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<-A Sermon sans Aleph


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EnAr Aa

One day, a heated discussion went on among the Arabs and Muslims during which it was said that there is no alphabet that recurs in speech more often than the aleph (equivalent of A). All attendants agreed. It was then that the magnificent lantern of language, its deep ocean and precise philosopher, namely Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (ع), stood up and delivered a lengthy sermon which included praise of Allah Almighty, prayers and salutations unto His Prophet, Muhammed ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib (peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny). This letter of the Arabic alphabet is undoubtedly the most commonly occurring character in the language. If composing a few meaningful sentences without dots is hard enough, how about delivering a sermon, one which is full of wisdom and which is many times the size of the one you have just seen, but without ever using a single alif !! This sermon is usually called al-Khutbah al-Muniqah and is recorded by many Muslim scholars.

الخطبة المونقة

حمدت من عظمت منته،
I praise Him like one recognizing His Godhead,
و سبغت نعمته،
whose blessing overwhelms,
و سبقت غضبه رحمته،
whose mercy is faster than His anger,
و تمت كلمته،
the One whose word is perfect,
و نفذت مشيته،
whose will is affected,
و بلغت حجته (قضيته)،
whose argument is wise,
و عدلت قضيته.
whose case is just.
حمدته حمد مقر بربوبيته،
I praise the One Whose boon is great,
متخضع لعبوديته،
submissive while adoring Him,
متنصل من خطيئته،
dissociating himself from his sin,
معترف بتوحيده،
recognizing His Unity,
مستعيذ من وعيده،
seeking refuge with Him against His warning,
مؤمل من ربه رحمة (مغفرة) تنجيه،
hopeful for the mercy (forgiveness) of his Lord that saves him [from the Fire]
يوم يشغل كل عن فصيلته و بنيه،
on a Day when everyone will be distracted even from his offspring and tribe.
و نستعينه و نسترشده و نستهديه،
We seek His help, guidance and directions.
و نؤمن به و نتوكل عليه.
We believe in Him and depend on Him.
و شهدت له تشهد عبد مخلص موقن،
I have testified to Him as a sincere and convinced servant/slave;
و فردته تفريد مؤمن متق
I recognize His Uniqueness as a pious believer,
و وحدته توحيد عبد مذعن،
and I have recognized His Unity like a submissive servant/slave.
ليس له شريك في ملكه
He has no partner in His domain;
و لم يكن له ولي في صنعه؛
He relies on none in doing whatever He does.
جل عن مشير و وزير،
He is exalted above having an adviser or a vizier.
و تنزه عن مثل وعون و معين و نظير،
He is above using a model or an assistant or a helper or a peer.
علم فستر
He knows, so He covers;
و بطن فخبر،
He is acquainted with the innermost, so He is most familiar [with our intentions].
و نظر فجبر،
He cast a look, so He assisted;
و ملك فقهر؛
He owns everything, so He subdues.
و عصي فغفر،
He is disobeyed, yet He forgives;
و عبد فشكر،
He is adored, so He thanks.
و حكم فعدل،
He rules, so He affects justice,
و تكرم و تفضل،.
and He is generous and grants favors.
لن يزول و لم يزل،
He shall never come to an end, and He has always been as He is;
ليس كمثله شيء،
there is nothing like Him.
و هو قبل كل شيء و بعد كل شيء
He, first and foremost,
رب متفرد بعزته،
is a unique Lord in His exaltation,
متمكن بقوته،
able through His might,
متقدس بعلوه،
holy through His sublimity,
متكبر بسموه،
proud of His Majesty;
ليس يدركه بصر
no (mental) vision can realize Him,
و لم يحط به نظر،
nor can anyone ever see Him.
قوي منيع،
He is strong, invincible,
بصير سميع،
seeing, hearing,
حليم حكيم، رؤوف رحيم،
clement, wise, affectionate and kind.
عجز عن وصفه من وصفه،
One who attempts to describe Him can never do so;
و ظل نعته من نعته،
one who attempts to describe His attributes can never do so [either].
وصل به من نعمته من يعرفه
His blessing reaches those who get to know Him:
، قرب فبعد،
He is near, yet He is far [above mental or physical vision];
و بعد فقرب،
He is far yet He is near [closer to us than anything else].
يجيب دعوة من يدعوه،
He responds to the call of those who call on Him;
و يرزق عبده و يحبوه،
He sustains His servant and surrounds him with His love;
ذو لطف خفي،
His niceties are hidden [from our comprehension];
و بطش قوي،
His power is mighty;
و رحمة موسعة،
His mercy is wide;
و عقوبة موجعة،
His penalty is painful;
و رحمته جنة عريضة مونقة،
His mercy is a broad and a Garden of grandeur (Paradise);
و عقوبته جحيم موصدة موبقة (موثقة).
