Sermon of the roar of a camel

Sermon of the roar of a camel

The roar of a camel (Arabic: "al-Shiqshiqiyya" or "ash-Shiqshiqiyya") is a sermon believed by Shi'a to have been delivered by Ali. It is most famous for being included in the letter and sermon collection Nahj al-Balagha. The sermon has also been included in many books, such as And then I was Guided.


Shi'a believe it proves that Ali felt himself bearing more right to the Caliphate and viewed that the first Caliphs were usurpersFact|date=February 2007. It is called "the roar of a camel" because in the middle of his address, Ali was presented with a letter. After reading the letter, he could not continue, saying that his speech was an improvisation, just like the roaring of a camel.

The chain of transmission for the Sermon is through Ibn Abbas in the first hand, after which the chains split, one going through Ikrimah and another through Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Ali.


The sermon, from [ ref] :

Beware! By Allah the son of Abu Quhafah ref|1 dressed himself with it ref|2 and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill ref|3. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. ref|4 I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it ref|5.

Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly ref|6the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old ref|7 and the true believer acts under strain until he meets Allah (on his death)ref|8. I found that endurance thereon was wiser ref|9. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat ref|10. I watched the plundering of my inheritance ref|11 till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself ref|12.

:"My days are now passed on the camel's back (in difficulty) while there were days (of ease) when I enjoyed the company of Jabir's brother Hayyan.ref|13

It is strange that during his lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate ref|14 but he confirmed it for the other one after his death ref|15. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves ref|16. This one put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough ref|17. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore ref|18. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation ref|19.

Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, til when he went his way (of death) ref|20 he put the matter (of Caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of themref|21. But good Heavens! what had I to do with this "consultation"? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones ref|22? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high ref|23. One of them turned against me because of his hatred ref|24 and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing ref|25, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder ref|26. With him his children of his grandfather ref|27, also stood up swallowing up Allah's wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring ref|28, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostrate ref|29.

At that moment, nothing took me by surprise, but the crowd of people rushing to me ref|30. It advanced towards me from every side like the mane of the hyena so much so that Hasan and Husayn were getting crushed and both the ends of my shoulder garment were torn. They collected around me like the herd of sheep and goats ref|31. When I took up the reins of government one party broke away ref|32 and another turned disobedient ref|33 while the rest began acting wrongfully ref|34 as if they had not heard the word of Allah saying::"That abode in the hereafter, We assign it for those who intend not to exult themselves in the earth, nor (to make) mischief (therein); and the end is (best) for the pious ones.

Yes, by Allah, they had heard it and understood it but the world appeared glittering in their eyes and its embellishments seduced them ref|35. Behold, by Him who split the grain (to grow) and created living beings ref|36, if people had not come to me and supporters had not exhausted the argument and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed ref|37 I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders ref|38, and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the first one ref|39. Then you would have seen that in my view this world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat.

(It is said that when Ali reached here in his sermon an Iraqi stood up and gave him a letter. Ali began looking at it, so Ibn `Abbas said, "O' Amir al-mu'minin, I wish you resumed your Sermon from where you broke it." Thereupon he replied, "O' Ibn `Abbas it was like the foam of a Camel which gushed out but subsided." Ibn `Abbas wrote that he never grieved over any utterance as he did over this one because Ali could not finish the sermon.)


Shi'a view:

* 1: "son of Abu Quhafah" (Arabic: "Ibn abi Quhafah") means Abu Bakr, the first Sunni Caliph, regarded by Shi'as as a usurper of Ali's right to power. Abu Bakr's father was nicknamed "Abu Quhafah", "father of Quhafah", probably because Abu Bakr had an elder brother named Quhafah.

* 2: "dressed himself with it", "it" refers to the Caliphate, the succession to Muhammad. "Being dressed with it" was a common metaphor of holding power. When the Uthmanwas asked to give up his power, he replied "I shall not put off this shirt which God has put on me". Ali, in referring to the ascension as "dressed himself with it" implies that Abu Bakr took it upon himself to grab power, without the approval of God.

* 3: This implies that the "hand-mill" (the Caliphate) can not work without the "axis" (Ali) being "dressed" in it.

* 4: Water is an allegory for knowledge. Some controversial hadith record Abu Bakr wishing to be a bird at the end of his life [] .

* 5: In the Shi'a interpretation, this is about Ali refusing to fight for the Caliphate, rejecting Abu Sufyan's allegiance, for fear of a civil war breaking out between Ali and Abu Bakr's partisans.

