The Luminous Path
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
The esteemed book Nahj al-BalÁgha contains 239 sermons, 79 letters, and 481 aphorisms. Muhammad ibn Íusayn MÙsawÐ, known as Sayyid RaÃÐ, compiled it in the year 400 A.H. He selected its content from hundreds of sermons, admonitions, letters, treatises and aphorism of Imam Ali (‘a). He named it Nahj al-BalÁgha, which means, the luminous path of eloquence.
Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abdah, a mufti and renowned scholar from Ahl al-Sunnah has stated the following in his introduction to his exegesis on the Nahj al-BalÁgha:
This majestic book is a compilation from our master, the Commander of the faithful, Ali ibn abi TÁlib’s speeches. Sayyid RaÃÐ, who selected them from his numerous scattered speeches, compiled it. He then named it Nahj al-BalÁgha. I do not know of a name more suitable, and worthy of this book than the aforementioned.
Along with its eloquence, fluency and beauty of expression, Nahj al-BalÁgha is full of explosive and elevated content. Its depth, which was acquired from the fountainhead of revelation, has been transmitted to us from the speaking Qur’Án.
Imam Ali’s (‘a) addresses, similar to his self, are complete and comprehensive. Its depth is overwhelming. Imam Ali (‘a) is an example of one of the most complete human beings, and the Najh al-BalÁgha is an example of one of the most comprehensive books.
It is not easy to describe Imam Ali (‘a) or his book Nahj al-BalÁgha. How can one who God addressed as ‘the Prophet’s (Ò) soul’, ‘the best of creatures’, ‘guardian of the believers’; or, one who the Prophet (Ò) addressed as ‘the leader of the pious’, ‘inheritor of the Prophet’s (Ò) knowledge’, and ‘the entrusted holder of God’s secrets’, be described?
It is evident that we cannot regard Imam Ali (‘a) as other single dimensional, historical personalities; nor can we deem the Nahj al-BalÁgha as we do their books. We are dealing with a personality that has sublime goals, a leader who is justice in its absolute sense. He is one who has unmatched gnosis of humans and the realms of existence.
He is the fountainhead of fluency, and the cradle of eloquence. The hidden secrets of eloquence were manifested through him, and its laws were derived from him. Every eloquent literate imitated him, and every admonisher sought assistance from his speeches, but was unable to match him. This is because his speech is a sign of divine knowledge that contains the scent of prophetic speech.
Shaykh Muhammad Abdah is a renowned exegete of the Nahj al-BalÁgha from Ahl al-Sunnah. He unexpectedly became acquainted with the Nahj al-BalÁgha. He has written the following passage: