Abu Zakaria Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (1234–1278) popularly known as al-Nawawi, an-Nawawi or Imam Nawawi (631–676 A.H. / 1234–1278 CE), was a Sunni Muslim author on Fiqh and hadith. His position on legal matters is considered the authoritative one in the Shafi’i Madhhab. He was born at Nawa near Damascus, Syria. As with many Arabic and Semitic names, the last part of his name refers to his hometown.
He studied in Damascus from the age of 18 and after making the pilgrimage in 1253 he settled there as a private scholar. From a young age he showed signs of great intelligence, and so his father paid for a good education. As a judge, he was much sought after for advice and adjudication of disputes.
During his life of 45 years he wrote many books on Islamic studies and other topics. He collected and sourced 40 hadith of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed back to one of his companions.
In 1267 he succeeded Abu Shama as professor of hadith at the Ashrafiyya [school] in the city. He died at Nawa at a relatively young age, having never married.
Birth and Birth place:
The complete name of Imam Nawawi is Abu Zakaria Mohiuddin Yahya, son of Sharaf AnÄNawawi, son of Murry, son of Hassan, son of Hussain, son of Muhammad, son of Juma, son of Hazam. Nawawi refers to Nawa, a place near Damascus, in the suburb of the city of Howran. One of his ancestors named Hazam had settled at this place. Imam Nawawi was born at Nawa in the year 631 A.H. His father, a virtuous and pious man, resolved to arrange for proper and befitting education as he had discovered the symptoms of heavenly intelligence and wisdom in his promising child at an early stage.
Shaikh Yasin bin Yousuf Marakashi, a saintly figure of Nawa says: “I saw Imam Nawawi at Nawa when he was a youth of ten years of age. Other boys of his age used to force him to play with them, but Imam Nawawi would always avoid the play and would remain busy with the recitation of the Noble Qur’an. When they tried to domineer and insisted on his joining their games, he bewailed and expressed his no concern over their foolish action. On observing his sagacity and profundity, a special love and affection developed in my heart for young Nawawi.
I approached his teacher and urged him to take exceptional care of this lad as he was to become a great religious scholar and most pious saint of future. His teacher asked whether I was a soothsayer or an astrologer. I told him I am neither soothsayer nor an astrologer but Allah caused me to utter these words.” His teacher conveyed this incident to Imam’s father and he keeping in view the learning quest of his son, decided to dedicate the life of his son for the service and promotion of the cause of Islamic Faith.
In a short period, Nawawi learnt to read the Holy Qur’an and by that time he nearly had attained puberty. Nawa had no academic or scholarly atmosphere and there were no religious academies or institutes where one could earn excellence in religious learning, so his father took him to Damascus, which was considered the center of learning and scholarship, and the students from far and wide gathered there for schooling.
During that period, there were more than three hundred institutes, colleges and universities in Damascus. Imam Nawawi joined Madrasah Rawahiyah which was affiliated with the Ummvi University. The founder and patron of this Madrasah was a trader named Zakiuddin Abul-Qassim who was known as Ibn Rawahah. Madrasah was named after him. Noted and eminent teachers of the period taught in that Madrasah.
Imam Nawawi says, “I studied in this institution for two years. During my stay in Madrasah Rawahiyah, I never had complete rest and lived on the limited food supplied by the institution.” As a routine he used to sleep very little at night. When it became irresistible as a human being, he would lean and slumber for a while against the support of books. After a short duration he would again be hard at his scholastic pursuits.
His Teachers & Guides:
During his stay at Damascus, he studied from more than twenty celebrated teachers. These teachers were regarded as masters and authority of their subject field and disciplines they taught. Imam studied Hadith, Islamic Jurisprudence, its principles, syntax and Etymology fromgreat scholars of his time.
