Imam Ali’s Words regarding this World
I warn you against this world because it is sweet and dewy. It is surrounded by passions, preferred for its immediateness, built with hopes, and adorned with deceit. Its joy is impermanent and its disasters are befalling without any expectation. It is surely deceitful, harmful, transient, fleeting, destructive, and traitorous. In its ultimate nearness to those who desire and are satisfied with it, it is no more than being as God the Majestic says about it:
This world resembles the (seasonal) plants that blossom by the help of the water which God sends from the sky. After a short time all of them fade away and the winds scatter them (and turns them into dust). God has power over all things.
Nevertheless, if it gives joy to somebody it will follow it up with distress. If it faces with ease it will turns the back with difficulty. If it comes with a drizzle of comfort, it will shock with a downpour of misfortunes. If it gives victory in the morning, it disappoints in the evening. If one side of it becomes sweet and pleasing, the other side will be bitter and unpleasing. If it covers somebody with security, it will put him under the most horrible fear. It is surely deceptive and everything in it is deception. It is surely passing and everything in it will pass away. Except God-fearing, nothing of its supplies is advantageous. He who takes as few as possible of its affairs will be having as much as possible security. He who takes much of its pleasures will not have them continuous and they will vanish shortly. Many were those who trusted the world, but it disillusioned them. Many were tranquil with it, but it defeated them. Many were cautious of it, but it cheated them. Many were masters in it, but it humiliated them. Many were proud in it, but it famished and impoverished them. Many were crowned in it, but it overthrew them. Its power is humility, its living is gloomy and grimy, its freshness is salty, and its sweetness is bitter. The alive in it is in the target of death, the healthy in it is in the target of ailment, and the secure in it is in the target of wronging and injustice. Its authority is usurped. The well-fortified in it is overpowered. Its security is ill-fated. Its fellow is beaten. After all, there is the death struggle, agonies of death, the horror of the resurrection, and the standing before the Just Judge so that “God will recompense the evil doers for their deeds and reward the righteous ones for their deeds.”
Are you not occupying the houses of those who were older, more far-reaching, more numerous, more powerful, and more stubborn than you? They worked for the world so excessively and preferred it so extremely to anything else. Then they had to leave it with their humility. Do you prefer this one? Or do you care for it? Or do you trust in it? God says:
Those who choose the worldly life and its pleasures will be given proper recompense for their deeds in this life and will not suffer any loss. Such people will receive nothing in the next life except Hell fire. Their deeds will be made devoid of all virtue and their efforts will be in vain.
How bad this lodging is for those who are not watchful and do not beware of it! You should know –yet, you do know- that you will unquestionably be leaving it. It is just like God’s saying:
The worldly life is only a game, a temporary attraction, a means of boastfulness among yourselves and a place for multiplying your wealth and children.
Learn lessons from those who used to build on every height a monument out of frivolity and make strong fortresses that perhaps they may live forever and those who said: “Who is more powerful than we are?” In addition, learn lessons from your friends whom you have noticed how they are taken to their graves; no one offer to reach them and put to the ground and no one offer to receive them as guests. Their graves are their houses, dust is their coffin, and the mortal remains are their neighbors. They are surely neighbors who do not answer a call, protect against aggression, or exchange visits. They became clement as their rancor went away and became ignorant as their malice faded away. Their evil is not anticipated and their support is not expected. They became as if they had not existed. They are just as God says about them:
Those are their homes which were not inhabited thereafter except for a short time. Only We were their heirs.
They substituted the interior of the earth for its surface, the narrowness for the extent, the strangers for their family, and the darkness for the light. They left the world as same as they came to it; barefooted and naked. They moved away from it with their deeds to the permanent life and endless eternity. God the Most High says:
We roll up the heavens as if it were a written scroll and bring it back into existence just as though We had created it for the first time. This is what We have promised and We have always been true to Our promise.
