1. During civil disturbance adopt such an attitude that people do not
attach any importance to you - they neither burden you with complicated
affairs, nor try to derive any advantage out of you.
2. He who is greedy is disgraced; he who discloses his hardship will
always be humiliated; he who has no control over his tongue will often
have to face discomfort.
3. Avarice is disgrace; cowardice is a defect; poverty often disables
an intelligent man from arguing his case; a poor man is a stranger in his
own town; misfortune and helplessness are calamities; patience is a kind
of bravery; to sever attachments with the wicked world is the greatest
wealth; piety is the best weapon of defence.
4. Submission to Allah's Will is the best companion; wisdom is the
noblest heritage; theoretical and practical knowledge are the best signs
of distinction; deep thinking will present the clearest picture of every
5. The mind of a wise man is the safest custody of secrets;
cheerfulness is the key to friendship; patience and forbearance will
conceal many defects.
6. A conceited and self-admiring person is disliked by others; charity
and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities; one has to
account in the next world for the deeds that he has done in this world.
7. Man is a wonderful creature; he sees through the layers of fat
(eyes), hears through a bone (ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh
8. When this world favors somebody, it lends him the attributes, and
surpassing merits of others and when it turns its face away from him it
snatches away even his own excellences and fame.
9. Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over
you and if you are alive they crave for your company.
10. If you overpower your enemy, then pardon him by way of thankfulness
to Allah, for being able to subdue him.
11. Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his
life and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost
them (through his deeds).
12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through
13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help
and sympathy from strangers.
14. Every person who is tempted to go astray, does not deserve
15. Our affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah, even our
best plans may lead us to destruction.
16. There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet "With the help of hair-dye
turn old age into youth so that you do not resemble the Jews". When Imam
Ali was asked to comment on this tradition, he said that in the early
stage of Islam there were very few Muslims. The Holy Prophet advised them
to look young and energetic and not to adopt the fashion of the Jews
(priest) having long, white flowing beards. But the Muslims were not in
minority then, theirs was a strong and powerful State, they could take up
any style they liked.
17. For those who refused to side with any party, Imam Ali or his
enemies, Imam Ali said: They have forsaken religion and are of no use to
18. One who rushes madly after inordinate desire, runs the risk of
encountering destruction and death.
19. Overlook and forgive the weaknesses of the generous people because
if they fall down, Allah will help them.
20. Failures are often the results of timidity and fears;
disappointments are the results of bashfulness; hours of leisure pass away
like summer-clouds, therefore, do not waste opportunity of doing good.
21. If the right usurped from us is given back to us we shall take it,
otherwise we shall go on claiming it.
22. If someone's deeds lower his position, his pedigree cannot elevate
23. To render relief to the distressed and to help the oppressed make
amends for great sins.
24. O son of Adam, when you see that your Lord, the Glorified, bestows
His Favors on you while you disobey Him, you should fear Him (take warning
that His Wrath may not turn those very blessings into misfortunes).
25. Often your utterances and expressions of your face leak out the
secrets of your hidden thoughts.
26. When you get ill do not get nervous about it and try as much as
possible to be hopeful.
27. The best form of devotion to the service of Allah is not to make a
show of it.
28. When you have to depart from this world and have to meet death
(eventually), then why wish delay (why feel nervous about death).
29. Take warning ! He has not exposed so many of your sinful activities
that it appears as if He has forgiven you (it may be that He has given you
time to repent).
30. When Imam Ali was asked about Faith in Religion, he replied that
the structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction,
justice and jihad.
Endurance is composed of four attributes: eagerness, fear, piety and
anticipation (of death). so whoever is eager for Paradise will ignore
temptations; whoever fears the fire of Hell will abstain from sins;
whoever practices piety will easily bear the difficulties of life and
whoever anticipates death will hasten towards good deeds.
Conviction has also four aspects to guard oneself against infatuations
of sin; to search for explanation of truth through knowledge; to gain
lessons from instructive things and to follow the precedent of the past
people, because whoever wants to guard himself against vices and sins will
have to search for the true causes of infatuation and the true ways of
combating them out and to find those true ways one has to search them with
the help of knowledge, whoever gets fully acquainted with various branches
of knowledge will take lessons from life and whoever tries to take lessons
from life is actually engaged in the study of the causes of rise and fall
of previous civilizations .
Justice also has four aspects depth of understanding, profoundness of
knowledge, fairness of judgment and dearness of mind; because whoever
tries his best to under- stand a problem will have to study it, whoever
has the practice of studying the subject he is to deal with, will develop
a clear mind and will always come to correct decisions, whoever tries to
achieve all this will have to develop ample patience and forbearance and
whoever does this has done justice to the cause of religion and has led a
life of good repute and fame.
Jihad is divided into four branches: to persuade people to be obedient
to Allah; to prohibit them from sin and vice; to struggle (in the cause of
Allah) sincerely and firmly on all occasions and to detest the vicious.
Whoever persuades people to obey the orders of Allah provides strength to
the believers; whoever dissuades them from vices and sins humiliates the
unbelievers; whoever struggles on all occasions discharges all his
obligations and whoever detests the vicious only for the sake of Allah,
then Allah will take revenge on his enemies and will be pleased with Him
on the Day of Judgment.
31. There are four causes of infidelity and loss of belief in Allah:
hankering after whims, a passion to dispute every argument, deviation from
truth; and dissension, because whoever hankers after whims does not
incline towards truth; whoever keeps on disputing every argument on
account of his ignorance, will always remain blind to truth, whoever
deviates from truth because of ignorance, will always take good for evil
and evil for good and he will always remain intoxicated with misguidance.
And whoever makes a breach (with Allah and His Messenger) his path becomes
difficult, his affairs will become complicated and his way to salvation
will be uncertain.
