ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib

Soft Poison

It is reported that ‘Alī b. Abī Tālib wrote to Salmām Al-Farsī – Allāh be pleased with them both – saying:

The likeness of this worldly life (dunyā) is that of a snake: soft to the touch, it will kill you with its poison. So turn away from what impresses you of it, since what stays with you is so little. And do not be concerned about it, since you are certain about its parting. And be most happy in it when you are most heedful of it; for every time its companion takes solace in one of its delights, it gives way to one of its woes.
Was-Salām.

Ibn Abī Al-Dunyā, Kitāb Al-Zuhd article 164.

This life in brief

It is reported that some people asked ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib – Allāh be pleased with him –  to describe this worldly life (the dunyā). He said:

Do you want a long description or a brief one? They replied, “a brief one.” He said, “Its permissible things (ḥalāl) [lead to] accounts being taken from you, and its forbidden things (ḥarām) [lead to the] Fire.

Ibn Abī Al-Dunyā, Dham Al-Dunyā article 17.

True Goodness

It is reported that ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

Goodness is not in your wealth and offspring being plentiful; true goodness is when your [good] deeds are plenty and you have great understanding and forbearance, and when you compete to worship your Lord. If you do good you praise Allāh and thank Him, and if you sin you beg Allāh’s forgiveness. There is no good in this life except with two types of men: A man who sins but then corrects himself through repentance, and a man who strives and hastens to get [the good] of the hereafter.

Ibn ‘Asākir, Al-Tawbah article 13.

Ali on fear, hope, knowledge and patience

It is reported that ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib – Allāh be pleased with him – said, “The servant [of Allāh] should not fear except his sins, and should not hope except in his Lord. The ignorant should not be ashamed to ask, and the knowledgeable should not be ashamed to say – if he does not know something – ‘Allāh knows best.’ Patience (al-ṣabr) to faith (Al-Īmān) is like the head to the rest of the body: if the head is cut off, the body will rot. And one who has no patience, has no faith.”

Al-Baihaqī, Shu’ab Al-Īmān, Vol.12 p195.

Ali on the Status of Abu Bakr and Umar

Muḥammad b. Al-Ḥanafīyah – Allāh have mercy on him – reports, “I asked my father (‘Alī), ‘Who is the best person after Allāh’s Messenger – Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him?’ He replied, ‘Abū Bakr.’ I said, ‘And then who?’ He replied, “Then Umar.’ I feared he would say ‘Uthmān; I said, ‘And then you.’ He said, ‘I am just a man amongst the Muslims.’”

Al-Bukhārī and others.

Commenting on ʿAli’s response ‘I am just a man amongst the Muslims,’ Ibn Ḥajr states in Fatḥ Al-Bārī, “He said this out of modesty and humbleness, despite knowing that at the time of asking he was the best of people at the time, for this was after the killing of ‘Uthmān.”

May Allāh be pleased with them all.