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


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(13) The reputed Arab author, orator and writer Shaikh Mustafa Ghalaeeni, Professor of Quranic Commentary, Theology and Arabic Literature in the Islamic University, Beirut, in his book Areejuz Zahar under the subject Nahjul Balaghah and Styles of Arabic Expression writes under a detailed treatise:
"The best material whose study is compulsory for the seekers of high standard in literature is the book of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), Nahjul Balaghah, and it is this book for which this preface has been mainly written. This book contains such eloquent utterances, astonishing styles of expression, beautiful subject matters and numerous sublime imports that if the student practices them properly he can, in his composition, speaking and conversation, attain perfect standard of eloquence.”
After this he writes that "From this book large number of persons rather communities, have drawn advantage, among whom this writer is also included. I invite all those who are in search of high style of Arabic writing and eloquent way of expression, to appropriate this book."
(14) Professor Muhammad Kurd Ali, Head of the literary circle in Damascus, in reply to the third out of four questions of Al-Hilal which was, "which books you advise the youth of today to read," wrote: "If rhetoric is sought in its perfect form or eloquence which is untarnished by smallest flaw then you should resort to Nahjul Balaghah, the collection of lectures of Amirul Momineen Ali Bin Abi Talib (a.s.) and his letters to his governors.
For details may be seen the chapter on writing and writers in my book Al- Qadeem Wal Ahadith printed in Egypt in 1925 A.D.". This reply appeared on page 572 of Issue No.5, volume 35 of Al-Hilal for March 1927 A.D.
(15) Professor Muhammad Mohiuddin, Professor in the Faculty of Arabic Language in Al-Azhar University has written notes on Nahjul Balaghah and retaining the annotations of Allama Sheikh Muhammad Abdoh, has added numerous researches and explanations. With these additions this book was printed at the Matba Isteqama in Egypt.
In the beginning of this edition he has written a preface of his own wherein he has undertaken a conclusive discussion on the authenticity and trustworthiness of Nahjul Balaghah. Its salient portions are quoted hereunder: "This book, Nahjul Balaghah, is that selection of the utterances of Amirul Momineen Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) which was adopted by Al-Sharif Razi, Abul Hasan Muhammad bin Hasan Moosavi.
This is the book which contains in its covers eminent jewels of rhetoric and the finest exhibits of eloquence; and it should be so since it is the utterance of a person who, after the Prophet (S) was the most eloquent in expression.
The biggest master of words and reasoning and one who had the greatest control over Arabic words so that he molded them as he wished, a high ranking philosopher whose utterance ushered forth springs of wisdom, a speaker whose oratory filled the hearts, and a scholar who from early age enjoyed such advantages as the closest contact and association with the Prophet, writing down of revelations, fighting both with sword as well as tongue in defense of the religion advantages which no one else could enjoy.
Such is the book Nahjul Balaghah. I have been studying it from the beginning of my youth and have been its lover from early age, because I saw my father often reading it and found my uncle spending long hours it pondering over its expressions appreciating its meaning and admiring its style; and the two had great effect upon me as it forced me to tread on their footsteps, so that I gave this book the foremost place in my heart and took it as the companion in my solitude who always provides solace to me."
After this the Allama has mentioned those persons whose way is that they regard it as the book of Sharif Razi himself. Surveying their views the Allama says that the most important grounds advanced for this book not being the word of Amir-ul-Momineen (a.s.) are only four:
Firstly, it contains such criticism of companions of the Prophet (S), whose coming out from Hazrat Ali (a.s.) cannot be agreed to, particularly the abuse of Moawiya, Talha, Zubair, Amr-bin-Aas and their followers. Secondly it exhibits worldly decoration and ingenuity of expression of a degree that was non-existent in the days of Hazrat Ali (a.s.).
Thirdly, its similes, metaphors and picturing of scenes and events are so perfect that they are not found elsewhere in early Islam. Along with this, the use of technical terms of logic and philosophy and of statistic in the statement of problems which were not in vogue in those days. Fourthly, numerous statements in the book savour of claim to fore-telling of events which is far from the position of a truthful person like Hazrat Ali (a.s.).
