Nahj al-Balagha (the Peak of Eloquence) is an assortment of quotes and writings that are believed to be the work of Ali ibn Abi Talib . It is highly revered Twelver Shia book often referred to by Shia Ayatollahs as the Qur’an’s brother (then they are bold enough to assert that Sunnis exaggerate like SahihBukhari who no one dares to be compared with The Qur’an).
Farid Al-Bahraini, co-founder and co-creator of TwelverShia.net along with Sunni Discourse and the author of many articles and The Martyrdom of Al-Husayn in Light of The Traditional Traditions’, and the co-founder of GhadirKhumm.com and – extremely relevant to the subject to be discussed – the creator of Nahjul-Balagha.net has performed a fantastic job analysing his authenticity Nahj al-Balagh. Therefore, I’d like to begin my discussion of Nahj al-Balagha by quoting taken from his web site
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A lot of gullible Shia are adamant they read Nahj al-Balagha was written by the ‘Ali ibn Talib (rDy llh nh) himself. The truth lies in the fact that it was composed in the 4th or 10th century of the late 4th century i.e. about 350 years after the Ali (1th/7th century) died by a sloppy man (who was not like Imam Bukhari did not provide authentic transmission chains) named Abu l-Hasan Muhammad b. al-Husayn alMusawi (Arabic”bwlHsn” means “mHmd Bn lHsyn Lmwswy) (b. 359/970 – died. 406/1015) also known as al-Sharif al-Radi (Arabic:”lshryf lrDy”) who was a student of the Mufid. As with many Rafidah were heavily in the influence of the Mu’tazilah, certain of the Mu’tazilah were among his teachers.
RELIABILITY OF NAHJUL BALAGHA
Although it is widely believed among Shias that the content in Nahjul Balagha are authentically attributed to Ali bin Abi Talib, objective research confirms that this assumption is untrue and not academically based..
Al-Shareef Al-Radhi (d. 406 AH) died at the end of the fifth century. He wrote the sermons and writings in about 400 AH. Al-Radhi took what was available from sources that were accessible to him, and was attributable to Ali. But, as Al-Radhi was several centuries late and had to wait for a long time, the only way we can accept all of the sermons and letters that he collected is providing the compiler with our full faith in him. This is due to the fact that Al-Radhi did not provide his sources, which renders the claim that he attributed all of the text on the basis of Ali Bin Abi Talib questionable.
Method of Determining Reliability
It is not surprising that the scholars of Islam didn’t give complete trust to any narration compiler and it was the Isnad system was developed to stop forgeries, errors and inaccurate attributions. It was because of that Isnad process that Sunni books such as Al-Bukhari’s and Muslim’s compilation were made canonized texts of scholars of the Sunni school. In the same way, it was by the Isnad system that Shias was able to canonize their four books that are: Al-Kafi Man La Yahtharhu Al Faqeeh, Tahtheeb Al-Ahkam, and Al-Istibsar.
In the Isnad system is a method that narration writers could list details of the teachers who have heard the narration up until the time they actually see the witnesses themselves. The most important criteria to accept an authentic narration is the authenticity of all the narrationists and the interconnection of the narration chain. If the main reporter was not an eye-witness to the incident the narration is rejected. If the chain featured an narrator whose credibility was uncertain the narration will be dismissed.
For instance, a story of Mohammad bin Sireen (d. 110 AH) who is referred to as Imam of Tabi’een would be disregarded in the event that he had narrated directly from the Prophet Peace be upon him, since Mohammad bin Sireen was born in the time of caliphate Uthman which means that he was just a few years too old to be an eyewitness of prophetic narratives.
So the rejection of Nahj al-Balagha as an authentic collection of statements of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (rDy llh `nh) does not reflect an anti-‘Alid/Ahlul-Bayt position that some Shias want us to believe. How can that be possible when the Sunnis themselves contain in the pages of their Sihah or Sunan Hadith volumes with chapter packed with information about the merits and virtues that are associated with the Ahlul-Bayt (that is not widely known and are in all the important Sunni Hadith works).
