Sayings of Imam Ali

Knowledge and Ignorance
In reply to some one who posed Imam Ali (as) a difficult question, Imam Ali (as) said : 'Ask in order to understand, and do not ask in order to find fault, for surely the ignorant man who wants to learn resembles a man of knowledge, and surely a man of knowledge who wants to be difficult resembles an ignorant man who wants to find fault. '

The State of Man of Knowledge
The man of knowledge is the one who recognizes that what is known is very little compared to what is not known, and as a result he considers himself ignorant, and accordingly he increases his efforts to know more by going out in search of knowledge.

The Purity and the Nobility of Knowledge
Do not talk about knowledge with the foolish so that they deny you, nor with the ignorant so that they find you oppressive, but talk about it with those of its people whom you meet who will accept it and understand it.
Knowledge and Acting on it
O you who carry knowledge around with you; are you only carrying it around with you ? For surely knowledge belongs to whoever knows and then acts accordingly, so that his action corresponds to his knowledge. There will be a people who will carry knowledge around with them, but it will not pass beyond their shoulders. Their inner most thoughts will contradict what they display in public, and their actions will contradict what they know.
Man’s Deeds in His Grave
When a dead person is placed in his grave, four kinds of fire will cover him, but then the prayer will come and put one of them out, and the fast will come and put another one of them out, and then charity will come and put another one out, and knowledge will come and put the forth one out, and it will say : 'If I had come sooner, I would a have put all of them out, and given you delight for I am with you now, and you'll not see anything else distressing. 

On the Heart

I am amazed at the heart of man: It possesses the substance of wisdom as well as the opposites contrary to it ... for if hope arises in it, it is brought low by covetousness: and if covetousness is aroused in it, greed destroys it. If despair possesses it, self piety kills it: and if it is seized by anger, this is intensified by rage. If it is blessed with contentment, then it forgets to be careful; and if it is filled with fear, then it becomes preoccupied with being cautious. If it feels secure , then it is overcome by vain hopes; and if it is given wealth, then its independence makes it extravagant. If want strikes it, then it is smitten by anxiety. If it is weakened by hunger, then it gives way to exhaustion; and if it goes too far in satisfying its appetites, then its inner becomes clogged up. So all its shortcomings are harmful to it, and all its excesses corrupt it.

There are four things that make the heart die: wrong action followed by wrong action, playing around with foolish people, spending a lot of time with women, and sitting with the dead. Then they asked Imam Ali: 'And who are the dead, O Commander of the believers?' He replied: 'Every slave who follows his desires.'

Surely want is a trial, and having sickness of the body is more difficult to bear than indigence, and having a sickness of the heart is more difficult to bear than having a sickness of the body. Surely being very wealthy is a blessing, and having a healthy body is better than being very wealthy, and having awe of Allah in your heart is better than having a healthy body.

Surely hearts have desires, and they turn towards, and they turn away ... so approach them by means of what they desire and what they turn towards, for surely if the heart is forced to do some thing against its will, it goes blind.

On Intellect
A person's intellect becomes apparent through his dealings, and a man's character is known by the way he exercises authority. The intellect is a king and characteristics are its subjects, so if it is weak in governing them, disorder takes place.

The intellect is better than desire, for the intellect makes you a king over your destiny, and desire makes you a slave of your destiny.

The intellect is a natural disposition which learns from experience.

The intellect is what arrives at what is correct through reasoning, and recognizes what has not yet happened through what has already taken place. Use your intellect to understand something when you hear about the intellect that examines, that is, and not just the intellect that repeats what it hears, for surely there are many who repeat the knowledge that they hear, and there are few who examine it.

The one who has an intellect longs to be like the righteous people so that he can be of one of them, and he loves them so that he can be united with them in his love, even if he falls short in emulating their actions.
The one who has an intellect does not openly display it except in one of two situations: when he is furthest away from seeking something in the world, and when he is furthest away from abandoning it.
Surely hated adversity has final objectives in which it will inevitably end, so the one who has an intellect should try to sleep over it until this happens, for surely any attempt to stop it before it has come to an end will only intensify that hated diversity even more.

The first opinion of the person of intellect is the last opinion of an ignorant person.

The one who has an intellect finds harshness of life amongst persons of intellect more agreeable than a life of ease amongst the foolish.

True Allah’s Slaves
Know that the slaves of Allah are those who seek to preserve knowledge of Him, safeguarding what safeguards it, and lettings its springs flow freely. They are united by friendship, and they meet with love, and they drink from the cup that quenches their thirst, and they go on with their thirst satisfied. They are not troubled by doubt, and they are not quick to backbite. It is on this basis that their natural disposition and character rest, and on this is based their love, and by this they are united. They are like seeds that have been assessed and selected, some to be kept and some to be thrown away, identified through purification, and refined through clarification.

The Truth of This World
Imam Ali (as) wrote to Salman al Farsi (ra) : To continue, surely, the likeness of this world is that of a snake: it is soft to touch, and deadly poisonous. The ignorant child is distracted by it, and the one with understanding and intellect is cautious of it. So turn away from what fascinates you in it, for how little of it stays with you.

