Nahjul balagah, a book written by brother of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Ali (A.S). Translated in English language.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Nahjul balagah
Sermons, Letters, and Sayings of Ameer al-Mu'mineen, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam
Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)
n Background Information
n Alternative Sources of the Sermons
n The Compiler of Nahjul Balagha, Syed al Radi
n The Sources of Nahj al Balagha
n The Contents of Nahj al Balagha
n The Commentaries on Nahj al Balagha
n Misconceptions about Nahj al Balagha
Alternative Sources of the Sermons
l Sermon by Sermon references to well-known Islamic texts
l Bibliography for the Sermon by Sermon references
n To the people of Kufa before proceeding for the Battle of Jamal.
n To the people of Kufa after the conquest of Basra.
n To the Qadhi of Kufa, Shurayh b. Haarith when he purchased a costly house.
n To one of the commanders of his army.
n To the hypocrite Ash'ath bin Qays when he usurped public funds.
n To Mu'awiya on his (Ali's) right to the caliphate.
n To Mu'awiya, on receiving letters from him based on hypocritical advice and
n Jarir bin Abdullah Bajali was sent to Damascus. He was carrying a letter for
Mu'awiya. Some delay occurred in his return. Imam Ali (a) felt anxious about
his safety and wrote the following letter to him.
n To Mu'awiya.
n To Mu'awiya.
n Part of instructions to his marshal when Imam Ali (a) sent him to a battle.
n When Imam Ali (a) sent an expedition of 3000 soldiers under Ma'qil bin Qays
Riyahi against the Syrians, he issued the following instructions.
n Instructions to two of his commanders.
n To his soldiers before the Battle of Siffin.
n His invocation to Allah whenever he faced an enemy.
n His advice to his followers during a battle.
n A reply to a letter of Mu'awiya.
n When Abdullah bin Abbas was the Governor of Basra, Imam Ali (a) wrote the
following letter to him. The cause of this letter was the behaviour of Ibn Abbas
towards the clan of Bani Tamim. Ibn Abbas hated them because some of them
had sided with Talha and Zubayr in the Battle of Jamal and therefore, he had on
occasions treated them scornfully. They reported this matter to Imam Ali (a)
requesting that the whole clan should not be treated badly because of the folly
of a few. This letter shows what a kind rule it was that Imam Ali (a) wanted to
n A letter to one of his governors. It speaks volumes about the ways of Divine
Rule. It shows how Imam Ali (a) was training the Muslims to behave tolerantly
towards other religions, how minority was to be treated and what should those
who hold a different creed, expect of a Muslim ruler.
n To Ziyad ibn Abih, who had been appointed as the Commissioner of Basra by
Abdullah bin Abbas.
n Another letter to Ziyad ibn Abih.
n An advice to Abdullah b. Abbas, which the latter claimed, that except for the
advice of the Holy Prophet (s), no advice had been so beneficial to him as this.
n Instructions to his family a little before his martyrdom.
n His Will in which he has left instructions as to how to treat his property and
estate. It was written after his return from the Battle of Siffin.
n Directions to assessors and collectors of Zakat.
n His instructions to Zakat collectors.
n Instructions to Muhammad b. Abu Bakr when he appointed him as the Governor
n A famous reply to the letter of Mu'awiya. It throws ample light on many phases
of the history of Islam from the time of its dawn up to the time of Imam Ali (a).
n To the people of Basra.
n To Mu'awiya.
n Advice to one of his sons after returning from the Battle of Siffin. Some
historians consider him to be Imam Hasan (a) while others are of the opinion
that he was Muhammad Hanafiya. He wrote them in the form of a will. They
deal with almost every aspect of life which goes a long way to make a man
successful in life - brave, humane, generous, virtuous and pious.
n To Mu'awiya.
n To Qutham b. Abbas, the brother of Abdullah b. Abbas, who was the Governor
of Imam Ali (a) in the province of Hijaz.
n Muhammad, son of Abu Bakr (the 1st caliph) was one of the favourite disciples
and companions of Imam Ali (a). Imam Ali (a) had treated and trained him like
his own son and had appointed him as the Governor of Egypt. Later on Imam
Ali (a) called him back from Egypt and sent Maalik Ashtar as the Governor.
Muhammad thought that he was deposed and felt sad about it. When Imam Ali
(a) came to know of this he wrote the following letter to him.
n When Muhammad bin Abi Bakr was killed in Egypt by the guerrillas of Mu'awiya
through disloyalty of his (Muhammad's) own companions and officers, Imam Ali
(a) felt sad and wrote the following letter to Abdullah b. Abbas.
n To his brother Aqil. It so happened that Zahaak bin Qays Fahri was sent to
Makkah by Mu'awiya with a force of guerrillas to ravage the city. Imam Ali (a)
had sent Hujr bin Adi Kindi to defend the city of Makkah. Hujr defeated Zahaak.
Aqil at that time was in Makkah. He wrote to Imam Ali (a) offering his voluntary
services saying that the Quraysh were not sincerely serving the cause of Islam
and were bent upon the enmity of Imam Ali (a). In reply Imam Ali (a) wrote
n To Mu'awiya.
n To the people of Egypt, telling them about Maalik when Imam Ali (a) appointed
him as their Governor.
n To Amr bin Aas.
n To a commissioner of a province. It could not be ascertained as to whom it was
n To a Governor who left Imam Ali (a) and ran away with Public Treasury, this
man was a cousin of Imam Ali (a) and was his confidant. Some historians say
that he was Abdullah b. Abbas who was Imam's cousin and had once behaved
in this way.
n To Umar bin Abi Salama Mukhzumi when Imam Ali (a) called him back from the
Governorship of Bahrain and appointed Nu'man bin Ajlan Zuraqi in his place.
n To Masqala bin Hubayra al-Shaybani who was the governor of Ardshir Khurra
n To Ziyad ibn Abih when Imam Ali (a) came to know that Mu'awiya was secretly
corresponding with Ziyad, inviting him to leave the side of Imam Ali (a) and to
join him, offering him the bribe of being declared the son of Abu Sufyan.
n To Uthman bin Hunayf, the Governor of Basra, when he attended a feast given
by a rich man of Basra.
n To one of his governors.
n To Imam Hasan (a) and Imam Husayn (a) after he was wounded by Abd al-
Rahman b. Muljam whilst offered the morning prayers in the mosque of Kufa.
n To Mu'awiya.
n To Mu'awiya.
n A circular to the chiefs of his army.
n To the collectors of taxes and revenues.
n A circular about prayers to the governors of all the provinces.
n An order to Maalik al-Ashtar.
n To Talha and Zubayr (sent to them through Imran bin Hasin Khuza'i, a pious
companion of the Holy Prophet (s)).
n To Mu'awiya.
n Instructions to Shuray bin Hani when he was appointed as the commanding
officer of the vanguard of his army, which was marching towards Syria.
n To the people of Kufa while leaving Madina for Basra. It is a wonderful epistle.
It invites people to judge his intentions and actions.
n To the people of various provinces, giving them the causes of the Battle of
n To Aswad bin Qatiba, the Governor of Hulwan.
n A circular sent to those governors and State officers, through whose territory
the armies of Imam Ali (a) were to pass.
n To Kumayl bin Ziyad Nakha'i, expressing his displeasure and rebuking him in
leaving his province unguarded and allowing the army of the enemy to enter
and carry on loot. He was the Governor of Hayit and had not properly defended
the province against the Syrian guerrillas. After their attack and loot he wanted
permission of Imam Ali (a) to take revenge upon the Syrian province of
Kirkisiya. Imam Ali (a) replied to him in the following letter.
n To the Egyptians. The letter was handed over to Maalik bin Haarith Ashtar to
take with him when he was appointed as the Governor of that province.
n To the Abdullah bin Qays, better known in history as Abu Musa Ash'ari, for his
weak-faith and double-standards.
n A reply to Mu'awiya's letter.
n To Mu'awiya.
n To Abdullah b. Abbas. Ibn Abbas said that except the advice and sayings of the
Holy Prophet (s) no other advice benefited him more than this.
n To Qutham b. Abbas (brother of Abdullah b. Abbas), who was the Governor of
n To Salman al-Farsi, before his (Ali's) caliphate.
n To Harith Hamdani.
n To Suhayl b. Hunayf, the Governor of Madina (and brother of Uthman b.
Hunayf) about some Madinites who had left him and gone over to Mu'awiya.
n To Munzir b. Jarud Abdi when he misappropriated something which he had been
n To Abdullah b. Abbas.
n To Mu'awiya.
n A treaty which Imam Ali (a) has worded for the Bani Rabi'a tribe and the
Yemenites to agree upon.
n After the Muslims took oath of allegiance to Imam Ali (a), he wrote the
following letter to Mu'awiya.
n Instructions to Abdullah b. Abbas when he sent him as his representative to
n Instructions to Abdullah b. Abbas when he sent him for discussions with the
n Abu Musa Ash'ari (Abdullah b. Qays) wrote a letter to Imam Ali (a) from the
place where the decision of the arbitration (after Siffin) took place. Imam Ali (a)
wrote to him the following letter in reply.
n An order issued to his generals when he took over rulership of the Muslim State.
n 1. Praise belongs to God, Whose Glory lies beyond ...
n 2. I praise Him, seeking the completion of His bounty...
n 3. By God, so and so (Ibn Abi Quhafah)....
n 4. Through us you were guided ...
n 5. O people, tear the waves of ...
n 6. By God, I shall not be like the badger that ...
n 7. They have taken Satan to be the sovereign ...
n 8. He claims that he swore allegiance ...
n 9. They thundered and ...
n 10. Lo, Satan has brought together ...
n 11. Mountains shift, yet you shouldn't ...
n 12. Does your brother love us? ...
n 13. You are a woman's army ...
n 14. Your land is close to the sea ...
n 15. By God, even if I had found that ...
n 16. My word is the guarantee of my promise ...
n 17. The most detestable of creatures ...
n 18. When a case is put before ...
n 19. What know ye what is against me ... ?
n 20. Indeed, if you could see ...
n 21. Your ultimate goal is before you ...
n 22. Lo, Satan has begun encouraging ...
n 23. Verily, the command descends ...
n 24. By my life, ...
n 25. It is only Kufah ...
n 26. Verily, God sent Muhammad (S) ...
n 27. Indeed, jihad is one of the doors of Paradise ...
n 28. Surely, the world has turned its back ...
n 29. O people, who are together with their bodies, but ...
n 30. If I had ordered it, ...
n 31. Don't meet Talhah ...
n 32. O people, we have been born in ...
n 33. Verily, God sent Muhammad (S) ...
n 34. Woe to you! I am tired of rebuking you ...
n 35. Praise belongs to God, even though ...
n 36. I warn you ...
n 37. I took up the task ...
n 38. Doubt is called doubt because ...
n 39. I am faced with such who do not obey ...
n 40. A true statement to which a false meaning ...
n 41. O people, loyalty and truthfulness are twins ...
n 42. O people, what I fear most for you ...
n 43. My preparations for war with the Syrians ...
n 44. May God disgrace Masqalah, ...
n 45. Praise belongs to God, Whose mercy ...
n 46. My God, I seek Thy refuge ...
n 47. 0 Kufah! It is as if I see you ...
n 48. Praise belongs to God when night ...
n 49. Praise belongs to God, Who knows the inside ...
n 50. Verily, the source of misguidance lies in ...
n 51. They ask you to feed them ...
n 52. Lo, the world has ...
n 53. Rush towards me ...
n 54. As to your statement that ...
n 55. In the company of the Prophet (S)
n 56. Soon after me, a man ...
n 57. The sand-storms struck you ...
n 58. The place they shall fall ...
n 59. Certainly not. By God, they are yet sperm ...
n 60. Do not fight the Khawarij after me ...
n 61. There is a protective shield of God ...
n 62. Lo, this world is a place ...
n 63. Fear God, O servants of God! ...
n 64. Praise belongs to God ...
n 65. O Muslims! ...
n 66. Why didn't you argue ...
n 67. I had intended to make Hashim ...
n 68. How long shall I accord to you the consideration ...
n 69. I fell asleep as I sat ...
n 70. O people of Iraq ...
n 71. My God, Who art the spreader ...
n 72. Didn't he give me his allegiance after ...
n 73. You know for certain that ...
n 74. Didn't the knowledge of Banu Umayyah ...
n 75. May God have mercy upon him who ...
n 76. The Banu Umayyah ...
n 77. My God, forgive me ...
n 78. Do you claim that ...
n 79. O people, women are ...
n 80. O people, zuhd lies in ...
n 81. How should I describe this house ...
n 82. Praise belongs to God, Who is high ...
n 83. How strange of the son of al-Nabighah ...
n 84. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah ...
n 85. He knows the secrets ...
n 86. O servants of God, the most beloved of God's ...
n 87. God didn't crush any tyrant before ...
n 88. He sent him after a period ...
n 89. Praise belongs to God, Who is ...
n 90. Praise belongs to God, Who is not enriched by ...
n 91. Leave me and find someone else ...
n 92. I have pulled out the eyes of ...
n 93. Blessed is God, who is not attained by ...
n 94. He sent him when the people ...
n 95. Praise belongs to God, Who is the First ...
n 96. If He gives respite to the oppressor ...
n 97. By God, they will continue ...
n 98. We praise Him ...
n 99. Praise be to God, who spreads ...
n 100. Praise be to God, the First ...
n 101. On that day God will collect ...
n 102. O people, look at the world ...
n 103. God Almighty sent Muhammad ...
n 104. Until God sent Muhammad ...
n 105. Praise belongs to God, Who laid down ...
n 106. I have seen ...
n 107. Praise belongs to God, Who is Manifest ...
n 108. Everything humbles itself ...
n 109. The best means by which ...
n 110. I warn you ...
n 111. Do you feel it when he enters ...
n 112. I warn you ...
n 113. Praise belongs to God, Who ...
n 114. My God, our hands have ...
n 115. He sent him as a caller unto ...
n 116. You spent no wealth ...
n 117. You are supporters of the truth ...
n 118. What is wrong with you? ...
n 119. By God, I have known ...
n 120. This is the punishment ...
n 121. Were all of you with us ...
n 122. Whoever among you ...
n 123. Place the armoured at the fore ...
n 124. We did not make persons arbiters ...
n 125. Do you ask me to seek ...
n 126. If you refuse to stop claiming ...
n 127. O Ahnaf, ...
n 128. O servants of God, ...
n 129. O Abu Dharr, ...
n 130. O those of differing minds ...
n 131. We praise Him for whatever ...
n 132. The world and the Hereafter have ...
n 133. God has taken upon Himself ...
n 134. O son of the accursed ...
n 135. Your allegiance ...
n 136. By God, they did not ...
n 137. He will made desires conform to ...
n 138. No one overtook me ...
n 139. Verily, it befits those who are saved ...
n 140. O people, one who knows his brother ...
n 141. One who lays goodness where it is not ...
n 142. Lo, the earth which bears you ...
n 143. God sent His apostles ...
n 144. O people, you are in this world ...
n 145. The victory in this matter ...
n 146. God sent Muhammad (S) ...
n 147. Each of the two ...
n 148. O people, every man shall meet ...
n 149. They took to the right and to the left ...
n 150. I praise God and seek His help ...
n 151. Praise is God's, Who proves ...
n 152. He has been allowed a respite ...
n 153. The enlightened heart ...
n 154. Praise belongs to God, Whom epithets ...
n 155. Whoever can ...
n 156. Praise belongs to God, Who has made ...
n 157. He sent him at a time ...
n 158. I was a goodly neighbour unto you ...
n 159. His command is judicious and wise ...
n 160. He sent him with a brilliant light ...
n 161. O brother of Banu Asad, ...
n 162. Praise belongs to God, the Creator ...
n 163. The people are behind me ...
n 164. He originated them ...
n 165. The young among you ...
n 166. God Almighty sent down the Book ...
n 167. O brothers, I am not ignorant of ...
n 168. Verily, God sent the Prophet ...
n 169. Do you see, those who have sent you ...
n 170. O God, the Lord of the roof raised high ...
n 171. Praise belongs to God, from Whom one heaven ...
n 172. The trustee of His revelations, ...
n 173. As for me, I am not intimidated by war ...
n 174. O negligent people, ...
n 175. Draw benefit from God's ...
n 176. You have all agreed to select ...
n 177. An engagement does not ...
n 178. Eyes perceive Him not, ...
n 179. I praise God for what He has ordained ...
n 180. Away with them ...
n 181. Praise belongs to God, towards Whom ...
n 182. Praise belongs to God, Who is known ...
n 183. Keep silent. May God disgrace you ...
n 184. Praise belongs to God Whom senses cannot perceive ...
n 185. He who attributes to Him states ...
n 186. May my father and my mother ...
n 187. O people, I advise you to fear God ...
n 188. One kind of faith is one which is fixed ...
n 189. I praise Him in gratitude for His ...
n 190. Praise belongs to God Who has ...
n 191. Praise belongs to God Who has donned ...
n 192. God Almighty created the creatures ...
n 193. We praise Him for succouring ...
n 194. Praise belongs to God, Who has made manifest ...
n 195. He sent him (the Prophet) when there wasn't ...
n 196. Those Companions of Muhammad (S) ...
n 197. He knows the criest of the beasts in wilderness ...
n 198. Commit yourselves to prayer ...
n 199. By God, Mu`awiyah is not smarter than me ...
n 200. O people, don't be averse to ...
n 201. O Messenger of God, may peace be upon you ...
n 202. O people, verily this world is a ...
n 203. May God's mercy be upon you, procure provision ...
n 204. Addressed to Talhah and al-Zubayr ...
n 205. I dislike that you should be abusers ...
n 206. Hold back this young man ...
n 207. O people, matters between you and me ...
n 208. What will you do with this spacious house ...
n 209. Verily, that which is in the people's hands ...
n 210. It was through the sway of His power ...
n 211. My God, whoever of Thy servants ...
n 212. Praise belongs to God, Who is above ...
n 213. I bear witness that He is First ...
n 214. Praise belongs to God, Who ...
n 215. God Almighty has given me a right ...
n 216. My God, I beseech Thee to avenge Quraysh ...
n 217. Abu Muhammad lies a stranger ...
n 218. He revived his intellect ...
n 219. How far-fetched are his hopes ...
n 220. Indeed, God Almighty has made His remembrance ...
n 221. The addressee is without any excuse ...
n 222. By God, if I were to spend a night on the thorns
n 223. My God, save my face ...
n 224. It is a house surrounded by tribulations ...
n 225. My God, Thou art the friendliest of the friendly ...
n 226. So and so did good for God's sake ...
n 227. You drew my hand and I held it back ...
n 228. Verily, God-fearing is the key ...
n 229. He discharged whatever he was commanded to do ...
n 230. The property is neither mine nor yours ...
n 231. Beware that the tongue is a part ...
n 232. The difference between them ...
n 233. My father and my mother ...
n 234. I began following ...
n 235. Act while there is respite ...
n 236. About the two arbitrators ...
n 237. They are life for knowledge ...
n 238. O lbn-`Abbas ...
n 239. God requires you to be grateful ...
Sayings of Imam Ali (A.S.)
1. During civil disturbance adopt such an attitude that people do not attach any importance to
you - they neither burden you with complicated affairs, nor try to derive any advantage out of
2. He who is greedy is disgraced; he who discloses his hardship will always be humiliated; he
who has no control over his tongue will often have to face discomfort.
3. Avarice is disgrace; cowardice is a defect; poverty often disables an intelligent man from
arguing his case; a poor man is a stranger in his own town; misfortune and helplessness are
calamities; patience is a kind of bravery; to sever attachments with the wicked world is the
greatest wealth; piety is the best weapon of defence.
4. Submission to Allah's Will is the best companion; wisdom is the noblest heritage;
theoretical and practical knowledge are the best signs of distinction; deep thinking will
present the clearest picture of every problem.
5. The mind of a wise man is the safest custody of secrets; cheerfulness is the key to
friendship; patience and forbearance will conceal many defects.
6. A conceited and self-admiring person is disliked by others; charity and alms are the best
remedy for ailments and calamities; one has to account in the next world for the deeds that he
has done in this world.
7. Man is a wonderful creature; he sees through the layers of fat (eyes), hears through a bone
(ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue).
8. When this world favors somebody, it lends him the attributes, and surpassing merits of
others and when it turns its face away from him it snatches away even his own excellences
9. Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are
alive they crave for your company.
10. If you overpower your enemy, then pardon him by way of thankfulness to Allah, for being
able to subdue him.
11. Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his life and more
unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost them (through his deeds).
12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.
