Imam Abu Hanifa

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Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 1

What Historians Have Recoreded Regarding Imam Abu Hanifa

1)Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Kathir write:

“Imam Abu Hanifa was born in 80A.H, living in the time when there were still some Sahaba living.He saw the famous Companion, Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) and six other Companions too.He learnt ahadith from a group of Tabi’un, and spent much of his time in worship.

2) ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak said
:’He was the greatest of all those who was well versed in Islamic laws.’ Imam ash-Shafi’i said:’All those who study Fiqh[Islamic law] are children of Imam Abu Hanifa.’ Imam Yahya ibn Mu’in said:’There are no accusations on Imam Abu Hanifa, and he is clean from all lies.’

Whoever wants to learn Fiqh, he is dependent upon Imam Abu Hanifa. The people should pray for Imam Abu Hanifa after their prayers.He was the one of the greatest scholars on the earth.When he used to recite the Qur’an at night, he used to cry so much that his neighbours used to pity him. Imam Abu Hanifa read the Qur’an 70, 000 times at the place where he died.He died on the 15 Rajab, 150 A.H.At his funeral there were so many people that the salat of Janazahad to be read six times.May Allah grant him peace and blessings

[adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkira al-Huffaz; Ibn Kathir, Ta’rikh Ibn Kathir, al-‘Asqalani, Tahzib at-Tahzib, Biography of Imam Abu Hanifa]

3)Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:

“There is no doubt regarding Imam Abu Hanifa’s knowledge. People later attributed many lies to Imam Abu Hanifa, which were all untrue. The aim of such writings was to taint Imam Abu Hanifa”

[Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj as-Sunna An-Nabawiyya, vol.1, page 259]

4)Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim says:

“Imam Abu Hanifa would not do qiyas, even if he found a weak hadith.There are two types of qiyas:

1) Which is against the Qur’an and the Sunna – this is not permissible

2) One that is in the light of Qur’an or Sunna – this is permissible as our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also gave permisiion to Mu’adh ibn Jabal to do qiyas”

[Alam al-Muwaqqieen, chapter on ‘Qiyas’]

Why is it then today, after such great scholars like Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz Ibn Kathir who have corrected such erroneous lies against Imam Abu Hanifa, that people still propagate such vile accusations?

A review of Islamic history reveals that when Allah Most High bestows any extraordinary scholar with His blessings, you can be sure that they would not have respite from distortions, slander and lies that are leveled against them. Imam Abu Hanifa was one of those great scholars of Islam against which such attempts were made.It is apparent from the history books that Imam Abu Hanifa (like the three other orthodox Sunni mujtahid Imams: Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shafi’i, and Imam Ahmed) had many enemies.

Why did they have enemies, one may ask?Many of those who argued against and attacked them were from misled sects, such as the Khawarij.There were also those from amongst the court of the khalif who, for one reason or another, had opened their hearts to jealousy, but as such, had the support of the court and their stances were often enough not questioned.

With such ferocity, and by the number of accusations leveled against Imam Abu Hanifa, it is unfortunate to say that some of these accusations did have an effect on a few simple minded Muslims.It should be said that they cannot be entirely at fault, since even with the case of ‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) we recall that even some of the Companions were convinced of these false accusations. However, this incident was no small matter.It resulted in Allah Most High sending revelation as a warning to those Companions who believed the accusation. Allah Most High questioned them that upon hearing the accusations, why did they not reject such slander?

To some extent, we can also say that similarly to the erroneous accusations that were leveled against ‘A’isha, Imam Abu Hanifa also faced such accusations that have been mentioned by various pious people of later generations in their books.

We should thus learn from the incident involving ‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) that we should not accept accusations from the enemies of Imam Abu Hanifa, such as the Khawarij and the Mu’tazilites. Whenever people utter words of malice and indulge themselves in accusations against Imam Abu Hanifa they never mention that the majority of them are found to stem from two particular misled sects – namely, the Khawarij and the Mu’tazilites.

Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 2

Statements from Imam Bukhari

Imam Bukhari never met Imam Abu Hanifah ( died 150 AH). We don’t have any record that Imam Bukhari read any one the books attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah .

So the question now is , what was the source of information to Imam Bukhari?

