Riyadh as-Salihin of Imam Nawawi
Translated from the Arabic by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
Gardens of Righteous
The salutation to the Holy Prophet in the words ‘upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah’ after his name, and the invocation ‘may Allah be pleased with him’ after the names of his companions are expressly set out in the manuscript but are omitted in print in order to accomodate the text to the modern reader. They should, nevertheless, be understood as repeated in each case.
In this translation the form ibn has been used in both initial and medial positions in the names of persons, in order to conform with current usage, although bin occurs medially in the originally text.
Allah, the Exalted, has said:
- O ye who believe, be steadfast and strive to excel in steadfastness (3.201).
- We will surely try you with somewhat of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, then give glad tidings to the steadfast (2.156).
- Verily, the steadfast shall have their reward without measure (39.11).
- One who endures with fortitude and forgives achieves a matter of high resolve (42.44).
- O ye who believe, seek the help of Allah through steadfastness and Prayer; surely Allah is with the steadfast (2.154).
- We will surely try you until We make known those from among you who strive in the cause of Allah, and those who are steadfast (47.32).
There are many well-known verses of the Holy Quran inculcating steadfastness and extolling it.
- Abu Malik Ash’ari relates that the Holy Prophet said: Cleanliness is half of faith; the utterance of: All praise belongs to Allah; fills the scales of good works; the utterance of: Holy is Allah and worthy of all praise; fills the space between the heavens and earth; Prayer is light; charity is proof of faith: steadfastness is a glow and the Quran is a plea in your favour or against you. Everyone begins the morning ready to bargain with his soul as a stake and ransoms it or ruins it (Muslim).
- Abu Sa’id Khudri relates that some people from among the Ansar asked the Holy Prophet to give them something, and he gave them; they asked again and he gave them till he exhausted all he had. Then he said to them: Whenever there is anything in hand I do not keep it back from you. Remember: he who seeks chastity, Allah makes him chaste; he who seeks self-sufficiency, Allah makes him self-sufficient; and he who seeks steadfastness Allah bestows steadfastness upon him. Upon no one has been bestowed a bounty better and more comprehensive than steadfastness (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Suhaib ibn Sinan relates that the Holy Prophet said: Wondrous is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything, and it is so for him alone. If he experiences something agreeable, he is grateful to God and that is good for him; and if he experiences adversity, he is steadfast and that is good for him (Muslim).
- Anas relates that when the illness of the Holy Prophet became grave so that his suffering would make him unconscious, Fatimah exclaimed: Ah, the suffering of my dear father; and he assured her: There is no more suffering for thy father after today. When he died she said: Ah, my father, he has responded to the call of his Lord; Ah, my father, the garden of Paradise has become his resort; Ah, my father, we apprise Gabriel of his death. When he was buried she said: How were your hearts reconciled to pouring earth over the Messenger of Allah? (Bokhari).
- Usamah ibn Zaid, loved by the Holy Prophet and the son of one loved by him, relates that a daughter of the Holy Prophet sent word to him that her son was at his last breath and begged to go to her. He sent his salutation to her with the message: To Allah belongs that which He bestowed and to Him belongs that which he takes. Everything has its term fixed by Him. Let her be steadfast, therefore, and hope for His grace and mercy. She sent back word to him begging him for the sake of Allah to go to her. He stood up and proceeded to her accompanied by Sa’ad ibn Ubadah, Mu’az ibn Jabal, Ubayy ibn Ka’ab, Zaid ibn Thabit and others. When he arrived the child was presented to him and he took it in his lap. Observing its distress his tears began to run, whereupon Sa’ad said: Messenger of Allah, what is this? He made answer: This is compassion which Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants (and one version has it: in the hearts of such of His servants as He has willed) and Allah has compassion on such of His servants as are compassionate (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Suhaib relates that the Holy Prophet said: In earlier times there was a King who had a magician. When he grew old he said to the King: I am grown old, send me a young man whom I could instruct in magic. The King sent him a young man to be instructed. In the young man’s way to the magician was a monk with whom he sat and to whom he listened. He was so pleased with the discourse of the monk that every time he went to the magician he would sit with the monk on the way. The magician would beat him and the young man complained to the monk of this. He told him: When you are afraid of the magician say to him: The monk detained me. This went on and one day the young man saw that a huge beast blocked the road so that people could not pass. The young man thought: Now I can find out whether the magician is superior or the monk. So he took up a stone and said: Lord, if the way of the monk is more to Thy liking than the way of the magician, then do Thou bring about the death of this beast so that the people can pass; and hit the beast with the stone and killed it thus letting the people pass; The young man told the monk of this who said to him: Son, you have become better than I, and I conceive that you have arrived at a stage when you will get into trouble. Should that happen, do not disclose my whereabouts.The young man began to cure people of blindness and leprosy and all manner of diseases. His fame reached a courtier of the King who had become blind. He came to the young man with costly offerings and said: All this will be yours if you will heal me. The young man said to him: I cannot heal anyone. It is God who bestows healing. If you will believe in God I will pray for you and He will heal you. So he believed in God and God cured him of his blindness. He went to the King and sat with him as he used to. The King asked him: Who has restored thy sight? The man answered: My God. The King inquired: Have you a god beside me? He replied: Allah is your God and my God. The King ordered the man to be seized and he was tortured till he told about the young man who was summoned and the King said to him: Son, have you become so skilled in magic that you can heal the blind and the leprous and all manner of afflicted ones? He said: I do not heal anyone. It is God Who heals. Then he was seized and tortured till he disclosed the whereabouts of the monk who was summoned and directed: Retract thy faith. He refused. The King sent for a saw which was placed in the middle of the monk’s head and he was sawn down in two. Then the King’s courtier was sent for and was directed to abjure his faith. He too refused and was sawn down. Then the young man was brought and was told to retract his faith and refused. The King handed him over a party of his men and told them: Take him to such and such a mountain and when you get to the top, if he still refuses to abjure his faith, drop him down from the top. They took him to the mountain and ascended to the top of it with him. There he supplicated: Lord, deliver me from them whatever way Thou wouldst. The mountain was shaken and they fell down. The young man walked back to the King who asked: What have thy companions done? He answered: God has delivered me from them. He was handed over to another party and they were told to take him in a caique to deep water and in case of persistence in refusing to abjure his faith to drop him into the ocean. They took him along and he supplicated: Lord, deliver me from them whichever Thou wouldst. The boat sank with them and they were drowned and the young man walked back to the King who asked him: What have thy companions done? He answered: God has delivered me from them; and added: You will not be able to kill me unless you do what I tell you. The King inquired: What is that? The young man made answer: Assemble the people in an open space and hang me from the trunk of a palm-tree. Then take an arrow from my quiver and placing it in the middle of a bow and say: In the name of Allah, the Lord of this young man; and shoot the arrow at me. If you do thus you will kill me. The King proceeded accordingly. The people were assembled in an open space, the young man was hanged from the trunk of a palm-tree, the King took an arrow from his quiver and placing it in the middle of a bow and said: In the name of Allah, the Lord of this young man; and shot it. The arrow struck the young man in the temple who raised his hand and died.The people said: We believe in the Lord of this young man. The King was told: You see, that has happened which you had feared; the people have believed. The King ordered trenches to be dug along the roads; they were dug and fire was lighted in them. Then the command went forth that whoever should refuse to abjure his faith would be thrown in the trenches, or would be told to jump in. This went on. A woman came accompanied by a boy and shrank from being thrown in, whereupon the boy said to her: Be steadfast, mother, you re in the right (Muslim).
- Anas relates that the Holy Prophet passed by a woman who was crying over a grave. He said to her: Be mindful of thy duty to Allah and be steadfast. She retorted: Leave me alone; you have not been afflicted as I have been. She had not known who he was. Someone told her: That was the Holy Prophet. She proceeded to the door of the Holy Prophet and not finding any doorman went in and said to him: I had not recognised you. He said: Steadfastness means to be resigned at the time of the first shock of grief (Bokhari and Muslim). Muslim’s version adds: She had been crying over the grave of her son.
- Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah, the Exalted, says: I have no reward other than Paradise for a believing servant of mine who is steadfast when I take away a beloved one of his from among the denizens of the world (Bokhari).
- Ayesha relates that she asked the Holy Prophet about the plague and he told her that the plague is a torment with which Allah afflicts those He determines; but that He has made it a source of mercy for the believers. If a servant of Allah is afflicted with the plague and stays in his own town in a spirit of steadfastness hoping for his due from Allah, realising that only that will happen to him which Allah has determined for him, he will surely have a reward equal to that of a martyr (Bokhari).
