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Imam A'zam Abu Hanifah (RA)

By Maulana Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf

The year 80 AH witnessed the birth of a personality which was destined to enhance the pages of history as the greatest lmaam the Ummah of Muhammad (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) was ever to know. The intelligence, intellect and powers of perception, the wisdom and prudence, the piety and devotion, generosity and good conduct that lmaam Abu Hanifah (RA) was a model of,  made him unique. No doubt this is why he aspired to such great heights in the various fields Ilm.

Here, we initiate the topic of this great lmaam, renowned all around the world for his services to Islam, proceeded by his repute and accepted as a reliable interpreter of the Holy Texts to the extent that his interpretations are accepted b the majority of the Ahlus-Sunnah-Wal-Jama’ah to this day.

There are simply an endless number of titles hich are attributed to him. One can not help being fascinated by the wonderful accounts of his life. In spite of this, such people also exist who tread the same soil of Allah as we do but consider themselves in a position to raise objections and slander this great lmaam.

In actual fact, if one studies the pages of history objectively, breaking off all bonds of subjectivity, one is guaranteed to be impressed by the personality of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA). Any criticism or hate which one harbours within him will vanish and its place will immediately be taken up by love, affection and admiration for the Imaam.

The following is a summarised account of the main aspects which relate to the great Imaam. It has been decided that only the statements of prominent Jurists. Muhadditheen, Mufassireen and people of such calibre vill be presented. May Allah make the following compilation result in the most authentic and flawless picture possible of one. who without doubt, deserves much.

Imaam Abu Hanifah a Tabi’ee

According to the majority of Muhadditheen it is sufficient for a person to meet a Sahaabi or merely see one to he classified a Tabiee. It is not essential that he remain in the Sahaaha’ s company and also narrate from him. This definition has been agreed upon by the lmaams: Hakim. lbnus Salaah, An Nawai and Al Iraqi also. Now we will take a look at what other great people have to state about Imaam Abu Hanifah.

lmaam Zahabi (RA) writes in Tazkiratul-Huffaz  that Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) as born in 80 AH. He saw Anas Ibn Malik (RA) more than once (meaning) every time Anas Ibn Malik (RA) would visit Kufa.

Jalaluddin Suvuti (RA) states in his book Tabyeedh-us-Saheefah, “This question, ‘Is Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) a Tahi’ee or not?’ Was directed at Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani (RA). He answered, ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) has met a group of Sahaabah. The Imaam was born in Makkah in 80 AH and at that time Abdullah Ibn Abi Awafaa (who passed away afterwards,) was present in Makkah and Anas Ihn Malik . (who passed away in 90 AH or after,) was in Basrah.”

Hafiz Abdul Ghani Al Maqdasi (RA) states in Al-Kama. ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) saw Anas (RA)

 lbn Hajar Al-Makki (RA) writes Ali-Khavraatul-Hisaan. ‘‘It is true as Zahabi (RA) said that Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) did see Anas Ibn Malik (RA), whilst he (Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) was still young.”

Hafiz Khatib Baghdadi (RA) confirms in his book Tarikh-ul-Baghdad, ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) saw Anas Ibn Malik (RA).”

Hamzah As Sahami (RA) states. “I heard Daru Qutni say ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) did not meet any Companion of Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) except Anas Ibn Malik (RA).”

lmaam Abu Hanifah (RA) narrating from the Sahaabah

lmaam Abdul Qadir Al Misri (RA) states. The Companions who Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) heard (‘ahadith) from were; Abdullah Ibn  navs (RA), Ahdullah Ibn Jaz’a az Zabeede (RA), Anas Ibn Malik (RA), Jabir Ibn Abdillah (RA), Ma‘qal Ibn Yasaar (RA , Wathila Ibnul Asqa’ (RA)  and Aa’isha Bint Ajrad (RA).

Abdullah lbn Ja’far Ar Razi (RA) relates that Imaam Abu Yusuf (RA) stated. ‘1 heard Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) say to us, ‘l performed Haj with my father in 93 AH (‘this is the year according to one view,) when I was 16 years old. There was a S’heikh present there with mane people (seated) around him, so I asked my father who the Sheikh was. He informed me that he was a Companion of Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) Known as Abduliah Ibnul Harith Ibn Jaza (RA)’. ‘What does he have (which makes the people gather around him,)?’  I enquired from my father. He replied, ‘Ahadith which he has heard from Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). Thus, I requested my father to take me closer so I may listen. He began to take me through the masses until I was close enough to hear. I heard him report that Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, ‘Whoever acquires an understanding of Allah’s Deen, Allah suffices him (takes care of’ him) in his matters of concern and  provides him with sustenance through such mediums which he did not even anticipate. ‘

Abdullah Ibn Abdil Barr (RA) has also mentioned the same incident.