1) Imam al-Bukhari has stated:

“Imam Abu Hanifa was a Murji’i”

[Al-Ta’rikh al-Kabir, under the ‘Biography of Numan ibn Thabit’]

Imam al-Bukhari also writes:

“When Sufyan ath-Thawri [a great scholar of Islam] heard news about the death of Imam Abu Hanifa, he said: ‘Praise beto Allah that such a man had died as he was gradually destroying Islam. There could not be a worse person born in Islam’ “

[Ta’rikh Saghir, Biography of Imam Abu Hanifa]

Imam al-Bukhari also writes:

“On two occasions Imam Abu Hanifa was ordered to repent from making blasphemous statements”

[al-Bukhari, Kitab ad-Daufa Walmat Rukin; Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr, Al-Intiqa]

Imam al-Bukhari informs us that he had taken these statements from his tutor Na’im ibn Hamad [Ta’rikh as-Saghir]

Imam al-Bukhari was so convinced by his tutor, that he never mentioned or used Imam Abu Hanifa as a reference for his book Sahih al-Bukhari, although whenever he did mention Imam Abu Hanifa he referred to him as ‘Kufi’ (nicknamed from his homeland – Kufa).

Before we proceed any further, it is important to refer to one particular accusation against Imam Abu Hanifa – the accusation that he belonged to a deviant sect called the Murji’ites.To answer this, we first need to see what character Imam Abu Hanifa possessed. It is important in responding to this accusation to find out who gave Imam al-Bukhari information regarding Imam Abu Hanifa. Insha’llah, we will demonstrate that he was not a Murji’i and pinpoint from where this false accusation came from.

I have mentioned that Na’im ibn Hammad conveyed this information to Imam al-Bukhari but before proceeding any further, let us take note of what Hafiz adh-Dhahabi, Hafiz al-‘Asqalani and Katib al-Baghdadi have written in connection to Na’im ibn Hammad:

” Na’im ibn Hammad was a famous scholar from a region called Marau. He had sight in one eye only. During the later part of his life he went to live in Egypt.At first, he belonged to a sect called the Jahmites, and was an active member. He then later left this sect and wrote a book, which was the first book to use the science of Musnad. These were a compilation of narrations by the Sahaba, which were placed in an alphabetical order, according to whom they had narrated the hadith. During this particular period, the Umma used to question whether the Holy Qur’an was makhluq (created). When this question was put forward to Na’im ibn Hammad he did not give an explanation. He was then sent to prison along side Yaqub Faqia. He died in 228 AH. It was noted that no janaza [funeral prayer] was prayed over him and he was buried without a kaffan [shroud]”

[al-Baghdadi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz; adh-Dhahabi, Tahzib al-Tahzib; al-‘Asqalani and al-Baghdadi, Biography of Na’im ibn Hammad]

This is a brief overview of his life and now we shall examine as to what status he held as a scholar.We shall do this by looking at what Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-‘Asqalani have written, since they compiled together all the works by previous scholars who had written concerning Na’im ibn Hammad. What follows are their accounts:

Imam Abu Dawud said:

“Na’im ibn Hammad had attributed twenty ahadith to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) which he in fact had never said, thus being fabricated sayings.

Here are two examples of such fabrications:

1) Abu Hurayra reported that:

“The Prophet of Islam (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had said:’A time will come, when if you adhere to ten percent of Allah’s commands you will succeed, and if you leave this ten percent you will die [spiritually, not physically].”

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had never uttered such words – this is a munkar narration (narrated by a weak reporter that goes against another authentic hadith).

2) Abu Hurayra narrates:

“The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had said: ‘A time will come when my Umma will be split into more than 70 sects.The worst will be those who indulge in qiyas [analogical deduction] in matters of uncertainty’.”

Abu Zur’a said: “I asked Imam Yayha ibn Mu’in, ‘Where did Na’im ibn Hammad get this hadith?’He answered that it has no origins and that this is not a hadith but has been invented.”Whatever Na’im ibn Hammad had said about Imam Abu Hanifa were all lies and had no substance.Abu Zur’a said that whenever Nu’aym ibn Hammad would narrate a hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), he would add in his own words in the hadith. Whenever he would narrate a fabricated hadith he would attribute it to the “great Imam of Hadith.”

