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Invaluable Sayings of Ali ibn Abi Talib

Updated on March 10, 2017
Credit: Counselling
Credit: Counselling | Source

During civil disturbance be like an adolescent camel who has neither a back strong enough for riding nor udders for milking.

— Ali ibn Abi Talib

Civil disturbance is a form of violence that makes the society unstable. The word civil disturbance can be referred to such things as riots, insurrections, unlawful demonstrations, obstructions in daily life, and violence. These are some of the things that occur during the civil disturbance.

Here Ali has explained in few words how one should live during the civil disturbance. He gave an example of an adolescent camel who is neither suitable for riding nor does it has udders to be milked. During civil disturbance just like this camel, it is desirable for men to live in such a way as he considered to be of no purpose. During the chaos and civil disturbance, a wise man will opt a neutral perspective. He may have an opinion but he will not manifest it since it will be injurious to his life. In addition, he should behave in a way that both sides in conflict do not care about him and his perspective.

However, it cannot be taken as a principle when a cruel leader is ruling over the country with injustice. When the society is ruled by aristocrats and the majority of people lives under a corrupt and illegal regime. When they are suppressed and they have no voice in state matters. At this time people has to stand against the corrupt, illegal, untrustworthy and exploitative regime.

Miserliness is a shame; cowardice is a defect; poverty disables an intelligent man from arguing his case, and a destitute person is a stranger in his own home town.

— Ali ibn Abi Talib

A miser is a person who is obsessed with saving wealth. Here Ali has attributed miserliness with a shame. It is obvious like a sun that saving wealth/money is a good quality. It is appreciated when a person is economical and knows where he should spend and where he should take his hands off. This person is wise and it will live a successful life. However, if a person takes more steps towards saving and forgetting to spend on his life it becomes a conundrum. It becomes a problem for him when he starts thinking just about saving.

In society, people dislike and do not really wants to make relationship and affiliations with a miser. With the passage of time, a miser loses his happiness, charm, personality, friends and family. He went to a path that surely saved him wealth but meanwhile, he lost himself. In other words, he was ignorant that he consumed his life for something that will eventually end. He cared about money so much that he became mentally ill. Eventually, his excessive behavior of saving money makes him a dejected and ill person.

In dictionary cowardice means 'lack of bravery and lack of courage'. Here Ali says cowardice is a defect. It is an imperfection and if one is a coward then he has a defect. Ali wants to explain that cowardice is an undesirable trait. It should not exist in you. It is a trait that deserves abhorrence. A coward is a failure in his life. He will fail in every step of his life. If he is in battle he will be killed or he will run away. A coward is a living dead body because he neither lives his life to his potential nor does he die because he always walks away. He does not have the stomach to stand for himself, for his family, for his land, and for his religion. A coward lives in a cage that only he can break.

A poor man who is financially broken and weak cannot defend his argument every time. He is not in a position to stand in front of the wave of difficulties and hardships he is facing. His problems, which to him, is like a mountain prevents him to say and argue for his case. He is an intelligent and wise man and he has the capacity to defend what he says and do in his life. Unfortunately, his situation does not allow him to do that.

How hard it is for somebody to live like a stranger in his home. How hard it is for somebody to live like a nobody in his own house. How hard it is when somebody is a stranger and nobody wants to know him in his hometown. A destitute person faces the same things in his life. He is in his hometown but his fellows do not wish to talk, ask and to offer him help. A destitute person is a stranger because nobody wants to talk to him. If they do they would think this poor man will ask help, which we cannot give to him.

Deal with people in such a manner that if you die, they should weep for you, and if you live they should long for you.

— Ali ibn Abi Talib

This is a key to success in life. Ali gave two core principles of being successful in this life. For every human being a true success is when he knows how to treat people. Success cannot be measured by material things but by how we treat and think about people. We become successful when we are aware of how should others be treated.

Here in this saying, Ali says to treat people in a way that if you die they have good feelings for you and they weep for you. When you are alive they should wish to see and meet you. The point Ali is making is that it is in your hands to give people reason how they feel about you. It is up to you if you deal with people with respect, generosity, and kindness or you treat them with hatred and disgust.

We can see in history and tell there are personalities who people admire and respect even after thousands and hundreds of years passed. And we can see there are personalities who people abhor and curse. It is because of what they did when they were alive. Those who did good to people received good and those who treated people unfavorably received hatred.

Same is the case with common people. We can observe in our society how people long for a good person and how they feel their loss when they die. Similarly, we can see with our own eyes how people get away from bad people and how they feel relieved when they die.

Every human being has to meet the end, sweet or sour

— Ali ibn Abi Talib

Here Ali compared sweet and sour to death. He says every human being has to meet the end, sweet or sour. It is an undeniable fact that every human being has to see the face of death. We all have to die. It is perhaps the only fact on which every human being agree.

If we live our life in accordance with the law and guidance set by the almighty God. Our end will be sweet. We will surely leave this mortal world but in an agreeable and joyous condition. We will be blessed by the blessing of God for whom we lived our life. On the other hand, had we lived our life contrary to the almighty God's guidance our end will surely be sour. Then our death will be horrid and we have no way to escape. We then will have to answer for everything we did to the gift He bestowed upon us. We will be answerable for our deeds.

People are enemies of what they do not know

— Ali ibn Abi Talib

If we could get a simple meaning of this saying it means people who are ignorant of something oppose it. Not every time but most often people do not want to accept and acknowledge something. People do not believe and trust something unless they come to know it. Many times we firmly oppose an idea, belief, religion, social change or simply anything. We do this because we are illiterate about that.

Nahjul Balagha: The Peak of Eloquence

Nahjul Balagha: Peak of Eloquence
Nahjul Balagha: Peak of Eloquence

It is a book written by Syed Radhi. He collected a selected speeches, letters, and sayings of Ali ibn Abi Talib. It is a gist of Ali's knowledge and his personality. But this book is deep like an ocean and not everybody can comprehend this treasure.

I started reading this priceless book when I was seventeen but it took me a good deal of time before I could understand it.

In this book, one can find wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and truth. In this book, you will find almost everything. From the principle of governing a state to the small matters of life; it touches every aspect of human life.

It is a belief in Shia Islam that Nahjul Balagha is the second holy book after Quran. They say if one needs to understand Quran (word of God) he needs to read and understand this book.


Have you learned something from these sayings?

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© 2017 Haider


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    • Haider Mama profile image

      Haider 9 months ago from Melbourne

      Thank you FlourishAnyway for stopping by and taking the time to read my hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      I admit my ignorance. I had to look up who Ali ibn Abi Talib was. I enjoyed your article. In these difficult times we are living through now, it's important that we not be cowards. Democracy demands it. I also appreciated the third saying.

    • Haider Mama profile image

      Haider 9 months ago from Melbourne

      Thank you MsDora for taking the time to read and appreciate.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 9 months ago from The Caribbean

      I like the third saying; I could live by that. Thanks for sharing. The book and the source of the quotes are absolutely new to me.