13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from
14. Every person who is tempted to go astray, does not deserve punishment.
15. Our affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah, even our best plans may lead us
16. There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet "With the help of hair-dye turn old age into youth
so that you do not resemble the Jews". When Imam Ali was asked to comment on this
tradition, he said that in the early stage of Islam there were very few Muslims. The Holy
Prophet advised them to look young and energetic and not to adopt the fashion of the Jews
(priest) having long, white flowing beards. But the Muslims were not in minority then, theirs
was a strong and powerful State, they could take up any style they liked.
17. For those who refused to side with any party, Imam Ali or his enemies, Imam Ali said:
They have forsaken religion and are of no use to infidelity also.
18. One who rushes madly after inordinate desire, runs the risk of encountering destruction
19. Overlook and forgive the weaknesses of the generous people because if they fall down,
Allah will help them.
20. Failures are often the results of timidity and fears; disappointments are the results of
bashfulness; hours of leisure pass away like summer-clouds, therefore, do not waste
opportunity of doing good.
21. If the right usurped from us is given back to us we shall take it, otherwise we shall go on
22. If someone's deeds lower his position, his pedigree cannot elevate it.
23. To render relief to the distressed and to help the oppressed make amends for great sins.
24. O son of Adam, when you see that your Lord, the Glorified, bestows His Favors on you
while you disobey Him, you should fear Him (take warning that His Wrath may not turn those
very blessings into misfortunes).
25. Often your utterances and expressions of your face leak out the secrets of your hidden
26. When you get ill do not get nervous about it and try as much as possible to be hopeful.
27. The best form of devotion to the service of Allah is not to make a show of it.
28. When you have to depart from this world and have to meet death (eventually), then why
wish delay (why feel nervous about death).
29. Take warning ! He has not exposed so many of your sinful activities that it appears as if
He has forgiven you (it may be that He has given you time to repent).
30. When Imam Ali was asked about Faith in Religion, he replied that the structure of faith is
supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad.
Endurance is composed of four attributes: eagerness, fear, piety and anticipation (of death). so
whoever is eager for Paradise will ignore temptations; whoever fears the fire of Hell will
abstain from sins; whoever practices piety will easily bear the difficulties of life and whoever
anticipates death will hasten towards good deeds.
Conviction has also four aspects to guard oneself against infatuations of sin; to search for
explanation of truth through knowledge; to gain lessons from instructive things and to follow
the precedent of the past people, because whoever wants to guard himself against vices and
sins will have to search for the true causes of infatuation and the true ways of combating them
out and to find those true ways one has to search them with the help of knowledge, whoever
gets fully acquainted with various branches of knowledge will take lessons from life and
whoever tries to take lessons from life is actually engaged in the study of the causes of rise
and fall of previous civilizations .
Justice also has four aspects depth of understanding, profoundness of knowledge, fairness of
judgment and dearness of mind; because whoever tries his best to under- stand a problem will
have to study it, whoever has the practice of studying the subject he is to deal with, will
develop a clear mind and will always come to correct decisions, whoever tries to achieve all
this will have to develop ample patience and forbearance and whoever does this has done
justice to the cause of religion and has led a life of good repute and fame.
Jihad is divided into four branches: to persuade people to be obedient to Allah; to prohibit
them from sin and vice; to struggle (in the cause of Allah) sincerely and firmly on all
occasions and to detest the vicious. Whoever persuades people to obey the orders of Allah
provides strength to the believers; whoever dissuades them from vices and sins humiliates the
unbelievers; whoever struggles on all occasions discharges all his obligations and whoever
detests the vicious only for the sake of Allah, then Allah will take revenge on his enemies and
will be pleased with Him on the Day of Judgment.
31. There are four causes of infidelity and loss of belief in Allah: hankering after whims, a
passion to dispute every argument, deviation from truth; and dissension, because whoever
hankers after whims does not incline towards truth; whoever keeps on disputing every
argument on account of his ignorance, will always remain blind to truth, whoever deviates
from truth because of ignorance, will always take good for evil and evil for good and he will
always remain intoxicated with misguidance. And whoever makes a breach (with Allah and
His Messenger) his path becomes difficult, his affairs will become complicated and his way to
salvation will be uncertain.
Similarly, doubt has also four aspects absurd reason- ing; fear; vacillation and hesitation; and
unreasonable surrender to infidelity, because one who has accustomed himself to
unreasonable and absurd discussions will never see the Light of Truth and will always live in
the darkness of ignorance. One who is afraid to face facts (of life, death and the life after
death) will always turn away from ultimate reality, one who allows doubts and uncertainties
to vacillate him will always be under the control of Satan and one who surrenders himself to
infidelity accepts damnation in both the worlds.
32. A virtuous person is better then virtue and a vicious person is worse than vice.
33. Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly.
34. The best kind of wealth is to give up inordinate desires.
35. One who says unpleasant things about others, will himself quickly become a target of
36. One who hopes inordinately, impairs his deeds.
37. When Imam Ali, marching at the head of his army towards Syria, reached Ambar, the
landlords of the place came out to meet him in zeal of their love, faithfulness and respect, no
sooner had they seen Imam Ali they got down from their horses and started running in front
of him. Imam Ali asked the reason of their strange actions. They replied that it was their
custom to show their love and respect in that way. Imam Ali replied: "By Allah, by your
action you do no good whatsoever to your rulers but you tire yourself and put yourself in toils
in this world and in trouble in the next. How unfortunate is that exertion, which brings harm
here and in the Hereafter and how useful is that ease which keeps you in comfort in this world
and away from the Hell in the next.
38. Imam Ali once said to his son Imam Hasan, My son, learn four things from me and
through them you will learn four more. If you keep them in mind your actions will not bring
any harm to you: The greatest wealth is Wisdom; the greatest poverty is stupidity; the worst
unso- ciableness is that of vanity and self-glorification; and the best nobility of descent
exhibits itself in politeness and in refinement of manner. The next four things, my son, are:
"Do not make friendship with a fool because when he will try to do you good he will do you
harm; do not make a miser your friend because he will run away from you at the time of your
dire need; do not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you and
your friendship at the cheapest price and do not make friend of a liar because like a mirage he
will make you visualize very near the things which lie at a great distance and will make you
see at the great distance the things which are near to you".
39. Recommended prayers cannot attain the pleasures of Allah for you when obligatory
prayers are left unattended.
40. A wise man first thinks and then speaks and a fool speaks first and then thinks.
41. A fool's mind is at the mercy of his tongue and a wise man's tongue is under the control of
42. One of the companions of Imam fell ill. Imam Ali called upon him and thus advised him:
"Be thankful to Allah. He has made this illness a thing to atone your sins because a disease in
itself has nothing to bring reward to anyone, it merely expiates one's sins and so far as reward
is concerned, one has to earn it with his good words and good deeds. The Almighty Lord
grants Paradise to his creatures on account of their piety and noble thoughts".
43. May Allah Bless Kabbab bin Aratt. He embraced Islam of his own freewill and
immigrated (from Makkah) cheerfully. He lived a contented life. He bowed happily before the
Will of Allah and he led the life of a mujahid.
44. Blessed is the man who always kept the life after death in his view, who remembered the
Day of Judgment through all his deeds, who led a contented life and who was happy with the
lot that Allah had destined for him. 45. If I cut a faithful Muslim into pieces to make him hate
me, he will not turn into my enemy and if I give all the wealth of this world to a hypocrite to
make him my friend he will not befriend me. It is so because the Holy Prophet has said: " O
Ali! No faithful Muslim will ever be your enemy and no hypocrite will ever be your friend. "
46. The sin which makes you sad and repentant is more liked by Allah than the good deed
which turns you arrogant.
47. Value of a man depends upon his courage; his veracity depends upon his self-respect and
his chastity depends upon his sense of honor.
48. Success is the result of foresight and resolution, foresight depends upon deep thinking and
planning and the most important factor of planning is to keep your secrets to yourself.
49. Be afraid of a gentleman when he is hungry, and of a mean person when his stomach is
50. Hearts of people are like wild beasts. They attach themselves to those who love and train
51. So long as fortune is favouring you, your defects will remain covered.
52. Only he who has the power to punish can pardon.
53. Generosity is to help a deserving person without his request, and if you help him after his
request, then it is either out of self-respect or to avoid rebuke.
54. There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater
heritage than culture and no greater support than consultation.
55. Patience is of two kinds: patience over what pains you, and patience against what you
56. Wealth converts a strange land into homeland and poverty turns a native place into a
57. Contentment is the capital which will never diminish.
58. Wealth is the fountain head of passions.
59. Whoever warns you against sins and vices is like the one who gives you good tidings.
60. Tongue is a beast, if it is let loose, it devours.
61. Woman is a scorpion whose grip is sweet.
62. If you are greeted then return the greetings more warmly. If you are favoured, then repay
the obligation manifold; but he who takes the initiative will always excel in merit.
63. The source of success of a claimant is the mediator.
64. People in this world are like travelers whose journey is going on though they are asleep.
( Life's journey is going on though men may not feel it ).
65. Lack of friends means, stranger in one's own country.
66. Not to have a thing is less humiliating than to beg it.
67. Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small because to refuse the needy is an act
of greater shame.
68. To refrain from unlawful and impious source of pleasures is an ornament to the poor and
to be thankful for the riches granted is the adornment of wealth.
69. If you cannot get things as much as you desire than be contented with what you have.
70. An ignorant person will always overdo a thing or neglect it totally.
71. The wiser a man is, the less talkative will he be.
72. Time wears out bodies, renews hopes, brings death nearer and takes away aspirations.
Whoever gets anything from the world lives in anxiety for holding it and whoever loses
anything passes his days grieving over the loss.
73. Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before educating others. Before
preaching to others he should first practice himself. Whoever educates himself and improves
his own morals is superior to the man who tries to teach and train others.
74. Every breath you take is a step towards death.
75. Anything which can be counted is finite and will come to an end.
76. If matters get mixed up then scrutinize the cause and you will know what the effects will
77. Zirar bin Zamra Zibabi, known as Zirar Suda'i, was a companion of Imam Ali. When,
after the martyrdom of Imam Ali, he went to Damascus, Muawiya called him and asked him
to say something about Imam Ali. Zirar, knowing that Muawiya hated Imam Ali intensely
tried to avoid this topic, but Muawiya forced him to speak. Thereupon, Zirar said: "O Amir, I
had often seen Imam Ali in the depth of nights, when people were either sleeping or
engrossed in amusements, he would be standing in the niche of the Masjid, with tears in his
eyes and he would beseech Allah to help him maintain a pious, a virtuous and a noble
character and to forsake the world. He would then address the world, saying 'O vicious world!
