit His existence without the need for the senses. Things which can be seen testify to Him without confronting Him. Imagination cannot encompass Him. He manifests Himself to the imagination with his help for the imagination, refusing to be conceived by the imagination. He has made imagination the arbiter. He is not “big” in the sense that volume is vast, so His body is also “big”. Nor is He great in the sense that His limits should extend to the utmost, so His frame should be extensive. But He is ‘big” in status and great in authority.
About the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
I testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave, His chosen Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and His responsible trustee - May Allah bless him and his descendants. Allah sent him with undeniable proofs, with a clear success and an open path. So he conveyed the message, declaring the truth with it. He led the people on the (correct) path, established signs of guidance and minarets of light, making Islam’s ropes strong and knots firm.
Part of the Same Sermon:
About the Creation of Animal Species
Had they pondered over the greatness of His power and the vastness of His bounty, they would have returned to the right path and feared the punishment of the Fire. But hearts are sick and eyes are impure. Do they not see the small things which He has created, how He strengthened their system and opened for them the hearing and the sight, making for them bones and skins? Look at the ant with its small body and delicate form. It can hardly be seen in the corner of the eye, nor by the perception of the imagination. Look and see how it moves on the earth and leaps at its sustenance. It carries the grain to its hole and deposits it in its place of repose. It collects during the summer for its winter and during strength for the period of its weakness. Its livelihood is guaranteed and it is fed to be fit. Allah, the Kind, does not forget it, and (Allah the Giver) does not deprive it, even though it may be in a dry stone or in fixed rocks.
If you have thought about its digestive tract, in its high and low parts, the carapace of its belly, its eyes and ears in its head..., you will be amazed at its creation, and you will feel it difficult to describe it. Exalted is He Who made it stand on its legs and erected it on its pillars (limbs). No other originator took part with Him in its origination, and no one else has any power to assist Him in its creation. If you tread on the paths of your imagination and let it reach its extremes, it will not lead you anywhere except to the fact that the Originator of the ant is the same as He Who is the Originator of the date-palm because everything has (the same) delicacy and detail, and every living being has little difference with another.
Creation of the Universe
In His creation, the big, the delicate, the heavy, the light, the strong, the weak are all equal. So is the sky, the air, the winds and the water. Therefore, look at the sun, moon, vegetation, plants, water, stone, the difference of this night and day, the springing of the streams, the large number of the mountains, the height of their peaks, the diversity of languages and the variety of tongues. Then woe unto him who disbelieves in the One who ordains, who denies the Ruler! These believe that they are like grass for which there is no cultivator nor any maker for their own sundry shapes. They have not relied on any argument for what they assert, nor on any research for what they have heard. Can there be any construction without a constructor, or any offense without an offender?
The Wonderful Creation of the Locust
If you wish, you can tell about the locust (as well). Allah gave it two red eyes, lighted for them two moons like pupils, made for it small ears, opened for it a suitable mouth and gave it a keen sense, gave it two teeth to cut with and two sickle-like feet to grip with. The farmers are afraid of it in the matter of crops. Farmers cannot drive the locust away even though they may join together in their effort. The locust attacks the fields and satisfies its hunger although its body is not equal to a thin finger.
The Glory of Allah
Glorified is Allah before Whom everyone in the skies or on earth bows down in prostration willingly or unwillingly, submits to Him by placing his cheeks and face (on the dust), kneels before Him (in obedience) peacefully and humbly and hands over to Him full control in fear and apprehension.
The birds are bound by His commands. He knows the number of their feathers and their breaths. He has made their feet stand on water and on dry land. He has ordained their livelihoods. He knows their species: This is the crow, this is the eagle, this is the pigeon, and this is the ostrich. He called out every bird by its name (while creating it) and provided it with its livelihood. He created heavy clouds and produced from them heavy rain, spreading it on various lands. He drenched the earth after its dryness and grew vegetation from it after its barrenness.
The Oneness of Allah
Principles of Knowledge
He who assigns to Him (different) conditions does not believe in His Oneness, nor does he who likens Him in order to grasp His reality. He who illustrates Him does not signify Him. He who points at Him and imagines Him does not mean Him. Everything that is known through itself has been created, and everything that exists by virtue of other things is the effect (of something else). He works but not with the help of instruments. He fixes measures but not with the activity of thinking. He is rich but not by acquisition.
Times do not keep company with Him. His Being precedes times. His Existence precedes non-existence, and His eternity precedes beginning. By His creating the senses, it is known that He has no “senses”. By the contraries in various matters, it is known that He has no contrary, and by the similarity between things, it is known that there is nothing similar to Him. He has made light the contrary of darkness, brightness that of gloom, dryness that of moisture and heat that of cold. He produces affection among opponents.
He fuses together diverse things, brings near remote things and separates things which are joined together. He is not confined to limits, nor counted by numbers. Material parts can surround things of their own kind and organs can point out things similar to themselves. The word mundhu (i.e. since) disproves their eternity, the word qad (that denotes nearness of time of occurrence), disproves their being from ever and the word lawla (if it were not) keep them remote from perfection.
Through them, the Creator manifests Himself to the intelligence, and through them He is guarded from the vision of the eyes.
Stillness and motion do not apply to Him. How can a thing occur in Him which He has Himself made to occur, and how can a thing revert to Him which He first created, and how can a thing appear in Him which He first brought to appearance? If it had not been so, His Self will have become subject to diversity, His Being will have become divisible (into parts) and His reality will have been prevented from being deemed Eternal. If there was a front to Him there will have been a rear also for Him. He will need completing only if shortage befell Him. In such case, signs of the created will appear in Him and He will become a sign (leading to other objects) instead of signs leading to Him. Through the might of His abstention (from affectedness) He is far above being affected by things which effect others.
He is that which does not change or vanish. The process of setting does not behoove Him. He has not begotten anyone lest He should be regarded as having been born. He has not been begotten; otherwise, He will be contained within limits. He is too Sublime to have sons. He is too purified to contact women. Imagination cannot reach Him so as to assign Him quantity. Understanding cannot think of Him so as to give Him shape. Senses do not perceive Him so as to feel Him. Hands cannot touch Him so as to rub against Him. He does not change into any condition. He does not pass from one state to another. Nights and days do not turn Him old. Light and darkness do not alter Him.
It cannot be said that He has a limit or extremity, an end or termination, nor do things control Him so as to raise or lower Him, nor does anything carry Him so as to bend Him or keep Him erect. He is not inside things nor outside them. He conveys news, but not with tongue or voice. He listens, but not with the holes of the ears or the organs of hearing. He says but does not utter words. He remembers, but does not memorize. He determines, but not by exercising His mind. He loves and approves without any sentimentality (of heart). He hates and feels angry without any painstaking. When He intends to create someone/something He says, “Be!”, and there he/she/it is! But He does not do so through voice that strikes (the ears). His speech is an indication of His creation. His like never existed “before” nor “after”.
It cannot be said that He came into being after He had not been in existence because, in that case, the attributes of the created things will be assigned to Him and there will remain no difference between them and Him, and He will have no distinction over them. Thus, the Creator and the created will become equal and the initiator and the initiated will be on the same level. He created (the whole of) creation without any example made by someone else, and He did not secure the assistance of anyone out of His creation for creating it.
He created the earth and suspended it without being ‘busy”, retained it without support, made it stand without legs, raised it without pillars, protected it against bending and curving and defended it against crumbling and splitting (into parts). He fixed mountains on it like stumps, solidified its rocks, caused its streams to flow and opened its valleys wide. Whatever He made did not suffer from any flow, and whatever He strengthened did not show any weakness.
He manifests Himself over the earth with His authority and greatness. He is aware of its inside through His knowledge and understanding. He has power over everything on earth by virtue of His sublimity and dignity. Nothing from the earth that He may ask for defies Him, nor does it oppose Him so as to overpower Him. No swift-footed creature can run away from Him so as to ahead of Him. He is not needy towards any possessing person so that the latter should feed Him. All things bow down to Him and are humble before His greatness. They cannot flee away from His authority to someone else in order to escape His benefit or His harm. There is no parallel for Him that may match Him and no one like Him so as to equal Him.
He will destroy the earth after its existence, till all that exists on it will become non-existent. But the extinction of the world after its creation is no more wondrous than its first formation and invention. How could it be? Even if all the animals of the earth, whether birds or beasts, stabled cattle or pasturing ones, of different origins and species, dull people and sagacious men..., all jointly try to create (even) a mosquito, they are not able to bring it into being and do not understand what is the way to its creation. Their wits are bewildered and wandering. Their powers fall short, fail and return disappointed and tired, knowing that they are defeated and admitting their inability to produce it, also realizing that they are too weak (even) to destroy it.
Surely, after the extinction of the world, Allah, the most Glorified One, will remain alone with nothing else besides Him. He will be, after its extinction, as He was before its production: without time or place or moment or period. At this moment, period and time will not exist and years and hours will disappear. There will be nothing except Allah, the One, the Almighty. To Him is the return of all matters. Its initial creation was not in its power, and the prevention of its extinction was (also) not in its power. Had it had the power to prevent it, it would have existed forever. When He made anything of the world, the making of it did not cause Him any difficulty and the creation of anything which He created and formed did not cause Him any fatigue. He did not create it to heighten His authority nor for fear of loss or harm, nor to seek its help against an overwhelming foe, nor to guard against any avenging opponent with its help, nor for the extension of His domain by its help, nor for boasting (over the size of His possession) against a partner, nor because He felt lonely and desired to seek its company.
After its creation, He will destroy it, but not because any worry has overcome Him in its upkeep and administration, nor for any pleasure that will accrue to Him, nor for the cumbrousness of anything over Him. The length of its life does not weary Him so as to induce Him to its quick destruction. Allah, the Glorified One, has maintained it with His kindness, kept it intact with His command and perfected it with His power. Then after its destruction, He will resurrect it, but not for any need of His own towards it, nor to seek the assistance of any of its things against it, nor to change over from the condition of loneliness to that of company, nor from the condition of ignorance and blindness to that of knowledge and search, nor from paucity and need towards needlessness and plenty, nor from disgrace and lowliness towards honor and prestige.
Regarding the Vicissitudes of Time
(The Mischief That Is to Occur and the
Absence of Lawful Ways of Livelihood)
May my father and mother be sacrificed for those few whose names are well-known in the heavens while not known on the earth! Beware, you should expect what is to befall you, such as adversity in your affairs, severance of relations and the rising up of inferior people. This will happen when the blow of a sword will be easier for a believer than to secure one dirham lawfully. This will happen when the reward of the beggar is more than that of the giver. This will be when you are intoxicated, not by drinking, but with wealth and plenty, swearing without compulsion and speaking lies without compulsion. This will be when troubles hurt you as the saddle hurts the hump of the camel. How long will these tribulations be and how distant the hope (for deliverance from them)?
O people! Throw away the reins of the horses that carry on their backs the weight of your hands have committed (i.e. your sins). Do not cut away from your chief (Imam); otherwise, you will blame yourselves for your own doings. Do not jump in the fire which is in flames in front of you; keep away from its courses and leave the middle way for it. Because, by my life, a believer will die in its flames while others will remain safe.
I am among you like a lamp in the darkness. Whoever enters by it will be lit. So listen, O men! Preserve it and remain attentive with the ears of your hearts so that you may understand.
I admonish you, O people, to fear Allah and to praise Him abundantly for His favors unto you, for His reward for you, and [even] for His obligations on you. See how He chose you for favors and dealt with you with mercy. You sinned openly; He kept your sins covered. You behaved in a way to incur His punishment, but He gave you more respite.
Condition of Persons Facing Death
I also admonish you to remember death and to lessen your heedlessness towards it. Why should you be heedless of the One Who is not heedless of you? Why expect from him (i.e. the angel of death) to give you a respite? The dead whom you have been watching suffice as preachers. They were carried to their graves, not riding but transported, and were placed in their graves, but not of their own accord. It seems as if they never lived in this world and as if the next world had always been their abode. They have made lonely the place where they were living and are now living where they used to feel lonely. They remained busy about what they had to leave behind them and did not care about where they were going to. Now, they cannot remove themselves from evil, nor add to their virtues. They were attached to the world and it deceived them. They trusted it and it overturned the tables to them.
Transience of this World
May Allah have pity on you! You should, therefore, hasten towards (the preparation of) houses which you have been commanded to populate, towards which you have been called upon, and to which you have been invited. Seek the completion of Allah’s favors on you by exercising endurance in His obedience and abstention from His disobedience because tomorrow is close to today. How fast are the hours of the day?! How fast are the days in the month?! How fast are the months in the years and how fast the years in one’s lifetime?!
Steadfastness versus a Transient Belief
One belief is (conviction) which is firm and steadfast in the hearts. Another remains temporarily in one’s heart up to a certain period of time. If you were to acquit (yourselves) before anyone, you should wait till death approaches, for that is the time limit for being acquitted.
Migration stands as its original status. Allah has no need for one who secretly accepts belief or one who openly does so. Migration (to the other world) will not apply to any one unless he recognizes the proof (of Allah) on the earth. Whoever recognizes him and acknowledges him will be a muhajir (immigrant). Istid’af (i.e. freedom from the obligation of migration) does not apply to him whom the proof (of Allah) reaches and he hears it and his heart preserves it.
The challenge of “Ask me before you miss me”
and a prediction about the Umayyads
Certainly, our case is difficult and complicated. No one can bear it except a believer whose heart Allah has tried with belief. Our traditions will not be preserved except by trustworthy hearts and (men of) firm understanding. O people! Ask me before you miss me because certainly I am acquainted with the passages of the sky more than the passages of the earth, and before that mischief springs upon its feet which will trample even the nose string and destroy the wits of the people.
