The following sayings of Imam Ali (as) are taken from Du’a Kumail,
The most complete gift of God is a life based on knowledge.
The innumerable fools have made the learned very scarce.
The learned man understands the ignorant for he was once ignorant for he was once ignorant himself.
The ignorant man does not understand the learned for he has never been learned himself.
Knowledge gives life to the soul.
To respect the learned is to respect God.
Knowledge creates fear of God.
Practice makes knowledge perfect.
To teach is to learn.
Honesty is Divine language.
To fulfill promises is the highest form of integrity.
Truth means conformity of speech with the Divine mode of working.
Friendship is impossible with a liar.
Misrepresentation spoils narration.
Lying spoils news.
Enemity is the occupation of fools.
One’s obedience to God is proportionate to one’s wisdom.
To fight against one’s own desires is highest wisdom.
The wise aim at perfection.
The foolish aim at wealth.
To separate oneself from things of time and to connect oneself with things of eternity is highest wisdom.
He is really wise whose actions reflect his words.
Humility is the product of knowledge.
Self-conceit poisons the mind.
Self-conceit impedes progress.
Pride mars greatness.
Humility is one of the nets spread by real greatness.
Boasting issues from small minds.
Faith in Religion
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 practises 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, profoundeness of knowledge, fairness of judgement 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 has done 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 Judgement.
Imam Ali on Knowledge
O you who carry knowledge around with you; are you only carrying it around with you ? For surely knowledge belongs to who ever knows and then acts accordingly, so that his action corresponds to his knowledge. There will be a people who will carry knowledge around with them, but it will not pass beyond their shoulders. Their inner most thoughts will contradict what they display in public, and their actions will contradict what they know.
The purity and nobility of knowledge
When a dead person is placed in his grave, four kinds of fire will cover him, but then the prayer will come and put one of them out, and the fast will come and put another one of them out, and then charity will come and put another one out, and knowledge will come and put the forth one out, and it will say : ‘ If I had come sooner, I would a have put all of them out, and given you delight for I am with you now, and you’ll not see anything else distressing. ‘
The Sayings and Wisdom of Imam Ali (as)
The Muhammadi Trust (UK), ISBN 0-946079-91-9
Imam Ali on Intellect
A person’s intellect becomes apparent through his dealings, and a man’s character is known by the way he exercises authority.
The intellect is a king and characteristics are its subjects, so if it is weak in governing them, disorder takes place.
The intellect is better than desire, for the intellect makes you a king over your destiny, and desire makes you a slave of your destiny.
The intellect is a natural disposition which learns from experience.
The intellect is what arrives at what is correct through reasoning, and recognizes what has not yet happened through what has already taken place.
Use your intellect to understand something when you hear about it-the intellect that examines, that is, and not just the intellect that repeats what it hears, for surely there are many who repeat the knowledge that they hear, and there are few who examine it.
The one who has an intellect longs to be like the righteous people so that he can be of one of them, and he loves them so that he can be united with them in his love, even if he falls short in emulating their actions.
The one who has an intellect does not openly display it except in one of two situations: when he is furthest away from seeking something in the world, and when he is furthest away from abandoning it.
Surely hated adversity has final objectives in which it will inevitably end, so the one who has an intellect should try to sleep over it until this happens, for surely any attempt to stop it before it has come to an end will only intensify that hated diversity even more.
The first opinion of the person of intellect is the last opinion of an ignorant person.
The one who has an intellect finds harshness of life amongst persons of intellect more agreeable than a life of ease amongst the foolish.
The Sayings & Wisdom of Imam Ali (as)
The Muhammadi Trust (UK)
Zahra Publications (USA)
The Illusion of this World
Remember that this world which you covet so ardently and attempt to acquire so earnestly, and which sometimes annoys you and sometimes pleases you so much, is neither your home nor a permanent destination. You have not been created for it, nor invited to it as your resting-place. It shall neither remain with you for ever, nor will you remain in it eternally. If it has enticed you away with its charms, it has also warned and cautioned you of real dangers lurking in its folds. Take account of the warnings it has given you and do not be seduced or deceived by its allurements. Let these warnings frighten you from being too greedy to possess it. Try to advance towards the place where you are invited for eternal bliss and turn your face away from the vicious world.
