The Last Will of Ali ibn Abi Talib (a)

For a lover, every word of his beloved is beloved too. He desires that his beloved will ask of him, and that by providing it, the lover will become worthy of his love. The lover awaits to hear his beloved’s will, and is ready to give the gift of his life to fulfill it.

Every word of a beloved is important for a lover, but those which the beloved says as he leaves for a journey, these words become more significant and echo in the lover’s mind and heart for the whole period of their separation.

If the beloved is departing for his final journey from the world, the lover clings to these last words for his entire life. And if the lover was separated from his beloved in his final moments, he will ask each and every person about the final dying words of his beloved.

For a Mumin, who could be more beloved than the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s), whose love opens up the paths for the love of God and the love of the Final Prophet (s.a.w)? It is the words and the guidance of our first Imam that leads us towards Allah and His messenger.

In the Holy month of Ramadhan, the month of the Quran, our beloved Imam Ali as.gif, lies fatally wounded by a poisoned blade and is about to depart from this world forever. Let us ask, what did he say in his dying moments? What were his last wishes, what was his final will? What did our beloved ask of us?

Imam as.gifleft his last requests through his beloved sons, the leaders of the youths of paradise, for his believers to hear after him. May God bless Sayyed Razi, who gathered for us these valuable words in Nahjul Balagha, the Peak of Eloquence.

Imam Ali prostrated to his Lord and in this state of complete submission, is wounded by Ibne Muljim and knows he is a guest in the world for but a few days. After this, Imam leaves for us three final wills, which Sayyed Razi presents to us as Sermon 147 and letters 23 and 47.

These are the words of that great leader of humanity who announced in that fatal sajdah, “By the Lord of the Kaaba, I have been successful.” These words are the pearls of his experience and the summary of his life.
Here we will briefly discuss what Imam says in letter number 47, the most detailed of the three wills. Imam Ali is principally addressing Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain in this letter. The following is a list of the advice Imam as.gifgives:
1I advise you to fear Allah.

Taqwa (fear of Allah/piety) is one of the central concepts of Nahjul Balagha. Imam has said in saying no. 403, “Fear of Allah is the chief trait of human character.”

In sermon 196 Imam says, “Certainly fear of Allah is the medicine for your hearts, sight for the blindness of your soul, cure for the ailments of your bodies, rectifier for the evils in your heart, purifier for the pollution of your minds, light for the darkness of your eyes, consolation for the fears of your hearts, brightness for the gloom of your ignorance…lamp for your graves, shelter for the day of fear.”

Imam has mentioned 110 qualities of one who is pious and fears Allah in sermon 191. The Holy Quran mentions qualities of righteous and pious people in Ayah 177 of Surah Baqarah.

When we ask the holy Prophet about Taqwa and the path to it, he says, “Imam Ali is the Leader of the Pious, so follow him and you too will become pious.”

Let us finish with a quote of Imam Ali from Ghurar-ul-Hikam, “The one who has control over his desires is the pious one.”

2.  Do not go after the world even though it may run after you.”

Imam Ali has warned us to safeguard ourselves against the enticement of the world again and again. Sometimes he weeps, “O world, O world, get away from me! I have divorced you thrice and now there is no return for you.” (Saying no. 77) Sometimes he unveils the reality of the world for us and says, “The example of the world is like a serpent, soft in touch but full of venom.”

Imam says of the world, “It deceives, it destroys and it passes away.” Imam says in sermon 97, “I advise you to keep away from this unfaithful world which will shortly leave you even though you may not wish it to depart. It is a world which will make your bodies frail and old, even though they yearn to stay young.”

O lovers of Ali, beware of this world which your beloved has warned you of, let not its trivialities lead you away from the path of Ali.

3. “ Do not be sorry for anything of the world that you have been denied .”

Imam elaborates in letter 22: “Sometimes a man rejoices at his securing for himself a thing which was there was no chance of his missing at all, and gets displeased at missing out on a thing which was never destined for him at all. Your pleasure should be about what you secure in respect of your next life and your grief should be for what you miss for that world.

Do not be too pleased on what you secure from this world nor become sorrowful for what you have been denied from it. You worry should be about what is to come after death”.