Importance of Fearing Allah,
Desolateness of the Grave, Death of Those Who Love
Ahl al-Bayt, Peace be Upon Him Similar to That of Martyrs
I praise Him out of gratitude for His rewards and I seek His assistance in fulfilling my obligations to Him. He has a strong host. His dignity is grand.
I testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and Prophet. He called (people) to His obedience and overpowered His enemies when fighting for His religion. People’s joining together to falsify Him and their attempt to extinguish His light were of no avail.
You should, therefore, be steadfast in your fear of Allah because it has a rope the knot of which is strong, its pinnacle is lofty and invulnerable. Hasten towards death in its pangs (by doing good deeds) and be prepared for it before its approach because the ultimate end is the Day of Judgment. This is enough admonishment for one who understands and suffices for a lesson for one who does not know. What idea do you have, before reaching that end, about how narrow the grave is, about the hardship of loneliness, fear of the passage towards the next world, the pangs of fear, the shifting of ribs here and there (due to narrowing of the grave), the deafness of ears, the darkness of the grave, the fear of the promised punishment, the closing of the receptacle of the grave and the laying of the tomb stones?
So fear Allah, fear Allah, O servants of Allah, because the world is behaving with you in the usual way, and you and the Day of Judgment are in the same rope (close to each other), as though it has come with its signs, has approached with its pleas and has made you stand in its way. It is as though it has come forward with all its quaking and has settled down with its chest on the ground while the world has parted from its people and turned them out of its lap. It was like a day that has passed or a month that has gone by. Its new things have become old and the fat ones have become thin.
They are in a narrow place, in very complicated affairs and in a fire whose pain is intense, the cries are loud, the flames rise [as high as mountains], the sound causes a trembling, the burning is severe and Abatement from all of this is quite remote. Its fuel is burning, its threats are fearful, its hollows are hidden, its sides are dark, its vessels are aflame and everything about it is abominable. “Those who feared (the wrath of) their Master shall be conveyed in groups to the Garden” (Holy Qur’an, 39: 73).
They are safe from chastisement, away from punishment and are kept aloof from the fire. Their abode will be peaceful, and they will be pleased with their lodging and place of stay. These are the people whose deeds in this world were pure, their eyes were tearful, their nights in this world were like days because of fearing [Allah], seeking [His] forgiveness, and their days were like nights because of feeling of loneliness and separation. Therefore, Allah made Paradise the place of their (eventual) return, a reward in recompense. “They were most eligible and suitable for it;” (Holy Qur’an, 48: 26) in the eternal domain and everlasting bliss.
Therefore, O servants of Allah, pay regard to all that by being mindful of which one will succeed and by ignoring which one will incur loss. Hasten towards your death by means of your (good) deeds because you are bound by what you have done in the past, and you have to your credit only what (good deeds) you have sent before. (Behave in such a way) as though the feared event (death) has come upon you, so you cannot return (to do good deeds) nor can you be cleared of evil deeds. May Allah prompt us and you to be obedient to Him and to His Prophet (p.b.u.h.), and may He forgive us and your own selves by His great mercy.
Remain patient during trials and tribulations. Do not move your hands and swords after the liking of your tongues, and do not make haste in matters in which Allah has not asked for haste: anyone of you who dies in his bed while having knowledge of the rights of Allah and the rights of His Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and members of the Prophet’s house will die as a martyr. His reward is incumbent on Allah. He is also eligible to the recompense of what good deeds he has intended to do, since his intention takes the place of drawing his sword. Certainly, for everything there is a time and a limit.
Praise be to Allah Whose praise is wide-spread, Whose army is over-powering and Whose dignity is grand. I praise Him for His successive favors and great boons. His forbearance is high, so He forgives, and He is just in whatever He decides. He knows what is going on and what has already passed. He crafted all creation with His knowledge and produced it with His intelligence without being limited to anything, without learning [from anyone or anything], without following the example of any intelligent producer, without committing any mistake and without the availability of any group (for help). I testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and His Messenger whom He deputed (at a time) when people were collecting in the abyss and moving in bewilderment. The reins of destruction were dragging them and the locks of malice lay fixed on their hearts.
Advice about fear of Allah and
an account of this world and its people
I admonish you, O servants of Allah, to fear Allah because it is a right of Allah over you; it creates your right over Allah, and that you should seek Allah’s help in it and help in (meeting) Allah. Certainly, for today, fear of Allah is a protection and a shield for tomorrow (the Day of Judgment); it is the road to Paradise. Its way is clear and he who treads it is the winner. Whoever holds it must safeguards it. It has presented itself to the people who have already passed and to those coming into being because they will need it tomorrow (on the Day of Judgment). It is then that Allah will revive His creation again, take back what He has given and take account of what He has bestowed. How few will be those who accept it and practice it as it ought to be practiced! They will be very few in number; they are the people who fit the description provided by Allah, the Glorified One, when He says: “And very few of My creatures are grateful!” (Holy Qur’an, 34: 13).
So make haste towards it; intensify your efforts for it. Make it a substitute for all your past (shortcomings) as a successor. Make it your supporter against every opponent. Turn your sleep into wakefulness by its help and pass your days in its company. Make it the tool of your hearts, wash your sins with it, treat your ailments with it and hasten towards your death with it... Learn a lesson from him who neglects it, so that others who follow it should not learn a lesson from you (i.e. from your neglecting it). Beware, therefore; you should take care of it and should take care of yourselves through it.
Keep away from this world and proceed towards the next with infatuation. Do not regard humbly one whom fear of Allah has given a high status, and do not accord a high status to him whom this world has given a high status. Do not keep your eyes on the shining clouds of the world. Do not listen to him who speaks of it, do not respond to him who calls you towards it, do not seek light from its glare and do not die for its precious things because its glitter is deceitful, its words are false, its wealth is a liability to be looted, and its precious things are to be taken away.
Beware! This world attracts then turns away. It is stubborn, refusing to go ahead. It speaks lies, and it misappropriates. It disowns and is ungrateful. It is malicious and abandons (its lovers). It attracts but causes trouble. Its condition is changing, its step shaking, its honor disgraceful, its seriousness a jest and its height is lowliness. It is a place of plunder and pillage, ruin and destruction. Its people are ready with their feet to drive, to overtake, then to depart. Its routes are bewildering, its exits are baffling and its schemes end in disappointment. Consequently, strongholds betray them, houses throw them out and cunning fails them.
Some of them are like hocked camels, some like butchered meat, some like severed limbs, some like spilt blood, some bite their hands (in pain), some rub their palms (in remorse), some hold their cheeks on their hands (in anxiety), some curse their own views and some retreat from their determination. But the time for action has gone by, and the hour of calamity has approached. This is so “while (there is no longer) time to escape” (Holy Qur’an, 38: 3). Alas! Alas! What is been lost is lost! What is gone is gone! The world has passed in its usual manner.
“So the heavens and the earth did not mourn them, nor were they given a respite” (Holy Qur’an, 44: 29).
Known as “al-Khutbah al-Qasi’a”
(the Sermon of Disparagement)
It comprises a disparagement of Satan [Iblis] for his vanity, his refusal to prostrate before Adam (p.b.u.h.), and his being the first to display bigotry and behave with vanity. It contains a warning to people treading in Satan’s path.
Praise be to Allah Who wears the apparel of Honor and Dignity and has chosen them for Himself rather than for His creation. He has made them inaccessible and unlawful for others. He has selected them for His own great self and has hurled a curse on him who contends with Him concerning them.
Trial by Allah, Vanity of Iblis
Then He put His angels on trial concerning these attributes in order to distinguish those who were modest from those who were vain. Therefore, Allah, Who is aware of whatever is hidden in the hearts and whatever lies behind the unseen, said the following: “Verily, I am about to create man from clay. And when I have completed and breathed into him of My spirit, prostrate to him. And the angels, all of them, did prostrate [to Adam] save Iblis” (Holy Qur’an, 38: 71 - 74).
His vanity stood in his [Iblis’s] way! Consequently, he felt proud about Adam by virtue of his creation, boasted over him on account of his origin. Thus, this enemy of Allah is the leader of those who boast and the fore-runner of vanity. It is he who laid the foundation of factionalism, quarreled with Allah about the robe of greatness, put on the outfit of haughtiness and took off the covering of humility. Do you not see how Allah made him low on account of his vanity and humiliated him for his bid to be high? He discarded him in this world and provided for him burning fire in the next world.
Had Allah wanted to create Adam from a light whose glare dazzles the eyes, whose handsomeness would have amazed the wits and whose smell would have caught the breath, He would have done so. And if He had done so, people would have bowed down to him in humility, and the trial of the angels through him would have become easier. But Allah, the Glorified One, tries His creatures by means of those things the real nature of which they do not know. He does so in order to distinguish (what is good from what is bad) for them through the trial, to remove vanity from them, and to keep them away from pride and self-admiration.
You should learn a lesson from what Allah did with Satan. He nullified his great deeds and extensive efforts on account of the vanity of one moment, although Satan had worshipped Allah for six thousand years - whether by the reckoning of this world or by that of the next world is not known. Who now can remain safe from Allah after Satan by committing a similar disobedience? None at all. Allah, the Glorified One, will not let a human being enter Paradise if he does the same thing for which Allah turned an angel from it. His command for the inhabitants in the sky and the earth is the same. There is no friendship between Allah and any individual out of His creation so as to give him license for an undesirable thing which He has held unlawful for all the worlds.
Warning Against Satan
Therefore, you should fear lest Satan should infect you with his disease or lead you astray through his call or march on you with his horsemen and footmen because, by my life, he has put the arrow in the bow for you, has stretched the bow strongly and has aimed at you from a nearby distance and: “He (Satan) said the following: Lord! Because You let me stray, certainly will I adorn unto them the path of error, and certainly will I cause them all to go astray” (Holy Qur’an, 15: 39).
Although he (Satan) had said so only by guessing about the unknown future and by wrong conjecturing, yet the sons of vanity, the brothers of haughtiness and the horsemen of pride and intolerance proved him to be true, so much so that when disobedient persons from among you bowed before him and his greed about you gained strength, and what was a hidden secret turned into a clear fact..., he spread his full control over you and marched with his forces towards you.
Then they pushed you into the hollows of disgrace, threw you into the whirlpools of slaughter and trampled on you, wounding you by striking your eyes with spears, cutting your throats, tearing your nostrils, breaking your limbs and taking you in ropes towards the fire that is already prepared. In this way, he became more harmful to your religion and a greater kindler of flames (of mischief) about your worldly matters than the enemies against whom you showed open opposition and against whom you marched with your forces.
You should, therefore, spend all your force against him and all your efforts confronting him because, by Allah, he boasted over your (i.e. Adam’s) origin, questioned your status and spoke lightly of your lineage. He advanced on you with his army and brought his footmen towards your path. They are chasing you from every place and they are hitting you at every finger joint. You are not able to defend by any means, nor can you repulse them by any effort. You are in the thick of disgrace, the ring of straitness, the field of death and the way of distress. You should, therefore, put out the fires of haughtiness and the flames of intolerance that are hidden in your hearts. This vanity can exist in a Muslim only through the insinuations of Satan, his haughtiness, mischief and whisperings. Make up your mind to be humble, to trample on egotism and self-pride and to cast off vanity. Adopt humility as the weapon with which you fight your enemies, Satan and his forces. He certainly has, from every people, fighters, helpers, footmen and horsemen.
Do not be like him who feigned superiority over the son of his own mother without any distinction given to him by Allah except the feeling of envy which his feeling of greatness created in him and the fire of anger that vanity kindled in his heart. Satan blew into his nose his own vanity following which Allah gave him remorse and made him responsible for the sins of all killers up to the Day of Judgment.
Cautioning Against Vanity and Ignorant Boasting
Beware! You strove hard in rebellioning and created mischief on earth in open opposition to Allah, challenging the believers over fighting. (You should fear) Allah in feeling proud; beware of your vanity and ignorant boasting over because this is the root of enmity and the design of Satan whereby he has been deceiving past people and bygone ages, with the result that they fell into the gloom of his ignorance and the hollows of his misguidance, submitting to his driving and accepting his leadership. In this matter, the hearts of all the people were similar. Centuries passed by, one after the other, in the same way, and there was vanity with which chests were tightened.
Cautioning Against Obeying Haughty Leaders and Elders
Beware! Beware of obeying your leaders and elders who feel proud of their achievements and boast about their lineage. They hurled the (liability for) things on Allah and quarreled with Him regarding what He did with them, contesting His decree and disputing His favors. Certainly, they are the main foundation of obstinacy, the chief pillars of mischief and the swords of pre-Islamic boasting over fore-fathers. Therefore, fear Allah, do not become antagonistic to His favors on you, nor jealous of His bounty over you and do not obey the claimants (of Islam) whose dirty water you drink along with your clean one, whose ailments you mix with your healthiness and whose wrongs you allow to enter into your rightful matters. They are the foundation of vice and the linings of disobedience. Satan has made them carriers of misguidance and the soldiers with whom he assaults men. They are interpreters through whom he speaks in order to steal away your wits, enter into your eyes and blow into your ears. In this way, he makes you the victim of his arrows, the treading ground of his footsteps and source of strength for his hands. Learn from how he brought wrath, violence, chastisement and punishment on those who were vain from among the past people. Take admonition from their lying on their cheeks and falling on their sides and seek Allah’s protection from the dangers of vanity, as you seek His protection from calamities.
Humbleness of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Certainly, if Allah were to allow anyone to indulge in pride, He will have allowed it to His selected prophets and vicegerents. But Allah, the Sublime, disliked vanity for them and likes to see them humble. Therefore, they laid their cheeks on the ground, smeared their faces with the dust, bent down for the believers and remained humble. Allah tried them with hunger, afflicted them with difficulty, tested them with fear and upset them with troubles. Therefore, do not regard wealth and progeny as the criterion for Allah’s pleasure and displeasure, as you are not aware of the chances of mischief and trials during richness and power as Allah, the Glorified One, the Sublime, has said the following: “What?! Do they think that what We aid them with wealth and children that We are hastening to them the good things? Nay! They (only) do not perceive it” (Holy Qur’an, 23: 55-56).