Be away from me, why do you come in front of me like this ? Do you want to allure me ?
Allah forbid that I should be allured and tempted by you and your pleasures. It is not possible.
Go and try your allurements on somebody else. I do not desire to own you and do not want to
have you. I have forsaken you thrice. It is like divorcing a woman thrice after which act she
cannot be taken back as a wife. The life of pleasures that you offer is of a very little duration.
There is no real importance in what you offer, the desire of holding you is an insult and a
humiliation to sober minds. Sad is the plight of those who want to acquire you. They do not
provide for the Hereafter. They have to pass through a long journey over a very difficult road
towards a sat destination'. Zirar says that when he stopped, there were tears in the eyes of
Muawiya who said, 'May peace of Allah be upon Abul Hasan Ali bin Abi Talib, he was
undoubtedly like that. Now tell me, Zirar! How do you feel his separa- tion?' Zirar replied,
"My sorrow and grief is like that of woman whose only child has been murdered in her lap".
With this remark Zirar walked out of the court of Muawiya and left the city.
78. After the Battle of Siffin, somebody asked Imam Ali whether they had been destined to
fight against the Syrians. Imam Ali replied if by destiny you mean a compulsion (physical or
otherwise) through which we are forced (by nature) to do a thing then it is not so. Had it been
an obligation of that kind there would have been no question of reward for doing it and
punishment for not doing it (when you are physically forced to do a thing, like breathing,
sleeping, eating, drinking etc. then there can be no reward for doing it and no retribution for
not doing it. In such cases nature forces you to do a thing and you cannot but do it), then the
promised blessings and punishments in life after death will have no meaning. The Merciful
Lord has given his creatures (human beings) complete freedom to do as they like, and then
prohibited them from certain actions and warned them of the consequences of such actions
(His Wrath and His Punishments). These orders of Allah carry in them the least trouble and
lead us towards the most convenient ways of life and the rewards which He has promised for
good deeds are many times more than the actions actually deserve. He sees people disobeying
Him and tolerates them not because He can be overruled or be compelled to accept human
supremacy over Him. He did not send His prophets to amuse Himself or provide amuse- ment
for them. He did not reveal His orders without any genuine reason nor has He created the
galaxies and the earth without any purpose. The Universe without plan, purpose and program
is the idea of infidels and the pagans, sorry will be their plight in the leaping fires of Hell.
Hearing this the man asked Imam Ali, "Then what kind of destiny was it that we had?" Imam
Ali replied: "It was an order of Allah to do it like the order He has given in His Holy Book:
You are destined by Allah to worship none but Him, here 'destined' means 'ordered' it does
not mean physical compulsion".
79. Acquire wisdom and truth from whomever you can because even an apostate can have
them but unless they are passed over to a faithful Muslim and become part of wisdom and
truth that he possesses, they have a confused existence in the minds of apostates.
80. Knowledge and wisdom are really the privilege of a faithful Muslim. If you have lost
them, get them back even though you may have to get them from the apostates.
81. Value of each man depends upon the art and skill which he has attained.
82. I want to teach you five of those things which deserve your greatest anxiety to acquire
them: Have hope only in Allah. Be afraid of nothing but sins. If you do not know a thing
never feel ashamed to admit ignorance. If you do not know a thing never hesitate or feel
ashamed to learn it. Acquire patience and endurance because their relation with true faith is
that of a head to a body, a body is of no use without a head, similarly true faith can be of no
use without attributes of resignation, endurance and patience.
83. A man hypocritically started praising Imam Ali, though he had no faith in him and Imam
Ali hearing these praises from him said "I am less than what you tell about me but more than
what you think about me".
84. Those who have come alive out of a blood-bath live longer and have more children.
85. One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his
86. I appreciate an old man's cautious opinion more than the valor of a young man.
87. I wonder at a man who loses hope of salvation when the door of repentance is open for
88. Imam Muhammad Baqir says that Imam Ali once said: "There were two things in this
world which softened the Wrath of Allah and prevented its descent upon man: One has been
taken away from you; hold the other stead- fastly. The one which has been taken away from
men is the Holy Prophet and the one which is still left with them and which they must hold
steadfastly is repentance and atonement for sins because Allah at one place in the Holy Book
addressed the Holy Prophet and said Allah would not punish them while you were among
them nor while they were asking for forgiveness. (Surah Anfal, 8 : 33)
89. Whoever keeps in order his affairs with Allah (follows His orders sincerely), Allah will
also put his affairs with men in order. Whoever makes arrangement for his salvation, Allah
will arrange his worldly affairs; whoever is a preacher for himself, Allah will also protect
90. He is the wisest and the most knowing man who advises people not to lose hope and faith
in the Mercy of Allah and not to be too sure and over-confident of immunity from His Wrath
91. Like your body your mind also gets tired so refresh it by wise sayings.
92. That knowledge which remains only on your tongue is very superficial. The intrinsic
value of knowledge is that you act upon it.
93. Take care and do not pray to the Lord, saying, "Lord! I pray to You to protect and guard
me from temptations and trials", for there is none who is not tempted and tried. But beseech
Him to guard you against such temptation as may lead you towards wickedness and sins
because Allah says in His Holy Book, Know that your wealth and children are temptations.
(Surah al-Anfal, 8: 28) it means Allah tried people through wealth and children so that it may
be tested as to who is content with what he gets honestly and who is thankful to Allah for the
position he is placed in with regard to his children. Though Allah knows them better than
even they know themselves, yet those trials and tests are for the purpose of their realizing and
knowing those deeds which merit reward or which deserve punishment. There are some
people who love to have male children and hate daughters and there are some who simply
crave for wealth and hate poverty.
94. Imam Ali was asked the meaning of being well-off or well-provided for. Imam Ali
replied, "Your welfare does not lie in your having enormous wealth and numerous children
but it rests in your being highly educated and forbearing and in your being proud of your
obedience to Allah. If you do a good deed then thank Allah for it and if you commit a sin then
repent and atone for it. In this world there is a real welfare for two kinds of people, one is the
person who, when commits a sin, atones for it and the other is anxious to do good as much as
95. Importance of the deeds that you have done with fear of Allah cannot be minimized and
how can the deeds which are acceptable to Allah be considered unimportant.
96. "Nearest to the prophets are those persons who have to those prophets and obey them".
Saying this, Imam Ali cited a passage from the Holy Qur'an 'Best liked by Abraham and
nearest to him were the people who obeyed him'. He further said, "That the present times are
the times of our Holy Prophet and his faithful followers. The best friend of our Holy Prophet
is he who, though not related to him, obeys the orders of Allah and his greatest enemy is the
man who though related to him, disobeys Allah '.
97. Imam Ali was told of a Kharijite that he got up in the night to pray and recite the Holy
Book. Imam Ali said, "To sleep with having sincere faith in religion and Allah is better than
to pray with wavering faith".
98. Whenever a tradition of the Holy Prophet is related to you, scrutinize it, do not be
satisfied with mere verbatim repetition of the same because there are many people who repeat
the words containing knowledge but only few ponder over them and try to fully grasp the
meaning they convey.
99. Imam Ali heard somebody reciting the passage of the Holy Qur'an we belong to Allah and
our return is towards Him, Imam Ali said, "How true it is ! Our declaring that we belong to
Allah indicates that we accept Him as our Master, Owner and Lord. And when we say that
our return is towards Allah indicates that we accept our mortality".
100. Some people praised Imam Ali on his face. He replied, "Allah knows me very well and I
also know myself more than you. Please, Lord ! make me better than what they imagine me to
be and please excuse those Weaknesses of mine which they are not aware of".
101. To secure for you fame, credit as well as blessings, the help that you give to men in need,
should possess the following attributes: whatever its extent, it should be considered by you as
trifling so that it may be granted a high status; it should be given secretly, Allah will manifest
it; and it must be given immediately so that it becomes pleasant.
102. Your society will pass through a period when cunning and crafty intriguers will be
favoured by status, when profligates will be considered as well-bred, well-behaved and
elegant elites of the society, when just and honest persons will be considered as weaklings,
when charity will be considered as a loss to wealth and property, when support and help to
each other will be considered as favour and benevolence and when prayers and worship to
Allah will be taken up for the sake of show to gain popularity and higher status, at such times
regimes will be run under the advice of women and the youngsters will be the rulers and
counselors of the State.
103. Imam Ali's garment was very old with patches on it. When somebody drew his attention
towards it, he replied, " Such dresses, when worn by men of status make them submissive to
Allah and kind-hearted towards others and the faithful Muslims can conveniently follow the
example ". Vicious pleasures of this world and salvation are like two enemies or two roads
running in opposite directions or towards opposite poles, one to the North and the other to the
South. Whoever likes to gain the pleasures and pomps of this world will hate austerity in life
which is necessary to gain salvation. Reverse will be the attitude of a man desirous of
achieving Eternal Bliss. One has to adopt either of the two ways of life, and as they both
cannot be brought together, a man has to choose one of them.
104. Nawf bin Fizala Bakali, the famous scholar of the early Islamic days says that one night
he was with Imam Ali. In the middle of the night, Imam Ali got up from his bed, looked for
sometime at the stars and inquired of Nawf whether he was awake. Nawf said: "I got from my
bed replying, "Yes, Amirul Mo'minin (Commander of the Faithful) ! I am awake".
Imam Ali said Nawf ! Those are the fortunate people who adopt piety as the principle of their
lives and are fully attentive to their welfare for the Hereafter. They accept bare earth as the
most comfortable bed and water as the most pleasant drink. They adopt the Holy Qur'an and
prayers as their guide and protector and like Prophet Jesus Christ (Isa) they forsake the world
and its vicious pleasure.
Nawf ! Prophet David (Daud) once got up at such an hour in the night and said this was the
hour when prayers of everyone who prayed were accepted except of those who forcibly
collected revenues or who were scandal- mongers or were persons in the police force of a
despotic regime or were musicians".
105, Those who give up religion to better their lot in life seldom succeed. The Wrath of Allah
makes them go through more calamities and losses than the gains they gather for themselves.
106. There are many educated people who have ruined their future on account of their
ignorance of religion. Their knowledge did not prove of any avail to them.
107. More wonderful than man himself is that part of his body which is connected with his
trunk with muscles. It is his brain (mind). Look what good and bad tendencies arise from it.