Imam Ali’s Sermon When Some People Protested Against His having Distributed Booty Equally Among People
So now, O people, we praise our Lord; Allah and the source of our clear and unknown boons, which we obtain not for our efforts and endeavors, but for His favor and grace so as to test us whether we would thank or show ingratitude. He will give more to those who thank, while He will punish him whoever shows ingratitude. I declare there is no god but Allah uniquely without any associate. He is One and Absolute. I also declare that Mohammed is His servant and messenger. God sent him as mercy for the slaves, lands, beasts, and animals. He offers this mercy out of His grace and favor. Peace and blessings be upon Mohammed and his family.
O people, the best of people with God are the most regardful for Him, the most submissive to His commandment, the most painstaking in the obedience to Him, the best follower of the Sunna of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), and the best compliant with God’s Book. No one of God’s creature has a preference to another except through the obedience to God and His Apostle and the compliance with God’s Book and the Prophet’s Sunna. This is God’s Book among us. The Prophet’s commandments and traditions are with us. Only the ignorant, apostate, and rebellious, no one is unaware of them. God says:
People, We have created you all male and female and have made you nations and tribes so that you would recognize each other. The most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most pious of you.
He who fears God is the true honorable, dignified, and favored. The same thing is said about the obedient to God and His Apostle. God says:
If you love God, follow me. God will love you and forgive your sins. God is All-forgiving and All-merciful.
Tell them, “Obey God and the Messenger.” If they turn away (let it be known) that God does not love the unbeliever.
Then Amirul Muminin (peace be upon him) shouted:
O Muhajirs, Ansar, and Muslims, do you think God owes you a great deal for your embracing Islam? It is surely you who owe God and His Apostle a great deal if you are truthful.
We will apply the rules of the Quran and the shares of Islam to everyone who turns the face towards our kiblah, has only the meat of the animals that are slaughtered according to our rites, and declares there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is His servant and messenger. Except by the means of fearing and obeying God, no one is preferred to another. God may reckon you and us with the God-fearing ones, His disciples, and His dears who will not be subjected to fear and will not be aggrieved.
Certainly, this world for which you desire and covet while it admonishes and discards you is not your home or house for which you were created and invited. It will not last for you and you will not stay in it forever. Do not be deceived by its immediate pleasures after you were warned against it, it was described for you, and you did try it. Thus, you are not expecting for it a good end. Vie with each other –God’s mercy may be upon you- to reach your abodes, which you are ordered to construct, because they are the constructive that will never ruin and the never-ending that will never fade away. God has aroused your interests in these abodes, invited you to them, and settled your rewards there.
O Muhajirs, Ansar, and people of God’s religion, consider the attributes that are ascribed to you in God’s Book, the rank that you attained with the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), and the efforts that you exerted for the sake of God. Do you think you have won so because of your ancestry and lineage? Or was it because of your efforts and acts of obedience to God? Seek the perfection of God’s graces upon you –God’s mercy may be upon you- through preserving yourselves and keeping God’s Book that He ordered you to keep. If you carry out God’s commandments and adhere to God-fearing, nothing of the humiliation of your life will harm you. If you do not abide by God-fearing, then nothing of the worldly pleasures that you pursue will benefit you. O servants of God, adhere to submission to God’s commandment, satisfaction with His act, and steadfastness against His misfortunes.
Regarding this booty, no one should enjoy precedence in the shares of the booty. God the Majestic has completed its distribution. It is God’s possession, and you are the Muslim servants of Him. This is the Book of God; we recognize it, declare it, and submit to it. Our Prophet’s covenant is with us. Hence, submit to the matter –God’s mercy may be upon you- because he whoever does not yield to this matter may leave us in any way he chooses. He whoever acts upon God’s obedience and judges according to God’s rules will not feel alone. They will have neither fear nor grief. Those are the successful. We beseech to our Lord and God to include you and us with the people of His obedience and dedicate your and our desires to His rewards. In the end, I seek God’s forgiveness for you and me.
Imam Ali’s Wording about Equal Distribution of Wealth
As they noticed how Muawiya gave those who joined his army generously, some of the soldiers of Amirul Muminin –in the battle of Siffine- suggested to him to offer assets to the chiefs and the individuals that he anticipated their mutiny and flight exclusively. When matters would be settled, he would return to his course of equal distribution. As Imam Ali (peace be upon him) heard this suggestion, he spoke:
Do you command me that I should seek support by oppressing those over whom I have been placed? By Allah, I will not do so as long as the world goes on and as long as one star follows another in the sky. Even if it were my property, I would have distributed it equally among them, then why not when the property is that of Allah.