Certainly, Allah, the most Glorified One, tries His beings who are vain through His beloved persons who are humble in their eyes. When Musa son of Imran went to Pharaoh along with his brother Harun (Aaron) wearing (coarse) shirts of wool and holding canes in their hands, they guaranteed him retention of his country and continuity of his prestige only if he submitted. But he said the following: “Do you not wonder at these two men guaranteeing me the continuity of my prestige and the retention of my country although you see their poverty and lowliness?! Otherwise, why do they not have gold bangles on their wrists?!” He said so feeling proud of his gold and collected possessions and considering wool and its cloth as nothing.
Allah, the Glorified One, deputed His prophets to mankind. If He had wished to open for them treasures and mines of gold and (surround them with) planted gardens and collect around them the birds of the skies and the beasts of the earth, He could have done so. Had He had done so, there would have been no trial, nor recompense and no tidings (about the affairs of the next life). Those who accepted (His message) could not be given the recompense due after trial, and the believers could not deserve the reward for good deeds, and all these words will not have retained their meanings. But Allah, the Glorified One, makes His Prophets firm in their determination and gives them weakness of appearance as seen by the eyes, along with contentment that fills the hearts and eyes resulting from care-freeness and with want that pains the eyes and the ears.
Had the prophets possessed authority that could not be assaulted, or honor that could not be touched with harm or domain towards which the necks of people would turn and the saddles of mounts could be set, it will have been very easy for people to seek lessons and quite difficult to feel vain. They will have then accepted belief out of fear felt by them or inclination attracting them and their intention will have been the same, although their actions will have been different. Therefore, Allah, the Glorified One, decided that people should follow His prophets, acknowledge His books, remain humble before His Greatness, act upon His commands and accept His obedience with sincerity in which there should not be an iota of anything else. As the trial and tribulation will be stiffer, the reward and recompense, too, should be greater.
The Holy Ka`ba
Do you not see that Allah, the Glorified One, has tried all the people who came with Adam, up to the last ones in this world, with stones which yield neither benefit nor harm, which neither see nor hear? [Yet] He made those stones into His sacred House which He made as a place of worship for people. He placed it in the most rugged stony part of the earth, on a highland with the least soil, among the most narrow valleys between rough mountains, soft sandy plains, springs of scanty water and scattered inhabitants, where neither camels nor horses nor cows nor sheep can prosper.
Then He commanded Adam and his sons to turn towards it. In this way, it became the center of their journey in seeking pasture, the rendezvous for the meeting of their beasts of burden, so that human spirits would hasten towards it from distant waterless deserts, deep and low lying valleys and scattered islands in the seas. They shake their shoulders in humbleness, recite the slogan of having reached His audience, march with swift feet and have disheveled hair and dusted faces. They throw their pieces of cloth on their backs. They have marred the beauty of their faces by leaving the hair uncut as a matter of great test, severe tribulation, open trial and extreme refining. Allah has made it a means to His mercy and an approach to His Paradise.
If Allah, the Glorified One, had placed His sacred House and His great signs among plantations, streams, soft and level plains, plenty of trees, an abundance of fruits, a thick population, close habitats, golden wheat, lush gardens, green land, watered plains, thriving orchards and crowded streets..., the amount of recompense will have decreased because of the lightness of the trial. If the foundation on which the House is built and the stones with which it has been raised had been of green emerald and red rubies, and had there been brightness and glory, then this will have lessened the action of doubts in the breasts, will have dismissed the effect of Satan’s activity from the hearts and will have stopped the surging of misgivings in people. But Allah tries His servants with means of different troubles. He wants them to render worship through hardship and involves them in distress, all in order to extract vanity from their hearts, to settle down humbleness in their spirits and to make all this an open door for His favors and an easy means for His forgiveness (of their sins).
Cautioning Against Rebellion and Oppressiveness
(Fear) Allah from the immediate consequence of rebellion and the eventual consequence of weighty oppressiveness (to accrue in the next world) and from the evil result of vanity. Vanity is the great trap of Satan and his big deceit which enters the hearts of the people as fatal poison does. It is never wasted, nor does ti miss anyone, neither the learned on account of their knowledge, nor the destitute in their rags. This is the thing against which Allah has protected His believing servants by means of prayers and alms-giving and suffering the hardship of fasting in the days in which it has been made obligatory, in order to provide their limbs with peacefulness, to cast fear in their eyes, to humble their spirits, to give their hearts humility and to remove haughtiness from them. All this is achieved through the covering of their delicate cheeks with dust in humility, prostrating their limbs on the ground in humbleness and retracting their bellies so as to reach to their backs due to fasting by way of lowliness (before Allah), besides giving all sorts of products of the earth to the needy and the destitute by way of alms.
Look what these deeds contain of curbing the appearance of pride and suppressing the traces of vanity. I cast my glance and noticed that no one in the world, except you, feel vanity for anything without a cause which may appeal to the ignorant, or a reason which may cling to the minds of the fools because you feel vanity for something for which no reason is discernable, nor any ground.
As for Satan, he felt proud about Adam because of his origin and taunted at him about his creation. He said, “I am created of [smokeless] fire whereas you are created of clay.” Likewise, the rich among the prosperous communities have been feeling vanity because of their riches, as (Allah) said the following: “And they said, ‘We are more (than you) in wealth and in children, and we shall not be chastised’” (Holy Qur’an, 34:35).
Enthusiasm for Attractive Manners,
Respectable Status and Taking Lessons from the Past
In case you cannot avoid vanity, your vanity should be for good qualities, praiseworthy deeds and admirable merits with which the dignified and noble chiefs of the Arab families distinguished themselves. Such merits include attractive manners, high thinking, respectable status and commendable feats. You, too, should show vanity in praiseworthy habits like protection of the neighbor, fulfillment of agreements, obedience of the virtuous, opposition to the haughty, extending generosity to others, abstention from dissension, keeping aloof from bloodshed, doing justice to people, suppressing anger and avoiding trouble on earth. You should also fear what calamities befell nations before you on account of their evil deeds and detestable conduct. Remember, during good or bad times, what happened to them and be cautious lest you should become like them.
After you have thought over the conditions of these people, attach yourself to everything with which their status became honorable, on account of which enemies kept away from them, thus safety spread over them, by reason of which riches bowed before them and, as a result, distinction connected itself to their rope. These things were: abstention from division, sticking to unity, calling each other to it and advising each other about it. You should avoid everything which broke those nations’ backbone and weakened their power, such as malice in the heart, hatred in the chest, turning away (from each other’s help) and abstaining from one another’s assistance.
Think about the condition of people from among the believers who passed by before you. What distresses and trials they were in! Were they not the most over-burdened among all the people and in the most strained circumstances in the whole world? The Pharaohs took them as slaves. They inflicted on them the worst punishments and bitter sufferings. They continuously remained in this state of ruinous disgrace and severe subjugation. They found no method for escape and no way for protection. Allah, the Glorified One, noticed that they were enduring troubles in His love and bearing distresses out of fear of Him, He provided escape routes from the distress of trials. So, He changed their disgrace into honor and fear into safety. Consequently, they became ruling kings and conspicuous leaders. Allah’s favors over them reached limits to which their own wishes had not reached.
See how they were when their groups were united, their views were unanimous, their hearts were moderate, their hands used to help one another, their swords were intended for assisting one another, their visions were sharp, and their aims were uniform. Did they not become masters of the corners of earth and rulers over the necks of all the worlds? Thereafter, also see what happened to them towards the end when division overtook them, unity became fractured and differences arose between their words and hearts. They divided into various groups and were scattered fighting among themselves. Then Allah took away from them the apparel of His honor and deprived them of the prosperity produced by His favors. Only their stories have remained among you for the guidance of those who may learn lessons from them.
You should learn a lesson from the fate of the progeny of Isma’il, the children of Isaac and the children of Israel. How similar their affairs and how akin their examples are! With regard to the details of their division and disunity, think of the days when Kisras of Persia and the Caesars of Rome had become their masters. They turned them out of their pastures, the rivers of Iraq and the fertility of the world, towards thorny forests, the passages of (hot) winds and hardships in livelihood. In this way, they turned them into just camel herders. Their houses were the worst in the world and their places of stay were the most droughtstricken. There was not one single voice towards which they could turn for protection, nor any shade of affection on whose strength they could place their trust.
Their condition was full of distress. Their energies were scattered. They were mostly divided, disunited. They were in great anguish and in pathetic ignorance. They buried their daughters alive, worshipped idols, disregarded kinship and practiced robbery. Now, look at the various favors of Allah upon them! He deputed to them a Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who got them to pledge their obedience to him and made them unite under his call.
(Look) how (Allah’s) bounty spread the wings of its favors over them and streams of its blessing flowed for them; the whole community became wrapped in blissful prosperity. Consequently, they were submerged under its bounty and enjoyed its lush life. Their affairs were settled under the protection of a powerful ruler. Circumstances offered them lofty honor, and all things became easy for them within one united and strong country. They became rulers over the world and kings in the (various) parts of earth. They became masters of those who were formerly their masters and began issuing commands over those who used to command them. They were so strong that neither their spears needed testing nor did their weapons have any flaw.
Condemning His People
Beware! You have shaken your hands loose from the rope of obedience and broken the Divine fort around you by (resorting to) jahili (pre-Islamic) customs. Certainly, it is a great blessing of Allah, the Glorified One, that He has promoted among them unity through the cord of affection in whose shade they walk and are sheltered. This is a blessing the value of which none in the whole world realizes because it is more valuable than any price and more precious than any material wealth.
You should know that you have again reverted to the status of Bedouin Arabs after migration (to Islam) and have become different parties after having been once united. You do not possess anything of Islam except its name and know nothing of belief except its outer cover. You say, “The Fire, yes, but no shameful status,” as if you will throw down Islam on its face in order to defame its honor and break its pledge (of brotherhood) which Allah gave you as a sacred trust on His earth and (a source of) peace among the people. Rest assured that if you incline towards anything other than Islam, the unbelievers will fight you. Then there will be neither Gabriel nor Michael, neither Muhajiran nor Ansar to help you, only the clashing of swords, till Allah settles the matter for you.
Certainly, there are examples before you of Allah’s wrath, punishment, days of tribulations and serious events. Therefore, do not disregard His promises, ignoring His punishment, underestimating His wrath and not expecting His violence. Allah, the Glorified One, did not curse the past generations except because they had forsaken enjoining others to do good deeds and to refrain from doing bad deeds. In fact, Allah cursed the foolish ones for committing sins and the wise for giving up on curbing others from committing evil deeds. Beware! You have broken the shackles of Islam, transgressed its limits and destroyed its commands.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib’s High
Status and Wonderful Deeds in Islam
Beware! Surely Allah has commanded me to fight those who rebellion or break their pledge or create trouble in the land. As regarding pledge-breakers, I have fought them. As regarding those who shrunk from the truth, I have waged a holy war against them. And as regarding those who have abandoned the creed, I have put them in (serious) disgrace. As for Satan of the Pit, he, too, has been dealt with by me through the loud cry with which the scream of his heart and shaking of his chest was also heard. Only a small portion of the rebels has remained. If Allah allows me one more chance over them I will annihilate them except a few remnants that may remain scattered in the suburb of the cities.
Even in my boyhood, I had lowered the chest of (famous men) of Arabia and broken the horn points (i.e. defeated the chiefs) of the tribes of Rabi`ah and Mudar. Certainly, you know my status of close kinship and special relationship with the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.). When I was only a child, he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and put me beside him in his bed, bringing his body close to mine and letting me smell his fragrance. He used to chew something then feed me with it. He found no lie in my speech, nor weakness in any deeds.
From the time of my weaning, Allah had put a mighty angel with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to take him along the path of high character and good behavior through the day and the night, while I used to follow him like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother. Every day, he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits, commanding me to follow it. Every year he used to go in seclusion to the hill of Hira’, where I saw him but no one else saw him. In those days, Islam was not recognized in any house except that of the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.) and Khadija, while I was the third after these two. I used to see and watch the glory of the Divine revelation and message, and I breathed the scent of Prophethood.
When the revelation descended on the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.), I heard the moan of Satan. I said, “O Prophet of Allah! What is this moaning?” He replied, “This is Satan who has lost all hope of being worshipped. O Ali! You see all that I see and hear all that I hear, except that you are not a prophet; you are a vicegerent and you are surely on (the path of) virtue.”
I was with him when a party of the tribesmen of Quraish came to him and said, “O Muhammad! You have made a big claim which none of your forefathers or those of your family has made. We ask you one thing; if you give us an answer to it and show it to us, we will believe that you are a prophet and a messenger, but if you cannot do it, we will know that you are a sorcerer and a liar.”
The Messenger of Allah said the following: “What do you ask for?” They said, “Ask this tree to move towards us, even with its roots and stop before you.” The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, “Verily, Allah has power over everything. If Allah does it for you, will you then believe and testify to the truth?” They said, “Yes.” Then he said, “I shall show you whatever you want, but I know that you will not bend towards virtue, and there are among you those who will be thrown into the pit and those who will form parties (against me).” Then the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said the following: “O tree! If you do believe in Allah and in the Day of Judgment and know that I am the Prophet of Allah, come up with your roots and stand before me with the permission of Allah.” By the One Who deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with the truth, the tree did remove itself with its roots and came with a great humming sound and a flapping like the flapping of the wings of birds, till it stopped before the Messenger of Allah while some of its twigs came down onto my shoulders and I was on the right side of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.).
When the people saw this, they said by way of pride and vanity, ‘Now you order half of it to come to you and the other half of it to remain (in its place).” The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered the tree to do the same. Half of the tree advanced towards him in an amazing manner and with a grater humming. It was about to touch the Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.). Then they said in their disbelief and rebellion, “Ask this half to get back to its other half and be as it was.” The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered it and it returned. Then I said, “O Prophet of Allah! I am the first to believe in you and to acknowledge that the tree did what it did just now with the command of Allah, the Sublime One, in testimony to your Prophethood and to strengthen your word.” Upon this all the people shouted, ‘Rather a sorcerer, a liar, you are! This is wonderful sorcery! He is very adept in it. Only a youth like this (pointing to me) can stand testimony to you in your affairs.”
Certainly, I belong to the group of people who care not for the reproach of anybody in matters concerning Allah. Their countenance is the countenance of the truthful and their speech is the speech of the virtuous. They are wakeful during the nights (in devotion to Allah) and over beacons (of guidance) in the day. They hold fast to the rope of the Holy Qur’an, revive the traditions of Allah and of His Prophet (p.b.u.h.). They do not boast nor indulge in self-conceit, nor misappropriate, nor create mischief. Their hearts are in Paradise while their bodies are busy in (good) deeds.
It is related that a companion of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him called Hamman, who was a man devoted to worship, and said to him, “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib! Describe to me the pious men in such a way as though I see them.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him replied saying: “Hamman! Fear Allah and do good deeds because “Verily, Allah is with those who guard (themselves against evil) and those who do good (to others)” (Holy Qur’an, 16: 128). But Hamman was not satisfied with this answer and pressured the Imam to provide more details. Thereupon, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him praised Allah and extolled Him and sought His blessings on the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him then said the following:
Allah, the most Glorified One, the Sublime, created everything and everyone. He created them without any need for their obedience. The sin of any sinner does not harm Him, nor does the obedience of anyone who obeys Him benefit Him. He has distributed among them their livelihood and has assigned for them their positions in the world.
Thus, the God-fearing, in this world are the people of distinction. Their speech is to the point, their clothing is moderate and their gait is humble. They keep their eyes closed to what Allah has made unlawful for them, and they put listen to the knowledge which is beneficial to them. They remain calm during the time of trials. If there had not been fixed periods (of life) ordained for each one of them, their spirits would not have remained in their bodies even for the twinkling of an eye because of (their) eagerness for the reward [awaiting them in the Hereafter] and fear of chastisement. The greatness of the Creator is seated in their heart and; so, everything else appears small in their eyes. Thus, to them, Paradise is as though they see it and are enjoying its bliss. To them, Hell is also as if they see it and are suffering from its punishment.
Their hearts are grieved, they are protected against evils, their bodies are thin, their needs are scanty and their souls are chaste. They endure (hardship) for a short while; consequently, they secure comfort for a long time. It is a beneficial transaction that Allah made easy for them. The world wants them, but they do not want it. It captured them, but they freed themselves from it with a ransom.
During the night, they are up standing on their feet reading portions of the Holy Qur’an and reciting it in a well-measured way, creating through it grief for themselves and seeking by it the cure for their ailments. If they come across a verse which creates eagerness (for Paradise), they pursue it avidly, and their spirits turn towards it eagerly, and they feel as if it is in front of them. And when they come across a verse which inspires fear (of Hell), they bend the ears of their hearts towards it and feel as though the sound of Hell and its cries are reaching their ears. They bend their backs, prostrate on their foreheads, palms, knees and toes, beseeching Allah, the Sublime, for their deliverance. During the day, they endure, learn and remain virtuous and God-fearing. Fear (of Allah) has made them thin like arrows. If any one looks at them, he believes they are sick, although they are not sick at all, and he would say that they have lost their sanity. In fact, a great concern (i.e. fear) has made them look like that.
They are not satisfied with [what they consider as] their minor good deeds and do not regard their major deeds as great. They always blame themselves and are afraid of their deeds. When anyone of them is spoken of highly, he says the following: “I know myself better than others and my Master knows me better than I know. O Allah! Do not deal with me according to what they say, make me better than they think of me and forgive me (my shortcomings) which they do not know.”
The peculiarity of any of them is that you would see that he has strength in religion, determination along with leniency, faith with conviction, eagerness in (seeking) knowledge in forbearance, moderation when rich, devotion in worship, gracefulness in hunger, endurance in hardship, desire for what is lawful, pleasure with guidance and hatred for greed. He performs virtuous deeds but still feels alert. In the evening, he is anxious to offer thanks (to Allah). In the morning his anxiety is to remember (Allah). He fearfully passes his night in adoration and rises in the morning in joy - fear lest night is passed in forgetfulness, and joy over the favor and mercy which he is sure to receive. If his soul refuses to endure a thing which it does not like, he does not grant its request towards what it does like. The coolness of his eye lies in what is to last forever, while from the things (of this world) that would not last he keeps aloof. He transfuses knowledge with forbearance and speech with action.
You would see his hopes simple, his shortcomings few, his heart fearing, his spirit contented, his meal small and simple, his religion safe, his desires dead and his anger suppressed. Only goodness is expected from him. Evil from him is not to be feared. Even if he is found among those who forget (Allah), he is counted among those who remember (Him). But if he is among those who remember, he is never counted among the forgetful. He forgives whoever is unjust to him, and he gives whoever deprives him. He behaves well with whoever behaves ill towards him.
Indecent speech is far from him; his utterance is lenient, his evils are non-existent, his virtues are ever present, his goodness precedes him, and mischief turns away from him. He is dignified during calamities, patient in distresses and thankful in ease. He does not commit excesses against anyone whom he may hate and does not commit sin for the sake of one who loves him. He admits the truth before testimony is brought against him. He does not misappropriate what is placed in his custody and does not forget what he is required to remember. He does not call others bad names, he does not cause harm to his neighbor, he does not feel happy at others’ misfortunes, he does not enter into wrong and does not go out of right.
If he is silent, his silence does not grieve him. If he laughs, he does not raise his voice and if he is wronged he endures till Allah takes revenge on his behalf. His own “nafs” is in distress because of his own demeanor, while the people are in ease from him. He exposes himself to hardship for the sake of his Hereafter while letting people feel safe from him. His keeping away from others is asceticism and purification, while his nearness to those to whom he feels close is out of his own kindness and gentleness. His keeping away from others is not out of vanity or arrogance, nor is his nearness to them is flattery or for deception.
It is related that Hamman passed into a deep swoon then expired. Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following: “Verily, by Allah, I had this fear about him.” Then he added: “Effective advice produces such effects on receptive minds.” Someone said to him, “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib! How is it you do not receive such an effect?” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) replied: “Woe unto you! For death there is a fixed hour which cannot be exceeded and a cause which does not change. Now look, never repeat such talk which Satan had put on your tongue.”
Describing the Hypocrites
We praise Allah for the succor which He has given us in carrying out the obligations of being obedient to Him and in preventing us from disobedience. We ask Him to complete His favors (to us) and to make us hold on to His rope. We testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and Messenger. He entered every hardship in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure and endured for its sake every grief. His near relatives changed their attitudes towards him, and those who were distant (in kinship) united against him. The Arabs let loose the reins (of their horses to quicken their march) against him and struck the bellies of their mounts to fight him, so much so that enemies came to his threshold from the remotest places and most distant areas.
I admonish you, O servants of Allah, to fear Allah, and I warn you of the hypocrites because they themselves are misguided and have misguided others as well. They have slipped and will cause others to slip, too. They change into many colors and adopt various ways. They support you with all means but lie in ambush for you at every post. Their hearts are sick while their faces look clear. They walk stealthily and tread like the approach of sickness (over the body). Their words speak of cure, but their deeds are like incurable diseases. They are jealous of ease; they intensify distress and destroy hopes. Their victims are found lying in ambush on every path, while they have means to approach every heart. They have (false) tears for every grief.
They eulogize each other and expect rewards from each other. When they ask something, they insist on it. If they reprove (any one), they disgrace (him), and if they pass a verdict, they commit excesses. They have adopted for every truth a wrong way, for every erect thing a bender, for every living being a killer, for every (closed) door a key and for every night a lamp. They covet, but with despair, in order to maintain with it their markets and propagate for their “handsome” merchandise. When they speak, they create doubts. When they describe, they exaggerate. First they offer easy paths but (afterwards) they make them narrow. In short, they are the party of Satan and the stings of the Fire. “Satan has gained hold on them, so he makes them forget the remembrance of Allah; they are Satan’s Party; Beware! Verily, the party of Satan are the losers” (Holy Qur’an, 58: 19).
Praising Allah, Advising about Fear of Allah
and Providing Details about the Day of Judgment
Praise be to Allah Who has displayed such effects of His authority and the glory of His sublimity through the wonders of His might, so they dazzle the eyes and render the minds incapable of appreciating the reality of His attributes. I testify that there is no god but Allah by virtue of belief, certainty, sincerity and conviction. I also testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave and Prophet whom He deputed when the signs of guidance were obliterated and the ways of religion were desolate. So, he threw open the truth, admonished the people, guided them towards righteousness and ordered them to be moderate. May Allah bless him and his descendants.
Be informed, O servants of Allah, that He has not created you for naught and has not left you free. He knows the extent of His favors over you and the quantity of His bounty towards you. Therefore, ask Him for success and for the attainment of objectives. Beg before Him and seek His generosity. No curtain hides you from Him, nor is any door closed before you against Him. He is at every place, in every moment and instance. He is with every man and jinn. Giving does not create any breach in Him. Gifting does not cause Him diminution. A beggar cannot wear Him out [with his persistent pleas] and giving (to others) can never exhaust Him.
One person cannot turn His attention from another, one voice does not detract Him from another, and one grant of favor does not prevent Him from refusing another. Anger does not prevent Him from mercy, mercy does not prevent Him from punishing; His concealment does not hide His manifestation and His manifestation does not prevent Him from concealing. He is near and at the same time distant. He is high and at the same time low, He is manifest and also concealed. He is concealed yet well-known. He lends but is not lent anything. He has not created creation after devising, nor did He receive any assistance on account of fatigue.
I admonish you, O servants of Allah, to fear Allah, for it is the rein and the mainstay (of religion). Hold fast to its salient tenets, keep hold of its realities. It would take you to abodes of ease, to places of comfort, to fortresses of safety and to houses of honor on the Day (of Judgment) when eyes will be wide open (see Holy Qur’an, 14:42), when there will be darkness all around and when small groups of camels pregnant for ten months will be allowed free grazing. And when the Horn is blown, every living being will then die, every voice will be muted. The high mountains and the hard rocks will crumble (to pieces) so that their hard stones will turn into moving sand and their bases will become level. (On that day) there will be none to intercede, no kinship to ward off (trouble), and no excuse will be of any avail.
The Condition of the World at the Time of the Proclamation of
Prophethood, the Transience of this World and the State of its Inhabitants
Allah deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) when no sign of guidance existed, no beacon was giving light and no passage was clear.
I admonish you, O servants of Allah, to fear Allah, and I warn you of this world which is a house from which departure is inevitable, and it is a place of discomfort. Whoever lives in it has to depart, and whoever stays here has to leave. It is drifting with its people like a boat which severe winds dash (here and there) in the deep sea. Some get drowned and die, while others escape on the surface of the waves; winds push them with their currents and carry them towards their dangers. So, whatever is drowned cannot be restored and whatever escapes is on the way to destruction.
O servants of Allah! You should know now that you have to perform (good) deeds because (presently) your tongues are free, your bodies are healthy, your limbs have movement, the area of your coming and going is vast and the course for your running is wide, before the loss of opportunity or the approach of death. Take death’s approach as imminent and do not think it will come (hereafter).
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib’s Attachment to
the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him and His Progeny,
Performance of Funeral Rites for Him, Peace be Upon Him
Those companions of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), the custodians (of the Divine messages), know that I never disobeyed Allah or His Messenger at all and by virtue of the courage with which Allah honored me, I supported him with my life on occasions when even the brave turned away and feet lagged behind.
When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) died, his head was on my chest and his (last) breath blew over my palms, and I passed it over my face. I performed his funeral ghusul (ceremonial bath), may Allah bless him and his descendants, and the angels helped me. The house and the courtyard were full of them. One party of them was descending while another was ascending. My ears continually caught their humming voice, as they invoked Allah’s blessing on him, till we buried him in his grave. Thus, who can have greater rights with him than I during his life or after his death? Therefore, depend on your enemy because I swear by the One Who is such that there is no god but He, that I am on the path of truth and that they (the enemy) are on the misleading path of wrongdoing. You hear what I say and I seek Allah’s forgiveness for myself and for you.
Allah’s Attribute of Omniscience
Allah knows the cries of the beasts in the forest, the sins of the people in seclusion, the movements of the fishes in the deep seas and the rising of the water by tempestuous winds. I testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is the choice of Allah, the conveyor of His revelation and the Messenger of His mercy.
Why Fearing Allah
I admonish you to fear Allah Who created you. To Him is your return, with Him lies the success of your aims, at Him terminate (all) your desires, toward Him runs your path of righteousness and He is the aim of your fears (for seeking protection). Certainly, fear of Allah is the medicine for your hearts, the sight for the blindness of your spirits, the cure for the ailments of your bodies, the rectifier of the evils of your breasts, the purifier of the pollution of your minds, the light of the darkness of your eyes, the consolation for the fear of your heart and the brightness for the gloom of your ignorance.
Therefore, make obedience to Allah the way of your life, not only your outside covering. Make it your inner habit instead of only outer routine, subtle enough to enter through your ribs (up to the heart), the guide for all your affairs, the watering place for your getting down (on the Day of Judgment), the one who intercedes for the achievement of your aims, the asylum for the day of your fear, the lamp of the interior of your graves, the company for your long loneliness and the deliverance from the troubles of your abodes. Certainly, obedience to Allah is a protection against encircling calamities, expected dangers and the flames of burning fires.