His punishment is Hell filled with horrors and chains.
و شهدت ببعث محمد (ص)
I have testified that He sent Muhammed (ص)
عبده و رسوله،
as His servant and messenger,
و نبيه و صفيه
prophet, chosen one,
و حبيبه و خليله،
loved one, friend,
صلة تحظيه،
a link [with the Almighty] that grants him fortune,
و تزلفه و تعليه،
bringing him closer to Him, elevating him,
و تقربه و تدنيه،
granting him nearness and closeness [to the Almighty].
بعثه في خير عصر
He sent him during a good (opportune) period of time,
و حين فترة كفر،
when there was disbelief,
رحمة لعبيده و منة لمزيده،
as mercy for His servants and a boon for more.
ختم به نبوته،
Through him He sealed His prophetic messages,
و قوى (وضح) به حجته،
strengthened (explained) His argument.
فوعظ و نصح
So he admonished, advised,
و بلغ و كدح،
conveyed the message and worked hard [for people.
رؤوف بكل مؤمن
He was, affectionate towards every believer,
رحيم، رضي
merciful, easy to please,
ولي سخي زكي،
the friend of anyone who is generous and pure:
عليه رحمة و تسليم و بركة و تكريم،
mercy, salutation, blessing and honor be with him
من رب غفور رؤوف رحيم،
from a forgiving, affectionate, kind,
قريب مجيب حكيم.
near, responsive and wise Lord.
وصيتكم معشر من حضرني
I have admonished you, O folks who are present here with me,
بتقوى (بوصية) ربكم،
to be pious (as your Lord has admonished) towards your Lord,
و ذكرتكم بسنة نبيكم،
and I have reminded you of the Sunna of your Prophet;
فعليكم برهبة تسكن قلوبكم،
so, take to awe that calms your hearts,
و خشية تذرف دموعكم،
fear that draws your tears,
و تقية تنجيكم يوم يذهلكم و يبليكم،
piety that saves you on a Day which will puzzle your minds and put you to the test,
يوم يفوز فيه من ثقل وزن حسنته،
a day in which one shall win if the weight of his good deeds is heavy
و خف وزن سيئته.
while that of his sins is light.
لتكن مسألتكم مسألة (سؤل) ذل و خضوع
Let your plea be in humility and surrender,
و شكر و خشوع،
appreciation and submission,
و توبة و نزوع،
repentance and dissociation [from sin],
و ندم و رجوع،
regret and return [to righteousness].
و ليغتنم كل مغتنم
Let everyone of you seize the opportunity
منكم صحته قبل سقمه،
when he is healthy before the time when he is sick,
و شبيبته قبل هرمه فكبره و مرضه،
when he is young before he is aged, old and sick,
و سعته قبل فقره
[the opportunity] of his ease before he is poor,
و خلوته (فرغته) قبل شغله،
of having free time before he is busy,
و ثروته قبل فقره،
of being wealthy before being impoverished,
و حضره قبل سفره،
of being present at home before he is away traveling,
و حيته قبل موته،
of being alive before his death.
ثم يكبر و يهن
He shall grow old, become weak,
و يهرم و يمرض
aged, sick, ailing,
و يسقم و يمل طبيبه
so much so that even his doctor is fed-up with him,
و يعرض عنه حبيبه،
even those who love him turn away from him.
و ينقطع عمره
His lifespan will have come to an end.
و يتغير لونه،
His color of complexion is changed.
و يقل عقله،
His mental power is decreased,
ثم قيل: هو موعوك و جسمه منهوك،
so it is said: he is ailing and his body is failing.
قد جد في نزع شديد،
He is having a hard time as he finds himself suffering from the throes of death:
و حضره قريب و بعيد،
He is attended by those who are close and who are distant.
فشخص ببصره و طمح بنظره
He gazes his looks, yearns as he turns his eyes,
و رشح جبينه و خطف عرنينه
his forehead sweating, his [physical] senses being snatched away from him [one by one].
و سكن حنينه و جنبت نفسه
His sighs are now silent, his soul has departed,
و بكته عرسه
so he is mourned by his wife.
و حفر رمسه
His grave is dug,
و يتم منه ولده
his children are now orphans,
و تفرق عنه عدده (عدوه و صديقه)،
those who were around him (his friends or foes) are now dispersed from around him.