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), from Nahjul Balagha, the Peak of Eloquence.
Imam Ali about the Heart
I am amazed at the heart of man: It possesses the substance of wisdom as well as the opposites contrary to it … for if hope arises in it, it is brought low by covetousness: and if covetousness is aroused in it, greed destroys it.
If despair possesses it, self piety kills it: and if it is seized by anger, this is intensified by rage. If it is blessed with contentment, then it forgets to be careful; and if it is filled with fear, then it becomes pre-occupied with being cautious. If it feels secure , then it is overcome by vain hopes; and if it is given wealth, then its independence makes it extravagant.
If want strikes it, then it is smitten by anxiety. If it is weakened by hunger, then it gives way to exhaustion; and if it goes to far in satisfying its appetites, then its inner becomes clogged up. So all its shortcomings are harmful to it, and all its excesses corrupt it.
There are four things that make the heart die: wrong action followed by wrong action, playing around with foolish people, spending a lot of time with women, and sitting with the dead. Then they asked Imam Ali: ‘ And who are the dead, O Commander of the believers? ‘ He replied: ‘ Every slave who follows his desires. ‘
Surely want is a trial, and having sickness of the body is more difficult to bear than indigence, and having a sickness of the heart is more difficult to bear than having a sickness of the body. Surely being very wealthy is a blessing, and having a healthy body is better than being very wealthy, and having awe of Allah in your heart is better than having a healthy body.
Surely hearts have desires, and they turn towards, and they turn away … so approach them by means of what they desire and what they turn towards, for surely if the heart is forced to do some thing against its will, it goes blind.
The Sayings & Wisdom of Imam Ali (as)
The Muhammadi Trust (UK)
A Sermon without Dots
Following is a sermon by the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) all Arabic letters of which do not contain any dots at all:
Praise to Allah Who is the praiseworthy, the affectionate owner of everything, the One who forms everyone born, the ultimate end of everyone who is expelled, the One Who spreads out the earth, Who firms the mountains, Who sends out rain, who facilitates the attainment of goals, Who knows the secrets and realizes them, Who destroys the possessions and annihilates them, who folds out times and repeats them, who causes matters and is their source.
His forgiveness covers all, His creation of the clouds is perfected: Rain showers succeed it. He prolongs pursuits and hopes, broadens sands and places them. I praise Him an extended praise, and I recognize His unity just as those who love Him the most recognize: He is Allah, there is no god for the nations besides Him, nor is there anyone to cause a defect to what he straightens and does. He sent Muhammad as a banner for Islam and an Imam for those who rule, a helper to the commoners and one who puts an end to the judgments of Wadd and Siwa’ (idols).
He knows and He informs, He rules and He perfects: He is the origin of origins. He [Muhammad] paves the path [to the Almighty] and emphasizes the Promised Day, warning about it. Allah has made honors to reach him, depositing in his soul Islam, blessing his honorable family and offspring so long as there is anything that shines like lightning, anyone who hurries his pace towards his pursuit, whenever a crescent appears and the announcement about it is made.
Do, may Allah look after you, righteous deeds, tread the paths of what is permissible, put what is prohibitive aside and abandon it, listen to the command of Allah and realize it, keep in touch with your kinsfolk and look after them, disobey your inclinations and curb them, give your daughters by way of marriage to the people of righteousness and piety, and stay away from the folks who sport and who covet, so your marriage ties will produce the most pure of freemen, the most eminent descent, those who will let you achieve your dreams.
This should be before your eyes, your domain will thus be rightful, your brides honored, and let her [bride] dower be just as the Messenger of Allah (?) had paid to Umm Salamah, while he is the most honored of all in-laws, the most kind of all sons, and he had whatever he wanted, though having it was not easy, nor did it worry him, nor did his epics ever diminish, nor was he ever stigmatized.
