By Muhammad Amin (Garam Chashma)
Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence) is a book containing sermons, letters and sayings of Amirul Muminin, Ali ibni Abi Talib (A.S). This masterpiece was compiled in the 10th century by renowned Shia scholar, poet and commentator on the holy text, Syed Al-Razi. His full name was Abul Hasan ibni Al-Husayn Al-Musavi and is popularly known by his nickname Syed al-Razi.
Syed al-Razi was born in 970 AD in Iraq and died in 1045 A.D and is buried in the holy land of Karbala. Syed al-Razi had the opportunity to study in different schools of his time under the tutelage of renowned teachers. At the age of 17 years he started teaching along with his studies. He wrote several books on Islamic issues and interpretation of the Quran. His best known book is Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence).Syed al-Razi occupies a significant position in religious studies and for promoting Islamic education he established Darul ilm, which produced many famous scholars. At a young age of around 20 years, he started compiling Nahjul Balagha. He visited different libraries to collect the texts that had recorded the letters, speeches and sayings that Ali had delivered or written on different occasions.
He devoted 20 years of his life in the compiling this masterpiece, a miraculous task.Ali (A.S) was undoubtedly a man of pinnacle of eloquence. He delivered a large number of speeches and sermons which became famous. Likewise numerous sayings containing philosophical wisdoms were heard from him. He wrote many letters during the days of his caliphate which his admirers recorded and preserved with interest and zeal.Al-Masudi (died 955 A.D) mentions in his book ‘MurujDhahab’ at present there are over 480 sermons of Ali in the hands of people“ where as the number of sermons included by al-Razi is 239 only.
In modern times Nahjul Balagha has assumed more prominence and scope .The UN secretary general in 2002 declared it a role model for governments during the Arab Development Fund Summit. Late Shaikh Muhammad Abdoh, formerly mufti of Egypt, said about Nahjul Balagha, among all those who speak the Arabic language, there is not a single man who does not believe Ali, discourses after the Quran and Ahadith of the holy Prophet, are the most noble, the most eloquent, the most profound and the most comprehensive. George Jurdaq and Michael Naimah, both Lebanese Christian writers say the following,, Ali was not a champion on the battlefields but a hero on all fields: in the sincerity of the heart, in the purity of the conscience, in the spell-binding magic of speeches, in true humanitarianism, in the fineness and warmth of faith, in the height of tranquility, in the readiness to help the oppressed and the wronged and in total submission to the truth wherever it might be and whichever form it assumes. He was a hero in all these fields.
Nahjul Balagha is a classical work. Apart from his speeches Ali had a spirit that was universal, all embracing and multi-dimensional and he has always been eulogized for his equality. He is a just ruler, a devotee who remains long night worshiping his Creator, he weeps in the pulpit of the Mosque and smiles on the battlefields. He is a tough warrior, a kind hearted and generous guardian and a just ruler. He is a philosopher of profound insight and an able general, a teacher, a preacher, judge, jurist, a peasant and a writer. He is a perfect man whose great soul envelopes all spheres of the human spirit. More than 250 books and translations in different forms and languages have been completed with respect to Nahjul Balagha. It has been translated into Persian, English, German, French, Romanian, Russian and Urdu languages
The various topics covered in Nahjul Balagha are as follow:
Tawheed and creation
Prophethood and prophets
Government and social justice
Ahle Bayt and the issue of caliphate
Wisdom and admonition
Creeds and commandments
Prayers and invocations
Society, politics and economics
Islam and the Quran
Morality and self-discipline
About Knowledge Imam Ali (A.S) says that it is of two type one is what is heard and another is what is recorded. What is heard is of no benefit unless it is recorded. Some of the sermons of Amirul Muminin Ali ibni Abi Talib (A.S) are as,,
About the creation of the universe:
Praise is due to Allah whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculation and whose claim to obedience cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate and divings of understanding cannot reach. He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His omnipotence, dispersed winds through His compassion and made firm the shaking earth with rocks.
He initiated creation most initially and commenced it originally ,without undergoing reflection ,without use of any experiment ,without innovating any movement ,and without experiencing any aspiration of mind .He allotted all things their times, put together their variations ,gave them their properties and determined their features knowing them before creating them, realizing fully their limits and appreciating their propensities and intricacies.
When Almighty created the openings of the atmosphere, expanse of firmament and strata of winds. He flowed into it water whose waves stormy and whose surge leapt one over the other. He loaded it on dashing wind and breaking typhoons, ordered them to shed it back (as rain) ,gave the wind control over the power of the rain, and acquainted it with its limitations. The wind blew under it while water flowed furiously over it.
Then Almighty created forth wind and made its movement’s sterile, perpetuated its position, intensified its position and spread it far and wide. Then He ordered the wind to raise up deep waters and to intensify the waves of the oceans .So the wind churned it like the churning of curd and pushed it fiercely into the firmament throwing its front position on the rear and the stationary on the flowing till its level was raised and the surface was full of foam. Then Almighty raised the foam on to the open wind and vast firmament and made there from the seven skies and made the lower one as a stationary surge and the upper one as protective ceiling and a high edifice without any pole to support it or nail to hold it together. He decorated with stars and the light of meteors and hung in the shining sun and effluent moon under the revolving sky, moving ceiling and rotating firmament.
