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Fundamentals of Faith and Sacred Law (Imam Nawawi)

  Excerpt From:  Al-Nawawi's Manual of Islam,  Tr:NUH HA MIM KELLER [ITS]

 

Tenets of Faith

1.1 The first obligation of all who are morally responsible (Ar. mukallaf someone who has reached puberty and is of sound mind) is to know God, meaning to know that He is existent and not nonexistent; beginninglessly eternal, not originating in or subject to time or space; everlastingly abiding, not subject to end; dissimilar to and other than anything within time or space, nothing in any way resem- bling Him; self-subsistent, free of need for anything through which to exist or any determinant to condition Him; One, without co-sharer in His entity, attributes, or actions; possessed of almighty power, will, knowledge, life, hearing, sight, speech, such that He is almighty, and wills, knows, lives, hears, sees, and speaks.

1.2 He sent the prophets out of His generosity, protecting them from everything unbecoming them, guarding them from both lesser sins and enormities both before their prophethood and thereafter, and from every offensive physical trait such as leprosy or blindness, though they ate, drank, and married. They were the best of all created beings; and the highest of them was him whom Allah chose to be the final seal of prophethood, whose Sacred Law superseded all previously valid religious laws, our prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). His Companions (Sahaba) were the finest generation, the best of them being Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthman, then 'Ali, may the benefaction of Allah be upon them all.

1.3 We believe in everything that Allah has informed us of upon the tongue of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), such as the angels, the sacred scriptures, the questioning of the dead in their graves about their faith, the resurrection of the dead, their being gathered unto the Judgment Day, the terror of it, the taking of the pages in which one's good and bad deeds are recorded, the weighing of them, the balance scales, the high, narrow bridge over the hellfire that the saved will pass over to paradise, the intercession of the prophets and righteous for others, and in paradise and hell.

1.4 Everything that is necessarily known by Muslims to be of the religion (R: necessarily known meaning the things that any Muslim would know about if asked) is obligatory to believe, and anyone who denies it is a non-Muslim (kafir, dis: 8.1) (R: unless he is a recent convert or was born and raised in the wilderness or for some similar reason has been unable to learn his religion properly. Muslims in such a condition should be informed about the truth, and if they then continue as before, they are adjudged non-Muslims, as is also the case with any Muslim who believes it permissible to commit adultery, drink wine, kill without right, or do other acts that are necessarily known to be unlawful).

Fundamentals of Islam

1.5 The pillars of Islam consist of five things: to say the two Testifications of Faith: Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Llah(u), wa as l-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulu Llah (10.1) ("I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah") (R: even if they are not spoken in Arabic), without which one's Islam is not valid; the prayer (salat); zakat; the pilgrimage to Mecca; and fasting the month of Ramadan.

The preconditions for the validity of one's Islam are that one have reached puberty, be of sound mind, that the Prophet's message (Allah bless him and give him peace) have reached one, that one accept it voluntarily, and that one utter the two Testifications of Faith in their proper order without separating them, using the word testify in each. One must also know what is meant by them, and must acknowledge all that is necessarily known to be of the religion (de: 1.4) if one has denied any of it despite uttering them; and one must state them unequivocally.

1.6 The meaning of truefaith (iman) is that one believes in Allah, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers, the Last Day, and in destiny, its good and evil.

1.7 Religion (din) consists of three matters: doing what Allah has commanded, avoiding what He has forbidden, and accepting what He has destined (dis: 8.2).

1.8 The foundations of the religion are four: the Koran, the sunna, scholarly consensus (ijma', (def: 8.3)), and analogy (qiyas, (8.1 I.b(lll))) from other established rulings, when the latter two are recognized as binding by Islamic scholar- ship. Whatever contravenes these four bases is blameworthy innovation (bid'a, def: 8.4), and its perpetrator is an innovator who Muslims are obliged to avoid the company of and rebuke.

