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Islamic scholar, Muhaddith
Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi
Title Imam
Born 631 AH/1233
Nawa, present Syria
Died 676 AH [1]/1277 (age 45)
Nawa, present Syria
Resting place Nawa, present Syria
Occupation Historiographer, bibliographer.
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Shafi'i[2]
Creed Ashari[3][4]
Main interest(s) Hadith studies
Arabic name
Ibn Sharaf ibn Marri ibn Hassan ibn Hussain ibn Muhammad ibn Juma ibn Hazm
Abu Zakaria
Muhiy ad-Din

Abu Zakaria Muhiy ad-Din Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (1233–1277) (Arabic: أبو زكريا يحيى بن شرف النووي‎), popularly known as al-Nawawi, an-Nawawi or Imam Nawawi (631–676 A.H./1234–1277), was a Sunni Muslim author on Fiqh and hadith.[5]


His complete name is Abu Zakaria Mohiuddin Yahya ibn Sharaf ibn Marri ibn Hassan ibn Hussain ibn Muhammad ibn Juma ibn Hazm An-Nawawi.

Early years[edit]


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.

Shaikh 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 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 Islam.


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. 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.

Notable teachers[edit]

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.[6]

Notable students[edit]

  • 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.[citation needed]

Scholarly behavior[edit]

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.

Personal behavior[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Relationship with the Mamluk Sultanate[edit]

Imam 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.[7] This prompted Baybars threatened to expel him from Damascus.[8] 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."[9]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died at Nawa at a relatively young age, having never married

An-Nawawi's lasting legacy is his contribution to hadith literature through his momentous works Forty Hadiths and Riyadh as-Saaliheen.[10] This made him respected in all madhabs, despite of him being of Shafi'i jurisprudence.[11] Despite being allegedly influenced by Asharite aqidah, he is respected among Salafis and Atharis.[11] 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.

[citation needed]

Destruction of tomb[edit]

In 2015, during the ongoing Syrian Civil War, his tomb was demolished by rebels linked to Al Nusra.[12]


During his life of 45 years[13] he wrote many books 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.[14]
  • Riyadh as-Saaliheen رياض الصالحين, is a collection of hadith on ethics, manners, conduct, and is very popular in the Muslim world today.
  • al-Majmu' sharh al-Muhadhdhab 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).
  • Minhaj al-Talibin منهاج الطالبين وعمدة المفتين في فقه الإمام الشافعي, a classical manual on Islamic Law according to Shafi'i fiqh.
  • Tahdhib al-Asma wal-Lughat تهذيب الأسماء, has been edited as the Biographical Dictionary of Illustrious Men chiefly at the Beginning of Islam by F. Wüstenfeld (Göttingen, 1842–1847).
  • 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).
  • Forty Hadiths (al-arbaʿīn al-nawawiyya) الأربعون النووية, collection of forty (actually forty-two) fundamental traditions, frequently published along with numerous commentaries.
  • 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, is a 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,

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]

  • 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 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
  • 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 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. ^ "kitaabun-Classical and Contemporary Muslim and Islamic Books". 2003-01-23. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  2. ^ BRUCKMAYR, PHILIPP. "Fethullah Gülen and Islamic Literary Tradition". Hizmet Studies Review. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Spevack, Aaron (2014). The Archetypal Sunni Scholar: Law, Theology, and Mysticism in the Synthesis of Al-Bajuri. State University of New York Press. p. 76. ISBN 143845371X. 
  4. ^ Halverson, Jeffry R. (2010). Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood, Ash'arism, and Political Sunnism. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 89. ISBN 0230102794. 
  5. ^ "A Short Biography of Imaam an-Nawawi - Islamic Network". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  7. ^ "Amon our perrenial faculty". Zaytuna College. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  8. ^ 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. ISBN 0815626355. 
  9. ^ Zarabozo, Jamaal al-Din M. (2008). Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi (2-Volume Set). Denver: Al-Basheer Company. p. 37. 
  10. ^ "40 Hadiths of Imam Nawawi". 40HadithNawawi. Muslim American Society. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Who Was Imam Al Nawawi (R)". Youtube. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Syrian fighters destroy historic Muslim tomb". Al Jazeera English. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "A Short Biography of Imaam an-Nawawi". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  14. ^ "الرئيسة - الحديث - موقع الإسلام". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 

External links[edit]