Similarly, doubt has also four aspects absurd reason- ing; fear;
vacillation and hesitation; and unreasonable surrender to infidelity,
because one who has accustomed himself to unreasonable and absurd
discussions will never see the Light of Truth and will always live in the
darkness of ignorance. One who is afraid to face facts (of life, death and
the life after death) will always turn away from ultimate reality, one who
allows doubts and uncertainties to vacillate him will always be under the
control of Satan and one who surrenders himself to infidelity accepts
damnation in both the worlds.
32. A virtuous person is better then virtue and a vicious person is
worse than vice.
33. Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly.
34. The best kind of wealth is to give up inordinate desires.
35. One who says unpleasant things about others, will himself quickly
become a target of their scandal.
36. One who hopes inordinately, impairs his deeds.
37. When Imam Ali, marching at the head of his army towards Syria,
reached Ambar, the landlords of the place came out to meet him in zeal of
their love, faithfulness and respect, no sooner had they seen Imam Ali
they got down from their horses and started running in front of him. Imam
Ali asked the reason of their strange actions. They replied that it was
their custom to show their love and respect in that way. Imam Ali replied:
"By Allah, by your action you do no good whatsoever to your rulers but you
tire yourself and put yourself in toils in this world and in trouble in
the next. How unfortunate is that exertion, which brings harm here and in
the Hereafter and how useful is that ease which keeps you in comfort in
this world and away from the Hell in the next.
38. Imam Ali once said to his son Imam Hasan, My son, learn four things
from me and through them you will learn four more. If you keep them in
mind your actions will not bring any harm to you: The greatest wealth is
Wisdom; the greatest poverty is stupidity; the worst unso- ciableness is
that of vanity and self-glorification; and the best nobility of descent
exhibits itself in politeness and in refinement of manner. The next four
things, my son, are: "Do not make friendship with a fool because when he
will try to do you good he will do you harm; do not make a miser your
friend because he will run away from you at the time of your dire need; do
not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you
and your friendship at the cheapest price and do not make friend of a liar
because like a mirage he will make you visualize very near the things
which lie at a great distance and will make you see at the great distance
the things which are near to you".
39. Recommended prayers cannot attain the pleasures of Allah for you
when obligatory prayers are left unattended.
40. A wise man first thinks and then speaks and a fool speaks first and
41. A fool's mind is at the mercy of his tongue and a wise man's tongue
is under the control of his mind.
42. One of the companions of Imam fell ill. Imam Ali called upon him
and thus advised him: "Be thankful to Allah. He has made this illness a
thing to atone your sins because a disease in itself has nothing to bring
reward to anyone, it merely expiates one's sins and so far as reward is
concerned, one has to earn it with his good words and good deeds. The
Almighty Lord grants Paradise to his creatures on account of their piety
and noble thoughts".
43. May Allah Bless Kabbab bin Aratt. He embraced Islam of his own
freewill and immigrated (from Makkah) cheerfully. He lived a contented
life. He bowed happily before the Will of Allah and he led the life of a
44. Blessed is the man who always kept the life after death in his
view, who remembered the Day of Judgment through all his deeds, who led a
contented life and who was happy with the lot that Allah had destined for
him. 45. If I cut a faithful Muslim into pieces to make him hate me, he
will not turn into my enemy and if I give all the wealth of this world to
a hypocrite to make him my friend he will not befriend me. It is so
because the Holy Prophet has said: " O Ali! No faithful Muslim will ever
be your enemy and no hypocrite will ever be your friend. "
46. The sin which makes you sad and repentant is more liked by Allah
than the good deed which turns you arrogant.
47. Value of a man depends upon his courage; his veracity depends upon
his self-respect and his chastity depends upon his sense of honor.
48. Success is the result of foresight and resolution, foresight
depends upon deep thinking and planning and the most important factor of
planning is to keep your secrets to yourself.
49. Be afraid of a gentleman when he is hungry, and of a mean person
when his stomach is full.
50. Hearts of people are like wild beasts. They attach themselves to
those who love and train them.
51. So long as fortune is favouring you, your defects will remain
52. Only he who has the power to punish can pardon.
53. Generosity is to help a deserving person without his request, and
if you help him after his request, then it is either out of self-respect
or to avoid rebuke.
54. There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than
ignorance; no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than
55. Patience is of two kinds: patience over what pains you, and
patience against what you covet.
56. Wealth converts a strange land into homeland and poverty turns a
native place into a strange land.
57. Contentment is the capital which will never diminish.
58. Wealth is the fountain head of passions.
59. Whoever warns you against sins and vices is like the one who gives
you good tidings.
60. Tongue is a beast, if it is let loose, it devours.
61. Woman is a scorpion whose grip is sweet.
62. If you are greeted then return the greetings more warmly. If you
are favoured, then repay the obligation manifold; but he who takes the
initiative will always excel in merit.
63. The source of success of a claimant is the mediator.
64. People in this world are like travelers whose journey is going on
though they are asleep. ( Life's journey is going on though men may not
feel it ).
65. Lack of friends means, stranger in one's own country.
66. Not to have a thing is less humiliating than to beg it.
67. Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small because to
refuse the needy is an act of greater shame.
68. To refrain from unlawful and impious source of pleasures is an
ornament to the poor and to be thankful for the riches granted is the
adornment of wealth.
69. If you cannot get things as much as you desire than be contented
with what you have.
70. An ignorant person will always overdo a thing or neglect it
71. The wiser a man is, the less talkative will he be.
72. Time wears out bodies, renews hopes, brings death nearer and takes
away aspirations. Whoever gets anything from the world lives in anxiety
for holding it and whoever loses anything passes his days grieving over
73. Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before
educating others. Before preaching to others he should first practice
himself. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals is superior
to the man who tries to teach and train others.
74. Every breath you take is a step towards death.
75. Anything which can be counted is finite and will come to an end.
76. If matters get mixed up then scrutinize the cause and you will know
what the effects will be.