و قسم جمعه
What he had accumulated (legacy) has now been divided [among heirs].
و ذهب بصره و سمعه،
Gone now are his faculty of seeing and hearing;
و لقن
so he receives Talqeen;
و مدد، و وجه و جرد،
he is stretched [on the ground] and directed [towards the Qibla].
و غسل و عري
He is stripped of his clothes, bathed, in the nude,
و نشف و سجي،
dried then directed [towards the Qibla].
و بسط له و هيئ،
Something has been spread on the floor for him
و نشر عليه كفنه،
as his shrouds are being prepared.
و شدد منه ذقنه،
His chin has been tied,
و قبض و ودع ،
his soul has already departed from his body and he has been bidden farewell by all.
و قمص و عمم و لف و سلم
He is now shrouded, his head wrapped, so is his body, and he has been handed over [for burial].
و حمل فوق سرير
He is carried in a wooden box (coffin);
و صلي عليه بتكبير
his funeral prayers have been performed with Takbir
بغير سجود
but without prostration or the rubbing of the forehead.
و تعفير و نقل من دور مزخرفة
He is taken away from a decorated abode [this life],
و قصور مشيدة و حجر منضدة،
from well built mansions and chambers topping each other,
فجعل في ضريح ملحود،
so he is now in an enclosure of a grave
ضيق مرصود،
which is very narrow
بلبن منضود،
and separated from others;
مسقف بجلمود،
it is built with baked clay on top of each other
و هيل عليه عفره
and is sealed with a rock
و حثي عليه مدره،
Dust has been healed on him,
فتحقق حذره،
so he now is sure about that of which he was warned;
و تخفق صدره،
his chest is now heavy;
و نسي خبره،
he is now a thing of the past.
و رجع عنه وليه و صفيه
His friends, chosen ones,
و نديمه و نسيبه و حميمه،
companions, in-laws and close friends have all left him behind.
و تبدل به قرينه و حبيبه،
His company and loved ones are now changed,
فهو حشو قبر و رهين قفر،
for he is now nothing but the filling of a grave and the pawn of a waste:
يسعى في جسمه دود قبره،
Worms crawl all over his body,
و يسيل صديده في منخره على صدره و نحره،
his pus drips from his nostrils on his neck and chest.
تسحق تربته لحمه و ينشف دمه
Soil crushes his flesh as his blood dries
و يرق عظمه
and his bones decay.
و يقم في قبره
He remains in his grave
حتى يوم حشره و نشره،
till the Day when he is herded with others and is given a new life;
فينشر من قبره
so, he is taken out of his grave.
و ينفخ في صوره
His trumpet is blown,
و يدعى لحشره و نشوره،
he is called on to gather with others and stand trial.
فثم بعثرت قبور
Graves are scattered around,
و حصلت سريرة في صدور
the innermost in the hearts are recorded and calculated.
و جئ بكل نبي و صديق و شهيد و نطيق،
Every prophet, Siddiq, martyr, anyone who speaks
و وقف لفصل حكمه عند رب قدير
is brought and made to stand for the final judgment of an Able God
بعبيده خبير بصير،
Who is fully knowledgeable of His servants, seeing [all what they do].
فكم من زفرة تضفيه
Countless exhalations engulf him,
و حسرة تنضيه (تقصيه)،
sighs fade him (distance him),
في موقف مهول و مشهد جليل،
in a horrific position and an awesome scene
بين يدي ملك عظيم،
before a Great King
بكل صغيرة و كبيرة عليم،
Who knows about everything small and big.
يلجمه عرقه و يجفوه قلقه،
He is reined by his sweat, his worry crushing him,
فعبرته غير مرحومة
yet nobody feels sorry for his tears,
و صرخته (حجته) غير مقبولة،
his screams (defense) are not accepted.
و برزت صحيفته و تبينت جريرته،
His record of deeds is brought, his innermost becomes visible,
و نطق كل عضو منه بسوء عمله،
and every part of his body now speaks of his wrongdoings:
فشهدت عينه بنظره
His eyes testify about what he had seen,
و يده ببطشه
his hands about whom he beat,
و رجله بخطوه
his legs about where he had gone,
و جلده بلمسه
his skin about what he had contacted,
و فرجه بمسه،
his private parts about with whom he had had intercourse.
و يهدده منكر و نكير،
He is threatened by Munkir and Nakir;
و كشف له حيث يسير،
and it is unveiled for him where he is heading;
فسلسل جيده و غلت يده
so his neck now is tied with chains and his hands are cuffed.
و سيق يسحب وحده،
He is taken alone, dragged
فورد جهنم بكرب و شده،
and brought to Hell as he is in a great distress and hardship.