New Definition of Islam
I am making a connection which no one has made before me: Islam is submission, and submission is certainty, and certainty is the affirmation of the truth, and affirmation of the truth is acknowledgement, and acknowledgement is performance of what is obligatory, and performance of what is obligatory is appropriate action.

Miscellaneous sayings

Ø As the body becomes tired, the heart becomes tired too. You should therefore search for beautiful sayings for them. [To enjoy by way of refreshment].

Ø He who does not know his own worth is ruined.

Ø The worth of every man is in his attainment.

Ø The worth of a man is according to his courage, his truthfulness is according to his balance of temper, his valour is according to his self - respect, and his chasteness is according to his sense of shame.

Ø A self-respecting person never commits adultery.

Ø He who puts himself in condition of ill repute should not blame those who entertain bad ideas about him.

Ø If a person has good idea about you, make his idea be true.

Ø It is enough for your own discipline that you refrain from what you dislike from others.

Ø Loving one another is half of wisdom.

Ø The most unfortunate of all men is he who cannot find a few friends during his lifetime, but still more unfortunate is he who finds one but loses him [because of his behaviour].

Ø Treat people in such a way and live amongst them in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you live they crave for your company.

Ø Through change of circumstances, mettle of man is known.

Ø To keep silent when you can say something wise and useful is as bad as propagating foolish and unwise thought.

Ø If you want to remove evil from the minds of others, then first give up evil intentions yourself.

Ø If you are wished and saluted then return the wish in the most appropriate manner, if you are favoured then repay the obligation manifold: but he will always excel in merit who takes the initiative.

Ø Blindness of eyes is better than the blindness of mind.

Ø Keep in company of people of virtue; you will become one of them. Keep aloof from people of vice; you will remain safe from them.

Ø Do not close a door that you are unable to open.

Ø A man can be valued through his sayings.

Ø One who seeks advice learns to recognise mistakes.

Ø As long as your position is good, your defects will be hidden from the eyes of the world.

Ø A man’s worth depends on the nobility of his aspirations.

Ø The most complete gift of God is life based on knowledge.

Ø The best of men is he who benefits others.

Ø Speech is like medicine; a small dose of which cures and excess kills the patient.

Ø People are asleep when alive; they are awake only when they are dead.

Ø The chief aim of wisdom is to admit one’s ignorance.

Ø The wise aim at perfection.

Ø There is no disease more hopeless than want of wisdom.

Ø To be good to the good is goodness in its highest sense.

Ø The choicest work of man is to associate with the virtuous.

Ø Live with your body in this world and with your faith work for the next

Ø The strongest of men is he who subdues his passion.

Ø How incongruous to have a sickly spirit and a handsome body.

Ø To fight against one’s own desires is highest wisdom.

Ø Fear none but your own sin.

Ø The dead supply lessons for the living.

Ø He is a true adviser who points out your mistakes.

Ø One’s behavior is the index of one’s mind.

Ø Let good deeds be your companions and desires your enemies.

Ø Care for your parents and your children will care for you.

Ø He who bears tales to you certainly bears tales about you.

Ø In overwhelming difficulties a man’s greatness is disclosed.

Ø Prosperity consists not in the increase of money and children, but in growth of virtue and development of patience.

Ø Minds are locked-up stores, only questions open them.

Ø The real gainer is he who checks the items of his own life.

Ø Knowledge is better than wealth. Knowledge guards you while you have to guard wealth. Wealth decreases by spending while knowledge increases by spending, and the results of wealth die as wealth decay. With it a man acquires obedience during his lifetime and a good name after his death. Knowledge is a ruler while wealth is ruled upon.

Ø Acquire knowledge, because he who acquires it, in the way of the Lord, performs an act of piety; who speaks of it praises the Lord; who seeks it, adores God, who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and who imparts it to its fitting objects, performs an act of devotion to God. Knowledge enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our companion in solitude, our companion, when bereft of friends; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is our ornament in the company of friends; it serves as an armour against our enemies. With knowledge, the creatures of Allah rise to the heights of goodness and to noble position, associates with the sovereigns in this world and attains the perfection of happiness in the next. 

Ø There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance, no greater heritage than culture, and no greater friend and helpmate than consultation.

Ø Whoever wants to be a leader and a guide should educate himself before educating others; before teaching morality to others, he should improve his own morals and character. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals and character is superior to the person who tries to teach and train others.

Ø A man without mind is not a man and a mind without religion is worse than the instinct of a beast, more harmful, more dangerous and more carnivorous. Devotion without understanding will not bring blessings of God; it is useless.

Ø I wonder at the proud man who was just a drop of semen the other day and will turn into a corpse tomorrow. I wonder at the man who doubts existence of God although he sees His creations. I wonder at him who has forgotten death although he sees people dying. I wonder at him who denies the second life although he has seen the first life. I wonder at him who inhabits this transient abode but ignores the ever-lasting abode.

Ø When a community is composed of really honest, sober and virtuous people then your forming bad opinion about any one of its member when nothing wicked has been seen of him is a great injustice to him; on the contrary in a corrupt society, to form good opinion of anyone out of those people and trust him is doing harm to yourself.

Ø One who assents or subscribes to the actions of group or party is as good as if he has committed the deed himself. A man who joins sinful deeds makes himself responsible for twofold punishment; one for doing the deed and the other for assenting or subscribing to it.