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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 Nafsiya Reflections: Imam Nawawi: How to evaluate scholars

AssalamuAlaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Welcome to today’s Nafsiyah reflections episode - Imam Nawawi: How to evaluate scholars

He was an amazing, renowned and highly respected young man who contributed hugely to the fantastic works of scholastics that exist today. He has written upto 40 books covering a wide range of scientific works in hadith, jurisprudence, language and in manners and etiquettes. He dedicated his entire life of 45 years to seeking and spreading knowledge. It was calculated that if he started his writings at the age of 18, he wrote an average of 40 pages per day - SubhanAllah! Such was his great level of scholarship.

He was an amazing, renowned and highly respected young man who contributed hugely to the fantastic works of scholastics that exist today. He has written upto 40 books covering a wide range of scientific works in hadith, jurisprudence, language and in manners and etiquettes. He dedicated his entire life of 45 years to seeking and spreading knowledge. It was calculated that if he started his writings at the age of 18, he wrote an average of 40 pages per day - SubhanAllah! Such was his great level of scholarship.

He made the decision to not marry, purely due to his fear of not being able to fulfil the heavy responsibility of being a husband whilst having such deep love for knowledge and teaching.

He is Imam Nawawi - May Allah SWT grant him the best.

Ameen

Alhamdulillah! Today we live in an era where it has been made SO easy to gain access to the amazing works our scholars of the past and today have produced. From English translations of classical books, numerous multimedia productions, international online courses to institutions with islamic curriculums - we are surrounded with opportunities to learn and develop in our understanding of the Quran and our deen. When embarking on the journey of knowledge, let us remind ourselves that our purpose for this understanding is to KNOW:

- How we must worship Allah SWT in the best of ways.

- How we must IMPLEMENT this knowledge in our lives.

- How this knowledge is only the path and the MEANS - of course a highly rewarded and compulsory means - and therefore requires ACTION to follow to then fulfil our duties and responsibilities!

The unfortunate truth is that sadly, today, the end goal of this path has become the knowledge itself. Many amongst us have lost the essence of the true purpose when seeking knowledge.

We find that knowledge has become;

- an independent study, where one strives to acquire a wealth of understanding and then, as an individual, works to implement it within his/her capacity alone. Or

- attending numerous day, weekend or month long courses by big institutes with a panelists of international speakers! Or

- Fun and entertainment, where nasheed artists, exhibitions and shows are the attraction points which draw in the crowds for big events.

Ultimately gatherings like these dilute the true essence of the deen and shows it is rather influenced by the capitalist profit making system. While it was the great Muslim scholars of our past who were known for their abundant knowledge and their profound understanding of the Deen, what made them truly great were their courageous stands for the truth and their firm challenging of the errors of their time!

Imam Nawawi is a brilliant example to us of this. His fearlessness and unflinching attitude allowed him to confront the Mamluk Sultan, Zahir Al-Baybars when he abused his position many times. One time, he was staunchly accounted to abolish the war taxes imposed on the people of Syria when the need no longer existed. Imam Nawawi’s words testify to his firm ideas:

"As for myself, threats do not harm me or mean anything to me. They will not keep me from advising the ruler, for I believe that this is obligatory upon me and others."

Imam Nawawi understood his heavy responsibility of -not only- standing up to injustice BUT leading others in ACTION of how that should be done! His life events prove to us that he understood and took care in the following words of Muhammad SAW:

إن مثل العلماء في الأرض كمثل النجوم في السماء يهتدى بها في ظلمات البر والبحر، فإذا انطمست النجوم أوشك أن تضل الهداة

"The scholars on earth are like the stars in the sky. People are guided by them in the darkness of the land and the sea. If the stars are covered, people would get lost." [Ahmad]

A very crucial group from amongst us, whose roles have been assigned by Allah SWT - are the scholars, the Ulema, who have been blessed with extensive knowledge and wisdom and its upon them to teach the Ummah the Deen in its entirety, help guide us through the problems of life and direct us to the Islamic priorities! This is their duty.

For us, our duty is understanding that Islam is HOLISTIC. It is a way of life. It is a guide and solution to every single possible problem ranging from domestic and local matters to global international issues. We must seek to fulfil our duties by looking up to excellent personalities like Imam Nawawi and many others.

Sheikh Mohiuddin, once expressed his impression about Imam Nawawi. He said:

Imam an-Nawawi had three distinctive commendable qualities in his person. If anybody has only one out of these three, people turn to him in abundance for guidance. First, having knowledge and its dissemination. Second, to evade completely from the worldly inclinations, and the third, inviting to all that is good (Islam) enjoining virtue and forbidding vice. Imam an-Nawawi had all three in him.

Today, when we as an Ummah face the toughest of challenges- more than ever, we MUST strive and yearn to attain these characteristics for ourselves and also display wisdom in who we allow to lead and guide us.

Our scholars have their roles - To lead by action and guide us. We also have our roles - we are not exempt from the duties imposed by Islam. Our allegiance is only to Islam not to any scholar or a group, or anyone who contradicts the fundamentals of Islam. Too often we have been led astray by corrupt scholars. To safeguard against this we must endeavour to constantly seek authentic Islamic knowledge ourselves and challenge any opinions and views before we adopt and act upon them.

May Allah SWT grant us the Tawfeeq to attain the qualities of a believer and guide our scholars today to take lessons from the highest calibre of scholars, people like Imam Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him.

Jzk for joining us!!

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