On the one hand it holds treasures of know- ledge and wisdom and on the other it is found to
harbour very ugly desires. If a man sees even a tiny gleam of success, then greed forces him
to humiliate himself. If he gives way to avarice, then inordinate desires ruin him, if he is
disappointed, then despondency almost kills him. If he is excited, then he loses temper and
gets angry. If he is pleased, then he gives up precaution. Sudden fear makes him dull and
nervous, and he is unable to think and find a way out of the situation. During the times of
peace and prosperity he becomes careless and unmindful of the future. If he acquires wealth,
then he becomes haughty and arrogant. If he is plunged in distress, then his agitation,
impatience and nervousness disgrace him. If he is overtaken by poverty, then he finds himself
in a very sad plight, hunger makes him weak, and over-feeding harms him equally. In short
every kind of loss and gain makes his mind unbalanced.
108. We, Ahlul Bayt (chosen descendants of the Holy Prophet), hold such central and
balancing position in religion that those who are deficient in understanding and acting upon
its principles, will have to come to us for reformation, and those who are overdoing it have
got to learn moderation from us.
109. A Divine rule can be established only by a man, who, where justice and equity are
required, neither feels deficient nor weak and who is not greedy and avaricious.
110. Sohayl bin Hunayf Ansari was a favourite companion of Imam Ali. At the time of Imam
Ali's return from Siffin, he died at Kufa of the wounds sustained in the battle. His death left
Imam Ali very sad and he said: "Even if a mountain loves me it will be crushed into bits". (it
means people are tested with my love, and to prove it they have to pass through loss and
111. Anyone who loves us Ahlul Bayt must be ready to face a life of austerity.
112. No wealth is more useful than intelligence and wisdom; no solitude is more horrible than
when people avoid you on account of your vanity and conceit or when you wrongly consider
yourself above everybody to confide and consult; no eminence is more exalting than piety; 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 Divine Reward; no abstinence is better than to restrain one's mind from 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 of doing
wrong and bearing calamities patiently; no eminence is greater than to adopt humbleness; no
exaltation is superior to knowledge; nothing is more respectable than forgiveness and forbear-ance;
no support and defense are stronger than consultation.
113. When a community is composed of honest, sober and virtuous people, your forming a
bad opinion about anyone of its members, when nothing wicked has been seen of him, is a
great injustice to him. On the contrary in a corrupt society to form good opinion of anyone of
them and to trust him is to harm yourself.
114. When somebody asked Imam Ali as to how he was getting on, he replied: "What do you
want to know about a person whose life is leading him towards ultimate death, whose health
is the first stage towards illness and whom society has forced out of his retreat".
115. There are many persons whom constant grants of His Bounties turn them wicked and fit
for His punishment and there are many more who have become vain and self- deceptive
because the Merciful Allah has not exposed their weaknesses and vices to the world and the
people speak highly about them. All this is an opportunity. No trial of the Lord is more severe
than the time He allows (in which either you may repent or get deeper into vices).
116. Two kinds of people will be damned on my account Those who form exaggerated
opinion about me and those who under-estimate me because they hate me.
117. To lose or to waste an opportunity will result in grief and sorrow.
118. She world is like a serpent, so soft to touch, but so full of lethal poison. Unwise people
are allured by it and drawn towards it, and wise men avoid it and keep away from its
119. When asked about Quraysh, Imam Ali replied that amongst them Bani Mukhzum are
like sweet scented flower of Quraysh; their men are good to talk to and their women prove
very good wives; Bani Abdush Shams are very intelligent and very prudent but we (of Bani
Hashim) are very generous and very brave to face death. Bani Abdush Shams are more in
numbers, ugly and intriguers but Bani Hashim are beautiful, good speakers and orators and
very faithful as friends.
120. What a difference is there between a deed whose pleasure passes away leaving behind it
the pangs of pain and punishment and the deed whose oppressive harshness comes to an end
leaving behind Divine rewards !
121. Imam Ali was following a funeral and as it was passing along a road, somebody laughed
loudly ( a sign of discourtesy and lack of manner ). Hearing this laugh, Imam Ali remarked, "
Some of us feel that death is meant for everybody except themselves or it is destined to others
and not to themselves or those whom we see dying around us are only travelers going on a
journey and will come back to us. It is a sad sight to see that in one moment we commit them
to earth and in the next we take hold of the things left by them as if we are going to remain
permanently in this world after them. The fact is that we forget sensible advice given to us
and become victim of every calamity.
122. Blessings are for the man who humbles himself before Allah, whose sources of income
are honest, whose inten- tions are always honorable, whose character is noble, whose habits
are sober, who gives away in the cause and in the Name of Allah, the wealth which is lying
surplus with him, who controls his tongue from vicious and useless talk, who abstains from
oppression, who faithfully follows the traditions of the Holy Prophet and who keeps himself
away from innovation in religion.
123. Jealousy in woman is unpardonable but in man it is a sign of his faith in religion
(because Islam has permitted polygamy and prohibited polyandry).
124. I define Islam for you in a way that nobody dared do it before me. Islam means
obedience to Allah, obedience to Allah means having sincere faith in Him, such a faith means
to believe in His Power, belief in His Power means recognizing and accepting His Majesty,
acceptance of His Majesty means fulfilling the obligations laid down by Him and fulfillment
of obligations means actions (Therefore, Islam does not mean mere faith, but faith plus
125. I wonder at the mentality of a miser, fearing poverty he takes to stinginess and thus
hastily pushes himself head- long into a state of want and destitution, he madly desires plenty
and ease, but throws it away without understand- ing. In this world he, of his own free will,
leads the life of a a beggar and in the next world he will have to submit an account like the
I wonder at the arrogance of a haughty and vain person. Yesterday he was only a drop of
semen and tomorrow he will turn into a corpse. I wonder at the man who observes the
Universe created by Allah and doubts His Being and Existence. I wonder at the man who sees
people dying around him and yet he has forgotten his end. I wonder at the man who
understands the marvel of genesis of creation and refuses to accept that he will be brought
back to life again. I wonder at the man who takes great pains to decorate and to make
comfortable this mortal habitat and totally forgets his permanent abode.
126. Whoever is not diligent in his work, will suffer; who- ever has no share of Allah in his
wealth and in his life then there is no place for him in His Realm.
127. Be very cautious of cold in the beginning of winter and welcome it at the close of the
season because cold season effects your bodies exactly as it effects the trees; in the early
season its severity makes them shrivel and shed their leaves and at the end it helps them to
128. If you understand Allah's Majesty, then you will not attach any importance to the
129. While returning from Siffin, Imam Ali passed along the cemetery of Kufa. Addressing
the graves he said: "O you, who are lying in horrible and deserted houses. O you, who are
shut up in the dark graves, who are alone in their abodes, strangers to the places assigned to
them; you have gone ahead and preceded us, while we are also following your steps and shall
shortly join you. Do you know what has happened aver you? Your houses and property was
taken up by others, your widows have remarried, this is what we can tell you of this world.
Can you give us some news about things around you?" Saying this, Imam Ali turned to his
companions and said, "If they are permitted to speak they will inform you that the best
provision for the next world is piety and virtue".
130. Imam Ali heard someone abusing and blaming the world and said to him, "O you, who
are blaming the world, who have been allured and enticed by it, and have been tempted by its
false pretenses. You allowed yourself to be enamored of, to be captivated by it and then you
accuse and blame it. Have you any reason or right to accuse it and to call it a sinner and
seducer? Or is the world not justified in calling you a wicked knave and a sinning hypocrite?
When did it make you lose your intelli- gence and reasoning? And how did it cheat you or
snake false pretenses to you? Did it conceal from you the fact of the ultimate end of
everything that it holds, the fact of the sway of death, decay and destruction in its domain?
Did it keep you in the dark about the fate of your fore- fathers and their final abode under the
earth? Did it keep the resting-place of your mothers a secret from you? Do you not know that
they have returned to dust? Many a time you must have attended the sick persons and many of
them you must have seen beyond the scope of medicine. Neither the science of healing nor
could your nursing and attendance nor your prayers and weeping prolonged the span of their
lives, and they died. You were anxious for them, you procured the best medical aid, you
gathered famous physicians and provided best - medicines for them. Death could not be held
back and life could not be pro- longed. In this drama and in this tragedy did the world not
present you with a lesson and a moral?
Certainly, this world is a house of truth for those who look into it carefully, an abode of peace
and rest for those who understand its ways and moods and it is the best working ground for
those who want to procure rewards for life in the Hereafter. It is a place of acquiring
knowledge and wisdom for those who want to acquire them, a place of worship for the friends
of Allah and for Angels. It is the place where prophets received revelations of Allah. It is the
place for virtuous people and saints to do good deeds and to be assigned with rewards for the
same. Only in this world they could trade with Allah's Favors and Blessings and only while
living here they could barter their good deeds with His Blessings and Rewards. Where else
could all this be done? Who are you to abuse the world when it has openly declared its
mortality and mortality of everything connected with it, when it has given everyone of its
inha- bitants to understand that all of them are to face death, when through its ways it has
given them all an idea of calamities they have to face here, and through the sight of its
temporary and fading pleasures it has given them glimpses of eternal pleasures of Paradise
and suggested them to wish and work for the same. If you study it properly you will find that
simply to warn and frighten you of the consequences of evil deeds and to persuade you
towards good actions, every night it raises new hopes of peace and prosperity in you and
every morning it places new anxieties and new worries before you. Those who passed such
lives are ashamed of and repent the time so passed abuse this world. But there are people who
will praise this world on the Day of Judgment that it reminded them of the Hereafter and they
took advantage of these reminders. It informed them of the effects of good deeds and they
made correct use of the information it advised them and they were benefited by its advice".
131. An Angel announces daily: "Birth of more human beings means so many more will die,
collection of more wealth means of much more will be destroyed, erection of more buildings
means so many more ruins will come".
132. This world is not a permanent place, it is a passage, a road on which you are passing.
There are two kinds of people here: One is the kind of those who have sold their souls for
eternal damnation, the other is of those who have purchased their souls and freed them from
133. A friend cannot be considered a friend unless he is tested on three occasions: in time of
need, behind your back and after your death.
134. Anyone who has been granted four attributes will not be deprived of their (four) effects;
one who prays to Allah and implores to Him will not be deprived of 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 and one who thanks Allah
for the Blessings and Bounties will not be denied the increase in them.
