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Translation of Imam An-Nawawis's
To proceed: It has been transmitted to us on the authority of Ali bin Abi Talib, Abdullah bin Masud, Muadh bin Jabal, Abu Al-Darda, Ibn Omar, Ibn Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Abu Hurairah and Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with them all, through many chains of authorities and in various versions, that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whosoever memorizes and preserves for my people forty hadith relating to their religion, Allah will resurrect him on the Day of Judgment in the company of jurists and religious scholars ".
In another version it reads: "Allah will resurrect him as a jurist and religious scholar ". In the version of Abu Al-Darda it reads: "On the Day of Judgment I shall be an intercessor and a witness for him". In the version of Ibn Masud it reads: "It will be said to him: Enter by whichever of the doors of Paradise you wish ". In the version of Ibn Omar it reads: " He will be written down in the company of the religious scholars and will be resurrected in the company of the martyrs ". Scholars of hadith are agreed that it is a weak hadith despite its many lines of transmission.
The religious scholars, may Allah be pleased with them, have composed innumerable works in this field. The first one I knew of who did so was Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, followed by Ibn Aslam Al-Tusi, the godly scholar, then Al-Hasan bin Sufiyan Al-Nasai, Abu Bakr Al-Ajurri, Abu-Bakr Mubammad bin Ibrahim Al-Asfihani, Al-Daraqutni, Al-Hakim, Abu Nuaim, Abu Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sulami, Abu Saeed Al-Malini, Abu Uthman Al-Saboni, Abdullah bin Muhammed Al-Ansari, Abu Bakr Al-Baihaqi, and countless others, both ancient and modern.
I have asked Allah Almighty for guidance in bringing together
forty hadith in emulation of those eminent religious leaders and guardians of
Islam. Religious scholars are agreed it is permissible to put into practice a
weak hadith if virtuous deeds are concerned; despite this, I do not rely on this
hadith but on his having said the [ following ] sound hadith: "Let him
who was a witness among you inform him who was absent", and on his
having said : "May Allah make radiant [the face of] someone who has
heard what I have said, has learnt it by heart and has transmitted it as he
heard it". Furthermore, there were some religious scholars who brought
together forty hadiths on the basic rules of religion, on subsidiary matters, or
on jihad, while others did so on asceticism, on rules of conduct or on sermons.
All these are godly aims-may Allah be pleased with those who pursued them. I,
however, considered it best to bring together forty hadith more important than
all of these, being forty hadith which would incorporate all of these, each
hadith being one of the great precepts of religion, described by religious
scholars as being "the axis of Islam " or "the half of
Islam" or "the third of it ", or the like, and to make it a rule
that these forty hadith be [classified as] sound and that the majority of them
be in the Sahihs of Al-Bukhari and Muslim. I give them without the chains of
authorities so as to make it easier to memorize them and to make them of wider
benefit if Allah Almighty wills, and I append to them a section explaining
abstruse expressions.(Note here) every person wishing to attain the Hereafter
should know these hadith because of the important matters they contain and the
directions they give in respect of all forms of obedience, this being obvious to
anyone who has reflected upon it. On Allah do I rely and depend and to Him do I
entrust myself; to Him be praise and grace, and with Him is success and immunity
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