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Islamic wisdom collection Nahj al Balaghah

by Uneeb Khan
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Nahj al Balaghah: A Collection of Islamic Wisdom

One of the most value book in the Islamic literary canon, Nahj al-Balaghah is a collection of sermons, commentaries, letters, and narrations of Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). Sharif Razi compile this book in the 10th century CE, and it remains an important book to this day. In fact, it’s so rich in Islamic wisdom that most Sunni Muslims look upon it as one of the most important books within their own canons.

Who was the author?

The Nahjul Balagha is the final book for Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib(A.S). This text is compose by having a unique collection of sermons, commentaries, letters and narrations. In other words, this text consists mainly in speeches or sayings from Imam Ali to his followers and as-salafiyah. This makes it an important resource for seeking knowledge because they contain tidbits of wisdom with teachings on Humanity, Imamat Etc., Prophet Hood and many more topics.

Who were the recipients?

This book is meant for the readers in general. But it has various sections that are direct to different groups like rulers, disciples, companions, and believers. It also covers subjects relate to humanity, imamat etc., prophet hood, day of judgment and one can get to know about the fundamental beliefs like monotheism by learning Nahjul Balagha.

Where was it first delivered?

The nahj-al-balagha is an effective way to introduce the day of judgment and a basis for monotheism. You learn the basic principles through Imam Ali’s words, so when you study these well and then come back to your country after three months, you will know about the fundamental beliefs like monotheism.

What did these speeches contain?

I am Ali Ibn Abi Talib and I will read a few verses from my compilation, the Nahjul Balagha. It is written that one day the Prophet(PBUH) address me in private to say, You are a person whom I have chosen and love over all others. Speaking about his service for Islam, he said that he had been inform by Allah (SWT) about the Day of Judgment so he instruct his followers to inform future generations. All human beings must be remind that on the Day of Judgment you will know about the fundamental beliefs like monotheism when you learn Nahjul Balagha.

What message can we take from these words today?

When you learn Nahjul Balagha, you understand that Ali ibn Abi Talib(A.S) always talk about honesty, politeness, and compassion when giving sermons to people. Sometimes he would get angry but he never let it show; instead he would act out in generosity and forgiveness. Ali ibn Abi Talib(A.S) believe in the importance of justice. We can learn a lot from this book today because we are living in a time where there is lack of honesty, we have lost the practice of being polite to one another, and there is little to no compassion between members our society. If we were to follow these values from Nahjul Balagha then perhaps some day there will be change on this earth for good.

How should we read these pieces of wisdom today?

The timeless wisdom contain in Nahj al-Balaghah has undoubtedly been the source of guidance and motivation for Muslims throughout the ages. But what is the relevance of this wisdom to Muslims living in an age where we can rely on social media, satellite TV, or a quick online search to answer any query?

Sharif Razi himself emphasized the importance of paying close attention to an eloquent speaker’s every word, avoiding distractions that may break the trance. Nowadays, however, our attention spans are much shorter. So how do we digest such a long book without losing focus?

1) Take smaller bites – Read a couple pages before bedtime, over coffee break or your morning commute. What better way to start off your day feeling energize and uplift?

One of my favorite quotes is Man should not sin after he has been educate and taught what Allah wants him to do. The believer is the one who continuously recites this prayer to himself at all times. The most valuable part in this speech is that you should not sin after being educate, because if you know how to do something better then that is how you need to do it.

Did you find any speech confusing or uninspiring? Why do you think so? Share with us your least favorite quote.

I didn’t enjoy this quote because it seem to tell me that the best way to live in life is through earthly desires, but does not consider what happens after death. This makes me worry about life in general because it sounds like everyone who lives their lives in an unjust manner will just be able to do whatever they want with little consequence, while those who strive for justice will suffer as if they were playing a hopeless game or being torture by a sadistic dictator.

Did you find any interesting anecdotes or stories from history mentioned in these lectures that inspired you to pursue something new or give up a bad habit? Why are they important to know about now? Share with us your favorite story.

One particular story mention in this book is a time where Ali ibn Abi Talib(A.S) was face with an emergency situation and he suddenly rushed to the person in need. The problem was that the person was sitting behind his closed door and so Ali Ibn Abi Talib knocked on the door, but when he knocked on the door, there was no answer. In response to that, Ali ibn Abi Talib went home, and then set off a firecracker outside the door to get their attention because it seemed as if they were ignoring him or had fallen asleep or something like that. The point of this story is just how sincere Ali ibn Abi Talib’s faith in God and love for people were.

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