Allamah Khawarizmi (RA) states. “Among the excellencies and virtues which are not shared by anybody else after him, was Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) narrating from the Companions of Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). Ulama are agreed upon this fact, although there is some dispute regarding the number of Companions. “(It is possible that here he means the agreement of the Hanafi Ulama, but it should be kept in mind that as the Arabic proverb says. “The people of the house are more aware of what is in it.“)

The Most Knowledgeable Person of his Time

Hafiz As Sam’aani (RA) writes in Al-Ansaab, “Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) engaged himself in the acquisition of knowledge and went very fir until he obtained what others did not. Once he paid a visit to Mansoor (who was caliph at the time) and found Easa Ibn Moosa there. Easa told Mansoor ‘This man is the Aalim of the world today.”

Abu Yusuf Al Qadhi (RA) states, “I have never found anybody with more insight in the tafseer of hadith than Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).”

Abdullah lbnul Mubarak (RA) relates. “I entered Kufa and enquired from its Ulama, ‘Who is the most knowledgeable person in your city?’  They all replied, ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA). Then I asked them, ‘Who is the greatest worshipper and the one most engrossed in (the acquisition of) Ilm? ‘Again they all told me that it was Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA), Whatever excellent quality I enquired about, they would answer ‘We do not know of anybody who that quality could he attributed to other than Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA),

When the news of Imaam Abu Hanifah’s (RA) death reached Shu’bah (RA) he proclaimed. “Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon (to Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return). ‘ Then he cried. “The light of’ Ilm has been extinguished from Kufa. They will never find anyone like him again.

Although the above are statements of prominent individuals which establish lmaam Abu Hanifah’s (RA) high position, it is still possible that somebody argue that the above do not prove that it as meant by Ilm the sciences of the Shari’ah, in which Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) excelled. To remove any misconception of this nature, we present the words of no other than Imaam Zahabi (RA). He writes in Tazkiratul-Huffaz, ‘‘Logic, debate and wisdom from the forebearers were not, by Allah! The fields of knowledge pursued by the .Sahaabhah. Tabi ‘een, (including) Imaam Awza;ee (RA) Thwari (RA), Malik (RA) or Abu Hanifah (RA). Their sciences were that of the Our ‘an and Hadith

This proves that it as the knowledge of the Qur’an and hudith in which Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) excelled.

Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) a Hafiz of Hadith

It makes one’s hair stand on end, to hear the slander of some people who allege that Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) only knew fifteen ahadith or thereabouts. Ignorant people of today who do not even possess a superficial insight into the knowledge of ahadith make these unbelievable efforts to lower this great Imaam’s status. Don’t they realise that they could be depriving themselves of their chances of a peaceful life in the hereafter due to their statements, which are full of fallacies and lies?

One only has to glance through the countless books written by the pious predecessors, which will make one aware as to exactly where Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) stands, above all the rest.

Muhammad Ibn Bishr (RA) states, ‘I would visit both Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) and Sufyan Thawri (RA). When going to Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA), he would ask me, Where have you come from? I would answer ‘From Sufyan (RA).’ Upon hearing that, he would tell me, ‘You have come from a person that if Alqamah and Aswad were present they would be in need of somebody like him. Then I would go to Sufyan (RA) and he would ask me the same question. When I would inform him, ‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)’, he would remark, ‘You have just come from the greatest jurist in the world.

Ibnul Mubarak (RA) who is amongst the greatest authorities on hadith the world has known, was heard saying, “If Allah(SWT) had not benefited me through Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) and Sufyan Thawri (RA), I would be just like anybody else (a normal person).”

Abu Wahab Muhammad Ibn Muzahin (RA) states, “I heard Ibnul Mubarak saying, ‘The greatest jurist is Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA), I have yet to see anyone like him in the field of jurisprudence.”

