An Introduction to the Forty Hadith Compiled by Al-Nawawi
Ahadith (singular: hadith) are sayings attributed to Muhammad and descriptions of his deeds. There are thousands of ahidith, some more reliable (strong) than others (weak). One popular tradition of hadith comes from Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi. In this lecture, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, gives a short biography of Nawawi and introduces this “Forty Hadith”:
“One of the best books written about the Prophets (SAWS) hadith, is that written by Imam Abu Zakaria Mohiuddin Yahya Ibn Sharaf an-Nawawi. ”
Ali Gomaa proceeds to give a short biography of al-Nawawi.
“He was very pious and very knowledgeable. He is a gift from Allah to us, to the Shafi’i school, to Arabs, and to all Muslims. An-Nawawi was such a great example of scholars.”
Over the centuries there have been different compilations of “Forty Hadith” by various Muslim scholars; an-Nawawi was not to do this. This practice goes back to various traditions in which Muhammad allegedley said, “Whichever Muslim learns forty hadith by heart will be raised on the Day of Judgment with sholars and jurists” (4:04-4:17). Gomaa says that althought this hadith is “weak”, “they still depended on it and went on collecting the books of “forties”. Some of them collected forty hadith narrated by forty different scholars. Others collected forty hadith narrated about forty different places. Some collected forty hadith dealing with a single topic. Some collected forty hadith dealing with different topics. Imam An-Nawawi wanted to collect the ahadith that are considered the basis of Islam” (5:38-6:32).
Hadith that are foundational to Islam, “For example, some scholars say that, there are three ahadith that explain the whole Islamic faith:
- “The reward for deeds according to their intentions, every person is rewarded according to their intention.”
- “Halal and Haram are clear and that there are doubtful issues in between.”
- “A good Muslim leaves what is none of his concern.” (“One should work to improve one’s self, not others”)
“Some scholars add one more hadith: “Whoever introduces into this religion something that was not originally in it is rejected.””
“Imam An-Nawawi searched the books, until he managed to collect forty-two ahadith tackling the basis of Islam. These are the ahadith that we teach our children and students. We study them ourselves. We study them to understand them. We study them to try to make our children learn them. We study them to explain them.”
“Ibn-Ragab has written a book in which he added to these forty, ten more ahadith. So now we have fifty hadith. He explained those ahadith. A lot of people attempted to explain the forty ahadith of An-Nawawi in different ways either concisely or extensively. Imam An-Nawawi himself has written a book explaining the forty ahadith that he had collected.” This is the book that Ali Gomaa explores in the following episodes.
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