Sermon of ‘Al-Shaqshaqiya

A famous sermon of Ali-asws Ibn Abi Talib-asws, whicgh is well-known as ‘Al- Shaqshaqiya’, and it contains the complaint of the matter of the caliphate, then his-asws outweighing of being patient upon it, then pledging (allegiance) by the people to him-asws

أَمَا وَ اللَّهِ لَقَدْ تَقَمَّصَهَا فُلَانٌ [ابْنُ أَبِي قُحَافَةَ] وَ إِنَّهُ لَيَعْلَمُ أَنَّ مَحَلِّي مِنْهَا مَحَلُّ الْقُطْبِ مِنَ الرَّحَى يَنْحَدِرُ عَنِّي السَّيْلُ وَ لَا يَرْقَى إِلَيَّ الطَّيْرُ فَسَدَلْتُ‏ دُونَهَا ثَوْباً وَ طَوَيْتُ عَنْهَا كَشْحاً

But, by Allah-azwj, so and so (the son of Abu Qohafa) had clothed himself with it, and he knew very well that my-asws position from it is position of the axis is to the hand mill. The torrent rolled down from me-asws and the bird could not ascend to me-asws. So, I-asws dropped a cloth (curtain) between besides it and folded myself-asws inclining away from it.

وَ طَفِقْتُ أَرْتَئِي بَيْنَ أَنْ أَصُولَ بِيَدٍ جَذَّاءَ أَوْ أَصْبِرَ عَلَى طَخْيَةٍ عَمْيَاءَ يَهْرَمُ فِيهَا الْكَبِيرُ وَ يَشِيبُ فِيهَا الصَّغِيرُ وَ يَكْدَحُ فِيهَا مُؤْمِنٌ حَتَّى يَلْقَى رَبَّهُ‏

And I-asws contemplated between reaching out with a sharp cutting hand or being patient upon the blinding darkness during which the old ones became bewildered and the young ones became grey-haired, and the Momin toiled during it until he met his Lord-azwj.

The outweighing of patience

فَرَأَيْتُ أَنَّ الصَّبْرَ عَلَى هَاتَا أَحْجَى‏ فَصَبَرْتُ وَ فِي الْعَيْنِ قَذًى وَ فِي الْحَلْقِ شَجًا أَرَى تُرَاثِي‏ نَهْباً حَتَّى مَضَى الْأَوَّلُ لِسَبِيلِهِ فَأَدْلَى بِهَا إِلَى فُلَانٍ [ابْنِ الْخَطَّابِ‏] بَعْدَهُ

I-asws viewed that over here the patience was necessary, so I-asws was patient while there was the dirty spot in the eyes, and a lump struck in the throat. I-asws was my-asws inheritance being plundered until the first one (Abu Bakr) went on his way. He pointed with it to so and so (Son of Al-Khattab) after him’.

ثُمَّ تَمَثَّلَ بِقَوْلِ الْأَعْشَى‏

شَتَّانَ مَا يَوْمِي عَلَى كُورِهَا وَ يَوْمُ حَيَّانَ أَخِي جَابِرِ

Then he-asws quoted a parable of Al-A’sha, ‘My days are various, passing upon a camel’s back, and a day of Hayyan, brother of Jabir (ease)’.

فَيَا عَجَباً بَيْنَا هُوَ يَسْتَقِيلُهَا فِي حَيَاتِهِ إِذْ عَقَدَهَا لِآخَرَ بَعْدَ وَفَاتِهِ لَشَدَّ مَا تَشَطَّرَا ضَرْعَيْهَا

Oh, how strange! While he wanted to be excused from it (caliphate), then he collared it to another one after his own death, due to the intensity of what they had shared of its udders.