Then he created the openings between the high skies and filled them with all classes of his angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not kneel up. Others in kneeling position and do not stand up. Some of them are in array and do not leave their positions. Others are extolling Allah and do not get tired. The slip of the eye or slip of wit or languor of the body or the effect of forgetfulness does not affect them. Among them are those who work as trusted bearers of His message, those who serve as speaking tongue for His prophets and those who carry to and fro His orders and injunctions. Among them are the protectors of His creatures and guards of the gardens of the Paradise. Among them are those also whose steps are fixed on earth but their necks are protruding into the skies, their limbs are getting out of all on sides, their shoulders are in accord with the columns of the Divine Throne, their eyes are downcast before it, they have spread down their wings under it and they have rendered between themselves and all else curtain of honor and screens of power. They do not think of their Creator through image, do not impute to Him attributes of the created, do not confine Him within abodes and do not point at Him through illustrations.
Description of the creation of Adam:
Allah collected from hard, soft, sweet and sour earth clay which He dripped in water till it got pure, kneaded it with moisture till it became gluey. From it He carved an image with curves, joints, limbs and segments. He solidified it till it dried up for a fixed time and a known duration. Then He blew into it out of His Spirit whereupon it took the pattern of a human being with mind that governs him, intelligence which he makes use of, limbs that serve him, organs that changes his position, sagacity that differentiates between truth and untruth, taste and smells, colours and species. He is a mixture of clay of different colours, cohesive materials, differing properties like heat, cold, softness and hardness.
Then Allah asked the angels to fulfill His promise with them and accomplish the pledge of His Injunctions to them by acknowledging Him through prostration to him and submission to His honoured position. So Allah said prostrate towards Adam and they prostrated except Iblis (Satan) (Quran).Self importance held him and vice overcame him. So that he took pride in his own creation with fire and treated with hate the creation of clay. So Allah allowed him time in order to let him fully deserve His wrath and to complete (man,s) taste and to fulfill the promise (He had made to Satan).Thus Almighty said “Verily you have been allowed time till the known Day.” (The Quran).
Thereafter, Allah inhabited Adam (AS) in a house where He made his life pleasant and his stay safe and He cautioned him Iblis and of his enmity. Then his enemy, Iblis, envied his abode in Paradise and his contact with the virtuous. So he changed his conviction into wavering and determination into weakness. He thus converted his happiness into fear and his prestige into shame. Then Allah offered to Adam (A.S) the chance to repent, taught him His words of mercy, promised him return to Paradise and sent him down to the place of trial and procreation of progeny.
Allah chooses His prophets:
From Adam’s progeny Allah chose prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. In the course of time many people perverted Allah’s trust with them and ignored His position and took partners along with Him. Stan turned them away by knowing Him and kept them aloof from His worship. Then Allah sent His Messengers and series of prophets towards them to get them fulfill the pledges of His creation, recall them His bounties ,to exhort them by preaching ,to unveil before them the hidden virtuous of wisdom and show them the sign of His omnipotence.
Allah never allowed His creation to remain without a prophet deputized by Him, or a Book sent down by Him or a binding argument or a standing plea. These messengers were such that they did not fell little because of smallness of their number or of largeness of the number of their falsifiers. Among them was either a predecessor who would name the one to follow or the follower who had been introduced by the predecessor.
The prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him):
In this very age passed by and times rolled on, fathers passed away while sons took their places till Allah deputized Muhammad (p.b.u.h) as His Prophet in fulfillment of His promise and in completion of His Prophethood. His pledge had been taken from the prophets, his trait of character was well reputed and his birth was honourable. The people of the earth at this time were divided in different parties, their aims were separated and ways were diverse. They either likened Allah with His created or twisted his names. Through Muhammad (p.b.u.h) Allah guided them out of wrong and with his efforts took them out of ignorance. Then Allah chose for Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and his progeny, to meet Him, selected him for his own nearness, regarded him too dignified to remain in this world and decided to remove him from this place of trial. So He drew him towards Himself with honour, Allah may show His blessing on him and his progeny.
The holy Qur’an and the Sunnah:
Prophet Muhammad left among you the same which other prophets left among their people because prophets do not leave them untended (in dark) without a clear path and a standing ensign, namely the Book of your Creator clarifying its permission and prohibitions, its obligations and discretion, its repealing injunctions and the repealed ones, its permissible matters and compulsory ones, its particulars and the general ones, its lessons and illustrations, its long and the short ones, it’s clear and the obscure ones, detailing its abbreviations and clarifying its obscurities, in it there are some verses whose knowledge is obligatory and others whose ignorance by the people is permissible. Some are major regarding which there exists the threat of fire (hell), and others are minor for which there are prospects of forgiveness. There are also those of which a small portion is also acceptable (to Allah) but they are capable of being expanded.
(To be concluded).