Appendix C: A Word about the Compiler of Nahjul Balagha

A Word about the Compiler of Nahjul Balagha, Syed Mohammad Razi

Syed Razi compiled the sermons, letters, and sayings of Imam Ali (p) in Arabic, the original language, about one thousand years ago. This was about four hundred years after the death of Imam Ali.

Syed Razi was born in the city of Baghdad, in Iraq, in the Islamic calendar year 359 AH (969 AD.) He traced his lineage to Prophet Muhammad (s). He came from a noble family of scholars. His early education was under the tutelage of renowned scholar and theologian Shaikh Mofeed. Subsequently, he joined several institutions, the most notable of which was run by Abu Ishaq Ahmed ibn Mohammad Tabari. His subjects included the Qur’an, the Hadith (i.e., traditions and teachings of Prophet Muhammad), history of religions, philosophy, and literature. He was considered a prodigy by the scholars of his time. During his short lifespan of forty-seven years, he wrote many books. His commentary on the Qur’an is highly acclaimed by scholars.

Since his early age, he was interested in the writings and teachings of Imam Ali (p). Some of the earlier collected works of Imam Ali’s teaching had been lost. Syed Razi decided to recollect them. He traveled great distances to collect the sermons, letters, and sayings of Imam Ali, classifying them under those three headings, and gave the compilation the title of Nahjul Balagha (i.e., Peak of Eloquence). Despite failing health, his passion made him spend long hours each day for several years to collect the material. He made the utmost effort to guarantee the authenticity of the original writings.

Before his death, Syed Razi left behind some forty books written by him. Some of them are considered great literary and scholarly works, and perhaps none more so than Nahjul Balagha.