Ibn Mu’een (RA) has been reported saying, “I would never place anybody above Waki’. He would issue his fatwa according to the opinion of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA), and would memorise all of Imaam Abu Hanifah’s (RA) ahadith and he has heard a great deal of ahadith from him.”

Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) an Authority on Hadith

Allamah Zahabi (RA) has included Imaam Abu Hanifah in his book Tazkiratul-Huffaz. In the introduction of this book, he states. This is a review with the names of only those who I classify as trustworthy and the possessors of Ilm-un-Nabawi. These are such personalities who could he referred to in matters of authenticating (narrators) or determining their weaknesses and in authenticating (ahadiih) or falsifying them.

In clear terms these words of Allamah Zahabi (RA) Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) to be an authority on hadith.

Suwavd Ibn Sa’ad (RA) reports Sufvan lbn Uyaynah (RA) saving. ‘The first person to convince me to narrate ahadith was Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA). When I arrived in Kufa  Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) said  this person possesses the greatest number of ahadith  from Amr Ibn Dinar.’  (On hearing this people began to collect around me, so I began narrating to them.

In another report lbn Uyaynah (RA) adds, “This first person to make me a muhaddith, was Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).

Mulla All Qari (RA) reports that Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) was with A’mash (RA), when A’mash (RA) asked him regarding a certain issue.  Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) said. “My opinion in this matter is such and such”. Upon hearing this A’mash (RA) asked as to where he had acquired this (opinion) from. Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) began, “You have reported to us from Abu Hurayrah (RA), you have reported to us from Abu Wail (RA) who reported from Abdullah (RA), you have reported to us from Abu Ilyas (RA) who reported from Abu Mas’ood (RA) Al-Ansari (RA) that Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said such and such a thing. You have also reported the same to us from Abu Miljaz (RA) who reported from Huzaifah (RA), from Abuz Zubair (RA) who reported from Jabir (RA) and from Yazid Ar Raqqashi (RA) who reported from Anas (RA).

A’mash (RA) cried, ‘‘Enough! Enough!  What took me a hundred days to narrate, you reported tome in just one moment. I was not aware that you acted upon these Ahadeeth.  Then he exclaimed, “O you group of Jurists, you are the doctors and we are
the pharmacists, and you (talking to Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)) have acquired both.

Imaam Shafi’ee (RA) reports that Imaam Malik (RA) was asked, ‘Have you seen Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)?” He (RA) replied, “Yes. I have seen a person who, if saying he could turn this pillar into gold, he would he able to also present evidence for it.

Imaam Abu Hanifah, a Critic of Hadith

Imaam Abu Yusuf (RA) states. “1 have never opposed Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) in any issue, then gone back and pondered over it, only to find that his opinion was always more superior and beneficial in terms of the hereafter At limes I would grasp onto a particular hadith but he would prove to possess more insight regarding its authenticity. There were also times when he would strongly defend a certain opinion of his so I would visit the various scholars of Kufa, to see whether I could find some hadith to supplement his opinion. There were instances when I returned with two or three. Regarding one of them he would sometimes say. ‘It is not authentic ‘or ‘This one is not ma‘ruf regarding another (of those ahadith). I would exclaim to him in amazement, ‘What do you know about that, along with the fact that they also substantiates your opinion. He would reply to me, ‘I possess an insight in the knowledge (‘of hadith) of Kufa.

Yahva Al Jumani (RA) states, “1 heard Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) saying, I have never seen a greater liar than Jabir Al’Jufi and nobody greater in good qualities than Ataa’

Abu Sa’eed As-San’aani (RA) asked lmaam Abu Hanifah (RA), “What is tour opinion on narrating from Thawri(RA)?” He advised. “Record his ahadith because he is strong, except the narrations from Harith via Abu Ishaaq and refrain from Jabir Al’Jufi’s ahadith”.

Irnaam Abu Hanifah (RA) stated regarding Zaid Ibn Avash. “He is unknown.“

lmaam Abu Hanifah (RA) not only knew Amr Ibn Dinar’s name but he was also aware of the title Amr went by. Ibn Mahdi would say, 1 have never seen anybody who possessed a greater amount of the knowledge of sunnah than Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA), and we only became aware of Amr Ibn Dinar’s title through Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).”

What is so significant here about these statements is that they are of a quality which can only be issued from a professional critic of ahadith.

