By the Compiler of Nahjul Balagha
al-'Allamah ash-Sharif ar-Radi
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful the Compassionate.
So now, praise is due to Allah who has held praise as the
price of His bounties, protection against His retribution, pathway to His
paradises and means for multiplication of His good treatment, and blessings be
on his Messenger, the Prophet of Mercy, the torch of the people, the chosen one
from the origin of greatness and family of longstanding honors, the plantation
of all-engrossing glory and the branch of sublimity full of fruits and foliage,
and on the members of his family who are lanterns of darkness, protection of
the peoples, brilliant minarets of religion and high standards of greatness,
Allah may shower upon them all blessings befitting their distinction as reward
for their actions and suitable to the chastity of their lineage so long as the
morning dawns and the stars twinkle.
In my early age at the dawn of youth I commenced writing a
book on the characteristics of the Imams covering the account of their virtues
and masterpieces of their utterances. The
purpose of the compilation was stated by me in the beginning of the book.
Therein I completed the portion relating to the account of Amir al-melanin
'Ali (peace be upon him) but I could not complete that part concerning the other
Imams due to impediments of the time and obstacles of the days.
I divided the book into several chapters and sections, in a manner for
its last section to comprise whatever had been related to 'Ali's (p.b.u.h.)
short utterances such as counsels, maxims and proverbs but not long lectures and
A number of my friends and brothers-in-faith, while
wondering at its delicate and blossoming expressions, admired the contents of
this particular section, and desired me to complete a book which should cover
all the forms of the utterances of Amir al-mu'minTn, including diverse materials
such as lectures, letters, counsels, ethics, etc., as they were convinced that
the entire proceedings would comprise wonders and surprises of eloquence and rhetoric's,
brilliant jewels of Arabic language and shining expressions about faith;
collected in any other work, nor found together in any other book, because Amir
al-mu'minin was the fountain of eloquence and the source of rhetoric's.
Through him the hidden delicacies of eloquence and rhetoric's came to
light, and from him were learnt its principles and rules.
Every speaker and orator had to tread on his footprints and every
eloquent preacher availed of his utterances.
Even then none could equal him and so the credit for being
the first and foremost remained with him, because his utterances are those that
carry the reflection of Divine knowledge and savor of the Prophet's utterance.
Accordingly, I acceded to their request as I knew that it meant great
reward, handsome reputation and a treasure of recompense.
The object of this compilation is to bring forth Amir
al-mu'minin greatness and superiority in the art of rhetoric's,
in addition to his countless qualities and innumerable distinctions, and to show
that he had risen to the highest pinnacle of this attainment; was singular among
all those predecessors whose utterances are quoted here and there, whereas his
own utterances are such an on-rushing stream that its flow cannot be encountered
and such a treasure of delicacies that cannot be matched.
Since I proudly trace my descent from him I have a pleasure of quoting a
couplet of al-Farazdaq:
"These are my forefathers O' JarTr.
When we get together, can you claim forth their equals?
In my view Amir al-mu'minin utterances are divisible in
three categories: firstly Sermons and Decrees, secondly Letters and
Communications and thirdly Maxims and Counsels. Allah willing I have decided to compile first the Sermons,
then Letters, and finally the Maxims and Counsels, whilst proposing a separate
Chapter for each category, leaving blank pages in between each so that if
anything has been left out and becomes handy afterwards it may be inserted
therein, whereas any utterance which is routine or in reply to some question
or has some other aim does not fit in with any of my divisions should be
included in the category for which is most suitable or to which its subject
matter is most akin. In this
compilation, some sections and sentences have crept in whose arrangement savors
of disarray and disorderliness. This
is because I am only collecting the most representative brilliant utterances but
do not wish to arrange or array them.
The characteristic of Amir
al-mu'minin in which he is un paralleled and is shared by no one, is
that his utterances on reclusion, piety, remembrance of Allah and admonition
are such that when a person peruses them without bearing in mind that they are
the words of a man who enjoys great and ruling position and who controls
destinies of men he can have no doubt that it is the utterance of a man who has
no interest other than reclusion and no activity save worshipping; who is
confined to the interior of some house or the valley of some mountain where he
hears nothing save his own murmur and sees no one except himself.
He would not believe that this is the utterance of one who plunges in
battles with drawn sword severing heads and vanquishing the heroes and comes
back with his sword dripping with blood and heart's fluid.
And despite all this he is supreme among the recluse and chief among the
saints. This distinction is one of
those astonishing characteristics of Amir al-mu'minin with which he collected in
himself contradictory qualities and patched together diverse greatness, I
often mention these to my brethren-in-faith and put them wondering over it.
It is indeed a subject to ponder over and think about.
Within this compilation, some repetition of words or
subject matter are to be expected, as the utterances of Amir al-mu'minin have
been known to be related in numerous forms. Sometimes it happened that a particular utterance was found
in a particular form in a tradition and was taken down in that very form.
Thereafter, the same utterance was found in some other tradition either
with acceptable addition or in a more attractive style of expression.
In such a case with a view to further the object of compilation and to
preserve the beautiful utterance from being lost it was decided to repeat it
elsewhere. It has also happened
that a particular utterance had appeared earlier but due to remoteness it has
been entered again. This is through
omission, not by intent.
In spite of all this I do not claim that I have collected Amir
al-mu'minin utterances from all sources and that no single sentence of any
type or construction has been left out. In
fact I do not rule out the possibility that whatever has been left out might be
more than what has been collected, and what has been in any knowledge and use is
far less than what has remained beyond my reach.
My task was to strive to the best of my capacity and it was Allah's part
to make the way easy and guide me to the goal; Allah may will so.
Having completed my work, both in the collection and
compilation of this manuscript; Nahj al-baltighah, the pathway of rhetoric's
would be the appropriate title of the book, in that it would open the doors of
eloquence for the reader and shorten its approach for him; the scholar and the
student would meet their needs from it while the rhetoricians as well as the
recluse would find their objectives in it as well.
In this book would be found a wonderful discussion on Allah's One-ness,
Justness and His being free from body and form, that would quench every thirst
(for learning), provide cure for every malady (of un-belief) and remove every
doubt. I seek from Allah succor,
protection against straying, correctness of action and His assistance.
I seek His protection against mistakes of heart before mistakes of tongue
and against mistakes of speech before mistakes of action.
He is my reliance and He is the best Trustee.