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Yaḥyā ibn Sharaf al-Nawawī
يحيى بن شرف النووي.svg
BornMuharram 631 AH/ October 1233
Died24 Rajab 676 AH [7]/ 21 December 1277 (age 45)
Resting placeNawa, present Syria
Main interest(s)Fiqh, Usul, Hadith, Mantiq
OccupationHistoriographer, bibliographer, scholar, jurist.
Muslim leader
Arabic name
Personal (Ism)Yaḥyā
Patronymic (Nasab)Ibn Sharaf ibn Marri ibn Ḥasan ibn Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad ibn Jumah ibn Ḥazm
Teknonymic (Kunya)Abū Zakariyyā
Toponymic (Nisba)al-Nawawī

Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā ibn Sharaf al-Nawawī (Arabic: أبو زكريا يحيى بن شرف النووي‎;‎ 1233–1277), popularly known as al-Nawawī or Imam Nawawī (631–676 A.H./1234–1277), was a Sunni Shafi'ite jurist and hadith scholar.[9] He authored numerous and lengthy works ranging from hadith, to theology, biography, and jurisprudence.[10] Al-Nawawi never married.[11]

Early life[edit]


He was born at Nawa near Damascus, Syria.[9] As with Arabic and other Semitic languages, the last part of his name refers to his hometown.

Yasin bin Yusuf Marakashi, 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. 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 in 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 Islam.[12]


He 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.

Life as a scholar[edit]

He studied in Damascus from the age of 18 and after making the pilgrimage in 1253, he settled there as a private scholar.[13]

Notable teachers[edit]

During his stay at Damascus, he studied from more than twenty teachers[citation needed] who were regarded as masters and authority of their subject field and disciplines they taught. An-Nawawi studied Hadith, Islamic Jurisprudence, its principles, syntax and Etymology. His teachers included 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, and Abul-Fada'il Sallar bin Al-Hasan Al Arbali among others.[14]


He did ta'wil on some of the Qur'an verses and ahadith on the attributes of Allah. He states in his commentary of a hadith that:

This is one of the "hadiths of the attributes," about which scholars have two positions. The first is to have faith in it without discussing its meaning, while believing of Allah Most High that "there is nothing whatsoever like unto Him" (Qur'an 42:11), and that He is exalted above having any of the attributes of His creatures. The second is to figuratively explain it in a fitting way, scholars who hold this position adducing that the point of the hadith was to test the slave girl: Was she a monotheist, who affirmed that the Creator, the Disposer, the Doer, is Allah alone and that He is the one called upon when a person making supplication (du'a) faces the sky--just as those performing the prayer (salat) face the Kaaba, since the sky is the qibla of those who supplicate, as the Kaaba is the qibla of those who perform the prayer--or was she a worshipper of the idols which they placed in front of themselves? So when she said, In the sky, it was plain that she was not an idol worshiper.[15]

Relationship with the Mamluk Sultanate[edit]

Nawawi drew the ire of Mamluk Sultan Rukn al-Din Baybars, when he petitioned on behalf of residents of Damascus who sought relief from heavy tax burdens during a drought that lasted many years.[16] This prompted Baybars to threaten to expel him from Damascus.[17] To this, he responded:

"As for myself, threats do not harm me or mean anything to me. They will not keep me from advising the ruler, for I believe that this is obligatory upon me and others."[18]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died at Nawa at the relatively young age of 44.

An-Nawawi's lasting legacy is his contribution to hadith literature through his momentous works Forty Hadiths and Riyadh as-Saaliheen.[19] This made him respected in all madhabs, despite of him being of Shafi'i jurisprudence.[20] According to Al-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.[citation needed] 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.

Destruction of tomb[edit]

In 2015, during the ongoing Syrian Civil War, his tomb was demolished by rebels linked to Al Nusra.[21]


During his life of 45 years[22] he wrote "at least fifty books"[23] on Islamic studies and other topics. These include:

