Al-Imām Muhy al-Dīn Abū Zakariyyā Yahyā ibn Sharaf al-Nawawī, born in the village of Nawa on the Horan Plain of southern Syria in 631 H. He was the imām of the later Shāfiʿī School, the scholar of his time in knowledge, piety, and abstinence, a hadīth master (hāfiẓ), biographer, lexicologist, and Sufi.
When he first came to Damascus in 649 H., he memorized the text of al-Imām Abū Ishaq al-Shīrāzī; al-Tanbīh in four and a half months, then the first quarter of al-Muhadhdhab, after which he accompanied his father on ḥajj, then visited Madīnah, and then returned to Damascus, where he assiduously devoted himself to mastering the Islām ic sciences.
He took Shāfiʿī Law, hadīth, tenets of faith, fundamentals of jurisprudence, Arabic and other subjects from more than twenty-two scholars of the time, including Abū Ibrāhīm Ishaq al-Maghrībī, ʿAbd al-Rahman ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdisī, and others, at a period of his life in which, as al-Imām al-Dhahabī notes,“his dedication to learning, night and day, became proverbial.”
Spending all his time in either worship or gaining Sacred Knowledge, he took some twelvelesso ns a day, only dozed off in the night at moments when sleep overcame him, and drilled himself on the lessons he learned by heart while walking along the street.
Fastidious in detail and deep in understanding of the subjects he thus mastered. He authored many great works in Shāfiʿī jurisprudence, hadīth, history, and legal opinion, among the best known of which are his Minhāj al-ṭālibīn, which has become a main reference for the Shāfiʿī School, Riyāḍ al-ṣālihīn and Kitab al-adhkār in hadīth, and his eighteen-volume Sharh Ṣahīh Muslim.
He lived simply, and it is related that his entire wardrobe consisted of a turban and an ankle-length shirt with a single button at the collar.
After a residence in Damascus of twenty-seven years, he returned the books he had borrowed from charitable endowments, bade his friends farewell, visited the graves of his Shaykhs who had died, and departed, going first to Jerusalem and then to his native Nawa, where he became ill at his father’s home and died at forty-four years of age in 676 H, young in years but great in benefit to Islām and the Muslims.
Source: Madrasa In’aamiyyah