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Biography of An-Nawawi Studying the lives of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, previous Prophets, the Companions,

and then the scholars will increase ones Eeman. This is why the Quran is filled with stories of the righteous people of the past.

Surah Maryam ayah 96:

Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allh and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)] and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Beneficent (Allh) will bestow love for them[] (in the hearts of the believers). Al-Wudd is established when Allah loves a person and thus Jibreel and those on earth love him as a result. Of the signs of the righteous man is that the righteous people love him. I.e. the Prophets no category of humans are more beloved to people. This is not a necessary sign, but one amongst many. How did An-Nawawi become a household name when he did not come from a scholarly family or famous ancestry and moreover, died at a young age? An-Nawawi Name: Yahya ibn Sharraf ibn Murri ibn Hassan bin Hussain Kunyah: Abu Zakariyyah The Kunyah is an Arab costume. Its a nickname indicating one to be the father of another. I.e. the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa

sallams kunyah was Abu Qaasim (having a son of that same name who died in his childhood). However, this is problematic insofar as an-Nawawi never married. How and why? Because the Arabs would still give one a kunyah whether one was a man or woman, married or unmarried. I.e. the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam gave Aisha the kunyah Umm Abdullah (she did not have any children, Abdullah ibn Zubair bin Awwaam was her nephew). Why was he given the kunyah Abu Zakariyyah? There are certain names in Arabic that have kunyahs attached to them because of historical facts. I.e. anyone called Ali is called Abul Hassan. Every Yahya had the kunyah Abu Zakariyyah. Ethnicity: Arab Place of Birth: Village of An-Nawaa still exists today near present-day Damascus or Ash-Shaam as it was called in classic Arabic literature. Date of Birth: 631 Hijrah in the Month of Muharram Arabs had a complicated way of naming people. The following is the structure of the Arabic name: a) Ones proper name b) Ones fathers name
c)

Kunyah: as one grew up and established manhood, one is given a kunyah Laqab: if they establish themselves especially well, they would be given a title.

d)

e)

Nisbah: is an adjective. There are different types of Nisbahs i.e. geographical location (i.e. Al-Bukhari, born in Bukhara), ancestry (i.e. al-Qurashi, Al-Haashimi). He is from Nawaa therefore, he is An-Nawawi.

Imam Nawawi became soo famous in his lifetime that he was given the title Muhyis Sunnah (Reviver of the Sunnah) and according to another report Muhyid Deen (Reviver of the Religion). The Imam was against honorific titles because, out of his humbleness, he did not like the connotation that the sunnah was dead and he revived it. His Features: He had a pink complexion. The Arabs did not use the adjective white to describe people but instead used pink or yellow. I.e. The Romans were referred to as Banu Asfar. Ad-Dhahabi describes An-Nawawi as possessing the aura of scholarship; his presence was known in a room. Laughing little and avoiding jest, he worked hard to speak the truth no matter the consequence. His Early Years: He finished memorising the Quran by the age of 10. What is particularly amazing about him is that he is the solitary scholar of his family (he comes from a family of laymen!). This shows us that it is possible to attain the heights of scholarship even without a scholarly background. Typically one finds scholars to have had a legacy of scholars helping or encouraging their scholastic development. Its important to note there have also been spurts of knowledge throughout our history (i.e. 8th century

Mamluk- Damascus). But An-Nawawi was not born in such an environment but he still managed to surmount the odds. For example, ibn Taymiyyah came from a line of scholars. Ibn Qudaamah, a whole family of scholars. He benefited from all that he could in his small village of Nawaa. His father was a shop-keeper who owned a small shop in the village. No scholars resided in Nawaa. An-Nawawi begged his father to study in Damascus as this was the centre of scholarship. As they belonged to a lower middleclass family, barely making ends meet, his father asked him to stay as he was his eldest child and he needed help to run the shop. During this period, an-Nawawi did his best to combine serving his father and studying Islam in every moment he could spare. He did all that he could within his means. When an-Nawawi was 17-19 years of age (exact age unknown), he begged his father again and seeing his determination as a child to study Islam, his father let him go to Damascus. After nearly a decade of proving his devotion to study Islam to his father and showing him how much he loved knowledge, anNawawi went to Damascus (around 651 Hijrah). Damascus: Imam an-Nawawi studied in the famous Ar-Rawaahiyyah school for 2 straight years and in that time, became a paragon of what a student of knowledge should be, leaving a lasting impression on his teachers and fellow students. He studied 12 subjects a day, spanning every science. Even an average student even in the most elite institutions studies around

4-5. His students recorded his saying that during these 2 years, his head never touched a pillow! Not because he was forced to, but because after being deprived for soo long, he loved knowledge more than sleep. After these 2 years he performed Hajj with his father, exposing him to more sciences and scholars. In those times. Makkah was not only the spiritual capital but also a hub for visiting scholars. Note: Imagine you walked all the way to Makkah will you remain there for 3 days? Rather, the average trip lasted from several months to several years. When An-Nawawi returned to Damascus, he spent a further 4 years studying in ar-Rawaahiyyah (totalling 6 years of study at the school). This is amazing as even today if one were to study at the University of Madinah for 20 years (or even a lifetime!) they could not achieve what an-Nawawi did in those 6 years. He then became a Professor at Ar-Rawaahiyyah. The method he used to review was writing. Imam an-Nawawi: His 7 Qualities of Success
1.

