The Complete Forty Hadith
By Imam an-Nawawi
Revised Edition with Arabic Text and Commentary
Translator : Abdassamad Clarke
3rd Edition June 2009
Paperback 164 Pages
ISBN : 184200012
Publisher : Ta-Ha Publishers, UK
About The Book
Imam an-Nawawi, may Allah show mercy to him, never intended merely to record forty ahadith in a book and release them to the public. The book which he wrote was his collection of forty-two ahadith together with the absolute minimum of fiqh and linguistic commentary which he felt necessary for people not to misunderstand the import of these ahadith. Ibn ‘Uyaynah said, “Ahadith are misleading except to those who have fiqh.” Ibn Wahb said, “Every man of hadith who has no imam in fiqh is astray. If Allah had not rescued us by Malik and al-Layth we would have gone astray.”
It is clear from reading the hadith literature that the Companions, who were pre-eminently men of fiqh, received their Islam by means of what we would call ‘taqlid’ which continued to be the means of Islam’s transmission from one generation to the next. Taqlid is that people see with the eyes of the heart something so overwhelmingly clear that they imitate it, whether consciously or unconsciously. While this is not a decision to abandon the intellect, this word is usually translated pejoratively as ‘blind imitation’.
Many modern Muslims imagine that we have a wisdom superior to that because of living in a ‘more enlightened’ techno-scientific age. We place that concept in inverted commas because our measure of all enlightenment is the noble conduct of the Messenger of Allah(S) and his Companions in Madinah, a measure which shows this age to be one of the most barbaric there has ever been.
Imam Malik is reported to have said, “Only that which was effective for the first of this community will be effective for the last of it.” For the Companions the encounter with the Prophet (S) was so extraordinary that they modelled themselves entirely upon him, sometimes even in the smallest customs and actions. As every parent witnesses, that is a major part of the process by which children learn to become adult human beings. It is from the very essence of the human being. Knowledge is not merely sets of propositions. Transmission is not just to convey those propositions to another.
This is not to denigrate the author of this book or any of the noble transmitters of traditional knowledge of this Muslim community. If we were to examine the lives of the great people of knowledge of our community we would find them to have been overwhelmed by the luminous characters and behaviour of the men and women from whom they learnt.
For if the sciences have not illuminated their transmitters there is little point in transmitting them. Thus we find Imam Malik, may Allah show mercy to him, saying, “Knowledge is a light which Allah places where He will; it is not much narration.” We must accept this from Imam Malik since his capacity for accurate narration of ahadith is not in doubt, but here he is calling us to something beyond texts and certainly beyond isnads.
The unique achievement of the Prophet (S) unparalleled in all history before or since, is to have transformed the lives and practice of the elite and the ordinary people of an entire city, and from there to have transformed Arabia and the world. That miracle continues in our time. Yet Madinah was the core group, trained, educated and civilised by the last of the Messengers. The next generations learnt their Islam as a generation from the Companions. That transmission was most concentrated and authentic in Madinah.
‘Amal is the term which denotes the actual practice of the people of Madinah. The Companions transmitted it to the Followers, and they to the Followers of the Followers. All of these generations further enriched the record of the practice by their intelligent resolution of new issues in accordance with their profound knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah. Most significantly, that record includes their mode of transacting commercially without usury, the knowledge of which sustained and enriched Muslim culture for centuries and is desperately needed by the world today.
The practice of the people of Madinah of those first generations is itself the best evidence of the Sunnah because it is like a mutawatir hadith which has been transmitted by huge numbers of reliable people of one generation to equally large numbers of reliable people of the next. In this age the best result expected of the culture of the solitary narrator is the well-meaning ‘good Muslim’ who is himself only too aware that he is ineffectual.
Imam Malik, along with his pre-eminence as a narrator of ahadith, recorded the ‘amal – the practice – so that it might be a wellspring for civilisations to come, as it has been and as it will continue to be insha’Allah. These ahadith from the noble Imam an-Nawawi, may Allah show mercy to him, make most sense when set within the ‘amal of a dynamic and resurgent Islam like jewels in the bezel of the ring.
About Imam al-Nawawi (d. 676/1277)
Imam Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi was Born in the village of Nawa in Southern Syria, Imam Nawawi spent most of his life in Damascus where he lived in a simple manner, devoted to Allah, engaging single-mindedly in worship, study, writing and teaching various Islamic sciences.
Although best known for his works in hadith, Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (d. 676/1277) was also the Imam of the later Shafi'i school of Jurisprudence, and widely acknowledged as the intellectual heir to Imam Shafi'i. He was a renowned scholar and jurist who dedicated his life to the pursuit of Islamic learning.
Imam Nawawi died at the young age of 44 years, leaving behind him numerous works of great
Imam Nawawi is well know for books which are easy to understand
About The Translator
Abdassamad Clarke: From Ulster and was formally educated at Edinburgh University in Mathematics and Physics, and in Cairo in Arabic and tajwid and other Islamic sciences.
He accepted Islam at the hands of Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi in 1973. In the 80s he was secretary to the imam of the Dublin Mosque, and in the early 90s imam khatib of the Norwich Mosque, where he is currently an imam and teacher.
'...He has not placed any hardship upon you in religion...' [TM Qur'an 22:78]
'Whenever you speak to the people of something their mind cannot comprehend, it could lead some of them towards fitna' - (Muslim)
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