The Sacred Law

1.9 The rulings of the Sacred Law are five: obligatory, recommended, unlawful, offensive, and permissible.

 

  1. (1) The obligatory (wajib) is that whose performance is rewarded (n: by Allah in the next life) and whose nonperformance is punished.
  2. (2) The recommended (mandub) is that whose perfor- mance is rewarded, but whose nonperformance is not punished.
  3. (3) The unlawful (haram) is that whose nonperformance is rewarded and whose performance is punished.
  4. (4) The offensive (makruh) is that whose nonperformance is rewarded but whose performance is not punished.
  5. (5) The permissible (mubah) is that whose performance is not rewarded and whose nonperformance is not punished.
1.10 Prescribed (fard), obligatory (wajib), mandatory (muhahattam), and required (lazim) all mean the same thing (n: i.e. (1) above), though the obligatory is distinguished into two categories, the personally obligatory and the communally obligatory.
  1. The personally obligatory (fard al-'ayn) is required from every morally responsible (def: 1.1) person individu- ally, such that if someone performs it, the obligation of per- forming it is not lifted from others, as with the prescribed prayer (salat) or giving zakat.
  2. As for the communally obligatory (fard al-kifaya), it is that which if some do, the obligation is lifted from the rest, as with some member of a group returning a newcomer's greeting of "as-Salamu 'alaykum," or performing the funeral prayer, memorizing the Koran, commanding the right and forbidding the wrong when it is called for, or undertaking beneficial occupations that society needs.
1.11 The terms sunna, recommended (mandub), preferable (mustahabb), meritorious (fadila), and desirable (muragh- ghab fihi), all mean the same thing: that which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, or did (aside from what pertained to him alone (n: such as the night vigil (tahajjud) prayer, which was obligatory only for him)), or approved of in others, or accepted, or intended to do but did not carry out, as with fasting on 9 Muharram.

The Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr)

  1.12 It is obligatory to say, Ash-hadu an la ilah illa Llahu wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasulu Llah (10.2) ("I tes- tify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah") once in a lifetime, and it is highly desirable to do so frequently. It means that one acknowledges the oneness of Allah Most High, and the messengerhood of our liegelord Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). (n: For a note on the transliterated Arabic of the present volume, see 8.5).

1.13 The best form of worship, next to having faith in the heart (iman), is the prayer (salat).

1.14 The best remembrance (dhikr) of Allah, next to recital of the Koran, is La ilaha illa Llah (10.3) ("There is no god but Allah"), meaning no other in existence is worthy of wor- ship besides Allah.

The best glorification of Allah Most High is Sub,hanaka la nu,hsi thana'an 'alayka Anta kama athnayta 'ala nafsik (10.4) ("Exalted be You, we are unable to glorify You as You glorify Yourself").

The best praise is al-Hamdu li Llahi ,hamdan yuwafi ni'amahu wa yukafi'u mazEdah (10.5) ("Praise be to Allah, in the measure of His blessings and commensurate with His increase of them").

The best form of blessings upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is Allahumma salli 'ala Mu,hammadin wa 'ala ali Muhammadin kama sallayta 'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala ali Ibrahim(a), wa barik 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala ali Mu,hammadin kama barakta 'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala ali Ibrahimafi 1- 'alamina innaka hamidun majEd (10.6) ("O Allah, bless Muhammad and the folk of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim. O Allah, show grace to Muhammad and the folk of Muhammad as You showed grace to Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim in the worlds; truly, You are the Most Praiseworthy and Noble"). This is called the "Perfect Blessing" or "Ibrahirnic Blessing."

The blessing upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace, and increase him in honor) is obligatory in the final Testification of Faith (Tashahhud) of the prayer. (n: Aside from the prayer,) some scholars hold that it is obliga- tory but once in a lifetime, while others say it is obligatory whenever the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is mentioned. Others hold it is obligatory at every gathering, while others hold otherwise.

The Righteous

1.15 One should believe in the closeness to Allah of whoever has Sacred Learning and lives it, who adheres to the prescribed manners of the Sacred Law and keeps the company of the righteous. As for the bereft of reason or de- ranged, like those overcome by the divine attraction (majdhub) without outward responsibility to obey the Sacred Law, we leave them be, consigning the knowledge of their real state to Allah, though it is obligatory to condemn what- ever proceeds from them in contravention of the external appearances of the divine command, in observance of the rules of Sacred Law.

Copyright ŠNuh Ha Mim Keller 1996

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Al-Nawawi's Manual of Islam:]  Tr:NUH HA MIM KELLER [ITS]
Al-Nawawi's Manual of Islam:] Tr:NUH HA MIM KELLER [ITS]

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