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A Treasury of Virtues

A Treasury of Virtues: Sayings, Sermons, and Teachings of Ali, with the One Hundred Proverbs, attributed to al-Jahiz

Al-Qāḍī Al-Quḍāʿī
Edited and translated by Tahera Qutbuddin
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    A Treasury of Virtues
    Book Description:

    A Treasury of Virtues is a collection by the Fatimid Shafi'i judge al-Quda'i (d. 454 H/1062 AD) of sayings, sermons, and teachings attributed to 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40 H/661 AD). 'Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph. An acknowledged master of Arabic eloquence and a sage of Islamic wisdom, Ali was renowned for his words, which were collected, quoted, and studied over the centuries, and extensively anthologized, excerpted, and interpreted. Of the many compilations of 'Ali's words, A Treasury of Virtues arguably possesses the broadest compass of genres, and the largest variety of themes. Included are aphorisms, proverbs, sermons, speeches, homilies, prayers, letters, dialogues and verse, all of which provide instruction on how to be a morally upstanding human being. The shorter compilation included here, One Hundred Proverbs, is attributed to the eminent writer al-Jahiz (d. 255 H/869 AD). This volume presents a new critical edition of the Arabic based on several original manuscripts, the first English translation of both these important collections, and an extended introduction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2925-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-xi)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d. 40/661) was an acknowledged master of Arabic eloquence and a renowned sage of Islamic wisdom. when ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Kātib (d. 132/750)—who has been called the “father of Arabic prose,” and who was a chancery official for the intensely anti-ʿAlid Umayyads—was asked, “what enabled you to master the science of eloquence; what formed your training in it?”, he replied, “Memorizing the words of ʿAlī.”² Over the centuries, ʿAlī’s sermons, sayings, and teachings were avidly and assiduously collected, quoted, and studied, and extensively anthologized, excerpted, and interpreted. There are in fact tens of collections, in...

  6. A Note on the Text
    (pp. xxv-xxxiii)
  7. Notes to the Introduction
    (pp. xxxiv-xxxix)
  8. A Treasury of Virtues

    • Chapter 1 Wise Sayings
      (pp. 8-41)
    • Chapter 2 Censure of this World and Exhortations to Reject Worldliness
      (pp. 42-65)

      ‘Alī said: This world begins in weariness and ends in death. You are accountable for what is lawful in it and punishable for what is unlawful. The healthy are safe and the ailing remorseful. The wealthy are seduced and the poor grieve. It escapes those who try to catch it and comes willingly to those who ignore it. It blinds those who look at it with longing and instructs those who view it with perception.

      How excellent is the man who performs good deeds and undertakes acts of purity, who earns something he can set aside and avoids what he...

    • Chapter 3 Counsel
      (pp. 66-73)

      Ali said:

      You have been created by God’s power and are ruled by his might. You will be placed in the grave and turn to dry bones. Every one of you will be resurrected alone and held accountable for your deeds.

      May God have mercy on the man who, having sinned, confesses. Fearful of punishment in the hereafter, he performs good deeds. Dreading it, he hastens to the straight path. Having been given a long life, he takes heed. warned, he is driven back from error. Answering, he comes back to God. when he wavers, he repents. when he emulates,...

    • Chapter 4 Prescriptions and Proscriptions
      (pp. 74-107)
    • Chapter 5 ‘Alī’s Questions with Answers, and ‘Alī’s Answers to Questions
      (pp. 108-137)

      O people! If one of you asks a question, let him be scrupulous in asking. If one of you is asked a question, let him be conscientious in answering. By God, calamitous events and momentous affairs have descended upon you because of the failure of many who are asked, and the submissive acceptance of many who do the asking.

      The prophet asked ‘Ali:

      What is the first favor God bestowed upon you?

      That he made me male not female, ‘Ali replied.

      Then what?

      That he guided me to Islam, and allowed me to recognize its true value, and that in...

    • Chapter 6 Sayings with Unusual Words
      (pp. 138-147)

      ‘Ali used to teach his companions how to invoke blessings on the prophet, saying:

      O God, unfolder of lands unfolded, creator of heavens raised high, compeller of hearts, wretched or blissful

      Let your noblest blessings, your manifold graces, your merciful compassion, all be showered upon Mu.ammad, your servant and messenger — who opened what was locked, came as a seal for what had come before, rightfully announced the truth, repelled the forces of evil, and crushed the assault of the errant, as he had been charged.

      He undertook your command vigorously and obeyed you, rising to serve your pleasure, with no...

    • Chapter 7 Unique Sayings and Pithy Words
      (pp. 148-175)

      Zayd ibn Aslam said: The commander of the faithful, ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, described the believer thus:

      The believer is strong in his religion, bold yet gentle. He believes with conviction, studies matters of religious practice, performs deeds with knowledge, and receives guidance with enthusiasm. He is kind yet firm, sensible yet gentle. His private parts do not rule him, and his belly does not shame him. He wearies himself by constant chiding, while never causing others unease. He does not indulge in malicious gossip, nor behave arrogantly.

      ‘Alī said: The most wondrous part of the human being is the...

    • Chapter 8 Prayers and Supplications
      (pp. 176-197)

      Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Manṣūr ibn Shīkān al-Tustarī reported to me, authorizing me to transmit the report, saying: Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Ghurāb reported to us, saying: Judge Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad recounted to us, saying: Judge Mūsā ibn Isḥāq recounted to us, saying: ‘Abd Allāh ibn Abī Shaybah recounted to us, saying: Muḥammad ibn Fuḍayl recounted to us, from ‘Abd Allāh al-Asadī, saying:

      The commander of the faithful ‘Alī would say in his supplications:

      God, if I were not ignorant of my affairs I would not complain about my misfortunes. If I did not recollect my transgressions, I would...

    • Chapter 9 Verse
      (pp. 198-219)

      Nifṭawayh, Abū ‘Abd Allāh Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Arafah al-Azdī al-Naḥwī, transmitted the following poetry by the commander of the faithful, ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib:⁷²

      Praise God! My lord is the eternal creator,

      no partner shares his kingdom.

      He apprised the disbelievers of their outcome

      and will reward the believers as promised.

      Our defeat is a lesson for us,

      perhaps right will yet take the place of error.

      God will give victory to his servants, victory comes from him;

      he will make an example of the disbelievers for denying the truth.

      woe to you! If you speak boastingly of our...

  9. One Hundred Proverbs from The Words of the Commander of the Faithful ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib
    (pp. 220-234)

    The religious scholar and litterateur, Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān ibn Muḥammad, recounted to us, saying: The religious scholar, ‘Abd al-Wāḥid ibn Aḥmad al-Kirmānī, recounted to me, saying: Abū Bakr Hibat Allāh al-‘Allāf, who was judge in Shiraz, recounted to me, saying:⁸²

    Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Durayd recounted to me, saying: Abū l-Faḍl Aḥmad ibn Abī Ṭāhir,⁸³ the friend of Abū ʿUthmān al-Jāḥiẓ, recounted to me, saying:

    For years al-Jāḥiẓ had been telling us that the commander of the faithful, ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, had produced a hundred proverbs, each proverb worth a thousand of the best proverbs...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 235-238)
  11. Glossary of Names and Terms
    (pp. 239-250)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-256)
  13. Further Reading
    (pp. 257-258)
  14. Index
    (pp. 259-269)
  15. About the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute
    (pp. 270-270)
  16. About the Typefaces
    (pp. 271-271)
  17. About the Editor-Translator
    (pp. 272-272)