A Treasury of Virtues

A Treasury of Virtues

Sayings, Sermons, and Teachings of 'Ali, with the One Hundred Proverbs attributed to al-Jahiz

306 Pages

April 2014

ISBN: 9781479826551




Al-Qāḍī al-Quḍāʿī (d. 454/1062) was a Sunni jurist, a scholar of hadiths and history, and a senior government official of the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo.

Tahera Qutbuddin is Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Arabic Oration: Art and Function.

A Treasury of Virtues is a collection of sayings, sermons, and teachings attributed to 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40/661), the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Sunni Caliph.

An acknowledged master of Arabic eloquence and a sage of Islamic wisdom, 'Ali was renowned for his eloquence: his words were collected, quoted, and studied over the centuries, and extensively anthologized, excerpted, and interpreted.

Of the many compilations of 'Ali’s words, A Treasury of Virtues, compiled by the Fatimid Shafi'i judge al-Quda'i, arguably possesses the broadest compass of genres and the largest variety of themes. Included are aphorisms, proverbs, sermons, speeches, homilies, prayers, letters, dialogues, and verse, all of which provide instruction on how to be a morally upstanding human being. The shorter compilation included here, One Hundred Proverbs, is attributed to the eminent writer al-Jahiz (d. 255/869). This volume presents the first English translation of both of these important collections.

A bilingual Arabic-English edition.


  • "Powerful and compelling in its portrayal of the vicissitudes of fate and the inevitability of death and decay. Many of the translated aphorisms and wise sayings are equally powerful... Qutbuddins volume is well written and well executeda valuable addition to any scholars library."

    Emily Selove, University of Manchester

  • "The quality of the translation is superior and the choice of maxims is well advised, as they constitute a major category of Arabic (and also medieval European) literature, a genre with which modernreaders are not acquainted. This translation will introduce them to it."

    Beatrice Gruendler, Yale University

  • "Tahera Qutbuddin, associate professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Chicago, translates a collection by the Fatimid Shafi'i judge al-Quda'i of sayings, sermons, and teachings attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali is an acknowledged master of Arabic eloquence and a sage of Islamic wisdom. While several versions of the text exist, Qutbuddin is primarily using the Istanbul text."

    Islamic Horizons

  • "Tahera Qutbuddins edition proves to be definitive since, unlike the previous versions, she relies on all accessible manuscript and published editions. Qutbuddin also clearly demonstrated mastery and understanding of the difficult language of ?Alis prose and poetry, leading to a smooth presentation of the Arabic texts and a first-rate English translation Tahera Qutbuddin and the editorial team of the Library of Arabic Literature deserve to be congratulated for producing this exemplary volume."

    Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies