Name: Farida Masood
· Student ID: 10113213
· Course Name/Code: Fiqh 101/FQH 101
· Assignment Question: Imam Abu Haneefah.
the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
al-Nu’maan ibn Thaabit al-Taymi al-Kufi, the distinguished founder of the
Hanafi madhhab, born in Kufa, Iraq, in 702 CE, was the son of a silk merchant
of Persian origin. He was a minor tabi’un having met the likes of Anas ibn
Malik. The legacy of knowledge that this insightful scholar and faqih (jurist)
left behind, was a product of the painstaking exercise of profound thought, enquiry
and reasoning exemplified by him and his students. After immersing himself in
‘Ilm al-Kalam’ (Scholastic Philosophy), and reaching its pinnacle, he shunned
it for the study of hadith and fiqh. Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, a deft and
renowned scholar of hadith remained his chief teacher for 18 long years, which
also debunks the insinuation that Abu Haneefah had inferior knowledge of
hadith. Furthermore, it was reported that Ibn Sireen had once interpreted Abu
Haneefah’s dream of digging up the Prophet’s (?) grave as, “This man is digging up the narrations of the
Messenger of Allah (?)”
(al-Khumayyis, n.d. p. 52). As was the norm in those days, Abu Haneefah began
teaching only after the death of his teacher and upon becoming the most
accomplished and sought after scholar in Kufah, was consequently wooed by the
Ummayad and Abbasid rulers respectively. They offered him royal designation
which he promptly declined; hence whilst the former subjected him to physical
torture, the later imprisoned him right up to his death in 767 CE (Philips,
2006, p. 89).
The splitting up of
fiqh scholars into Ahl ar-Ra’i (People of Reasoning) of Iraq, and Ahl al-hadith
(People of Hadith) of Hijaz, during the early Umayyad Era, contributed to Abu
Haneefah’s approach, which was essentially hinged on the fiqh of Iraq. He
introduced a refreshingly interactive teaching method that
illuminated the hearts and minds of his students, through group discussion. A
legal issue would be presented for debate and discussion, until everyone
arrived at a unified stance. Thereafter, the Imam would state his own position and
express the rationale behind it (Philips, 2006, p. 90). At the core of this bilateral
approach was the fortified principle, that the Qur’an and Sunnah remain the
ultimate criterion in distinguishing betwixt right and wrong (Philips, 2006, p.
155). Abu Haneefah’s philosophy of ‘preparing for a problem before its occurrence’
(Hypothetical Fiqh), caused the group to mull over imaginary problems likely to
be faced in the future, thereafter seeking solutions. For this, they were
marked as the ‘What-iffers’ or ‘Ahl ar-Ra’I’.
Islamic laws were
gleaned from the following 7 sources in the Hanafi Madhhab (Philips, 2006, pp.
1. The Glorious
Qur’an: The authoritative and indubitable primary source of Islam law.
2. The Sunnah:
The second primary source of Islamic law. Due to the scarcity and fabrication
of hadith in the region, Abu Haneefah specified that a hadith be both accurate
(Sahih), and well known (Mash-hoor), to be acknowledged as legal proof.
3. Ijma’: Next
in significance was the consensus (Ijma’), of the companions (Sahaba), on any
point of law not stated in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Their Ijma’ was favored over
the opinions of Abu Haneefah and his students.
4. Ijtehad of the
Companions: Seeing that the Sahaba had witnessed the unveiling of Quranic revelation
and the Sunnah of the Prophet (?), Abu Haneefah sought rulings via the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the Ijma
and Ijtehad of the Companions, respectively (Abu Zahra, 1945, p. 37). The opinion
most suited to the case in question from amongst the Ijtehads of the Companions
was selected in the absence of Ijma. The supremacy of their Ijtehad above
others was binding in Hanafi madhhab. Abu Haneefah’s rationale nonetheless,
came into play through this process of selection, even if in a minimal sense.
5. Qiyas: Once
all efforts to find clear proofs had been exhausted, Abu Haneefah and his
students conducted their own Ijtehad, based on predetermined principles.
6. Istihsan (Preference):
The legal preference of one proof over another based on its appropriateness to
7. ‘Urf (Local
Custom): The local customs of an area should be awarded legal merit, in the
absence of Islamic customs.
Another key point, is
the noteworthy role played in the dissemination of Abu Haneefah’s fiqh, that has
been the benchmark used in identifying his three leading students (Philips,
2006, pp. 92-93):
Abu Yusuf Ya’qoob ibn lbrahim (735-795 CE) hailed from an impoverished
household in Kufah. After becoming an acclaimed hadith scholar, he studied fiqh
under Imam lbn Abi Laila for 9 years. He remained Abu Haneefah’s student for a
similar period until his teacher’s demise, and then departed for Madeenah to
study under Imam Malik, briefly. The Hanafi madhhab gained a firm footing soon after
his appointment as chief judge during the Abassid Era, as he favored
commissioning judges of his own maddhab to all areas across the Muslim Empire.
ibn al-Hasan, ash-Shaybani (749-805 CE) was
born in Wasit, but raised in Kufah. His early studies were in hadith and his
fiqh learning under Abu Haneefah was short-lived due to the Imam’s death. After
studying under Abu Yusuf, he proceeded to Madeenah and remained Imam Malik’s
student for 3 years, during which he became a narrator for al-Muwatta. He
briefly accepted and then surrendered an appointment as Qadi. Imam Shafi’i is
known to have studied under him. It must be remembered that Abu Yusuf and
ash-Shaybani have been labelled ‘as-Sahiban’ (The Two Companions) (Skreslet
& Skreslet, 2006, p. 79).
ibn al-Hudhayl (732-774 CE) followed in the footsteps
of his teacher and refused to succumb to the lure of royal appointment. He
remained a teacher instead, until passing away in Basrah, at the tender age of
The Hanafi School
thus reflects the positions taken by Abu Haneefah and his students.
In essence, the
manifold hues of Abu Haneefah’s distinctiveness that set him apart from other
Imams and turned him into a controversial figure who won both supporters and
detractors, was largely owing to his inclining towards the ‘Fiqh of Iraq’. On a
personal note though, I, for one, would classify his commitment towards ‘Hypothetical
Fiqh’ as a novel and praiseworthy trait, arguing that, since fiqh is an
evolving science which can be both used and abused, the unleashing of
speculative questions by a God-fearing, enlightened, profound thinking scholar
and faqih who possessed sound judgement, is something to be admired and not
condemned. Allah Almighty says, “Say: Are those who know equal to those who
do not know?” (Qur’an 39:9). Hence, to confuse it with the debauched,
hypothetical fiqh of the ‘Munadharat’ (court debates), that merely served as
entertainment for the Abbasid caliphs and incited madhhab rivalry and
factionalism, would indeed be a grave injustice (Philips, 2006, pp. 133).
Abu Zahra, M. (1945). Imam Abu Hanifa His Life,
Opinions and Fiqh. Maktabah Publications. Retrieved from http://shaykhjibril.com/books/ImamAbuHanifa–alhamdulillah-library.blogspot.in.pdf
Al-Khumayyis, M.I.A.R. (n.d.) The Creed of the Four
Imaams. Retrieved from https://islamfuture.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/the-creed-of-the-four-imaams.pdf
Philips, A. A. B. (2006). The Evolution of Fiqh:
Islamic Law and the Madh-habs. (3rd ed). Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
International Islamic Publishing House.
Skreslet, P.Y. & Skreslet, R. (2006). The
Literature of Islam: A Guide to the Primary Sources in English Translation.
USA: Scarecrow Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.eg/books?id=grl0amPbIsYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false