Classification of Nahj al-Balaghah

Nahj al-Balaghah is a vast and deep ocean of knowledge that cannot be fathomed easily. Although scholars and researchers have tried to delve into this ocean of wonder, they have not yet succeeded in fully locating or comprehending the pearls of knowledge that the words of Imam 'Ali contain.

The topics or subjects of this immensely rich book are so broad and varied that they cannot be easily enumerated. Thus, those who have focused their research on Nahj al-Balaghah, have endeavoured to identify the subjects of this book to their best ability, yet it could be said that they have succeeded fully in their efforts. Some of the prominent efforts made in this field are as follows:

A. Martyr Murtaza Mutahhari says in his valuable book "Sayri dar Nahj al-Balaghah", that there are quite many subjects and topics in this book which could be broadly defined as follows: 25

1. Theology and the Supernatural / Ilahiyyat wa Mawara ' al-Tabi'ah
2. Manners and Worship / Suluk wa Ibadat
3. Government and Justice / Hakumat wa Idalat
4. World and worldliness / Dunya wa Dunya-Parasti
5. Epic and Bravery / Hamasah wa Shaja'at
6. Poetical Saga and Mysteries / Malahim wa Maghibat
7. Supplications /Du'a wa Munajat
8. Criticism of People's Behaviour
9. Social Principles
10. Islam and Qur'an
11. Ethics and Self-Reform
12. Personalities

B. The Syrian Researcher, Labib Bayzun in his book, Tasnif Nahj al-Balaghah has presented a more precise categorization in this regard. Actually he has categorized the contents of Nahj al- Balaghah under nine general definitions, each of which consists of several subjects -49 in all- and each subject is made up of numerous specific topics numbering 376. His definitions are as follows:

1. Fundamentals of Religion / Usul al-Din
2. Practical Laws of Religion / Furu ' al-Din
3. Leadership and Leaders / al-Imamah wa al-Aimmah
4. Lifestyle of Imam 'Ali ( 'a) / Sirah al-Imam
5. Wars of the Imam during his caliphate / Hurub al-Imam
6. State Policy / Siyasah al-Dawlah
7. Social Affairs / al-Shu'un al-Ijtima'iyyah
8. Man and Personal Affairs / al-Insan wa Shu'unuh
9. Maxims and Advices / al-Mawa'iz wa al-Irshadat
C. In the book al-Dalil 'ala al-Mawzu 'at Nahj al-Balaghah 27 Nahj al-Balaghah has been categorized into 7 broad definitions and 132 specific subjects. The definitions are as follows:

1. Divinity and Universe / al-Ilahiyyat wa al-Ka'inat
2. Prophethood / al-Nabuwwah
3. Fundamentals of Religion and Practical Laws / al-'Aqa'id wa al-Ahkam
4. Leadership and Government / al-Imamah wa al-Khilafah
5. History / al-Tarikh
6. Society, Politics and Economy / al-Ijtima ' wa al-Siyasah wa al-Iqtisad
7. Ethics / al-Akhlaq
D. Uways 'Abd al-Karim Muhammad in his book al-Mu'jam al-Mawzu'i li Nahj al-Balaghah is critical of the methods used by earlier scholars to classify Nahj al-Balaghah. He has pointed out the deficiency in their approach and has categorized Nahj al- Balaghah into 22 sections, each of which contains a number of subjects, which in turn cover many topics. He has listed 604 topics in all.28 The 22 sections in which he has divided the book are as follows