Turning down these considerations the Allama writes: - "Allah is witness that we do not find any of these grounds or all the grounds collectively to be a true ground, or even a ground-like thing in proof of the statement which is their aim; in fact they cannot even be regarded as doubts and misgivings, so as to create the least hitch in the acceptance of truth and which it may be necessary to refute."
Then he has refuted each and every point one by one. What he has said about the first point is briefly this that after the Prophet (S) the policy adopted with regard to Khilafat was such that Hazrat Ali (a.s.) should naturally have objection against it, and the insurgence of the people of Sham (Syria) during his caliphate must have pained him. Thus his words for each period are just in accord with historical conditions.
What then is the occasion for any doubt or misgiving therein? The reply to the second and third points is that no person was equal to Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) in eloquence and wisdom. How then can the characteristics of his utterances be found in any other person of that period? As regards the blame of rhyming and rhythms, that is not in his expressions of a type that may mean concoction or may tell upon the meanings.
Moreover rhyming etc. to this extent was quite in vogue in those days. What the Allama has said in reply to the fourth point does not accord with our own religious convictions, but it bears out his own point of view. He says 'What is regarded as fore-telling, we regard it as fore-seeing and the result of understanding the times, which is not discordant with a wise man like Ali.’
As we said this reply has been given by him according to his own notions, but the fact is that if expression of knowledge of the unknown given by Allah is taken as a standard for rejecting, then numerous traditions of the Prophet (S) would fall within its mischief. Again, expression of knowledge of the unknown by Allah is evident from a number of verses of the Quran.
As such the verses of the Quran should also be disbelieved. But if on the basis of knowledge of Allah these verses are believed, in there should be no occasion for laying objection on the inclusion of similar topics in the utterances of Ali (a.s.) who was given knowledge by Allah.
(16) Professor Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Nae-ul-Mursafi too has written a commentary of Nahjul Balaghah which was published from Darul-Kutub-al-Arabia. In its preface under the title 'A Word about the Arabic Language,' he writes:
"In this field Ali (a.s.) was the foremost, and the greatest proof for this is Nahjul Balaghah which Allah has made a clear proof of the fact that Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) was the light of the Quran and the finest living example of wisdom, knowledge, guidance, miracle and eloquence.
In it many things have been collected at one place by Hazrat Ali (a.s.) which cannot be found in one place even after putting together the utterances of great sages, matchless philosophers and world-reputed divine scholars, comprising high pinnacles of wisdom, canons of correct politics, astonishing sermons and effective contentions.
In this book Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) has plunged in the streams of knowledge, politics and religion and proved himself as the most prominent in all of them."
(17) Professor Muhammad-az-Zohri-ul Ghumravi wrote a preface to the above mentioned commentary by Mursafi. Therein under the caption "Classes of the Eloquent" he writes:- "From none of these classes of persons such performance has come down to us as has come from Amir-ul-Momineen Ali (may Allah honour his face).
His utterances cover renunciative sermons, political course of action and religious admonition, nice philosophical statements, moral instructions, jewels about oneness of Allah, clues about the unknown, retort and refutation of the opponent and common advices, and the book containing his bright utterances is Nahjul Balaghah which has been compiled by Abul Hasan Muhammad bin Tahir known as Sharif Razi, may Allah have mercy on him, reward him and be pleased with him.”
(18) Professor Abdul Wahab Hamoodah, Professor of Modern Literature in the Faculty of Literature, University of Fawad the First in Egypt has written in his article, "The Collective Opinions on Nahjul Balaghah" published in the Magazine Al-Islam of Cairo, vol. III, No.3 for Ramzan. 1370. A.H. corresponding to July 1951 A.D.:
"In the book Nahjul Balaghah all those things have been put collected by Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) which can be collected from all the great scholars, world famous philosophers and reputed vines put together. High pinnacles of wisdom, canons of pure politics, astonishing sermons of all sorts, effective contentions and collective conceptions, all these are an open testimony to the distinction and highest performance of the Imam (a.s.).
(19) Allama Abu Nasr, Professor, University of Beirut has in Chapter 31 of his book "Ali bin Abi Talib" mentioned Nahjul Balaghah among the Arabic relics of Amirul Momineen and has written in this regard that this book is an index to the great personality of Ali but Abi Talib (a.s.).
