LettersNahjul Balagha

Letter 17

In reply to a letter from Muawiya

As for your demand to me to (hand over) Syria, I cannot give you today what I denied you yesterday. As regards your saying that the war has eaten up Arabia save its last breath, you should know that he whom right has eaten up goes to Paradise and he whom wrong has eaten up goes to Hell. As for our equality in (the art of) war and in (numbers of) men, certainly you cannot be more penetrating in doubtfulness (of belief) than I am in certainty (of belief), and the people of Syria are not more greedy for this world than the people of Iraq are for the next world.

As for your saying that both of us are sons of Abd Manaf, it is no doubt so, but Umayyah cannot be like Hashim, nor Harb like Abdul Muttalib, nor can Abu Sufyan be like Abu Talib. The muhajir cannot be a match for him who was set free (on fall of Mecca), nor can one of pure descent be a match for him who was adopted, nor the pursuer of truth be a match of the adherent to wrong, nor a believer be a match for a hypocrite. How bad are the successors who go on following their predecessors who have fallen in the fire of Hell!

Besides that, we also have distinction of prophethood among us, by virtue of which we subdued the strong and raised up the down-trodden. When Allah made Arabia enter His religion, and the people submitted to it willingly or unwillingly, you were among those who entered the religion either with greed or from fear, at a time when others had preceded and the first muhajirs had acquired their distinction. Now, do not allow Satan have a share with you nor let him have his sway over you.

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