Therefore, whoever entertains fear of Allah, troubles remain away from him after having been near, affairs become sweet after their bitterness, waves (of troubles) recede from him after having crowded over him, difficulties become easy for him after occurring, generosity rains fast over him after shortage, mercy bends over him after it had been loath, the favors (of Allah) spring forth on him after they had been dried and blessing descends over him in showers after being scanty. So, fear Allah Who benefits you with His good advice, preaches to you through His Messenger and obliges you with His favors. Devote yourselves to His worship and acquit yourselves of the obligation of obeying Him.
Islam is the religion which Allah has chosen for Himself, developed it before His eyes, preferred it as the best among His creations, established its pillars on His love. He has disgraced other religions by giving honor to it. He has humiliated all communities before its sublimity; He has humbled its enemies with His kindness and made its opponents lonely by according it His support. He has smashed the pillars of misguidance with its columns. He has quenched the thirst of the thirsty with its cisterns and filled the cisterns through those who draw its water.
He made Islam such that its constituent parts cannot break, its joins cannot separate, its structure cannot fall, its columns cannot decay, its plant cannot be uprooted, its time does not end, its laws do not expire, its twigs cannot be cut, its parts do not become narrow, its ease does not change into difficulty, its clarity is not affected by gloom, its straightness does not acquire curvature, its wood has no crookedness, its vast paths have no narrowness, its lamp knows no putting off and its sweetness has no bitterness.
It consists of columns whose bases Allah has fixed in truthfulness and whose foundation He has strengthened, and of sources the streams of which are ever full of water, of lamps the flames of which are full of light and of beacons with the help of which travelers get guidance and of signs through which a way is found to its highways and of watering places which provide water to those who come to them. Allah has placed in Islam the height of His pleasure, the pinnacle of His pillars and the prominence of His obedience. Before Allah, therefore, its columns stand strong, its structure is lofty, its proofs are bright, its fires are aflame, its authority is strong, its beacons are high and its destruction is difficult. You should, therefore, honor it, follow it, fulfill its obligations and accord the status due to it.
About the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Allah, the Glorified One, deputed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) with the truth at a time when the destruction of the world was near and the next life was at hand, when its brightness was turning into gloom after shining. It has become troublesome for its inhabitants, its surface had become rough and its decay had approached near. This was during the exhaustion of its life at the approach of signs (of its decay), the ruin of its inhabitants, the breaking of its links, the dispersal of its affairs, the decay of its signs, the divulging of its secret matters and the shortening of its length. Allah made him responsible for conveying His message and (a means of) honor for his people, a period of bloom for the men of his days, a source of dignity for the supporters and an honor for his helpers.
About the Holy Qur’an
Then Allah sent him the Book as a light whose flames cannot be extinguished, a lamp whose gleam does not die, a sea whose depth cannot be sounded, a way whose direction does not mislead, a ray whose light does not darken, a separator (of good from evil) whose arguments do not weaken, one who clarifies, one whose foundations cannot be dismantled, a cure which leaves no room for disease, an honor whose supporters are not defeated and the truth whose helpers are not abandoned. Therefore, it is the mine of belief and its nucleus, the source of knowledge and its oceans, the plantation of justice and its pools, the foundation stone of Islam and its construction, the valleys of truth and its plains, an ocean which those who draw water cannot empty, springs which those who draw water cannot dry up, a watering place which those who come to take water cannot exhaust, a staging place in moving towards which travelers do not get lost, signs which no trader fails to see and a highland which those who approach it cannot surpass.
Allah has made it quench the thirst of the learned, a bloom for the hearts of religious jurists, a highway for the ways of the righteous, a cure after which there is no ailment, a glory with which there is no darkness, a rope whose grip is strong, a stronghold whose peak is invulnerable and honor for whoever owes it, a peace for whoever enters it, a guidance for whoever follows it, an excuse for whoever adopts it, an argument for whoever argues with it, a witness for whoever quarrels with it, a success for whoever argues with it, a carrier of burden for whoever seeks the way, a shield for whoever arms himself (against misguidance), a knowledge for whoever listens carefully, a worthy story for whoever relates it and a final verdict of whoever passes Judgments.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Advising His Companions about Prayers
Pledge to uphold prayers and to remain steady on it; offer prayer as much as possible and seek nearness (to Allah) through it because “it is (imposed) upon the believers as a timed ordinance” (Holy Qur’an, 4:103).
Have you not heard the reply of the people of Hell when they are asked: “What has brought you into hell?” They shall say: “We were not of those who offered regular prayers!” (Holy Qur’an, 74: 42-43). Certainly, prayer drops out sins like the leaves of trees drop and removes them as ropes are removed from the necks of cattle. The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) likened it to a flowing river at the doorstep of a person who takes a bath in it five times a day. Will then any dirt remain on him? Its obligation is recognized by those believers whom neither the adornment of property nor the coolness of the eyes produced by children can turn away from it. Allah, the Glorified One, says the following: “... men whom neither merchandise nor any diversion distracts them from the remembrance of Allah and constancy in prayer and paying the zakat” (Qur;an, 24: 37).
Even after receiving assurance of Paradise, the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) used to exert himself for the prayers because of the command of Allah, the Glorified One. “... enjoin prayer on your followers and adhere thereto steadfastly” (Holy Qur’an, 20: 132).
Then the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to enjoin his followers to pray and exert himself for its sake.
About the Islamic Tax of zakat
Then Islamic tax has been laid down along with prayers as a sacrifice (to be offered) by the followers of Islam. Whoever pays it by way of purifying his spirit, it serves as a purifier for him, a protection and a shield against the fire (of Hell). No one, therefore, (who pays it) should feel attached to it afterwards, nor should he feel grieved. Whoever pays it without the intention of purifying his heart, expecting through it to gain more [material rewards], he is certainly ignorant of the Sunnah; he is allowed no reward for it; his action goes to waste, and his hope for repentance is excessive!
Fulfillment of Trust
As regarding the fulfillment of trust, whoever does not pay attention to it will be disappointed. It was placed before the mighty skies, the vast earth and the high mountains, but none was found to be stronger, more vast, or higher than it. If anything could be unapproachable because of height, vastness, power or strength, they will have been unapproachable. But they felt afraid of the evil consequences (of failing in fulfilling a trust) and noticed what a weaker person did not realize it, and this was man. “Verily, he [man] was (proven) unjust, ignorant” (Holy Qur’an, 33: 72).
Surely, Allah, the Glorified One, the Sublime, nothing is hidden from Him of whatever people do in their nights or days. His knowledge encompasses all things. Your limbs are a witness [against you], the organs of your body constitute an army (against yourself), your inner self serves Him as eyes (to watch over your sins) and your loneliness is open to Him.
Treason and Treachery of Mu`awiyah
and the Fate of Those Guilty of Treason
By Allah, Mu`awiyah is not more shrewd than I am, but he deceives and commits evil deeds. Had I not been hateful of deceitfulness, I will have been the most cunning of all men. But (the fact is that) deceit is a sin and sin is disobedience (of Allah). Every deceitful person will have a banner by which he will be recognized on the Day of Judgment. By Allah, I cannot be made forgetful by strategy, nor can I be overpowered by hardships.
One Should Not Be Afraid of the Scarcity
of Those Who Tread on the Right Path
O people! Do not wonder at the small number of those who follow the right path because people throng only around the table (of this world) whose edibles are few but whose hunger is insatiable.
O people! Certainly what gathers people together is (their) agreement (to good or bad) and (their) disagreement, for only one individual killed the camel of Thamud but Allah held all of them as liable for punishment because all of them joined him with their acquiescence. Thus, Allah, the Glorified One, has said the following: “Then they hamstrung her and became regretful” (Holy Qur’an, 26:157).
Then their land declined by sinking (into earth) as the spike of a plough pierces unploughed weak land. O people! Whoever treads the clear path (of guidance) reaches the spring of water, and whoever abandons it strays into a barren desert.
What Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Said on the
Occasion of the Burial of the Supreme Lady, Fatima, Peace be Upon Her,
While Addressing the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him at His Grave:
O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.)! Peace be upon you from me and from your daughter who has come to you and who has hastened to meet you. O Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h.), my patience about your chosen (daughter) has been exhausted and my power of endurance has weakened, except that I have ground for consolation in having endured the great hardship and heart-rending event of your separation. I laid you down in your grave when you breathed your last (as your head was) between my neck and chest. “Verily we are Allah’s and verily to Him shall we return” (Holy Qur’an, 2: 156).
Now, the trust has been returned, and what had been given has been taken back. As to my grief, it knows no bounds, and as to my nights, they will remain sleepless till Allah chooses for me the house in which you are now residing. Certainly, your daughter will apprise you of the joining together of your umma (people) for the aim of oppressing her. Ask her for the details and get all the news. This has happened only a short period of time had elapsed, yet your remembrance has already disappeared... My Salam be to you both, the Salam of a grief-stricken one, not a disgusted nor a hateful one. If I go away, it is not because I am weary (of you), and if I stay, it is not due to lack of belief in what Allah has promised those who endure.
Transience of this World, the Importance
of Collecting Provisions for the Next Life
O people! Certainly this world is a passage while the next is a place of permanent abode. So, take from the passage (all that you can) for the permanent abode. Do not tear away your curtain before the One Who is aware of your secrets. Take your hearts away from this world before your bodies exit out of it. Herein, you have been put on trial, and you have been created for the other world. When a man dies, people ask what (property) he has left, while the angels ask what (good actions) he has sent forward [to his Hereafter]. May Allah bless you; send forward something; it will be a loan for you. Do not leave everything behind, for that will be a burden on you.
What Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Provided the Following General Advice to His Companions,
Warning Them about the Perils of the Day of Judgment:
May Allah have mercy on you! Prepare provisions for the [imminent] journey [to the life to come] because the call for departure has been announced. Regard your stay in this world as very short, and return (to Allah) with the best provisions with you because surely, in front of you lies a valley difficult to climb and places of stay full of fears and dangers. You have to get there and to permanently stay. And be admonished that the eyes of death are approaching you, fixed on you. It is as though you are (already) in the talons of death, and it has struck you. Difficult affairs and distressing dangers have crushed you into it. You should, therefore, cut away all the attachments of this world and seek assistance with the provision of the fear of Allah.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Part of this statement has been quoted before through another narration.”
Having Sworn Allegiance to Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him, Talhah and Az-zubayr Complained to Him That He
Had Not Consulted Them or Sought Their “Advice” in the Affairs (of State).
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Replied as Follows:
You both frown over a small issue and leave aside many big ones. Can you tell me of anything wherein you have a right of which I have deprived you, or a share which was due to you and which I have held away from you, or any Muslim who has laid any claim before me and I have been unable to decide it or have been ignorant of it, or committed a mistake about it?
By Allah, I had no liking for the caliphate, nor have I had any interest in the government, but you yourselves invited me to it and prepared me for it. When the caliphate came to me, I kept the Book of Allah in my view and all that Allah had put the rein for us, all that according to what He has commanded us to decide. I followed it and also acted on whatever the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had laid down as his Sunnah. In this matter, I did not need your advice nor the advice of anyone else, nor has there been any order of which I was ignorant so that I ought to have consulted you or my Muslim brethren. If it were so, I would not have turned away from you or from others.
As regarding your reference to the question of equality (in the distribution of shares from the Muslim common fund), this is a matter in which I have not taken a decision according to my own opinion, nor have I done it by my caprice. But I found and you, too, (must have) found, that whatever the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) brought had been finalized. Therefore, I felt no need to turn towards you about a share which had been determined by Allah and in which His verdict has been passed. By Allah, in this matter, therefore, you two or anyone else can have no favor from me. May Allah keep our hearts and yours in righteousness, and may He grant us and yourselves endurance.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) added: “May Allah have mercy on the person who, when he sees the truth, supports it, when he sees falsehood, he rejects it and who helps the truth against anyone who is wrong.”
During the Battle of Siffin, Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him Heard Some of His Men Verbally
Abusing the Syrians, So He Said the Following:
I dislike for you to start taunting them, but if you describe their deeds and recount their situations, it will be a better mode of speech and a more convincing argument. Instead of abusing them you should say, “O Allah! Save our blood and theirs, produce reconciliation between us and them and lead them out of their misguidance so that whoever is ignorant of the truth may know it and whoever inclines towards rebellion and rebellion may turn away from it.”
In the Battle of Siffin, Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib,
Saw Imam Al-hasan, Peace be Upon Both of Them
Proceeding Rapidly to Fight, So He Said the Following:
Hold back this young man on my behalf lest he should cause my ruin because I am loath to send these two (meaning al-Hassan and al-Hussain) towards death, lest the descending line of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is cut off permanently by their death.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s words ‘amiku anni hadha’l-ghulam’ (i.e. Hold back this young man on my behalf) represents the highest and the most eloquent form of expression.”
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib’s Companions
Expressed Displeasure about His Attitude
Concerning the Arbitration, He Said the Following :
O people! Matters between me and you went as I wished till war exhausted you. By Allah, it has overtaken some of you while leaving others, completely weakening your enemy. Till yesterday, I was giving orders but today I am being given orders! Till yesterday, I was dissuading people (from wrong deeds), but today I am being dissuaded! You have now shown a liking to live in this world, and it is not for me to bring you to what you dislike.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Went to Inquire
about the Health of His Companion Al-`Ala’ Ibn Ziyad al-Harithi.
When He Noticed the Vastness of His Mansion Estate, He Said the Following:
What will you do with this vast house in this world, although you need this house more in the next world? If you want to take it to the next world, you can entertain in it guests and be regardful of kinship and discharge all (your) obligations according to their accrual. In this way, you will be able to take it to the next world.