77. Zirar bin Zamra Zibabi, known as Zirar Suda'i, was a companion of
Imam Ali. When, after the martyrdom of Imam Ali, he went to Damascus,
Muawiya called him and asked him to say something about Imam Ali. Zirar,
knowing that Muawiya hated Imam Ali intensely tried to avoid this topic,
but Muawiya forced him to speak. Thereupon, Zirar said: "O Amir, I had
often seen Imam Ali in the depth of nights, when people were either
sleeping or engrossed in amusements, he would be standing in the niche of
the Masjid, with tears in his eyes and he would beseech Allah to help him
maintain a pious, a virtuous and a noble character and to forsake the
world. He would then address the world, saying 'O vicious world! Be away
from me, why do you come in front of me like this ? Do you want to allure
me ? Allah forbid that I should be allured and tempted by you and your
pleasures. It is not possible. Go and try your allurements on somebody
else. I do not desire to own you and do not want to have you. I have
forsaken you thrice. It is like divorcing a woman thrice after which act
she cannot be taken back as a wife. The life of pleasures that you offer
is of a very little duration. There is no real importance in what you
offer, the desire of holding you is an insult and a humiliation to sober
minds. Sad is the plight of those who want to acquire you. They do not
provide for the Hereafter. They have to pass through a long journey over a
very difficult road towards a sat destination'. Zirar says that when he
stopped, there were tears in the eyes of Muawiya who said, 'May peace of
Allah be upon Abul Hasan Ali bin Abi Talib, he was undoubtedly like that.
Now tell me, Zirar! How do you feel his separa- tion?' Zirar replied, "My
sorrow and grief is like that of woman whose only child has been murdered
in her lap". With this remark Zirar walked out of the court of Muawiya and
left the city.
78. After the Battle of Siffin, somebody asked Imam Ali whether they
had been destined to fight against the Syrians. Imam Ali replied if by
destiny you mean a compulsion (physical or otherwise) through which we are
forced (by nature) to do a thing then it is not so. Had it been an
obligation of that kind there would have been no question of reward for
doing it and punishment for not doing it (when you are physically forced
to do a thing, like breathing, sleeping, eating, drinking etc. then there
can be no reward for doing it and no retribution for not doing it. In such
cases nature forces you to do a thing and you cannot but do it), then the
promised blessings and punishments in life after death will have no
meaning. The Merciful Lord has given his creatures (human beings) complete
freedom to do as they like, and then prohibited them from certain actions
and warned them of the consequences of such actions (His Wrath and His
Punishments). These orders of Allah carry in them the least trouble and
lead us towards the most convenient ways of life and the rewards which He
has promised for good deeds are many times more than the actions actually
deserve. He sees people disobeying Him and tolerates them not because He
can be overruled or be compelled to accept human supremacy over Him. He
did not send His prophets to amuse Himself or provide amuse- ment for
them. He did not reveal His orders without any genuine reason nor has He
created the galaxies and the earth without any purpose. The Universe
without plan, purpose and program is the idea of infidels and the pagans,
sorry will be their plight in the leaping fires of Hell. Hearing this the
man asked Imam Ali, "Then what kind of destiny was it that we had?" Imam
Ali replied: "It was an order of Allah to do it like the order He has
given in His Holy Book: You are destined by Allah to worship none but Him,
here 'destined' means 'ordered' it does not mean physical compulsion".
79. Acquire wisdom and truth from whomever you can because even an
apostate can have them but unless they are passed over to a faithful
Muslim and become part of wisdom and truth that he possesses, they have a
confused existence in the minds of apostates.
80. Knowledge and wisdom are really the privilege of a faithful Muslim.
If you have lost them, get them back even though you may have to get them
from the apostates.
81. Value of each man depends upon the art and skill which he has
82. I want to teach you five of those things which deserve your
greatest anxiety to acquire them: Have hope only in Allah. Be afraid of
nothing but sins. If you do not know a thing never feel ashamed to admit
ignorance. If you do not know a thing never hesitate or feel ashamed to
learn it. Acquire patience and endurance because their relation with true
faith is that of a head to a body, a body is of no use without a head,
similarly true faith can be of no use without attributes of resignation,
endurance and patience.
83. A man hypocritically started praising Imam Ali, though he had no
faith in him and Imam Ali hearing these praises from him said "I am less
than what you tell about me but more than what you think about me".
84. Those who have come alive out of a blood-bath live longer and have
85. One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on
account of his ignorance.
86. I appreciate an old man's cautious opinion more than the valor of a
87. I wonder at a man who loses hope of salvation when the door of
repentance is open for him.
88. Imam Muhammad Baqir says that Imam Ali once said: "There were two
things in this world which softened the Wrath of Allah and prevented its
descent upon man: One has been taken away from you; hold the other stead-
fastly. The one which has been taken away from men is the Holy Prophet and
the one which is still left with them and which they must hold steadfastly
is repentance and atonement for sins because Allah at one place in the
Holy Book addressed the Holy Prophet and said Allah would not punish them
while you were among them nor while they were asking for forgiveness.
(Surah Anfal, 8 : 33)
89. Whoever keeps in order his affairs with Allah (follows His orders
sincerely), Allah will also put his affairs with men in order. Whoever
makes arrangement for his salvation, Allah will arrange his worldly
affairs; whoever is a preacher for himself, Allah will also protect him.
90. He is the wisest and the most knowing man who advises people not to
lose hope and faith in the Mercy of Allah and not to be too sure and
over-confident of immunity from His Wrath and Punishment.
91. Like your body your mind also gets tired so refresh it by wise
92. That knowledge which remains only on your tongue is very
superficial. The intrinsic value of knowledge is that you act upon it.
93. Take care and do not pray to the Lord, saying, "Lord! I pray to You
to protect and guard me from temptations and trials", for there is none
who is not tempted and tried. But beseech Him to guard you against such
temptation as may lead you towards wickedness and sins because Allah says
in His Holy Book, Know that your wealth and children are temptations.