Abu Ibrahim Ishaq bin Ahmad AI-Maghribi, Abu Muhammad Abdur-Rahman bin Ibrahim Al-Fazari, Radiyuddin Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Abu Hafs Umar bin Mudar Al-Mudari, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Isa Al-Muradi, Abul-Baqa Khalid bin Yusuf An-Nablusi, Abul-Abbas Ahmad bin Salim Al-Misri, Abu Abdullah Al-Jiyani, Abul-Fath Umar bin Bandar, Abu Muhammad At-Tanukhi, Sharafuddin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad Al-Ansari, Abul-Faraj Abdur-Rahman bin Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Maqdisi, Abul-Fada’il Sallar bin Al-Hasan Al Arbali etc.
There were hundreds of Imam’s students, among them some notables are: Alauddin bin Attar, Ibn Abbas Ahmad bin Ibrahim, Abul-Abbas Al-Ja’fari, Abul-Abbas Ahmad bin Farah, Rashid Ismail bin Mu’allim Al-Hanafi, Abu Abdullah Al-Hanbali, AbulAbbas Al-Wasti, Jamaluddin Sulaiman bin Omar Az-Zar’i, AbulFaraj Abdur-Rahman bin Muhammad bin Abdul-Hamid AlMaqdisi, Badr Muhammad bin Ibrahim, Shamsuddin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr, Ash-Shihab Muhammad bin Abdul-Khaliq, Hibatullah Al-Barizi, Abul-Hajjaj Yusuf bin Az-Zaki etc.
His Desire and Crave for Learning:
Imam Nawawi had endless thirst for knowledge, and it can be guessed from his daily practice of studies. He used to read daily twelve lessons and write explanation and commentary of every lesson and also made important additions. Whatever the book he read, he put down the marginal notes and explanations on that book. His intelligence, hard work, love, devotion and absorption in his-studies amazed his teachers and they became fond of him and began to praise and admire him.
According to Imam Dhahabi, Imam Nawawi’s concentration and absorption in academic love gained proverbial fame. He had devoted all his time for learning and scholarship. Other than reading and writing, he spent his time contemplating on the interacted and complex issues and in finding their solutions. Allah had also conferred upon him the gift of fast memory and depth of thought, and he who makes the right use of this boon, there remains no doubt in his sagacity and discernment. Imam Nawawi made full benefit of his God given qualities and potentialities and earned the highest degree of honor.
Imam’s Simplicity and Niceness of Manners:
The learned persons, elite of the society and the public greatly respected the Imam on account of his piety, learning and excellent character. He used simple dress and ate simple food. Devout scholars do not care about worldly chattels, they give preference to religious and academic pursuits, propagation of Faith etc. They experience more heavenly delight and joy in such activities than those who seek satisfaction in luxurious foods, precious clothes and other worldly things. Imam Nawawi had a prominent place among the erudite notables of his age. He was a God-fearing person with illustrious and glorious aims regarding propagation of Faith. Celebrated Sheikh Mohiuddin expresses his impression about Imam Nawawi as thus:
Imaam an-Nawawi had three distinctive commendable qualities in his person. If anybody has only one out of these three, people turn to him in abundance for guidance. First, having knowledge and its dissemination. Second, to evade completely from the worldly inclinations, and the third, inviting to all that is good (Islam) enjoining virtue and forbidding vice. Imaam an-Nawawi had all three in him.
Shi’a Muslims have a sympathetic view of him. They regard some of his works favourably and have translated some into Persian.
The great scholars and pious individuals of the past can be great examples for the living. Their behavior and actions can have a great effect upon the hearts.
Imam Al Nawawi, also known as Imam Nawawi or Imam An Nawawi, had a very short life of 45 years but during this short period, he had written a large number of books on different subjects and his every book has been recognized as a valuable treasure of Islamic knowledge.
His Birth and Family:
Imam an-Nawawi was born in the holy month of Muharram 631 AH (1233 AD) in Nawa Village, near capital city of Damascus, Syria. Al Nawawi did not come from a well-known family. There is very little mention of his father and other relatives. This implies that they were a modest family. They also were not known for producing great scholars. However, his father did have a reputation for being very pious and God-fearing.
His full name is Abu Zakaria Mohi-ud-din Yahya, son of Sharaf An-Nawawi, son of Murry, son of Hassan, son of Hussain, son of Muhammad, son of Juma, son of Hazam. He is given the descriptive name Al Nawawi because of his hometown.