Then al-`Ala’ said to him: “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.)! I want to complain to you about my brother `asim ibn Ziyad.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) inquired: “What is the matter with him?” Al-`Ala’ said the following: “He has put on a woolen coat and cut off himself from the world.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said, “Let me see him.” When the man came, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said to him, “O enemy of yourself! Certainly, the evil one (Satan) has misguided you. Do you feel no compassion for your wife and children? Do you believe that if you use those things which Allah has made lawful for you, He will dislike you? You are too unimportant for Allah to do so.” The man said, “O Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.)! You yourself put on coarse outfits and eat rough food.” The Imam replied thus: “Woe unto you! I am not like you. Certainly, Allah, the Sublime, has made it obligatory on true leaders that they should maintain themselves at the level of low people so that the poor do not cry over their poverty.”
Someone Asked Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him about
Concocted Traditions and Contradictory Sayings of the Prophet,
Peace be Upon Him Which Were Then in Circulation among the Public.
The Imam Said the Following:
Certainly, what is current among the people is both right and wrong, true and false, repealing and repealed, general and particular, definite and indefinite, exact and surmised. Even during the Prophet’s days, false sayings had been attributed to him, so much so that he had to say during his sermon that “Whoever attributes falsehoods to me makes his own abode in Hell.” Those who relate traditions are no more than four categories:
1. The Lying Hypocrites
The hypocrite is a person who makes a show of faith and adopts the appearance of a Muslim. He does not hesitate to sin, nor does he keep aloof from vice. He willfully attributes false things to the Messenger of Allah. If people knew that he was a hypocrite and a liar, they would not accept anything from him and would not consider what he says.
Rather, they would say that he is the companion of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), has met him, heard (his statements) and acquired knowledge from him. They, therefore, accept what he says. Allah, too, had warned you against the hypocrites and described them fully to you. They have continued after the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.). They gained positions with the leaders of misguidance and callers towards Hell through falsehoods and slandering. So, the latter put them in high positions and made them officers over the heads of the people, letting them amass wealth. People are always with the rulers and after this world except those to whom Allah affords protection. This is the first of the four categories.
2. Those Who are Mistaken
Then there is the individual who heard (a saying) from the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but did not memorize it as it was, but surmised its gist. He does not lie willfully. Now, he carries the saying with him and relates it, depends upon it and claims that: “I heard it from the Messenger of Allah.” If the Muslims come to know that he has committed a mistake in it, they will not accept it from him, and if he himself knows that he is wrong, he will give it up.
3. Those Who are Ignorant
The third man is one who heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordering to do something, and later the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) forbade people from doing it, but this man did not know it, or he heard the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) forbidding people from doing something and later he allowed it, but this man did not know it. In this case, he retained in his mind what had been repealed and did not retain the repealing tradition. If he knew that it had been repealed, he would reject it, or if the Muslims knew, when they heard it from him, that it had been repealed, they would reject it.
4. Those Who Accurately Memorize
The last, namely the fourth man, is whoever does not speak a lie against Allah or against His Prophet (p.b.u.h.). He hates falsehood out of fear for Allah and respect for the Messenger of Allah and does not commit mistakes, but retains (in his mind) exactly what he heard (from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)) and he relates it as he heard it without adding anything or omitting anything. He heard the repealing tradition, he retained it and acted upon it and he heard the repealed tradition and rejected it. He also understands the particular and the general and he knows the definite and indefinite and gives everything its due status.
The sayings of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to be of two types. One was particular and the other common. Sometimes a man would hear him but he would not know what Allah, the Glorified One, meant by it or what the Messenger of Allah meant by it. In this way the listener carries it and memorizes it without knowing its meaning and its real intention, or what was its reason. Among the companions of the Messenger of Allah all were not in the habit of putting him questions and ask him the meanings, indeed they always wished that some Bedouin or stranger might come and ask him (p.b.u.h.) so that they would also listen. Whenever any such thing came before me, I asked him about its meaning and preserved it. These are the reasons and grounds of differences among the people in their traditions.
The Greatness of Allah
and the Creation of the Universe
It is through the strength of Allah’s Greatness and Subtle Power of innovation that He made solid dry earth out of the water of the fathomless, compact and dashing ocean. Then He made from it layers and separated them into seven skies they had been joined together. So, they became stationary at His command, stopping at the limit fixed by Him. He made the earth that is born deep blue, surrounded with water which is obedient to His command and to His awe while its flow has stopped due to fear of Him.
He also created high hills, rocks and lofty mountains. He put them in their positions and made them remain stationary. Their peaks stretched into the air while their roots remained in the water. In this way, He realized the mountains above the plains and fixed their foundations in the vast expanse wherever they stood. He made their peaks high and their mass lofty. He made them like pillars for the earth in which He fixed them like pegs. Consequently, the earth became stationary lest it should bend with its inhabitants, or sink inwards with its burden, or shift from its positions.
Therefore, glorified is Whoever stopped it after the flowing of its waters and solidified it after the watery state of its sides. In this way He made it a cradle for His creatures and spread it for them in the form of a floor over the deep ocean which is stationary and does not move; it is fixed and does not flow. Severe winds move it here and there and clouds draw up water from it. “Verily in this there is a lesson to him who fears (Allah) Holy Qur’an, 79: 26)
About Those Who Give up Supporting Right
O Lord! Whoever listens to our utterance, which is just and which seeks the prosperity of religion and the worldly life, and who does not seek mischief, but rejects it after listening, then he certainly turns away from Your support and desists from strengthening Your religion. We implore You to be the witness over him, and You are the greatest of all witnesses, and we make all those who inhabit Your earth and skies witness over him. Thereafter, You alone can make us needless of his support and question him about his sin.
Sublimity of Allah, Praising
the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Praise be to Allah Who is above all similarity to the creatures, is above the words of describers. He displays the wonders of His management for the onlookers, is hidden from the imagination of thinkers by virtue of the greatness of His glory, has knowledge without acquiring it, adding to it or drawing it (from someone) and Who is the One Who ordains all matters without reflecting or thinking. He is such that gloom does not concern Him, nor does He seek light from brightness. Night does not overtake Him, nor does the day pass over Him (so as to affect Him in any manner). His comprehension (of things) is not through eyes, and His knowledge is not dependent on being informed.
Part of the Same Sermon about
the Prophet, Peace be Upon Him
Allah deputed the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with light and accorded him the highest precedence in selection. Through him, Allah united those who were divided, overpowered the powerful, overcame difficulties and leveled rugged ground, thus removing misguidance right and left.
The Prophet’s Nobility of Descent
I testify that He is just and implements justice. He is the arbiter Who decides (between right and wrong). I also testify that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is His slave, Messenger and the Chief of His creatures. When Allah divided the line of descent, He placed his in the very best place. Therefore, no evil-doer ever shared with him, nor was any vicious person his partner.
Beware! Surely Allah, the Glorified One, has provided for virtue those who are suited for it, for truth pillars (that support it), and for obedience protection (against deviation). In every matter of obedience, you would find Allah, the Glorified One, succor that would speak through tongues and accords firmness to the hearts. It has sufficiency for those who seek sufficiency, a cure for those who seek a cure.
Characteristics of the virtuous
whose guidance must be emulated
Be informed that, certainly, those servants of Allah Who preserve His knowledge offer protection to those things which He desires to be protected and make His springs flow (for the benefit of others). They contact each other with friendliness and meet each other with affection. They drink water from cups that quench the thirst and return from the watering places fully satiated. Misgiving does not affect them; backbiting does not gain ground with them. In this way Allah has tied their nature with good manners. Because of this, they love and meet each other. They have become superior like seeds which are selected by taking some and throwing away others. This selection has distinguished them, and the process of choosing has purified them.
Therefore, man should secure honor by adopting these qualities. He should fear the day of Doom before it arrives; he should appreciate the shortness of his life and the shortness of his sojourn in the place of stay which has only to last for his journey to the next abode. He should, therefore, do something for his change over and for the known stages of his departure. Blessed be whoever possesses a virtuous heart, who obeys one who guides him, desists from him who takes to ruin, catches the path of safety with the help of him who provides light (of guidance), obeying the leader who commands him, hastens towards guidance before its doors are closed, opens the door of repentance and removes the (stain of) sins. He has certainly been put on the right path and guided towards the straight road.
A Prayer Which Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib,
Peace be Upon Him Often Recited
Praise be to Allah Who made me such that I have not died nor am I sick, nor have my veins been infected with disease, nor have I been hauled up for my evil deeds, nor am I without progeny, nor have I forsaken my religion, nor do I disbelieve in my Lord, nor do I feel estranged with my faith, nor is my intelligence affected, nor have I been punished with the punishment of peoples before me. I am a slave in Your possession, Lord, yet I have been guilty of excesses regarding my own soul. You have exhausted Your pleas in my regard and I have no plea (before You). I have no power to take except what You give me, and I cannot evade except what You save me from.
O Lord! I seek Your protection from becoming destitute despite Your riches, from being misguided despite Your guidance, from being assaulted in Your realm and from being humiliated while authority rests with You.
O Lord! Let my soul be the first of the good things that You take from me and the first trust out of Your favors held in trust with me.
O Lord! We seek Your protection against turning away from Your command or rebellioning against Your religion, or being led away by our desires instead of by guidance that comes from You.
Delivered at the Battle of Siffin
Mutual Rights of the Ruler and the Ruled
By placing me over your affairs, Allah, the Glorified One, has created my right over you and you, too, have a right over me like mine over you, a right is very vast in description but very narrow in equity. It does not accrue to any person unless it accrues against him also, and right does not accrue against a person unless it also accrues in his favor. If there is any right, which is only in favor of a person with no (corresponding) right accruing against him, it is solely for Allah, the Glorified One, not for His creatures by virtue of His might over His creatures, and by virtue of the justice permeating all His decrees. Of course, He, the Glorified One, has created His right over creatures to worship Him and has laid upon Himself (the obligation of) their reward equal to several times the recompense as a mark of His bounty and the generosity that He is capable of.
Then, from His rights, He, the Glorified One, created certain rights for certain people against others. He made them so in order to equate one with another. Some of these rights produce other rights. Some rights are such that they do not accrue except with others. The greatest of these rights is that Allah, the Glorified One, has made obligatory the right of the ruler over the ruled, and the right of the ruled over the ruler. This is an obligation which Allah, the Glorified One, has placed on each other. He has made it the basis of their (mutual) affection and an honor for their religion. Consequently, the ruled cannot prosper unless the rulers are sound, while the rulers cannot be sound unless the ruled are steadfast.
If the ruled fulfill the rights of the ruler and the ruler fulfills their rights, then right attains the status of honor among them, the ways of religion become established, the signs of justice become fixed and the Sunnah gains currency.
In this way, time would improve, the continuance of government would be expected and the aims of the enemies would be frustrated. But if the ruled gain sway over the ruler, or if the ruler oppresses the ruled, then differences crop up in every word, signs of oppression appear, mischief creeps into the creed and the ways of the Sunnah are forsaken. Then desires are acted upon, the commands (of religion) are discarded, diseases of the spirit become numerous and there is no hesitation in disregarding even great rights, nor in committing big wrongdoings. In such circumstances, the virtuous are humiliated while the vicious are honored, and in this there are serious chastisements from Allah, the Glorified One, on the people.
You should, therefore, counsel each other (for the fulfillment of your obligations) and cooperate with each other. However extremely eager a person may be to secure the pleasure of Allah, and however fully he strives for it, he cannot totally discharge (his obligation for) obedience to Allah, the Glorified One, as is really due to Him. It is an obligatory right of Allah over the people that they should advise each other to the best of their ability and cooperate with each other for the establishment of the truth among them. Nobody, however great his status in the matter of the truth, and however advanced his distinction in religion may be, is above cooperation with regard to the obligations placed on him by Allah. Again, no man, however small he may be regarded by others and however humble he may appear before their eyes, is too low to cooperate or to be afforded cooperation in this matter.
One of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s companions replied to him with a long speech of his own wherein he praised him much and referred to his listening to him and obeying him, whereas Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following:
If a man in his mind regards Allah’s glory as being high and believes in his heart that Allah’s status is sublime, then it is his right that on account of the greatness of these things, he should regard all other things as minor. Among such persons he on whom Allah’s bounty is great and Allah’s favors are kind has a greater obligation because Allah’s bounty over any person does not increase without a corresponding increase in Allah’s right over him.
In the view of virtuous people, the worst status of rulers is that it may be thought about them that they love glory and their affairs may be taken to be based on pride. I would really hate that it may cross your mind that I love high praises or hear eulogies. By the grace of Allah, I am not like this. Even if I had loved to be mentioned like this, I would have given it up in submissiveness before Allah, the Glorified One, rather than accept greatness and sublimity to which He is more entitled. Generally, people feel pleased at praise after good performances. But do not mention to me handsome praise for the obligations which I have discharged towards Allah and towards you because of (my) fear about those obligations which I have not discharged and for issuing injunctions which could not be avoided. Do not address me in the manner in which despots are addressed.
Do not shun me as the people of passion are (to be) shunned. Do not meet me with flattery, and do not think that I shall take it ill if a true thing is said to me because the person who feels disgusted when he hears the truth, or a just matter is placed before him, would find it more difficult to act upon them. Therefore, do not abstain from saying the truth or pointing out a matter of justice because I do not regard myself to be above erring. I do not escape erring in my actions except that Allah helps me (in avoiding errors) in matters in which He is more powerful than I. Certainly, I and you are slaves owned by Allah, besides Whom there is no other Lord. He owns our souls which we do not own. He took us from where we were towards the means of our prosperity. He turned our straying into guidance and gave us intelligence after blindness.