Daraqutni said that whenever Nu’aym used to mention a fabricated hadith, he would do so to support the Sunna. He had a lot of munkar narrations, which other Imams did not have [adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I’tidal and Tahzib al-Tahzib; al-‘Asqalani, Biography of Nu’aym ibn Hammad]

Imam al-Bukhari took his narrations from Nu’aym ibn Hammad for his book, Sahih al-Bukhari andTa’rikh.Since Nu’aym ibn Hammad received criticism from amongst the Muhaddithin likewise, Imam al-Bukhari also received criticism for his book of Hadith from the scholars of Hadith.

This overview concerning the character of Nu’aym ibn Hammad will allow us to understand that he was not a reliable Hadith expert in the eyes of the Scholars of Hadith.Now we shall elaborate upon the statements made by Imam al-Bukhari about Imam Abu Hanifa by noting what the scholars of Hadith had to say concerning him.

From this we can demonstrate that Imam al-Bukhari’s Ta’rikh is in no way free from error, nor did it remain uncriticised from Hadith scholars.As a result, it would be unfair to “blindly” accept everything that has been written in it as the absolute Truth.

By now, it should have been made obvious that the person that gave Imam Bukhari information regarding Imam Abu Hanifa (i.e. Nu’aym ibn Hammad) was unreliable.The Muhaddithin tell us that he used to make up fabricated hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and he also made false stories about Imam Abu Hanifa. As we are told not to believe in his narrations, similarly, we should not accept those statements regarding Imam Abu Hanifa, since they are all lies, according to Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-‘Asqalni.

Anyone who has read the the history of Islamic scholarship accepts and understands that criticisms were not only made against Imam Abu Hanifa but were also made against many of the Muhaddithin.The simple principle is that when accusations are made against any of the great scholars of Islam, who have the respect from the majority of the Umma, those accusations are rejected.We shall provide you with some examples:

Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 3

More Quotes from Imam Bukhari

Hanafi faqih and hadith master al-Zayla`i, who said in Nasb al-raya (1:355-356):

No student of the Science adorned himself with a better garment than fairness and the relinquishment of fanaticism…. Bukhari is very much pursuing an agenda in what he cites from the Sunna against Abu Hanifa, for he will mention a hadith and then insinuate something about him, as follows: “Allah’s Messenger said: such and such, and some people said: such and such.” By “some people” he means Abu Hanifa, so he casts him in the ugliest light possible, as someone who dissents from the hadith of the Prophet!

Bukhari also says in the beginning of his book (Sahih): “Chapter whereby Salat is part of Belief,” then he proceeds with the narrations of that chapter, and his purpose in that is to refute Abu Hanifa’s saying: “Deeds are not part of Belief” although many fuqaha’ do not realize this. And I swear by Allah, and again — by Allah! — that if Bukhari had found one hadith [to the effect that Salat is part of Belief] which met his criterion or came close to it, then his book would certainly not have been devoid of it, nor that of Muslim.

As we just said regarding Nasa’i and Muslim, among the kinds of rejected jarh are those based on differences of school, or `aqida, or methodology. For example, the mere fact that a narrator is Shi`a in `aqida and showing excessive love for `Ali, or if he is Nasibi in `aqida and showing hatred of `Ali, does not automatically mean that he is majruh [defective]. An example of a Shi`i narrator retained by Bukhari is the great muhaddith `Abd al-Razzaq al-San`ani (d. 211), the author of the Musannaf, from whom Bukhari took a quantity of hadiths. Two examples of narrators retained by Bukhari and Muslim although they were accused of being Nasibi are Huswayn ibn Numayr from whom Bukhari narrates the hadiths: “The Communities were shown to me and I saw a great dark mass” and “The Communities were shown to me and there was a Prophet with only one follower, and a Prophet with only two followers”; and Ahmad ibn `Abdah al-Dabbi, from whom Muslim takes one of three chains of the hadith: “I have been ordered to fight people until they say la ilaha ilallah and believe in me.”

Another example is the undue weakening of a scholar of the so-called “school of ra’y” [opinion] at the hands of a scholar of the so-called “school of hadith,” in this case the weakening of a Hanafi by a Hanbali: thus Ahmad’s weakening of Mu`alla ibn Mansur al-Razi (d. 211) is rejected, as shown by Dhahabi in al-Mughni (2:270) and by Abu Dawud before him, who said in his Sunan (book of Tahara): “Yahya ibn Ma`in said that Mu`alla is trustworthy while Ahmad ibn Hanbal would not narrate from him because he followed the methodology of ra’y”; thus Abu Dawud rejects Ahmad’s verdict and narrates from Mu`alla, as did Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and others.

