One of the methods that is practiced by speech-makers is the beautification of speech by the inclusion of eloquent quotes. In the Muslim world, in both early and contemporary times, this is often practiced with the inclusion of Qur’anic verses in one’s speech. It is important to make the distinction that such cases have nothing to do with emphasizing rulings, but rather, it is simply to make the speech more elegant.
An example would be a speech of one who would condemn his opponents who would argue with no evidence. The speaker would then quote the noble verse, “And man is most of all given to contention.” (18:54)
Or for example, one who is trying to acquit himself from accusations of assistance in a crime would quote, “Nor can the bearer of a burden bear the burden of another.” (17:15)
In both cases, those giving the speeches obviously lack the ability to match the Qur’an, and thus, resort to quoting it in order to get their points across in the most eloquent manner.
In this article, we will be providing examples of Ali quoting poetry by pre-Islamic poets and his contemporaries with the intention of the beautification of his speeches. The purpose of this is to show that Ali did not have eloquence that surpassed the eloquence of all men as Shias often exaggerate.
Examples of Ali Quoting Poetry
- In Sermon #160, he quotes Imru’ Al-Qais: Now leave this story of devastation about which there is hue and cry all round.
- In Sermon #3 he quotes Al-A’asha: 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.”
- In Sermon #35, he quotes Duraid bin Al-Simma: I gave you my orders at Mun`araji’l-liwa but you did not see the good of my counsel till the noon of next day (when it was too late).
- In Letter #28 (267), he quotes Hamal bin Badr Al-Qushairi: “Wait a little till Hamal joins the battle.”
- In the same letter, he quotes Abu Thu’aib Al-Huthali, “This is a matter for which no blame comes to you.”
- In Letter #64 (303), he quotes Bishr bin Abi Khazim Al-Asadi, “They are advancing against summer winds which are hurling stones on them in the highlands and lowlands.”
There are other examples of poetry that Ali quotes, however, we were unable to find a source for the poetry, so the above will suffice.
As we can see from the above, Ali’s quoting of poetry is a testament to the superiority of those poets in eloquence. If Ali believed that he was more eloquent he could have recited poetry of his own instead. This is a simple yet powerful proof that Ali’s eloquence was not unattainable by normal humans, rather, it shows that he is inferior in eloquence to the greatest poets like Imru’ Al-Qais and Al-A’asha.