Excesses of the Quraishi Tribesmen
O Lord! I beseech You to take revenge on the tribesmen of Quraish and on those who are assisting them, for they have cut asunder my kinship and over-turned my cup. They have joined together to contest a right to which I was entitled more than anyone else. They said to me: “If you get your right, that would be just, but if you are denied the right, that, too, would be just. Endure it with sadness or kill yourself in grief.” I looked around but found no one to shield me, protect me or help me except the members of my family. I refrained from flinging them into death and, therefore, closed my eyes despite the dust, kept swallowing saliva despite (the suffocation of) grief and endured the pangs of anger although they were more bitter than colocynth and more grievous than the stabs of knives.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “This utterance of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) has already appeared in an earlier Sermon (No. 171), but I have repeated it here because of the difference of versions.”
Part of the Same Sermon about Those Who Went to
Basrah to Fight Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
They marched on my officers and the custodians of the public treasury, which is still under my control, and on the people of a metropolis all of whom were obedient to me and were allied to me. They created division among them, instigated their party against me and attacked my followers. They killed a group of them by treachery, while another group took up swords against them and fought with the swords till they met Allah as adherents to the truth.
When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Passed by the Corpses
of Talhah Ibn `Ubaydullah and `Abd Ar-rahman Ibn `Attab Ibn Asid,
Who Were Both Killed in the Battle of Jamal, He Said the Following:
Abu Muhammad (Talhah) lies here away from his own place. By Allah, I did not like that the tribesmen of Quraish should lie killed under the stars. I have avenged myself, together with the descendants of `Abd Manaf, but the chief persons of Banu Jumah have slipped away from my grip. They had stretched their necks towards a matter for which they were not suited and, therefore, their necks were broken before they reached their goal.
Qualities of the God-Fearing and the Pious
He (the believer) kept his mind alive and killed (the desires of) his heart till his body became thin, his bulk turned light and a glory of extreme brightness shone for him. It lighted the way for him and took him on the (right) path. Different doors led him to the door of safety and the place of (his permanent) stay. His feet, balancing his body, became fixed in the status of safety and comfort because he kept his heart (in good deeds) and pleased his Lord.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Recited the Verse Saying,
“Engage (Your) Vying in Exuberance until You Come to the Graves”
(Holy Qur’an, 102: 1-2) Then He Said the Following:
How distant (from achievement) is their aim, how neglectful these visitors are and how difficult the affair is! They have not taken lessons from things which are full of lessons, but they took them from far off places. Do they boast on the dead bodies of their forefathers, or do they regard the number of dead persons as a ground for boasting about their number?! They want to revive the bodies that have become lifeless and the movements that have ceased. They are more entitled to be a source of admonishment than a source of pride and boasting. They are more suitable for being a source of humility than of honor.
They looked at them with weak-sighted eyes, descending into the hollow of ignorance. If they had asked about them from the dilapidated houses and empty courtyards, they would have said that they went into earth in the state of misguidance, and you, too, are heading ignorantly towards them. You trample their skulls, raise constructions on their corpses, graze what they have left and live in houses which they have vacated. The days (that lie) between them and you are also bemoaning you and reciting eulogies over you.
They are your fore-runners in reaching the goal. They have arrived at the watering places before you. They had positions of honor and plenty of pride. They were rulers and holders of positions. Now they have gone into the interstice where earth covers them from above and is eating their flesh and drinking their blood. They lie in the hollows of their graves lifeless, growing no more, hidden, not to be found. The approach of dangers does not frighten them; the adversity of circumstances does not grieve them. They do not mind earthquakes, nor do they heed thunder. They are gone and not expected back. They are existent but unseen. They were united but are now dispersed. They were together and are now separated.
Their records are unknown and their houses are silent, not because of length of time or distance of place, but because they have been made to drink the cup (of death) which has changed their speech into dumbness, their hearing into deafness and their movements into stillness. It seems as if they are fallen in slumber. They are neighbors not feeling affection for each other, friends who do not meet each other. The bonds of their knowing each other have been worn out; the regards of their friendship have been cut asunder. Everyone of them is, therefore, alone although they are a group; they are strangers though friends. They are unaware of morning after a night and of evening after a day. The night or the day, when they departed, has become ever existent for them. Or a night that would come without a day. They found the dangers of their place of stay more serious than they had feared. They witnessed that its signs were greater than they had guessed. The two objectives (namely Paradise and Hell) have been stretched for them up to a point beyond the reach of either fear or hope. Had they been able to speak, they would have become too dumb to describe what they witnessed or saw.
Even though their traces have been wiped out and their news has stopped, eyes are capable of drawing a lesson, as they looked at them, intelligent ears heard them, and they spoke without uttering words. So, they said that handsome faces have been destroyed and delicate bodies have been smeared by the earth. We have put on a worn-out shroud. The narrowness of the grave has over-whelmed us and strangeness has spread among us. Our silent abodes have been ruined. The beauty of our bodies has disappeared. Our known features have become hateful. Our stay in the places of strangeness has become long. We do not get relief from pain nor widening from narrowness.
Now, if you portray them in your mind, or if the curtains concealing them are removed for you, in such a state, when their ears have lost their power, turning deaf, their eyes have been filled with dust, sinking down, their tongues which were very active have been cut into pieces, their hearts which were ever wakeful have become motionless in their chests, in every limb of theirs a peculiar decay has taken place which has deformed it and paved the way for calamity towards it..., all these lie powerless, with no hand to help them, no heart to grieve over them, it is then that you would certainly realize the grief of their hearts and the dirt of their eyes.
Every trouble of theirs is such that its condition does not change and the distress does not clear away. How many a prestigious body and amazing beauty which earth has swallowed, although when in the world he enjoyed abundant pleasures and was nurtured in honor? He clung to enjoyments (even) in the hour of grief. If distress befell him, he would seek refuge in consolation through the pleasures of life, playing and being indulged in games. He was laughing at the world while the world was laughing at him because of a life full of forgetfulness. Then time trampled him like thorns, the days weakened his energy and death began to look at him from near. Then he was overtaken by a grief which he had never felt; There is sure to be a day without a night, ailments appeared in place of the health which he previously used to enjoy.
He then turned to that with which the physician had made him familiar, namely suppressing the hot (diseases) with cold (medicines) and curing the cold with hot doses. But the cold things did nothing save aggravate the hot ailments, while the hot ones did nothing except to increase the coldness. Nor did he acquire temperateness in his constitution. Rather, every ailment of his increased till his physicians became helpless, his attendants grew loathsome and his own people felt disgusted from describing his disease, avoided answering those who inquired about him and quarreled in front of him about the serious news which they were concealing from him. Thus, someone would say that his condition is what it is and would console them with hopes of his recovery, while another would advocate patience on missing him, recalling to them the calamities that had befallen the earlier generations.
In this state, when he was getting ready to depart from the world and leave his beloved ones, such a serious choking overtook him that his senses became bewildered and the dampness of his tongue dried up. Now, there was many an important question whose reply he knew about but he could not utter and many a voice that was painful for his heart that he heard but remained (unmoved), as though he was deaf to the voice of either, an elder whom he used to respect, or a youth whom he used to caress. The pangs of death are too hideous to be covered by description or be appreciated by the hearts of the people in this world.
Delivered after reciting this verse:
“...therein are men whom neither merchandise nor any sale diverts from the remembrance of Allah and are constantly praying and paying the poor-rate declare glory to Him in the mornings and the evenings; they fear the Day when the hearts and eyes shall writhe in anguish” (Holy Qur’an, 24:36-37) .
Certainly, Allah, the Glorified One, the Sublime, has made His remembrance the light for the hearts which hear, with its help, despite deafness, see with its help despite blindness and become submissive with its help despite unruliness.
In all the periods when there were no prophets, there have been persons with whom Allah, precious are His bounties, whispered through their wits and spoke through their minds. With the help of the bright awakening of their ears, eyes and hearts did they keep reminding others of the remembrance of the Days of Allah, making others fear Him with piety; they were like guide posts in the wildernesses. Whoever adopts the middle way, they praise his ways and give him the tidings of deliverance. But whoever goes right and left, they vilify his ways and frighten him with ruin. In this way, they served as lamps in the darkness and guides through these doubts.
There are some people who are devoted to the remembrance (of Allah). They have adopted it in place of worldly matters so that commerce or trade does not turn them away from it. They pass their life in it. They speak into the ears of neglectful persons, warning against matters regarded as unlawful by Allah, ordering them to practice justice while they themselves keep practicing it. They keep other away from what is unlawful while they themselves refrain from it. It is as though they have finished the journey of this world towards the next and have beheld what lies beyond it. Consequently, they have become acquainted with all that befell them in the interstice during their long stay the rein and the Day of Judgment fulfills its promises for them. Therefore, they removed the curtain from these things for the people of the world, till it was as though they were seeing what people did not see and hearing what people did not hear.
If you picture them in your mind in their admirable positions and well-known sittings, when they have opened the records of their actions and are prepared to render an account of themselves with regard to the small as well as the big things they were ordered to do but failed to do, or were ordered to refrain from but they indulged therein, so they realized the weight of their burden (of bad deeds) on their backs and felt too weak to bear them. Then they wept bitterly and spoke to each other while still crying and beseeching Allah in repentance and acknowledgment (of their shortcomings)..., you would find them to be symbols of guidance and lamps in the darkness. Angels will be surrounding them, peace will be descending upon them, the gates of heaven will be opened for them, and positions of honor will be assigned to them in the place of which Allah had informed them. Therefore, He has appreciated their actions and praised their status. They call Him and breathe in the air of forgiveness.
They are ever needy of His bounty. They remain humble before His greatness, the length of their grief has pained their hearts and prolonging their grief. They knock at every door of inclination towards Allah. They ask the One Whom generosity does not impoverish and from Whom those who approach Him do not get disappointed. Therefore, take account of yourself for your own sake because the account of others will be taken by One other than you.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him recited this verse:
“O you man! What has beguiled you from your Lord, the most Gracious One?” (Holy Qur’an, 82: 6). Then he said the following:
The addressee (in this verse) has no argument; his excuse is most deceptive. He is resigning himself to ignorance. O man! What has emboldened you to (commit) sins? What had deceived you about your Lord, and what has made you satisfied with the destruction of your own soul? Is there no cure for your ailment or no awakening from your sleep? Do you not have pity on yourself as you have on others? Generally, when you see anyone exposed to the heat of the sun, you cover him with a shade. Or if you see anyone afflicted with grief that pains his body, you weep out of pity for him. What has then made you patient over your own disease? What has made you insistent on your own afflictions, and what has consoled you from weeping over yourself although your life is the most precious of all lives to you? Why does not the fear of an ailment that may befall you in the night keep you awake although you lie on the way to Allah’s wrath due to your sins?
You should cure the disease of languor in your heart with determination and the sleep of neglectfulness in your eyes with wakefulness. Be obedient to Allah and love His remembrance. Picture yourself running away while He is approaching you. He is calling you to His forgiveness and concealing your faults with His kindness, while you are fleeing away from Him, seeking others. Certainly, Great is Allah the powerful Who is so generous, and how humble and weak you are yet still so bold to commit disobedience to Him although you live in His protection and undergo changes of life in the expanse of His kindness. He does not exclude you from His kindness and does not remove you from His protection. In fact, you have not been without His kindness even for one single moment, whether it be a favor that He conferred upon you, or a sin of yours that He concealed, or a calamity that He has warded off from you. What is your idea about Him if you had obeyed Him? By Allah, if this had been the case with two persons equal in power and matching in might (one being inattentive and the other showering favors upon you), you would then have been the first to indict yourself of having a bad conduct and committing evil deeds.
I truthfully say that the world has not deceived you but you have had yourself deceived by it. The world opened to you the curtains and divulged to you (everything) equally. And in all that, it forewarned you about the troubles befalling your bodies and the decay in your power. It has been too true and faithful in promise and did not speak a lie to you or deceive you. There are many who advise you about it but they are blamed, and they speak the truth about it but they are opposed. If you understand the world by means of dilapidated and far-reaching power of drawing lessons, you would find it like one who is kind to you and cautious about you. It is good abode for whoever does not like it as an abode, a good place of stay for whoever does not regard it a permanent home for stay.
Only those who run away from this world today will tomorrow be regarded as virtuous. When an earthquake occurs, the Day of Resurrection approaches with all its severity, people of every worshiping place cling to it, while all the devotees cling to the objective of their devotion as all followers cling to their leaders. On that Day, even the act of one looking at the sky [wondering about what it contains and about the One Who created everything] or that of the sound of a footstep on the ground [of one who goes to perform a good deed] will be fully rewarded through His Justice and Equity. On that Day, many an argument will prove void and a contention for excuses will stand rejected.
You, therefore, should now adopt for yourselves the course with which your excuse may be sound and your plea may be heard. Take from the transient things of this world that which will stay for you (in the next world). Provide for your journey. Keep your gaze on the brightness of deliverance, and prepare the saddles (for setting off).
About Keeping Aloof from Oppression and Misappropriation
`Aqil’s Condition of Poverty and Destitution
By Allah, I would rather remain all night long wake on the assa’dan thorns (a plant having sharp prickles), or be driven in chains as a prisoner, than meet Allah and His Messenger on the Day of Judgment having oppressed anyone or usurped anything of the world’s wealth. How can I oppress anyone for a world that is fast moving towards destruction, then I shall remain in the earth for a long time?
