Al-Imam Al-A’zam Abu Hanifah An-Nu'man

Islamic Scholars

The book Qamus al-Alam states: Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah’s name was Nu’man. His father’s name was Thabit. His grandfather’s name was Nu’man, too. He was the first of the four great imams of the Ahl as-Sunnah. ‘Imam’ means ‘profoundly learned scholar.’ He was one of the main pillars of the brilliant religion of Nabi Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). He was a descendant of a Persian notable. His grandfather had embraced Islam. He was born in Kufa in 80 (698 AD). He was born early enough to see Hadrats ‘Anas ibn Malik, ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, Sahl ibn Sad as-Sa’idi and Abul-Fadl Amir ibn Wasila, four Sahabi (radiyallahu ta’ala anhum). He learned ‘Ilm al-fiqh from Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman. He enjoyed the companionship of many notables of the Tabi’een, and of Hadrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (radiyallahu ‘anh) [1]. He memorized innumerable Hadiths. He was brought up so as to become a great judge, but he became an Imam al-Madhhab [Mujtahid fil-Madhhab]. He had a superior, and amazingly keen intellect. In ‘Ilm al-fiqh, he attained an unequalled grade in a very short time. [2] His name and fame became worldwide.

Yazid ibn ‘Amr, Governor of Iraq during the time of Marwan ibn Muhammad, the fourteenth and last Umayyad Khalifa, who was a grandson of Marwan ibn Hakam (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) and was killed five years after assuming the caliphate in Egypt in 132 (750 AD), proposed to Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) to become a judge for the Shari’ah-court of Kufa. But, since he had as much Zuhd, Taqwa and Wara’ as he had ‘Ilm (knowledge) and ‘Aql (intellect), he refused it. He was afraid of not being able to safeguard human rights because of human weaknesses. With a command from Yazid, he was given a severe whipping; hundred and ten blows to the head. His blessed face and head swelled. The next day, Yazid took the Imam out and oppressed him by repeating his offer. The Imam said, “Let me consult,” and obtained permission to leave. He went to the blessed city of Mecca and stayed there for five or six years.

The ‘Abbasid Khalifa, Abu Ja’far Mansur commanded him to be the chief of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 150 A.H. [767 AD]. He refused it and was put into jail. He was subjected to whipping, ten blows more every following day. When the number of whipping reached one hundred, he attained martyrdom. Abu Sa’d Muhammad ibn Mansur al-Harizmi (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih), one of the viziers of Malikshah (447-485 A.H., the third Saljuqi Sultan and the son of Sultan Alparslan), had a wonderful dome built over his grave. Afterwards, Uthmani (Ottoman) emperors embellished and had restored several times.

Hadrat Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) was the first who compiled and classified ‘Ilm al-fiqh, and he gathered information for each branch of knowledge. He wrote the books Fara’id and Shurut. There are innumerable books describing his extensive knowledge on fiqh; his extraordinary ability in Qiyas; and his dumbfounding superiority in zuhd, taqwa, mildness and righteousness. He had many disciples, some of whom became great mujtahids.

The Hanafi Madhhab spread far and wide during the time of the ‘Uthmani (Ottoman) Empire. It almost became the official Madhhab of the State. Today, more than half of the Muslims on the earth and most of the Ahl as-Sunnah perform their ‘ibada according to the Hanafi Madhhab. Citation from the book Kamus-ul Alam ends here.

The book Mir’at al-Ka’inat states:

The ancestors of al-Imam al-A’zam (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) come from the province of Faris, Iran. His father, Thabit, had met Imam ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anh) in Kufa and Hadrat ‘Ali (karramallahu wajhah) had pronounced a benediction over him and his descendants. Al-Imam al-A’zam was one of the greatest among the Tabi’een and saw Hadrat ‘Anas ibn Malik (radiyallahu ‘anh) and three or seven more of the as-Sahabat al-Kiram. He learned Hadith-i sharifs from them.

