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Nahjul Balagah and its Lessons for the Mankind

part 4



The training and purification of the human being's soul are among other subjects discussed in the Nahj-ul-Balagha, which we shall, God-willing, talk about in the coming pages.

Peace and the mercy of God be upon you.


Prophethood (nubuwwah)

Prophethood is among the subjects which have been dealt with in the Nahj-ul-Balagha and a discussion about which can help us understand one of the basic principles of Islam. In fact, it is not only a subject which can be followed throughout the Nahj-ul-Balagha but one of the most important and fundamental principles of Islamic ideology. I have repeatedly mentioned in various discussions that in order to analyze and understand the numerous matters of Islamic thought and ideology, the principle of prophethood is an axis around which these matters can be discussed as well. As -to the principle of monotheism, we believe that its social and revolutionary dimensions can only be clarified when we discuss it within the vast spectrum of the matters concerning prophethood.

Accordingly, our method in this chapter is to point out and analyze the different dimensions of prophethood and to support our discussion with an explanation of Ali's ibn Abi Talib's sayings wherever necessary. In this manner, two aims will be fulfilled, i.e. some important sections of the Nahj-ul-Balagha will be translated and interpreted, and an issues among the basic Islamic principles will be made apparent.

It is to be mentioned at the beginning that in the discussion about prophethood, revelation and its relevant matters will not be discussed. Rather, prophethood will be viewed as a historical reality and an unquestionable event. Undoubtedly, prophethood has existed as a phenomenon in the history of mankind. There is no difference of opinion in this regard between us and those who disbelieve in lt. However, the difference lies in the interpretation of this event and the message it conveys. In fact, no one denies such personalities as Moses, Jesus and other Prophets whether or not the history of their lives be more or less known or vague. History reports that all of them have existed.

Therefore, prophethood will be considered as a historical event in our discussion and the following questions will be answered in the analysis which follows:

1. What was the social background (social, temporal and historical situation) when this event occurred?

2. Where did this event originate? Did it appear among the kings, the oppressed, the scholars and thinkers... which class of people?

3. What position did it enjoy? Was it to the benefit of a special class of people? Was it directed towards material advantages? 'Was it directed towards mystical and spiritual aspects of life? What was its social and intellectual direction?

4. What was the pros and cons when the Prophet first offered his message? Who were those who opposed it and to which class of the society did they belong? What were their motives and means of opposition? Who were in favor of it and to which class did they belong? What were their motives and how did they assist the Prophet?

5. What was the aim behind the message of prophethood? Was prophethood aimed at material welfare? Was it aimed at class distinction? Was it aimed at enhancing the level of people's knowledge and understanding? Was it aimed at opposing or accounting for the powers of the time?

6. Did the Prophet call the people? Was it 'monotheism' with its social, political, economic and revolutionary dimensions?

Answering these questions, with regard to Islamic texts and records, will shed light on different aspects of this social reality and will acquaint us with a vast scope of Islamic thought. Of course the Nahj-ul-Balagha will be the axis of our discussion, although different verses of the Holy Qur'an as well as mental reasoning may be of great help both in answering the questions and in interpreting All's words.

The first question which is relevant is "What grounds were available for the manifestations of prophethood?» What was the social, economic and historical setting for the appearance of the Prophets? And among which class of people have they appeared? The Nahj-ul-Balagha has answered these questions on several occasions. In the first sermon, speaking about monotheism, the creation of heavens and the earth, the angels and other matters, the appearance of the Prophets and the background to prophethood in general are discussed as well.

We read the preceding sentence so that the connection to this matter is made clear.

From his progeny (Adam) God chose prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. In the course of time, many people perverted God's trust with them and ignored His position and took partners along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing Him and kept them aloof from His worship. Then sent His messengers and series of His prophets towards them to let them fulfill the pledges of His creation, to recall to them his bounties....3 The last part of this quotation reveals some peculiarities of the community in the 'Age of Ignorance', in which Prophets were sent by God to people. These peculiarities are hereunder explained.

It says that 'in course of time many people perverted God's' trust. The Holy Qur'an speaks about 'ahd on several occasions, examples of which are given below,

”‍Thy Lord has decreed you shall not serve any but Him ... " (17:23) ”‍Made I not covenant with you, children of Adam, that you should not serve Satan - surely he is a manifest foe to you ... ?" (36:60) ”‍... and God made them testify concerning themselves, 'Am I not your Lord?

'they said,' Yes, we testify ... " (7:172)

These verses imply that God's covenant ('ahd) is to abstain from servitude to Satan, that man's servitude should be exclusively for God and that human beings have primordially admitted that they are servants of God and should serve Him alone.

This is the meaning of 'ahd (trust and covenant)to which the Commander of the Faithful refers in the Nahj-ul-Balagha. In fact, he says that most of the people broke their allegiance with God and disobeyed His commands by worshipping idols, taking partners (holders of power and possessions) along with Him, imposing themselves on other people as worship-deserving idols and perverting the divine decree through ignoring or exclusive obedience to God.

Source: imamalmahdi.com

Other Links:

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Nahjul Balagah and its Lessons for the Mankind (part 1)

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