Bukhari’s narrations, in his Tarikh al-saghir, of reports ostensibly detrimental to Abu Hanifa, just as his narration of Yazid ibn Harun’s outlandish labeling of Abu Hanifa’s student, Muhammad al-Shaybani, as a Jahmi in his Khalq af`al al-`ibad (1990 ed. p. 15), belong to this category of rejected jarh. Such reports are simply dismissed as mistakes for which Bukhari must be forgiven, as he is not ma`sum.

The same is said about Ibn Hibban’s outlandish declaration in his Kitab al-majruhin (3:63-64) that Abu Hanifa is not to be relied upon because “he was a Murji’ and an innovator.” Such a judgment is discarded, as stated by al-Lucknawi in al-Raf` wa al-takmil: “Criticism of Abu Hanifa as a narrator on the claim of his irja’ is not accepted.” The reason is that the so-called Murji’a among the Hanafi Imams all belong to Ahl al-Sunna and are in no wise to be called innovators, such as Abu Hanifa, his shaykh Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, and his two students Muhammad and Abu Yusuf. al-Dhahabi said in his Tarikh al-Islam (3:358f.): “The disapproved Murji’a are those who accepted Abu Bakr and `Umar but withheld taking a position concerning `Uthman and `Ali.” It is obvious that the Hanafi Imams do not enter into such a definition. Imam Abu Hanifa said in his Fiqh al-akbar (as narrated by `Ali al-Qari in his Sharh, 1984 ed. p. 96-101):

The best of mankind after the Prophets, peace be upon them all, are Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, then `Umar ibn al-Khattab, then `Uthman ibn `Affan dhu al-Nurayn, then `Ali ibn Abi Talib al-Murtada, may Allah be well pleased with all of them: men worshipping their Lord, steadfast upon truth and on the side of truth. We follow all of them (natawallahum jami`an). Nor do we mention any of the Prophet’s Companions except in good terms.
A longer definition of the “Murji’a” is given by Ibn Hajar in Hadi al-Sari (2:179) where he says:

Irja’ has the sense of “delaying” and carries two meanings among the scholars: some mean by it the delaying in declaring one’s position in the case of the two warring factions after `Uthman’s time [i.e. neither following nor rejecting either one]; and some mean by it the delaying in declaring that whoever commits grave sins and abandons obligations enters the Fire, on the basis that in their view belief consists in assertion and conviction and that quitting deeds [i.e. ceasing from obeying commands and prohibitions] does not harm it.”
The Sunni so-called “Murji’a” belong to the latter category but with one important provision: they do not hold that quitting deeds does not harm belief in the sense of threatening to destroy it: on the contrary, they hold that quitting deeds does harm the quitter. As `Ali al-Qari said in the title of one of his chapters in Sharh al-fiqh al-akbar (p. 67, 103), “Acts of disobedience harm their author, contrary to the belief of certain factions.” al-Mizzi relates in his Tahdhib al-kamal from Abu al-Salt al-Harawi this clarification overlooked by Ibn Hajar, whereby the Sunni “Murji’a” is thus called not because he considers that “quitting deeds does not harm belief” but only because he professes hope (yarju) of salvation for great sinners, as opposed to the Khawarij who declare sinners disbelievers, and the Mu`tazila who disbelieve in the Prophet’s intercession for great sinners. In this sense Abu Hanifa and the Maturidi school of doctrine hold what all other schools of Ahl al-Sunna hold. As for the Murji’a who rely on faith alone exclusively of deeds, they belong to the heretical sects, and the attribution of Abu Hanifa to such a belief is iftira’ and fabrication.
The difference with the Imam which Bukhari and Ibn Hibban were picking upon resides in among others in Abu Hanifa’s view that iman — belief — stands for one’s Islam and vice-versa and therefore neither increases or decreases once acquired. It is a fundamental tenet of the Maturidi school with which Bukhari differed and which is illustrated by the latter’s chapter-titles like “Salat is part of belief,” “Belief increases and decreases” etc. in his Sahih as al-Zayla`i pointed out in the excerpt we already quoted from him. The vast majority of Hanafis and the entire Maturidi school of doctrine hold the opposite view, as illustrated by `Ali al-Qari’s naming two chapter-titles of his Sharh al-fiqh al-akbar: “Belief neither increases nor decreases” (p. 126, 202), and another chapter is entitled: “The believers are equal in belief but differ in deeds” (p. 128) and another: “The grave sin [such as not performing salat] does not expel one from belief” (p. 102). All the above is also the sound doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna, as opposed to some present-day extremists who declare anyone who commits a major sin to be a disbeliever in need of repeating his shahada or be killed — and the latter contradicts the view of Imam Ahmad, who insisted that no Muslim should be called a disbeliever for any sin, as shown by Ibn Abi Ya`la in Tabaqat al-hanabila (1:329).