فَصَيَّرَهَا فِي حَوْزَةٍ خَشْنَاءَ يَغْلُظُ كَلْمُهَا وَ يَخْشُنُ مَسُّهَا وَ يَكْثُرُ الْعِثَارُ فِيهَا وَ الِاعْتِذَارُ مِنْهَا فَصَاحِبُهَا كَرَاكِبِ الصَّعْبَةِ إِنْ أَشْنَقَ‏ لَهَا خَرَمَ‏ وَ إِنْ أَسْلَسَ‏ لَهَا تَقَحَّمَ‏ فَمُنِيَ‏ النَّاسُ لَعَمْرُ اللَّهِ بِخَبْطٍ وَ شِمَاسٍ‏ وَ تَلَوُّنٍ وَ اعْتِرَاضٍ‏

He (Umar) made it to be in a harsh enclosure, harsh were its words and coarse was its touch, and the stumbles were a lot during it and so were the apologies from it. Its owner was like a rider on a difficult camel. If he were to pull its rein, it would tear its nose, and if he were to let it look, would be overthrown. By Allah-azwj, as a consequence, the people were reckless, wicked, unsteady, deviated.

فَصَبَرْتُ عَلَى طُولِ الْمُدَّةِ وَ شِدَّةِ الْمِحْنَةِ حَتَّى إِذَا مَضَى لِسَبِيلِهِ جَعَلَهَا فِي [سِتَّةٍ] جَمَاعَةٍ زَعَمَ أَنِّي أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَا لَلَّهِ وَ لِلشُّورَى‏ مَتَى اعْتَرَضَ الرَّيْبُ فِيَّ مَعَ الْأَوَّلِ مِنْهُمْ حَتَّى صِرْتُ أُقْرَنُ إِلَى هَذِهِ النَّظَائِرِ

I-asws was patient upon the prolonged length of the term and the severity of the test, until when he went on his way, he made it to be among a group of six. He alleged that I-asws was one of them. Oh, what Have I-asws to do with the consultation? Where was the objection of doubt regarding me-asws with the first of them until I-asws had to be paired to these ones as a match?

لَكِنِّي أَسْفَفْتُ‏ إِذْ أَسَفُّوا وَ طِرْتُ إِذْ طَارُوا فَصَغَا رَجُلٌ مِنْهُمْ لِضِغْنِهِ‏ وَ مَالَ الْآخَرُ لِصِهْرِهِ مَعَ هَنٍ وَ هَنٍ‏ إِلَى أَنْ قَامَ ثَالِثُ الْقَوْمِ نَافِجاً حِضْنَيْهِ‏ بَيْنَ نَثِيلِهِ‏ وَ مُعْتَلَفِهِ‏ وَ قَامَ مَعَهُ بَنُو أَبِيهِ يَخْضَمُونَ‏ مَالَ اللَّهِ- [خَضْمَ‏] خِضْمَةَ الْإِبِلِ نِبْتَةَ الرَّبِيعِ‏ إِلَى أَنِ انْتَكَثَ‏ عَلَيْهِ فَتْلُهُ وَ أَجْهَزَ عَلَيْهِ عَمَلُهُ وَ كَبَتْ‏ بِهِ بِطْنَتُهُ‏

But I-asws laid low when they laid low, and I-asws flew high when they flew. A man from them inclined away due to his grudge, and the other one inclined away due to his in-law relationship with this and that (excuse), until the third one of the group stood having his chest between the dung and the fodder, and the sons of his father (clan of Umayya) stood with him swallowing (digesting) the wealth of Allah-azwj like the digesting by the camel the foliage of spring, until his rope snapped and killed him, and his office equipped against him and his belly suppressed him.

Allegiances (pledged to) Ali-asws

فَمَا رَاعَنِي إِلَّا وَ النَّاسُ [إِلَيَ‏] كَعُرْفِ الضَّبُعِ‏ إِلَيَّ يَنْثَالُونَ‏ عَلَيَّ مِنْ كُلِّ جَانِبٍ حَتَّى لَقَدْ وُطِئَ الْحَسَنَانِ وَ شُقَّ عِطْفَايَ‏ مُجْتَمِعِينَ حَوْلِي كَرَبِيضَةِ الْغَنَمِ‏

Nothing alarmed me-asws except and the crowd of people were rushing towards me-asws from every side to the extent that Al-Hassan-asws and Al-Husayn-asws were trampled and two shirts of my-asws shirt was torn. They gathered around me-asws like the herd of sheep.

