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NAHJUL-BALAGHA ( Peak of Eloquence )

NAHJUL-BALAGHA ( Peak of Eloquence )

NAHJUL-BALAGHA ( Peak of Eloquence )


The book known as Nahjul-Balagha (consisting of letters and epistles of Imam Ali ) was compiled and named by Abul Hasan Syed Muhammad Razi, generally known as Syed Sharif al-Razi (359-406AH). 

    He was a brilliant student of the great jurist AbuAbd Allah Sheikh Mufid. Before his death, he had produced forty other works of reference on al-Qur'an and Hadith.  However his masterpiece remains the compilation of the book Nahjul-Balagha.

    Syed al-Razi had come across the sayings, sermons and letters of Imam Ali scattered in various books of theology, history, biography, literature and the commentaries of al-Qur'an and Hadith.  He found references made to a considerable collection of materials by the first century scholars that had been lost due to the turmoil's of the time.  He went back into the written materials available to him and with painstaking meticulousness, selected the spoken word of Imam Ali.  He searched and obtained the authentic collections for his book.  He could only classify these materials into sermons, letters and sayings of Imam Ali.  Since the reference material came to his attention at different times, the extracted materials had no chronological sequence.  He died five years after the completion of his book.  It is probable that if he had lived longer,
he would have related his collection into chronological order or according to content or topic.  It is clear that he considered the work sacred and devoted many years of his life to complete it.  No sooner had it gotten published, than it became the center for interpretations and commentaries by many authorities of his time.  Commentaries on the book have continued to be published right through the ages, and most of these works are currently available in many languages, including English.

    The book Nahjul-Balagha, as compiled by Syed al-Razi contains a collection of 245 sermons, 75 letters and 210 sayings of Imam Ali.  Apparently there were many more of these sermons and letters that were not available to Syed al-Razi at the time.  It was Sheikh Muhammad Abdoh (d. 1323 AH), a mufti Ourist)
in Egypt, who got the Nahjul-Balagha published and thus acquainted the centers of learning in Egypt and Beirut with the wealth of knowledge contained in this book.  The reader is urged to obtain a copy of the book for himself and benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of Imam Ali.

    The eloquence of Imam Ali was exemplary among his peers and has remained unmatched to this day.  His normal sermons used have a poetical rhyme in them. In fact the origin of the art and science of grammar in Arabic is ascribed to him.  The poetical word of Imam Ali has been quoted in many classic works, and a Dew an is ascribed to him.  Only two of his poetical works are quoted below: 

 I ."Where hearts contain despair

    And the spacious breast is stifled by what is within it,

    And cares make their abode and repose,

    And sorrows anchor in their habitations,

    And no way is seen for dispelling of distress,

    And the stratagem of the cunning availeth not;

    There shall come to thee in thy despair a helper,

    When the answerer of prayer who is nigh, shall bring

    For all sorrows when they have reached their term,

    There is linked to them an approaching joy."


2. "Men lust for the world and plot for it,

    Yet its clearness is mingled for them with impurities.

    They do not give thou of it thy portion

    According to thy wisdom when it is distributed!

    But men have their allotted shares according to their destinies,

   How many there are of the wise and sagacious unprepared!  While a fool has gained his wealth by errors,

    If it could be acquired by force and rapine,

    Falcons would sweep off with the subsistence of sparrows!



         1.  "I know Allah by Allah, and I know that which is not Allah by the Light of Allah."

             "I have seen the Face of Allah, for if I had not seen it, I could not worship Him!"

              The height of gnosis is His confirmation."

              "The height of confirmation is Tawhid (Oneness)."

              "The height of Tawhid is the acknowledgement of the supremacy of Allah in all matters."

              "He is beyond all attributes."

             "No particular attribute can give an idea of His exact nature."

             "He is not bound by anything; all things are bound by Him."

             "He is infinite, limitless, boundless, beyond Time, beyond Space, beyond imagination."

             "Time does not affected Him."

            "He existed when there was nothing."

            "He will exist for ever."

            "His existence is not subject to the laws of birth or death."

            "He is manifest in everything, but He is distinct from everything."

            "He is not the cause of anything; everything is because of Him."

            "He is unique."

             "He has no partner."

              "He is The Creator."

              "He creates as He destroys."