I plead to Allah to grant you the most praiseworthy of connection with Him, the perpetuation of pleasing Him; may He inspire each of you about that which reforms your condition and prepares you for what you shall receive [in the Hereafter]. Eternal praise belongs to Him; lauding belongs to His Messenger Ahmad (?).
A Sermon With no Alif
In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful
One day, a heated discussion went on among the Arabs and Muslims during which it was said that there is no alphabet that recurs in speech more often than the “aleef” (“A”). All attendants agreed. It was then that the magnificent lantern of language, its deep ocean and precise philosopher, namely Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), stood up and delivered a lengthy sermon which included praise of Allah Almighty, prayers and salutations unto His Prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib (peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny).
The statements of the entire sermon, from beginning to end, did not contain a single word having the “aleef” (mamdooda, elongated alpha) the humble translation (by Yasin T. al-Jibouri) of it is as follows:
I praise the One Whose boon is great, whose blessing overwhelms, whose mercy is faster than His anger, the One whose word is perfect, whose will is affected, whose argument (issue) is wise, whose case is just. I praise Him like one recognizing His Godhead, submissive while adoring Him, dissociating himself from his sin, recognizing His Unity, seeking refuge with Him against His warning, hopeful for the mercy (forgiveness) of his Lord that saves him [from the Fire] on a Day when everyone will be distracted even from his offspring and tribe. We seek His help, guidance and directions. We believe in Him and depend on Him. I have testified to Him as a sincere and convinced servant/slave; I recognize His Uniqueness as a pious believer, and I have recognized His Unity like a submissive servant/slave.
He has no partner in His domain; He relies on none in doing whatever He does. He is exalted above having an adviser or a vizier. He is above using a model or an assistant or a helper or a peer. He knows, so He covers; He is acquainted with the innermost, so He is most familiar [with our intentions]. He cast a look, so He assisted; He owns everything, so He subdues. He is disobeyed, yet He forgives; He is adored, so He thanks. He rules, so He affects justice, and He is generous and grants favors.
He shall never come to an end, and He has always been as He is; there is nothing like Him. He, first and foremost, is a unique Lord in His exaltation, able through His might, holy through His sublimity, proud of His Majesty; no (mental) vision can realize Him, nor can anyone ever see Him. He is strong, invincible, seeing, hearing, clement, wise, affectionate and kind. One who attempts to describe Him can never do so; one who attempts to describe His attributes can never do so [either]. His blessing reaches those who get to know Him: He is near, so He is far [above mental or physical vision]; He is far yet He is near [closer to us than anything else].
He responds to the call of those who call on Him; He sustains His servant and surrounds him with His love; His niceties are hidden [from our comprehension]; His power is mighty; His mercy is wide; His penalty is painful; His mercy is a broad and a Garden of grandeur (Paradise); His punishment is Hell filled with horrors and chains.
I have testified that He sent Muhammed (?) as His servant and messenger, prophet, chosen one, loved one, friend, a link [with the Almighty] that grants him [Muhammed] fortune, bringing him closer to Him, elevating him, granting him nearness and closeness [to the Almighty]. He sent him during a good (opportune) period of time, when there was disbelief, as mercy for His servants and a boon for more.
Through him He sealed His prophetic messages, strengthened (explained) His argument. So he admonished, advised, conveyed the message and worked hard [for people. He was, affectionate towards every believer, merciful, easy to please, the friend of anyone who is generous and pure: mercy, salutation, blessing and honor be with him from a forgiving, affectionate, kind, near, responsive and wise Lord.
I have admonished you, O folks who are present here with me, to be pious (as your Lord has admonished) towards your Lord, and I have reminded you of the Sunna of your Prophet; so, take to awe that calms your hearts, fear that draws your tears, piety that saves you on a Day which will puzzle your minds and put you to the test, a day in which one shall win if the weight of his good deeds is heavy while that of his sins is light. Let your plea be in humility and surrender, appreciation and submission, repentance and dissociation [from sin], regret and return [to righteousness].