This life is finite; we know it will never last, so why grieve over its loss? Instead we should secure pleasures for the life that is eternal. This world and this life was never ours to gain or lose. It was lent to us by Allah and is His possession, so it is His right to take back whatever He wills whenever He wills.

Whenever Prophet Sulayman gained something in this world he would say: This is a test from Allah to see whether this blessing causes me to thank him and become closer to him, or forsake him.(Surah 27, Ayat 40)

This is the way of the believers. If they are bestowed with a blessing, they treat it as a possession of Allah, and if calamities befall them they bear them as a test of Allah, and like Hazrat Ayyub (21:83), at times of difficulty say: “O Allah you are the Merciful and the Beneficent.”

4. “Speak for the truth.”

Imam Ali’s life was for the truth and thus he was rewarded by the Holy Prophet with these words, “Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali.”

This lover of truth thus leaves this advice for his sons in his will; stay with the right and speak the truth, love the truth and hate falsehood. When Hazrat Abuzar was being exiled to Rabza where he would breathe his last, Imam Ali went to see him to say farewell with his sons.

He gave this last piece of advice to the truthful companion of the Prophet: “O Abuzar, you expressed anger in the name of Allah therefore have hope in Him for whom you became angry…only the right and the truth should attract you whilst wrongfulness should detract you.” (Sermon 128)

To speak the truth in the midst of falsehood is very difficult and one has to suffer for it. But where to say the truth is the most difficult, is often the most important, and holds the most reward. Thus we should speak the truth even if it goes against us.

5. “Act to gain reward from Allah, and for the Hereafter.”

This call of every Prophet is narrated in the Quran: “What I am doing is for Allah only and my reward lies with Him only.” Imam also desires that our every act should be for Allah and thus we will be rewarded by Allah.

If our tongues speak a word, it should be for sawab and Allah’s pleasure. If our hand rises it should be Allah’s pleasure, and if our feet take a step it should be for Allah’s pleasure. If we hold the hope of reward from Allah, then out actions will be purely for Allah, rather than pretence and hypocrisy.

If our actions are for the Hereafter, their effects will be for eternity. Imam Ali as.gifsays: “What a difference there is between two kinds of actions – an act who pleasure passes away but its ill consequence remains and the act whose hardship passes away but its reward stays.” (Saying 120)

6. “Be an enemy of the oppressors and helper of the oppressed”.

The Quran has announced the importance of condemning oppression many times, and has told us that the tyrant and the oppressor will be ruined in both the world and the Hereafter. The Quran curses the oppressors time and time again.

Here Imam has not just condemned oppression, but has emphasized this telling us to be an ardent enemy of the oppressors and devoted helper of the oppressed. There is no condition of race or religion, tribe or position here, wherever you see oppression oppose it with all your being. If someone is deprived of their rights they are oppressed and if anyone sees and is content they become equal to an oppressor.

Imam Jaffer Sadiq says: “The one who oppresses , the one who helps an oppressor and the one who sees and is content are equally tyrants and oppressors in the eyes of Allah.

Then Imam as.gifsaid “I advise you and all my children and members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches to:

7“Fear Allah.”

This repetition of Imam as.gifitself is an indicator of the importance of fearing Allah, which is mentioned above. Imam says, “O servants of Allah, I advise you to have fear of Allah which is the provision for the next world and with it is your return… O servants of Allah certainly fear of Allah has saved the lovers of Allah from unlawful acts and gave His dread to their hearts till their nights are passed in wakefulness and their noons in thirst.” (Sermon 112)

Imam as.gifsays about the people of the grave: “If they were allowed to speak they would inform you that the best provision is fear of Allah.” Imam says: “There is no distinction higher than Islam, no honour more honourable than fear of Allah.”

8. “Keep your affairs in order.”

