Al-Nawawi's Manual of Islam
Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller
ISDN 0 9466321 54 3 paper
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FUNDAMENTALS OF FAITH AND
Tenets of Faith 1.1
Who Is Morally Responsible (Mukallaf) 1.1
Allah and His Attributes 1.1
The Prophets (Upon Whom Be Peace) 1.2
Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace) 1.2
The excellence of his Companions 1.2
Belief in what he has informed of 1.3
Belief in What Is Necessarily Known to Be of Islam 1.4
Meaning of necessarily known 1.4
Denial of the necessarily known is unbelief (kufr) 1.4
Fundamentals of Islam 1.5
The Five Pillars of Islam 1.5
The Conditions for the Validity of One's Islam 1.5
The two Testifications of Faith (Shahadatayn) 1.5
The Six Pillars of Faith 1.6
The Matter of Religion (Din) 1.7
The Four Bases of the Rulings of Islam 1.8
Blameworthy innovation (bid'a) 1.8
The Sacred Law 1.9
The Five Rulings of Sacred Law 1.9
The Two Kinds of Obligatory Acts 1.10
The personally obligatory (fard al-'ayn) 1.10(1)
The communally obligatory (fard al-kifaya) 1.10(2)
The Meaning of Sunna or Recommended Acts 1.11
The Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr) 1.12
The Meaning of the Testification of Faith 1.12
The Best Form of Worship 1.13
The Best Kinds of Dhikr 1.14
The Righteous 1.15
Closeness to Allah 1.15
Those Deranged by the Divine Attraction 1.15
Tenets of Faith
1.1 The first obligation of all who are morally responsible (Ar. mukallaf
someone who has reached puberty and is of sound mind) is to know God, meaning to
know that He is existent and not nonexistent; beginninglessly eternal, not
originating in or subject to time or space; everlastingly abiding, not subject
to end; dissimilar to and other than anything within time or space, nothing in
any way resem- bling Him; self-subsistent, free of need for anything through
which to exist or any determinant to condition Him; One, without co-sharer in
His entity, attributes, or actions; possessed of almighty power, will,
knowledge, life, hearing, sight, speech, such that He is almighty, and wills,
knows, lives, hears, sees, and speaks.
1.2 He sent the prophets out of His generosity, protecting
them from everything unbecoming them, guarding them from both lesser sins and
enormities both before their prophethood and thereafter, and from every
offensive physical trait such as leprosy or blindness, though they ate, drank,
and married. They were the best of all created beings; and the highest of them
was him whom Allah chose to be the final seal of prophethood, whose Sacred Law
superseded all previously valid religious laws, our prophet Muhammad (Allah
bless him and give him peace). His Companions (Sahaba) were the finest
generation, the best of them being Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthman, then
'Ali, may the benefaction of Allah be upon them all.
1.3 We believe in everything that Allah has informed us of
upon the tongue of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), such as the
angels, the sacred scriptures, the questioning of the dead in their graves about
their faith, the resurrection of the dead, their being gathered unto the
Judgment Day, the terror of it, the taking of the pages in which one's good and
bad deeds are recorded, the weighing of them, the balance scales, the high,
narrow bridge over the hellfire that the saved will pass over to paradise, the
intercession of the prophets and righteous for others, and in paradise and hell.
1.4 Everything that is necessarily known by Muslims to be
of the religion (R: necessarily known meaning the things that any Muslim would
know about if asked) is obligatory to believe, and anyone who denies it is a
non-Muslim (kafir, dis: 8.1) (R: unless he is a recent convert or was born and
raised in the wilderness or for some similar reason has been unable to learn his
religion properly. Muslims in such a condition should be informed about the
truth, and if they then continue as before, they are adjudged non-Muslims, as is
also the case with any Muslim who believes it permissible to commit adultery,
drink wine, kill without right, or do other acts that are necessarily known to
Fundamentals of Islam
1.5 The pillars of Islam consist of five things: to say the two
Testifications of Faith: Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Llah(u), wa as l-hadu anna
Muhammadan Rasulu Llah (10.1) ("I testify that there is no god but Allah
and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah") (R: even if they
are not spoken in Arabic), without which one's Islam is not valid; the prayer (salat);
zakat; the pilgrimage to Mecca; and fasting the month of Ramadan.
The preconditions for the validity of one's Islam are that one have reached
puberty, be of sound mind, that the Prophet's message (Allah bless him and give
him peace) have reached one, that one accept it voluntarily, and that one utter
the two Testifications of Faith in their proper order without separating them,
using the word testify in each. One must also know what is meant by them, and
must acknowledge all that is necessarily known to be of the religion (de: 1.4)
if one has denied any of it despite uttering them; and one must state them
1.6 The meaning of truefaith (iman) is that one believes in
Allah, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers, the Last Day, and in
destiny, its good and evil.
1.7 Religion (din) consists of three matters: doing what
Allah has commanded, avoiding what He has forbidden, and accepting what He has
destined (dis: 8.2).