A Hadith ash-Sharif, which al-Imam al-Harizmi reported from Hadrat Abu Huraira (radiyallahu ‘anh) through isnad muttasil (an uninterrupted chain of reporters), states: “Among my Ummah, there will come a man called Abu Hanifah. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be the light of my Ummah.” Another Hadith ash-Sharif states: “A man named Nu’man ibn Thabit and called Abu Hanifah will appear and will revive Allahu ta’ala’s Deen and my Sunnah.” And another one states, “In every century, a number of my Ummah will attain to high grades. Abu Hanifah will be the highest of his time.” These three Hadiths are written in the book Mawduat al-‘Ulum and in Durr al-Mukhtar. This Hadith ash-Sharif is also well known: “Among my Ummah, a man called Abu Hanifah will appear. There is a beauty spot between his two shoulder blades. Allahu ta’ala will revive His Religion through his hand.”

[Preface to Durr al-Mukhtar writes: A Hadith ash-Sharif states: “As Adam (‘alaihis-Salaam) was proud of me so I am proud of a man of my Ummah named Nu’man and called Abu Hanifah. He is the light of my Ummah.” Another Hadith ash-Sharif states: “Ambiya (‘alaihimus-Salaam) are proud of me. And I am proud of Abu Hanifah. He who loves him will have loved me. He who feels hostility towards him will have felt hostility towards me.” These Hadiths are also written in the book Al-Muqaddima by the profound scholar Hadrat Abul-Laith al-Samarqandi and in Taqadduma, which is a commentary to the former. In the preface to the fiqh book Al-muqaddima by al-Ghaznawi Hadiths praising him are quoted. In Diya’ al-Ma’nawi, a commentary on it, Qadi Abil-Baqa said, ‘Abul-Faraj ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi, based on the words of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, said that these Hadiths were mawdu’. Yet this remark of his is bigotry, for these Hadiths were reported by several chains of transmitters. Ibn ‘Abidin, in his commentary on Durr al-mukhtar, proved that these Hadiths were not mawdu’ and quoted the following Hadith ash-Sharif from the book Al-Khairat al-Hisan by Ibn Hajar al-Makki: “The ornament of the world will be taken away in the year 150.” He went on, “The great fiqh scholar Shams al-Aimma ‘Abd al-Ghaffar al-Kardari (d. 562/1166 AD) said, “It is obvious that this Hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah, since he passed away in 150.” A Hadith ash-Sharif given by al-Bukhari and Muslim says, “If Iman went to the planet Venus, a man of Faris (Persian) descent would bring it back.” Imam as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i ‘Alim, remarked, “It has been communicated unanimously that this Hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-A’zam.” Nu’man Alusi writes in the book Ghaliyya that this Hadith ash-Sharif refers to Abu Hanifah and that his grandfather descended from a Faris family. ‘Allama Yusuf, a Hanbali scholar, quoted in his work Tanwir as-Sahifa from Hafiz ‘Allama Yusuf ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (b. 368/978 and d. 463/1071 in Shatiba), Qadi of Lisbon, Portugal, ‘Do not slander Abu Hanifah and do not believe those who slander him! I swear by Allahu ta’ala that I know not a person superior to him, having more wara’, or being more learned than he. “Do not believe what al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said! He was antipathetic towards the ‘Ulama.’ He slandered Abu Hanifah, Imam Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] and their disciples. The ‘Ulama of Islam refuted al-Khatib and censured him. Ibn al-Jawzi’s grandson, ‘Allama Yusuf Shams al-Din al-Baghdadi, wrote in his forty-volume book Mirat az-Zaman that he was astonished to know that his grandfather had followed al-Khatib. Hadrat Imam al-Ghazali (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih), in his Ihya ‘Uloom id-Deen, praises Hadrat al-Imam al-A’zam with such words as 'Abid, Zahid and Al-‘Arifu billah. If the Sahabat al-Kiram and the ‘Ulama of Islam had different points of view from one another, it was not because they did not approve of each other’s words or because they were unsociable to one another or because they disliked one another; mujtahids (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain) disagreed with one another concerning ijtihad for Allahu ta’ala’s sake and to help the Deen. [3]]

An ‘Alim dreamt of Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and asked him, “What would you say about Abu Hanifah’s knowledge?” He answered, “Everybody needs his knowledge.” Another ‘Alim asked in his dream, “O Rasul-Allah! What would you say about the knowledge Nu’man ibn Thabit has, who lives in Kufa?” He answered, “Learn from him and do as he says. He is a very good person.” Imam ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (radiyallahu ‘anh) said:

 “Let me inform you of a person called Abu Hanifah, who will live in Kufa. His heart will be full of knowledge and hikma (wisdom). Towards the end of the world, many people will perish because of not appreciating him, just as the Shiites will perish because of not having appreciated Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma).”

Hadrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir ibn [Imam] Zainul-‘Abidin ‘Ali ibn [Imam] Husain (radiyallahu ‘anhum, b. 57 AH in Medina and d. 113 AH, buried in the shrine of Hadrat ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib [radiyallahu ‘anh] in Medina) looked at Abu Hanifah and said,

“When those who destroy the religion of my ancestors increase in number, you will revive it. You will be the savior of those who fear and the shelter of those who are confused! You will lead the heretics to the right way! Allahu ta’ala will help you!”

When he was young, al-Imam al-A’zam (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) studied ‘Ilm al-Kalam and Ma’rifa and became very skillful. Then after serving Imam Hammad for twenty-eight years, he attained maturity. When Hammad passed away, he took his place as a mujtahid and Mufti. His knowledge and superiority became known far and wide. His virtue, intelligence, sagacity, zuhd, taqwa, trustworthiness, readiness of wit, devotion to Islam, righteousness and his perfection in every respect as a human being were above those of all others of his time. All the mujtahids and those who succeeded him and noble people—even Christians—praised him. Al-Imam al-Shafi’i (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) said, “All men of fiqh are Abu Hanifah’s children.” He said once, “I get blessings (tabarruk) from Abu Hanifah[’s soul]. I visit his tomb every day. When I am in difficulty, I go to his tomb and perform two rak’as of salat. I invoke Allahu ta’ala, and He gives me what I wish.” Al-Imam al-Shafi’i was a disciple of Imam Muhammad.[4] He remarked, “Allahu ta’ala bestowed knowledge upon me through two persons. I learned the Hadith ash-Sharif from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayna and fiqh from Muhammad al-Shaibani.” He said once, “In the field of religious knowledge and in worldly affairs, there is one person to whom I am grateful. He is Imam Muhammad.” And again, al-Imam al-Shafi’i said, “With what I learned from Imam Muhammad I have written a pack-animal-load of books. I would not have acquired anything of knowledge had he not been my teacher. All men of knowledge are the children of the ‘Ulama of Iraq, who were the disciples of the ‘Ulama of Kufa. And they were the disciples of Abu Hanifah.”

Al-Imam al-A’zam acquired knowledge from a total of four thousand people.  The ‘Ulama of every century wrote many books describing the greatness of al-Imam al-A’zam. In the Hanafi Madhhab, five hundred thousand religious problems were solved and all of them were answered. Al-Hafiz al-kabir Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Harizmi wrote in his book Musnad, “Saif al-Aimma reports that when al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah derived a matter from Qur’an al-Karim and Hadith ash-Sharif, he would propound it to his masters. He would not give the answer to the inquirer unless all of them confirmed it.” One thousand of his disciples attended all his classes when he taught in the masjid of Kufa city. Forty of them were mujtahids. When he found the answer for a matter he would propound it to his disciples. They would study it together and, when they were all in agreement that it was consistent with Qur’an al-Karim and Hadith ash-Sharif and with the words of the Sahabat al-Kiram, he would be delighted and say, “Al-hamdu li’llah wallahu akbar,” and all those who were present would repeat his words. Then he would tell them to write it down.

It is written in the book Radd ul-Wahhabi [5]: “Being a Mujtahid requires first being specialized in the Arabic language and in the various linguistic sciences such as awda’, sahih, marwi, mutawatir; ways of radd; mawdu’ vocabulary; fasih, radi and mazmun forms; mufrad, shadh, nadir, mustamal, muhmal, mu’rab, marifa, ishtiqaq, haqiqa, majaz, mushtarak, izdad, mutlaq, muqayyad, ibdal and qalb. Next you must be specialized in sarf, nahw, ma’ani, bayan, badi’, balaghat, ‘Ilm al-usul al-fiqh, ‘Ilm al-usul al-Hadith, ‘Ilm al-usul at-tafsir, and have memorized the words of the imams of jarh and tadil. Being a Faqih requires, in addition to these, knowing the proof for every matter and studying the meaning, the murad and tawil of the proof. Being a Muhaddith, that is, a scholar of Hadith, requires only memorizing the Hadiths as one heard them; it is not compulsory to know the meanings, murads, tawils, or to understand the proofs for the rules of Islam. If a faqih and a muhaddith disagree with each other about a Hadith ash-Sharif, e.g. if the former says that it is sahih and the latter says that it is da’if, the faqih’s word will be valid. Therefore, al-Imam al-A’zam’s word or decision is more valuable than all the others because he was the first mujtahid and the highest faqih due to his having heard many Hadiths directly from the Sahabat al-kiram without any intervention. A Hadith ash-Sharif that was said to be sahih by this exalted imam was said to be sahih by all Islamic scholars. A muhaddith cannot be in the grade of a faqih. And he can never reach the grade of an Imam al-Madhhab (Mujtahid fi’l-Madhhab).