               "All things are subject to His command."

            "He orders a thing to be and it is."

 2.Man is a wave in the boundless sea of Allah.

 "As long as man's vision is clouded by ignorance and sensuality he will consider himself a separate entity, different from Allah.

 "But when the veil between him and Allah is lifted, he will then know what he

3 . While living in the world do not renounce it, yet have no undue attachment to it.  Detachment from it (zuhd) means attaining Allah.

    Imam Ali is acclaimed as the Father of Sufism, and the Prince of Saints.  Most Suft orders claim their descent from Imam Ali and emulate him in his philosophy, gnosis and worship of Allah.  Imam Ali held that men should be virtuous, as virtues purify the soul; and it is only the purified soul that can be the recipient of spiritual enlightenment.  This is the doctrine of Inner Light, which sits in the core of the Sufi Thought.


         In the years prior to his own rule, Imam Ali was consulted by the preceding Caliphs in matters of Islamic law and judgments.  It is said that even his archenemy Muawiyah acknowledged his superiority in knowledge, and had consulted him on an unusual case of inheritance that he was unable to solve.

    During his own rule, Imam Ali used to address the Muslims after the congregational prayers, and expounded on the Word of Allah, and elaborated its meanings and implications with the Hadith and Sunna of the Prophet.  He spoke on the purity of Faith and the Fidelity 'in the ritual practices of religion, on Worship and Submission to Allah, on Charity and Alms giving, on the Conduct of one's  individual life and one's interaction with the Society at large.  With his letters to his governors, he gave specific instructions on how to deal with the Muslim and the non-Muslim subjects under their charge.  All aspects of human fallibility were under his direct vision, and he explained to his subjects how to deal with them.  Thus, in the light of Qur'an and Hadith, as well as his own illustrious conduct of life, he laid down the foundations of Fiq (Islamic Jurisprudence).  The reader is once again referred to larger biographical works on the Imam for details.


1.      Knowledge is better than (worldly) wealth because: -"Knowledge is the legacy of the Prophets; wealth is the legacy of the pharaohs."

           "Knowledge induces humanity in Prophets to say, 'O Allah!  We worship Thee and are Thine servants;'while wealth 'induces the pharaohs and the nimrods to claim godhead for themselves."

           "You have to guard your wealth, but knowledge guards you."

          "When knowledge is distributed it increases, but when wealth is distributed it decreases."

          "A man of wealth has many enemies, but a man of knowledge has many friends.  "

          "A man of knowledge has a wider outlook and is apt to be generous, but a man of wealth is apt to be mean and miserly."

          "Knowledge gains in depth and dimension with lapse of time, but wealth in the forms of hoarded coins and currency become rusty and loose its value."

          "You can keep an account of wealth because it' limited but you cannot keep is it an account of knowledge because it is boundless."

          "Knowledge illuminates the mind, but wealth is apt to darken it."

       2.      The highest purpose of knowledge is the awakening of latent spiritual faculties whereby one is enabled to discover his true and inner self.

    3.         Any form of knowledge which failed to show the infinite reality in man was useless, because it could not fill that vacuum of which the aching soul of every individual was so pathetically conscious."

         Selected Sayings of Imam Ali

1.      You are ordained to recognize the Imam and obey.

2.        Anyone who has four attributes will not be deprived of their (four) effects:

         -one who prays to Allah and implores to Him, will not be deprived of the granting of his prayers;

         -one who repents for his thoughts and deeds, will not be refused acceptance of the repentance;

         -one who has atoned for his sins, will not be debarred from salvation;

         -one who thanks Allah for His blessings and bounties, will not be denied, for their thanks increase them.

     The truth of this is attested by al-Quran:

        -As far as prayers are concerned, Allah says, "Pray thee to me and I shall accept thy prayers."

        -About repentance He says, " forever has done a bad deed or has persuaded himself to sin, and then repents and asks for His forgiveness, he will find Allah most Forgiving and Merciful "

        -About being thankful He says, "If you are thankful for what you are given then I shall increase My Bounties and Blessings.  " -About atonement of sins He says, "Allah accepts the atonement of those who have committed a vice without realizing its enormity and then atone for it. Allah accepts such attunements, He is Wise and Omniscient."

        3 .  Half of the success in life is to acquire friends and sympathizers.

