We were told that Ali bin Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him) advised me:
“Ali! I am giving you advice, so accept it. You will remain in good as long as you follow my advice. Ali, there are three signs of the believer: obligatory prayer, fasting and alms. The pretender has three signs: he flatters when someone is present, backbites when the person is absent, and curses affliction. The wrongdoer has three signs: he overpowers those under him, disobey those above him, and abets injustice.
The one who shows off has three signs: he is energetic when he is with people, lazy when he is alone, and wants to be praised in all matters. The hypocrite has three signs: when he speaks, he lies; when he promises he breaks it; and when he is trusted he betrays. Ali, the lazy person has three signs: he is slow until he neglects, neglects until he loses, and loses until he sins. The intelligent person should be intent only in three things: getting livelihood right, pleasure in what is not unlawful or a step he takes for the Next World.
“Ali, part of certainty is that you do not please anyone by angering God, you do not praise anyone for what God has given him, nor do you censure anyone for what God has not given him. Provision is not procured by the greed of someone avaricious nor is it turned aside by the dislike of one who dislikes it. God—glory be to Him and Exalted is He—placed rest and joy in certainty and pleasure in the distribution of God. He placed sorrow and care in displeasure at God’s distribution.
“Ali, there is no poverty worse than ignorance and no wealth more generous than the intellect. There is no isolation more alienating than pride and no support more reliable than consultation. There is no faith like certainty and no scrupulousness like refraining. There is no beauty like beauty of character and no worship like reflection.
“Ali! Everything has a bane. The bane of speech is lying. The bane of knowledge is forgetting. The bane of worshipping is showing off. The bane of elegance is pomposity. The bane of courage is injustice. The bane of magnanimity is making someone feel indebted. The bane of beauty is haughtiness. The bane of lineage is boasting. The bane of modesty is weakness. The bane of nobility is boasting. The bane of graciousness is miserliness. The bane of generosity is extravagance. The bane of worship is arrogance. The bane of the religion is passion.
“Ali, when someone praises you to your face, say, ‘O God, make me better than what they say; forgive me for what they do not know, and do not call me to account for what they say.’ Then you will be safe from whatever they say.
“Ali, when you are performing the obligatory fast, when you end fast in the evening say, ‘O God, I have fasted for You and I end the fast with Your provision,’ and then the reward of those who fasted that day will be written for you without that decreasing their rewards. Know that every faster has a supplication which is answered. If anyone says with the first morsel he takes when he breaks fast, ‘In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, Ever Merciful. O Vast of forgiveness! Forgive me,’ he will be forgiven. Know that fasting is a veil against the Fire.
“Ali, do not face the sun and moon, but turn your back on them. There is an illness in facing them and a healing in turning your back on them.
“Ali, recite Surah YaSin (Chapter 36) often. The recitation of YaSin contains ten blessings. No one is hungry recites it but he is filled. No one who is thirsty recites it but he is quenched. No one who is naked recites it but he is clothed. No one who is ill recites it but that he is healed. No one who is fearful recites it but that he obtains security. No one in prison recites it but that he is released. No one who is unmarried recites it but that he marries. No one traveling recites it but he is helped in his journey. No one with a lost animal recites it but that the animal is found. No one recites it in the presence of a dying person but that his death is eased for him. No one recites it in the morning but that he will be secure until evening. If someone recites in the evening, he will be secure until morning.
“Ali, recite Chapter The Smoke (Chapter 44) on Friday night and you will be forgiven in the morning.
“Ali, recite the Throne Verse after every obligatory prayer and you will be given the hearts of the thankful, the reward of the Prophets and the actions of the righteous.
“Ali, recite Chapter The Exile (Chapter 59) and you will be gathered safe from everything on the Day of Resurrection.
“Ali, recite Surah Tabarak (Chapter 67) and the Chapter Prostration (Chapter 32) and it will save you from the terrors of the Day of Resurrection.
“Ali, recite Surah Tabarak when you go to sleep and the punishment of the grave and the questioning of Munkar and Nakir will be removed from you.
“Ali, recite Chapter The Sincerity (Chapter 112) when you do ablution and you will be addressed on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O praiser of God, rise and enter the Garden!’
“Ali, recite Chapter The Cow (Chapter 2). Its recitation is a blessing and abandoning it will be regret. The vain are not able to do that, meaning sorcerers.
“Ali, do not sit in the sun for a long time. That produces a hidden illness, wears out clothes and changes one’s color.
“Ali, there is security for you from burning in saying, ‘Glory be to You, my Lord, There is no god but You. I have relied on You and You are the Lord of the Immense Throne.’