(Surah al-Anfal, 8: 28) it means Allah tried people through wealth and
children so that it may be tested as to who is content with what he gets
honestly and who is thankful to Allah for the position he is placed in
with regard to his children. Though Allah knows them better than even they
know themselves, yet those trials and tests are for the purpose of their
realizing and knowing those deeds which merit reward or which deserve
punishment. There are some people who love to have male children and hate
daughters and there are some who simply crave for wealth and hate poverty.
94. Imam Ali was asked the meaning of being well-off or well-provided
for. Imam Ali replied, "Your welfare does not lie in your having enormous
wealth and numerous children but it rests in your being highly educated
and forbearing and in your being proud of your obedience to Allah. If you
do a good deed then thank Allah for it and if you commit a sin then repent
and atone for it. In this world there is a real welfare for two kinds of
people, one is the person who, when commits a sin, atones for it and the
other is anxious to do good as much as possible.
95. Importance of the deeds that you have done with fear of Allah
cannot be minimized and how can the deeds which are acceptable to Allah be
96. "Nearest to the prophets are those persons who have to those
prophets and obey them". Saying this, Imam Ali cited a passage from the
Holy Qur'an 'Best liked by Abraham and nearest to him were the people who
obeyed him'. He further said, "That the present times are the times of our
Holy Prophet and his faithful followers. The best friend of our Holy
Prophet is he who, though not related to him, obeys the orders of Allah
and his greatest enemy is the man who though related to him, disobeys
97. Imam Ali was told of a Kharijite that he got up in the night to
pray and recite the Holy Book. Imam Ali said, "To sleep with having
sincere faith in religion and Allah is better than to pray with wavering
98. Whenever a tradition of the Holy Prophet is related to you,
scrutinize it, do not be satisfied with mere verbatim repetition of the
same because there are many people who repeat the words containing
knowledge but only few ponder over them and try to fully grasp the meaning
99. Imam Ali heard somebody reciting the passage of the Holy Qur'an we
belong to Allah and our return is towards Him, Imam Ali said, "How true it
is ! Our declaring that we belong to Allah indicates that we accept Him as
our Master, Owner and Lord. And when we say that our return is towards
Allah indicates that we accept our mortality".
100. Some people praised Imam Ali on his face. He replied, "Allah knows
me very well and I also know myself more than you. Please, Lord ! make me
better than what they imagine me to be and please excuse those Weaknesses
of mine which they are not aware of".
101. To secure for you fame, credit as well as blessings, the help that
you give to men in need, should possess the following attributes: whatever
its extent, it should be considered by you as trifling so that it may be
granted a high status; it should be given secretly, Allah will manifest
it; and it must be given immediately so that it becomes pleasant.
102. Your society will pass through a period when cunning and crafty
intriguers will be favoured by status, when profligates will be considered
as well-bred, well-behaved and elegant elites of the society, when just
and honest persons will be considered as weaklings, when charity will be
considered as a loss to wealth and property, when support and help to each
other will be considered as favour and benevolence and when prayers and
worship to Allah will be taken up for the sake of show to gain popularity
and higher status, at such times regimes will be run under the advice of
women and the youngsters will be the rulers and counselors of the State.
103. Imam Ali's garment was very old with patches on it. When somebody
drew his attention towards it, he replied, " Such dresses, when worn by
men of status make them submissive to Allah and kind-hearted towards
others and the faithful Muslims can conveniently follow the example ".
Vicious pleasures of this world and salvation are like two enemies or two
roads running in opposite directions or towards opposite poles, one to the
North and the other to the South. Whoever likes to gain the pleasures and
pomps of this world will hate austerity in life which is necessary to gain
salvation. Reverse will be the attitude of a man desirous of achieving
Eternal Bliss. One has to adopt either of the two ways of life, and as
they both cannot be brought together, a man has to choose one of them.
104. Nawf bin Fizala Bakali, the famous scholar of the early Islamic
days says that one night he was with Imam Ali. In the middle of the night,
Imam Ali got up from his bed, looked for sometime at the stars and
inquired of Nawf whether he was awake. Nawf said: "I got from my bed
replying, "Yes, Amirul Mo'minin (Commander of the Faithful) ! I am awake".
Imam Ali said Nawf ! Those are the fortunate people who adopt piety as
the principle of their lives and are fully attentive to their welfare for
the Hereafter. They accept bare earth as the most comfortable bed and
water as the most pleasant drink. They adopt the Holy Qur'an and prayers
as their guide and protector and like Prophet Jesus Christ (Isa) they
forsake the world and its vicious pleasure.
Nawf ! Prophet David (Daud) once got up at such an hour in the night
and said this was the hour when prayers of everyone who prayed were
accepted except of those who forcibly collected revenues or who were
scandal- mongers or were persons in the police force of a despotic regime
or were musicians".
105, Those who give up religion to better their lot in life seldom
succeed. The Wrath of Allah makes them go through more calamities and
losses than the gains they gather for themselves.
106. There are many educated people who have ruined their future on
account of their ignorance of religion. Their knowledge did not prove of
any avail to them.
107. More wonderful than man himself is that part of his body which is
connected with his trunk with muscles. It is his brain (mind). Look what
good and bad tendencies arise from it. On the one hand it holds treasures
of know- ledge and wisdom and on the other it is found to harbour very
ugly desires. If a man sees even a tiny gleam of success, then greed
forces him to humiliate himself. If he gives way to avarice, then
inordinate desires ruin him, if he is disappointed, then despondency
almost kills him. If he is excited, then he loses temper and gets angry.
If he is pleased, then he gives up precaution. Sudden fear makes him dull
and nervous, and he is unable to think and find a way out of the
situation. During the times of peace and prosperity he becomes careless
and unmindful of the future. If he acquires wealth, then he becomes
haughty and arrogant. If he is plunged in distress, then his agitation,
impatience and nervousness disgrace him. If he is overtaken by poverty,
then he finds himself in a very sad plight, hunger makes him weak, and
over-feeding harms him equally. In short every kind of loss and gain makes
his mind unbalanced.