The Arabic word used for order here is ‘nizam’. The thread through the beads of a tasbih is called nizam. The Imam asks us to keep our affairs in order like the beads of a tasbih, never scattering them or mixing their sequence. Every aspect of life requires order and organisation, whether they are personal or social issues, individual or community problems, financial or spiritual issues. Every person must keep their affairs in order. It is with this order that nations progress and the mind of a person finds peace and satisfaction. Imam thus says to keep our affairs in such an order, so that each person, mother or father, sister or brother, son or daughter, husband or wife, knows their place. Each act has its own time, morning or evening. Imam tells us that the Quran is the perfect way of keeping order, ‘a regulation for whatever situation faces you.’ Sermon 156.

9. “Maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard your grandfather (s.a.w) saying that “Improvement of mutual differences is better then general prayers and fasting.”

Imam places great worth on good relation at this point in the will, and stresses this with a quote of the Prophet declaring it to be greater then general prayers and fasts.
Relations among individuals, with family , with the community, with Mumineen come under this advice. If one has a good relationship in all these aspects, it is possible to unite and walk on the path towards Allah together.
These good relations can be brought about with love for others, and regarding others as equals. They can be brought about by acting to relieve the pain of others rather then to increase their pain and sorrows. Imam Ali says: “The root of all difficulties and adversity is to love oneself.” Thus good relations come about by showing love for Allah and his people rather then for oneself.

10. “Keep Allah in view in the matter of orphans. So do not allow them to starve and they should not be ruined in your presence.

Wounded Ali as.gif, who once wandered the streets of Kufa in the darkness of the night with food for orphans on his back, has not forgotten them on his deathbed. He tells us to be the support of these who have none.

Those from whom you cannot gain, from whom you have no hope, become their hope.

It should not be that an orphan sometimes has enough, sometimes too little and you remain a silent witness. You should act first before they need to ask from you. Looking after the orphans is an Islamic and humanitarian duty.

It is a well known characteristic of this family for whom the Ayah was revealed, “Regardless of their own needs they feed out of love the poor, the orphans and the prisoner.” (76:8) Imam spent his entire life in the upbringing of orphans and advises his sons and us to do the same.

11. “Keep Allah in view in the matter of your neighbours, because they were the subject of the Prophet’s advice. He went on advising in their favour till we thought he would allow them a share in inheritance.”

Neighbours are part of tranquillity of life. Do not just think of yourself, take care of those around you. Islam has counted the surrounding 40 houses as neighbours.

The Prophet pbuh.gifsays: “There are three types of neighbours. The first has one right, the second has two rights and the third has three. The first is that neighbour who may be an unbeliever but is still your neighbour. The second is that neighbour who is your neighbour and a Muslim. The third is that neighbour who is a Muslim and a relative.”

Thus Islam teaches us to observe the rights of our neighbours, even if they are Kafirs.

12Keep Allah in view in the matter of Quran. No one should excel you in acting upon it.”

Quran is the law of shariah and the orders of Allah. The Quran contains the rules for how a person should live their life, and Imam Ali desires that his followers should live every aspect of their lives in accordance with the Quran.

Imam says in Sermon 181: “Quran orders as well as refrains, remains silent and also speaks. It is the plea of Allah before His creation. He has taken from them a pledge to act upon it. He has perfected it and completed through it His religion.” Imam gives this advice to his followers, and then praises those who implement it. Imam weeps: “Where is Ammar? Where are my brothers who recited the Quran and strengthened it, thought over their obligation and fulfilled it?”

Imam Ali says regarding the Quran in Sermon 196: “Allah has made it quencher of the thirst of the learned, bloom for the heart of religious scholars, cure after which there is no ailment, light after which there is no darkness.”

In this world, mankind strives to race ahead of others in wealth and worldly matters. Imam says your striving should be to excel all others in acting on the Quran. God forbid that we forget the value of the Quran, neglect its words, and become a cause for Imam Ali’s sorrow. Imam weeps: “ A time will come when the Quran and the Ahlul bayt will be exiled and expelled with none to offer them shelter. Nothing would be left with them of the Quran except its name, and they will know nothing save its writing.”

13Keep Allah in view in the matter of prayer, because it is the pillar of your religion.”

