Imam Nawawi's Preface
to the Riyādh us-Salihīn

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.

“All praise belongs to Allah, the One, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Most Forgiving and Forbearing, Who makes the night follow the day so that it would be an admonition and warning for those who have been blessed with insight and should be a lesson for the wise and far-sighted. He it is Who chooses whom He wills and awakens them from the sleep of neglect and bestows upon them the bounty of piety and enables them to be occupied with reflection and, observation, and equips them with the capacity to retrace their steps after a mistake and to accept and follow good advice. He enables them to worship Him, to prepare for the Hereafter and to be constant in the pursuit of these objectives. I praise Him in the most eloquent, pure and comprehensive terms.

“I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship save Allah alone Who is Holy, Noble, Gracious and Merciful. I bear witness that our lord and master is His Servant and Messenger and His friend and loved one, who points out the straight path and calls people to the true faith. May Allah have mercy on him and on all Prophets and the righteous and their descendants.

“After praise of Allah and calling down blessings on the Holy Prophet ﷺ I proceed: Allah has affirmed:
{ I have created men, high and low, so that they might worship Me. I desire no support from them, nor do I desire that they should feed Me. } Sura 51, verses 56/57

“These verses clearly establish that the purpose of man's creation is that he should obey Allah. It is, therefore, imperative that he should keep this purpose constantly in mind and should pay no attention to worldly adornment and ornament, for this home is not eternal and this is not a place of permanent abode. This world is merely a means of conveyance² to the Hereafter. This is not a place of joy and happiness. The highway of this life will abandon one at a certain turn, it will not keep one company forever. Then those are awake who pass their life in worship and obedience, and those are wise and reasonable who make righteousness their rule of life.

“The Holy Quran describes the transitory character of the hither life in the following terms:
{ The life of this world is like water that We send down from the clouds, then the vegetation of the earth, of which men and cattle eat, mingles with it and the earth is embellished and looks beautiful, and its owners believe that they are its complete masters; then by day or by night, Our command comes to it and We convert it into a mown-down field, as if nothing had existed there the day before. Thus do We expound the Signs for a people who reflect. } Sura 10, verse 24.

“There are numerous verses in the Quran to the same purpose. A poet has said in the same context: There are many wise servants of Allah who have withdrawn from the world being apprehensive³ of its trials and tribulations. When they looked deeply into the world they realized that it was not man's true home. They took it as a deep ocean and raised in it the anchors of vessels equipped with righteous deeds.

“Thus the world being transitory and the purpose of our creation being such as I have set out, it becomes the duty of every wise adult Muslim to follow the way of the chosen ones and adopt the methods of men of wisdom and understanding and to be occupied in preparing for the attainment of the purpose to which I have drawn attention, keeping in mind that which I have pointed out. The best and most correct way to be adopted for the attainment of this purpose is total obedience to the Holy Prophet.

“Allah has commanded:
{ Assist one another in piety and rectitude. }
Sura 5, verse 2;
and the Holy Prophet ﷺ has said:
So long as a Muslim occupies himself with helping a brother, Allah, the Exalted, occupies himself with helping him.
(Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nisai).
He ﷺ has also said:
He who directs another towards good will have such merit as the one who follows his direction; and has said: If a person calls another towards guidance he will have as much merit as the one who follows his direction, without there being the least diminuition in the merit of either.
(Muslim and Abu Dawood).

“It is reported that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said to Ali (kAw):
Should Allah guide one person along the right path through you, that will be better for you than many red camels. (Bukhari and Muslim)

“Having in mind these verses of the Holy Quran and these directions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ on whom be peace and blessings of Allah) I was moved to prepare a Compendium of such of the ahadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which should help to render easy the journey of a reader to the Hereafter and should serve him as a means of acquiring external and internal order in his life and which should comprise urgings and warnings and the discipline, piety and exercises towards the reform of conduct and the training of morals and the purification of hearts.

“I have taken care in this book to select from well-known sources only such ahadith as are clear and authoritative. In the beginning of each section attention will be drawn to relevant verses of the Holy Quran.

“I am hoping that if this book is completed it will help to guide the reader, by Allah's grace, towards virtue and goodness and will guard him against evil and ruin. I request everyone of my brethren who might draw some benefit from this book to pray for me, my parents, my teachers, my friends and for all Muslims. I depend entirely upon Allah, in Him I believe and in Him I put my trust. He is sufficient for me and He is the Best helper. There is no strength to resist evil, nor any power to do good except through Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.“

2) conveyance = vehicle
3) apprehensive = with ability to understand
This is Imam Nawawi's introducion to the well-approved and wide-spread collection of hadith 'Riyādh us-Salihīn' which has as its first tradition of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ his saying:

Actions are only according to intentions, and to each only what he intended. Whoever emigrates towards God and His Messenger, his emigration is towards God and His Messenger; whoever emigrates for the attainment of a worldly goal or in order to marry a woman, then his emigration is only towards what he emigrated to.

Imam Nawawi's commentary on this hadith is at: LivingIslam.org


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latest update: Wed, 7 Jan 2009


* living Islam – Islamic Tradition *