Nawawi, Forty Hadiths, Hadith 19: Twelve Words of Advice Given to Ibn-Abbas
I have have been studying the ahadith and sharing my notes. My hope is that some would learn with me or others more knowledgeable would leave comments so I could learn from you. Here is a helpful summary of the ahadith and why it is important to study them,
One important genre in Arabic literature comprises the sayings attributed to the Prophet Muḥammad, descriptions of his deeds as well as accounts of events supposed to have occurred during his lifetime. This literary genre is the tradition literature, the ḥadīth, which is a term for the literature as well as for a single tradition…Normally each tradition consists of (1) a list of names, beginning with the collector in whose collection the tradition found a place followed by several transmitters going back to the prophet Muḥammad or to another ancient authority, the so-called isnād (see further down), followed by (2) the actual text (matn) of the tradition. Certain collections of ḥadīths, six in all, were compiled in the latter half of the third/ninth century and became generally considered as so reliable by the Sunnī Muslim religious authorities of the day that they were canonized as it were, eventually acquiring a sanctity second only to the Qurʾān. (G.H.A. Juynboll, “Ḥadīth and the Qurʾān.” Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe . Brill [Leiden and Boston], 2005. CD-ROM version).
There are thousands of traditions. Forty-two chief traditions were compiled by the renowned Muslim scholar Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi (631 – 676 A.H. / 1234 – chi1278 A.D.). I’ve been studying these “forty hadith” and learning from the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa. The nineteenth tradition related by al-Nawawi:
عـن أبي العـباس عـبد الله بن عـباس رضي الله عـنهما ، قــال : كـنت خـلـف النبي صلي الله عـليه وسلم يـوما ، فـقـال : ( يـا غـلام ! إني اعـلمك كــلمات : احـفـظ الله يـحـفـظـك ، احـفـظ الله تجده تجاهـك ، إذا سـألت فـاسأل الله ، وإذا اسـتعـنت فـاسـتـعـن بالله ، واعـلم أن الأمـة لـو اجـتمـعـت عـلى أن يـنـفـعـوك بشيء لم يـنـفـعـوك إلا بشيء قـد كـتـبـه الله لك ، وإن اجتمعـوا عـلى أن يـضـروك بشيء لـم يـضـروك إلا بشيء قـد كـتـبـه الله عـلـيـك ؛ رفـعـت الأقــلام ، وجـفـت الـصـحـف ).
رواه الترمذي [ رقم : 2516 ] وقال : حديث حسن صحيح .
وفي رواية غير الترمذي : ( احفظ الله تجده أمامك ، تعرف إلى الله في الرخاء يعرفك في الشدة ، واعلم أن ما أخطأك لم يكن ليصيبك ، وما أصابك لم يكن ليخطئك ، واعلم ان النصر مع الصبر ، وان الفرج مع الكرب ، وان مع العسر يسرا )
On the authority of Abu ‘Abbaas ‘Abdillaah bin ‘Abbaas (radi allahu anhuma 1Arabic to English translation, May Allah be pleased with them.) [Ibn-Abbas] who said : One day I was behind the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam 2Arabic to English translation, May Allah bless him and grant him peace. Often abbreviated SAWS. This Arabic phrase is used after references to Muhammad and his titles. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times.) [riding on the same mount] and he said :
O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be Mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be Mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The Pens have been lifted and the Pages have dried.
It was related by at-Tirmidhee, who said it was a Good and Sound Hadeeth.
Another narration, other than that of Tirmidhee, reads :
Be Mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognise and Acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will Remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that Victory comes with Patience, Relief with Affliction, and Hardship with Ease.
Ali Gomaa’s Explanation of Nawawi’s Hadith 19
Listen to Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and hadith scholar, teach about the nineteenth hadith. My notes follow
Ali Gomaa discusses Ibn-Abbas
Ali Gomaa begins by discussing who Ibn-Abbas was, the narrator of the above hadith. Ibn-Abbas was a cousin of Muhammad; twelve years old when Muhammad died; and renowned for his knowledge of Islam. The Encyclopaedia of Islam relates,
Abd Allah ibn Abbas called al-Hibr ‘the doctor’ or al-Bahr ‘the sea’, because of his doctrine, is considered one of the greatest scholars, if not the greatest, of the first generation of Muslims. He was the father of Kur’anic exegesis; at a time when it was necessary to bring the Kuran into accord with the new demands of a society which had undergone a profound transformation, he appears to have been extremely skilful in accomplishing this task.
Muhammad’s first word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you
Ali Gomaa says, “His first is “Be mindful of Allah and [He] will protect you.” Some people, as they reach old age, and find that Allah has kept them their organs and limbs, may be asked ‘How did this happen?’ The asker might think that ‘following health procedures would be the answer. Instead, they say, “No, these organs that we kept when we were young, so Allah kept it for us when we are old.” Be mindful of Allah in your heart, so He would protect you from your enemies and who rejoice at your misfortunes. He (SWT) 3Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase, Subhanahu wa ta’ala. This expression is used after using the name Allah. The English translation means “highly praised and glorified is He.” would protect you from harm.”
Muhammad’s second word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: be Mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you
“The 2nd advice: “be mindful of Allah and you will find Him towards you.” This means that you will find him right in front of you. Therefore, as we saw in the other he used “before” instead of “towards” you. It means that He never leaves you nor abandons answering your supplication. Whenever you remember Allah (SWT) and supplicated Him, you’d find Him before you.
Muhammad’s third word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]
“The 3rd advice: “if you ask, ask Allah.” Ali Gomaa says, “This word sums up all forms of human conduct regarding his relationship with Allah and one’s pride among people. Don’t ask people. People of Allah used to say, “we are people, who neither ask nor refuse.” Whatever Allah grants them, they accept it. If they are not granted, they don’t ask people. And if they ask, they ask Allah (SWT) only.”
Muhammad’s fourth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]
“The 4th advice: “If you seek help, seek help from Allah (SWT) alone.” “You only do we worship, and You only do we beseech for help.” This requires attentiveness, repentance, taking refuge in, turning to, and showing sincerity to Allah the Lord of the worlds.”
Muhammad’s fifth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: And know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you.
“The 5th advice: “know that if the ummah were to gather to benefit you with anything they would not, but with what Allah had already prescribed for you. Thus, all praise be to Allah only.”
Muhammad’s sixth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you.
“The 6th advice means that “if they gather to harm you, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you.” So, don’t fear but Allah, and rely on Allah alone completely.”
Muhammad’s seventh word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: The Pens have been lifted and the Pages have dried.
“The 7th advice: “the pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” Thus we reach the result that there is no power nor strength save in Allah.”
Muhammad’s eighth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: Recognise and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity.
Sheikh Gomaa proceeds, “In the other narration, there is the 8th advice. “Know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity.” This issue is neglected by many. They acknowledge Allah in adversity only, but not in prosperity. So they turn to Allah only when they are afflicted. Otherwise they are heedless. The Messenger (SAWS) clarifies that Allah (SWT), will be with you in adversity, if you will remember him in prosperity.
Muhammad’s ninth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by.
“The 9th advice: “Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you.” So rely on and trust in Allah (SWT). Be content with and in submission to the will of Allah (SWT). Nothing happens in His universe against His will. “and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by.”
Muhammad’s tenth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: Victory comes with patience
“The 10th advice: “know that victory comes with patience.” This statement should be written in gold. Patience and victory go hand in hand. Be patient and you will be victorious. Know that victory can be attained through patience. Many people may lead their lives in haste. They hasten results in this worldly life. So, they attain none but disappointment, we seek refuge in Allah.”
Muhammad’s eleventh & twelfth word of advice to Ibn-Abbas: Relief with Affliction, and Hardship with Ease.
“The 11th advice: “Relief comes with affliction.” With difficulty comes ease, so don’t despair when you are distressed. No matter how hard the crisis is, it’ll vanish soon. Ease comes with adversity as our Lord (SWT) and His Messenger (SAWS) has informed us. So, don’t despair and hope that Allah would grant you good. “I am up to my slave’s expectation.” So, have a good expectation about your Lord, so you’d see Him in front of and before you. The Messenger (SAWS) taught Ibn-Abbas and the whole nation, 12 advices. He (SAWS) was a teacher. May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah.”
My Christian comments about Islam hadiths
When it comes to morality and “wise sayings” much of what you find in the Qur’an and hadiths is good advice. It can also be found in the Bible; in fact, I’ve noticed many similarities between the hadiths and the book of Proverbs which was written by King Solomon.
Christians believe that mankind was created in the image of a holy and just God. Being made in God’s image means that all people were created with a sense of morality (right and wrong). Christianity does not have a monopoly on morality:
- Everyone knows God exists (Romans 1:20-21).
- Everyone has a sense of justice and knows that those who practice immorality deserve death (Romans 1:32).
- Everyone has a conscience and God’s law written on their heart (Romans 2:15).
Good moral advice can be found in the teaching of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Epicurus, the Dali Lama, etc. In fact, the Apostle Paul quoted pagan philosophers:
- “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Epimenides [6th century B.C.] quoted by Paul in Acts 17:28).
- “We are his offspring” (Aratus [c.315 BC-240 BC] also quoted by Paul in Acts 17:28).
- “Bad company corrupts good morals” (Menander [c.342-291 B.C.], quoted by Paul in 1 Cor.15:33).
If you are to understand Christianity then it is not enough to understand its moral teaching; it is not enough to understand it’s laws. If you are to understand Christianity and what makes it different from other religions then you must understand grace (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10). Grace differentiates Christianity from other religions and philosophies.
God’s grace has been defined as God’s demerited or unmerited favor. God’s grace is giving believers what Jesus deserved and giving Jesus what our sin deserved.
Grace is something that cannot be found in Islam, but only in Jesus Christ.
If you believe Islam is true and will be victorious, then I encourage you to patiently study the Christian Scriptures. Even if you do not agree with them, studying them will help you better present your Islamic beliefs to other Christians. I have been patiently studying Islam and am convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. In invite you to read my book, Is the Qur’an the Word of God?
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References [ + ]
|1.||↥||Arabic to English translation, May Allah be pleased with them.|
|2.||↥||Arabic to English translation, May Allah bless him and grant him peace. Often abbreviated SAWS. This Arabic phrase is used after references to Muhammad and his titles. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times.|
|3.||↥||Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase, Subhanahu wa ta’ala. This expression is used after using the name Allah. The English translation means “highly praised and glorified is He.”|