After these preliminaries we may now turn to show why Bukhari’s aspersions on Abu Hanifa in his Tarikh al-saghir are not retained by the scholars, even if today’s “Salafis” attempt to rely on them to justify Albani’s position against the Imam!

1st relation Bukhari said in his Tarikh al-saghir (p. 158): I heard al-Humaydi say: Abu Hanifa said: “I came to Mecca and took from the cupper three Sunan when I sat in front of him: He said to me to face the Ka`ba, he began with the right side of my head [shaving], and he reached the two bones.” al-Humaydi said: “A man who does not have Sunan from the Prophet nor from his Companions concerning the rituals of Pilgrimage or other things, how can he be imitated in questions of inheritance, obligations, charity, prayer, and the questions of Islam?!”

This relation is defective from several perspectives:

÷ `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda said in his annotations to al-Lucknawi’s Raf` wa al-takmil (p. 395-397) that his shaykh al-Tahanawi said in his book Inja’ al-watan (1:23): “al-Humaydi wished to demean Abu Hanifa with his comments, but in fact he praised him without realizing. For Abu Hanifa was gracious and generous, and he would show gratefulness to whomever showed him kindness or taught him something, even a single letter. He was not one who kept hidden other people’s goodness towards him, or their favors. When he obtained something related to matters of religion from a simple cupper, he told of the cupper’s kindness and he showed him up as his teacher, fulfilling the right he held over him. And what a strange thing indeed to hear from al-Humaydi, when his own shaykh, al-Shafi`i, said: I carried from Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani knowledge equivalent to a full camel-load, and he would say: Allah has helped me with hadith through Ibn `Uyayna, and He helped me with fiqh through Muhammad ibn al-Hasan. And it is well-known that the well-spring of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan’s sciences are Abu Hanifa. Imam Shafi`i also said: Whoever seeks fiqh, let him frequent Abu Hanifa and his two companions; and he also said: Anyone that seeks fiqh is a dependent of Abu Hanifa. And yet, with all this, al-Humaydi does not show gratefulness for the Imam who is his Shaykh’s Shaykh, nor for the favor he represents for him.”

÷ al-Tahanawi also mentioned that Abu Hanifa went to pilgrimage with his father as a young man, and that the incident may well have taken place at that time, since what is learnt in a young age is hardly ever forgotten.

÷ al-Tahanawi also pointed out that in the time of Abu Hanifa in Mecca knowledge was distributed everywhere among the people, and it is not a far-fetched possibility that the humble cupper was one of the Tabi`in who had heard or seen what he knew from the Companions themselves. He asks: “From where does Humaydi know that that cupper was not one of the knowledgeable Tabi`is, and that he either narrated these three Sunan with their chain back to the Prophet, or suspended back to one of the great Companions?!”

÷ al-Tahanawi concluded: “As for Humaydi’s saying: how can Abu Hanifa be imitated, then we know that a greater one than Humaydi did imitate him, such as Imam al-Shafi`i — whom al-Humaydi imitated, — Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan, Malik ibn Anas, Sufyan al-Thawri, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (through Abu Hanifa’s students the Qadi Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani), Waki` ibn al-Jarrah, `Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak, Yahya ibn Ma`in, and their likes. Then the kings, the sultans, the khulafa’, the viziers imitated him, and the scholars of knowledge, the scholars of hadith, the saints, the jurists, and the commonality imitated him, until Allah was worshipped through the school of Abu hanifa all over the world, and that was because of the good manners upon which Abu Hanifa was grounded, because he did not look down upon taking the highest knowledge from a cupper, and so Allah made him the Imam of the Umma, the greatest of the Imams, and the guide of humanity.”