‘Abdul-Haqq al-Dahlawi, a scholar of Hadith, wrote in his book, Sirat-i Mustaqim, “Some Hadiths which al-Imam al-Shafi’i took as documents were not taken as documents by al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah. Seeing this, the la-madhhabi used it as an opportunity for traducing al-Imam al-A’zam and claimed that Abu Hanifah had not followed the Hadith ash-Sharif. However, Hadrat al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah found and took other Hadiths which were more sahih and dependable in documenting the matter.”

A Hadith ash-Sharif states: “The most beneficial ones of my Ummah are those who live in my time. The next most beneficial ones are those who succeed them. And the next most beneficial ones are those who will come after them.” This Hadith ash-Sharif shows that the Tabi’een were more beneficial than Taba’ at-Tabi’een. The Islamic ‘Ulama all agree that al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah saw some of the as-Sahabat al-Kiram, heard Hadiths from them, and, therefore, was one of the Tabi’een. For example, al-Imam al-A’zam heard the Hadith, “A person who builds a masjid for Allahu ta’ala’s sake will be given a villa in Paradise,” from ‘Abdullah ibn Awfa, who was a Sahabi. Hadrat Jalal ad-din as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i Alim, wrote in his book Tabyid as-Sahifa that al-Imam ‘Abdul-Karim, one of the Shafi’i scholars, wrote a complete book describing the Sahabis whom al-Imam al-A’zam had seen. It is written in Durr al-Mukhtar that al-Imam al-A’zam saw seven Sahabis. Among the four A’immat al-Madhahib, only al-Imam al-A’zam was honored with being one of the Tabi’een. It is a rule in ‘Ilm al-usul that the view of those who admit something is preferred to the view of those who refuse it. It is obvious that al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah, being one of the Tabi’een, is the highest of the Aimmat al-Madhahib. The la-madhhabis’ denying al-Imam al-A’zam’s superiority or their trying to vilify this exalted Imam by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of Hadith, is similar to their denying the superiority of Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma). This perverse negation of theirs is not a sort of illness that can be cured by preaching or advice. May Allahu ta’ala cure them! The Muslims’ Khalifa ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anh) said during his khutba: “O Muslims! As I tell you now, Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told us during his khutba: “The most beneficial people are my Sahaba. The most beneficial after them are their successors. And the next most beneficial are those who will come after them. There will be liars among those who will come after these.”

The four Madhhabs which Muslims have been following and imitating today are the Madhhabs of those beneficial people whose beneficence was corroborated by Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The Islamic ‘Ulama declare in consensus that it is not permissible to adopt a Madhhab other than these four Madhahib.

