The leaders of the Ahle Sunnah, the scholars of the Shias and all other intellectuals and scholars, regardless of their religion or sect, whoever has come in touch with Nahjul Balagha and studied it closely will attest to its profundity and depth. Rather, they are extremely affected by it. It is this wondrous attraction and amazing intensity of meaning and import in the speeches, sayings and letters of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) that has compelled many intellectuals to write a commentary to the Nahjul Balagha or the personality of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.).
We strive to present below some of the factual causes of this profundity:
1) The moral and spiritual intensity of Nahjul Balagha makes it an elixir for a soul craving for divine cognition. The definition of divine recognition expounded by it, like the first discourse or speech no. 191, the Sermon of ‘Ashbaah’ is of such high standard to give us a sense of being aboard the wings of angels to achieve a lofty position where human reach is beyond comprehension. Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has introduced Allah the High in such manner that we behold him everywhere through the eyes of our heart, in the skies, on the earth, in the clouds and even in our selves.
2) Nahjul Balagha articulates expressly at all junctures, compassion for the disadvantaged and the oppressed in all categories of people. The spread of social justice, protection against oppression and sectarian prejudice, equitable distribution of public treasury and safeguarding against undue support to filial affiliations has also been stressed. A clear example of this is Sermon 224, wherein Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) brings the red-hot rod of iron close to his brother Aqeel – because the latter requested three kilograms of wheat more than his share – in order to make him realise its consequence in the Hereafter. (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 224, p. 360) “Wherever you see a surfeit of bounties”, says Ali (a.s.) “you will find that the rights of people have been trampled upon.”
3) Nahjul Balagha guides the people at each stage to free one’s selves from the debasement of carnal desires.
4) The words of Ali (a.s.) in Nahjul Balagha penetrate the hearts of those striving on the path of Truth leaving an indelible mark. A vivid illustration is the speech no. 193 (speech of the pious, pg. 313-317, published at Darus Saqalain, Qum). Wherein Hammam, a virtuous soul questions Hazrat Ali (a.s.) regarding the qualities of the pious people. Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) avoids to respond but on insistence, delivers a lengthy sermon, wondrous in content, recounting over a hundred attributes of the God-fearing. On conclusion (moved by the oration), Hammam, shrieked and fell to the earth, lifeless.
What effect of the advice and counsel of the friend of Allah and the vicegerent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)! Such an event is unparalleled in the history of mankind. Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) said: “By Allah! I had this fear (about Hammam).”
Thereafter, he (a.s.) continued:
“Does effective counsel have such an outcome on the worthy?”
Syed Razi, counted among the great Arab litterateurs, has added his own notes to the sermons of Nahjul Balagha, which either recount the effect the sermons had on the public at the time or the result which the writings produce on him.
(a) Reproduced below is the note to Sermon 83:
“It is narrated when Ali (a.s.) was delivering this lecture, the people were trembling, tears flowed from the eyes and hearts became restive.” (NH, speech no. 83, pg. 99-111, published at Darus Saqalain, Qum)
(b) He comments in the footnote to Sermon 28, thus:
“If some counsel can guide a man towards asceticism and the deeds for the hereafter, then verily it is this sermon which turns man away from vain desires and instils in him a hatred for misdeeds.”
Ibn Abil Hadid in his explanatory to Sermon 109 writes:
“Such is the profoundness, attraction and the effects of this speech that if presented before an irreligious person, who is a dogmatic denier of the Hereafter, would revolutionize his thinking and change his attitude. His heart would fill with fear and his negative thinking would be shaken. May the Almighty bestow such goodness upon the Master of these Words as He would to His Wali. His service to Islam is unique and unparalleled, sometimes through his hands and at times through the sword. Sometimes through his speeches and counsel and at others through his beliefs and thoughts, he would always be ready to help. Certainly, it is the holy self who is the Chief of the Warriors (Mujahid), the most effective of speakers, the Imam of the scholars and exegeses and the guide to believers in Divine Unity and Justice.
(Sharh-o-Nahjil Balagha of Ibn Abil hadid, vol. 7, pg. 302)
It is verily the Proof of God, who cleanses the self of man from the apostate dirt of his thoughts through the Divine signs and evidences.
Thus we are sure for Allah completes His Proof, and Islam stays secure due to the Mastership and Imamat of this real divine proof.
(From Kitab-e-Ashnaaee-e-Nahjul Balagha by Syed Ja’far Husaini)