The truth of these facts is attested by the Holy Qur'an As far as prayers are concerned He says
Pray to Me and I shall accept your prayers. About repentance He says: Whoever has done a
bad deed or has indulged in sin and then repents and asks for His forgiveness will find Allah
most Forgiving and Merciful. About being thankful He says if you are thankful for what you
are given, I shall increase My Bounties and Blessings. About atonement of sin He says Allah
accepts the repentance of those who have ignorantly committed vice and then soon repent for
it, Allah accepts such repentance's, He is Wise and Omniscient. 135. Daily prayers are the
best medium through which one can Seek the nearness to Allah. Hajj is Jihad (Holy War) for
every weak person. For everything that you own there is Zakat, and Zakat of your body is
fasting. The Jihad of a woman is to afford pleasant company to her husband.
136. If you want to pray to Allah for better means of subsistence, then first give something in
137. When someone is sure of the returns, then he shows generosity.
138. Aid (from Allah) is in proportion to the trouble.
139. He who practices moderation and frugality will never be threatened with poverty.
140. One of the conveniences in life is to have less children.
141. Loving one another is half of wisdom.
142. Grief is half of old age.
143. Grant of patience (from Allah) is in proportion to the extent of calamity you are passing
through. If you exhibit fretfulness, irritation, and despair in calamities, then your patience and
your exertions are wasted.
144. Many persons get nothing out of their fasts but hunger and thirst, many more get nothing
out of their night prayers but exertions and sleepless nights. Wise and sagacious persons are
praiseworthy even if they do not fast and sleep during the nights.
145. Defend your faith (in Allah) with the help of charity. Protect your wealth with the aid of
Zakat. Let the prayers guard you from calamities and disasters.
146. Kumayl bin Ziyad Nakha'i says that once Imam Ali put his hand in his hand and took me
to the grave-yard. When he passed through it and left the city behind, he heaved a sigh and
said "Kumayl, these hearts are containers of the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and the
best container is the one which can hold the most and what it holds, it can preserve and
protect in the best way. Therefore, remember carefully what I am telling you. Remember that
there are three kinds of people: one kind is of those learned people who are highly versed in
the ethics of truth and philosophy of religion, second is the kind of those who are acquiring
the above knowledge and the third is that class of people who are uneducated. They follow
every pretender and accept every slogan, they have neither acquired any knowledge nor have
they secured any support of firm and rational convictions. Remember, Kumayl, knowledge is
better than wealth because it protects you while you have to guard wealth. It decreases if you
keep on spending it but the more you make use of knowledge the more it increases. What you
get through wealth dis- appears as soon as wealth disappears but what you achieve through
knowledge will remain even after you.
O Kumayl ! Knowledge is power and it can command obedience. A man of knowledge during
his lifetime can make people obey and follow him and he is praised and venerated after his
death. Remember that knowledge is a ruler and wealth is its subject.
O Kumayl ! Those who amass wealth, though alive, are dead to realities of life, and those
who achieve know- ledge, will remain alive through their knowledge and wisdom even after
their death, though their faces may disappear from the community of living beings, yet their
ideas, the knowledge which they had left behind and their memory, will remain in the minds
Kumayl says that after this brief dissertation, Imam Ali pointed towards his chest and said,
"Look Kumayl! Here I hold stores and treasures of knowledge. I wish I could find somebody
to share it with me. Yes, I found a few, but one of them, though quite intelligent, was
untrustworthy, he would sell his salvation to get hold of the world and its pleasures, he would
make religion a pretence to grasp worldly power and wealth, he would make this Blessing of
Allah (knowledge) serve him to get supremacy and control over friends of Allah and he
would through knowledge exploit and suppress other human beings. The other person was
such that he apparently obeyed truth and knowledge, yet his mind had not achieved the true
light of religion, at the slightest ambiguity or doubt he would get suspicious of truth, mistrust
religion and would rush towards skepticism. So neither of them was capable of acquiring the
superior knowledge that I can impart. Besides these two I find some other person One of them
is a slave of self and greedy for inordinate desires, which can easily drag him away from the
path of religion, the other is an avaricious, grasping and acquisitive miser who will risk his
life to grasp and hold wealth, none of these two will be of any use to religion or man, both of
them resemble beasts having appetite for food. If sensible trustees of knowledge and wisdom
totally disappear from human society then both knowledge and wisdom will suffer severely,
may bring harm to humanity and may even die out. But this earth will never be without those
persons who will prove the universality of truth as disclosed by Allah, they may be well-known
persons, openly and fearlessly declaring the things revealed to them or they may,
under fear of harm, injury or deaths hide themselves from the public gaze and may carry on
their mission privately so that the reasons proving the reality of truth as preached by religion
and as demonstrated by His Prophet may not totally disappear. How many are they and where
could they be found? I swear by Allah that they are very few in number but their worth and
their ranks before Allah are very high. Through them Allah preserves His Guidance so that
they, while departing, may hand over these truths to persons like themselves. The knowledge
which they have acquired has made them see the realities and visualize the truth and has
instilled into them the spirit of faith and trust. The duties which were decreed as hard and
unbearable by them. They feel happy in the company and association of things which frighten
the ignorant and uneducated. They live in this world like everybody else but their souls soar
to the heights of Divine Eminence. They are media of Allah on this earth and they invite
people towards Him. How I love to meet them O Kumayl ! I have told you all that I have to
say, you can go back to your place whenever you like".
147. A man can be valued through his sayings.
148. One who does not realize his own value is condemned to utter failure. (Every kind of
complex, superiority or inferiority is harmful to man).
149. Somebody requested Imam Ali to advise him how to lead a useful and sober life. Imam
Ali thereupon advised him thus: "Do not be among those people who want to gain good
returns without working hard for them, who have long hopes and keep on postponing
repentance and penance, who talk like pious persons but run after vicious pleasures. Do not be
among those who are not satisfied if they get more in life and are not content if their lot in
life's pleasures is less (they are never satisfied), who never thank Allah for what they get and
keep on constantly demanding increase in what is left with them; who advise others to such
good deeds that they themselves refrain from; who appreciate good people but do not follow
their ways of life; who hate bad and vicious people but follow their ways of life; who, on
account of their excessive sins hate death but do not give up the sinful ways of life; who, if
fallen ill, repent their ways of life and on regaining their health fearlessly readopt the same
frivolous ways; who get despondent and lose all hopes, but on gaining health, become
arrogant and careless; who, if faced with misfor- tunes, dangers or afflictions, turn to Allah
and keep on beseeching Him for relief and when relieved or favoured with comfort and ease
they are deceived by the comfortable conditions they found themselves in and forget Allah
and forsake prayers; whose minds are allured by day dreams and forlorn hopes and who abhor
to face realities of life; who fear for others the enormous repercussions of vices and sins but
for their own deeds expect very high rewards or very light disciplinary actions. Riches make
such people arrogant, rebellious and wicked, and poverty makes them despondent and
lethargic. If they have to work, they work lazily and if they put up a demand they do it
Under the influence of inordinate cravings, they commit sins in quick succession and keep on
postponing repentance. Calamities and adversities make them give up the distinguished
characteristics of Muslims (patience, hope in future and work for improvement of
circumstances). They advise people with narration's of events and facts but do not take any
lesson from them. They are good at preachings but bad at practice, therefore they always talk
of lofty deeds but their actions belie their words. They are keen to acquire temporal pleasures
but are careless and slow to achieve permanent (Divine) benefits. They think good for
themselves the things which are actually injurious to them and regard harmful the things
which really benefit them. They are afraid of death but waste their time and do not resort to
good deeds before death overtakes them. The vices which they regard as enormous sins for
others, they consider as minor shortcomings for themselves. Similarly, they attach great
importance to their obedience to the orders of Allah and belittle similar actions in others.
Therefore, they often criticize others and speak very highly of their own deeds. They are
happy to spend their time in society of rich persons, wasting it in luxuries and vices but are
averse to employing for useful purposes in company of the poor and pious people: They are
quick and free to pass verdicts against others but they never pass a verdict against their own
vicious deeds. They force others to obey them but they never obey Allah. They collect their
dues carefully but never pay the dues they owe. They are not afraid of Allah but fear powerful
150. Everyone has an end, it may be pleasant or sorrowful.
151. Everyone, who is born, has to die and once dead he is as good as having not come into
152. One, who adopts patience, will never be deprived of success though it may take a long
time to reach him.
153. One who assents or subsribes to the actions of a group or a party is as good as having
committed the deed himself. A man who joins a sinful deed makes himself responsible for
two-fold punishments, one for doing the deed and the other for assenting and subscribing to it.
154. Accept promises of only those persons who can stead- fastly-adhere to their pledges.
155. You are ordained to recognize the Imams (the right successors of the Holy Prophet) and
to obey them.
156. You have been shown, if you only care to see; you have been advised if you care to take
advantage of advice; you have been told if you care to listen to good counsels.
157. Admonish your brother (comrade) by good deeds and kind regards, and ward off his evil
by favouring him.
158. One, who enters the places of evil repute has no right to complain against a man who
speaks ill of him.
159. One, who acquires power cannot avoid favouritism.
160. One, who is willful and conceited will suffer losses and calamities and one who seeks
advice can secure advan- tages of many counsels.
161. One, who guards his secrets has complete control over his affairs.
162. Poverty is the worst form of death.
163. One, who serves a person from whom he gets no reci- procal performance of duties, in
fact, worships him.
164. One should not obey anyone against the commands of Allah.
165. Do not blame a man who delays in securing what are his just rights but blame lies on
him who grasps the rights which do not belong to him.
166. Conceit is a barrier to progress and improvement.
167. Death is near and our mutual company is short.
168. There is enough light for one who wants to see.
169. It is wiser to abstain then to repent.
170. Often inordinate desire to secure a single gain acts as a hindrance for the quest of many
171. People often hate those things which they do not know or cannot understand. 172. One,
who seeks advice learns to realize his mistakes.
173. One who struggles for the cause of Allah secures victory over His enemies.
174. When you feel afraid or nervous to do a thing then do it because the real harm which you
may thus receive is less poignant than its expectation and fear. 175. Your supremacy over
others is in proportion to the extent of your knowledge and wisdom.
176. The best way to punish an evil-doer is to reward handsomely a good person for his good
177. If you want to remove evil from the minds of others then first give up evil intentions
178. Obstinacy will prevent you from a correct decision.
179. Greed is permanent slavery.
180. Deficiency will result in shame and sorrow but caution and foresight will bring peace
181. To keep silent when you can say something wise and useful is as bad as keeping on
propagating foolish and unwise thoughts.