Ibn Nujaim al-Misri (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih), author of the book Bahr al-Ra’iq, wrote in his work Ashbah, “Hadrat al-Imam ash-Shafi’i said that a person who wanted to be a specialist in the knowledge of fiqh should read Abu Hanifah’s books.” Abdullah Ibn Mubarak said, “I have not seen another specialist as learned as Abu Hanifah in the knowledge of fiqh. The great alim Mis’ar used to kneel in front of Abu Hanifah and learn what he did not know by asking him. I have studied under a thousand ‘Ulama. Yet, had I not seen Abu Hanifah, I would have slipped into the bog of Greek philosophy.” Hadrat Imam Abu Yusuf said, “I have not seen another person as profoundly learned as Abu Hanifah in the knowledge of Hadith. There is not another ‘Alim who can expound Hadiths as competently as he did.” The great Alim and Mujtahid Sufyan ath-Thawri said, “In comparison with Abu Hanifah, we were like sparrows with a falcon. Abu Hanifah is the leader of the ‘Ulama.” ‘Ali ibn Asim said, “If Abu Hanifah’s knowledge were to be measured with the total knowledge of all the ‘Ulama contemporary with him, Abu Hanifah’s knowledge would prove to be greater.” Yazid ibn Harun said, “I studied under a thousand ‘Ulama. Among them I did not see anyone who had as much wara’ as Abu Hanifah did or who was as wise as Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih).” Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Shafi’i, one of the Damascene ‘Ulama, praises al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah much, explains his superiority in detail, and says that he is the leader of all mujtahids in his book Uqud al-Jaman Fi Manaqibi’n-Nu’man. Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah said, “We esteem and love Rasulullah’s (‘alaihis-Salaam) Hadiths above all. We search for the words of the Sahabat al-Kiram, choose and adopt them. As for the words of the Tabi’een, they are like our words. Translation from the book Radd-ul-Wahhabi ends here. This book was printed in India and in Istanbul, in 1264 (1848 AD) and in 1401 (1981 AD), respectively.

In the book Sayf-ul-Muqallidin ala A’nak-il-Munkirin, Mawlana Muhammad ‘Abdul-Jalil wrote in Persian: “The la-madhhabi say that Abu Hanifah was weak in the knowledge of Hadith. This assertion of theirs shows that they are ignorant or jealous. Al-Imam az-Zahabi and Ibn Hajar al-Makki say that al-Imam al-A’zam was an Alim of Hadith. He learned Hadiths from four thousand ‘Ulama. Three hundred of them were among the Tabi’een and were ‘Ulama of Hadith. Al-Imam ash-Sharani says in the first volume of al-Mizan, ‘I have studied three of al-Imam al-A’zam’s Musnads. All of them transmit information from the well-known ‘Ulama of the Tabi’een.’ Hostility which the la-madhhabi people bear against the Salaf as-salihin and their jealousy towards the mujtahid imams, particularly towards their leader al-Imam al-Muslimeen Abu Hanifah, must have obstructed their perception and conscience to the extent that they deny the beauty and superiority of these Islamic ‘Ulama. They are intolerant of the fact that pious people have what they do not have. It is for this reason that they deny the superiority of the imams of Islam and thus venture into the shirk (polytheism) of jealousy. It is written in the book Hada’iq: “When al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah memorized Hadiths he wrote them down. He kept the Hadith books he wrote in wooden boxes, some of which he always kept at hand wherever he went. His quoting only a few Hadiths does not show that the number of Hadiths he memorized was small. Only bigoted enemies of Islam may say so. This bigotry of theirs proves al-Imam al-A’zam’s perfection; an inept person’s slandering the learned indicates the former’s perfection.” Founding a great Madhhab and answering hundreds of thousands of questions by documenting them with ayats and Hadiths could not have been done by a person who was not deeply specialized in the sciences of tafsir and Hadith. In fact, bringing forth a new, unique Madhhab without a model or an example is an excellent proof for al-Imam al-A’zam’s expertise in the sciences of tafsir and Hadith. Because he worked with extraordinary energy and brought forth this Madhhab, he did not have time to quote the Hadiths or to cite their transmitters one by one; this cannot be grounds for denigrating that exalted imam by jealously casting aspersions on him by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of Hadith. It is a known fact that riwaya (transmitting) without diraya (ability, intelligence) has no value. For example, Ibn Abd al-Barr said, “If riwaya without diraya were valuable, a dustman’s quoting a Hadith would be superior to Luqman’s intelligence.” Ibn Hajar al-Makki was one of the ‘Ulama in the Shafi’i Madhhab, but he wrote in his book Qala’id: “The great alim of Hadith A’mash asked al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah many questions. Al-Imam al-A’zam answered each of his questions by quoting Hadiths. After seeing al-Imam al-A’zam’s profound knowledge in Hadith, A’mash said, ‘O, you, the ‘Ulama of fiqh! You are like specialized doctors, and we the ‘Ulama of Hadith are like pharmacists. We cite Hadiths and their transmitters, but you are the ones who understand their meanings.’ “ It is written in the book ‘Uqud al-Jawahiri ‘l-Munifa: “While ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Amr was in the company of the great alim of Hadith A’mash, someone came up and asked a question. As A’mash thought about the answer, al-Imam al-A’zam joined in. A’mash repeated the question to the Imam and requested an answer. Al-Imam al-A’zam immediately answered it in detail. Admiring the answer, A’mash said, “O Imam! From which Hadith do you derive this?’ Al-Imam al-A’zam quoted the Hadith ash-Sharif from which he derived the answer and added, ‘I heard this from you.’ “ Al-Imam al-Bukhari knew three hundred thousand Hadiths by heart. He wrote only twelve thousand of them in his books because he feared very much the threat in the Hadith ash-Sharif, “If a person quotes, in the name of Hadith, what I have not uttered, he will be tormented very bitterly in Hell.” Having much wara’ and taqwa, al-Imam al-A’zam imposed very heavy conditions for the transmitting of Hadiths. He would quote only those Hadiths fulfilling these conditions. Some ‘Ulama of Hadith transmitted numerous Hadiths because their branch was wider and their conditions were lighter. The ‘Ulama of Hadith never belittled one another on account of differing conditions. Had this not been so, Imam Muslim would have said something to offend al-Imam al-Bukhari (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaihima). Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah’s transmitting only a few Hadiths because of his circumspection and taqwa could only be a good reason for praising and lauding him.”[6]