He then paused for a while, and went on:
I warn them who have a property against corruption. Certainly, that giving of wealth without any right for it is wastefulness and lavishness. It honors him before people, but disgraces him with Allah. If a man gives his property to those who have no right for it or do not deserve it, Allah deprives him of their gratefulness, and their love too would be for others. Only the slavish flatterers and the liars will show him false gratitude. These two individuals do so only for obtaining the same previous gifts. Then if he fell on bad days and needed their help, they would prove the worst comrades and ignoble friends. They will address to him the sayings of the ignorant as long as he gifts them while he closes the hand with God. Is there then any fate more ill-omened than this? And is there such a profitless and losing favor? He who receives some money should use it for regarding the relatives, receiving the guests hospitably, releasing the pauper and the prisoners, and relieving the indebted, the wayfarers, the poor, and the emigrants. He should also be clement for winning the rewards and the rights. If he follows so, he will win a good reputation in this world and the rewards of the world to come.
Imam Ali’s Description of the World for the God-Fearing
Jabir bin Abdillah al-Ansari related: We were mentioning the defects of this world when Amirul Muminin (peace be upon him) came to us, after midnight, and asked about our question of discussion after he had finished from fighting his enemies in Basra. As he knew we had been dispraising this world, he said:
All praise and thanks be to God.
So now, why are some people dispraising this world? Is it for they pursued asceticism from it? This world is the lodging of honesty for them who act honestly with it. It is the lodging of good health for them who understand it. It is the lodging of richness for them who supply themselves with it. It is the place of the prostration of God’s prophets (peace be upon them), the place of the descend of God’s revelation, the place of the Angels’ prayers, the house of the God’s adorers, and the place of the trade of God’s disciples. In this world, the disciples acquire God’s mercy and win Paradise. Who can then offend this world, Jabir? It declared its departure, informed of its discontinuity, announced its vanishing, exhibited its misfortune in the exhibition of misfortune, urged pleasure through its pleasure, ended its day with a misfortune, and began it with grace and good health as a signs of frightening and attraction of desires. Some people are dispraising it after they felt sorry. It served them honestly, reminded them and they remembered, admonished them and they learned, frightened them and they feared, and attracted their desires and they were desirous.
O you who dispraise the world but you are deceived by its deception, in which situations did the world deserve your dispraise? In which situations did it attract your desire towards it? Was it when your forefathers were changed into tatter? Or was it when your foremothers laid their heads on dust? Very often you were the nurse of many people as you watched for their cure, prescribed medicine for them, and fetched them physicians. But you could not achieve your request, and your hopes did not come true. In fact, the world represented the truth for you in the situation of such people and presented that your manner would be like them when your dearest people will not benefit you, your calls will be not answered. This is when agonies of death attain their climax when moaning is useless and wailing is ineffectual. When the mediastinum presses them forcibly and the throat suffocates with them. Then, no call you will hear and no tune will terrify. How long grief will occur when the deadline falls. Then you will be carried in a casket by four hands to settle in the grave forever in a narrow place. Thus, the power has gone, the period –of life- come to end, the kind people left, and the amicable brothers interrupted. In addition, the close friends have no longer approached, the visitors have no longer attended, the house has no longer extended. The practices are no longer possible and the news are no longer available. The heirs hurried to have their shares of the heritage, the woe is falling, and the sins are encircling. If you did good acts during your life, your prize will be pleasant. If you did evil, then the result will be anguish. How is it useful for souls to settle when death is the inevitable result and grave is the inevitable house? This is surely a sufficient admonisher.
Jabir said: Then Amirul Muminin (peace be upon him) asked me to visit the graves. There, he spoke:
O occupants of dust, O occupants of strangeness, your houses have been abided, your heritage has been distributed, and your wives have been married. There are the news that we carry for you. What are the news that you have for us?
The Imam spoke after a considerable while:
I swear by Him Who raised the heavens and they were exalted, and extended the earth and it was extended, if they are permitted to speak, they will say: We found that the best supplies is God-fearing.