  • Al Minhaj bi Sharh Sahih Muslim (شرح صحيح مسلم), making use of others before him, and is considered one of the best commentaries on Sahih Muslim. It is available online.[24]
  • Riyadh as-Saaliheen (رياض الصالحين); collection of hadith on ethics, manners, conduct, popular in the Muslim world.
  • al-Majmu' sharh al-Muhadhab (المجموع شرح المهذب), is a comprehensive manual of Islamic law according to the Shafi'i school has been edited with French translation by van den Bergh, 2 vols., Batavia (1882–1884), and published at Cairo (1888).[13]
  • Minhaj al-Talibin (منهاج الطالبين وعمدة المفتين في فقه الإمام الشافعي), a classical manual on Islamic Law according to Shafi'i fiqh.[9]
  • Tahdhib al-Asma wa'l-Lughat (تهذيب الأسماء), edited as the Biographical Dictionary of Illustrious Men chiefly at the Beginning of Islam (Arabic) by F. Wüstenfeld (Göttingen, 1842–1847).[13]
  • Taqrib al-Taisir (التقريب والتيسير لمعرفة سنن البشير النذير), an introduction to the study of hadith, it is an extension of Ibn al-Salah's Muqaddimah, was published at Cairo, 1890, with Suyuti's commentary "Tadrib al-Rawi". It has been in part translated into French by W. Marçais in the Journal asiatique, series ix., vols. 16–18 (1900–1901).[13]
  • al-Arbaʿīn al-Nawawiyya (الأربعون النووية) - 'Forty Hadiths,' collection of forty-two fundamental traditions, frequently published along with numerous commentaries.[13]
  • Ma Tamas ilayhi hajat al-Qari li Saheeh al-Bukhaari (ما تمس إليه حاجة القاري لصـحيح البـخاري)
  • Tahrir al-Tanbih (تحرير التنبيه)
  • Kitab al-Adhkar (الأذكار المنتخبة من كلام سيد الأبرار); collection of supplications of prophet Muhammad.
  • al-Tibyan fi adab Hamalat al-Quran (التبيان في آداب حملة القرآن)
  • Adab al-fatwa wa al-Mufti wa al-Mustafti (آداب الفتوى والمفتي والمستفتي)
  • al-Tarkhis fi al-Qiyam (الترخيص بالقيام لذوي الفضل والمزية من أهل الإسلام)
  • Manasik (متن الإيضاح في المناسك) on Hajj rituals.
  • al-Hatt ala al-Mantiq (الحت على المنطق) - 'The Insistence upon Logic,' written to address epistemological and historical criticisms of logic[25]
  • Sharh Sunan Abu Dawood
  • Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari
  • Mukhtasar at-Tirmidhi
  • Tabaqat ash-Shafi'iyah
  • Rawdhat al-Talibeen
  • Bustan al-`arifin

Recent English language editions[edit]

  • Bustan al-ʿarifin (The Garden of Gnostics), Translated by Aisha Bewley

Minhaj al-Talibin[edit]

  • Minhaj et talibin: A Manual of Muhammadan Law ; According To The School of Shafi, Law Publishing Co (1977) ASIN B0006D2W9I
  • Minhaj et talibin: A Manual of Muhammadan Law ; According To The School of Shafi, Navrang (1992) ISBN 81-7013-097-2
  • Minhaj Et Talibin: A Manual of Muhammadan Law, Adam Publishers (2005) ISBN 81-7435-249-X

The Forty Hadith[edit]

  • Al-Nawawi Forty Hadiths and Commentary; Translated by Arabic Virtual Translation Center; (2010) ISBN 978-1-4563-6735-0
  • Ibn-Daqiq's Commentary on the Nawawi Forty Hadiths; Translated by Arabic Virtual Translation Center; (2011) ISBN 1-4565-8325-5
  • The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom; Translation of Jami' Uloom wal-Hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali translated by Abdassamad Clarke, Turath Publishing (2007) ISBN 0-9547380-2-0
  • Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith, Translated by Ezzeddin Ibrahim, Islamic Texts Society; New edition (1997) ISBN 0-946621-65-9
  • The Forty Hadith of al-Imam al-Nawawi, Abul-Qasim Publishing House (1999) ISBN 9960-792-76-5
  • The Complete Forty Hadith, Ta-Ha Publishers (2000) ISBN 1-84200-013-6
  • The Arba'een 40 Ahadith of Imam Nawawi with Commentary, Darul Ishaat
  • Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi (3 Vols.), by Jamaal Al-Din M. Zarabozo, Al-Basheer (1999) ISBN 1-891540-04-1

Riyad al-Salihin[edit]

  • Gardens of the righteous: Riyadh as-Salihin of Imam Nawawi, Rowman and Littlefield (1975) ISBN 0-87471-650-0
  • Riyad-us-Salihin: Garden of the Righteous, Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah
  • Riyadh-us-Saliheen (Vol. 1&2 in One Book) (Arabic-English) Dar Ahya Us-Sunnah Al Nabawiya