(20) Qazi Ali Bin Muhammad Shookani the author of Nail-ul-Autar has, in his book Ittehaf-al-Akabir be Asaneed-id-dafatir published in Hyderabad under the Chapter of "Noon" written about Nahjul Balaghah, after recording his continuous authorities, writes as follows: "Nahjul Balaghah is the word of Ali, may Allah be pleased with him."
This is a fact which has been admitted by numerous Christian researchers as well:
(1) Abdul Masih Antakee, editor of the Magazine Al-Imran who has written his famous book "Sharh al-Qaseedae Alavia" on the life of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and it has been published at Matba al-Ramesees, Fujala, Egypt on page 530; thereof he writes:
"There is no dispute that Sayyidina Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) is the leader of the eloquent and master of rhetoricians and the biggest among Arabic speakers and writers. This is the utterance about which it has been correctly said that it is above the word of the creatures and below that of the Creator.
This is the opinion of everyone who has knowledge of the art of composition and engages himself in writing. In fact, he is the master of the Arabic writers and their teacher. There can be no literary scholar wishing to acquire the art of writing but he should have before him the Quran and Nahjul Balaghah the one as the word of the Creator and the other the utterance of the noblest creature.
And on them depends everyone who wishes to be listed among good writers. Perhaps the highest position among those who served the Arabic language is that of Sharif Razi who collected these sermons, sayings and sagacious utterances of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) from the memories of people and manuscripts. And he quite aptly named them Nahjul Balaghah. Doubtlessly it is the right path of rhetoric for the person who desires to reach that goal.”
After this he has recorded the opinion of Shaikh Muhammad Abdoh and has there after written that once Shaikh Ibrahim Yaziji who has been unanimously admitted as the perfect writer of Arabic and the leader of all teachers of the language, told him that the perfection achieved by him in this art was only due to study of Quran and Nahjul Balaghah. The two are such living treasures of the Arabic language which can never exhaust.
(2) Fuwad Afram-ul-Bustani, Professor of Arabic Literature in the Academy of Qadees Yusuf (Beirut). He has commenced a series of instructional books by the name of 'Rawae' (admirable things) wherein he has compiled from literary relics, and compositions of numerous high ranking authors short selections, accounts of the author, performances, history of the book and historical research etc. in small collections and they have been published at the Catholic Christian Press, Beirut.
The first collection of this series concerns Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and Nahjul Balaghah about which the compiler writes in his preface: "We first begin this series with sonic selections from Nahjul Balaghah which is the book of the very first thinker in Islam." There after begins the series which is the first serial in the series of Rawae.
Its first topic is Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) in which under various captions the life and chief characteristics of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) have been discussed, which being the writing of a Christian may not be fully in consonance with Shia view point yet it contains lots of jewels of fact and justness.
The second topic is Nahjul Balaghah. Among its sub-topics there is one "Its compilation" and the other "Authenticity of its Attribution". Under this it is written: "Much time had not passed after compilation of Nahjul Balaghah when some scholar’s historians began to doubt its veracity.
Their pioneer is Ibn Khallikan who attributed this book to its compiler. Thereafter Safadi and others followed him, and then due to Sharif Razi being known through the relationship of his grandfather Murtaza, some people were led astray and they could not distinguish between him and his elder brother Ali bin Tahir known on Sayyid Murtaza (b. 966 A.D. and d. 1044 A.D.).
They attributed the compilation of Nahjul Balaghah to the latter, as Jurji Zaidan has done, while others like the orientalist Clemann went so far as to hold Sayyid Murtaza the real author of the book. When we look into the cause of this doubt, they eventually boil down to five points."
Thereafter he has recounted almost the same reasons for the doubts which have been stated just before in the account of Mohiuddin Abdul Hameed, the Commentator of Nahjul Balaghah. Then he has refuted those grounds.
(3) The world famous Christian Scholar and Poet of Beirut, Polis Salama writes on pages 71-72 of his book "Awwal Mulhima Arabia Edul Ghadeer" published at Matba al-Nassr, Beirut: - "Nahjul Balaghah is the most famous book from which we get complete acquaintance with Imam Ali (a.s.), and save Quran the eloquence of no other book surpasses it.” Thereafter he has written the following couplets in praise of Nahjul Balaghah:
"This is a pivot of learning and knowledge and an open door to secrets and intricacies. This Nahjul Balaghah is but Jewels dispersed in a shining book. It is the garden of decorated flowers which has the gracefulness of the flowers; brilliance of streams and sweetness of the spring of Kausar, here in the banks of its stream are visible but the eye cannot discern its bottom."
