Available in English

“Ali's Contemplations on this World and the Hereafter in the Context of His Life and Times”

5 August 2016

We are pleased to present this fascinating paper by Shzd Dr Tahera Baisaheba that explores one of the primary themes of Amirul Mumineen’s SA orations (khutbahs): the contemplations on this world and the Hereafter.  Click here to download the PDF.

The article entitled “Ali's Contemplations on this World and the Hereafter” was published in Essays in Islamic Philology (ed. Ali Reza Korangy et al 2016). (To purchase the collection of essays click here.)

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Discussing ʿAlī’s oration defending this world, Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd implicitly refers to the context as justifying the 180-degree turn from ʿAlī’s usual approach, and he comments: “This piece is in praise of the world, and it illustrates ʿAlī’s ability to control his themes, maneuvering them in any which way he wished. Almost all his orations are in censure of the world, whereas here, he praises it. But he is true there, and he is true here.” Even in the orations that contain harsh condemnation of this world, if we look closely, the approach is more complex than meets the eye. Although ʿAlī is saying that the world deceives, through his castigation of the world, he is, in fact, metonymically castigating the people of the world— humans, who by their own volition have become enamored of her, to the degree that they have become oblivious to the hereafter. Knowledge of the context is vital in interpreting these oratorical texts. Just as ʿAlī’s orations help explain his times and scenes, his times and scenes help explain his orations. Understanding the background of his orations gives us a fuller awareness of why they were said and what they meant to their original audience. As we have seen, the orations discussed in this article are firmly grounded in the political reality of ʿAlī’s time, as well as in the literary scene of early Islamic Arabia. Contextualization provides us with a richer sense of those associations.