Islam in Seventh Century of the Hijra (7th AH):
The 7th century of Islam was a very turbulent time as Mongols invaded the Muslim lands (Middle East). However during the last decade of the century, Mongols were defeated and removed from these Muslim lands. By the grace and mercy of Allah, these turbulent times did not mean the end of Islamic studies for the inhabitants of that area. In fact, Noor AlDeen Zanki opened the 1st Dar-ul-Hadith in Damascus during this century. One does not find a shortage of scholars and learning even during that turbulent century of Islamic history.
From his youth, Al-Nawawi was not attracted to sports or playing. Indeed, the other children chided him for this. From an early age, he turned his attention to his studies. He hated any activity that would take him away from memorizing the Quran. On one occasion, the children forced him to play with them and he cried because of the time that he was wasting. It is not surprising then that he memorized the Quran at an early age. His teacher in Nawa conveyed this incident to Imam’s father who was a virtuous and pious man. Keeping in view the learning quest of his son, he decided to dedicate the life of his son for the service and promotion of the cause of Islamic Faith. In a short period, An-Nawawi learnt to read the Quran and by that time he nearly had attained puberty.
His Pursuit of Knowledge:
Imam An-Nawawi lived in Nawa till the age of 18 years. In the year 649 AH, he went to Damascus which, at that time, was considered the center of learning as there were more than three hundred institutes, colleges and universities in Damascus. He studied Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence and principles from more many great Islamic scholars such lshaaq ibn Ahmad al Maghrabi Al-Maqdisi, Abdul Rahmaan Al-Anbari and Abdul Azeez Al-Ansaari. He studied Sahih Muslim from Abu lshaaq Ibraaheem Al-Waasiti. Imam Nawawi studied at Madrasah Saaramiya school, Madrasah Rawahiyah (affiliated with the Ummvi University) and Daar-ul-Hadits. He began teaching at the Ashrafiyah school at the age of 24. His reputation and excellence as a scholar began to be recognized by the scholars and inhabitants of Damascus. During this period, he performed the Hajj pilgrimage in 1253 AD.
His pursuit of knowledge dominated his entire life. He would put all of his time into studying, learning and teaching. It is even stated that he would not sleep except when sleep would overtake him. He would rest on his book and sleep for a little, then he would act startled upon awakening and continue studying. He once said about himself,
“I spent two years without lying on the ground [to sleep] on my side”
Al-Qutb Al-Yauneeni said about him,
“He would not waste any moment of the day or night but he would spend it busy with attaining knowledge. Even when he is walking in the streets, he will be busy going over what he had remembered and reviewing his notes. He continued gaining knowledge in that way for a period of six years.”
He led a very austere, simple and modest life although it would have been possible for him to live otherwise, given his teaching position and influence. Some narrations state that all the clothing he possessed was a turban and a long gown. He did not desire any of the pleasures of this world. At one point in time, he would not eat anything except some cake and olives that his father would send him from time to time from Nawa. One of the reasons for this was that he was certain that such food came from permissible sources.
He did not accept a stipend for his teaching. Nawawi’s only material possession of this world was books as his small room was like a warehouse of books and his goal was not simply to possess a large library. His books were not for decoration or display. Instead, he benefited greatly from those works and, from his lectures and writings, numerous people have benefited from them since then.
Al-Nawawi Never Married:
Al Nawawi never got married and the reasons for this was his austerity and lack of desire for the pleasures of this world. His life was filled with the desire to learn, teach and engage in acts of worship. Al-Diqr writes:
“It is possible that he did not marry because he feared that he would not be able to fulfill the rights of his wife due to his learning desires.”