Let everyone of you seize the opportunity when he is healthy before the time when he is sick, when he is young before he is aged, old and sick, [the opportunity] of his ease before he is poor, of having free time before he is busy, of being wealthy before being impoverished, of being present at home before he is away traveling, of being alive before his death. He shall grow old, become weak, aged, sick, ailing, so much so that even his doctor is fed-up with him, even those who love him turn away from him. His lifespan will have come to an end. His color of complexion is changed. His mental power is decreased, so it is said that he is ailing and his body is failing. He is having a hard time as he finds himself suffering from the throes of death: He is attended by those who are close and who are distant.
He gazes his looks, yearns as he turns his eyes, his forehead sweating, his [physical] senses being snatched away from him [one by one]. His sighs are now silent, his soul has departed, so he is mourned by his wife. His grave is dug, his children are now orphans, those who were around him (his friends or foes) are now dispersed from around him. What he had accumulated (legacy) has now been divided [among heirs]. Gone now are his faculty of seeing and hearing; so he receives Talqeen; he is stretched [on the ground] and directed [towards the Qibla]. He is stripped of his clothes, bathed, in the nude, dried then directed [towards the Qibla].
Something has been spread on the floor for him as his shrouds are being prepared. His chin has been tied, his soul has already departed from his body and he has been bidden farewell by all. He is now shrouded, his head wrapped, so is his body, and he has been handed over [for burial]. He is carried in a wooden box (coffin); his funeral prayers have been performed with Takbir but without prostration or the rubbing of the forehead. He is taken away from a decorated abode [this life], from well built mansions and chambers topping each other, so he is now in an enclosure of a grave which is very narrow and separated from others; it is built with baked clay on top of each other and is sealed with a rock.
Dust has been healed on him, so he now is sure about that of which he was warned; his chest is now heavy; he is now a thing of the past. His friends, chosen ones, companions, in-laws and close friends have all left him behind. His company and loved ones are now changed, for he is now nothing but the filling of a grave and the pawn of a waste: Worms crawl all over his body, his pus drips from his nostrils on his neck and chest. Soil crushes his flesh as his blood dries and bone decays. He remains in his grave till the Day when he is herded with others and is given a new life; so, he is taken out of his grave. His trumpet is blown, he is called on to gather with others and stand trial. Graves are scattered around, the innermost in the hearts are recorded and calculated.
Every prophet, Siddiq, martyr, anyone who speaks is brought and made to stand for the final judgment of an Able God Who is fully knowledgeable of His servants, seeing [all what they do]. Countless exhalations engulf him, sighs fade him (distance him), in a horrific position and an awesome scene before a Great King Who knows about everything small and big. He is reined by his sweat, his worry crushing him, yet his tear has none to feel sorry for, his scream (defense) is not accepted. His record of deeds is brought, his innermost becomes visible, and every part of his body now speaks of his wrongdoings:
His eyes testify about what he had seen, his hands about whom he beat, his legs about where he had gone, his skin about what he had contacted, his private parts about with whom he had had intercourse. He is threatened by Munkir and Nakir; and it is unveiled for him where he is heading; so his neck now is tied with chains and his hands are cuffed. He is taken alone, dragged and brought to Hell as he is in a great distress and hardship. He remains in the torment of hell given to drink of very hot pus that grills his face and separates his skin from his body. He is beaten by the torture angels of hell with iron clubs. His skin returns again and again anew after having been baked. He cries for help, yet even the angels in Hell turn away from him. He pleads for mercy, so he stays for a while regretful, yet he finds none to care about his regret. His regret will then be in vain.
We seek refuge with an Able Lord from the evil of any final end such as this, and we plead for forgiveness similar to that of one with whom He is pleased and for an overlooking similar to that of one whose good deeds He has accepted; for He is my Master, ultimate pursuit and the one Who grants success to what I seek. Surely one who is pushed away from the torment of his Lord shall reside in Paradise near to Him and remain forever in well built mansions, having huris with large lovely eyes and servants. He is given to drink of fresh cool water mixed with ginger and sealed with musk and fragrance that perpetuates happiness and provides the sense of pleasure.
He drinks of wines in an orchard filled with all types of pleasures, wine that does not cause any headache to one who drinks it, and it never runs out; such is the ultimate end of one who fears his Lord, who is on guard about his sin, about the insinuations of his nafs (self), and that was the penalty of one who opposes the [sinless] way [in which] he was created, the one whose evil self decorates for him to do what is against his nature. Such is the final judgment and the ruling of One Who is just: He narrated parables, admonished through texts, revealed revelations from a Praiseworthy Wise One, revelations which He descended with a clear (able) Holy Spirit [arch-angel Gabriel] from a Glorious Lord unto a Prophet who is rightly guided and who guides others, one who shows others the right way, a mercy to the believers, clearly from a Great Lord, a master frequented by messengers (angels) who are honored and obedient [of their Lord].
I have sought refuge with a Lord Who is knowing, wise, able, merciful, from the evil of an enemy who is cursed and stoned; so, let everyone who pleads plead, and let everyone who seeks [favors of his Lord] seek and ask forgiveness of the Lord of lords for myself and for you all.
Having finished his miraculous sermon, the Imam (?) recited this following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
“We shall grant that (eternal) abode of the hereafter to those who intend neither high-handedness nor mischief on earth, and such end is (the best reward) for the righteous” (Qur’an, 28:83).
Sayings of Imam Ali from Nahjul Balagha
- 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 you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 and fame.
- 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.
- If you overpower your enemy, then pardon him by way of thankfulness to Allah, for being able to subdue him.
- 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).
- When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.
- He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.
- Every person who is tempted to go astray, does not deserve punishment.
- Our affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah, even our best plans may lead us to destruction.
- 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.
- 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.
- One who rushes madly after inordinate desire, runs the risk of encountering destruction and death.
- Overlook and forgive the weaknesses of the generous people because if they fall down, Allah will help them.
- 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.
- If the right usurped from us is given back to us we shall take it, otherwise we shall go on claiming it.
- If someone’s deeds lower his position, his pedigree cannot elevate it.
- To render relief to the distressed and to help the oppressed make amends for great sins.
- . 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).
- . Often your utterances and expressions of your face leak out the secrets of your hidden thoughts.
- When you get ill do not get nervous about it and try as much as possible to be hopeful.
- The best form of devotion to the service of Allah is not to make a show of it.
- When you have to depart from this world and have to meet death (eventually), then why wish delay (why feel nervous about death).
- 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).
- A virtuous person is better then virtue and a vicious person is worse than vice.
- Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly.
- The best kind of wealth is to give up inordinate desires.
- One who says unpleasant things about others, will himself quickly become a target of their scandal.
- One who hopes inordinately, impairs his deeds.
- Recommended prayers cannot attain the pleasures of Allah for you when obligatory prayers are left unattended.
- A wise man first thinks and then speaks and a fool speaks first and then thinks.
- A fool’s mind is at the mercy of his tongue and a wise man’s tongue is under the control of his mind.
- The sin which makes you sad and repentant is more liked by Allah than the good deed which turns you arrogant.
- Value of a man depends upon his courage; his veracity depends upon his self-respect and his chastity depends upon his sense of honor.
- 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.
- Be afraid of a gentleman when he is hungry, and of a mean person when his stomach is full.
- Hearts of people are like wild beasts. They attach themselves to those who love and train them.
- So long as fortune is favouring you, your defects will remain covered.
- Only he who has the power to punish can pardon.
- 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.
- There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than consultation.
- Patience is of two kinds: patience over what pains you, and patience against what you covet.
- Wealth converts a strange land into homeland and poverty turns a native place into a strange land.
- Contentment is the capital which will never diminish.
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