“Ali, there is security for you from Satan’s whispering in reciting, ‘When you recite the Quran, We place an obscuring veil between you and those who do not believe in the Next World… they turn their backs and run away.’ (17:45-46)
“Ali, there is security for you from the evil of everyone who possesses the evil eye in saying, ‘Whatever God wills will be and whatever He does not will not be. I testify that God has power over all things and that God encompasses all things in knowledge and has numbered everything precisely. There is no power nor strength except by God.’
“Ali, eat oil and apply oil to your skin. If someone eats oil and applies oil, Satan will not come near him for forty mornings.
“Ali, begin with salt and end with salt. Salt is a healing for seventy illness, including madness, leprosy, white leprosy, sore throat, toothache and stomach pains.
“Ali, if you eat, say, ‘In the Name of God.’ When you finish say, ‘Praise belongs to God.’ Your guardian angels will not cease recording for you good deeds until the food is expelled from you.
“Ali, when you see the new moon at the beginning of the month, say ‘God is greater’ three times and then say, ‘Praise belongs to God who created me and created you, and determined you in stages and made you a sign for the world.’ Then God will be boast of you to the angels. He says, ‘O My angels, bear witness that I have freed this servant from the Fire.’
“Ali, when you look into a mirror, say, ‘O God, as You made my physique good, make my character good and provide for Me.’
“Ali, when you see a lion and the situation is dangerous for you, say ‘God is greater’ (takbir) three times ad then say, ‘God is greater, more majestic and mightier than what I fear and am afraid of. O God, I ward it off by You. I seek refuge with You from its evil.’ Then you will be protected with God’s permission. When you see a dog howling, recite, ‘Company of jinn and men, if you are able to piece through the confines of the heavens and the earth, pierce through them. You will not pierce through except with a clear authority’ (55:33).
“Ali, when you leave your house for something you need, then recite the Throne Verse and your need will be fulfilled, God willing.
“Ali, when you do ablution, say ‘In the Name of God’ and recite the blessings on the Messenger of God.
“Ali, supplicate in the night, even then amount of time it takes to milk a sheep. Pray to God—glory be to Him!—before dawn and your supplication will not be rejected. God—glory be to Him!—says, ‘Those who seek forgiveness before dawn’ (3:17).
“Ali, wash the dead. Anyone who washes the dead will receive seventy acts of forgiveness. If one act of forgiveness among them were to be distributed among all creation, it would have embraced them all.” I asked, “Messenger of God, what should someone who washes the dead say?” He (may blessings and peace be upon him) replied, ‘He should say “Your forgiveness, O Merciful,” until he finishes the washing.’
“Ali, do not go out alone on a journey. Satan is with the one alone, and he is further from two. Ali, when a man travels alone, he errs. Two together err, and three are a troop. Ali, when you travel, do not camp in valleys: they are the refuge of wild animals and snakes.
“Ali, do not let three ride on one animal. One of them will be cursed, and he is the one at the front.
“Ali, when your child is born, girl or boy, recite the call to obligatory prayer (adhan) in the right ear and the declaration to assemble for the obligatory prayer (iqamah) in the left ear. Then Satan will not harm the child. Ali, do not go to your family on the night of the crescent moon or the middle night of the month: it will alarm your insane child.” Ali asked, “Why, Messenger of God?” He replied, “Because there are jinn who often come to have intercourse with your women on the middle night of the month and the night of the crescent moon. Have you not observed that the mad person has fits on the middle nights of the month and the nights of the crescent moon?”
“Ali, when a hardship befalls you, say, ‘O God, I ask You by the right of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad to save me.’ When you want to enter a city or town, say when you see it, ‘O God, I ask You for the good of this city and the good of what You have written in it and I seek refuge with You from its evil and the evil of what You have written in it. O God, provide me with the good of it and protect me from the evil of it and make its people love me and make its righteous people beloved to me.’
“Ali, when you alight in a campsite, say, ‘O God, put us in a blessed campsite. You are the best of those with whom one can alight. Provide us with the good of it and defend us from its evil.’
“Ali, beware of my vision. You will not understand its wisdom nor be safe from its trial.
“Ali, beware of entering a bath-house without wearing a waist wrapper. The looker and the one looked at are both cursed.
“Ali, do not wear a ring on your index and middle fingers. That was part of the behavior of the people of Lot.
“Ali, do not wear clothes dyed with saffron, and do not spend the night in a red blanket. That attracts Satan.
“Ali, do not recite during bowing forward and prostration.
“Ali, beware of argumentation: it cancels actions.
