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Al-Muttaqin Sermon

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This article is an introduction to the al-Muttaqin Sermon; to read its text see text:al-Muttaqin Sermon.

Al-Muttaqīn sermon (Arabic: خطبة المتّقین, the pious sermon) is one of the most famous sermons of Imam 'Ali (a) in which he describes a pious Muslim. The sermon characterizes the pious so well in their personal and social life that at the end of the sermon, Hammam, the Imam's companion who had asked about the characteristics of the pious, loses consciousness and passes away.

The number of al-Muttaqin sermon in different versions of Nahj al-balagha
Version's Name Sermon num.
Al-Mu'jam al-mufahras, Subhi Salih 193
Fiyd al-Islam, Ibn Maytham 184
Minhaj al-bara'a (al-Khoei), Mulla Salih 192
Ibn Abi l-Hadid, 'Abduh 186
Mulla Fath Allah 221
Fi zilal 191

Cause of Delivering

It is narrated that Hammam who was a devoted worshiper and one of the companions of Imam 'Ali (a) asked him to describe the pious: "O, Amir al-Mu'minin, describe the pious for me as if I am looking at them." Imam 'Ali (a) tried to void answering and said, "O Hammam, be wary of Allah and perform good deeds because 'Indeed Allah is with those who are Godwary and those who are virtuous.' (Quran 16:128)"

Hammam, was not content with that and insisted on more details. Then the Imam praised Allah and extolled Him and sought His blessings on the Prophet (s) and started the sermon.

It is narrated that after the sermon, Hammam lost conciseness and passed away. Imam 'Ali (a) said, "Verily, by God I feared this for him." Then he added: "Effective advice has such influence on its people (who have receptive ears)."

Someone said, "O Amir al-Mu'minin, why did not it affect you?" Amir al-Mu'minin (a) replied, "Woe to you! There is a fixed hour for each death that it will not exceeded it, and a cause which does not change. Be silent and never repeat such talk, indeed Satan had put on your tongue."

Name

According to the content of the sermon which is a description of the pious, the sermon was called the pious (al-Muttaqin is plural of al-Muttaqi meaning pious). Also, it is called the sermon of Hammam, as he was the cause of the delivering of this sermon.

A part of al-Muttaqin sermon

Thus, the God-wary, in it (this world) are the people of excellencies. Their speech is right, and their dress is moderate, and their gait is humble. They keep their eyes closed to what Allah has forbidden for them, and devote their ears to the knowledge beneficial to them. They remain in the time of trials as though they remain in comfort. If there had not been fixed periods (of life) ordained by Allah for them, their spirits would not have remained in their bodies even for the twinkling of an eye; because of (their) eagerness for the reward, and fear of chastisement. The greatness of the Creator is seated in their heart, and so, everything else appears small in their eyes. Thus to them Paradise is as though they see it and are enjoying its favors. To them, Hell is also as if they see it and are suffering punishment in it.

Their hearts are grieved, others are protected from their evils, their bodies are thin, their needs are scanty, and their souls are chaste. They endured (hardship) for a short while (in this world), and in consequence they secured comfort for a long time (of the afterlife). It is a beneficial transaction that Allah made easy for them. The world aimed at them, but they did not aim at it. It captured them, but they freed themselves from it by a ransom.

As for night they are upstanding on their feet reading portions of the Qur'an and reciting it in a well-measured way, creating through it grief for themselves and seeking by it the cure for their ailments. If they come across a verse creating eagerness (for Paradise) they pursue it avidly, and their spirits turn towards it eagerly, and they feel as if it is in front of them. And when they come across a verse which contains fear (of Hell) they bend the ears of their hearts towards it, and feel as though the sound of Hell and its cries are reaching their ears. They bend themselves from their backs, prostrate themselves on their foreheads, their palms, their knees and their toes, and beseech Allah, the Sublime, for their deliverance.

And as for day they are enduring, learned, virtuous, and God-wary. Fear (of Allah) has made them thin like arrows. If any one looks at them he believes they are sick, although they are not sick, and he says that they have gone mad. In fact, a great concern (i.e., fear of Allah) has made them mad.

They are not satisfied with their meager good acts, and do not regard their major acts as great. They always blame themselves and are afraid of their deeds. When anyone of them is spoken of highly, he says: "I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know. O Allah, do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know."

Content

As the name of the sermon implies, the main subject of the sermon is description of the pious. Imam 'Ali (a) characterizes them in their personal and social life, and their worships and connection with Allah. Here are some of these attributes: (Categories may have overlaps)

Attributes of the God-wary

Social

  • Speaking properly,
  • Moderation,
  • Humility,
  • Avoiding the forbidden,
  • Listening to beneficial knowledge,
  • Greediness for knowledge,
  • Endurance of hardships,
  • Forgiving who did wrong to them,
  • Avoiding indecent speech,
  • Not misappropriating what they have been trusted with,
  • Suppressing the anger,
  • People are in ease from them,
  • Good deeds are expected from them.

Personal

  • Blaming themselves (being suspicious about themselves),
  • Fear from being complemented,
  • Having faith with certainty,
  • Forbearance,
  • Hoping the next life and renouncing this world.

Connection with God

  • Night prayers with recitation of the Qur'an,
  • Seeking cure for themselves in the Qur'an,
  • Their heart are influenced by the Qur'an,
  • Humility in worship,
  • Remembering and thanking God throughout the day.

Translations and Commentaries

In addition to translations of Nahj al-balagha, which include this sermon as well, the sermon has been solely translated to Farsi several times.

Moreover, more than 15 commentaries have been written about this sermon in addition to those of the whole Nahj al-balagha. Almost all of these commentaries are in Farsi.

References