        4.   This world is not a place of permanent abode.  It is a passage, a road on which you are passing.  There are two kinds of people: -those who have sold their souls for eternal damnation; and those who have bought their souls and freed them from damnation.

   5. Minds get tired like bodies. When you feel that your mind is tired, then invigorate it with advice.

        6. Obstinacy and stubbornness will not let you arrive at the correct decision.

       7. In this world man is a target to the arrow of death, an easy prey of calamities and adversities:

        -here every morsel and every draught is liable to choke one; -here one never receives a favor until he loses another instead;

   -here every additional day in one's life is a day reduced from the total span of his existence;

-When death is the natural outcome of life how then can one expect immortality!

8.  No wealth has more usefulness than intelligence and wisdom.,

-No solitude is more horrible than people avoiding you on account of your vanity and conceit or when you think your are above everybody to confide and consult.

-No eminence is more exalting than pity.

-No companion can prove more useful than politeness. 

-No heritage is better than culture.

-No leader is superior to Divine Guidance.

-No deal is more profitable than good deeds.

-No profit is greater than heavenly reward.

-No abstinence is better than refraining from indulging in doubts (about  religion).

-No virtue is better than refraining from prohibited deeds.

-No knowledge is superior to deep thinking and prudence.

-No worship or prayers are more sacred than fulfillment of obligations and duties.

-No religious faith is loftier than feeling ashamed to do wrong and bearing calamities patiently.

-No eminence is greater than humility.

-No exaltation or grandeur is superior to learning and knowledge.

-Nothing is more respectable than forgiveness and forbearance.

-No support and defense is stronger than consultation and counsel.  

9.Anyone who loves us (Able Bait) must be ready to accept a life of austerity.

10.Best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.

The book,  " and the message continues " is available for online reading in the book section of this website.


Nahjul Balaghah is the Greatest Literary and Theological Composition in Islam

Nahjul Balaghah is the greatest literary and theological composition in Islam after the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. This sublime book has no parallel. After the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah (the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), there is no other book that compares with it in the respect it commands or in its comprehensive coverage of the different aspects of life (in all its diversity). The Messenger of Allah bore testimony to Imam Ali’s extraordinary accomplishment in some of his traditions: "I am the locality of knowledge and Ali is its gateway." "Ali is to me just as Aaron was to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me." The words of Imam Ali (a.s.) are considered to be the peak of Arabic eloquence. The following are some of his sayings:
1. "When this world favors anybody, it lends him the merits of others,
and when it turns away from him, it takes with it his own merits."
2. "The most helpless of all men is he who cannot find a few brothers
during his life, but still more helpless is he who loses the brethren
he already gained."
3. "He whose deeds let him lag behind, his pedigree cannot push him to the front."
4. "No one may conceal a thing in his heart without it manifesting
itself through slips of the tongue and in the expressions of his face."
5. "To miss what one needs is easier than to beg it from an unsuitable
6. "One's value is in what one can do well."
7. Describing the mob, he said: "They are those who conquer when
they get together and are unknown when they disperse."
8. "I am surprised at those who refrain from food lest they should
fall sick, but they would not refrain from sins lest they should fall
in the Fire."
9. "I impart to you five things which, if you ride your camels fast
in search of them, you will find them worth it:
"No one of you should place hope save in his Lord.
"No one of you should fear anything save his sin.
"No one should feel ashamed of saying: `I do not know', if asked
about what he does not know.
"No one should feel ashamed of learning a thing that he does not
"You should practice endurance, because endurance is for belief what
the head is for the body, so that just as there is no good in a body
without the head, there is no good in belief without endurance."
10. "Beware of disobeying Allah in solitude, because the witness
is also the judge."
11. "To praise more than is due is flattery, but falling short of
the due is either faltering or envy."
12. "At the extremity of hardship comes relief, and at the tightening
of the chains of tribulation comes ease."
13. "Whoever kept his affairs in order with Allah, Allah would put
his affairs with the people in order; whoever kept his affairs of his
next life in order, Allah would put his affairs in this world in order; and whoever preached to his own self, Allah would protect him."
14. "The best jurisprudent is the one who would not discourage people
from the mercy of Allah, nor from His kindness, and he would not let
them feel safe from His punishment."
15. "Often a learned man is ruined by his ignorance, while the
knowledge he has avails him not."
16. "(Discerning) Allah's greatness beslights (His) creatures in
your eyes."
17. "A friend is no friend unless he protects his friend on three
occasions: in time of need; in his absence, and at his death."
18. "People are of three types: The divine scholars; the seekers of knowledge so as to be delivered; and the common mob who run after every caller and bend in the direction of every wind, as they neither
benefited of enlightening knowledge, nor did they take refuge in
a safe nook."
19. "People are hostile to what is unknown to them."
20. "He who acts opinionated gets ruined, and he who consults other
people shares in their understanding."
21- "Contentment is a wealth that is not exhausted."
22- "The worst sin is that which the committer takes lightly."
23- "What has a man to do with vanity? His origin is semen and his end is a carcass, while he cannot feed himself nor ward off death."
24- "No town has greater right on you than the other. The best town for you is that which bears you."
25- People are enemies of what they do not know."
26- "It is good for the rich to show humility before the poor to seek reward from Allah, but better than that is the haughtiness of the poor towards the rich with trust in Allah."
27- How wretched thee son of Adam (man) is! His death is hidden, his ailments are concealed, his actions are preserved, the bite of a mosquito pains him, choking causes his death and sweat gives him a bad smell."
28- "The child has a right on the father, while the father too has right on the child. The right of the father on the child is that the latter should obey the former in every matter save in committing sins of Allah, the Glorified, while the rights of the child on the father is that he should give him a beautiful name, give him good training and teach him the Qur’an ."
29- "Speak so that you may be known, since man is hidden under his tongue."
30. "The greatest defect is to regard that defect (in others) which is present in yourself."