108. We, Ahlul Bayt (chosen descendants of the Holy Prophet), hold such
central and balancing position in religion that those who are deficient in
understanding and acting upon its principles, will have to come to us for
reformation, and those who are overdoing it have got to learn moderation
109. A Divine rule can be established only by a man, who, where justice
and equity are required, neither feels deficient nor weak and who is not
greedy and avaricious.
110. Sohayl bin Hunayf Ansari was a favourite companion of Imam Ali. At
the time of Imam Ali's return from Siffin, he died at Kufa of the wounds
sustained in the battle. His death left Imam Ali very sad and he said:
"Even if a mountain loves me it will be crushed into bits". (it means
people are tested with my love, and to prove it they have to pass through
loss and calamities).
111. Anyone who loves us Ahlul Bayt must be ready to face a life of
112. No wealth is more useful than intelligence and wisdom; no solitude
is more horrible than when people avoid you on account of your vanity and
conceit or when you wrongly consider yourself above everybody to confide
and consult; no eminence is more exalting than piety; no companion can
prove more useful than politeness; no heritage is better than culture; no
leader is superior to Divine Guidance; no deal is more profitable than
good deeds; no profit is greater than Divine Reward; no abstinence is
better than to restrain one's mind from doubts (about religion); no virtue
is better than refraining from prohibited deeds; no knowledge is superior
to deep thinking and prudence; no worship or prayers are more sacred than
fulfillment of obligations and duties, no religious faith is loftier than
feeling ashamed of doing wrong and bearing calamities patiently; no
eminence is greater than to adopt humbleness; no exaltation is superior to
knowledge; nothing is more respectable than forgiveness and forbear- ance;
no support and defense are stronger than consultation.
113. When a community is composed of honest, sober and virtuous people,
your forming a bad opinion about anyone of its members, when nothing
wicked has been seen of him, is a great injustice to him. On the contrary
in a corrupt society to form good opinion of anyone of them and to trust
him is to harm yourself.
114. When somebody asked Imam Ali as to how he was getting on, he
replied: "What do you want to know about a person whose life is leading
him towards ultimate death, whose health is the first stage towards
illness and whom society has forced out of his retreat".
115. There are many persons whom constant grants of His Bounties turn
them wicked and fit for His punishment and there are many more who have
become vain and self- deceptive because the Merciful Allah has not exposed
their weaknesses and vices to the world and the people speak highly about
them. All this is an opportunity. No trial of the Lord is more severe than
the time He allows (in which either you may repent or get deeper into
116. Two kinds of people will be damned on my account Those who form
exaggerated opinion about me and those who under-estimate me because they
117. To lose or to waste an opportunity will result in grief and
118. She world is like a serpent, so soft to touch, but so full of
lethal poison. Unwise people are allured by it and drawn towards it, and
wise men avoid it and keep away from its poisonous effects.
119. When asked about Quraysh, Imam Ali replied that amongst them Bani
Mukhzum are like sweet scented flower of Quraysh; their men are good to
talk to and their women prove very good wives; Bani Abdush Shams are very
intelligent and very prudent but we (of Bani Hashim) are very generous and
very brave to face death. Bani Abdush Shams are more in numbers, ugly and
intriguers but Bani Hashim are beautiful, good speakers and orators and
very faithful as friends.
120. What a difference is there between a deed whose pleasure passes
away leaving behind it the pangs of pain and punishment and the deed whose
oppressive harshness comes to an end leaving behind Divine rewards !
121. Imam Ali was following a funeral and as it was passing along a
road, somebody laughed loudly ( a sign of discourtesy and lack of manner
). Hearing this laugh, Imam Ali remarked, " Some of us feel that death is
meant for everybody except themselves or it is destined to others and not
to themselves or those whom we see dying around us are only travelers
going on a journey and will come back to us. It is a sad sight to see that
in one moment we commit them to earth and in the next we take hold of the
things left by them as if we are going to remain permanently in this world
after them. The fact is that we forget sensible advice given to us and
become victim of every calamity.
122. Blessings are for the man who humbles himself before Allah, whose
sources of income are honest, whose inten- tions are always honorable,
whose character is noble, whose habits are sober, who gives away in the
cause and in the Name of Allah, the wealth which is lying surplus with
him, who controls his tongue from vicious and useless talk, who abstains
from oppression, who faithfully follows the traditions of the Holy Prophet
and who keeps himself away from innovation in religion.
123. Jealousy in woman is unpardonable but in man it is a sign of his
faith in religion (because Islam has permitted polygamy and prohibited
124. I define Islam for you in a way that nobody dared do it before me.
Islam means obedience to Allah, obedience to Allah means having sincere
faith in Him, such a faith means to believe in His Power, belief in His
Power means recognizing and accepting His Majesty, acceptance of His
Majesty means fulfilling the obligations laid down by Him and fulfillment
of obligations means actions (Therefore, Islam does not mean mere faith,
but faith plus deeds).
125. I wonder at the mentality of a miser, fearing poverty he takes to
stinginess and thus hastily pushes himself head- long into a state of want
and destitution, he madly desires plenty and ease, but throws it away
without understand- ing. In this world he, of his own free will, leads the
life of a a beggar and in the next world he will have to submit an account
like the rich.
I wonder at the arrogance of a haughty and vain person. Yesterday he
was only a drop of semen and tomorrow he will turn into a corpse. I wonder
at the man who observes the Universe created by Allah and doubts His Being
and Existence. I wonder at the man who sees people dying around him and
yet he has forgotten his end. I wonder at the man who understands the
marvel of genesis of creation and refuses to accept that he will be
brought back to life again. I wonder at the man who takes great pains to
decorate and to make comfortable this mortal habitat and totally forgets
his permanent abode.
126. Whoever is not diligent in his work, will suffer; who- ever has no
share of Allah in his wealth and in his life then there is no place for
him in His Realm.
127. Be very cautious of cold in the beginning of winter and welcome it
at the close of the season because cold season effects your bodies exactly
as it effects the trees; in the early season its severity makes them
shrivel and shed their leaves and at the end it helps them to revive.
