By Muhammad Amin (Garam Chashma)
Although it had been written briefly with respect to the significance of Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence) that contains sermons, epistles and sayings of Amir al Muminin Hazrat Ali ibni Abi Talib (A.S) and its prominent compiler Syed Al-Razi (RA).Nahjul Balagha has assumed good readership and attention in modern times due to its cultural richness and philosophical wisdom. My aim of writing on this masterpiece is to disseminate the knowledge hidden in this unique book and will write as many as possible with God, s will, indeed a noble task.
Imam Ali (A.S) was the inheritor of the knowledge of the last Messenger of Islam, Muhammad (SWS).People belonging to different background, irrespective of religion, have taken deep interest in Nahjul Balagha with translation in many international languages. In this article I will try to mention the sermons of Amir al Mu`minin (a.s) on Tawheed, Haj and the Divine Knowledge.
On Tawheed (Unity of Allah) and the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him)
I praise Allah seeking completion of His blessing, submitting to His Glory and expecting safety from committing sins. I invoke His help in need of His sufficiency .He whom He guide does not get stray. He whom he is hostile gets no protection. He whom He supports does not remain needy.
I stand witness that there is no god but Allah, the One. He has no like .My testimony has been tested in its frankness and its essence is our belief. We shall cling to it for ever till we live and shall store it facing the tribulations that overtake us because it is the foundation stone of Belief (iman) and the first step towards good actions and Divine pleasure. It is the means to keep Satan away.
I also stand witness that Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is His slave and His Prophet. Allah sent him with the illustrious religion ,effective emblem, written Book, effluent light, sparkling gleam and decisive injunction in order to dispel doubts, present clear proofs, administer warning through signs and to warn of punishments. At that time people had fallen in vices whereby the rope of religion had been broken, the pillars of belief had been shaken, principles had been sacrilege, system had become topsy turvy, ,passage was dark ,guidance was unknown and darkness prevailed.
Allah was being disobeyed, Satan was given support and Belief had been forsaken. As a result the pillars of religion fell down, its trace could not be discerned, its passage had been destroyed and its streets had fallen into decay. People obeyed Satan and treated his paths. They sought water from his watering places. Through them Satan’s emblems got flying and his standard was raised in vices which trampled the people under their hoofs and treaded upon them. The people were immersed in vices and were strayed, perplexed, ignorant and seduced as though in a good house with bad neighbours. They were in a land where the learnt were in bridle and the ignorant were honored. Thus according to Amir al Mu’minin (A.S) the Prophet (p.b.u.h) salvaged them from the sins and made them conscious of the knowledge of Allah, the glorified.
Sermon about the Haj
Allah has made obligatory upon you the pilgrimage (Hajj) to His sacred House which is the turning point to the people. Allah the glorified made it a sign of their supplications before His greatness and their acknowledgement of His Dignity. He selected among His creation those who on listening to His call responded to it and testified His words. They stood in the position of His prophets and resembled His angels who surround the Divine Throne securing all the benefits of performing His worship and hastening towards His promised forgiveness. Allah the glorified made it an emblem for Islam and object of respect for those who turn to it .He made obligatory its pilgrimage and laid down its claim for which He held you responsible to discharge it .Thus Allah the glorified said:
“And (purely) for Allah is incumbent upon mankind the pilgrimage to the House, for those who can afford to journey there. And whoever denies then verily Allah is self sufficiently independent of the worlds.”
Sermon on divine knowledge
The foremost in religion (din) is His (Allah’s) knowledge. Amir al Mu’minin (A.S) has fixed different stages regarding the achievement of the Divine knowledge. He says that its first stage is that with the natural sense of search for the unknown and the guidance of the conscience or on hearing from the followers of religions an image of the Unseen being known as Allah is formed in the mind. This image in fact is the forerunner of the obligation to thinking and reflection and to seeking His knowledge. But those who love idleness, or are under pressure of the environment, do not undertake this search despite creation of such image and the image fails to get testified. In this case they remain deprived of Divine Knowledge and since their in-access to the stage of testifying after the formation of the image is by volition they deserve to be questioned about it. But one who is moved by the power of this image goes further and considers thinking and reflection necessary.
In this way one reaches the next stage in the attainment of Divine Knowledge, namely to search for the Creator through diversification of creation and species of creatures, because every picture is a solid and inflexible guide to the existence of its painter and every effect to the action of its cause. When he casts his glance around himself he does not find a single thing which might have come into existence without the act of a maker so much so that he does not find the sign of a footstep without a walker nor a construction without a builder. How can he comprehend this blue sky with the sun and the moon in its expanse and the earth with the exuberance of its grass and flowers could have come into existence without the action of a Creator. Therefore, after observing all that exists in the world and the regulated system of the entire creation no one can help concluding that there is Creator for this world of diversities, because existence cannot come out of non-existence nor can existence sprout forth from nothingness.
The Holy Quran has points to this reasoning thus: “What about Allah is there any doubt, the originator of the heavens and the earth.”
But this stage would also be insufficient if this testimony in favour of Allah is tarnished by belief in the divinity of some other deity.
The third stage is that His existence should be acknowledged along with belief in Unity and Oneness. Without this the testimony to Allah`s existence cannot be complete because if more gods are believed and He would not be One whereas it is necessary that He should be One. The reason is that in case of more than one god the question will arise whether one of them created all this creation or all of them together. If one of them created it there should be some differential to distinguish him otherwise he would be accorded preferential position without reason, which is unacceptable to the mind.
The fourth stage is that Allah should be regarded free of all defects and deficiencies, avoid of body, form, illustration, similarity, position of place or time, motion, stillness, incapability and ignorance because there can be no deficiency or defect in the perfect Being nor can anyone be deemed like Him because all these attributes bring down a being from the high position of the Creator to the low position of the created. That is why along with Unity Allah has held purity from deficiency of equal importance. The Holy Quran has thus said:
“He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.”
The fifth stage of completing His knowledge is that attributes should not be put in Him from outside lets there should be duality in His Oneness, because His being is not a combination of essence and form so that attribute may cling to Him like smell in the flowers or brightness in the stars .Rather, He is the fountain of all attributes and needs no medium for manifestation of His perfect attributes. If He is named Omniscient it is because the signs of his knowledge are manifest. If He is called Omnipotent it is because every particle points to His Omnipotence and Activity, and if to Him is attributed the power to listen or to see it is because the cohesion of the entire creation and its administration cannot be done without hearing or seeing, but the existence of these attributes in Him cannot held to be in the same way as in the creation namely that He should be capable to know only after he acquires knowledge or He should be powerful and strong only after energy runs into His limbs because taking attributes as separate from His Being would connote duality and where there is duality unity disappears.
In this regard, the holy Texts points to: “And say you (O Muhammad SWS) “I am only a man like you .it is revealed unto me that your god is but one God,whosover desires to meet his Lord, let him do good deeds and associate not any one in the worship of his Lord.”