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Sahifah Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S)
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S), the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was known for his vast knowledge and understanding of Islam. He was a prominent figure in Islamic history and played a significant role in the development of Islamic jurisprudence. Sahifah Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S) is considered one of the earliest collections of Hadiths, that were compiled during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (May Allah shower His blessings and peace on him). It might be the first book of Hadiths.
There are narrations from some of Imam Ali's (A.S) companions that mention a Sahifah or a collection of Hadiths attributed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Imam Ali (A.S) had compiled.
عَنْ مَعْمَرٍ , عَنْ قَتَادَةَ
قِيلَ لِعَلِيٍّ هَلْ عَهِدَ إِلَيْكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ شَيْئًا؟
لَا إِلَّا مَا فِي هَذَا الْقِرَابَ , فَأَخْرَجَ مِنَ الْقِرَابِ صَحِيفَةً
This hadith is narrated by Ma'mar from Qatadah who said: It was said to Ali (A.S), "Did the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) entrust you with anything?" He said, "No, except what is in this container." So he took out a scroll from the container.
عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، قَالَ: قُلْتُ لِعَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ: عِنْدَكُمْ شَيْءٌ سِوَى كِتَابِ اللهِ؟ قَالَ: لَا والله، إِلَاّ مَا فِي قِرَابَةِ هَذَا السَّيْفِ صَحِيفَةً صَغِيرَةً، قَالَ: فَوَجَدْنَا فِيهَا: لَعَنَ اللهُ مَنْ أَهَلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللهِ، وَلَعَنَ اللهُ مَنْ تَوَلَّى لِغَيْرِ مَوَالِيهِ
On the authority of Abu al-Tufayl, he said: I asked Ali ibn Abi Talib, "Do you have anything (WRITTEN) besides the Book of Allah?" He replied: "No, by Allah, except for a small scroll within the vicinity of this sword." He added, "We found in it the words: 'May Allah curse those who sacrifice (an animal) for someone other than Allah, and may Allah curse those who attribute themselves to other than their masters..'"
The same Hadith is narrated in Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal and Sahih ibn Hibban in these words:
عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، قَالَ: سُئِلَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي
طَالِبٍ: أَخَصَّكُمْ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلى الله عَلَيه وسَلم بِشَيْءٍ؟ قَالَ: مَا
خَصَّنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلى الله عَلَيه وسَلم بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يُعَمِّمْ بِهِ
النَّاسَ كَافَّةً، إِلَاّ مَا كَانَ فِي قِرَابِ سَيْفِي هَذَا، فَأَخْرَجَ
Abu al-Tufail reported: Ali ibn Abi Talib was asked, "Did the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) single you out for something?" Ali replied, "The Messenger of Allah did not single us out for anything that he did not make general for all the people except for what is in the sheath of this sword," and he then brought out a written scroll.
Imam Hakim Neshapuri (R.A) had provided a number of chains for this Hadith in al-Mustadrak (Chapter Virtues of Ali ibn Abi Talib). Researchers should consult this chapter.
Based on the narrations we provided, it appears that the Sahifah of Imam Ali (A.S) contained Prophetic instructions about important issues, including criminal laws and family laws. However, it's important to note that the exact contents of the Sahifah are not fully known.
Sahifah Imam Ali (A.S) had been passed from generation to generation in Imam Ali’s family. Imam Baqir (A.S) and Imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq (A.S) have been reported to have the Sahifah. Though these narrations attribute some unusual things to the said Sahifah, still they confirm the existence of that scroll.
Even Shia scholars agree that Sahifah Imam Ali (A.S) contained Prophetic traditions. Sayed Mohsin al-Amin, the author of the famous biographic book A’ayan al-Shia mentions a number of traditions from Imam Baqir (A.S) and his son Imam Sadiq (A.S) regarding the content of the said scroll. They agree that this scroll contained Prophetic traditions.
Sahifah Imam Ali (A.S) was not in the form of a book, but a scroll. A scroll is a long, narrow, and usually cylindrical object made from parchment, papyrus, paper, or other material, used for writing or recording information. Scrolls were commonly used in ancient times before the development of bound books. The scroll was often made by pasting together several sheets of the same material, which were then rolled up around a central rod or spindle. The scroll could then be unrolled by pulling on the edges, and the text or image on the surface of the scroll could be read or viewed. Scrolls could be of different sizes, depending on the purpose and the amount of information to be recorded. Some scrolls were several feet in length and required two people to hold and read them.