128. If you understand Allah's Majesty, then you will not attach any
importance to the creatures.
129. While returning from Siffin, Imam Ali passed along the cemetery of
Kufa. Addressing the graves he said: "O you, who are lying in horrible and
deserted houses. O you, who are shut up in the dark graves, who are alone
in their abodes, strangers to the places assigned to them; you have gone
ahead and preceded us, while we are also following your steps and shall
shortly join you. Do you know what has happened aver you? Your houses and
property was taken up by others, your widows have remarried, this is what
we can tell you of this world. Can you give us some news about things
around you?" Saying this, Imam Ali turned to his companions and said, "If
they are permitted to speak they will inform you that the best provision
for the next world is piety and virtue".
130. Imam Ali heard someone abusing and blaming the world and said to
him, "O you, who are blaming the world, who have been allured and enticed
by it, and have been tempted by its false pretenses. You allowed yourself
to be enamored of, to be captivated by it and then you accuse and blame
it. Have you any reason or right to accuse it and to call it a sinner and
seducer? Or is the world not justified in calling you a wicked knave and a
sinning hypocrite? When did it make you lose your intelli- gence and
reasoning? And how did it cheat you or snake false pretenses to you? Did
it conceal from you the fact of the ultimate end of everything that it
holds, the fact of the sway of death, decay and destruction in its domain?
Did it keep you in the dark about the fate of your fore- fathers and their
final abode under the earth? Did it keep the resting-place of your mothers
a secret from you? Do you not know that they have returned to dust? Many a
time you must have attended the sick persons and many of them you must
have seen beyond the scope of medicine. Neither the science of healing nor
could your nursing and attendance nor your prayers and weeping prolonged
the span of their lives, and they died. You were anxious for them, you
procured the best medical aid, you gathered famous physicians and provided
best - medicines for them. Death could not be held back and life could not
be pro- longed. In this drama and in this tragedy did the world not
present you with a lesson and a moral?
Certainly, this world is a house of truth for those who look into it
carefully, an abode of peace and rest for those who understand its ways
and moods and it is the best working ground for those who want to procure
rewards for life in the Hereafter. It is a place of acquiring knowledge
and wisdom for those who want to acquire them, a place of worship for the
friends of Allah and for Angels. It is the place where prophets received
revelations of Allah. It is the place for virtuous people and saints to do
good deeds and to be assigned with rewards for the same. Only in this
world they could trade with Allah's Favors and Blessings and only while
living here they could barter their good deeds with His Blessings and
Rewards. Where else could all this be done? Who are you to abuse the world
when it has openly declared its mortality and mortality of everything
connected with it, when it has given everyone of its inha- bitants to
understand that all of them are to face death, when through its ways it
has given them all an idea of calamities they have to face here, and
through the sight of its temporary and fading pleasures it has given them
glimpses of eternal pleasures of Paradise and suggested them to wish and
work for the same. If you study it properly you will find that simply to
warn and frighten you of the consequences of evil deeds and to persuade
you towards good actions, every night it raises new hopes of peace and
prosperity in you and every morning it places new anxieties and new
worries before you. Those who passed such lives are ashamed of and repent
the time so passed abuse this world. But there are people who will praise
this world on the Day of Judgment that it reminded them of the Hereafter
and they took advantage of these reminders. It informed them of the
effects of good deeds and they made correct use of the information it
advised them and they were benefited by its advice".
131. An Angel announces daily: "Birth of more human beings means so
many more will die, collection of more wealth means of much more will be
destroyed, erection of more buildings means so many more ruins will come".
132. This world is not a permanent place, it is a passage, a road on
which you are passing. There are two kinds of people here: One is the kind
of those who have sold their souls for eternal damnation, the other is of
those who have purchased their souls and freed them from damnation.
133. A friend cannot be considered a friend unless he is tested on
three occasions: in time of need, behind your back and after your death.
134. Anyone who has been granted four attributes will not be deprived
of their (four) effects; one who prays to Allah and implores to Him will
not be deprived of granting of his prayers; one who repents for his
thoughts and deeds will not be refused acceptance of the repentance; one
who has atoned for his sins will not be debarred from salvation and one
who thanks Allah for the Blessings and Bounties will not be denied the
increase in them.
The truth of these facts is attested by the Holy Qur'an As far as
prayers are concerned He says Pray to Me and I shall accept your prayers.
About repentance He says: Whoever has done a bad deed or has indulged in
sin and then repents and asks for His forgiveness will find Allah most
Forgiving and Merciful. About being thankful He says if you are thankful
for what you are given, I shall increase My Bounties and Blessings. About
atonement of sin He says Allah accepts the repentance of those who have
ignorantly committed vice and then soon repent for it, Allah accepts such
repentance's, He is Wise and Omniscient. 135. Daily prayers are the best
medium through which one can Seek the nearness to Allah. Hajj is Jihad
(Holy War) for every weak person. For everything that you own there is
Zakat, and Zakat of your body is fasting. The Jihad of a woman is to
afford pleasant company to her husband.
136. If you want to pray to Allah for better means of subsistence, then
first give something in charity
137. When someone is sure of the returns, then he shows generosity.
138. Aid (from Allah) is in proportion to the trouble.
139. He who practices moderation and frugality will never be threatened
140. One of the conveniences in life is to have less children.
141. Loving one another is half of wisdom.
142. Grief is half of old age.
143. Grant of patience (from Allah) is in proportion to the extent of
calamity you are passing through. If you exhibit fretfulness, irritation,
and despair in calamities, then your patience and your exertions are
144. Many persons get nothing out of their fasts but hunger and thirst,
many more get nothing out of their night prayers but exertions and
sleepless nights. Wise and sagacious persons are praiseworthy even if they
do not fast and sleep during the nights.
145. Defend your faith (in Allah) with the help of charity. Protect
your wealth with the aid of Zakat. Let the prayers guard you from
calamities and disasters.
