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Preface of Nahjul Balaghah (Part: II)
By: Ali Naqi-un-Naqvi

Visits 431 categorization: Nahj Al-Balagha
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The ninth point is that although the above mentioned people are contemporaries of Allama Sayyid Razi with regard to their period of living yet with reference to the year of death of several of them it is certain that their period of collection and compilation is later than Nahjul Balaghah.
And after that there is a whole group which is completely later than Allama Razi, such as Ibn Abil Hadeed (d. 655 A.H.), Sibte Ibn Jouzi (d. 606 A.H.) and many other authors after them. Evidently Allama Razi's book Nahjul Balaghah was not unknown or hidden from these people.
What prompted these people to collection and compilation was only that during selection Allama Sayyid Razi had not copied many portions of Amirul Momineen's compositions because of lack of the original texts, or because the texts were either worm-eaten or incomplete. That is why authors had to resort to rectifier and rectifier of rectifier etc.
These series continued till Sheikh Hadi descendent of Kashif-ul-Ghita in the recent past, who wrote Rectification of Nahjul Balaghah that has been published in Najaf al-Ashraf.
If anyone from among the writers of Allama Sayyid Razi's period or thereafter would had thought that the writings and speeches contained in the Nahjul Balaghah were not authentic but written by Sayyid Razi himself then all of them, especially his contemporaries who did not allow any forgery, would have written in their books that these writing were not authentically from Amirul Momineen and they would have presented his real speeches and sayings.
But since there is no trace of such writings, it means that this objection against the compiled work of Sayyid Razi is unfounded, and we have to admit that according to all of these know authors the texts collected by Allama Sayyid Razi were authentically from Amir-ul-Momineen's speeches, and the only complaint they could have against Sayyid Razi was about his leaving some of the speeches or lack of collection and investigation or not adopting a more suitable mode of arrangement or manner of compilation for which they considered necessary to make an endeavor which continues till today.
In fact some writers may still wish to see the speeches included in Nahjul Balaghah in some other array. This is a different matter; but to entertain doubt or misgiving about the text itself is different.
The tenth point is that when an attempt is made, the speeches and utterances included in Nahjul Balaghah are traceable in their exact words in the books compiled before Nahjul Balaghah.
And when a greater part is found included in the earlier book then if a small portion is not available a moderate mind cannot entertain a doubt on this account when it is known that due to various happenings in the world so many collections of books have been destroyed that if they had existed they would have certainly been more than the existing ones.
Even those collections of Amirul Momineen's utterances which according to clues given to us by history, were compiled before Allama Sayyid Razi do not exist today. Thus if some contents are not traceable in the presently current books one must conclude that they must exist in the book to which we do not now have access.

Even before the compilation of Mustadrak Nahjul Balaghah, Allama Sheikh Hadi Kashiful Ghita had compiled these references of the contents of Nahjul Balaghah as Madarik Nahjul Balaghah which was not probably published in complete form but a praise-worthy attempt has been made by a Sunni scholar of Rampur (India) named Arshi, published in "Faran", Karachi, in the form of an article. If further search is made there is possibility of further success in this connection.
The eleventh point is that the practice with the Shia research scholars has been that they are not prepared to accept every book or collection attributed to the "infallibles" without scrutiny on the only ground that it is so attributed but fulfilling the obligations of research whole-heartedly they openly reject what is due to be rejected, or if it is doubtful they indicate the doubt or misgiving.
In this way many collections which exist as productions of the "infallibles" have acquired different grades in the matter of authenticity. For example, the Anthology (Diwan) of Amirul Momineen is in circulation as the work of Ali but Shia scholars hold it wrong without any regard or consideration.
The position of the commentary of Imam Hasan Askari is a bit better than this, although in reputation it is no less than Nahjul Balaghah, and the high grade old traditionist like Shaikh Saduq (A.R.) has relied upon it, yet most Shia scholars do not recognize it, so much so that the research scholar of our recent period Allama Shaikh Muhammad Jawad Balaghi has written a whole treatise on proving it wrong.
Fiqah-ur-Riza is attributed to Imam Riza (a.s.), but its authenticity or otherwise has become a highly scholarly issue on which regular books have been penned. Similarly Jafariat or the booklet Zahabia of Imam Riza (a.s.) etc., have not escaped criticism.
Despite this practice the fact that right from after Sayyid Razi till now no Shia scholar raised any voice against Nahjul Balaghah or expressed even doubt or misgiving about it is a decisive proof that in the view of all of them its position is unique and superior to all other collections.
In this regard if there is any book equal to Nahjul Balaghah it is only Saheefa al-Kamila which is similarly admitted as the collection of the utterances of Imam Zain-ul-Abedin (a.s.). No other book ranks equal to these two in this connection.