O Jabir, you may return.
Imam Ali’s Sermon of Faith, Spirits, and Variety of Spirits
A man said to Imam Ali, peace be upon him: There are some people claiming that faithful servants will not commit fornication, drink intoxicants, use usury, or shed forbidden blood. I could not accept so. It is surely difficult for me to claim that the servant, who offers prayers and will burry me when I die and I will burry him when he is dead, is unfaithful just because he committed an insignificant sin. Imam Ali, peace be upon him, said:
Yes, it is. This is true. I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) say: “God created people on three characters, and made them three classes.” This is God’s saying:
The people of the right hand. How happy they will be! The people of the left hand. How miserable they will be! The foremost ones will be the nearest ones to God.
The foremost ones to whom God refers are the prophets –whether messengers or not-. God supplied them with five spirits: spirit of holiness, spirit of faith, spirit of power, spirit of passion, and physical spirit. With the spirit of holiness, they were sent as prophets and messengers. With the spirit of faith, they worshipped God exclusively without betaking any associate with Him. With the spirit of power, they fought their enemies and made their livings. With the spirit of passion, they enjoyed the sweetness of food and drink and married women legally. With the physical spirit, they grew up and took their courses. Those are forgiven and their sins are overlooked. For them, God says:
We gave some of Our Messengers preference over others. To some of them God spoke and He raised the rank of some others. We gave authoritative proofs to Jesus, son of Mary, and supported him by the Holy Spirit.
About them, God also says:
… And supported them by a Spirit from Himself.
By this spirit, God honored and favored them to the others. They are forgiven.
God then refers to the people of the right hand. They are the faithful believers. God supplied them with four spirits: spirit of faith, spirit of power, spirit of passion, and physical spirit.
A servant is still keeping these four spirits perfectly until he encounters some manners.
“What are these manners?” asked the man.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) answered:
The first manner is that to which God refers in His saying:
Some of you will grow to an extremely old age and lose your memory. God is All-knowing and Almighty.
Thus, all the spirits will disappear due to such an extreme old age. However, he does not desert faith, because it is God who caused him to encounter such an extreme old age due to which he could not recognize the times of prayers, practice the night worship, or fast during days. This is a reduction of the spirit of faith although it will not harm, God willing.
The spirit of passion is also reduced to the degree that even if the most beautiful woman passes by him he will not any desire towards her. The physical spirit, by which he moves and advances in age until death overcomes, only remains. This is the good manner, because it is God who does this to him. He may pass by manners in his power and youth. When he intends to commit a sin, the spirit of power encourages him, the spirit of passion makes it attractive, and the physical spirit leads him to commit the sin. If he commits it, he will separate from faith and faith will separate from him. He will not regain the faith unless he repents. If he repents and recognizes the (obligatory) loyalty –to the Prophet and his family-, God will accept his repentance. If he commits the sin again, he then will be in Hell because he will be disloyal –to the Prophet and his family-.
The people of the left hand are the Jews and the Christians. God the Majestic says:
Those to whom We have given the Book (Bible), know you –i.e. they know the obligatory loyalty to the Prophet and his family that is recorded in the Torah and the Bible- just as a well as they know their sons –in their houses-. It is certain that some of them deliberately hide the truth. Never doubt that the essence of truth comes from your Lord.
When they denied what they had known, God punished them for so. He seized the spirit of holiness from them and made their bodies carry three spirits only: spirit of power, spirit of passion, and physical spirit. God then attached them to the animals. He says:
They are like cattle…
This is because animals carry things with the spirit of power, eat with the spirit of passion, and walk with the physical spirit.
“You have surely enlivened my heart,” said the asker.
Imam Ali’s Commandment for Ziyad bin Annadr
when assigned him as the commander of his army in the Battle of Siffin
Fear God in every morning and evening. Be cautious of being deceived. Do not feel secured from misfortunes. You should know that if you do not deprive yourself of many of your desires, as fear of the bad result, your whims will drive you into many injuries until you move away. Prevent yourself from oppression, tyranny, aggression, and hostility. I have given you the commandment of this army. Do not humiliate them or use arrogance against them. Certainly, the best of you is the most God-fearing. Acquire knowledge from the scholars among them, teach the ignorant among them, and show clemency to the foolish. You will gain welfare only through knowledge and abstinence from harm and ignorance.