* 6: "Assault or endure". In the Shi'a interpretation, this refers to Ali and his partisans refusing to give allegiance to Abu Bakr, instead assembling in Fatima's house. Shi'a believe that Abu Bakr's partisans began a siege, and some of Ali's partisans wanted to attack, but Ali would not agree. Khalid and Umar set fire to the house and then broke in, fatally injuring Fatima and causing her to miscarry.

* 7: word play; young becomes like old, and becomes disempowered, while old becomes like young, and becomes weak.

* 8: This implies that it is hard to be a believer in those times; true believers lived under heavy strain.

* 9: In a hadith often quoted by Shi'a, Ali compares himself to Aaron when, according to the Qur'anFact|date=February 2007, he was demanded Moses explain why he let the people worship the Golden Calf. Aaron answered that he was afraid to start a civil war [ 20:94] . See also Hadith of position.

* 10: This implies the sorrow of mourning his wife.

* 11: This refers to Abu Bakr's refusal to give Fatima any inheritance, and maintaining that position when Ali demanded it again after Fatima's demise.

* 12: When Abu Bakr nominated Umar as the next Caliph.

Authenticity controversy

This sermon has become both well known and controversial. However, there is controversy regarding its authenticity.

The former Wahhabi and later Shi'a scholar Muhammad al-Tijani, wrote in his book And then I was Guided::"I remember, for example, when our Arabic Rhetoric teacher was teaching the Shaqshaqiyyah oration from the book Nahj al-Balaghah by Imam Ali, that I was puzzled, as were many other students, when we read it, but I dared to ask the following question: "Are these truly the words of Imam Ali?" He answered: "Definitely, who would have had this eloquence apart from him? If it were not his saying, why should the Muslim scholars like Shaykh Muhammad Abduh, the Mufti of Egypt, concern themselves with its interpretation?" Then I said, "Imam Ali accuses Abu Bakr and Umar that they robbed him of his right to succeed as Caliph".

:"The teacher was outraged and he rebuked me very strongly and threatened to expel me from the class, and added, "We teach Arabic Rhetoric and not history. We are not concerned with the dark episodes of history and its bloody wars between Muslims, and in as much as Allah has cleaned our swords from their blood, Not mentioning the faults of the Sahaba (Sunni doctrine)|let us clean our tongues by not condemning them". []

Many criticsFact|date=February 2007 have claimed that the sermon is a forgery of Al-Radhi, the compiler of Nahj al-Balagah. Proponents of the sermon argue that the quality of the sermon is higher than the ability of Al-Radhi, and that others referred to the sermon centuries before Al-Radhi was born. has a translation of Nahj al-Balagha, and its footnotes include some quotes from non-Shi'a scholars including some who lived before Al-Radhi, in order to prove that the hadith is authentic.

References for the Sermon

*Nahj al-Balagha
*Al-Mufid, al-Jamal, 62; (Sheikh al-Mufid in kitabal irshad says it has been passed down by many isnads)
*Ibn Qubbah, al-'Insaf, see Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh, I, 69, see also `Abd al-Zahra', I, 309-310;
*al-Saduq, Ma`ani, 344;
*al-Hasan ibn `Abd Allah al-`Askari, from him al-Saduq in Ma`ani;
*Ibn `Abd Rabbih, al-`Iqd, IV, see `Abd al-Zahra', I, 311-312 and al-Majlisi, Bihar, vol.8, 160;
*al-Ka`bi (d.319/931) - see Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh, I, 69;
*Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Manaqib, see Bihar, vol.8, 160; and `Abd al-Zahra', I, 310-11;
* al-Mufid, al-'Irshad, 135;
*al-Qadi `Abd al-Jabbar, al-Mughni, see al-Ghadir, VII, 83;
*al-Saduq, `Ilal, bab al-`illat allati min ajliha taraka Amir al-Mu'minin (A) mujahadat ahl al-khilaf;
*Abu Sa`id al-'Abi, Nathr al-durar and Nuzhat al-'adib, see `Abd al-Zahra', I, 313;
*al-Murtada, al-Shafi, 203, 204;
*al-Haffar, al-'Insaf from him al-Tusi in al-'Amali;
*al-Tusi, al-'Amali, I, 392;
*Qutb al-Din Rawandi, Sharh, from Ibn Mardawayh and al-Tabarani;
*Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Tadhkirah, 133;
*al-Harrani, Tuhaf, 313;
*al-Murtada, Sharh al-Khutbat al-Shiqshiqiyyah, see A`yan al-Shi`ah, vol. 41, p. 195;
*al-Tabarsi, al-'Ihtijaj; I, 95; for a detailed discussion of sources, see `Abd al-Zahra', I, 309-324.

ee also

*List of notable Muslim reports

External links


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