Biography of Imam An Nawawi Rahimahullah

Biography of Imam An Nawawi Rahimahullah

Imam An Nawawi (631–676 H)

He is Yahya Ibn Sharaf Ibn Hasan Ibn Husain An Nawawi Ad Dimasyqi, Abu Zakaria. He was born on the month of Muharram, year 631 Hijri, in Nawa, a village near the region of Damascus, the current capital of Syria. He was taught by his father who was famous for his piety and righteousness. He started to study sciences at katatib ( a place for kids to learn to read and write) and completed his memorization of the Qur’an before he reached the teen age.

When he was ten years old, Sheikh Yasin Ibn Yusuf Az-Zarkasyi saw him being forced to play by his friends, but he evaded them, refused, and cried because of that forcing. The sheikh said that this child is hoped to be the brightest and the most ascetic man of his time, and the one to give great benefits to muslims. Hearing that, his father and teachers paid more attention to him.

An Nawawi stayed at Nawa until he was 18 years of age. On year 649 of Hijra, he started his journey to seek for knowledge to Damascus by attending general learnings hosted by the scholars of that city. He stayed at the School of Rawahiyya, near Al-Jami’ Al-Umawi. There, seeking for knowledge became his main activity. It was said that he attended 12 lessons a day. He was very studious and he remembered many things.
Thus, he surpassed his other friends. He said, “And I wrote all things that related to it, whether it was explanation of difficult word or line on the words; and Allah has bestowed His blessings on my time.” (See: “Syadzaratudz Dzahab”, 5:355)

Among his teachers were: Abul Baqa’ An-Nablusi, Abdul Aziz Ibn Muhammad Al-Ausi, Abu Ishaq Al-Muradi, Abu al Faraj Ibn Qudama Al-Maqdisi, Ishaq Ibn Ahmad Al-Maghribi and Naqib Ash Shafi’i, also Abul ‘Abbas Al-Isybili and Ibn ‘Abdil Hadi.

On year 651 Hijri, he went to perform pilgrimage with his father, and he went to Medina and stayed there around half a month, then he returned to Damascus. On year 665 Hijri, he taught at Darul Hadits Al-Asyrafiyyah at Damascus and he refused to take his salary.

He was labelled as “Muhyiddin” (one who enliven the religion). However, he detested this title due to his humbleness. Beside that, Islam is a living and strong religion, which needs no one to enliven it as the evidence upon those who underestimate and turntheir back at it. It was said that he said, “I won’t forgive anyone who entitle me as “Muhyiddin”.

Imam An Nawawi was an ascetic man, very cautious, and pious. He was very modest, self contented, and has an authoritative bearing. He spent most of his time in piousness, often sleep deprived due to worshipping or writing. He also enjoined people to do good and prevented them from evil doing, including the authority, according to Islamic guidance. He wrote letters containing advices to the authority with a very delicate language.

One day, he was called by King Azh-Zhahir Bebris to sign a fatwa. He came, a skinny man with a very modest clothes. The King humbled him and said, “Sign this fatwa!” He read it and refused to sign it. The King got angry and said, “Why?” He replied, “Because it contains a clear oppression.” The King got even angrier, and said, “Discharged him from all his positions!” The King’s servants said, “He owns no position at all.” The King was eager to kill him but Allah prevent him from doing it. Then the King was asked, “Why didn’t you kill him, whereas he had dared to behave so impudent to you?” The King answered, “By Allah, I feel really low in front of him.”

Imam An Nawawi left plenty of well known scientific works. The number reached forty books, among them are:

1. In hadith : Arba’in, Riyadhush Shalihin, Al-Minhaj (Sharh of Shahih Muslim), At-Taqrib wat Taysir fi Ma’rifat Sunan Al-Basyirin Nadzir.
2. In jurisprudence: Minhajuth Thalibin, Raudhatuth Thalibin, Al-Majmu’.
3. In language: Tahdzibul Asma’ wal Lughat.
4. In manners and etiquette: At-Tibyan fi Adab Hamalatil Qur’an, Bustanul Arifin, Al-Adzkar.

These books are very popular, known by even the common people, and give great benefits to mankind. It is all due to Allah’s guidance, then to his sincerity and vengeance in struggling to produce them.

In general, he was a salafy and held firmly to the path of people who follow the hadith, far from philosophy, and he tried to take example from the first generation of muslim and wrote rebuttals to the innovation makers who took different path from them. But he was not free of mistake. He fell into the similar mistakes that occurred to the scholars of his time, that is the mistakes regarding the names of Allah the Glorified. Sometimes he did a misinterpretation of those names, and sometimes he did tafwidh (leaving the meaning of the qualities to Allah, and not acknowledging the etymological meaning of it, -ed). One who pays some attention to his books will find that he was not a scientist in this field, unlike in other fields. In this field, he based many of his opinions on citations from the scholars without commented them.

As for declaring Imam An Nawawi as an Ash’ari, is not an appropriate decision because he held different opinion from them (the Ash’aris) in creed matters, such as that faith may increase, and that the deeds of creature are creature. His works are still recommended to read and to learn, by being cautious of the mistakes in it. We should not do as the Haddadiyyun (the extrimist) who burned his books because of mistakes in it.

The General Presidency for Scientific Research and Fatwa of Saudi Arabia was asked about his creed, and they answered that, “He has some mistakes regarding the attributes of Allah.”

Imam An Nawawi died on 24th of Rajab, year 676 of Hijra. May Allah have mercy on him and forgive him.

a. Tadzkirah Al-Huffazh: volume. 4. Al-Maktabah Ash Shameela.
b. Thabaqat Asy-Syafi’iyyah Al-Kubra: volume 8. by As-Subki. Mauqi’ Al-Misykah li Al-Kutub.
c. Biography of An-Nawawi. Anas Burhanuddin. (a brief biography of Imam Nawawi)

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  1. Abdullahi Dada says:

    Allahummajfir Lahu warhamhu.

  2. hassan yahaya says:

    may Allah have Macy on him

  3. rashid d ahmed says:

    may Allah forgive him

  4. maryammuazu says:

    i very like the biog of iman nawawi

  5. Abdul karim suraju says:

    may Allah be pleased with Him

  6. May Allah forgive us with the barakah of Imam Muhyideen Al Nawawi.


    Rabbi-igfrilahu warhamhu

  8. Damin bhat says:

    he is the real star of islam

  9. May God Forgive him

  10. Mahad bin Rashid says:

    May Allah for giving him

  11. Abdullahi ahmod says:

    May Almighty Allah forgive him and pleased him with those that are his truly believers insha allahu

  12. najib surajo usman says:

    may Allah have mercy on him and all ulama

  13. Saidu Abubakar Nigerian says:

    Allahu yarishu Al’jannat Firdaus

  14. May Allah reward him with Jannatu firdausi

  15. usaini adamu izang says:

    May Allahu subhanahu wata ala have mercy on him n grant him jannatul firdaus an entire Muslims

  16. Liman Mokwa says:

    The comments are perfect may Allah bless the writers and give them more straighten attitude to do more

    In-shaa Allah

  17. nura yusuf says:

    Alhammadu lillahi’ ameen



  19. Jibrilla N. Salihu says:

    May Allah forgive him

  20. May the ALMIGHTY ALLAH ACCEPT his deeds towards Islam. And forgive him what went wrong as a human being.


    May Allah forgive him

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