146. Kumayl bin Ziyad Nakha'i says that once Imam Ali put his hand in
his hand and took me to the grave-yard. When he passed through it and left
the city behind, he heaved a sigh and said "Kumayl, these hearts are
containers of the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and the best container
is the one which can hold the most and what it holds, it can preserve and
protect in the best way. Therefore, remember carefully what I am telling
you. Remember that there are three kinds of people: one kind is of those
learned people who are highly versed in the ethics of truth and philosophy
of religion, second is the kind of those who are acquiring the above
knowledge and the third is that class of people who are uneducated. They
follow every pretender and accept every slogan, they have neither acquired
any knowledge nor have they secured any support of firm and rational
convictions. Remember, Kumayl, knowledge is better than wealth because it
protects you while you have to guard wealth. It decreases if you keep on
spending it but the more you make use of knowledge the more it increases.
What you get through wealth dis- appears as soon as wealth disappears but
what you achieve through knowledge will remain even after you.
O Kumayl ! Knowledge is power and it can command obedience. A man of
knowledge during his lifetime can make people obey and follow him and he
is praised and venerated after his death. Remember that knowledge is a
ruler and wealth is its subject.
O Kumayl ! Those who amass wealth, though alive, are dead to realities
of life, and those who achieve know- ledge, will remain alive through
their knowledge and wisdom even after their death, though their faces may
disappear from the community of living beings, yet their ideas, the
knowledge which they had left behind and their memory, will remain in the
minds of people".
Kumayl says that after this brief dissertation, Imam Ali pointed
towards his chest and said, "Look Kumayl! Here I hold stores and treasures
of knowledge. I wish I could find somebody to share it with me. Yes, I
found a few, but one of them, though quite intelligent, was untrustworthy,
he would sell his salvation to get hold of the world and its pleasures, he
would make religion a pretence to grasp worldly power and wealth, he would
make this Blessing of Allah (knowledge) serve him to get supremacy and
control over friends of Allah and he would through knowledge exploit and
suppress other human beings. The other person was such that he apparently
obeyed truth and knowledge, yet his mind had not achieved the true light
of religion, at the slightest ambiguity or doubt he would get suspicious
of truth, mistrust religion and would rush towards skepticism. So neither
of them was capable of acquiring the superior knowledge that I can impart.
Besides these two I find some other person One of them is a slave of self
and greedy for inordinate desires, which can easily drag him away from the
path of religion, the other is an avaricious, grasping and acquisitive
miser who will risk his life to grasp and hold wealth, none of these two
will be of any use to religion or man, both of them resemble beasts having
appetite for food. If sensible trustees of knowledge and wisdom totally
disappear from human society then both knowledge and wisdom will suffer
severely, may bring harm to humanity and may even die out. But this earth
will never be without those persons who will prove the universality of
truth as disclosed by Allah, they may be well-known persons, openly and
fearlessly declaring the things revealed to them or they may, under fear
of harm, injury or deaths hide themselves from the public gaze and may
carry on their mission privately so that the reasons proving the reality
of truth as preached by religion and as demonstrated by His Prophet may
not totally disappear. How many are they and where could they be found? I
swear by Allah that they are very few in number but their worth and their
ranks before Allah are very high. Through them Allah preserves His
Guidance so that they, while departing, may hand over these truths to
persons like themselves. The knowledge which they have acquired has made
them see the realities and visualize the truth and has instilled into them
the spirit of faith and trust. The duties which were decreed as hard and
unbearable by them. They feel happy in the company and association of
things which frighten the ignorant and uneducated. They live in this world
like everybody else but their souls soar to the heights of Divine
Eminence. They are media of Allah on this earth and they invite people
towards Him. How I love to meet them O Kumayl ! I have told you all that I
have to say, you can go back to your place whenever you like".
147. A man can be valued through his sayings.
148. One who does not realize his own value is condemned to utter
failure. (Every kind of complex, superiority or inferiority is harmful to
149. Somebody requested Imam Ali to advise him how to lead a useful and
sober life. Imam Ali thereupon advised him thus: "Do not be among those
people who want to gain good returns without working hard for them, who
have long hopes and keep on postponing repentance and penance, who talk
like pious persons but run after vicious pleasures. Do not be among those
who are not satisfied if they get more in life and are not content if
their lot in life's pleasures is less (they are never satisfied), who
never thank Allah for what they get and keep on constantly demanding
increase in what is left with them; who advise others to such good deeds
that they themselves refrain from; who appreciate good people but do not
follow their ways of life; who hate bad and vicious people but follow
their ways of life; who, on account of their excessive sins hate death but
do not give up the sinful ways of life; who, if fallen ill, repent their
ways of life and on regaining their health fearlessly readopt the same
frivolous ways; who get despondent and lose all hopes, but on gaining
health, become arrogant and careless; who, if faced with misfor- tunes,
dangers or afflictions, turn to Allah and keep on beseeching Him for
relief and when relieved or favoured with comfort and ease they are
deceived by the comfortable conditions they found themselves in and forget
Allah and forsake prayers; whose minds are allured by day dreams and
forlorn hopes and who abhor to face realities of life; who fear for others
the enormous repercussions of vices and sins but for their own deeds
expect very high rewards or very light disciplinary actions. Riches make
such people arrogant, rebellious and wicked, and poverty makes them
despondent and lethargic. If they have to work, they work lazily and if
they put up a demand they do it stubbornly.