When we look at the words of scholars regarding the book, and then the contents against the data gathered from authentic transmission chains from the ‘Ali’ (rDy llh nh) It becomes apparent that there are elements in the book that is contrary to the information gathered by his. Therefore, we must examine what these great scholars have written about:
Al-Dhahabi comment on Nahl al-Balagha as well as its creator (al-Sharif al-Radhi):
Al-Husayni Al-Sharif Al-Husayni al-Sharif, the Mutakallim as well as Rafidi…He has been who has been accused of creating the text Nahj al-Balagha, he strongly engages in science. Anyone who has read Nahj al-Balagha will know that it is not true. which is believed to be the work of The Commander of the Faithful Ali Ibn Talib (rDy llh nh).
In it, masters Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (rDy llh nhm) are openly disowned and ridiculed, and there are contradictory statements and the incoherent phrases, and within the text are phrases that anyone with the least knowledge of the language of the companions of Quraysh and the manner of the people who accompanied their predecessors from the past is aware that the majority of the text is based on lies.’ (Mizan al-I’tidal page. 124, written by al-Dhahabi)
In the same way to his Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, Imam al-Dhahabi writes:
I mentioned that he was the author of this book Nahj al-Balagha which is attributed to Imam ‘Ali (rDy llh nh), but the documents contained therein contain not transmission chains. There are some that are incorrect, while some is factual, however it is filled with fabricated accounts of things Imam ‘Ali would never have spoken of. Who is the rational person who could examine it with an impartial eye What is the point? It is believed that it was written through his son Sharif al-Radi. It is a slander of the followers from Allah the Messenger from Allah () We seek refuge in Allah from the fact that it is useless.
Siyar A’lam al-Nubala1 17/589
Muhibb al-Deen al Khateeb stated when making comments on al-Muntaqa min minhaj al-Sunnah:
whdhn l’khwn, whdhn tT@ l khTb “myr sidn ly bkl m Try’ lyh wGryb MNH the ltryD of mn is bkhwnh@, whw bry the llh is wjl mn DHLK, wsybr’ MQTRFY mn hdh them
“The two brothers (al-Sharif al-Radi and al Sharif al-Murtadha) freely added numerous bizarre items to the preachings of al-Ameer Syyiduna Ali The Commander of the Faithful, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rDy llh nh), such as attacking his brothers from the group of companions and being innocent before Allah from everything and will shun those who lie.’
Yaqout al-Hamawi stated that in Tareekh al-Udaba’: I copied from the writings of Abdul-Hameed bin al Nafees bin Wahban, he wrote that he copied the writings of Abi Bakr Muhammad bin Mansour al-Samani. I heard the voice of al-Mubarak bin Abdul Jabbar al-Sayrafi say: I have heard Abu al-Qasim bin Burhan say”I entered the ill-health of al-Sharif Al-Murtadda and he was looking at the wall. He said: “Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, they ruled and were just, they were asked for mercy and offered it… Yet I say they apostatised after they accepted Islam?” Then I got up and went to leave the mosque, and when I got to the door, I heard him die.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah says:
“Most of the khutab (sermons) that the author of Nahj al-Balagha include in the book are lies against the ‘Ali. “‘Ali” (rDy llh) is not worthy and noble enough to have spoken such words. However, these people abricated their lies and believed they were expressing praise and truth, but they’re not praise or truth.
The person who says it is true that the sayings of Ali and any of the other humans is superior to the words of any other being created is wrong as his words () are superior to his words and both have been created. Additionally, the significances that can be from the words of ‘Ali can be found to be discovered within the writings of other people, but the author of Nahj al-Balagha as well as his companions took a number of words that people use and made them into the words of ‘Ali..
There are some words that were narrated by ‘Ali which were actually spoken by him and certain of them are authentic words that would be appropriate for him to speak however, in reality they are the words of other people.
Therefore, they are found in Kalam al-Bayan wa’l-Tabyeen by al-Hafiz and other books, there are some words that were narrated by different people than ‘Ali. those who wrote Nahj al-Balagha believed they were attributed to the ‘Ali. If the sermons delivered through Nahj al-Balagha were really spoken by ‘Ali be in other works prior to the publication of this book and could be narrated by ‘Ali through the chains that transmit them (isnad) and other.