The Imam (peace be upon him) then sent another missive of commandment and admonition:
You should know that the vanguards are the overseers, and the overseers are the front. If you leave your country and approach your enemy, you should not feel weary from addressing the front to every side and to some of the defiles, woods, and secret places as well as every area so that your enemies will not raid or trap you. Do not give the orders of directing the battalions and tribes from morning to evening unless there are covering powers beyond them. If a matter occurs or a trouble befalls you, you will have covering powers. If you raid your enemies or if they raid you, your camp should be on the heights, versants of mountains, or in rivers so that they will form fortresses for you and will prevent your enemies from reaching you. Your fighting should be in one and two faces. Order the overseers to settle on the summits of mountains, heights, and on the edges of rivers. They should oversee for you so that the enemies will not attack you from an expected or secured place. If you want to reside, you should reside collectively, and when you want to continue your march, you should continue collectively. When you reside at night, you should encompass your camp with spears and armors. The archers should protect the carriers of armors so that you will not be taken surprisingly or inattentively. Guard your army yourself. Beware, you should not sleep unbrokenly and should not pass a night with deep sleep. You should keep up this tradition until you meet your enemy. You should be slow in fighting. You may hurry only when a good opportunity is granted for you. Do not fight before the enemy attacks you or you receive my order. Peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
Imam Ali’s Description of the Relaters of Narratives
Sulaim bin Qais said to Amirul Muminin (peace be upon him): I have heard Salman, Abutharr, and al-Miqdad speaking of matters regarding the exegesis of the Quran and the sayings and narratives of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family). Then I hear you testifying so. I also noticed many other matters regarding the Quranic exegeses and the prophetic narratives in people’s hands, but they opposed them while others were forging lies willfully and interpreting the Quran out of their own impressions. What is the reality of this matter?
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) answered:
You have asked; so, listen to the answer. Certainly, what is current among the people are right and wrong, true and false, repealing and repealed, general and particular, definite and indefinite, exact and surmised. Even during the Prophet’s days false sayings had been attributed to him, so much so that he had to say during his sermon: “Whoever attributes falsehoods to me makes his abode in Hell.” However, many forged lies against him after his death. Those who relate traditions are of four categories, no more:
The hypocrite is a person who makes a show of faith and adopts the appearance of a Muslim; he does not hesitate in sinning nor does he keep aloof from vice; he willfully attributes false things against the Messenger of Allah — may Allah bless him and his descendants. If people knew that he was a hypocrite and a liar, they would not accept anything from him and would not confirm what he says.
Rather they say that he is the companion of the Prophet, has met him, heard (his sayings) from him and acquired (knowledge) from him. They therefore do not recognize his reality when they acceded to his knowledge. Allah too had warned well about the hypocrites and described them fully. He says:
“Their physical appearance attracts you when you see them and when they speak, you carefully listen to them.”
They have continued after the Holy Prophet as they spread in many countries. They gained positions with the leaders of misguidance and callers towards Hell through falsehoods and slanderings. So, they put them in high posts and judiciary positions, made them officers over the heads of the people, and amassed wealth through them. People are always with the rulers and after this world that they regard as their goal, except those to whom Allah affords protection. This is the first of the four categories.
Then there is the individual who heard (a saying) from the Holy Prophet but did not memorize it as it was, but surmised it. He does not lie willfully. Now, he carries the saying with him and relates it, acts upon it and claims that: “I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family).” If the Muslims come to know that he has committed a mistake in it, they will not accept it from him, and if he himself knows that he is on the wrong he will give it up.
The third man is he who heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) ordering to do a thing and later the Prophet refrained the people from doing it, but this man did not know it, or he heard the Prophet refraining people from a thing and later he allowed it, but this man did not know it. In this way he retained in his mind what had been repealed, and did not retain the repealing tradition. If he knew that it had been repealed he would reject it, or if the Muslims knew, when they heard it from him, that it had been repealed they would reject it. This is the third category.