Nahjul Balagha, the Path to Virtue


Imam Ali’s book, Nahjul-Balagha, is a compilation of the sermons, letters and brief speeches of ‘the Lion of Allah’ - Imam Ali (AS). The compilation of this work was undertaken by Seyyed Ali Naqi (Faiz-ul-Islam) more than 100 years ago. Undoubtedly "Nahjul-Balagha" is one of the pillars of Islamic ideology. It is an infinite ocean of scientific, literary, religious, social, behavioral and political subjects, which after the Miraculous Qur’an and the Narratives of the Holy Prophet (SAW), is probably the single most eloquent and informative Book ever written in the annals of history. It is a Guidance for the misled; a Remedy for the irremediable and a Shelter of security for the distressed ones.
So, for those people who want to attain everlasting happiness and be immune from suffering and misfortune, it is an essential role-model to follow.
  We begin with the first sermon for the benefit of our esteemed readers as below:
  "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful."
  1st Sermon: In this sermon Imam Ali (AS) reflects on the Source of Creation of the heaven and earth as well as on the creation of Adam (AS) as follows:-
‘Praise and thanks due to Allah, whose praise and eulogy no one is capable of rendering, because they cannot praise and eulogize Him as He merits sufficiently; those who keep count of the number of His blessings are helpless and lose count, because His blessings are infinite and unending; while those who strive to respond in kind to His bestowed blessings are rendered incapable to repay His dues. Therefore, the ultimate degree of thanksgiving is for His creations to acknowledge and confess their incapacity and helplessness to return His kindness.
The truth of Allah can be understood only by those who strive loftily; the One whom even the intelligence and sagacity of the deep-sea divers cannot reach, so how is it possible for the rest of us to discover the truth of His being.
A God whose attributes are infinite, but to Whom no fixed attribute can be assigned; a God for Whom the elements of time and age are inconsequential, so how can one attribute time for His presence or absence, for He alone is the Creator and is free of a need to be present in time.
Therefore, he is the Beginning and the End and the element of time doesn’t hold for Him that He may have a beginning and an end. And because time involves movement, and movement requires a body, therefore, it is impossible to attribute the element of time to Him.
He created the creatures by His own will and power, and dispersed the winds by His blessings and kindness; He steadied the motions of the earth by means of huge boulders and mountains so that the earth was firm and didn’t sway. As the Holy Qur’an states in Chapter 16, Verse 15:
"And He has cast great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with you, and rivers and roads that you may give aright." (And thus cause you to be thrown from one end to the other end). (16:15) - (translation from Shakir)




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