It is understood by those who are experienced on the subject of narratives, that the majority of these (these sermons) in fact, the majority of them – were undiscovered prior to this time, and it is possible to conclude that they are fabricated. So the narrator must state in what book they are found the source of narration, the person who delivered it from ‘Ali and the meaning of its isnad. Or, anyone can make a claim and claim that it was uttered by Ali.
People who are knowledgeable about the wisdom of scholars of hadeeth and reports and isnads and who are in a position to discern which sounds are sound and which isn’t sound, would be aware that the people who transmit reports from ‘Ali were the least likely to have knowledge about reports and to discern sound from the non-sound.
Manhaj al-Sunnah al Nabwiyyah, 8/55.
Other scholars who exposed the falsehoods in this book included al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi in al-Jami’s Li Akhlaq al-Rawi Adab al-Sami’, 2.161 Al-Qadi Ibn Khlkan; al-Safadi, among other scholars. The arguments stated against it could be summarized in the following aspects:
1.There there are seven generations of narrators who lived between Ali (rDy llh nh) and the writer of this book and he didn’t mention any name at all. So we cannot believe his statements without an insinuation.
2.If the narrators mentioned are named in the text, it is important to study them thoroughly and figure out if they’re trustworthy.
3.The reality that the majority preachers weren’t in existence before the publication implies that they were made up.
4.Al-Murtada The author of the book was not among the experts on reports, but rather one of those whose devotion and knowledge was in question.
5.The slander it contains against the most powerful Sahabah is enough to qualify it as untrue.
6.The insults and slander they contain are not traits of the faithful and their leaders, such as ‘Ali’ (rDy llh nh).
7. It is full of contradictions and awkward expressions , from which it could be certain it was not written by a person who was renowned in fluency and eloquence.
8. That the Rafidah acknowledge the aforementioned and are confident that it’s as accurate as the Qur’an despite all the objections, shows that they pay no the attention to verifying sources or being sure they are in good standing in the realms of their faith.
Based on this and the above, it is evident that this book is not attributable to the name ‘Ali (rDy llh nh) Therefore, there is nothing that can be used as evidence in cases of Shari’ah whatever the question is. However, whoever is reading the book to discover what it has to say about eloquence it is the same for all other books dealing with the Arabic language and does not attribute its content to Ameer alMu’mineen ‘Ali (rDy llh nh).
See Kutub hadhdhara minha al-‘Ulama’, 2/250
“Some Sunni scholars admired Nahj al-Balagha, and wrote complete commentaries on it’
First of all, the most famous commentary on Nahj al-Balagha was written by ‘Izz al-Din Abu Hamid ‘Abd al-Hamid b. Hibat Allah (586-after 650/ 1191-1253) (Arabic:`izWldyn bwHmd `bdlHmyd bn hb@llh) known as Ibn Abi l-Hadid, a seventh/thirteenth-century Mu’tazili scholar.
The Rafidah (whenever they feel it is the best) frequently try to promote Mu’tazili scholars to be Sunni scholars. This stems or is due to their bad intentions or lack of knowledge or both, as the Mu’tazilah are an entirely separate group who are regarded as a distinct entity and decried as heretics by all Sunnis.
The most famous critic who praised this Rafidi publication Nahj al-Balagha was in fact not merely a Mu’tazili but one with Shi’i-Rafidi tendencies who teamed up along with the other Rafidis against Muslims.
Muhammad b. Hasan al-Jahrudi al-Tusi (Arabic: mHmd bn Hsn ljhrwdy lTwsy) (b. 597/1201 – died. 672/1274) The famous figure, also known for his role as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi or Khwaja Nasir (Farsi: Khwjh nSyr) is among the most influential people in the time of Twelver Shi’ism. Among his pupils included Ibn Mutahhar al-Hilli (who was brutally disproved by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah in his Minhaj al-Sunnah).
He was originally from Tus, Khorasan (today in the present day Iran) However it is not the case that he was an indigenous of the region because at the time, the majority (before the Twelver Shia Safavid attack at Sunni Persia) of people of Iran was Sunni (except in certain regions such as Qom). He was born in Jahrud close to Qom in the district known as “Veshareh”.
