This is a humble translation for a book that can be considered modern, but the information it contains are of antiquity. This is the book of “2500 adages for imam Ali (puh).” The book might not contain exactly that number of adages but it might be some number around that.
The book categorizes the adages and sayings in different chapters, each contain a specific branch of life. At the end of the book, there is the “poetic adages” which I have translated without keeping the rhyme, but meaning, as much as possible. The main translations are taken by meanings and not by translating word for word method, for there are different obstacles that are not avoidable in this way.
A little introduction might be useful to know who is imam Ali (puh). Imam Ali is the cousin of prophet Mohammed (puh), and as Shiites believe, he is the rightful successor and leader to be after the death of prophet Mohammed (puh). But unfortunately, his rights are taken from him and later he became in what is called “Islamic History” to be the fourth caliph for Muslims at that time, ending the period known as the time of “Al-Kholafa’ Al-Rashideen” (The guided caliphs). The event of his rule and his rights and what happened to him after the prophet’s death is still shrouded with dark clouds, and it is still the main course of debate among the two main branches of Islam, Shia and Sunni.
In this translation I preferred to use the word “Allah” instead of “God” because “God” has also another word in Arabic.
My own comments and understanding of some phrases are enclosed by “[ ],” while explanations or further translations are enclosed by “( ).” The abbreviation “puh” is the short form of “peace upon him,” which is a frequently used phrase by Muslims for dignify a holy person. However, some other phrases can be fit to be translations to this after all.
I hope you enjoy the deep meanings in this books and I hope that the obstacle of the language put down and get the benefits from the wisdom mentioned in these coming lines.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
To the garden of wisdom that had grown up and flooded, and flooded, to the wise man whose tongue bled with abundant wisdom, to him whose adages and sermons lighted up from his honourable mouth like pearly drops.
To the one who filled life with his wisdom, and hugged the minds, the minds of his companions, and delivered them to the wider upper fields, I mean knowledge.
To the one who enriched the Arabic language with his eloquent speech.
To the master of eloquent ones and the prince of the wise men.
To the prince of believers
I raise this little of what was collected from the pearls of his wisdom and the magnificent of his sermons.
The talk about imam Ali (puh) is branched to many fields, for every field of virtues, he (puh) was the first to indulge himself into it, and what such few pages would do to talk about him and about his many virtues, and it is enough to be taken as a clue, the speech of Ibn Abbaas, the rabbi of this nation with his knowledge, and it is narrated that a man asked Ibn Abbaas and said: how many are the virtues of Ali ben Abi Taalib, and I think they are 3,000… Then said Ibn Abbaas: It is closer to 30,000 more than 3,000; and then he said: if trees were made into pens and the sea into an ink and humans and djinns were writers and calculators, they will never count the virtues of the prince of believers (puh).
But for the wisdom the says, what cannot be reached all, its partitions are not to be left, and who missed the abundance should take what is left over, we are here seeking to show some of the eloquence that the imam had, to be an introduction to read this book, which contains pearls and wonderful things from the adages of the imam, that stand as a clue for his long experience in this field.
And before speaking about the eloquence of the imam (puh), we must stop with eloquence and its definition, in language and in general.
Ibn Mandhoor defines eloquence as to be the purity of language, and adds in his speech about the eloquent man: the good speech is its purest, and reaches by the phrase of the tongue, the interior of what is in the heart.
Sheikh Al-Torayhi expands what Ibn Mandhoor said, and makes a condition for the eloquent speech on 3 terms: the correctness of the language, and a coincidence to the desired meaning, and truthfulness in the soul.
In general, it is obvious that the eloquent speech is the purity of the talk and its shortness, or what achieves the meaning in the closest way, and eloquence in the speech includes all the types of speeches, from speeches and prose and poetry and thoughts and sermons… etc.
And here we will encounter only the adages and the sermons, some of them which came in form of a poetry or as a prose, for both of them are one, for poetry in its shape and style, is not what charms the minds, but it is what it carries of eternal meanings.
The wise saying, is born from the experience and meditating and conclusion, and it is a phase that passed over the level of the childhood of the thought and its youth to the level of its old age; on the other hand, the sermons coincide with adages for they are the result of meditating and experimenting, but they are special because they are specialized for inviting people for the after-life and hating the finite life.
The facts that affected his adages:
Maybe one of the most obvious things that affected the adages of the imam, is the religion of Islam, and mainly the book of Allah that was revealed, that is Quran. For Quran is the topmost in eloquence and purity in language, and it is enough as a clue for this, how the eloquent speakers of Arabs stood up surprised in front of the greatness of its own eloquence, while they are the great owners of literature and the giants of thought and eloquence.
Adding to that, the imam had a noble soul and did not accept to see the people under humiliation. These characters are encouraged by Islam, thus the imam (puh) went on starting from his own self and feeding his thought with the teachings of Islam, he went on to build a unique community depending on unique ideas that he (puh) explained in his adages and his speeches.
Types of adages and their subjects: the adages of imam Ali (puh) included the different fields of life, like religion, community, manners, sermons and politics.
And they are considered adages because they are general and applicable for every place and time, and the clue for this is, is how they persisted with time, as a live witness for how great is the imam.
Their characteristics and specialities: the adages of imam Ali (puh) are full with meanings of style and alive with the spirit of sincerity and belief, and alloyed in a block of stylized expression, so much that Abbaas Mahmood Al-Aqqaad said in his book Abqariyatul-Imam (The Ingenuity of the Imam): They are (the adages) more eloquent in expression and has an abundance in beauty of the speech.
But after all the most truthful witness in all of that, is how these adages persisted all the time, despite the many enemies of the imam, no one dared to mention them with badness.
Ahmad Ali Dakheel
The prince of believers (puh) said:
Satisfaction is an infinite money.
Toleration and patience are twins produced by the high determination.
Toleration is a clan.
Piety is the head of all manners.
Chastity is the ornament of poverty, and giving thanks is the ornament of richness.
Be good to the lineage of others, thus you will be saved with your lineages.
If you feared poverty, then trade with Allah by charity.
Generosity is more passionate than close relations.
It is enough for satisfaction to be a kingdom, and with good manners to be a delight.
He who shyness bestowed upon him its veil, people would not see his flaws.