Riyad al-Salihin_preface

Imam al-Nawawi’s Preface to Riyad al-Salihin

In the Name of Allah The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

رياض الصالحين – Preface

S. Z. Chowdhury

Autumn 2003.


 “All praises belong to Allah, The One, The Vanquisher, The Mighty and The Forgiving; the one who makes the night follow the day as a reminder for the people of inner discernment and insight and as an instruction for those possessing deep intelligence and reflection; who awakens that person whom He chooses from His creation and then withdraws them into this abode and preoccupies them with subtle observation as well as reflection; [who enables them] to persist in learning lessons as well as remembrance; has made them successful in being devoted to His obedience; [who has also enabled them] the full preparation for the Hereafter, circumspection from what displeases Him and what makes Hellfire necessary; and [grants] protection to all that with variations in conditions and degrees.

I praise Him with the most eloquent as well as the most pure, complete and plentiful praises.

And I testify that there is no deity besides Allah, The Holy and The Noble, The Gracious and The Merciful. And I testify too that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger, His beloved and intimate friend; the only guide to the Straight Path and caller to the True Religion. Blessings and greetings of Allah upon him, upon the rest of the Prophets, [their] descendents as well as the Righteous.

I proceed: Allah Most High has said: (I have not created humans and jinn except for worshipping. And I do not require provisions from them nor do I require them to feed me).[1] Thus these are clear [verses indicating] that [humans and jinns] were created for worship and so He has made it imperative upon them to heed what it is they were created for and to shun the pleasures of the world with ascetic moderateness. For indeed [the world] is a transitory abode without intransience; is a means of delivering and not a place of lasting joys and is a highway of destruction, not a place of permanence. Therefore, those are the true worshippers who are awake amongst the people and the most intelligent of people amongst them are those who are ascetically righteous.

Allah Most High said:

(The life of this world is like how we sent down rain from the sky where by its mingling, the plants of the earth come forth and the people and animals eat from it until the earth is clad in its adornments and is beautified; and the inhabitants reckon they have power over it. Then our command comes to it, by day and by night and we then make it like a harvest clean mown as if it did not flourish the day before. Such are the details of the signs for those who reflect).[2]

And the verses with this meaning are plenty but a poet has done well [when he wrote]:

Indeed Allah has sagacious worshippers

Who have denounced the world and feared the temptation

They had observed in it; so when they knew

That it was not duly inhabitable,

They made it a deep ocean and assumed

The vessels of righteous deeds in it.

 Thus, if the [world’s] condition is as I have characterized it and our condition as well as that for which we were created is how I have presented it, then it is a duty upon every legally responsible individual to follow by himself the way of the chosen ones; to proceed upon the path of the people endowed with intelligence and penetrative wisdom; to prepare for all that I have referred to and to heed it. And the best path for him as well as the most correct one to proceed upon, is obedience regarding that which was attested to from our Prophet, the master of those who came first and came last, the most noble of those who have came and will come; Allah’s blessings and greetings upon him and the rest of the Prophets. 

Allah Most High has said: (And co-operate in piety and rectitude).[3]

And it was confirmed from the Messenger of Allah (saw) that he said: ‘And Allah assists the servant so long as he assists his brother.’ And that he [ ] said: ‘whoever guides to a good, he has the reward akin to the one who does it.’ And that he [ ] said: ‘whoever calls [another] to guidance, he will have the reward akin to the one who follows him and there is no diminution in [both of] their reward in any way whatsoever.’ And that he [ ] said to ‘Ali: ‘By Allah, should He guide one person through you, it is better for you than many red camels.’

Thus, I thought to join a compendium of authenticated narrations comprising all that which is necessary for him whose path it is until the end; a collection including all the etiquettes [required] for his internal and external dimensions of worship; a compilation for urges and warnings as well as all other categories related to the manners of those upon the path of moral and spiritual excellence, such as: narrations pertaining to ascetic piety, the training of the self, the rectification of morals, the purification of the hearts as well as their remedy, the safeguarding of the limbs and removing its corruption and the like from the aims of those who have intimate knowledge of Allah.

I make it a rule in [this book] to mention nothing but authenticated narrations that are clear and pertain to the well-known authentic compilations and I commence the sections with noble verses from the Mighty Qur’an and added all that which required certitude or the explanations of the hidden meanings with the essence of the admonitions. Moreover, if I state at the end of a narration: ‘muttafaqun alayhi’ its meaning is that both Bukhari and Muslim related it.

I hope that if this book is completed, it will serve as an inspiration to good deeds for the one concerned and will be a protector from the various types of shameful and destructive deeds.

And, finally, I request all my brethren who draw anything of benefit from [this book] to pray for me, for my parents, my teachers, and our dearest and for all the Muslims. And it is only upon Allah, The Generous that I rely; to Him is my complete trust and return.

Allah alone is sufficient for me and He is the Best Helper and there is no strength or might except with Allah, The Mighty and The Wise.


                                                                        And Allah knows best. 

[1] Surah al-Dhariyat:56-57.

[2] Surah Yunus:2.

[3] See al-Ma’idah:2.


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