فظل يعذب في جحيم،
He remains in the torment of hell
و يسقى من حميم،
given to drink of very hot pus
يشوي وجهه و يسلخ جلده،
that grills his face and separates his skin from his body.
يضربه زبانيته بمقمع من حديد،
He is beaten by the torture angels of hell with iron clubs.
و يعود جلده بعد نضجه كجلد جديد،
His skin returns again and again anew after having been baked.
يستغيث فتعرض عنه خزنة جهنم،
He cries for help, yet even the angels in Hell turn away from him.
و يستصرخ فيلبث حقبة بندم،
He pleads for mercy, so he stays for a while regretful,
فلم يجده ندمه،
yet he finds no one cares about his regret
و لم ينفعه حينئذ ندمه.
His regret will then be in vain.
نعوذ برب قدير من شر كل مصير،
We seek refuge with an Able Lord from the evil of any final end such as this,
و نطلب منه عفو من رضى عنه،
and we plead for forgiveness similar to that of one with whom He is pleased
و مغفرة من قبل منه،
and for an overlooking similar to that of one whose good deeds He has accepted;
فهو ولي سؤلي و منجح طلبتي،
for He is my Master, ultimate pursuit and the one Who grants success to what I seek.
فمن زحزح عن تعذيب ربه
Surely one who is pushed away from the torment of his Lord
سكن في جنته بقربه
shall reside in Paradise near to Him
و خلد في قصور مشيده،
and remain forever in well built mansions,
و ملك حور عين و حفدة،
having huris with large lovely eyes and servants.
و طيف عليه بكؤوس و سكن حضير فردوس،
و تقلب في نعيم،
و سقي من تسنيم
و شرب من عين سلسبيل ممزوجة بزنجبيل،
He is given to drink of fresh cool water mixed with ginger
مختومة بمسك و عبير،
and sealed with musk and fragrance
مستديم للسرور
that perpetuates happiness
و مستشعر للحبور،
and provides the sense of pleasure.
يشرب من خمور، في روضة مغدق
He drinks of wines in an orchard filled with all types of pleasures,
ليس يصدع من شربه و ليس ينزف،
wine that does not cause any headache to one who drinks it, and it never runs out;
هذا منقلب من خشى ربه
such is the ultimate end of one who fears his Lord,
و حذر ذنبه و نفسه،
who is on guard about his sin, about the insinuations of his nafs (self),
و تلك عقوبة من عصى منشئه
and that was the penalty of one who opposes the [sinless] way [in which] he was created,
و سولت له نفسه معصية مبدئه،
the one whose evil self decorates for him to do what is against his nature.
ذلك قول فصل،
Such is the final judgment
و حكمة حكم عدل،
and the ruling of One Who is just:
قص قصص، و وعظ نص،
He narrated parables, admonished through texts,
تنزيل من حكيم حميد،
revealed revelations from a Praiseworthy Wise One,
نزل به روح قدس مبين (متين)
revelations which He descended with a clear (able) Holy Spirit [arch-angel Gabriel]
من عند رب كريم على نبي مهتد
from a Glorious Lord unto a Prophet who is rightly guided
مهدي رشيد رحمة للمؤمنين،
and who guides others, one who shows others the right way, a mercy to the believers,
مبين من عند رب كريم،
Clearly from a Great Lord,
و سيد حلت عليه سفرة،
a master frequented by messengers (angels)
مكرمون بررة.
who are honored and obedient [of their Lord].
عذت برب عليم حكيم،
I have sought refuge with a Lord Who is knowing,wise,
قدير رحيم،
able, merciful,
من شر عدو و لعين رجيم،
from the evil of an enemy (satan) who is cursed and stoned;
فليتضرع متضرعكم،
so, let everyone who pleads plead,
و يبتهل مبتهلكم،
and let everyone who seeks [favors of his Lord]
و يستغفر رب كل مربوب لي و لكم.
seek and ask forgiveness of the Lord of lords for myself and for you all.
ثم قرأ بعدها قوله تعالى:
Having finished his miraculous sermon, the Imam (ع) recited this following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
{تلك الدار الآخرة نجعلها للذين لا يريدون علوا في الأرض ولا فسادا والعاقبة للمتقين } (القصص: 83).
"We shall grant that (eternal) abode of the hereafter to those who intend neither high-handedness nor mischief on earth, and such end is (the best reward) for the righteous" (Qur'an, 28:83).

'A Sermon sans Aleph' is tagged in Nahjul Balagha collection. See other sermon's from Nahjul Balagha

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