Al Nawawi started writing in the year 663 or 664. Hence, in a span of twelve or thirteen years, he compiled some of the most important works in the history of Islam. His classic work, AlMajmoo, which he did not complete, is published in nine large sized volumes. Following is just some of his works that he completed in that short time:
- Riyaadh Al-Saaliheen (“Gardens of the Righteous”)
- Al Minhaj bi Sharh Sahih Muslim (His Commentary to Sahih Muslim)
- Al-Majmoo Sharh Al-Muhadhdhab
- Minhaaj Al-Taalibeen
- Tahdhib Al-Asma wal-Lughat
- Taqrib Al-Taisir
- Forty Hadiths
- Kitab Al-Adhkar
- Sharh Sunan Abu Dawood
- Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari
- Mukhtasar At-Tirmidhi
- Tabaqat Ash-Shafiiyah
- Rawdhat Al-Talibeen
- Bustan Al-Arifin
Besides his writings, of course, Al-Nawawi cast his influence over numerous students. He taught for many years and many people benefited from him. Some of his better known students include:
- Ibn Al-Attar
- Jamaal Al-Deen al-Mizzi
- Abu Al-Abbaas ibn Faraah
- Al-Badr Muhammad ibn Jamaah
- Abu Al-Rabi Al-Haashimi
Al-Nawawi and the Ruler:
The leader of the Muslims during much of Al-Nawawi lifetime was Al-Sultan al-Dhaahir. He was a war hero. He was the one who fought the Mongols and handed them a great defeat. However, his status and popularity did not prevent Al-Nawawi from standing up to him when he was wrong. On more than one occasion, Al-Nawawi either approached the ruler in the Hall of Justice or sent him letters concerning a particular matter that was of common interest to the people of Damascus. On one occasion, Al-Nawawi sent the Sultan a letter on behalf of the Muslim masses. It was also signed by a number of other scholars. Basically, this letter was a request from Imam Al-Nawawi for the ruler to lessen the taxes that were placed on the inhabitants of Syria. Intention of Al-Nawawi’s letter was about correcting the wrong that was being done by the ruler. He did not bow down to the ruler just because he was the ruler and just because he had done some excellent deeds in the past. However, he realized that he must advise the ruler. In that response, the ruler claimed that he needed to collect those taxes for the sake of jihad.
On his continues encounters with ruler through letters and his personal persuasion to urge the ruler for all the right reasons, ruler became very upset with Al-Nawawi. Hence, he decided to have him removed from Damascus. Al-Nawawi said that he would listen and obey- perhaps realizing that such would cause less harm and civil strife then remaining in Damascus and opposing the ruler. Hence, he left Damascus and went to his hometown of Nawa. Scholars of that time went to try to bring Al-Nawawi back to Damascus. However, he refused. He said that he would not enter Damascus if Al-Dhaahir was still there. After a few months, Sultan Al-Dhaahir Baibars died.
One can see that Al-Nawawi was a defender of the masses, a defender of the scholars and a defender of the truth. He would oppose anyone who went against the Quran and Sunnah. He would not just oppose the little people and leave the powers that be alone. Similarly, his life was not simply about standing up to the ruler and forgetting about the wrong that others did. Indeed, one must include among his acts of establishing good and eradicating evil the many writings that he has against different innovations that were practiced by the masses of his time.
After returning to his hometown in Nawa, Al-Nawawi fell ill and passed away. He died on the 24th of Rajab, 676 AH (1277 AD). He died at the age of forty-four. However, by the grace and mercy of Allah, his accomplishments during his short life span were equal to or greater than many who lived even twice as long as he did.
When the news of his death reached Damascus, the people were very saddened. Tears flowed from their eyes. One of the greatest scholars and greatest leaders of the people had passed away. Indeed, one who was greatly beloved by almost everyone he touched in his life had died.
His Burial Place:
He is buried in his hometown of Nawa, Syria. Al-Nawawi wished that his grave would be according to the Sunnah i-e it was to be leveled and not prominent. However, some people decided to build a dome over his grave. However, Allah willed that Al Nawawi ‘s wish be fulfilled. Every time they tried to build something over his grave, it was destroyed. His grave, after many attempts, was finally left flat, slightly marked and according to the sunnah. His grave is still well-known and recognized today. May Allah reward Imam Al-Nawawi for all of his efforts and striving for the sake of Allah.
Imam an-Nawawi is one of a number of great scholars who have been instrumental in the development of Islamic sciences.
