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The Imam Nawawi School Of Marriage

The 40 Hadith: Lessons In Love

There are some Muslims today who like to say that the hadith (quotes, sayings, reports, and stories) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are not needed in Islam. They seem to say that all we need is the Quran.

This is a dangerous concept and one that will ultimately lead one to destruction and misguidance. The proper practice of Islam requires knowing how the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did certain things and how he instructed us to do certain things.

One of the most important things in our life is marriage. Is it possible for us to be good Muslim spouses without the hadith?

I don’t think so.

Perhaps one can be a good person, or a nice individual, or a pleasant companion. But one cannot be a good Muslim spouse without following the instructions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

And one of the most famous collections of hadith is Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith (which actually contains more than 40 hadith…go figure).

Imam Nawawi brought these hadith together because he felt they were vital to attaining success in the next life. He also was very confident of their authenticity. And for the most part, they are all fairly short hadith.

What I wanted to do in this post, is go through this collection, and see if any of these hadith can be related to our married lives. After all, if marriage is half our religion, then it stands to reason much of what we attain in the next life will may be based on our marriage.

Another thing I want to remind us all, is that our spouses are not just our spouses. For men, your wives are your sisters in Islam. Just because you’re married to her, doesn’t give you the right to abuse or hurt her anymore than any other Muslim woman.

And sisters, your husbands are your brothers in Islam. Just because you’re married to him, doesn’t mean you have the right to disrespect him and violate his honor.

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So let’s go through this collection of hadith, and see how some of them can be applied to our married life.

By the way, not every single hadith in this collection is included. I only included those that were easy to relate to marriage.

Also, since this post is longer than I expected it to be, I’m going to break it up into two different articles.

Hadith 1

“Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, his migration was for Allah and His messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some
worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.” related by Bukhari and Muslim

As much as we love our spouses, we must love Allah and His messenger (pbuh) more. In this hadith, a man lost the blessings of Hijrah because he did it for a woman he wanted to marry. We must make sure not to fall into the same trap.

When we do some form of worship, let’s make sure we do it for Allah. Not to impress our spouses or future spouses.

How often do Muslims act like the most pious, holiest, righteous creatures on Allah’s earth just to impress a man or woman they want to marry? Then once the union is complete, the wolf takes of the sheep’s clothing!

Let’s truly be righteous, before and after marriage. And let’s truly do so for the pleasure of Allah.

Hadith 6

“Religion is sincerity”. We said: “To whom?” He said: “To Allah and His Book, and His messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk”.

To be sincere to Allah, His book (the Quran), and His Messenger (pbuh) is to follow believe in them all, follow their commandments, and avoid what has been prohibited.

To be sincere to the rulers is to obey them in righteousness, not rebel against them, pray for their correct actions, and advise them towards what is good.

To be sincere to the people is to give them good advice and behave well towards them.

This same principle can be applied to our wives and husbands also.

We should be kind and sincere to our spouses. We must give them good advice. We must instruct them to avoid evil and do good. We must follow them when they give us good advice.

We should want good for our spouses. We must never deliberately harm them either by our speech or our actions. We must always be a benefit for them and not an burden.

Now just imagine if every Muslim couple strove to apply this one simple hadith to their relationship. Marriage counselors and divorce lawyers would go out of business!

Hadith 10

Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye messengers!
Eat of the good things and do right”. And Allah the Almighty has said : “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you.”
Then he mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying] :
“O Lord! O Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered!”

When I studied statistics back in college, we learned a concept called “GIGO”: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

This means if you put bad stuff into your equation, you’re gonna get bad stuff out of it.

If you put unlawful food and nourishment into your body, you can’t expect a good outcome in your prayers.

And if you put harm and evil and spite into your marriage, how can you expect anything but that to come out of it?

I’d like to take this a little further.

There are those Muslims who commit sin before marriage (that is, fornication) and then they want to get married afterward in order to “make it right.” Is this marriage really going to be successful?

Of course there are exceptions. Sometimes, the couple repents and turns to Allah and corrects their behavior.

But if they don’t, and think that their just covering up a shameful deed, then they’re starting their marriage with garbage and most likely, that’s what they’re going to get out of it.

Hadith 12

Part of someone’s being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.

Do I really need to elaborate on this?

How many times do we find ourselves talking with our friends about another person’s business?

Now think how often we do the same with our husbands and wives!

There are two ways in which we can violate this hadith in our marriages.

First is when a husband and wife sit around and chitchat and backbite and gossip about some other Muslim in the community. Look, just because she’s your wife, doesn’t mean you’re excused for spreading gossip with her about other Muslims!

Second, is when we get upset with our spouse, and we go and spread our business with other people. You may want someone to agree with you that your husband was wrong in a certain matter or that your wife was wrong for doing something.

Don’t do this! Your home is like Las Vegas. What happens there, stays there.

Don’t mess up another person’s book of deeds by getting them involved in your marital drama.

Hadith 13

None of you truly believes until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself.

Even though the hadith says “brother,” the implication includes women.