The book Mirat al-Ka’inat goes on: “Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) performed morning prayer in a masjid and answered his disciples’ questions until noon every day. After noon prayer, he taught his disciples again until night prayer. Then he would go home and, after resting for a while, return to the masjid and worship until morning prayer. Mis’ar ibn Kadam al-Kufi, one of the Salaf as-salihin, who passed away in 115 (733 AD), and many other great people reported this fact.

He earned his living in a halal way by trading. He sent goods to other places and with his earnings he met the needs of his disciples. He spent much for his household and gave an equal amount as alms to the poor. Moreover, every Friday he distributed twenty gold coins to the poor for his parents’ souls. He did not stretch his legs towards his teacher Hammad’s (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) house, though he lived at a distance of seven streets away. Once he found out that one of his partners had sold a large amount of goods incompatibly with Islam. He distributed all the ninety thousand aqchas earned to the poor, not taking one penny of it. After brigands had raided the villages of Kufa and had stolen sheep, he, thinking that these stolen sheep might be slaughtered and sold in the town, did not eat mutton for seven years, for he knew that a sheep lived seven years at the longest. He abstained from the haram to that degree. He observed Islam in his every action.

For forty years al-Imam al-A’zam (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaih) performed the Salat-ul-Fajr with the wudhu (ablution) he had made for the Salat-ul-‘Isha [that is, he did not sleep after the night prayer.] He performed hajj fifty-five times. During the last one, he went into the Ka’bah, performed a prayer of two rak’as and recited the whole Qur’an al-Karim during the prayer. Then, weeping, he invoked, “O my Allahu ta’ala! I have not been able to worship Thee in a manner worthy of Thee. Yet I have understood very well that Thou cannot be comprehended through intelligence. For this understanding of mine, please forgive the defects in my service! At that moment a voice was heard, “O Abu Hanifah! You have acknowledged Me very well and have served Me beautifully. I have forgiven you and those who will be in your Madhhab and follow you until the end of the world.” He read Qur’an al-Karim from the beginning to the end once every day and once every night.

Al-Imam al-A’zam had so much taqwa that for thirty years he fasted every day [except the five days of a year on which it is haram to fast]. He often read the whole Qur’an al-Karim in one rak’a or two. And sometimes, during salat or outside it, he read an ayat describing Heaven and Hell over and over again and sobbed and lamented.[7] Those who heard him pitied him. Among the Ummah of Sayyidina Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), reciting the whole Qur’an al-Karim in a single rak’ah of salat fell to the lot of only ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, Tamim ad-Dari, Sad ibn Jubair and al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah. He did not accept any presents from anyone. He wore clothes like those of the poor. Yet at times, in order to exhibit the blessings of Allahu ta’ala, he wore very valuable clothes. He performed hajj fifty-five times and stayed in Mecca for several years. Only at the place where his soul was taken, he had read the whole Qur’an al-Karim seven thousand times. He said, “I laughed once in my life, and I regret it.” He talked little and thought much. He discussed some religious matters with his disciples. One night, while leaving the masjid immediately after performing the night prayer in jama’at, he began to talk with his disciple Zufar on some subject. One of his feet was inside the masjid and the other was outside. The conversation continued until the morning adhan. Then, without taking the other step out, he went back in for the Fajr prayer. Because Hadrat ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anh) had said, “It is permissible to have a personal allowance of up to four thousand dirhams,” he distributed to the poor what was more than four thousand dirhams of his earnings.