1. Wisdom and Knowledge / al-Aql wa al-Ilm
2. Islam, Faith, Certainty, Disbelief, Polytheism and Doubt /
al-islam wa al-Iman -wa al-Yaqin wa al-Kufr wa al-Shirk wa al-Shakk.
3. The Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah / al-Qur'an wa Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah
4. Fundamentals of Religion / Usul al-Din
5. Worship, /'al- lbadat
6. Piety and the Pious / al-Taqwa wa al-Muttaqin
7. Fear and Hope /al-Khawf wa al-Raja '
8. Repentance, Forgiveness of Sins / al-Tawbah wa Ghufran al-Dhunub
9. Supplications / al-Du'a wa al-Ad'iyah al-Ma'thurah 'anh
10. Asceticism / al-Zuhd
11. Advices and Moral Lessons /al-Maw'izah wa al-I'tibar
12. Enjoining of Good and Forbidding of Evil / al-Amr Bi al- Ma'rufa al-Nahy 'an al-Munkar
13. Jihad, Battle Technique and Martyrdom / al-Jihad wa Fann al-Harb wa al-Shahadah
14. Islamic Ruler and his Qualities / al-Hakim al-Islami wa Khasa'isuh
15. Economic issues in Nahj al-Balaghah / al-Janib al- Iqtisadi fi al-Nahj al-Balaghah
16. The Greater Jihad or Self-Reform / Jihad al-Akbar aw Tahdhib al-Nafs
17. Ethics / al-Akhlaq
18. Family, Kinsfolk, Spouse, Educating Children and Neighbours / al-Usrah wa al-Aqraba' wa al-Mar'ah wa Tarbiyah al-Abna ' wa al-Jar
19. Friendship and Friends / Al-Sidaqah wa al-Asdiqa '
20 Historical Issues / al-Qazaya al-Tarikhiyyah
21. Judgement and Verdict/ al-Qaza ' wa al-Ifta '
22. Miscellaneous Issues / Mawazi ' Mutafarraqah
In addition to the above mentioned scholars and their definitions of the subjects found in Nahj al-Balaghah, several other researchers have listed their own categorization of the jewels of knowledge that this great book contains. Following are names of some of these works and their authors:
1. Faharis (Indices) Nahj al-Balaghah, Subhi Salih 29
2. Al-Had'i ila Mawzu 'at Nahj al-Balaghah, 'Ali Meshkini 30
3. Farhang-e Aftab, 'Abd al-Majid Mu'adikhawah 31'''
4. Qamus Nahj al-Baliighah, 32 Muhammad 'Ali Sharqi"
It is worth noting that in addition to the above-mentioned books and their authors, several researchers have written works on specific topics of Nahj al-Balaghah. The names of some of these books are mentioned below:
1. Hikmat Nazari wa 'Amali dar Nahj al-Balaghah by 'Abdullah Jawadi Amuli; 34
2. Insan Kamil dar Nahj al-Balaghah by Hasan Hasanzadeh Amuli: 35
3. Ilahiyyat dar Nahj al-Balaghah by Lutfullah Safi; 36
4. Dunya dar Nahj al-Balaghah by Sayyid Mahdi Shams al-Din;"37
5. Jahiliyyat az Didgah Qur'an wa Nahj al-Balaghah by Ahmad Sadiqi Ardestani:38
6. Jihad az Didgah Imam 'Ali dar Nahj al-Balaghah by 'Abbas 'Ali 'Amid Zanjani; 39
7. Khawarij az Didgah Nahj al-Balaghah by Husayn Nuri;40
8. Jami'ah az Didgah Nahj al-Balaghah by Waliyyullah Barzegar; 41
9. Hukumat-i Islami dar Nahj al-Balaghah,
produced by a team work. 42


