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Kunya of Imam Nawawi

Question:

Why was Imam Nawawi’s name Abu Zakariya when he never got married? Answer: ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

It has been established from biographies written on Imam Al-Nawawi (r.a.) that he never got married (Bahjat Al-Nazireen Sharhu Riyadh Al-Saliheen: v. 1, p. 8 [Dar Ibn Al-Jawzi]), hence he did not have any children. Scholars gave different explanations as to why he possessed a kunyah (agnomen) despite not having any children: 1. Perhaps it was by way of seeking good omen through the names of prophets; the kunyah of Yahya (a.s.) was Abu Zakariya, therefore people called Imam Al-Nawawi (r.a.) Abu Zakariya because his name was also Yahya. (Khulasatul Ahkam min Muhimmaat Al-Sunnah wa Qawaaid Al-Islam: v. 1, p. 17 [DKI]) 2. Giving righteous people a kunyah is a way of honoring them. (Al-Najm Al-Wahhaaj fi Sharhil Minhaaj: v. 1, p. 5 [DKI]) 3. The custom of the Arabs was that they would give the kunyah “Abu Zakariya” to a person whose name was Yahya. Nevertheless, he did not attribute this kunyah to himself. (Al-Najm Al-Wahhaaj fi Sharhil Minhaaj: v. 1, p. 5 [DKI]) 4. For a virtuous Muslim to be given a kunyah is from the Sunnah regardless of whether one has children or not. (Hashiya Al-Nabrawi ‘alaa Al-Arba’een Al-Nawawi: p. 9 [DKI])

Only Allah knows best

Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah Darul Ifta Birmingham

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