The conclusion from the above grounds is that from after Allama Sayyid Razi, till about two or two and a half hundred years no voice is seen being raised against Nahjul Balaghah. Rather numerous Sunni scholars wrote commentaries on it, such as Abul Hasan Ali bin Abul Qasim Baihaqi (d. 565 A.H.), Imam Fakhr-ud-Din (d. 606 A.H.) Ibn Abil Hadeed (d. 655 A.H.), Allama Saduddin Taftazani, and others.
Probably it was because of these commentaries etc., written by Sunni scholars that Nahjul Balaghah became known among the commonality and unrest brewed among the Sunnis about those of its contents which concern the three Caliphs.
This led to argumentation among themselves as a result of which with a view to save their principles of faith and to appease the commonality, the need arose for the scholars to create doubts and misgivings about Nahjul Balaghah and to denounce it. Thus, first of all Ibn Khallikan (d. 681 A.H.) attempted to make it doubtful and wrote in the account of Sayyid Murtaza that:
"People differ about the book Nahjul Balaghah which is a collection of the utterances of Ali bin Abi Talib as to whether he (Sayyid Murtaza) compiled it or his brother Razi did so while it has also been said that it is not at all the composition of Ali bin Abi Talib and that the one who compiled it and attributed it to him made it himself; but Allah knows best."
It is very noteworthy that the controversial voice against Nahjul Balaghah even after two and a half centuries did not rise from the centre of its compilation Baghdad or any city of Iraq; but this voice rose through Ibn Khallikan from the western area where Omayyad rule existed and from Qerwan and Qartaba where scholars received patronage under the influence of the Government.
From there this voice rose through Ibn Khallikan, evidently the people about whom it is stated that they differ were not responsible individuals of the Muslims metropolis otherwise more sanguine words such as the "Scholars differ", "the researches differ" or "the learned differ" would have been used while the "people" are those Sunni commons of the western region patronized by the Omayyads.
They did not even know whether this book was the compilation of Sayyid Razi or of Sayyid Murtaza and it is concealment of true position by Ibn Khallikan that he does not put forth his own views which he certainly had about this book and its compiler.
In order to appease the feelings of the people considers it appropriate to just relate the differences of these very people namely that some people call it a compilation of Sayyid Murtaza and others of Sayyid Razi; but the judgment of his own conscience comes first that whoever might be the compiler, it is the composition of Amirul Momineen.
Thus due to apprehension of injuring the popular sentiments he refers to the objections of some of the partisan, unknown and untraceable persons, who in their effort not to recognize its contents used to urge during arguments that they did not recognize it as the word of Ali, he resorts to the passive form (viz. has been said) or that some people hold that it is not the production of Ali, but that the person who compiled it has himself composed it.
The passive form "it has been said" was enough to prove weakness of this view, but since his own conscience was not satisfied with it, so in the end he tries to cast further doubt and misgiving by saying "Allah knows best."
This only leads one to conclude that Ibn Khallikan does not intend to express his own finding in this matter due to pressure around him and he wishes to keep himself aloof by just recounting the gossip of vile common people. Evidently such doubting can carry no weight in the world of learning. Even a straw provides good support to one who is drowning.
Although Allama Ibn Khallikan had in response to his conscience to a great extent saved himself from the liability to declaim Nahjul Balaghah yet his words easily gave the hint to the later participants in the contest that they should reject Nahjul Balaghah as the work of Amirul Momineen.
Consequently, a century after this Zahabi who was the most intolerant of his times picked up the courage to raise the doubt to the degree of certainty when he wrote in the account of Sayyid Murtaza that:
"Whoever sees his book Nahjul Balaghah would come to believe that it is falsely attributed to Amirul Momineen, because it contains open abuse rather downgrading of the two leaders Abu Bakr and Umar."
Now look at this strange development that for two or two and a half hundred years from the compilation of Nahjul Balaghah i.e. up to the time of Ibn Khallikan, there is no trace of any difference or misgiving about Nahjul Balaghah.
Then sitting in the West Ibn Khallikan relates the difference of view of the common people in this regard as to whether it is a book compiled by Sayyid Murtaza or by Sayyid Razi and adds an unauthentic view to the effect that its attribution to Amirul Momineen is wrong and eventually makes this falsification doubtful by saying "Allah knows best."
This was when due to nearness of the time, the means of getting information could be numerous, and a century thereafter Zahabi, first by one stroke of his pen ends the difference that existed in regard to the compiler and declares it as the performance of Sayyid Murtaza and then, replacing this doubt by certainty, says that whoever studies Nahjul Balaghah would be convinced similarly.
