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on 16 February 2014
'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d.40/661), the forth rightly guided caliph and son in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (ṣallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) was a renowned sage of Islamic wisdom. The insight and knowledge he possessed was astounding. The sayings and sermons contained within this work are an astute window to the dangers of this world. The acumen of `Alī captivates you with such eloquence that it leaves you reflecting over his words. As Dirār ibn Damrah al-Sudāʿī al-Nahshalī, the close companion of 'Alī described him, "Wisdom spoke upon his tongue."

Tahera Qutbuddin has done a wonderful job in translating this work in to English. It couldn't have been easy to mimic idioms, allegories and maxims from the original Arabic in to English. I wouldn't know if the deeper meaning of the sayings has been lost in the English but the translator makes mention that a lot of effort has gone in to conveying the spirit of what is being said in Arabic. I had no issues but for those that are interested, the original Arabic is presented parallel to the English translation.

The work is largely made up of the translation of "A Compendium of Signposts of Wisdom and Documentation of Qualities of Virtue from the Words of the Commander of the Faithful 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib" by al-Qāḍī al-Qudāʿī (d. 454/1062) who was a Sunni-Shāfiʿī jurist, and a scholar of hadith and history living under the rule of the Shīʿah Fatimids in Egypt. He was made judge over the Sunni subjects in Cairo where he lived and died. He wrote this work due to the success of his earlier work which was in the same vein but about the Prophet Muhammad (ṣallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) entitled, "The Blazing Star". A friend then encouraged him to compile a similar collection with regard to the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (ṣallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wasallam), 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib to which he complied. In addition to this work, a shorter work "One Hundred Proverbs" has also been presented. It is attributed to the famous Muʿtazilah Arabic literary figure, Abū `Uthman `Amr ibn Baḥr al-Jāhiz (d. 255/869). It consists of thirty-five pages, while "A Treasury of Virtues" by al-Qudāʿī is made up of one hundred and ninety-six pages including the Arabic original. The larger work, "A Treasury of Virtues" has been split in to ten chapters:

A Treasury of Virtues
Wise Sayings
Censure of this World and Exhortations to Reject Worldliness
Prescriptions and Proscriptions
'Alī's Questions with Answers, and 'Alī's Answers to Questions
Sayings with Unusual Words
Unique Sayings and Pithy Words
Prayers and Supplications

I highly recommend you purchase this book. The sayings, sermons and counsels of 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib contained in this work are ethical and humanitarian. They are in relation to humankind, encouraging virtues such as honesty, sincerity and moderation as well as warning against such vices as greed, oppression and stinginess. They also contain supplications to God, to worship Him, censures of this world, warnings of the transitory nature of human life and preparation for the hereafter. You will be moved by his words. He was an ocean of knowledge and wisdom and thankfully some of that wisdom has been captured for all to read. You will find advice and life lessons in his wise words throughout this work, "Whoever delights in his own opinion will go astray; whoever suffices himself with his own knowledge will slip; and whoever is too arrogant to ask others for advice will be humbled." 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, the Commander of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with him.
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on 4 June 2016
Here is a scholarly and amusing translation of the Iranian Theologian-Philosopher Al-Jahiz' adab.

The pieces, in their earthiness, speak many a lesson with facility, for it is well-known the mischievous style employed by Al-Jahiz lightens solemnity favoured by other Teachers, and his conversancy with life imparts a certain raw keenness to the registers Al-Jahiz allows himself.

"Speech is the heart's interpreter.." indeed, and Mr Colville has gathered and presented a charming tribute to Al-Jahiz for all to savour and enjoy.
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