فَلَمَّا نَهَضْتُ بِالْأَمْرِ نَكَثَتْ طَائِفَةٌ وَ مَرَقَتْ أُخْرَى‏ وَ [فَسَقَ‏] قَسَطَ آخَرُونَ‏ كَأَنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَسْمَعُوا اللَّهَ سُبْحَانَهُ [حَيْثُ‏] يَقُولُ- تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُها لِلَّذِينَ لا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَ لا فَساداً وَ الْعاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ‏ بَلَى وَ اللَّهِ لَقَدْ سَمِعُوهَا وَ وَعَوْهَا وَ لَكِنَّهُمْ‏ حَلِيَتِ الدُّنْيَا فِي أَعْيُنِهِمْ وَ رَاقَهُمْ زِبْرِجُهَا

When I-asws got up with the command, a party broke (the allegiance), and another one reneged (and were mischievous), others deviated as if they had not heard Allah-azwj the Glorious Saying: That is the House of the Hereafter. We Make it to be for those who are not wanting to exalt themselves in the land nor make mischief, and the end-result is for the pious [28:83]. Yes, by Allah-azwj, they had heard it, and had retained it, but the world was adorned in their eyes, and its adornments seduced them.

أَمَا وَ الَّذِي فَلَقَ الْحَبَّةَ وَ بَرَأَ النَّسَمَةَ لَوْ لَا حُضُورُ الْحَاضِرِ وَ قِيَامُ الْحُجَّةِ بِوُجُودِ النَّاصِرِ وَ مَا أَخَذَ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْعُلَمَاءِ أَلَّا يُقَارُّوا عَلَى كِظَّةِ ظَالِمٍ وَ لَا سَغَبِ‏ مَظْلُومٍ لَأَلْقَيْتُ حَبْلَهَا عَلَى غَارِبِهَا وَ لَسَقَيْتُ آخِرَهَا بِكَأْسِ أَوَّلِهَا وَ لَأَلْفَيْتُمْ دُنْيَاكُمْ هَذِهِ أَزْهَدَ عِنْدِي مِنْ عَفْطَةِ عَنْزٍ

But, by the One-azwj Who Split the seed and Formed the person! Had it not been for the presence of the ones who had presented (for the allegiance), and establishing the argument by having found the help and what Allah-azwj has Taken upon the scholars not to yield to the gluttony of the oppressor and the severe hunger of the oppressed, I-asws would have cast its ropes upon its shoulders and would have quenched its last one with the cup of its last one, and you would have seen that his world of yours is more ascetic in my-asws view than the sneezing of a goat’.

قَالُوا وَ قَامَ إِلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ السَّوَادِ عِنْدَ بُلُوغِهِ إِلَى هَذَا الْمَوْضِعِ مِنْ خُطْبَتِهِ فَنَاوَلَهُ كِتَاباً قِيلَ إِنَّ فِيهِ مَسَائِلَ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْإِجَابَةَ عَنْهَا فَأَقْبَلَ يَنْظُرُ فِيهِ- [فَلَمَّا فَرَغَ مِنْ قِرَاءَتِهِ‏] [فَلَمَّا فَرَغَ مِنْ قِرَاءَتِهِ‏] قَالَ لَهُ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ [رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا] يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَوِ اطَّرَدَتْ [مَقَالَتُكَ‏] خُطْبَتُكَ‏ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفْضَيْتَ‏

They (reporters) said, ‘And a man from the people of the desert said at his-asws reaching to this place from his-asws sermon and gave him-asws a letter. It is said that in it were questioned he‑asws wanted to answer these. He-asws went on to look into it. When he-asws was free from reading it, Ibn Abbas said to him-asws, ‘O Amir Al-Momineen-asws! If you-asws could resume your-asws sermon (words) from where you-asws had become silent’.

فَقَالَ هَيْهَاتَ يَا ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ تِلْكَ شِقْشِقَةٌ هَدَرَتْ‏ ثُمَّ قَرَّتْ‏

He-asws said: ‘Far be it, O Ibn Abbas! That was a foam snorted by a camel, then it subsided’.

قَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا أَسَفْتُ عَلَى كَلَامٍ قَطُّ كَأَسَفِي عَلَى هَذَا الْكَلَامِ أَلَّا يَكُونَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع بَلَغَ مِنْهُ حَيْثُ أَرَادَ

Ibn Abbas said, ‘By Allah-azwj! I have not regretted upon any speech at all like my regret upon this speech when [1]Amir Al-Momineen could not reach from it to where he-asws had intended’.

[1] Nahj Al-Balagah – Sermon No. 3