The pillar which upholds the religion of Tawheed, Nabuwwat and Wilayat is namaz. Imam has delivered a detailed sermon (Sermon 197) on the importance of namaz in which he says: “Pledge yourself with prayer and remain steady on it; offer prayers as much has possible and seek nearness of Allah through it, because it is an obligation on the believers.” In Nahjul Balagha, there are certain things which Imam treats as a source of pride, and one of these is namaz. Imam says in Sermon 129: “None except the Prophet preceded me in namaz.”

14Keep Allah in view in the matter of Allah’s house. Do not forsake it so long as you live, because if it is abandoned you wont be spared.

Hajj is the greatest symbol of Islamic unity. This gathering is a source of honour and respect for Muslims. Imam Ali discusses this is Sermon 1: “Allah has made obligatory upon you the pilgrimage to His sacred house, which is the turning point for the people, who go to it as animals or pigeons flock to spring water. Allah the glorious made it a sign of their supplication before his greatness and their acknowledgement of His Dignity”.

Imam says in sermon 108: “The performance of Hajj of the House of Allah and Umra banish poverty and wash away sins”.
15. “ Keep Allah in view in the matter of Jihad with the help of your property, life and tongue in the way of Allah ”

Imam Ali, the Great Warrior of Allah says in Sermon 108: “Jihad, fighting in His cause, is the highest peakof Islam.”

The word Jihad comes from Juhd, to struggle or to strive, i.e. it is to struggle to bring yourself and others close to Allah rather than to shed blood and massacre. Imam talks of 3 types of Jihad here, to strive with regards to property, with regards to life and with regards to the spoken word.

Imam says in Sermon 27: “Jihad is one of the doors of Paradise which Allah has opened for His greatest friends.” In saying 248, Imam says: “Allah has laid down Jihad for the honour of Islam.”

16You should strive for regard for kinship and spending for others .”

Imam stresses the value of remaining together and talks of spending wealth. Thus spending of ones property is a way of strengthening relations with others. Islam has told us many ways by which we can strengthen bonds with people, greet each other well, give gifts, visit the ill….

17. “ Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations .”

Above, Imam has twice stressed the need for good relations, but here he has stressed the need to avoid breaking relations. Imam says in letter 31: “Your brother should not be more firm in his disregard of kinship than you in paying regard to it and you should exceed in doing good to him.” Imam says: “The greatest achievement of your character is that the enmity of your brother against you does not overcome the consideration and friendship you hold for him.”

The Holy Prophet has said, “If two Mumineen hold enmity of each other for more than three days, they both are expelled from Islam, and the first to step towards friendship will be the first to step into Jannat.”

Imam Jaffer Sadiq a.s often prayed for that person who reconciles two Mumineen who have turned away from each other, and becomes a cause of friendship between them. Allah too has condemned those who cut relations and He says: “And those who break the covenant made with Allah after it is pledged and cut asunder what Allah has commanded to be joined and made mischief in the land, theirs should be the curse and theirs should be the evil abode.” (13:25)

18Do not give up bidding for good and forbidding from evil lest the wrongdoers get positions over you and then your prayers will not be granted.”

The Quran has emphasized this point and has encouraged it in many ways. Allah says: “And there should be amongst you a group who call mankind to virtue and enjoin good and forbid evil and these are they who shall be successful.” (3:104)

The Quran quotes the words of Luqman to his son: “O my son, establish prayer, enjoin good, forbid evil, and bear with patience what befalls you. Verily these are acts of steadfastness.” (31:17)

Imam Ali has discussed this topic many times. He says: “Commanding for the good and refraining from the evil are two characteristics of Allah, the Glorified. They do not bring death near, nor do they lessen the livelihood.”

Imam elaborates in Sermon 190: “Allah did not curse the past ages except because they had abandoned asking others to do good acts and stopping them from bad acts. In fact Allah cursed the foolish for committing sins and the wise because they give up refraining others from evils.”

At the start of this will, Imam tells us how to perfect others, and at the end how to improve others. Imam tells us not to think that by safeguarding yourself from evil and doing good, we have fulfilled our obligation. No, we must spread this message and correct wrong around us.

Imam tells us two harms if we do not fulfill this obligation of ‘amr bil maroof’ and ‘nahi anil munkar’. Firstly thos