- Anas relates that he heard the Holy Prophet say that Allah, the Lord of honour and grace, says: When I afflict a servant of Mine in respect of two of his beloved organs (meaning his eyes) and he proves steadfast under the affliction, I bestow Paradise on him in their stead (Bokhari).
- Ata ibn Abi Rabah relates that ibn Abbas said to him: Shall I show you a woman from among the dwellers of Paradise? He said: Certainly. Ibn Abbas then pointed to an ebony coloured woman and said: This woman came to the Holy Prophet and said: Messenger of Allah, I suffer from epilepsy and when I have a fit my body is exposed. Please pray to Allah for me. He said: If you choose to be steadfast under this affliction, you will gain Paradise, but if you so wish I shall pray that Allah may heal you. She said: I shall be steadfast, but please pray that my body may not be exposed. He prayed accordingly (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates that he recalls as if he is looking at the Holy Prophet when he mentioned the case of a Prophet who was beaten and injured so severely by his people that he wiped away his blood from his face while supplicating: Allah, forgive my people, for they know not (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah relate that the Holy Prophet said: Whatever trouble, illness, anxiety, grief, hurt or sorrow afflicts a Muslim, even the pricking of a thorn, but Allah removes in its stead some of his defaults (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates: I visited the Holy Prophet and he had fever. I said to him: Messenger of Allah, you have very high fever. He said: Indeed. My fever is as high as that of two of you. I said: That is because you have twice the reward. He said: That is so. No Muslim suffers anything, the prick of a thorn or more, but Allah wipes out in its stead some of his defaults and his sins fall away from him as leaves fall way from a tree.
- Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: When Allah decrees good for a person He afflicts him (Bokhari).
- Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: No one of you should wish for death because of any misfortune that befalls him. Should anyone be sore afflicted, he should say: Allah, keep me alive so long as life is the better for me, and cause me to die when death is the better for me (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Khubaib ibn Arat relates: We complained to the Holy Prophet of the increasing persecution inflicted upon us by the disbelievers of Mecca. He was reclining in the shade of the Ka’aba, having made a pillow of his cloak. We submitted: Why do you not supplicate for help for us? Why do you not pray for us? He made answer: From among those who have gone before you a man would be caught and held in a pit dug for him in the earth and he would then be sawn in two with a saw placed over his head, or his flesh would be combed away from his bones with iron combs but none of this would wean him away from his faith. Allah will surely bring this matter to its consummation till a rider will proceed from Sana’a to Hadhramaut fearing nothing save Allah and the hazard of the wolf concerning his sheep. But you are in too much of a hurry (Bokhari).
- Abdullah ibn Mas’ud relates: On the day of Hunian the Holy Prophet favoured some people in the division of spoils. He gave Aqra’ ibn Habis and Uyainah ibn Hisn a hundred camels each and showed favour also to some those honoured among the Arabs. Someone said: This is not a just division designed to win the pleasure of Allah. I decided to apprise the Holy Prophet of this and went and told him of it. His face became deep red and he said: Who will then do justice if Allah and His Messenger do not? and added: May Allah have mercy on Moses, he was caused more distress than this and was patient. Hearing this I said to myself: I shall never communicate anything of this kind to him again (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: When Allah decrees good for a servant of His He afflicts him quickly in this world, and if He decrees evil for him He does not hasten to call him to account for his sins in this world but takes him to task on the Day of Judgment. He also said: High reward is for high endeavour; and when Allah, the Exalted, loves a people, he puts them to trial. Then for him who accepts the affliction cheerfully is His pleasure, and for him who evades or shirks it is His wrath (Tirmidhi).