“Ali, do not chide the beggar, even if he comes to you riding a horse. Give to him. Charity falls into the hand of God before it falls into the hand of the asker.
“Ali, hasten to give charity. Affliction does not outstrip charity.
“Ali, you must have good character. By that you will obtain the level of the one who stands in voluntary prayer at night and fasts in the day.
“Ali, beware of anger. Satan has power over the son of Adam when he is angry.
“Ali, beware of joking. It removes the glory and energy of the son of Adam.
“Ali, you must recite Chapter The Sincerity (Chapter 112) It wards off poverty. Beware of usury. It obtains six qualities: three in this world and three in the Next World. The three in this world are: hastening exhaustion, removing wealth and wiping out provision. Those in the Next World are: an evil account, the anger of the Lord Almighty, and eternity in the Fire (or isolation—the transmitter is unsure which).
“Ali, when you enter your house, greet the people of the house: there is much good in doing that.
“Ali, love the poor and wretched and God will love you. Do not rebuff the poor and wretched so that the angels rebuff you on the Day of Resurrection.
“Ali, you must give charity. It averts evil from you. Ali, spend and be expansive to your dependents and do not fear that the Master of the Throne will give you little.
“Ali, when you ride an animal, say, “Praise be to God who honored us, guided us to Islam, and who bestowed Muhammad (may blessings and peace be upon him) on us. Praise be to God who has subjected this to us. We could never have done it by ourselves. Indeed we are returning to our Lord” (43:13-14).
“Ali, do not be angry when you are told ‘fear God’. That will be evil for you on the Day of Resurrection.
“Ali, God likes His servant to say, ‘O God, forgive me. Only You forgive wrong actions.’ God says, ‘My angels, this servant of Mine knows that none forgives wrong action but Me. Bear witness that I have forgiven him.’
“Ali, when you put on a new garment, say, ‘In the Name of God, and praise be to God who has clothed me in what will conceal my private parts and freed me from need of people by it.’ He will forgive you before the garment reaches your knees. Ali, when someone puts on a new garment, he should clothe a poor person, naked orphan or wretched person who is in the neighborhood of God, grant him security and preserve him as long as there is a thread remaining in it.
“Ali, when you enter the market say, ‘In the Name of God. I bear witness that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.’ God Almighty will say, ‘This servant of Mine remembered Me while people are heedless. Bear witness that I have forgiven him.’ Ali, God is amazed at those who remember Him in the markets. When you enter the mosque, say, ‘In the Name of God. Peace be upon the Messenger of God. O God, open for me the doors of Your mercy.’ When you leave, say, ‘In the Name of God. Peace be upon the Messenger of God. O God, open for me the doors of Your bounty.’
“Ali, when you hear the caller to obligatory prayer (muadhdhin), repeat the same as what he says and the equivalent of his reward will be written for you.
“Ali, when you finish ablution, say, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. O God, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves,’ and you will emerge from your wrong actions as the day your mother bore you and you will be told, ‘Enter whichever one you wish.’
“Ali, when you finish eating, say, “Praise belongs to God who has fed us and given us to drink and made us Muslims.’
“Ali, when you drink, say, “Praise belong to God, who has given us drink, and made it sweet and pleasing by His mercy and did not make it salty and brackish by our wrong actions.’ You will be written as thankful.
“Ali, beware of lies. Lies blacken the face. A man continues to lie until he is called a liar with God and he continues to tell the truth until he is called truthful with God. Lying shuns faith.
“Ali, do not backbite anyone. Backbiting breaks the obligatory fast. The one who backbites people will eat his flesh on the Day of Resurrection. Ali, beware of scandalmongering. The scandalmonger will not enter the Garden.
“Ali, do not swear by God, whether you are lying or telling the truth. Ali, do not, by your oaths, ‘make God a pretext’ (2:224). God will not show mercy and not purify anyone who swears by God to a lie.
“Ali, control your tongue and accustom it to good. On the Day of Rising, the servant will not fear anything more than he fears his tongue.
“Ali, beware of obstinacy. It will be regret.
“Ali, beware of greed. Greed expelled your father from the Garden.
“Ali, beware of envy. Envy consumes good actions like fire consumes firewood.
“Ali, woe to the one who lies to make people laugh. Woe to him. Woe to him.
“Ali, you must use the tooth-stick (siwak). It purifies the mouth, pleases the Lord and cleans the teeth. Ali, you must get in between the teeth. There is nothing that the angels hate more that to see food stuck in a person’s teeth.”
Ali, peace be upon him, asked, “Messenger of God, tell me about the words of God Almighty which Adam received from his Lord so that He turned to him (cf. 2:37). What are those words?”