Travelling for Knowledge: makes you more conscious of the benefit of that knowledge. When you are not in your hometown you will be able to gain much more knowledge because mentally you understand this is your stated purpose for which you must strive. Studying at an elite school: Ar-Rawaahiyyah Dedicated Student: he didnt just attend. Every single day, he would revise all his notes for his 12 classes which is why he would fall asleep on his notebooks!

2. 3.

4.

His large number of classes: 12 per day made him wellrounded. Generally-speaking, one must specialise when they become a scholar. The vast majority of Ulamaa (or scholars) are specialists in one field or another and it is very rare that a scholar has mastered more than one field. But once in a while, you will find a polymath who is a master of many fields (not all).

I.e. An-Nawawi mastered Hadith, ShafiI fiqh, Arabic language, etc. He wrote for the Masses (i.e. 40 Hadith an-Nawawi, Riyadh as-Saliheen) and the Scholars (i.e. al-Majmoo which is considered the highest book in ShafiI fiqh). How often do you find a specialist writing the textbook on Political Science and Organic chemistry? Note: he was not a scholar of Aqeedah but his works indicate he was upon the fitrah. His methodology was purely Quran and Sunnah and he did not derive Aqeedah through philosophical principles. 5. The Greatness of His Teachers: He took the best of all of his teachers and channelled them into himself. 6. His Writings: He realised he needed to write in order to leave an impact. He wrote as research and researched as writing. 7. He was always busy with knowledge. It is said that no one would see him except that there was some knowledge with him: he would walk while reading, speaking to his students/teachers, or regurgitating some knowledge he learned.

3 Qualities Endowed by Allah

1. Sincerity: This can only be bestowed by Allah. We believe as Muslims we can never make a judgment on another Muslim. We cannot open their hearts. The only ones who sincerity we can be certain of re those whom Allah has revealed to us, i.e. The Prophets and the Sahabah. For an-Nawawi we say he has the *signs* of sincerity/righteousness and inshaAllah, he was sincere/righteous. 2. Allah put barakah in his time: He wrote more in one year than we can write in a lifetime. 3. Allah gave him the ability to write soo many different books

Spiritual Side: He would pray Qiyaam al-Layl, fast often, and would constantly make Dhikr. His lifestyle was the most simple and plain imaginable. He refused to take any payment or stipend for his works. How did he live? His parents would send him his clothing and food (i.e. bareminimum). His house comprised one room full of books. So much so that when his students came to visit him they would find no place to sit! His students once questioned him: Shaykh, you have practiced every Sunnah except one (referring to marriage). An-Nawawi replied that he feared by doing a Sunnah he would commit a sin. What did he mean by this? He was referring to the responsibility towards ones wife. When you are married you are responsible for your wifes physical and emotional well-being. An-Nawawi feared failing in this obligation and being held responsible for it on the Day of Judgment and so he abstained from it altogether.

This shows us the perfection of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, having attained what he had of status in this life and the hereafter and yet he maintained many wives. His Books: These are the books you should know: 40 Hadith An-Nawawi: Considered the most basic and yet comprehensive hadith collection ever compiled. Whats so significant about 40? Imam An-Nawawi mentions in the introduction to his book a number of very weak hadith claiming that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam would intercede on behalf of the one from his ummah who memorises 40 hadith. These are several very weak hadith that do not strengthen one another to the level that they become authentic. There is no prohibition on collecting 40 hadith and many are the scholars who have written such works but An-Nawawis collection has stood the test of time. An-Nawawi chose 40 hadith and added two more as he believed these were the fundamental hadith around which the religion revolved. Riyaadh as-Saaliheen: One level above 40 Hadith An-Nawawi. You dont need to be a scholar to benefit from it and if you are a scholar, you will benefit even more (English translation available, highly recommended by Shaykh Yasir). Sharhu Muslim: His explanation of Sahih Muslim. Over 20 books have been written explaining Sahih Muslim, but Imam AnNawawis eclipsed them all. (Similarly, Fath al-Bari written 200 years later by ibn Hajar is the most famous explanation of Sahih Bukhari). At-Tibyaan fi Adaab Hamalat al-Quran: regarding the etiquettes for anyone who has a relationship with the Quran

Rawdhat at-Taalibeen: Standard reference book for scholars of ShafiI fiqh. Al-Majmoo: The encyclopaedia of ShafiI fiqh. No higher book exists. Imam An-Nawawi completed more than half before his death (other ShafiI scholars later completed it). Currently in print in 30 large volumes. His Death: He went to al-Quds (Jerusalem) for the first time and taught there for a short time. When he returned to Damascus, he fell ill for 2 months straight, progressively becoming worse, and so returned to his home town of Nawaa (his father still working at the shop). He died 676 Hijrah, Saturday 24th Rajab at the age of 45-46. In Quran, we know that the age of full strength of mind/maturtiy is 40 and yet An-Nawawi died in his mid-forties achieving the height of his scholarship in his earlier years (i.e. thirties). Ad-Dhahabi said of An-Nawawi: He combined the perfection of 3 characteristics, if he had only become a leader in one he would have been an Imam: 1. Zuhd 2. Scholarship 3. Activism: speaking out against the rulers and telling the truth