This is al-Nawawi’s introduction to his 40 hadith. The explanation in Jamal Az-Zarabozo’s book is very lengthy, 30 something pages, so I’m just going to put up the stuff that stood out to me 🙂 The indented part is Al-Nawawi’s complete intro (in the beginning).
Also, the author of the book, Az-Zarabozo, goes into a SUPER lengthy discussion about dealing with weak hadith. I thought it was important, so inshaAllah I’ll do a seperate post on that.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the [One who] Sustains the Heavens and the Earth, Director of all that is created, who sent the messengers (peace and the blessings of Allah be upon them) to rational beings, to guide them and explain the religious laws to them with clear proofs and undeniable arguements. I praise Him for all of His bounties. I ask Him to increase His grace and generosity. I bear witness that there is none worhty of worship except Allah alone, who has no partner, the One Alone, the [One who] Subdues, the Generous, the Forgiving. I bear witness that our leader Muhammad is His servant and messenger, His beloved and dear one, the best of all creation. He was honored with the Glorious Quran that is the enduring miracle throughout all the years. He was also sent with his guiding sunnah that shows the way for those who seek guidance. Our leader Muhammad has been particularized with the characteristic of eloquent and pithy speech, and simplicity and ease in the religion. May the peace and blessings of Allah be uponhim, the other prophets and messengers, all of their families and the rest ofthe righteous.
We have narrated, through many chains of various narrations, from Ali ibn Abu Taalib, ‘Abdullah ibn Masood, Muaadh ibn Jabal, Abu al-Darda, ibn ‘Umar, ibn ‘Abbaas, Anas ibn Maalik, Abu Huraira and Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri – may Allah be pleased with all of them – that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever preserves for my Nation forty hadith related to its religion, Allah will then resurrect him in the company of the savants and scholars.”
Another narration states, “Allah will raise him as an erudite and learned scholar.” In the narration from Abu al-Dardaa, it is stated, “On the Day of Resurrection, I will be an intercessor and witness for him.” In the narration from ibn Masood, it is stated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “It will be said to him, ‘Enter Paradise through any door you wish.” In the narration by ibn ‘Umar, one finds the words, “He will be recorded among the company of the scholars and will be resurrected in the company of the martyrs.” The scholars of hadith agree that, although this hadith had numerous chains, it is weak.
The scholars (may Allah be pleased with them) have compiled inumberable works of this nature. The first one that I know of who compiled such a work was Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak. After him came Aslam al-Toosi, a pious scholar. Then came al-Hasan ibn Sufyaan an-Nasaai, Abu Bakr al-Aajuri, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ibraheem al-Asfahaani, al-Daaraqutni, al-Haakim, Abu Nuaim, Abu Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sulami, Abu Said al-Maleeni, Abu Uthmaan al-Saabooni, Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansaari, Abu Bakr al-Baihaqi and countless others both from earlier and later times.
I have turned to Allah for guidance and prayed to Him while compiling these forty hadith, following the example of those Imams and guardians of Islam. The scholars have agreed that it is permissible to act in accord with weak hadith that state the virtuous deeds. Nonetheless, given that fact, I have not relied upon that hadith only in compiling this work. Instead, I am following the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) found in an authentic hadith,
“Let him who was present among you inform those who are absent.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, “May Allah make radiant the man who has heard what I said, preserved it in his memory and conveyed it in the way he heard it.”
Scholars have compiled forty hadith on faith and belief (usool), on practical matters (furoo), on jihad, on austerity, on etiquette, and even on sermons. All of these [collections] were concerning righteous aims. May Allah be pleased with those who sought them. However, I have found it best to collect together forty hadith which are more important than all of those. These forty hadith incorporate all of those seperate topics. In fact, each hadith by itself a great general precept from the foundations of the religion. Some scholars state that all of Islam revolves around these hadith. Some have said, about one particular hadith, that they are one-half of Islaam, one-third of Islam and so forth.
I have committed myself to including only authentic hadith in these forty hadith. The majority of them are from Sahih al-Bukhaari or Sahih Muslim. I have mentioned them without their chain of authorities in order for it to be easier to memroize them and thus more will be able to benefit from them, Allah willing. After the hadith, I included a section on the meanings of the obscure expressions found in the hadith. [az-Zarabozo adds a footnote here and says that this part is not found in the translation, but in the commentary.]
Everyone who desires and looks forward to the Hereafter must be familiar with these hadith because they cover the most important aspects of the religion and offer direction to all forms of obedience to Allah. This is clear to anyone who ponders on these hadith.
I rely only upon Allah and I entrust my affair only to Him. To Him is all the Praise and grace, and from Him is guidance and protection from error.
This is the end of Al-Nawawi’s introduction. Some bits from Jamal Az-Zarabozo’s commentary follows.
Al-Nawawi always begins his work by praising Allah. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Every matter of importance that does not begin with praise [of Allah] is lacking in blessing.” This hadith was recorded by Abu Dawood and Ibn Maajah. Although this particular hadith is weak, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began his khutbah al-Haajah with praise of Allah and other hadith mention him praising Allah before giving a speech, therefore it is Sunnah to begin with the praise of Allah.
One should also begin with the testimony of faith, for the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Every speech that does not include the testimony of faith is like a hand that has been cut off [that is, without any benefit].” (Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Habbaan, hasan or sahih).
And – I thought this was interesting – you always hear ‘amma ba’ad (translation: “to proceed”) in khutbahs. It was the practice of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to use this exprsesion. It shows that one is moving from one idea or purpose to another. According to Ibn Hajr, the words “to proceed” are not essential, but one should use something that serves the same purpose.
Regarding the hadith – Let him who was present among you inform those who are absent – it was recorded by Bukhari and Muslim. It is an order from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It shows that he took steps to make sure that the Sunnah was preserved and conveyed.
Al-Nawawi did an amazing job in the hadith he chose to compile in his work. One of the reasons why his collection outlived many others is the importance of the hadith he chose. There are so many commentaries on his work. One of the more important ones is Ibn Rajab’s. Even to this day, modern scholars (such as Az-Zarabozo!) are commenting on his work, rahimahullah.
A note concerning the use of the word sahih or hasan by old time scholars: Many times they would use the word sahih for hadith that were hasan. Also, their grading of hadith is a matter of ijtihaad. In this collection, there are possibly two, three or four hadith which are neither hasan or sahih.
I realize I used a lot of terms in this post – mostly regarding hadith. They are new to me, although many brothers and sisters reading this probably know 🙂 inshaAllah the next post will be about the meanings of these terms and will discuss weak hadith.