The last, namely the fourth man, is he who does not speak a lie against Allah or against His Prophet. He hates falsehood out of fear for Allah and respect for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family), and does not commit mistakes, but retains (in his mind) exactly what he heard (from the Prophet), and he relates it as he heard it without adding anything or omitting anything. He heard the repealing tradition, he retained it and acted upon it, and he heard the repealed tradition and rejected it. The traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) are as same as the Quran in the face that some of them are repealed and some are repealing. Likewise, some of them are decisive and some are allegorical. Like the Quran, the wording of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) is of two kinds—one is particular and one is general. God the Majestic says:
Take only what the Messenger gives to you and desist from what he forbids you.
Sometimes a man would hear him but he would not know what Allah, the Glorified, meant by it or what the Messenger of Allah meant by it. In this way the listener carries it and memorizes it without knowing its meaning and its true intention, or what was its reason. Among the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) all were not in the habit of putting him questions and ask him the meanings, indeed they always wished that some Bedouin or stranger might come and ask him (peace be upon him) so that they would also listen.
I used to visit him once a day and he used to keep me alone with him to plunge in everything in which he plunged. All the companions knew that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) did this only to me exclusively. Sometimes, he used to come to my house. Whenever I was before him, he used to ask the others to leave and ask his wives to let him alone. Whenever I asked, he answered me. Whenever I kept silent or had my questions finished, he opened a matter of discussion with me. Whenever a Verse was revealed to him, whether at night or daylight, in a heaven or the earth, in the world or the world to come, in Paradise or Hell, in a plain or a mountain, or in light or gloom, he used to recite it before me, teach me its interpretation, exegesis, repealing, repealed, decisive, allegorical, particular, and general matters. He also used to teach me where and what for was it revealed until the Day of Resurrection.
Imam Ali’s Wording of Grounds of Islam and the Reality of Repentance and Seeking Forgiveness
Kumayl bin Ziyad related: I asked Amirul Muminin (peace be upon him) about the grounds of Islam. He answered:
The grounds of Islam are seven. The first of them is the mind on which tolerance is based. The second is the preservation of the honor and the truthfulness. The third is reciting the Quran properly. The fourth is to love and hate for God’s sake. The fifth is the recognition of the family of Mohammed (peace be upon him and his family) and the loyalty to their leadership. The sixth is the fulfillment of the friends’ rights and the protection of them. The seventh is to show good neighborhood with people.
Kumayl bin Ziyad said: I asked, “It happens that a servant –of God- commits a sin then seeks the forgiveness of God. What is the limit of seeking God’s forgiveness?” Imam Ali (peace be upon him) answered: “It is repentance, son of Ziyad.” “Only?” wondered I. “No,” answered he. “How then?” I asked. He answered, “When a servant commits a sin, he says, ‘I seek God’s forgiveness,’ by movement.” “What is that movement?” asked I. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) answered, “It is the movement of the two lips and the tongue. He should attach the reality to that movement.” “What is that reality?” I asked. “It is a certification in the heart and a determination of avoiding committing the sin from which it was repented,” answered the Imam. “If I do so, will I be regarded as one of the repentant?” asked I. “No,” answered the Imam. “How is that?” wondered I. “This is because you have not attained the origin yet,” explained the Imam. “What is the origin of seeking God’s forgiveness, then?” asked I. The Imam replied:
The origin of seeking forgiveness of God is to refer to the repentance from the sin from which you have sought God’s forgiveness. This is the first grade of the worshippers. The abandonment of sins and the seeking of God’s forgiveness have six indications. First is to feel sorry for the past deeds. Second is to determine not to commit that sin ever again. Third is to fulfill the rights of the other creatures that are obligatory upon you. Fourth is to fulfill the rights of God in every obligatory matter. Fifth is to dissolve the flesh, which was composed due to forbidden and ill-gotten things, until the skin touches the bones. Only then you may start to build new flesh. Sixth is to cause your body to suffer the pain of acts of obedience of God as harshly as that when you caused it to taste the pleasures of acts of disobedience to God.
Please subscribe and share – Thank You! Be blessed!