Fundamentals and Rules by Imam al-Nawawi


This short manuscript, Usul wa Dawabit lil-Imam al-Nawawi (Fundamentals and rules by Imam al-Nawawi), by the leading Shafi’i jurist known as al-Nawawi (1233−77), outlines the principles to be applied and the procedures to be used in personal conduct and ritual. The tract is divided into several parts. The first defines the limits of human action and argues against the “exaggerations” of the Mu’tazalite school of philosophy and its deviance from text-based orthodoxy. The work then covers rules for everyday living, including business transactions, marriage contracts, and gender relations, requirements for travelers, and formulations of prayer and ritual cleansing. The author cites authorities for his opinions, including the well-known 11th-century Shafi’i jurist al-Juwayni, commonly known as Imam al-Haramayn. Born in the village of Nawa near Damascus, al-Nawawi was and remains an important authority for the Shafi’i school of law. His most famous work, Al-‘Arba’in (Forty hadiths, i.e., sayings of the Prophet), has been reprinted and translated into many languages. This manuscript was copied in a strong hand by one Ibrahim al-Darajili al-Shafi’i.

Last updated: August 24, 2016