Under the influence of inordinate cravings, they commit sins in quick
succession and keep on postponing repentance. Calamities and adversities
make them give up the distinguished characteristics of Muslims (patience,
hope in future and work for improvement of circumstances). They advise
people with narration's of events and facts but do not take any lesson
from them. They are good at preachings but bad at practice, therefore they
always talk of lofty deeds but their actions belie their words. They are
keen to acquire temporal pleasures but are careless and slow to achieve
permanent (Divine) benefits. They think good for themselves the things
which are actually injurious to them and regard harmful the things which
really benefit them. They are afraid of death but waste their time and do
not resort to good deeds before death overtakes them. The vices which they
regard as enormous sins for others, they consider as minor shortcomings
for themselves. Similarly, they attach great importance to their obedience
to the orders of Allah and belittle similar actions in others. Therefore,
they often criticize others and speak very highly of their own deeds. They
are happy to spend their time in society of rich persons, wasting it in
luxuries and vices but are averse to employing for useful purposes in
company of the poor and pious people: They are quick and free to pass
verdicts against others but they never pass a verdict against their own
vicious deeds. They force others to obey them but they never obey Allah.
They collect their dues carefully but never pay the dues they owe. They
are not afraid of Allah but fear powerful men".
150. Everyone has an end, it may be pleasant or sorrowful.
151. Everyone, who is born, has to die and once dead he is as good as
having not come into existence.
152. One, who adopts patience, will never be deprived of success though
it may take a long time to reach him.
153. One who assents or subsribes to the actions of a group or a party
is as good as having committed the deed himself. A man who joins a sinful
deed makes himself responsible for two-fold punishments, one for doing the
deed and the other for assenting and subscribing to it. 154. Accept
promises of only those persons who can stead- fastly-adhere to their
155. You are ordained to recognize the Imams (the right successors of
the Holy Prophet) and to obey them.
156. You have been shown, if you only care to see; you have been
advised if you care to take advantage of advice; you have been told if you
care to listen to good counsels.
157. Admonish your brother (comrade) by good deeds and kind regards,
and ward off his evil by favouring him.
158. One, who enters the places of evil repute has no right to complain
against a man who speaks ill of him.
159. One, who acquires power cannot avoid favouritism.
160. One, who is willful and conceited will suffer losses and
calamities and one who seeks advice can secure advan- tages of many
161. One, who guards his secrets has complete control over his affairs.
162. Poverty is the worst form of death.
163. One, who serves a person from whom he gets no reci- procal
performance of duties, in fact, worships him.
164. One should not obey anyone against the commands of Allah.
165. Do not blame a man who delays in securing what are his just rights
but blame lies on him who grasps the rights which do not belong to him.
166. Conceit is a barrier to progress and improvement.
167. Death is near and our mutual company is short.
168. There is enough light for one who wants to see.
169. It is wiser to abstain then to repent.
170. Often inordinate desire to secure a single gain acts as a
hindrance for the quest of many profitable pursuits.
171. People often hate those things which they do not know or cannot
understand. 172. One, who seeks advice learns to realize his mistakes.
173. One who struggles for the cause of Allah secures victory over His
174. When you feel afraid or nervous to do a thing then do it because
the real harm which you may thus receive is less poignant than its
expectation and fear. 175. Your supremacy over others is in proportion to
the extent of your knowledge and wisdom.
176. The best way to punish an evil-doer is to reward handsomely a good
person for his good deeds.
177. If you want to remove evil from the minds of others then first
give up evil intentions yourself.
178. Obstinacy will prevent you from a correct decision.
179. Greed is permanent slavery.
180. Deficiency will result in shame and sorrow but caution and
foresight will bring peace and security.
181. To keep silent when you can say something wise and useful is as
bad as keeping on propagating foolish and unwise thoughts.
182. If two opposite theories are propagated one will be wrong.
183. When truth was revealed to me I never doubted it.
184.I never lied and the things revealed to me were not false I never
misled anybody nor was I misled.
185. One, who starts tyranny, will repent soon.
186. Death is never very far.
187. One who forsakes truth earns eternal damnation.
188. One who cannot benefit by patience will die in grief.
189. In this world, man is a target of death, an easy prey to
calamities, here every morsel and every draught is liable to choke one,
here one never receives a favour until he loses another instead, here
every additional day in one's life is a day reduced from the total span of
his existence, when death is the natural outcome of life, how can we
190. O son of Adam, if you have collected anything in excess of your
actual need, you will act only as its trustee for someone else to use it.
191. Hearts have the tendency of likes and dislikes and are liable to
be energetic and lethargic, therefore, make them work when they are
energetic because if hearts are forced (to do a thing) they will be
192. When I feel angry with a person how and when should I satisfy my
anger, whether at a time when I am not in a position to retaliate and
people may advise me to bear patiently or when I have power to punish and
I forgive. 193. Minds get tired like bodies. When you feel that your; mind
is tired, then invigorate it with sober advice.
194. If you find that somebody is not grateful for all that you have
done for him, then do not get disappointed because often you will find
that someone else feels under your obligation though you have done nothing
for him and thus your good deeds will be compensated, and Allah will
reward you for your goodness.
195. The first fruit of forbearance is that people will sympathize with
you and they will go against the man who offended you arrogantly.
196. One who takes account of his shortcomings will always gain by it;
one who is unmindful of them will always suffer. One who is afraid of the
Day of Judgment, is safe from the Wrath of Allah. One who takes lessons
from the events of life, gets vision, one who acquires vision becomes wise
and one who attains wisdom achieves knowledge.
197. Bear sorrows and calamities patiently, otherwise you will never be
198. One who comes into power often oppresses.
199. Adversities often bring good qualities to the front.
200. If a friend envies you, then he is not a true friend.
201. Avarice dulls the faculties of judgment and wisdom.
202. Oppression and tyranny are the worse companions for the Hereafter.
203. The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.
204. Silence will create respect and dignity; justice and fairplay will
bring more friends; benevolence and charity will enhance prestige and
position; courtesy will draw benevolence; service of mankind will secure
leadership and good words will overcome powerful enemies.
205. A greedy man will always find himself in the shackles of humility.
206. There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the
worship of traders; while there are some who worship Him to keep
themselves free from His Wrath, this is the worship of slaves; a few who
obey Him out' of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is the
worship of free and noble men.
Peak of Eloquence
Sermons and Letters of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as)
Translated by Askari Jafri
Eleventh Revised Edition - Islamic
Contributed by Br. Ali Abbas