1.8 The foundations of the religion are four: the Koran,
the sunna, scholarly consensus (ijma', (def: 8.3)), and analogy (qiyas, (8.1
I.b(lll))) from other established rulings, when the latter two are recognized as
binding by Islamic scholar- ship. Whatever contravenes these four bases is
blameworthy innovation (bid'a, def: 8.4), and its perpetrator is an innovator
who Muslims are obliged to avoid the company of and rebuke.
The Sacred Law
1.9 The rulings of the Sacred Law are five: obligatory, recommended,
unlawful, offensive, and permissible.
1.10 Prescribed (fard), obligatory (wajib), mandatory (muhahattam),
and required (lazim) all mean the same thing (n: i.e. (1) above), though the
obligatory is distinguished into two categories, the personally obligatory and
the communally obligatory.
- (1) The obligatory (wajib) is that whose performance is rewarded (n: by
Allah in the next life) and whose nonperformance is punished.
- (2) The recommended (mandub) is that whose perfor- mance is rewarded, but
whose nonperformance is not punished.
- (3) The unlawful (haram) is that whose nonperformance is rewarded and
whose performance is punished.
- (4) The offensive (makruh) is that whose nonperformance is rewarded but
whose performance is not punished.
- (5) The permissible (mubah) is that whose performance is not rewarded and
whose nonperformance is not punished.
1.11 The terms sunna, recommended (mandub), preferable (mustahabb),
meritorious (fadila), and desirable (muragh- ghab fihi), all mean the same
thing: that which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, or did
(aside from what pertained to him alone (n: such as the night vigil (tahajjud)
prayer, which was obligatory only for him)), or approved of in others, or
accepted, or intended to do but did not carry out, as with fasting on 9 Muharram.
- The personally obligatory (fard al-'ayn) is required
from every morally responsible (def: 1.1) person individu- ally, such that
if someone performs it, the obligation of per- forming it is not lifted from
others, as with the prescribed prayer (salat) or giving zakat.
- As for the communally obligatory (fard al-kifaya),
it is that which if some do, the obligation is lifted from the rest, as with
some member of a group returning a newcomer's greeting of "as-Salamu 'alaykum,"
or performing the funeral prayer, memorizing the Koran, commanding the right
and forbidding the wrong when it is called for, or undertaking beneficial
occupations that society needs.
The Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr)
1.12 It is obligatory to say, Ash-hadu an la ilah illa Llahu wa ash-hadu anna
Muhammadan rasulu Llah (10.2) ("I tes- tify that there is no god but Allah
and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah") once in a lifetime,
and it is highly desirable to do so frequently. It means that one acknowledges
the oneness of Allah Most High, and the messengerhood of our liegelord Muhammad
(Allah bless him and give him peace). (n: For a note on the transliterated
Arabic of the present volume, see 8.5).
1.13 The best form of worship, next to having faith in the
heart (iman), is the prayer (salat).
1.14 The best remembrance (dhikr) of Allah, next to
recital of the Koran, is La ilaha illa Llah (10.3) ("There is no god but
Allah"), meaning no other in existence is worthy of wor- ship besides
The best glorification of Allah Most High is Sub,hanaka la nu,hsi thana'an 'alayka
Anta kama athnayta 'ala nafsik (10.4) ("Exalted be You, we are unable to
glorify You as You glorify Yourself").
The best praise is al-Hamdu li Llahi ,hamdan yuwafi ni'amahu wa yukafi'u
mazEdah (10.5) ("Praise be to Allah, in the measure of His blessings and
commensurate with His increase of them").
The best form of blessings upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace) is Allahumma salli 'ala Mu,hammadin wa 'ala ali Muhammadin kama sallayta
'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala ali Ibrahim(a), wa barik 'ala Muhammadin wa 'ala ali
Mu,hammadin kama barakta 'ala Ibrahima wa 'ala ali Ibrahimafi 1- 'alamina innaka
hamidun majEd (10.6) ("O Allah, bless Muhammad and the folk of Muhammad as
You blessed Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim. O Allah, show grace to Muhammad and
the folk of Muhammad as You showed grace to Ibrahim and the folk of Ibrahim in
the worlds; truly, You are the Most Praiseworthy and Noble"). This is
called the "Perfect Blessing" or "Ibrahirnic Blessing."
The blessing upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace, and
increase him in honor) is obligatory in the final Testification of Faith (Tashahhud)
of the prayer. (n: Aside from the prayer,) some scholars hold that it is obliga-
tory but once in a lifetime, while others say it is obligatory whenever the
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is mentioned. Others hold it is
obligatory at every gathering, while others hold otherwise.
1.15 One should believe in the closeness to Allah of whoever has Sacred
Learning and lives it, who adheres to the prescribed manners of the Sacred Law
and keeps the company of the righteous. As for the bereft of reason or de-
ranged, like those overcome by the divine attraction (majdhub) without outward
responsibility to obey the Sacred Law, we leave them be, consigning the
knowledge of their real state to Allah, though it is obligatory to condemn what-
ever proceeds from them in contravention of the external appearances of the
divine command, in observance of the rules of Sacred Law.
Copyright ©Nuh Ha Mim Keller 1996
About Imam An-Nawawi
See other books by: Imam Nawawi - riyadh us saleheen, al-muqasid, forty hadith and qudsi
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