[Another illustration of Imam Abu Hanifa’s great humility is the narration of Ishaq ibn al-Hasan al-Kufi related by Dhahabi in Manaqib Abi Hanifa (p. 38): A man came to the market and asked for the shop of Abu Hanifa, the Faqih. Abu Hanifa said to him: “He is not a Faqih. He is one who gives legal opinions according to his obligation.”]

÷ Shaykh Abu Ghudda added (al-Raf` p. 397-398): “In addition to the above it is noted that al-Humaydi said: Abu Hanifa said without mentioning from whom he had heard it, and I have not found any proof that al-Humaydi (d. 219) ever met Abu Hanifa at all…. It is clear to us that he was not born when Abu Hanifa died (d. 150)… The report is therefore weak due to the interruption in its chain of transmission, and that is enough.”

÷ Shaykh Abu Ghudda concluded with what we mentioned before, in the section on Ibn `Adi, namely that any criticism of Abu Hanifa attributed to Sufyan al-Thawri is rejected out of hand and there can be no reliance on such criticism to establish narrator-criticism. This particular rule was enunciated by al-Taj al-Subki in Qawa`id fi `ulum al-hadith (p. 195) as well as his Qa`ida fi al-jarh wa al-ta`dil (p. 53-55), also Haytami’s al-Khayrat al-hisan (p. 74), al-Lucknawi’s al-Raf` wa al-takmil (p. 425), and Abu Ghudda’s marginalia on Subki’s and al-Lucknawi’s works.

2nd relation Bukhari also said in his Tarikh al-saghir (p. 174): Nu`aym ibn Hammad narrated to us and said: al-Fazari narrated to us and said: I was visiting with Sufyan al-Thawri and we received news of Abu Hanifa’s death, so Sufyan said: “al-Hamdu lillah! he was taking apart Islam branch by branch. No greater misfortune than him was ever born into Islam (ma wulida fi al-islami ash’amu minhu).”

This relation is even more defective than the first — may Allah have mercy both on Abu Hanifa and his detractors — for the following reasons:

÷ Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda said in his marginal notes to al-Lucknawi’s al-Raf` wa al-takmil (p. 393): “Our shaykh, the verifying scholar al-Kawthari, said in his book Fiqh ahl al-`Iraq wa hadithuhum (p. 87), and in the introduction of hafiz al-Zayla`i’s book Nasb al-raya (p.58-59):

There is a kind of criticism by which the critic destroys his credibility from the start through the fact that his words bear all the traits of rashness. If you see him saying, for example: “No greater misfortune than him was ever born into Islam,” you will notice that there is no misfortune (shu’m) in Islam; even if we should admit that there is — in the centuries other than the three mentioned in the hadith — still, without doubt, the gradations of misfortune vary: and to declare a certain person to be the worst of the worst without a statement to that effect from the Prophet is to claim to know the unseen from which the people of Religion are clear. Such a statement, therefore, destroys the credibility of its speaker, if it is firmly established to come from him, before the credibility of the subject of the statement. In a very precarious position indeed is the one who records such an absurdity to the detriment of the leading Imams.”

÷ “And in his book Ta’nib al-Khatib (p. 48, 72, 111) Kawthari also said:

If such a saying were ascertained from Sufyan al-Thawri, he would have fallen from credibility due to this word alone for its passionate tone and rashness. Suffice it to say in refutation of that narration that Nu`aym ibn Hammad is in its chain of transmission, and the least that was said about him is that he conveyed rejected narrations and he has been accused of forging disgraceful stories against Abu Hanifa.