The great historian and analyst of the Muslim world, lbn Khuldun writes a conclusive report on the state of jurists in the field of ahadith. He states. “Some people who have a nature of hatred have claimed due to their resentment that there are such jurists who knew very few ahadith and that is why only a  few ahadith are found (narrated) from them. However this cannot he possible, especially in the case of the great Imaams, because the Shar‘ih (‘laws etc.) cannot be deducted from the Our ‘an and Sunnah, lf one was to possess only a superficial amount of this knowledge, it would become quite necessary for him to become engaged in its acquisition, because only then would he be able to acquire deen through the right channel, i.e. from the one who (Rasoolullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam)) had been appointed to propagate it directly or indirectly.”

The reason for very few ahadith being narrated by them (although they knew ahadith in the multitude) was due to those intricate studies which they conducted on the text and transmission chains of the ahadith. Likewise. lmaam Abu Hanifah’s (RA) reporting very few ahadith was due to the stringent measures he took and it was not Allah forbid because he abandoned narrating them purposely. Allah save him from that. The authenticity and trust placed on his Madhhah (throughout the masses of the Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama‘ah), their reliance on him and the high regard of his opinion concerning the acceptance or rejection of (ahadith or narrators) all indicate and establish his greatness as a jurist in the field of ahadith.

From these sentences, a few very significant and important points are derived:

1. It can not be possible that the jurist have no knowledge of  the Sunnah.

2. It is not possible that somebody in their right mind can make any claims of this nature regarding a jurist (especially regarding someone of Imaam Abu Hanifah’s(RA) repute and competency).

3. Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) was ranked as part of the more prominent circle on the science of ahadith (even Allamah Zahabi (RA) has classified him at that status to be from the Huffaz of hadith in his book Tazkiraiul-Huffaz). Imaani Malik’s (RA) statement and show of respect for Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) has already been mentioned. lmaam Shafi’ee (RA) also concluded, “People are in requirement of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) in the field of jurisprudence.

Allamah Sha’rani (RA) writes in Al-Mizan, “Imaam Shafi’ee (RA) happened to be visiting Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)’s grave, when the time of F’ajr arrived. He performed the salaah but did not recite Qunoot, he remarked ‘How could I read the Qunoot in the presence of this Imaam, when he did not agree with it (‘Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) view is to read the Qunoot-un-Naziiah onlv at the time of some calamity etc.)?”

Now to bring this chapter to an end, we will leave before the reader an incident that took place with a student of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA). The story is as follows regarding lmaam Muhammad (RA) who was also a muhaddith and a student of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).

Muhammmad lbn Samaah (RA) reports that Easa lbn Abban (RA) was a handsome person who would perform Salaah with us. I would constantly invite him to (come and participate in the lectures of) Muhammad lbn Hassan Ash-Shaybani (RA) but he would refuse saying ‘These people contradict ahadith.’  He himself knew a good number of’ ahadith. Once he performed the Fajr salaah with us and as it happened to be a day of lmaam Muhammad’s (RA) gatherings. I kept at his side until he eventually joined us. When lmaam Muhammad completed his lecture I went and told him (Imaam Muhammad) that this is his brother, Abban lbn Sadaqa’s son and that he is quite intelligent and has knowledge of ahadith. I also told him, “I have invited him (from time to time) to attend your gatherings, but he always refuses saying that you contradict ahadith.”  lmaam Muhammad (RA) approached Easa and said, “0 my son. what contradictions have you seen us make in the ahadith?” Easa put before him questions regarding twenty five chapters of ahadith and lmaam Muhammad continued answering them and informing him of their narrators, while also bringing up evidence to substantiate them. Easa (dumbfounded) cried. “There has been a veil between me and the true light (until this moment), it has just disappeared. It never even entered my mind that there could be such a person in Allah’s whole universe who Allah has exposed to the people. “

Following the above incident Easa lbn Abban (RA) remained faithfully in lmaam Muhammad’s (RA) company until he became a Faqih (jurist) by acquiring a true understanding of the deen. This incident manifests the knowledge of a student educated under the guidance of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA). It implies that the status of Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA) himself was much greater than the illustrious position of his student Imaam Muhammad (RA).

May Allah remove the veils of evil and deceit which distort and obscure the truth and may he reveal Haq in its original form to us and grant us the ability to follow it, Aameen.


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