This means that for three hundred years up to his days no one had studied Nahjul Balaghah or he had picked up a spectacle, no one before him had possessed, and now he was inviting everyone after his days to study Nahjul Balaghah through the same spectacle.
What is that spectacle, he himself indicates towards the end of his discussion. From a literary viewpoint, according to principles of relating the traditions and in keeping with the canons of criticism, it was incumbent on him to provide a proof.
That in proof of its wrong attribution towards Amirul Momineen he should have brought forth such accepted composition of Amirul Momineen which was reliable in his view, was taken from sources other than Sayyid Razi and which should have been different from the record adopted by Sayyid Razi.
He should also have referred to the criticisms of authors contemporary of Sayyid Razi to the effect that they too had held it false and should have recounted the eulogy or criticism of the other scholars and critics of these three hundred years.
But his research shows no such proof. His only ground for holding this attribution as false is that it contains abuse of his two leaders. Can this ground carry any value in the world of learning? It is just like this that after certain centuries after the descension of Quran some group of unbelievers refuse to accept Quran as Allah's word; because it contains derogatory and abusive verses against their gods.
The fact is that if fact is judged by subjugating it to passions, then no fact constant at all.
"And verily thou callest them unto the straight path." (Quran, 23:73.)
With the opening of this doorway all the principles of traditionalism and observation become inoperative and useless, because a person with any belief or thinking would reject even the strongest authority on the ground that it militates against his belief or thinking.
As regards the arguments of Shias against the three Caliphs they rely on the Traditions of the Prophet (S) and even on the Traditions and transmissions contained in the six Sahihs and make use of the traditions of the Prophet (S) no less than the Nahjul Balaghah.
The practice of cautious and principled Sunni scholars has been that they would resort to interpretation rather than daring to deny the contents of the traditions.
The tendency to reject reliable authorities initiated by Zahabi developed to this extent in the days of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, that in the beginning in confrontations with the Christians when he had to bear in mind the consideration about Christ's death, only with the idea that since the Christians put it forth as a distinction of Christ that he is alive it should be done away with.
He adopted this confrontational tactic as the basis and rejected all the Islamic authoritative pronouncements or the agreed traditions on the subject and eventually a way was carved for his own claim for himself being Christ.
By gradual rise the same feeling has now, through the people calling themselves adherents of Quran represented by Tulu al-Islam reached the stage that seeing that Tabari and other commentators have all given some matter or other advantageous to the Shias, they struck a blow against the traditions, commentaries and histories in total and the only ground for rejecting them, all is that they have recorded things in favour of Shias, and therefore it is all false.
The building erected on a wrong foundation must face such an end. They should have faced reality as reality and then subjugated their feelings to it as is the religious obligation of common Muslims. What to say of those who regard themselves as scholars of Islam or pass as such in the world.
In the centuries that followed this door became wide open; so that it became a common device of confrontation that whenever any quotation from Nahjul Balaghah was put forth, it was held wrong. Thereafter in the present period some other considerations have also become operative.
For example, when the conviction of the modernist group that woman is equal to man in every respect is hurt by the contents of Nahjul Balaghah, then to protect this belief an attempt is made to prove that it is not the word of Ali because it is detractor to women; and when modern science is found at variance with its holdings then maintaining science as the basic truth it is denied to be Ali's word.
Sometimes under the impression that in it there is mention of those of acts of science and arts which people of later times regard as their findings, it is said that these utterances are a product of later period on the ground that these arts and sciences did not exist in Arabia at that time.
So much so that even one word such as Sultan is regarded as anachronistic and its occurrence in Nahjul Balaghah is taken as a proof that it could not have been uttered by Amirul Momineen (a.s.), whereas all these are just excuses for satisfying their own wishes, and a result of regarding their own suppositions as the reality and subjugating facts thereto.
When are the facts recorded in Quran such as were known to the Arabs of those days, and when was the implication of many of the sayings of the Prophet (S) clear to the then world, so that no wonder is expressed on the discoveries of arts and sciences in Ali's sayings unknown to the then world.
When an old Arabic couplet is advanced as authority for a word, we do not evidently know the source of such word earlier to that couplet; otherwise we would not take the trouble of quoting the couplet as authority.
Should we then regard this hypothesis as correct and reject the couplet on the ground that the word was not in existence before that, or the correct course would be - and this is the principle commonly adopted - that from the occurrence of this word in this couplet we deduce that this word was current among the Arabs.
Similarly why should we not adopt the same course in respect of the word "Sultan" rather than treating our hypothesis as gospel and hold that this word is new, and was non-existent in Arab literature?
Why should not its use in the utterances of Janab Amir (a.s.) be a proof that though this word was not current among the common majority yet it was not totally non-existent, and why should not the utterance of Amirul Momineen be taken as the authority for it?