÷ “And our shaykh, the verifying savant and hadith scholar Zafar Ahmad al-Tahanawi said in his book Inja’ al-watan min al-izdira’ bi imam al-zaman (Saving the Nation from the scorn displayed against the Imam of the Time) 1:22:

“It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouth as a saying. What they say is nothing but falsehood!” (18:5). By Allah, there was not born into Islam, after the Prophet, greater fortune and assistance than al-Nu`man Abu Hanifa. The proof of this can be witnessed in the extinction of the schools of his attackers, while his increases in fame day and night. I do not blame al-Bukhari for it, since he only related what he heard. However, I blame for it his shaykh Nu`aym ibn Hammad, even if the latter is a hadith master whom some have declared trustworthy [e.g. Ahmad, Ibn Ma`in, and al-`Ujli], nevertheless the hadith master Abu Bishr al-Dulabi said: “Nu`aym narrates from Ibn al-Mubarak; al-Nasa’i said: he is weak (da`if), and others said: he used to forge narrations in defence of the Sunna, and disgraceful stories against Abu Hanifa, all of them lies.” Similarly Abu al-Fath al-Azdi said: “They said he used to forge hadiths in defence of the Sunna, and fabricate disgraceful stories against Abu Hanifa, all of them lies.” Similarly in Tahdhib al-tahdhib (10:462-463) and Mizan al-i`tidal (3:238, 4:268) [and also Tahdhib al-tahdhib (10:460)]: “al-`Abbas ibn Mus`ab said in his Tarikh: “Nu`aym ibn Hammad composed books to refute the Hanafis”… [and in Hadi al-Sari (2:168): “Nu`aym ibn Hammad was violently against the People of ra’y”] therefore neither his word nor his narration to the detriment Abu Hanifa and Hanafis can ever be accepted….

Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 4

Other refutations

1) Imam Zahid Al Kawthari wrote Ibda’ Wujuh al-Ta`addi fi Kamil Ibn `Adi (“Exposing the Different Sides of Enmity Found in Ibn `Adi’s al-Kamil fi Du`afa’ al-Rijal”) in which al-Kawthari demonstrated the many flaws of the reports adduced by Ibn `Adi whereby Abu Hanifa was supposedly criticized by Sufyan al-Thawri, Malik, and Ibn Ma`in.

Ibn `Adi shows enmity to Abu Hanifa as he reports nothing but criticism, relying entirely on weak and inauthentic reports. Al-Kawthari said in his introduction to Nasb al-Raya and in Fiqh Ahl al-`Iraq:

1″Among the defects of Ibn `Adi’s Kamil is his relentless criticism of Abu Hanifa with reports that are all from the narration of Abba’ ibn Ja`far al-Najirami, one of Ibn `Adi’s shaykhs, and the latter tries to stick what al-Najirami has directly to Abu Hanifa, and this is injustice and enmity, as is the rest of his criticism. The way to expose such cases is through the chain of transmission.”

2 )It is, furthermore, established that Sufyan al-Thawri praised Abu Hanifa when he said: “We were in front of Abu Hanifa like small birds in front of the falcon,” and Sufyan stood up for him when Abu Hanifa visited him after his brother’s death, and he said: “This man holds a high rank in knowledge, and if I did not stand up for his science I would stand up for his age, and if not for his age then for his godwariness (wara`), and if not for his godwariness then for his jurisprudence (jiqh).” ( Kashf al mahjub)

3) Ibn Hajar also related that Ibn al-Mubarak said: “If Allah had not rescued me with Abu Hanifa and Sufyan [al-Thawri] I would have been like the rest of the common people.” Dhahabi relates it as: “I would have been an innovator.

Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 5

Hafiz Ibn Hajar’s Notice of Abu Hanifa in Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib

From Tahdhib al-tahdhib, 1st ed. (Hyderabad: Da’irat al-ma`arif al-nizamiyya, 1327) Vol. 10 p. 449-452 #817 (10:45f. of the later edition)

Al-Nu`man ibn Thabit al-Taymi, Abu Hanifa, al-Kufi, mawla Bani Taym Allah ibn Tha`laba. It is said that he was Persian. He saw Anas. He narrated hadith from `Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah, `Asim ibn Abi al-Nujud, `Alqama ibn Marthad, Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, al-Hakam ibn `Utayba, Salama ibn Kuhayl, Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn `Ali, `Ali ibn al-Aqmar, Ziyad ibn `Alaqa, Sa`id ibn Masruq al-Thawri, `Adi ibn Thabit al-Ansari, `Atiyya ibn Sa`id al-`Awfi, Abu Sufyan al-Sa`di, `Abd al-Karim Abu Umayya, Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Ansari, and Hisham Ibn `Urwa among others.