From the quotations of the above-mentioned scholars and traditionists the literal and virtual importance of Nahjul Balaghah has also been incidentally proved. It is not necessary to write further about it. Now remains the ranking of this Book from technical point of view as to what degree we can base our contentions on it.
Thus, as a whole in our view the attribution of the contents of this book towards Amirul Momineen (a.s.) is proved to the same degree as the attribution of Saheefa al-Kamila towards Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) or of the four books towards their authors or of the Seven Suspended Poems Moalleqat al-Saba'e to their composers.
As regards satisfaction about specific expressions or words that is related to style of speech or manner of expression, depends on conformity of the contents with the source-books that are regarded as well-proved.
Technically, according to the definition adopted by the ancients who, for correctness of a tradition, regard the trustworthiness of the source to be enough, on satisfaction of this condition every part of it acquires the quality of trustworthiness.
And according to the later thinkers who regulate trustworthiness according to the qualities of the narrator, the contents of Nahjul Balaghah fall under the category of Mursalat. The importance of Mursalat goes by the personality of the narrator, so much so that about Ibn Abi Ameer and some other high ranking companions it has been laid down that when the veracity of a tradition is proved up to them, then there is no need to go farther than that as to who is the narrator; because their acceptance of it is a proof of its trustworthiness.
That is why it has been said that Mursalat of Ibn Abi Ameer fall in the category of Musnad (Authentic). On this basis the eminent position of Sayyid Razi (may Allah heighten his position) places it above the common Mursalat.
Nevertheless without taking into account sermons and historical items which are not as important as belief and action, with regard to belief and action we should scrutinize the contents of Nahjul Balaghah; and the contentions adopted therein on the principle of equation and preference, and on some occasions it is possible that the tradition contained in the Nahjul Balaghah may secure preference over "a Musnad" tradition on the same topic.
And in some instances the matter may end in similarity ‘Takafu' while in some others the other contentions might hold the field; but this does not in any way affect the overall position of Nahjul Balaghah. Its weight remains intact just as the weight of Kafi remains admitted despite a few of its traditions being disregarded for one reason or other.
In any case the scholastic, literary and religious importance of Nahjul Balaghah and the weight of its truthful contents and moral sermons are undeniable. But evidently only those persons who have mastery over the Arabic language can derive real benefit from Nahjul Balaghah. Those not knowing Arabic are unable to take advantage of this living treasure.
That is why Iranian scholars and poets felt the need to publish its Persian translations. Accordingly several translations have been published in Iran and this process continues till now. In Urdu language no satisfactory translations has yet been rendered. A few translations were published but in some of them there were very many mistakes and in others figurative expression did not keep it within the bounds of translation.
Moreover the annotations sometimes purely confrontational style abounded whereas sometimes extreme brevity ignored some essential meaning. Moulana Mufti Jafar Husain whose personality needs no introduction in India and Pakistan and whose scholarly achievements along with sublimity of character and simplicity of living present an exemplary position in India and Pakistan took up the task of full translation of this book and of explanatory annotations and completed this job with assiduity and diligence.
This attempt of his is worthy of appreciation. It can be said without doubt or misgiving that among the translations of this book and its annotations in our language that have been published; the position of this translation on account of its correctness, fluency and beauty of style is certainly high. In the annotations also nothing has been left out by way of necessary explanations nor has anything superfluous been allowed to stay therein.
Doubtlessly this compilation has satisfied a great need of providing acquaintance with the necessary contents and important points of Nahjul Balaghah on which the aforesaid compiler deserves congratulations. I am sure people of taste in every class would accord to this book the welcome that it deserves. Allah may well reward its compiler in both the worlds.


Resorce and refrence

4th Jamadi-uth-Thaani, 1375 A.H.
Ali Naqi-un-Naqvi
Topic Tags: Nahjul Balaghah
Category: Hadith Sciences
Person Tags: Imam Ali
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