His full name is Yahya bin Neural bin Hasan bin Husain Al-Nawawi Ad-Dimasyqiy. He was born in the month of Muharram in 631 H in Nawa, a village in the area Dimashq (Damascus), which is now the Syrian capital. He was educated by his father who is famous for piety and piety. He began studying at katatib (place of learning to read and write for children) and memorized the Quran before the age of puberty.
When he was 10 years old, Yasin Sheikh Yusuf bin Az-Zarkasyi saw him forced to play by his peers, but he avoided, refused and crying because of the coercion. The Shaykh said that the child is expected to be the most intelligent and the most ascetic in his time and can provide great benefits to the Muslims. Attention father and teacher beliaupun becomes larger.
Imam an-Nawawi in Nawa live up to 18 years old. Later in the year 649 H he started his scientific journey to Dimashq by attending halaqah-halaqah science held by the scholars of the city. He stayed in the madrassa near the ar-Rawahiyyah Al-Jami ‘Al-Umawiy. Be learn / study as the main preoccupations. Mentioned that he attended twelve Halaqah day. He avidly and memorize a lot of things. He also outperformed other friends. He said: ” And I write everything associated with it, good explanations and giving tough sentences vowel in words. And God has given blessings in my time “
Teachers Imam an-Nawawi
A pious course have teachers were pious. among teachers he was:
1. Abul Baqa ‘An-Nablusiy,
2. Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad Al-Ausiy,
3. Abu Ishaq Al-Muradiy,
4. Abul Faraj Ibn Al-Maqdisiy Qudamah,
5. Ishaq bin Ahmad Al-Maghribiy
6. Ibn Firkah.
Imam an-Nawawi scored the next generation of scholars, he had a student who is also a cleric, among others:
1. Ibn ‘Attar Ash-Syafi’iy,
2. Abul Hajjaj Al-Mizziy,
3. Ibn an-Naqib Asy-Syafi’iy,
4. Abul Abbas Al-Isybiliy
5. Ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi.
In the year 651 H he pilgrimage with his father, then he went to Madinah and remained there for one and a half months and then returned to Dimashq. In the year 665 H he taught at Darul Hadith Al-Asyrafiyyah (Dimashq) and refused to take a salary.
He dubbed Muhyiddin (which turned religion) and hated this title because tawadhu ‘him. In addition, Islam is a living religion and sturdy, does not require people who turn it so that it becomes proof on those who underestimate or leave it. It was narrated that he said: ” I will not forgive those who menggelariku Muhyiddin “.
Imam An-Nawawi was an ascetic, wara ‘and devoted. He is simple, qana’ah and authoritative. He used a lot of his time in obedience. Often do not sleep nights for worship or write. He also enforce commanding the good and forbidding the evil, including to those in power, in a way that has been outlined Islam. He wrote a letter of advice to the government with a subtle language. Once when he was summoned by the king Az-Zahir Bebris to sign a fatwa. Come, he is skinny and dressed very simply. King also underestimated him and said: “Sign this fatwa !!” He read it and refused to sign. The king was angry and said: “Why!?” He replied: “Because it contains kedhaliman real”. King became increasingly angry and said: “Get rid of it from all his positions”. The maid king said: “He had no office at all. The king wanted to kill him but God’s way. The king asked: “Why did not you kill him after they were doing that to the Lord?” Rajapun replied: “By Allah, I am very reluctant to her”.
Imam Nawawi including prolific scholars in writing scientific papers in the form of the book is very valuable and useful for the people, numbering around forty books, including:
A. In the field of hadith:
2. Riyadhush Shalihin,
3. Al-Minhaj (Sharh Saheeh Muslim)
4. At-Taqrib wat Taysir fi Ma’rifat Sunan Al-Basyirin nadzir.
B. In the field of jurisprudence:
1. Minhajuth Thalibin,
2. Raudhatuth Thalibin,
3. Al-Majmoo ‘.
C. In the field of language:
-Tahdzibul Asma ‘wal Lughat.
D. In the field of morals:
1. At Tibyan fi Adab Hamalatil Qur’an,
2. Bustanul Arifin,