The words and logic of Imam Ali’s (PBUH) Nahj al-Balaghah, like its main source the Holy Quran, remains fresh and vibrant for the current world despite the passage of various political and moral ideologies.
One thing that has been widely discussed among those studying the Nahjul Balagha – including Shia, Sunni, and even Christian scholars is the strong attraction of Nahj al-Balaghah in speech, and the ways it has impressed them. It is this attraction that a group of scholars focused their work on interpreting the Nahj al-Balaghah, and compiling books and articles about the characteristic of Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH).
But what really lies in this appeal? Perhaps the following can answer:
1. In the Nahj al-Balaghah there is a constant understanding towards lower class and oppressed people; there is numerous discussions towards fighting oppression and tyrannical injustices.
In a letter to Malik Ashtar, Imam Ali (PBUH) used the clearest phrases to inform him of the most comprehensive strategies of ruling. In discussions about the seven social groups, including their rights and responsibilities, the tone is continued with a gentle calmness, however as it comes to the oppressed group of the society the tone changes to a serious higher pitched one, suggesting a loud shout: “Allah, Allah! O Malik Ashtar….about the lower class, the depraved, the oppressed, the needy, the unable….”(۱)
He then commanded him to oversee the Islamic country personally without the intervention of others; that is to check on them frequently and solve or work on people’s problems towards justice. And not only in this letter, but in many other sermons and letters Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) has strongly advised about this matter.
2. In the area of man’s freedom from the captivity of desire, one which will lead him towards his doom, and the rule of tyrants and the upper class, Imam Ali (PBUH) warns about the importance of returning the spirit of freedom, equality, and justice, that there should be no hesitance in this area. He declares that he has accepted the governorship for these matters (2) and he who thinks Ali ibn Abu Talib (PBUH) is willing to negotiate on these issues has completely made mistake(3).
3. Topics discussed in the Nahj al-Balaghah are comprehensive and exact, as though the speaker has devoted his entire life to the research of the matter.
Amir al-Mu’minin’s sermon about monotheism begins with describing the names (Asma’) and characteristics (Sifat) of Allah (SWT), thereby revealing the face of a great divine philosopher in the eyes of reader, one which devoted his entire life towards studying monotheism. The Imam does not aim to manifest Allah (SWT), nor does he cancel out the learning of Allah’s attributes. Instead he introduces Allah (SWT) in a manner that a person can see Allah (SWT) with his/her heart in all places, in the heavens, the earth, and within him/herself, such that his heart is filled with divine light.
But as we continue the Nahj al-Balaghah, we come upon the sermon of Jihad. Here we see a brave commander that has on the attire of war. He speaks of war strategies and techniques for his army in such a way that he spent his entire life dealing with war and the arts of fighting.
As we turn the pages of Nahj al-Balaghah, we see Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) in the position of the Ummah’s leadership, teaching the laws of running a country to his subordinates, teaching the secrets and rise of civilizations, teaching the destinies of oppressors, and teaching the path to attaining social, political, and military peace – all in the most mature terms, in such a way that one could say he did not have any other focus than this.
We turn the pages once more, and we see Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) on the seat of teaching ethics, morality, and education. When he speaks of awakening sleeping souls, he speaks about death, the end of life, and the fate of previous generations. His speech is so emotionally motivating for all attentive souls, that it brings a painful, yet enjoyable awakening.(4)
A devout man by the name of Hammam requested a new lesson about the characteristics of the pious.
The Imam teaches him the characteristics of the pious in such depth, that one could say the Imam spent his entire life teaching ethics and morality to people. The Imam teaches so far that Hammam faints after hearing all he did. Indeed, the impacts of such words have not been experienced in history.
The various scenes of Nahj al-Balaghah, each of which is exceptional are among the characteristics of this great book.
Despite the many interpretations of Nahj al-Balaghah, and the works of great scholars, nonetheless, this book continues to need exploitation.
(The above is a selection taken from “The Message of the Imam”, by Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi)
The Roshd Website congratulates all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 13th of Rajab, the birthday anniversary of the Imam of eloquence and the leader of justice, and the first Imam of Shiites, Amir al-Mu’minin,
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH).
1. Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter 53 known as letter to Malik Ashtar
2. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 3, known as Shiqshiqieh
3. Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter 45, The letter to Uthman ibn Hunaif
4. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermons 109, 111, 113, and other sermons
5. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 184, known as Sermon of Muttaqin