- Anas relates: Abu Talha had a son who was ailing. He went out and then boy died in his absence. When he came back he inquired: How is the boy? Umm Sulaim, the mother of the boy, answered: Better than he was. Then she placed his evening meal before him and he ate and thereafter slept with her. At last she said to him: Arrange for the burial of the boy. In the morning Abu Talha went to the Holy Prophet and informed him of the event. He inquired: Were you together last night? Abu Talha replied in the affirmative, on which the Holy Prophet supplicated: Allah, bless them both. Thereafter she gave birth to a boy. Abu Talha said to her: Take up the boy so that we may carry him to the Holy Prophet; and she took some dates with him. The Holy Prophet inquired: Is there anything with him? Abu Talha: Yes, some dates. The Holy Prophet took a date and having chewed it put it in the mouth of the baby and blessed it and named it Abdullah (Bokhari and Muslim).Bokhari’s version adds: Ibn Uyainah relates that a man of the Ansar told him that he saw nine sons of this Abdullah every one of whom had read the Quran. Muslim’s version runs: Abu Talha’s son from Umm Sulaim died and she said to the other members of the family: Do not tell Abu Talha about the boy; I shall tell him myself. When he came she put the evening meal before him and he ate. Then she made herself up well as she used to and they were together. Thereafter she said to him: Abu Talha, tell me, if someone lends something to another and thereafter demands it back, would the borrower be in the right to hold back the borrowed article? He answered: No. On which she said: Then hope for thy reward from Allah in respect of that which has befallen thy son. Abu Talha was upset and said: You left me in ignorance about my son’s condition till after we had been together. So he left her and went to the Holy Prophet and told him what had happened. He said: May Allah bless your night. She conceived. Thereafter the Holy Prophet was on a journey and they were with him. It was his custom that when he returned from a journey he would not enter Medina by night. When they approached Medina her pains started. So Abu Talha stayed with her and the Holy Prophet went forward. Then Abu Talha prayed: Thou knowest, Lord, that I am eager that I should issue forth with the Holy Prophet when he issues forth and that I should return with him when he returns, and now I am detained here by what Thou seest. On this Umm Sulaim said: Abu Talha, I no longer feel pain. Let us proceed. So they proceeded and she gave birth to a boy after they arrived in Medina. My mother (Umm Sulaim) said to me: Anas, no one should suckle the baby till after we have taken it to the Holy Prophet tomorrow. Next morning I took it to the Holy Prophet.
- Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: The strong one is not he who knocks out others in wrestling, the strong one is he who keeps control over himself when he is roused (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Sulaiman ibn Surad relates that he was sitting with the Holy Prophet when two men began to quarrel and one of them went red in the face and the veins of his neck stood out. The Holy Prophet said: If he were to repeat a phrase I know he would be rid of the condition in which he finds himself. The phrase is: I seek refuge with Allah against Satan, the rejected one. So they said to him: The Holy Prophet says: Seek refuge with Allah against Satan, the rejected one (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Mu’az ibn Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: One who despite possessing the power to give effect to his anger suppresses it will be singled out and called by Allah, the Holy, the Exalted, above the multitude on the Day of Judgment and given his choice of black-eyed houris (Abu Daud and Tirmidhi).
- Abu Hurairah relates that someone asked the Holy Prophet to advise him. He said: Do not yield to anger. The man repeated his request several times. Every time the Holy Prophet said: Do not yield to anger (Bokhari).
- Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: A believer male or female continues to be tried in respect of self, children, and property till he or she faces Allah, the Exalted, in a state in which all his or her sins have been wiped out (Tirmidhi).
- Ibn Abbas relates: Uyainah ibn Hisn came to Medina and put up with his nephew Hurr ibn Qais who was one of those who had access to Umar and who were consulted by him. Uyainah said to Hurr: Son of my brother, you enjoy the favour of the Commander of the Faithful, will you obtain permission for me to wait for him? Hurr asked for permission and Umar granted him leave. When Uyainah came into the presence of Umar, he addressed him thus: Son of Khattab, you do not bestow much upon us nor do you deal fairly with us. Umar was incensed and would have chastised him when Hurr said: Commander of the Faithful, Allah said to His Prophet: Make forbearance thy rule, and enjoin equity and turn away from the ignorant (7.200). This one is one of the ignorant. When Hurr recited this Umar became motionless in his seat. He always adhered strictly to the Book of Allah (Bokhari).
- Ibn Mas’ud relates that the Holy Prophet said: After I am gone you will experience discrimination and will observe things that you will disapprove. Someone asked: Messenger of Allah, what do you command us we should do in such case? He said: Discharge your obligations and supplicate Allah for your rights (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Usyad ibn Huzair relates that a person among the Helpers said to the Holy Prophet: Will you not appoint me to public office as you have appointed to So and So? He replied: You will experience discrimination after I am gone, but be steadfast till you meet me in Paradise (Bokhari and Muslim).
- Abdullah ibn Abi Aufa relates that the Holy Prophet was on a campaign and while waiting for the sun to decline he stood up and addressed his companions: Do not desire fighting and keep supplicating Allah for security. But when you are confronted with the enemy be steadfast and remember that Paradise is under the shade of the swords. Then he supplicated: Allah, Revealer of the Book, Driver of Clouds, Vanquisher of Hosts, vanquish them and help us overcome them (Bokhari and Muslim).