Nasir al-Din al -Tusi was aided in this heinous crime with the help of two associates Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-‘Alqami who was a Rafidi official in the state as well as the Ibn abi Hadid. Ibn Abi lHadid was the right-hand man of al-‘Alqami and was an ardent enemy of those who were Companions of Muhammad al-‘Alqami, the Messenger of Allah () which is apparent from his devious commentaries about the work Nahj al-Balagha, which he used to spread lies to deceive Islamic historical events (with some positive comments about the Sahabah as well as some negative remarks that the Rafidah are against of the course).
Unfortunately, many of our well-known writers and figures are still fooled by these falsehoods because they are ignorant of the basic truths about Islamic history. Al-‘Alqami reacted to Caliph Al-Musta’sim’s generosity and kindness in naming him his minister by deceiving and deceit.
He composed poems in honor to Al-Musta’sim who was the Abbasid Caliph. Then, in the year 65 A.H. executed a complete 180-degree turn, initiating a the revolution against his patron and thereby accelerating the disaster that was wrought upon Islam in Baghdad and where he commanded the blood-letting procession of Hulago’s butcher. In actuality He personally oversaw the execution of Muslims and spared no one females and children or those who were old.
Al-Tusi was also in favor of the mass dumping of important texts from Islamic literature into the Tigris River; its waters became black for days due to the inks of the numerous manuscripts. This was the way to lose a value of Islamic heritage that includes texts in literature, history and language as well as those belonging to the Islamic religious sciencesthat were passed down from the holy early generation Muslims and could be found in abundance up to the time they were destroyed by an event of cultural destruction like that of which had never previously witnessed.
Anyone who is interested to learn about his life and the adventures of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi from any biography of Shi’ites The most recent edition was composed by al-Khuwansari. The book is packed with praise for the murderers and shows the Shi’ites’ savage celebration of the massacre of Muslim women, men and children. It was a heinous action that even the most vicious of enemies and most toughest creatures would not be ashamed to revel in.
Ibn Abi L-Hadid was a friend of treacherous Ibn Alqami (656/1258) Ibn ‘Alqami (656/1258) Rafidi Minister of Al-Musta’sim, the final Caliph ‘Abbasid. The two books he wrote, Qasa’id Al-Sab as well as Sharh Nahj Al-Balaghah (Commentary to Nahj Al-Balagha) are dedicated to Ibn al-Qami.
In the case of other commentary that are written by the late Azhari scholars who do not in any way confirm the authenticity of Nahj al Balagha At the very least, the book is classified by a few scholars as a book from Adab, since the goal of the book was to present an eloquent Arabic literature (that is present in a small amount) and that is the reason some scholars believe that the author wrote the book after himself, which is why the book was dubbed the “Peak of Eloquence” (Nah Al-Balagha) in the first place.
Nahj al-Balagha is one of the lesser evil
The people who are very acquainted with Nahj al-Balagha are aware that, despite being the work of a Rafidi the bulk of its contents are drawn directly from (mostly moderate) Sunni sources.
It is true that weak Sunni sources aren’t as radical and heretical (Takfir from Sahabah and the overt veneration of Ahlul-Bayt) in their nature as Rafidi sources. This has led to an unreliable book, though stuffed with exaggerations and lies (Shaqshaqiyyah report in which Abu Bakr is attacked) but it is difficult to deduce from the mainstream Twelver beliefs and rituals from it, such as:
- Prayer to Imams (Shia saints The Prophet ‘Ali advises his son to make a call to Allah by himself and in silence)
- The infallibility (‘Isma) from Ahlul-Bayt “Ali” actually explains that he, like everyone other human beings – will make mistakes and have committed mistakes.
- Ali’s selection as the chosen one by Allah The selection of Allah is one of the most significant Shi’ite pillar, yet it is not discussed within Nahj al-Balagha. Indeed, ‘Ali does claim in it that he’s the most worthy of the Khilafah position but he does exactly as the way a Sunni would i.e. He cites his virtues but he doesn’t mention any mention of Ghadir, or even the holy Imamah who is repeatedly mentioned through Allah within the Quran as being the Rafidah by their batini/esoteric Tafasir assertions.