1. Mas'udi, Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, p. 19.
2. Tusi, Muhammad bin al-Hasan, al-Fihrist, p. 107, No. 456.
3. Ibid., p. 72, No. 291; al-Najashi, al-Rijal, p. 236.
4. Ibid., p. 131, No. 579.
5. Ibid., p. 37.
6. Ibid., pp. 11 & 32.
7. Ibid., p. 4, No. 3.
8. Al-Najashi, al-Rijal, p. 140.
9. Ibid., p. 306.
10. IbnNadim, al-Fihrist, p. 108.
11. Tusi, p. 6, No. 8; al-Najashi, al-Rijal, p. 14.
12. Khawansari, Muhammad Baqir Musawi,
Jannat, vol. 5, p. 199.
13. Al-Najashi, al-Rijal, pp. 167-168
14. 'Allamah Hilli, al-Rijal, p. 130.
15. Al-Najashi, al-Rijal, pp. 13-14.
16. Ibid., p. 236.
17. Ibid., p. 265.
18. Ibid 239
19. This collection was researched and edited by Muhadith Urmawi and published by Tehran University, l 390 AH.
20. Tehrani, Aqa Buzurg, al-Dhari'ah, vol. 7, p. 187, vol. 14, pp. 111-112.
21. This is an offset version by Maktabah al-Mufid of the original edition published in Egypt.
22. Al-Dhari'ah, vol. 24. P. 53.
23. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, pp.530-573.
24. The Introduction written by Sayyid Razi to Nahj al-Balaghah.
25. Mutahhari, Murtaza, Sayri dar Nahj al-Balaghah, pp. 30-31.
26. Labib Bayzun, Tasnif Nahj al-Balaghah, pp. 9-26.
27. Ansariyan, 'Ali, al-Dalil 'ala al-Mauzu'at Nahj al- Balagah, pp. 9-15.
28. Al-Mu'jam al-Mawzu'I li Nahj al-Balaghah, pp. 464-500.
29. Lebanese researcher Subhi Salih has provided a list of indices at the end of Nahj al-Balaghah and arranged in alphabetical order the subjects he has derived from the book. Under each subject he has referred to the relevant text in Nahj al-Balaghah. There is also a subject-wise list of sermons and letters, while a third list classifies such subjects as matters related to faith, Shari'ah laws, philosophy, theology and social Issues.
30. The author has arranged the topics in Nahj al-Balaghah in alphabetical order, and under each topic, he has presented the relevant text from the book.
31. This is a 10-volume work is a lexicon in alphabetical order on the concepts mentioned in Nahj al-Balaghah. Under each entry, the relevant text from Nahj al-Balaghah together along its Persian translation has been given.
32. Although, this 4-volume book deals with definitions and interpretations of the words of Nahj al-Balaghah, it could also be called a subject-wise classification, since under each phrase, the relevant text is given.
33. There are other classifications, which are under process and have not yet been completed. Refer to "What do we know about Islam?" Nahj al-Balaghah, pp. 105-108 & pp. 111-114.
34. Jawadi Amuli, 'Abdullah, Hikmat Nazari wa 'Amali dar Nahj al-Balaghah, Qum, Daftar-i Intisharat Islami, 1362 S, 168pages.
35. Hasanzadah Amuli, Hasan, Insan Kamil dar Nahj al- Balaghah, 3rd edition, Nashr-i Roshangar, 1365 S, p. 176 pages. This book has been translated into Arabic by 'Abd al-Razzaq Iftikhari under the title "al-Insan al-Kamil fi Nahj ul-Bulaghah", and published by Mu'assasah al-Ma-arifal-Islamiyyah. 1416 AH,229 pages.
36. Safi Gulpayegani, Lutfullah, Ilahiyyat dar Nah al-
Balaghah, first edition, Bonyad-i Nahj al-Balaghah. 1361 S, 343
37 Shams al-Din, Mahdi, Dunya dar Nahj al-Balaghah, first
edition. Ministry of Islamic Culture & Guidance, Tehran, 1365 S,
147 pages.
38. Sadiqi Ardestani, Ahmad, Jahiliyyat az Didgah-i Qur'an wa Nahj al-Balaghah, Nashr-i Muhammad. Qum, 1362 S, 112pages.
39 'Amid Zanjani, 'Abbas 'Ali, Jihad az Didgah-i Imam Ali dar Nahj al-Balaghah, 5th edition, Ministry of Islamic Culture & Guidance, Tehran, 1366 S, 174 pages.
40. Nuri, Husayn, Khawarij az Didgah-i Nahj al-Balaghah,
Daftar-i Intisharat-i Islami, Qum, 1361 S, 175 pages.
41 Barzegar, Waliyyullah, Jami'ah az Didgah Nahj al-Balaghah, Sazman-i Tablighat-i Islami, Tehran, 1372 S, 447 pages.
42 Hukumat-i Islami dar Nahj al-Balaghah, by a group of researchers, Bonyad Nahj al-Balaghah, Tehran, 1368 S, 216 pages.
The Characteristics of the Just and Rightly Guided Imam in Nahjul Balagha
There is a famous tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) recorded by both - the Shias and the Ahle Sunnah traditionalists:
'One who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time, dies the death of ignorance.'
This means that even if a person accepts and conforms to all the Islamic beliefs and puts in practice all the edicts, but dies without recognizing the Imam of his time, his death will be on ignorance and apostasy. Such a person is condemned to eternal Hellfire regardless of his deeds in this world. This is because good deeds will only benefit a person provided his beliefs are correct, as espoused by the Quran and traditions. Hence, any person, who wants to secure himself from the raging fire of hell, should necessarily possess the recognition of the Imam of his time and not simply rely on his worship and virtuous deeds.