Social and Ethical Thought of Ali(a.s)
Ali was a great thinker. In his sermons, addresses, and other writings which have come down to us in the shape of his book Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across many a gem of precious thoughts. Some of these thoughts characterized by great depth are given hereunder.
Friends of Allah
Friends of Allah are they who look to its inward aspect when the ordinary people look to the outward aspect of the world, and when the other people are engrossed in the affairs of the world they get anxious about the Hereafter.
Momins and hypocrites
A Momin is he, whose neck if placed under my sword, would not think ill of me. A hypocrite is he whom even if I load with gold and silver he would not think good of me.
A Faqih is one who would not make the people despair of the mercy of God.
Justice and mercy
The purpose of justice is to give a person what is due to him. Mercy goes a step further, and it gives a person something more than what is due to him.
The world and the Hereafter
He who seeks the world, death runs after him; he who seeks the hereafter the world runs after him.
Momin and an infidel
He who tells of his want to a Momin is as if he has requested God. He who seeks his want from an infidel is making a complaint against God.
Proximity to the ruler
He who is in proximity to the ruler is like a person riding on a lion, and there can be no knowing when the lion might overturn and devour him.
Haste is a kind of madness. One who does things in haste has to face shame, and if he is not ashamed his madness is confirmed.
Faith and faithlessness
Faith with the faithless is faithlessness before God, and faithlessness with the faithless is faith.
If what the philosopher says is correct, it is a cure; if what he says is incorrect it is a disease.
Forgiveness is the Zakat of success if you wish to succeed in life, learn to forgive others.
Secret of success
Success depends on self-confidence. Self-confidence depends on due deliberation. Deliberation depends on protecting one’s secrets. He who cannot keep his secret cannot succeed.
Kinds of patience
Patience is of two kinds: Firstly patience at a thing which one does not like, and secondly patience at not getting a thing one desires.
Wealth and poverty
Wealth provides one with the facilities of home country while travelling in a foreign land. Poverty makes a person a stranger even in his homeland.
Faith lies in preferring truth to falsehood even when the truth might lead to any harm, and falsehood might lead to any advantage. And evidence of your faith is that what you say is in accord with that practice.
A Muslim is he whose face wears a smiling look even though his heart is distressed.
Perfection consists in three things: patience in affliction; moderation in pursuit; and offer of assistance to a supplicant.
Heresy has four aspects: Concealment of truth, waging of war against truth, going astray from the path of truth, and adoption of an inimical attitude to truth.
Seven things of the devil
There are seven things of the devil: excessive anger, excessive sneezing, excessive yawning, vomiting, bleeding of the nose, clandestine discourse and sleeping during devotional exercise.
Generosity lies in affording relief to the needy without his asking for it. When the supplicant is assisted when he asks for it, that is liberality and munificence and not generosity.
Tauhid is a conviction of the heart which is above doubt.
Justice is determination against which there can be no accusation.
Learning and good dispositions go together and lead to broadmindedness.
Wealth and health
One cannot trust two things: wealth and health. One does not know when they might forsake him.
Two types of subsistence
There are two types of subsistence, one after which you run and the other which runs after you.
Truth and falsehood
There is a distance of four fingers between truth and false hood. Falsehood is that you say that you heard it from someone else. The truth is that you say that you saw it with your own eyes.
Things that are the best
Resignation to the will of God is the best policy. Knowledge is the best inheritance. Good conduct is the best ornament. The best wealth is the suppression of desires. The middle course is the best course.
Things to which nothing is better
No honor is more respectable than the sword. No religion is better than Islam. No citadel is stronger than piety. No one is a better interceder than repentance. No treasure is richer than contentment.
Success and failure
When you succeed do not feel proud. When you fail do not lose patience.
Person doomed to ignominy
Two persons are deemed to ignominy, firstly he who creates dissentions and secondly he who levies false accusations.
Your three friends are: your friend, a friend of your friend, and an enemy of your enemy.
Your three foes are: your foe, the foe of your friend, and the friend of your foe.
Two types of men
There are two types of men in the world: one who sells himself to the world and the world destroys him, the other is the one who ransomed himself for the world and has released himself from its captivity.
Greetings and favor
If somebody greets you, greet him in better terms. If somebody favors you confer a greater favor on him.
Accept death, but do not accept humiliation.
Two hungry persons
There are two hungry persons whose hunger is never satisfied: firstly he who seeks knowledge and secondly he who seeks the world.
A miser lives in the world as an indigent, and he will be called for in the Hereafter to give account as a capitalist.
Offshoots of patience
Desire, fear, and piety are the offshoots of patience.
Miserliness, patience, piety and cowardice
Miserliness is dishonor. Patience is bravery. Piety is a shield against hell. Cowardice is an inferiority complex.
The greatest and the vilest
Wisdom is the greatest treasure. Folly is the greatest poverty. Of all things pride is the vilest. The greatest excellence is good disposition.
Companies to be avoided
Avoid the company of a fool for he will harm you while trying to benefit you. Avoid the company of a liar for he will bring you near what is undesirable and remove you from what is desirable. Avoid the company of a miser for he would withhold from you what you stand in need of. Avoid the company of a libertine for he will sell you for a trifle.
Two things to be afraid of
Two things of which you should be afraid of are: firstly giving way to your lust; and secondly harboring high and far-fetched hopes.
The worst enemies
Before God two persons are the worst enemies, firstly the man who makes innovations, and secondly the man who creates dissentions.
Things that are worse
There is no distress worse than ignorance. There is no enemy worse than self-adulation. There is no worse companion than bad conduct.
Syed Mohamad Masoom Abidi