This relates to what I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Our wives are our sisters. Our husbands are our brothers.

Just because we’re married to someone, that doesn’t mean we’re excused for treating them wrong or abusing them.

Allah will hold us accountable for everything we say and do. Our angels do not stop writing just because we happen to be yelling and screaming at our spouse.

Be very careful in this matter brothers and sisters. Married life can lead to some very emotional and heated arguments and it is easy to say things we later regret, or even worse forget.

No matter what you’re going through with your wife, always want for her what you want for yourself.

Hadith 14

The blood of a Muslim may not be legally spilt other than in one of three reasons: the married person who commits adultery; a life for a life; and one who forsakes his religion and abandons the community.

I only included this hadith to remind us all about the seriousness of adultery in Islam. This is nothing to play with. Most scholars (there is a minority that disagree) state that the punishment for adultery (a married person having sexual intercourse with someone they’re not married to) is death.

Even those that don’t agree with this still acknowledge the punishment to be 100 lashes.

The fact is, most people who commit this sin, are not punished in this life. Therefore, unless they repent, they will carry this sin with them into the next life.

And if the punishment in this life is death, how terrible will the punishment be in the next?

Hadith 15

Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbor, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.

For married people, the most important part (in my opinion) is the first part: speak good or keep silent.

We rack up so many sins because of our speech. And this applies to both men and women.

And when we’re married, it is so much easier to gain sin because emotions and familiarity and frustration and sex is often involved. And so, we just run off at the mouth, heedless of the poison coming out of it.

When it comes to marriage, sometimes it is better to just bite your tongue. You don’t have to point out every little flaw or criticize every little action your husband does.

A lot of this requires wisdom and patience. We must learn when to speak and when not to speak.

Hadith 18

Fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.

This is an important hadith and I’ve quoted it in many of the Khutbahs I’ve given. I believe this hadith is very succinct and if followed properly, will save you from so many evils and pitfalls.

This hadith is very deep and the more I analyze it, the more I learn from it. I encourage you to memorize this hadith both in English and Arabic, and read as much commentary on it as you can.

This hadith gives three simple, yet comprehensive instructions:

  • Fear Allah no matter where you are or what situation you’re in.
  • Whenever you do a bad deed, follow it up with a good deed to balance it out.
  • Treat other people with kindness

Without a doubt, you can apply each of these three instructions to your marriage and improve it tenfold, Inshallah.

Fear Allah at all points in your life, including your marriage. Don’t think that you have a right to disobey Allah just because you’re in front of your wife. Keep Him in mind no matter what you’re doing or what’s going on in your life.

Imagine, if every time a disagreement broke out between you and your spouse and you both were to hold back because you feared Allah? How many problems would be solved? How many marriages would be saved?

Imagine, if every time you were ready to unleash a barrage of curses and condemnations upon your spouse you stopped for just a second and remembered Allah?

Imagine, if every time you wanted to get your spouse back for something wrong they did, you remembered that Allah is watching and taking account of everything?

Seriously folks. Fear Allah. Fear Allah. Fear Allah.

But what about when you do mess up (and you will, trust me, you will) and commit a sin against your spouse? What do you do when you say the wrong thing to your wife or husband?

Follow it up with some good.

  • Make Tawbah (repentance).
  • Apologize and ask for his or her forgiveness.
  • Give him or her a gift or do some kindness for them.

Now, unless what you did was really, really bad (adultery, physical abuse, theft, and that sort of thing), this will go a long way in smoothing things over with your wife or husband.

First of all, this will set your record straight with Allah, Inshallah. You have committed and evil. It’s over and done with now; you can’t go back in time.

But now you’ve done a whole bunch of good deeds for the man/woman you love and racked up (hopefully) a bunch of good deeds. And remember, when we do a bad deed, Allah only counts it as one bad deed.

But when we do a good deed, it can be counted for up to 700 good deeds. This is Allah’s grace and mercy upon us.

Another benefit of following up a sin with a good deed in your marriage is that it will of course, soften your husband’s or wife’s heart towards you.

It may be that after that last battle the two of you had and all the bad things have been said and all the sins have been committed, they will probably be very upset with you.

They may not want to talk to you or have anything to do with you.

But if you do good for them, this will slice through that animosity and improve their attitude. And you will also notice that your attitude towards them is also improving. This will go a long way towards bringing peace into your marriage.

I’ll say it again: just imagine if ever time we did something bad to our spouse we immediately turned around and tried to make it up by doing something good. This is much better than just waiting for everything to blow over and hoping they forget about it.

(Trust me…the wife never forgets!)

And finally, the last part of this hadith instructs us to behave well with other people.

Just be good to one another. Behave well with each other. Love for your sister or brother what you love for yourself.

I told you this hadith was deep. I could have written an entire article just on this hadith alone.

We’re halfway through the Imam Nawawi’s hadith collection. Inshallah, I’ll go over the rest of it at a later date.

If you have any additions or further comments on these hadith, please include them below. Or if you feel I may have missed something, let me know below also.

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Muttaqi Ismail

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