The Prophet (may blessings and peace be upon him) “Adam (peace be upon him) descended in India, Eve in Jiddah, the serpent in Isfahan and Iblis in Baysan. In the Garden there was nothing more beautiful that the serpent and the peacock. The serpent has feet like those of a camel. When Iblis, may God curse him, entered inside of it and tempted and deceived Adam (peace be upon him) then God Almighty was angry at the snake and removed its legs from it. He said, ‘I will place your provision in the earth and I will make you crawl on your belly. May God not show His mercy to the one who shows mercy to you. God was angry at the peacock and scoured its feet because it guided Iblis to the tree.
“Adam remained for a hundred years without lifting his head to heaven, weeping over his error. He sat in sorrow and so God sent Gabriel (peace be upon him) to him. He said, ‘Peace be upon you, Adam. God, the Almighty and Exalted, sends you peace and says to you, “Did I not create you with My hand and breathe into you of My Spirit? Did not the angels prostrate to you? Did I not marry you to Eve? So what is the reason for this weeping?”‘
“He replied, ‘Gabriel, what could keep me from weeping when I have left the vicinity of my Lord?’ Gabriel (peace be upon him) said to him, ‘Adam, speak these words and God Almighty will forgive your wrong action and accept your repentance.’ He asked, ‘What are they?’ He said, ‘Say, “O God, I ask you by the right of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. Glory be to You, O God and by Your praise. I have done evil and wronged myself. No one forgives wrong actions except You. Show mercy to me. You are the best of those who show mercy. Glory be to You and by your praise. There is no god but You. I have done evil and wronged myself. You are the Ever-Turning, Most Merciful. Glory be to You and by your praise. There is no god but You. I have done evil and wronged myself, so forgive me. You are the best of those who forgive.”‘ Those are the words.
“Ali, he forbade you to kill house snaked except for the flat-nosed and short-tailed, They are satans. Ali. When you see a snake in your baggage, do not kill it until you ask it to come out of the baggage three times. When you repeat a fourth time, then kill it. Ali, when you see a snake in the road, kill it. I have stipulated that the jinn not to appear in the form of snakes on the road. Any of them who does so leaves himself open to killing.
“Ali, wretchedness has four qualities: an inflexible being, hard heart, far-reaching hope, and love of this world.
“Ali, I forbid you four terrible qualities: envy, avarice, lying and anger.
“Ali, shall I tell you about the worst of people?” He replied, ‘Yes, Messenger of God.” He said, “Someone who travels alone, refuses to give, and strikes his servant. Shall I tell of which is the worst of all these?’ He replied, “Yes, Messenger of God. The one whose good is not hoped for and from whose evil is not safe.
“Ali, when you pray at a funeral, say, ‘O God, this is Your servant and the son of Your servant and the son of Your female servant. Your jugement regarding him has occurred. You created him when He was not a thing remembered and he has alighted with You. Be the best of host to him. O God, teach him his proof and join him to his Prophet (may blessings and peace be upon him) and support him with the firm statement. He needs You while You have no need of him. He used to testify that there is no god but God, so forgive him and show mercy to him. Do not deprive us of his reward. Do not tempt us after him. O God, if he is pure, then purify him. If he erred, then forgive him.’
“Ali, when you pray at a woman’s funeral, say, ‘O God, You created her and You gave her life and You made her die. You know her mystery and what she makes public. We have come to you to intercede for her, so forgive her, show mercy to us, do not deprive us of her reward and do not tempt us after her.’ If you pray over a child, say, ‘O God, make him a forerunner for his parents. Make him a treasure for them, make him a guide for them, make him a light for them, and make him one who precedes them, and brings his parents into the Garden. Do not deprive them of his reward nor tempt them after him.’
“Ali, when you perform ablution, say, ‘O God, I ask you for full ablution and Your full forgiveness and pleasure.’
“Ali, when the believing servant reaches the age of forty, God will grant him security from three afflictions: insanity, leprosy and white leprosy. When he reaches sixty years, he is advancing. After sixty, he is retreating. God provides him with a turning to what he loves, When he reaches seventy, the people of the heavens and the righteous people of the earth love him. When he reaches eighty, his good actions are recorded for him and his evil actions are removed from him. When he reaches ninety, God forgives his former and later wrong actions. When he reaches a hundred, God writes his name for him in the heaven, the captive of God in the earth. He is the prisoner of God Almighty.
“Ali, remember my advice. You are following the truth and the truth is with you.”
-Muhyi din Ibn al-‘Arabi, The Mysteries of Bearing Witness to the Oneness of God and Prophethood of Muhammad – Translated by Aisha Bewley