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Last Updated: 2009/12/17
Summary of question
Is the Nahjul-Balaghah an authentic, trustworthy and reliable Islamic source in the view of scholars?
I would like to know whether the Nahjul-Balaghah is an authentic, trustworthy and reliable islami source in the view of scholars or not.
Concise answer

The Nahjul-Balaghah is a vast and never-ending sea of Islamic teachings and knowledge about the Origin, resurrection, revelation, angels, the non-material world, the realm of malakut, politics, teaching, training, mysticism, ethics, spiritual virtues, justice, piety, asceticism, spiritual journey, jihad, supplication, etc.

This great and invaluable book is only a small portion of what a complete human has to say; one who through his extraordinary talent, divine aid, self control, and the struggles and efforts of the prophet (pbuh), has attained all knowledge and as Ibn Abi Alhadid says, is the headspring of all knowledge and sciences, and the knowledge of the experts of all fields eventually end in him. Ibn Abbas says: The prophet of Allah (swt) said: “When I was prepared to intimately speak (munajat) with my Lord, He spoke with me and intimately spoke with me, I taught Ali everything I learned from Allah (swt), thus, Ali is the door to my knowledge.”[1] Therefore, Imam Ali (as) learned all knowledge from the prophet (pbuh) and was the treasury of divine of knowledge.[2] What exists in the Nahjul-Balaghah are merely a fraction of his sayings in which Seyyid Radiyy has selected with his own personal taste from authentic sources and classified and compiled them into what is titled the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Although this book doesn’t mention the chain of narrators for each saying, nonetheless, a great majority of the sayings in it comply with and have been adopted by Quranic concepts and at the same time, most of them have a chain of narrators in the original sources they have been selected from. For the same reason, the Nahjul-Balaghah’s scripts have been analyzed by scholars and their chains of narrators have been determined.[3] Mentioning this point might not be necessary, but the concepts touched on in it are so profound and full of meaning that: 1- They free one of really being in need of checking their chains of narrators 2- These sayings are so profound and rich in literature and eloquence and discuss matters that make it impossible to believe anyone other than the imam himself has said them. Overall, what are important are the things that benefit us in both our spiritual and material lives, and that is something the Nahjul-Balaghah thrives in; it is the content of the Nahjul-Balaghah that compels scholars to say that it is ‘the discourse of higher than man, but lower than God’.[4]

Imam Khomeini, the great mystic, says about the Nahjul-Balaghah: “And as for the Nahjul-Balaghah which is a lower level of his [Imam Ali (as)] spirit, it is to teach and train us who are sleeping in the field of egotism and the veil of selfishness….it is a collection with different dimensions the number of that in a human being or a great human society….and no matter how many societies, governments and nations come into existence, and no matter how many philosophers and thinkers and scholars emerge and dive deep into it and drown in it. Oh philosophers and possessors of wisdom! Come and scrutinize and ponder the phrases of the first sermon of this divine book and employ your high thoughts and get help from the learned and great mystics in interpreting and explaining this one sentence and try to satisfy your consciences in understanding its true meaning, … so that the scope of the insight of the ‘son of revelation’ [meaning Imam Ali (as)] will become clear to you and you learn of and admit to your and other’s shortcoming and deficiency, this is the sentence [that I am challenging you to interpret]: “مع کل شیءٍ لابمقارنةٍ و غیر کل شیءٍ لابمزایلةٍ” (He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation)[5].[6]

For further information on the viewpoints of scholars on the Nahjul-Balaghah, see: Dar Sahele Nahjul-Balagheh (Nahjul-Balagheh az Negahe Daneshmandan).

[1] بَیْنَا أَبُو ذَرٍّ قَاعِدٌ مَعَ جَمَاعَةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص وَ کُنْتُ یَوْمَئِذٍ فِیهِمْ إِذْ طَلَعَ عَلَیْنَا عَلِیُّ بْنُ أَبِی طَالِبٍ ع فَرَمَاهُ أَبُو ذَرٍّ بِنَظَرِهِ ثُمَّ أَقْبَلَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ بِوَجْهِهِ فَقَالَ مَنْ لَکُمْ بِرَجُلٍ مَحَبَّتُهُ تُسَاقِطُ

الذُّنُوبَ عَنْ مُحِبِّیهِ کَمَا تُسَاقِطُ الرِّیحُ الْعَاصِفُ الْهَشِیمَ مِنَ الْوَرَقِ عَنِ الشَّجَرِ سَمِعْتُ نَبِیَّکُمْ ص یَقُولُ لَهُ ذَلِکَ قَالُوا مَنْ هُوَ یَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ قَالَ هُوَ الرَّجُلُ الْمُقْبِلُ إِلَیْکُمْ ابْنُ عَمِّ نَبِیِّکُمْ سَمِعْتُهُ یَقُولُ عَلِیٌّ بَابُ عِلْمِی وَ مُبِینٌ لِأُمَّتِی مَا أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِی‏ Allamah Majlisi, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 27, pp. 112 and 113.

[2] Adopted from Question 500 (website: 541).

[3] Many scholars have made great efforts in finding the origins of the Nahjul-Balaghah whose names are as follows:

* Madarek Nahjil-Balaghah, Allamah Kashiful-Ghita (the references for a portion of the Nahjul-Balaghah).

* Istinad Nahjil-Balaghah, Imtiyaz Ali Arshi.

* Nahul-Sa’adah fi Mustadrak Nahjil-Balaghah, Mohammad Baqir Mahmoudi.

* Masadir Nahjil-Balaghah, Abdullah Ni’mati.

* Masadir Nahjil-Balaghah wa Asaniduh, Seyyid Abdul-Zahra Huseini.

14 sources of the Nahjul-Balaghah have been pointed to in this book.

* Bahsi Kutah Piramune Madareke Nahjul-Balaghah, Reza Ostadi.

* Raveshaye Tahqiq dar Asnade va Madareke Nahjul-Balaghah, Mohammad Dashti.

* Some of the sources have been mentioned in Minhajul-Bara’ah of Mirza Habibullah Khu’i and Takmilatul-Minhaj of Allamah Hasanzadeh Amoli.

By referring to the abovementioned, you will easily reach the conclusion that the Nahjul-Balaghah is actually the real sayings of Imam Ali (as), leaving no doubt or need for further investigation.

[4]فوق کلام المخلوق و دون کلام الخالق”, Allamah Hilli, Kashful-Yaqin, pg. 61.

[5] Sahifeye Nur, vol. 14, pp. 224-225 (Imam Khomeini’s message to those attending the Nahjul-Balaghah seminar, 27,2,1360).

[6] Adopted from Question 6709 (website: 6913).

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