By Allah, I certainly saw (my brother) `Aqil fallen a prey to destitution. He asked me for one saa’ (about three kilograms’ weight) of wheat, and I also saw his children with dishevelled hair and a dusty countenance due to starvation, as though their faces had been blackened by indigo. He came to me several times and repeated his request to me again and again. I heard him and he thought I would sell my faith to him and follow his path, leaving my own. Then I heated a piece of iron and took it near his body so that he might learn a lesson from it. He cried as a person in protracted illness the cries of pain, and he was about to get burnt by its branding. Then I said to him, “May mourning women mourn you, O `Aqil! Do you cry on account of this (heated) iron which has been made by a man for sport, while you are driving me towards the Fire which Allah, the Powerful, has prepared as a sign of His wrath? Should you cry from pain, but I should not cry from its flame?!”
A more strange incident than this is that of a man who came to us in the night with a closed flask full of honey paste, but I disliked it as though it was the saliva or vomit of a serpent. I asked him whether it was a reward, or zakat (poor-tax), or charity, for we, members of the Prophet’s family (p.b.u.h.) are forbidden from receiving them. “Childless women may mourn you! Have you come to deviate me from the religion of Allah, or are you mad, or have you been overpowered by some jinn, or are you speaking senselessly?!”
By Allah, even if I were to be given all the domains of the seven heavens with all that exists under the skies in order to disobey Allah to the extent of snatching one grain of barley from an ant, I would never do it. For me, your world is lighter than the leaf in the mouth of a locust that is chewing it. What has Ali to do with bounties that will pass away and pleasures that will not last? We seek the protection of Allah from the slip of wisdom, from the evils of falling into error, and from Him do we seek succor.
O Lord! Preserve (the grace of) my face with easiness of life and do not disgrace my countenance with destitution lest I should have to beg a livelihood from those who beg from You, try to seek the favor of Your evil creatures, engage myself in praising those who give me and be tempted to abuse those who do not give to me, although behind all these You are the master of giving and denying. “Verily, You have power over all things, You are the all-Powerful One” (Holy Qur’an, 66: 8).
Transience of the World, the Helplessness of Those Entombed
This [world] is a house surrounded by calamities and is well-known for deceitfulness. Its conditions do not last and those who inhabit it do not remain safe. Its conditions change and its ways alternate. Life in it is blameworthy and safety in it is non-existent. Yet its people are targets; it strikes them with its arrows and destroys them with death.
Be informed, O servants of Allah, that certainly you and all the things in this world in your possession are treading on the paths of those (who were) before you. They lived longer life-spans, had more populated houses and left behind more lasting tracks. Their voices have become silent, their movements have become stationary, their bodies have become rotten, their houses have become empty and their traces have become obliterated. Their magnificent places and spread-out carpets were changed into stones, laid-in-blocks and cave-like dug-out graves whose very foundation is based on ruins and whose construction has been made with soil. Their positions are contiguous, but those settled in them are like far-flung strangers. They are among the people of their area but feel lonely; they are free from having to work but are still engaged (in activity). They feel no attachment to homelands, nor do they keep contact with each other, as neighbors do, despite nearness of neighborhood. And how can they meet each other when decay has ground them with its chest and stones and earth have eaten them up?
It is as though you too have gone where they have gone, the same sleeping place has caught you, the same place has detained you. What would then be your status when your affairs reach their end and graves are turned upside down? “Every soul shall realize what it has sent before, and they shall be brought back to Allah, their true Lord, and what they did fabricate (of false deities) would vanish from them” (Holy Qur’an, 10: 30).
O Lord! You are the most attached to Your lovers and the most ready to assist those who trust in You. You see them in their concealment, know whatever is in their conscience and are aware of the extent of their intelligence. Consequently, their secrets are open to You and their hearts are eager from You. If loneliness bores them, Your remembrance gives them solace. If distresses befall them, they solicit Your protection because they know that the reins of affairs are in Your hands and that their movements depend upon Your commands.
O Lord! If I am unable to express my request or cannot see my needs, then guide me towards my betterment. Take my betterment and my heart towards the sound goal. This is not against (the mode of) Your guidance nor anything new against Your ways of support.
O Lord! Deal with me with Your forgiveness and do not deal with me according to Your justice.
About a Companion Who Passed Away from
this World Before the Occurrence of Troubles
May Allah reward such-and-such man who straightened the curve, cured the disease, abandoned mischief and established the Sunnah. He departed (from this world) with untarnished clothes and few shortcomings. He achieved the goodness (of this world) and remained safe from its evils. He adhered to Allah’s obedience and feared Him as He deserves to be feared. He went away leaving the people in dividing ways wherein the misled cannot obtain guidance and the guided cannot attain certainty.
Allegiance to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him for the Caliphate
(A similar sermon in somewhat different version has already been cited.)
You drew out my hand towards you so you may swear the oath of allegiance to me, but I held it back. And you stretched it again, but I contracted it. Then you crowded over me as the thirsty camels crowd on the watering cisterns on their being taken there, so much so that shoes were torn, shoulder-cloths fell away and the weak got trampled upon. And the happiness of people on their allegiance to me was so manifest, small children felt joyful, the old staggered (up to me) for it, the sick, too, reached for it helter skelter and young girls ran for it even without veils.
Fear of Allah, an Account of Those Who
Remain Apprehensive of Death and Adopt Asceticism
Certainly, fear of Allah is the key to guidance, a provision for the next world, freedom from every kind of slavery, and deliverance from all ruin. With its help, the seeker succeeds, and whoever makes for safety escapes and achieves his aims. Perform good deeds while such deeds are being raised (in value), repentance can be of benefit, prayer can be heard, conditions are peaceful and the pens (of the two angels) are in motion (to record the deeds). Hasten towards (virtuous) actions before the change (to old age) or to a lingering illness, or to a snatching death. Certainly, death will end your enjoyments, mar your pleasures and puts an end to your goals. It is an unwanted visitor, an invincible adversary and a non-discriminating killer. Its ropes have entrapped you, its evils have surrounded you, its arrowheads have aimed at you, its sway over you is great, its oppression on you is continuous and the chance of its missing you is remote.
Very soon you will be overwhelmed with the gloom of its shades, the severity of its illness, the darkness of its distresses, the senseless utterances of its pangs, the grief of its destruction, the darkness of its encompassing and the bitterness of its taste. It will seem as if it has come to you out of a sudden, silenced those who were whispering to you, separated your group, destroyed your doings, devastated your houses and altered your successors to distribute your estate among the chief relatives who were of no benefit to you, or the grieved near ones who could not protect (you), or those rejoicing who did not lament (you).
Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to strive. Exert your effort, equip yourself, get ready and provide yourself from the place of provision. And let not the life of this world deceive you as it deceived those before you from among the past generations and by-gone periods - those who extracted its milk, benefited from its neglectfulness, passed a long time and turned its new things into old (by living long). Their abodes turned into graves and their wealth into inheritable estate. They do not know who came to them (at their graves). They do not pay heed to those who weep over them nor respond to those who call upon them. Therefore, beware of this world, for it is treacherous, deceitful and cheating. It gives and takes back, covers with clothes and uncovers. Its pleasure does not last, its hardship does not end and its calamity does not terminate.
Part of the same sermon about the ascetics:
They are from among the people of this world but are not its people because they remain in it as though they do not belong to it. They act herein upon what they observe and hasten her in (to avoid) what they fear. Their bodies move among the people of the next world. They see that the people of this world attach importance to the death of their bodies while they themselves attach more importance to the death of the hearts of the living.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
delivered this sermon at Thi-Qar on his way to Basrah
The historian al-Waqidi has mentioned it (in Kitab al-Jamal)
About the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him:
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) manifested whatever he was commanded and conveyed the message of his Lord. Consequently, Allah repaired through him the cracks, joined through him the slits and created (through him) affection among kin although they bore intense enmity in (their) chests and deep-seated rancor in (their) hearts.
`Abdullah ibn Zama’ah, who was one of the followers
of Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him,
came to him once during his Caliphate to ask for some money.
Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following to him:
This money does not belong to me, nor does it belong to you. It is the collective property of the Muslims and the acquisition of their swords. If you had taken part with them in their fighting, you would have had a share equal to theirs; otherwise, the earning of their hands cannot be for other than their own mouths.
On the Inability of Ja’dah Ibn Hubayrah
Al-Makhzami to Deliver a Sermon
About Speaking the Truth:
Be informed that the tongue is part of a man’s body. If the man desists, speech will not cooperate with him, and when he dilates, speech will not give him time to stop. Certainly, we are the masters of speech. Its veins are fixed in us and its branches are hanging over us.
Be informed, may Allah have mercy on you, that you are living at a time when those who speak about right are few, when tongues are loath to utter the truth and those who stick to what is right are humiliated. The people of this time are engaged in disobedience. Their youths are wicked, their old men are sinful, their learned men are hypocrites and their speakers are psychopathics. Their youths do not respect their elders and their rich do not support the destitute.
Causes of Differences in the
Features and Traits of People
Di’bil al-Yamami has related from Ahmed ibn Qutaybah, and the latter from `Abdullah ibn Yazid, and he from Malik ibn Dihyah who said, “We were with Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) when a discussion arose about the differences among men (in features and conduct), so Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) said the following:
They differ among themselves because of the sources of their clay (from which they have been created). This is so because they are either from salty soil or sweet soil or from rugged earth or soft earth. They resemble each other on the basis of the affinity of their soil and differ according to its difference. Therefore, sometimes a person of handsome features is weak in intelligence, a tall stature person is of low courage, a virtuous person is ugly in appearance, a short stature person is farsighted, a good-natured person has an evil trait, a person of perplexed heart has a bewildering mind and a sharp-tongued person has a wakeful heart.
Spoken When Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Was Busy in the Funeral Ablution (Ghusl) and Shrouding
of the Holy Prophet, Peace be Upon Him and His Progeny
May my parents be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! With your death, the process of Prophethood, the revelation and heavenly messages have stopped and which had not stopped at the death of others (prophets). Your status with us (members of your family) is so special that our grief for having lost you has become a source of consolation (to us) as against the grief of all others; our grief for having lost you is also common so that all Muslims may share it equally. If you had not commended endurance and prevented us from wailing, we would have produced tears abundantly. Even then, the pain will not have subsided and this grief will not have ended. They will have been too little an indication of our grief for you. But this (death) is a matter that cannot be reversed nor is it possible to avoid. May my father and mother die for you; do remember us with Allah and take care of us.
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him Relating His
Own Condition after the Prophet’s Migration till Their Meeting
I began to follow the path adopted by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and tread on the tracks of his remembrance till I reached al-`Arj.
Sayyid ar-Razi says the following: “Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s words “faata’u dhikrahu” constitute the highest forms of brevity and eloquence. He means to say that he was being given news about the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) from the commencement of his setting out till he reached this place, and he has expressed this notion in this wonderful expression.”
About Preparing Provisions for the next World,
While Being in this World, and Performing Good Deeds Before Death
Perform (good) deeds while you are still in the vastness of this life, while the books are open (for recording your deeds), repentance is allowed, the runner away (from Allah) is being called upon (to revert) and the sinner is being given hope (of forgiveness) before the (light of) action is put off, before time expires, life ends, the door of repentance is closed and the angels ascend to the sky.
Therefore, a man should derive benefit from himself for himself, from the living for the dead, from the mortal for the immortal, and from the who departs for the one who stays. A man should fear Allah while he is given a life to lead up to his death and is given time to act. A man should control himself by the rein and hold it with its bridle. Thus, by the rein he should prevent it from disobedience towards Allah, and by the bridle he should lead it towards obedience to Allah.
About the Two Arbitrators (Abu Musa al-Ash`ari and
`Amr Ibn Al-`as) and the Disparagement of the Syrians
Rude, low people and mean slaves! They have been collected from all sides and picked up from every pack. They need to be taught the tenets (of Islam), disciplined, instructed, trained, supervised and led by the hand. They are neither Muhajiran nor Ansar, nor are those who made their dwellings in the abode (in Medina) and in belief.
Look! They have chosen for themselves one who is nearest of all to what they desire, while you have chosen one who is nearest to what you dislike. You may certainly recall that the other day `Abdullah ibn Qays (Abu Musa al-Ash`ari) was saying, “It is mischief; therefore, cut away your bow-string and sheathe your swords.” If he was right (in what he said), then he was wrong in marching (against us) without being forced. But if he was lying, then he should be viewed with suspicion. Therefore, send `Abdullah ibn `Abbas to face `Amr ibn al-`as. Make use of these days and safeguard the borders of Islam. Do you not see that your cities are being attacked and your prowess is being aimed at?
Imam Ali Ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him
Describes Here the Members of the Prophet’s Family
They are the life of knowledge and the death of ignorance. Their forbearance tells you of their knowledge and their silence the wisdom of their speech. They do not go against right, nor do they differ (among themselves) about it. They are the pillars of Islam and the havens of (its) protection. With them, right has returned to its status and wrong has left its place, so its tongue is severed from the root. They have understood the religion attentively and carefully, not by mere heresy nor from relaters because those who relate knowledge are many, but those who absorb it are few.
When `Othman ibn `Affan was surrounded, `Abdullah ibn `Abbas brought a letter to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him from `Othman in which the latter expressed the desire that Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him go to his estate, Yanba’, so that the proposal that was being mooted out for him to become caliph would subside. `Othman had made this same request earlier. Upon this, Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib, Peace be Upon Him said the following to Ibn `Abbas:
O Ibn `Abbas! `Othman just wants to treat me like the waterdrawing camel so that I may go forward and backward with the bucket. Once he sent word that I should go out, then he sent me word that I should return. Now, again he sends me word that I should go out. By Allah, I continued to protect him till I feared lest I should become a sinner.
Exhorting His Men to Carry out Jihad,
Asking Them to Refrain from Seeking a Life of Luxury
Allah admonishes you to thank Him and assigns to you His affairs. He has allowed time in the limited field (of life) so that you may vie with each other in seeking the reward (of Paradise). Therefore, tighten your belts and wrap up the hems. High courage and dinners do not go together. Sleep causes weakness in the big affairs of the day and (its) darkness obliterates the thoughts of courage.