Further, what is the need for holding "Sultan" to mean king in its literal sense when its root meaning namely government, power or control was in existence and its examples exist in Quran as well? `Argument' has been termed `Sultan' only because of being a means of securing control, just as for the same reason it is termed "protest".
This root sense was eventually adopted in the sense of a noun meaning king, what is the difficulty that in the sentence "when sultan changes the times change" we take `Sultan' in the sense not of the ruler but of the `government' or `authority', since in our own language it is in use in the sense of authority or ruler.
Literally we need not say that `when the king changes the times change" but render the meaning that when the authority changes there is change in the times as well. The result remains the same, and our hypothesis, if very dear to us also remains intact.
In short these are all baseless points which do not accord with any principles of tradition or observation. Nahjul Balaghah does not certainly contain any such harsh word about the Caliphs as do not exist in other books, or which is not in accord with those feelings of Janab Amir (a.s.) which find place in the other books of Sunnis.
As such, the occurrence of such words on his tongue is a proof that it is his own word. Of course if it had words contrary to his impressions then it would have been necessary to consider what their basis was; or they should be regarded as the result of some compulsion, as is the case with the sermon "God bless so and so" in the view of some scholars.
But in the case of an utterance which is a clear index of the speaker's thoughts there should be no hesitation in accepting its attribution to the speaker as true. That is why despite hesitation of Ibn Khallikan and the daring rejection of Zahabi the just-minded and truth-loving scholars and researchers without distinction of creed or group have been accepting Nahjul Balaghah as the word of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and have been expressing so. From among them a few who are presently in view are mentioned below.
(1) Allama Shaikh Kamal-ud-Din Muhammad bin Talha Qureshi (d.652 A.H.) writes in his book Matalib-us-Su'ool fi Manaqib al-Ale-Rasool which has been published in Lucknow as well, in the account of learning’s of Amirul Momineen (a.s.):
"Fourth is the science of eloquence and rhetoric. In this he was a leader near whom it was impossible to approach and was such a pioneer whose footprint cannot be paralleled. And for one who acquaints himself with his literary production known as Nahjul Balaghah the heard news of his eloquence becomes a witnessed phenomenon and his impression about Ali's (a.s.) elevated position in this matter turns into conviction."
Elsewhere he writes: --
"The fifth category comprises those sermons and speeches which the traditionalists have related and trustworthy people have obtained from him, while the book Nahjul Balaghah which is attributed to him consists of his various types of speeches and sermons which fully clarify their do's and don’ts, present eloquence and rhetoric’s through their shining words and meanings and exhibit the principles and secrets of the science of meanings and explanations in full form."
Herein the contents of Nahjul Balaghah have been categorically accepted is the composition of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) by quoting references of reliable and trustworthy traditionalists. The appearance of the word "attributed" at one place should not create any misunderstanding, because that refers to the book in its shape as such since it is evident that the book is not the compilation of Amirul Momineen. (a.s.)
The book is really that of Sayyid Razi; but people superficially or through ignorance name it as if it is the book of Amirul Momineen (a.s.). This attribution to the book is made in view of its contents and this is why Allama Ibn Talha has used the word “attributed" on this occasion, and it is quite correct. It does no harm to his trust and conviction about the reality of the contents.
(2) Allama Abu Hamid Abdul Hameed Bin Hilbatullah known as Ibn Abil Hadeed, Madaeni Baghdadi (d. 655 A.H.) who has written a comprehensive commentary on this book. Among the personal distinctions of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) under eloquence he writes:
"His eloquence is such that he is the leader of the eloquent and the Chief of the rhetoricians. It is about his utterances that it is below the word of the Creator but above the word of all creatures and from him the world has learnt the art of speech and rhetoric."
After this the opinions of Abdul Hamid bin Yahya and Abdul Hameed Nabatah have been quoted which we have already mentioned. Then he writes:
"And when Mohqin bin Mohqin, said to Muawiya, ‘I have come to you from the dumbest man' Muawiya said "Woe to thee, how can he be called dumb when, by Allah, no one other than he has shown the Quraish the way to eloquence." And this very book whose commentary we are writing is enough to prove that Ali occupied such a high position that no one can keep pace with him, nor can he be paralleled in rhetoric.
At another place the same Allama writes:
`Numerous portions of this book can be termed miracles of the Prophet (S) because they cover assertions about the unknown, and are beyond human capacity.’
Although Allama Ibn Abil Hadeed is staunch in his beliefs which run counter to Shiaism, and therefore wherever there is matter in Nahjul Balaghah against his faith he has faced goodly difficulty, yet in spite of this he does not in any single place express his doubt that it may not be the word of Amirul Momineen (a.s.).

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