The Khalifa Mansur revered the Imam very much. He presented him ten thousand aqchas and a jariya. The Imam did not accept them. At that time one aqcha was worth one dirham of silver. In 145 A.H., Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hasan ibn ‘Ali was recruiting men in order to help his brother Muhammad (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain), who had proclaimed himself the Khalifa in al-Madinat al-munawwara. When he came to Kufa, it was rumored that Abu Hanifah was helping him. Mansur heard this and had the Imam taken from Kufa to Baghdad. He told him to tell everybody that Mansur was rightfully the Khalifa. He offered him the presidency of the Supreme Court of Appeal as a recompense. He imposed on him very much. The Imam did not accept it. Mansur imprisoned him and had him thrashed with a stick thirty strokes. His blessed feet bled. Mansur repented and sent him thirty thousand aqchas, only to be refused again. He was imprisoned again and thrashed ten strokes more every day. [According to some report] on the eleventh day, for fear that the people might rebel, he was forced to lie down on his back and poisonous sherbet (a sweet fruit drink) was poured into his mouth. As he was about to die, he prostrated (sajda). Some fifty thousand people performed janaza salat for him. Because of the enormous crowd, it was performed with difficulty and finished not before the late afternoon prayer. For twenty days many people came to his tomb and performed janaza salat for him near his tomb.

He had seven hundred and thirty disciples. Each of them was famed for his virtue and pious deeds. Many of them became Qadis or Muftis. His son Hammad (rahmatullahu ta’ala alaih) was one of his notable disciples.” Passages from the book Mirat-ul-Kainat ends here. They have been leaders guiding the ahl-i din, rahmatullahu ‘alaihim ajmain.

There were some disagreements between al-Imam al-A’zam and his disciples on the information that was to be deduced through ijtihad. The following Hadith ash-Sharif declares that these disagreements were useful: “Disagreement (on the ‘amal, practices) among my Umma is [Allahu ta’ala’s] compassion.” He feared Allahu ta’ala very much and was very careful in following Qur’an al-Karim. He said to his disciples, “If you come across a document (sanad) inconsistent with my words on a subject, ignore my words and follow that document.” All his disciples swore, “Even our words inconsistent with his words surely depend on a proof (Dalil, Sanad) we had heard from him.”

Hanafi Muftis have to issue fatwas agreeable with what al-Imam al-A’zam said. If they cannot find his word, they should follow Hadrat Imam Abu Yusuf al-Ansari. After him, Hadrat Imam Muhammad al-Shaibani should be followed. If the words of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad al-Shaibani are on one side and those of al-Imam al-A’zam on the other, a Mufti may issue a fatwa according to either side. When there is darura (a pressing difficulty), he may issue a fatwa suitable with the words of the mujtahid who showed the easiest way. He cannot issue a fatwa that does not depend on the words of any of the mujtahids; such an issue cannot be called a fatwa.


  1. Sayyidina Al-Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq ibn Muhammad Al-Baqir ibn Ali ibn al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib.
  2. This is a common phenomena that occurs with sincere Muslims who develop a Nisba with Sayyidina Rasul-e-Akram, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
  3. It is explained in the second fascicle of Se’adat-e-Ebediyye (Endless Bliss) that a mawdu’ Hadith does not mean ‘false, made-up Hadith’ in ‘Ilm al-usul al-Hadith.
  4. Al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifah’s two leading disciples were Imam Muhammad al-Shaibani and Imam Abu Yusuf al-Ansari (rahmatullahu ta’ala ‘alaihima).
  5. First published in India in 1264 (1848 AD); reprinted in Persian in Istanbul in 1401 (1981 AD).
  6. Saif al-Muqallidin ‘Ala A’naqil-Munkirin.
  7. Crying out of love for Allah ta’ala in salat does not break the salat in the Hanafi Madhhab.