182. If two opposite theories are propagated one will be wrong.
183. When truth was revealed to me I never doubted it.
184.I never lied and the things revealed to me were not false I never misled anybody nor was
185. One, who starts tyranny, will repent soon.
186. Death is never very far.
187. One who forsakes truth earns eternal damnation.
188. One who cannot benefit by patience will die in grief.
189. In this world, man is a target of death, an easy prey to calamities, here every morsel and
every draught is liable to choke one, here one never receives a favour 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 can we expect immortality?
190. O son of Adam, if you have collected anything in excess of your actual need, you will
act only as its trustee for someone else to use it.
191. Hearts have the tendency of likes and dislikes and are liable to be energetic and
lethargic, therefore, make them work when they are energetic because if hearts are forced (to
do a thing) they will be blinded.
192. When I feel angry with a person how and when should I satisfy my anger, whether at a
time when I am not in a position to retaliate and people may advise me to bear patiently or
when I have power to punish and I forgive. 193. Minds get tired like bodies. When you feel
that your; mind is tired, then invigorate it with sober advice.
194. If you find that somebody is not grateful for all that you have done for him, then do not
get disappointed because often you will find that someone else feels under your obligation
though you have done nothing for him and thus your good deeds will be compensated, and
Allah will reward you for your goodness.
195. The first fruit of forbearance is that people will sympathize with you and they will go
against the man who offended you arrogantly.
196. One who takes account of his shortcomings will always gain by it; one who is unmindful
of them will always suffer. One who is afraid of the Day of Judgment, is safe from the Wrath
of Allah. One who takes lessons from the events of life, gets vision, one who acquires vision
becomes wise and one who attains wisdom achieves knowledge.
197. Bear sorrows and calamities patiently, otherwise you will never be happy.
198. One who comes into power often oppresses.
199. Adversities often bring good qualities to the front.
200. If a friend envies you, then he is not a true friend.
201. Avarice dulls the faculties of judgment and wisdom.
202. Oppression and tyranny are the worse companions for the Hereafter.
203. The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.
204. Silence will create respect and dignity; justice and fairplay will bring more friends;
benevolence and charity will enhance prestige and position; courtesy will draw benevolence;
service of mankind will secure leadership and good words will overcome powerful enemies.
205. A greedy man will always find himself in the shackles of humility.
206. There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the worship of traders;
while there are some who worship Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, this is the
worship of slaves; a few who obey Him out' of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is
the worship of free and noble men.
Peak of Eloquence
Sermons and Letters of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as)
Translated by Askari Jafri
Eleventh Revised Edition - Islamic Seminary Publications
Lineage of al Radi and his Life
In the galaxy of the outstanding Shia Scholars two brothers from an eminent family of the
descendants of the Prophet (saw) outshone all the others due to their extraordinary brilliance
in their time. They were al Sharif al-Murtada, who occupied the chair of his teacher as his
successor to the marji'iyyah of the Shi'ah world of scholarship, and his younger brother al-
Sharif al-Radi,acclaimed to be a great genius of versatile talents, still unprecedented in the
history of Islamic scholarship and Arabic literature.
Al-Radi (359-406/970-1015) died young, much earlier than his elder brother,but left his mark
on the history of Muslim thought and poetry, which in no way can be described as less
significant than that of any other Imamiyyah scholar who lived much longer than him. He
shone on the bright horizon of the fourth century Hijri, regarded as the most extraordinary
period of all round intellectual and cultural renaissance in the history of Islam, lived for a
short period of forty-seven years but generated enough light to lead human quest for
excellence for centuries.
Al-Rad'i's parents' lineage came directly from the Imams (as) of the Prophet's Family. From
his father's side he descended from al-Imam Musa al-Kazim (as) ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq (as) ibn
Muhammad al-Baqir (as) ibn 'Ali Zayn al-'Abidin (as) ibn al-Husayn (as) ibn 'Ali (as) in the
following order: Abu Ahmad Husayn Tahir al-'Awhad Dhu al-Manaqib ibn Musa ibn
Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Ibrahim al Mujab ibn Musa al-Kazim (as). All his forefathers were
eminent in their own right. From his mothers side he descended from the famous al-Nasir al-
Kabir also known as Nasir al-Haqq (225 or 230-304/840 or 844-916) who descended from the
second son of al-'Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (as) ibn Ali (as).
Al-Sayyid al-Murtada, in Nasiriyyat, a commentary upon al-Nasir al-Kabir's book Mi'at
mas'alah, writes that:
My mother Fatimah [was] the daughter of Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Nasir (al-Saghir)
ibn Abi al-Husayn Ahmad ibn Abi Muhammad al-Hasan al-Nasir al-Kabir (the conqueror and
ruler of Daylam) ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Umar al-Ashraf ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi
Al-Sharif al-Radi's name was Muhammad and his kunyah was Abu al Hasan. He was the
second son of al-Husayn ibn Ahmad, known as al-Tahir al-Awhad and Dhu al-Manaqib. Al-
Radi's title 'al-Sharif' was a common title used for those who were descendants of the Prophet
(saw) from both the maternal and paternal sides.
The word which is now commonly used for al-Sharif is al-Sayyid in Persian and Urdu. Al-
Radi's father was the most eminent among the Alawids of his time. He held all the important
positions which a Shi'ah could attain under the 'Abbasid regime during the fourth century H.
Al-Thalibi (d.429), in Yatimat al-dahr, a bibliography of poets and writers of Arabic, writes
about the father of al-Radi:
His forefathers were held in high respect by the people of Iraq. His father, Abu Ahmad for a
long time occupied the post of Naqib of the Talibiyyin, a position that empowered him to look
after the Sayyids of Abu Talib's lineage. At the same time he held the office of the Nazarat
Diwan al-mazalim (headship of the highest court of appeal) as well as the office of the chief
of hajjaj (pilgrims to the Holy Ka'bah). In the year 380/990 he relinquished these posts in
favour of his son al-Sayyid al-Radi.
Ibn Abi al-Hadid (d. 655 or 656/1257 or 1258), in his preface to the Sharh Nahj al-balaghah,
confirms this statement saying:
His father al-Naqib Abu Ahmad was held in high regard at the courts of Banu 'Abbas and the
rulers of Al Dayalimah, and was entitled as al-Tahir Dhu al-Manaqib.
Baha' al-Dawlah al-Daylami called him al-Tahir al-'Awhad, which meant "uniquely purified".
He was appointed the Naqib of the Talibiyyin five times, and apart from this job; he
occasionally performed duties of great political sensitivity also; for instance, he served as a
negotiator to settle certain disputes between the Caliphs and the Buwayhids on the one hand,
and the Hamdani rulers on the other. Because of his political influence he was so feared by
Baha' al-Dawlah's son 'Adud al-Dawlah (reigned 367-72/978-83), that in 369/980 he
imprisoned him in a fort in Fars, where he underwent the hardships of prison life for seven
'Adud al-Dawlah (d. 372/982-83) arrested along with him his brother Abu 'Abd Allah ibn
Musa and another influential 'Alawid, Muhammad ibn 'Umar, also. Abu Muhammad, the
chief qadi of Baghdad, and Abu Nasr Khwanshadh were also arrested and imprisoned in the
same year, that is 369/980. With Abu Ahmad's arrest his entire property was confiscated, and
his family had to live for seven long years in dire poverty. It was, most probably, in this
period that al-Radi and his brother al-Murtada were brought to al-Shaykh al-Mufid by their
mother for being educated in fiqh and other religious sciences. And perhaps it was during this
period that Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad al-Tabari , a Sunni Maliki faqih, gifted a house to
al-Sayyid al-Radi when he came to know that the brightest of his pupils had no residence of
his own for his wife and had to live with his mother.
During the period of his father's imprisonment, al-Radi composed many poems to pay tribute
to him. Abu Ahmad was set free by Sharaf al-Dawlah, son of Adud al-Dawlah, while
proceeding to Baghdad from Kirman in 376/ 986-87 to depose his brother Samsam al-
Dawlah, who also had not released Abu Ahmad and other captives. It is to be noted that
'Adud al-Dawlah was a Shiah of Zaydi inclination, but for him, like most of the monarchs of
the Muslim world, political expedieney and interest were much more important than the
matter of faith.
As even the 'Abbasid caliph of his time was afraid of al-Radi's connection with the Prophet's
Family and his influence among the people, probably 'Adud al-Dawlah was also afraid of al-
Radi's father, fearing that if at any time he aspired to wrest power out of his hands he could
pose a serious challenge to him.
Abu al-Faraj al-Jawzi has also referred to the arrest of Abu Ahmad in the course of recording
the events of the year 369/979-80.
The influence of Abu Ahmad and his family assumed greater dimensions in the eyes of the
rulers due to the tense and highly explosive situation ereated by the rivalries and conflicts
between the Sunnis and the Shi'ah and the Turks and the Daylamites.
These clashes resulted in looting, killing and burning of al-Karkh, a predominantly Shi'ah
locality, for one week continuously, in the year 361/971-72, that was repeated in 363/974.
Moreover, there was a conflict between Bakhtiyar al-Daylami , the vizier, and 'Adud al-
Dawlah, in which the latter emerged victorious later. Abu Ahmad was on good terms with
Bakhtiyar also, which was a sufficient reason for 'Adud al-Dawlah to regard him as an enemy.