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mirza, Younus Y. (2014-02-01). "Was Ibn Kathīr the 'Spokesperson' for Ibn Taymiyya? Jonah as a Prophet of Obedience". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 16 (1): 4. doi:10.3366/jqs.2014.0130. ISSN 1465-3591.
  2. ^ Namira Nahouza (2018). Wahhabism and the Rise of the New Salafists: Theology, Power and Sunni Islam. I.B. Tauris. pp. 121–122. ISBN 9781838609832.
  3. ^ "The Ash'ari School, by Muhammad 'Alawi al-Maliki". Archived from the original on 4 Apr 2021.
  4. ^ "Imam al-Nawawi was an Ash'ari". Archived from the original on 4 Apr 2021.
  5. ^ Muhammad ibn 'Alawi al-Maliki. "The Ash'ari School". As-Sunnah Foundation of America. Archived from the original on 12 Jan 2021. Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852/1449; Rahimahullah), the mentor of Hadith scholars and author of the book "Fath al-Bari bi-Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari", which not a single Islamic scholar can dispense with, was Ash'ari. The shaykh of the scholars of Sunni Islam, Imam al-Nawawi (d. 676/1277; Rahimahullah), author of "Sharh Sahih Muslim" and many other famous works, was Ash'ari. The master of Qur'anic exegetes, Imam al-Qurtubi (d. 671/1273; Rahimahullah), author of "al-Jami' li-Ahkam al-Qur'an", was Ash'ari. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974/1567; Rahimahullah), who wrote "al-Zawajir 'an Iqtiraf al-Kaba'ir", was Ash'ari. The Shaykh of Sacred Law and Hadith, the conclusive definitive Zakariyya al-Ansari (d. 926/1520; Rahimahullah), was Ash'ari. Imam Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (d. 403/1013; Rahimahullah), Imam al-'Asqalani; Imam al-Nasafi (d. 710/1310; Rahimahullah); Imam al-Shirbini (d. 977/1570; Rahimahullah); Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi, author of the Qur'anic commentary "al-Bahr al-Muhit"; Imam Ibn Juzayy (d. 741/1340; Rahimahullah); author of "al-Tashil fi 'Ulum al-Tanzil"; and others – all of these were Imams of the Ash'aris.
  6. ^ "Ahl al-Sunna: The Ash'aris - The Testimony and Proofs of the Scholars". (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  7. ^ "kitaabun-Classical and Contemporary Muslim and Islamic Books". 2003-01-23. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  8. ^ Atlas, Jonas. Re-visioning Sufism. Yunus Publishing, 2019. pp.13-15
  9. ^ a b c Ludwig W. Adamec (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, pp.238-239. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810861615.
  10. ^ Fachrizal A. Halim (2014), Legal Authority in Premodern Islam: Yahya B Sharaf Al-Nawawi in the Shafi'i School of Law, p. 1. Routledge. ISBN 041574962X.
  11. ^ Abou Al-Fadl, Khaled (2005). The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 174. ISBN 978-0742550940. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  12. ^ Mubarakpuri, Safi Ur Rahman. Collection from Riyad us Saliheen. Darussalam. p. 5.
  13. ^ a b c d e Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Nawāwī" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 318.
  14. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  15. ^ Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi. 18 vols. Cairo 1349/1930. Reprint (18 vols. in 9). Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1401/1981, 5.24
  16. ^ "Amon our perennial faculty". Zaytuna College. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  17. ^ Dekmejian, R. Hrair (1995). Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World Contemporary issues in the Middle East (illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Syracuse University Press. p. 38. ISBN 0815626355.
  18. ^ Zarabozo, Jamaal al-Din M. (2008). Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi (2-Volume Set). Denver: Al-Basheer Company. p. 37.
  19. ^ "40 Hadiths of Imam Nawawi". 40HadithNawawi. Muslim American Society. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Who Was Imam Al Nawawi (R)". Youtube. 17 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-09-17. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  21. ^ "Syrian fighters destroy historic Muslim tomb". Al Jazeera English. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  22. ^ "A Short Biography of Imaam an-Nawawi". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  23. ^ Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi, Volume 1, Al-Basheer Publication & Translation (1999), p. 33
  24. ^ "الرئيسة - الحديث - موقع الإسلام". Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2014-05-20.

External links[edit]