- 12 Imams who are infallible In fact”Ali clearly states says that Khilafah’s position is political, and that people require leaders, even if they’re not religious.
- Divine Imamah – ‘Ali does not say a word about it. On contrary he makes clear his belief that Shurais an authentic system, and whoever the leaders are of Sahabah i.e. that of Muhajir as well as the Ansar Sahabah choseto follow, shows the delight from Allah and can be considered the Imam (the irony …).
- Takfir-Massacring of the Sahabah On the other hand the tone used by ‘Ali in Nahj al-Balagha is a Sunni-Quranic tone, one that sees Sahabah as a good entity, rather than Sahabah as a worthy character, as role models and as the most exemplary generation. This is quite different from the way in which Sahabah are perceived in Twelverism (where the majority of Sahabah are seen as infidels or apostates because of choosing a different ‘Ali as their caliph’s first choice).
This is the reason why some claim it is because Nahj al-Balagha is closer to Zaydi Shia doctrines than Twelver faiths of Shia. There is certainly a real truth to this claim given the fact that in recent years , the Rafidah have been more reticent to accept all Nahj al-Balagha. Afterall it is filled with sermons of ‘Ali (rDy llh nh) that are so destructive on their religious sects that a lot of modern-day Rafidi commentators are required to write long commentaries on the sermons of ‘Ali to diminish his praise of the Sahabah, Shura, and other ideas that the Rafidah are averse to.
This is the reason I believe there is no harm in telling that the average Twelver dive in Nahj al-Balagha, for if they truly embrace it, they will be a long way further from the Sunnah and the true Al-Ibn Abi Talib (rDy llh nh) and, in turn, several miles away from Ghuluw Kufr, Shirk, and the superstition (Khurafat) that are based on Ahlul-Bayt. It could be used as an initiation point from Rafidism into a moderate version of Shi’ism, and eventually Sunnah in the name of Allah.
Many books were written by Ahlus Sunnah’s du’at on this subject i.e. introduction of the Shia to a non-biased understanding of Nahj al-Balagha (many of who respect Nahj al-Balagha, but do not read it with care or are fooled by the huge and desperate commentary from Rafidi scholars from every Qom/Iran, and in different Hawzah print versions).
Qira’at Rashidah likitab Nah al-Balagha (‘A Rational And Mature Reading Of The Book Of Nahj al-Balagha’) by Abdul-Rahman ibn Abdullah al-Jumay’an (download here>>>). Translated into Persian (download here>>>>>) from Ja’far Sobhani. The title is: Nahj al-Balagha ra dobareh bekhanim (‘Let us read Nahl Al-Balagha’).
A similar series and project (albeit not yet completed) were created in the form of Gift2Shias.com, make sure to visit and gain from it.
The Authenticity of Nahj al-Balagha To Twelver Shia
As we mentioned earlier, following thorough examination of Nahj al-Balagha’s writings, one could be able to argue that the version of Shi’ism taken from the book is at most an extension of Zaydi Shi’ism, not Twelverism.
This is the reason why you will always come across Twelver commentators (who constitute the majority of the commentators about Nahj al Balagha) who make use of mental gymnastics and write long comments under the ‘Ali’s assertions in order to justify (read distort or diminish) his praise for Sahabah, Shura, and other ideas that are fundamentally criticized in Shi’ism.
Unsurprisingly, many Shias – especially those familiar with polemics – have become more reluctant in their praise of Nahj al-Balagha, some even ask for chains of narrations/transmissions (something they usually don’t care about when they build their beliefs on all sorts of Twelver books that include Kufr and Shirk in abundancy) others point out how Nahj al-Balagha is not a book of hadith nor a book of creed (‘aqeedah).
- ASIN : B018EDTNFC
- Publisher : Dar Al Kitab Al Libnani (January 1, 1989)
- Language : English
- Unknown Binding : 728 pages
- Item Weight : 2.4 pounds