Abu Ahmad died at the age of 97 in 403/1O12-13,and the high offices held by him fell upon
From his mother's side al-Radi belonged to a lineage that was more distinguished for its
political activities than the former. His grand-father al-Nasir al-Saghir al-Husayn ibn Ahmad
(d. 368/979) was a pious and respected man. According to al-Sayyid al-Murtada he was held
in high regard by Mu'izz al-Dawlah (reigned 320-56/932-967), who appointed him to the
office of the Naqib of al-Talibiyyin in 362/972-73 when Abu Ahmad was stripped of this
post. Al Wasir al-Saghir's father Ahmad ibn al-Hasan served as a commander in his father's
army, and was known for both his valour and virtue. Al-Nasir al-Kabir whose name was al-
Hasan ibn 'Ali, was responsible for propagating Islam among the Daylamites after himself
conquering Daylam. He was a commander of the army of his cousin Muhammad ibn Zayd
al-'Alawi, popularly known as al-Da'i al-Kabir, who conquered Mazandaran in 250/864 and
laid down the foundation of the 'Alawis' rule there. Al-Mas'udi, in Muruj al-dhahab, has
mentioned him at two places as al-'Atrush, which meant "the deaf". At one occasion, he
Al-'Atrush appeared on the seene of Tabaristan (Mazandaran) in the year 301/913-14, and
drove away the 'Abbasids, called "the Black robed people, from there. He was a gifted man
with great intelligenee,scholarship, knowledge and conviction of faith. He lived for a long
time among the Daylamites, who were Zoroastrians, and some even pagans, living in
complete darkness. The people of Gilan also lived in the same conditions. Al-Nasir al-Kabir
invited them to worship the One God, and they embraced Islam accepting his call. In those
days the Muslims reached Qazwin and the adjoinmg areas. Al Nasir al Kabir built a mosque
At another place, mentioning al-'Atrush's efforts to convert the Zoroastrians to the fold of
Islam, he writes that it was he who built mosques in the cities of Tabaristan (Present
Mazandaran and Gilan), and extended the frontiers of the Muslim rule up to Qazwin and
There is a common misunderstanding regarding al-Nasir al-Kabir's faith. As he supported the
Daiis of the Zaydi rule and was instrumental in laying the foundation of the Zaydi dynasty, he
was called a Zaydi by many historians as well as by the Zaydis themselves. Al-Najashi (d.
450/1058), a contemporary of al-Radi and al-Murtada, dispels such claims:
Al Hasan ibn Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn 'Umar ibn 'Ali ibn al- Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib Abu
Muhammad al-'Atrush believed in the imamah, and wrote several books in strict adherenee to
this faith, viz. Kitab al-'imamah, Kitab at- talliq, a larger book on the Imamah, Kitah Fadak
wa al-khums, Kitabb al-shuhada', Kitab fasahat Abi Talib, Kitab ma'adhir Bani Hashim fi ma
nuqim 'alayhim, Kitab ansab al-A'immah wa mawalidihium (up to the Twelfth Imam (as)).
However, it seems to be a mere conjecture that he was a Twelver Imami, for al- Murtada, his
grandson, in al-Nasiriyyat, criticized some of his views for being against the Twelver Imami
faith. 'Ali Dawani, subscribing to the views of some early Shi'i 'ulama', holds that he was a
Twelver Imami but without any conclusive evidence. Most probably he was a Zaydi Shi'ah.
According to Ibn Abi al-Hadid, he fought battles against the chiefs of the Samanids and died
in Mazandaran in 304/916 at the ripe age of seventy-nine. Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Dawud al-
Hasani, known as Ibn 'Anabah (d. 828/1425), a Sunni descendant of the Hasani Sayyids, in
his famous work 'Umdat al-talib, describes him as being called Nasir al-Haqq, and writes that
he died in Amul in the year 303/915.
Al-Nasir al-Kabir's father, 'Ali ibn al-Husayn, and his grandfather, al-Husayn ibn 'Ali, were
both regarded as eminent scholars and men of virtue. The latter is reported to be a narrator of
hadith also. 'Umar ibn 'Ali ibn al-Husayn,son of the Fourth Imam (as) and known as
al-'Ashraf, was among the eminent personalities of the 'Alawids.) Al-Shaykh al-Mufid, in
al-'Irshad, writes about him:
'Umar b. 'Ali b. al-Husyn, peace be on them, was a man of merit and of high standing. He was
in charge of the endowments (sadaqat) of the Apostle of God may God bless him and his
Family, and the endowments (sadaqat) of the Conmmander of the Faithful, peace be on him.
He was pious and God-fearing.
Dawud ibn al-Qasim, on the authority of al-Husayn ibn Zayd, who was a nephew of 'Umar
al-'Ashraf, described him to be extremely honest and cautious in dealing with the matters
related to the income of the endowments and their proper management. Some traditions of the
Prophet (saw) and the Imams (as) are also reported on his authority. He was treated with
respect even in the court of the Umayyads.
Al-Sayyid al-Radi's mother Fatimah bint al-Da'i al-Saghir was a pious and learned lady, who
brought her two sons and daughters up with care and arranged for their proper education
during the seven-year period of her husband's imprisonment. It is said that al-Shaykh al-
Mufid wrote his book Ahkam al-nisa' at her instance, as she asked him to compile a book
according to Islamic Law, which could serve as a guide for women. It was she who took her
two sons to al-Shaykh al-Mufid after al-Murtada and al-Radi had completed primary stage of
their education. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, in Sharh Nahj al-balaghah, narrates a story which is
indicative of the high position of this lady of great virtue. The story goes that one night al-
Shaykh al-Mufid dreamed that Fatimah (as), the Prophet's daughter, came to his place in
Karkh bringing her two young sons,al- Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as), and asked that he take
up the task of teaching them. Al-Mufid awoke amazed at the dream. The next morning
Fatimah, mother of al-Sayyid al-Murtada and al-Sayyid al-Radi, came to his mosque
surrounded by her servants, bringing her two small sons, asking that he teach them. Al-Sayyid
al Radi in his elegy on her death paid rich tributes to her virtue, piety, religiosity, courage and
other qualities of the heart and the mind. She died in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah 385/995.
Al-Sayyid al-Radi was twenty-six years old at the time of his mother's death.
Al-Radi was born in 359/970 four years after his eldet brother al-Murtada. His genius came to
the notice of his family and teachers at a very young age. He started composing poetry at the
tender age of nine. His wit and alertness of mind surprised all. He went to different teachers to
study various branches of Islamic sciences, Arabic language and literature.
He studied Sharh al-'Usul al-khamsah and Kitab al-'umdah under al-Qadi 'Abd al Jabbar al-
Mu'tazili (b. circa. 325/936, d.415/lO25), and studied Arabic language and grammar under
Abu Sa'id al-Hasan ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Marzban al-Sirafi (284-368/897-979), an expert of
Arabic language and literature.
He also went to study the language and literary sciences to Abu Muhammad al-'Asadi
al-'Akfani, Abu al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'isa al-Rummani (296-384/908-94), Abu al-Fath 'Uthman
ibn Jinn; (330-392/942-1002) and Ibn Nubatah (335-94/946- 1004). He studied hadith under
Muhammad ibn 'Imran al-Marzabani (d. 378/988) and Abu Masa Harun ibn Musa al-
Tal'akbari (d. 385/995). His teacher in fiqh, besides al-Mufid, was Muhammad ibn al-'Abbas
al- Khwarizmi (d. 383/993). Abu Hafs 'Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Kinani was his teacher in qira'ah
and the Quran. Most of his teaehers were eminent scholars and writers of Arabic.
He had started teaching at the young age of seventeen when he was himself studying. He
completed his education at the age of twenty. Very soon he acquired fame as a scholar,
commentator of the Quran, thinker and poet. His fame as a poet overshadowed his excellence
in all other fields. Among his teachers a few other names may be mentioned: Abu 'Ali al-
Hasan ibn AhmadX al-Farsi (307-77/919-87), a Mutazili; Abu al-Hasan al-Karkhi; 'Ali ibn
'Isa ibn Salih al-Rub'i (328-420/939-40-1029); and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad al-Tabari
(d. 393/1002-3), a faqih of the Maliki school. In those days due to a climate of tolerance at
least among scholars and students, the Shi'ah and Sunni students used to attend classes of
teachers belonging to different sects. A number of al-Radi's teachers were Sunni and
Al-Sharif al-Radi had intimate friendly relations of mutual respect and love with eminent
contemporary scholars, poets and writers professing different faiths, which was an indication
of his broad humanism and tolerance. Al-Sahib ibn 'Abbad (326-85/938-95), one of the most
influential of Muslim prime ministers and a great scholar of his age, was a patron of scholars
Yaqut al-Hamawi says that five hundred poets composed qasa'id in his praise. Al-Radi,
despite being much younger to him, was highly respected by him. Abu al-Hasan al-'Umari,
who is reported to be alive till the end of the first half of the fifth century Hijrah, was from the
descendants of 'Umar ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, and was an expert of genealogy. He was in close
contact with the al-Sharif family. Abu al-'Ala' al-Ma'arri (363-449/973-1057), one of the
greatest poets of Arabic, attended al-Murtada's lectures and was a great admirer of al-Radi.
Upon receiving the news of al-Radi's death in his hometown, al-Ma'arri paid rich tributes to
him in an elegy, included in his book Siqt al-zand. Al-Husayn ibn Ahmad al-Nili al-Baghdadi,
known as Ibn al-Hajjaj al-Baghdadi (d. 391/1001) was much respected by al-Radi, who
compiled two selections of his poetry, viz., 'al-Hasan min shi'r al-Husayn' and 'al-Ziyadat fi
shi'r Ibn al-Hajjaj, and also wrote an elegy on his death. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Hilal al-
Harrani al-Sabi (d. 384/ 994), a Sabaean by faith and a confidant of the Buwayhids, was so
close to al-Radi that once he wrote in a poem addressed to al-Radi: When you get the
caliphate, do not forget my wife, son and family...
Al-Radi wrote a moving, emotionally charged elegy on his death, the first couplet of which
became very famous:
Do you know whose coffin people are carrying?
Do you know how was the light of our company extinguished?
People, particularly the Sunnis, admonished al-Radi saying how could a man like him,
belonging to the family of the Prophet (saw), praise a non-believer. Al-Radi said in reply that
he paid tribute to his learning and art, not to his faith. Whenever he passed by the side of the
grave-yard where al-Sabi was buried, he used to get down from the horse as a mark of respect
for the departed soul of the friend and the poet.
Nine years after al-Sabi's death al-Radi happened to visit the grave-yard and saw his friend's
grave, he composed another qasidah addressing himself to the departed soul in the following
Had my companions not been angry with me for stopping near you,
I would have saluted your grave O Abu Ishaq!
Al-Radi compiled a selection of al-Sabi's poetry Mukhtar Shir Ibn Ishdq al-Sabi. Among al-
Radi's close friends were two other scholarly persons. Shapur Ibn Ardshir (d. 416/1025), who
served as the vizier of the Buwayhids till their fall at the hands of the Saljuqis, and who had
placed his huge library of rare value at the disposal of al Radi; and Fakhr al Mulk, the vizier
of Baha al Dawlah, who led al Radi's funeral congregation, and was himself murdered by
Sultan Dawlah in one year after al Radi's death, that is in 407/1016.