'Ali ibn Abi Thalib’s (k.w.) Advice to Shaykh Malik al-Ashtar (r.a.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib’s (k.w.), letter to Shaykh Malik al-Ashtar ibn Harits an-Nakha’i (r.a.), a noted companion of ‘Ali (k.w.), taken from his Nahj al-Balaghah.

“Do not rush to do a thing before its time has arrived, and do not delay it once the right moment is upon you.  Do not insist on doing that which is known to be wrong, and do not show reluctance to put right that which you know to be wrong.  Carry out each action at the proper time and let everything occupy its proper place.

When the people as a whole reach agreement upon a matter, do not impose your own will on them, and do not fail to discharge your responsibilities towards them.  For the people will be watching you, and you are answerable for whatever you do to them; the slightest act of negligence or dereliction of duty will bring its own retribution.  Keep your anger under control and keep your hands and your tongue in check.  Whenever anger threatens to overcome you, try to restrain yourself or else you will simply increase your problems and anxieties.

It is imperative on you to study carefully the principles which have inspired those just and righteous rulers who have gone before you.  Pay close attention to the example set by our Prophet (s.a.w.), and pay heed to his traditions, the Commandments of the Holy Qur’an, and whatever you might have assimilated from my own way of dealing with things.  Endeavour to the best of your ability to carry out the instructions which I give you here, and which you have solemnly undertaken to follow.  By means of this order, I enjoin on you not to succumb to the whims of your own heart or to turn away from the discharge of duties entrusted to you.

I seek the Refuge with the Almighty and His Limitless Sphere of Blessings, and I invite you to pray with me that He may Give us together the grace to surrender freely our will to His, and to enable us to acquit ourselves before Him and His Creation, so that mankind might cherish our memory and that our work might survive.  I seek from God the culmination of His Blessings and pray that He may Grant you and I His Grace and the Honour of martyrdom in His Cause.  Verily, our return is to Him.  I invoke His Blessings on the Prophet of God (s.a.w.) and his pure progeny.”


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