Letter of Imam 'Ali to Imam al-Hasan

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The letter of Imam 'Ali (a) to Imam al-Hasan (a) is a long letter with the ethics and theism content, which he wrote in the last years of his life. Some of important subjects in the letter are: God wariness, supplication, reading history and learn from it, and knowing the time. Also the letter has wise and short sentences. The letter has independent commentaries.

Number of the letter

History in the view of Imam 'Ali(a)

O my child, even though I have not lived the life of those before me, yet I looked into their behavior, and thought over their events. I walked among their ruins till I was as one of them. In fact, by virtue of those of their affairs that have become known to me, it is as though I have lived with them from the first to the last. I have therefore been able to discern the impure from the clean and the benefit from the harm. I have selected for you the choicest of those matters and collected for you their good points and have kept away from you their useless points.

The number of the letter in different versions of Nahj al-balagha:

Time and place of the writing

The letter is written in the returning of Imam 'Ali (a) from Battle of Siffin. In Nahj al-balagha the place of writing is mentioned as "Hadirin", but it's not clear where the name belongs, or it is not name of a place but is the plural of "hadir" means "people who were present".


Supplication in the view of Imam 'Ali(a)

Know that He Who owns the treasuries of the heavens and of the earth has permitted you to pray to Him and has promised you acceptance of the prayer. He has commanded you to beg from Him in order that He may give you and to seek His mercy in order that He may have mercy on you. He has not placed any thing between you and Him that may veil Him from you. He has not required you to get a mediator for you to Him, and if you err, He has not prevented you from repentance. He does not hasten with punishment. He does not taunt you for repenting, nor does He humiliate you when humiliation is more appropriate for you. He has not been harsh in accepting repentance. He does not severely question you about your sins. He does not disappoint you of His mercy. Rather He regards abstention from sin as a virtue. He counts your one sin as one while He counts your one virtue as ten. He has opened for you the door of repentance. Therefore, whenever you call Him He hears your call, and whenever you whisper to Him He knows the whisper. You place before Him your needs, unveil yourself before Him, complain to Him of your worries, beseech Him to remove your troubles, seek His help in your affairs and ask from the treasuries of His mercy that which no one else has power to give, namely length of life, health of body and increase in sustenance. Then He has placed the keys of His treasuries in your hands in the sense that He has shown you the way to ask Him.

The main subject of the letter is ethics. In the beginning of the letter, Imam 'Ali (a) describes himself and his son as two ordinary human and then mentions the importance of the letter. Then he says that he wrote the letter in order to be a support for his son.

Then, Imam 'Ali (a) orders his son to be wary of Allah and obeying him and constructing the heart with remembrance of him.

Other points mentioned adviced in the letter are:

  1. Preaching
  2. Firm belief
  3. Wisdom
  4. Remembering death
  5. Looking at the difficulties of the time and think about history and learning from it
  6. Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil
  7. Jihad in the way of Allah
  8. Understanding the religion
  9. Patience
  10. Reliance on God
  11. Supplication
  12. About livelihood (rizq)
  13. About the world (dunya) and its betrayal
  14. Friendship
  15. Swallowing anger
  16. Modesty
  17. Care for the relatives


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