From him narrated: his son Hammad, Ibrahim ibn Tahman, Hamza ibn Habib al-Zayyat, Zafr ibn al-Hadhil, Abu Yusuf al-Qadi, Abu Yahya al-Hamani, `Isa ibn Yunus, Waki` (ibn al-Jarrah al-Kufi),* Yazid ibn Zuray`, Asad ibn `Amr, al-Bajali, Hakkam ibn Ya`la ibn Salm al-Razi, Kharija ibn Mus`ab, `Abd al-Majid ibn Abi Rawad, `Ali ibn Mus-hir, Muhammad ibn Bishr al-`Abdi, `Abd al-Razzaq [one of Bukhari’s shaykhs], Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, Mus`ib ibn al-Miqdam, Yahya ibn Yaman, Abu `Usma Nuh ibn Abi Maryam, Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Muqri, Abu Nu`aym, Abu `Asim, and others [such as `Abd Allah Ibn al-Mubarak and Dawud al-Ta’i: see al-Mizzi’s Tahdhib al-kamal 12 and al-Dhahabi in Manaqib Abi Hanifa (p. 20). al-Mizzi’s list is about one hundred strong.]…

[* Dhahabi relates in his Tadhkirat al-huffaz (1:306) in the biography of Waki` that Yahya ibn Ma`in said: “I have not seen better than Waki`, he spends the night praying, fasts without interruption, and gives fatwa according to what Abu Hanifa said, and Yahya al-Qattan also used to give fatwa according to what Abu Hanifa said.” al-Hafiz al-Qurashi in his al-Jawahir al-mudiyya fi manaqib al-hanafiyya (2:208-209) said: “Waki` took the Science from Abu Hanifa and received a great deal from him.”]

Muhammad ibn Sa`d al-`Awfi said: I heard Ibn Ma`in say: “Abu Hanifa was trustworthy (thiqa), and he did not narrate any hadith except what he had memorized, nor did he narrate what he had not memorized.”
Salih ibn Muhammad al-Asadi said on the authority of Ibn Ma`in: “Abu Hanifa was trustworthy (thiqa) in hadith.”

[a) Ibn `Abd al-Barr relates in al-Intiqa’ (p. 127): `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Dawraqi said: Ibn Ma`in was asked about Abu Hanifa as I was listening, so he said: “He is trustworthy (thiqatun), I never heard that anyone had weakened him: No less than Shu`ba wrote to him (for narrations), and ordered him to narrate hadith.” Ibn Hajar said in Kharija ibn al-Salt’s notice in Tahdhib al-tahdhib (3:75-76): “Ibn Abi Khaythama said: If al-Shu`bi narrates from someone and names him, that man is trustworthy (thiqa) and his narration is used as proof (yuhtajju bi hadithihi).”

B) al-Haytami in al-Khayrat al-hisan (p. 74) and al-Qurashi in al-Jawahir al-mudiyya (1:29) relate that Imam `Ali ibn al-Madini said: “From Abu Hanifa narrated: al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubarak, Hammad ibn Zayd, Hisham, Waki` (ibn al-Jarrah al-Kufi), `Abbad ibn al-`Awwam, and Ja`far ibn `Awn. He [Abu Hanifa] is trustworthy (thiqatun) and reliable (la ba’sa bihi = there is no harm in him). Shu`ba thought well of him.” Ibn Ma`in said: “Our colleagues are exaggerating concerning Abu Hanifa and his colleagues.” He was asked: “Does he lie?” Ibn Ma`in replied: “No! he is nobler than that.”

c) Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al-huffaz (1:168) cites Ibn Ma`in’s statement about Abu Hanifa: la ba’sa bihi (= there is no harm in him, i.e. he is reliable). Ibn Salah in his Muqaddima (p. 134) and Dhahabi in Lisan al-mizan (1:13) have shown that this expression by Ibn Ma`in is the same as declaring someone as thiqa or trustworthy: “Ibn Abi Khaythama said: I said to Ibn Ma`in: You say: “There is no harm in so-and-so” and “so-and-so is weak (da`if)?” He replied: “If I say of someone that there is no harm in him: he is trustworthy (fa thiqatun), and if I say da`if: he is not trustworthy, do not write his hadith.”” Abu Ghudda in his commentary to Lucknawi’s Raf` (p. 222 n. 3) has indicated that the equivalency of saying “There is no harm in him” with the grade of trustworthy (thiqa) is also the case for other early authorities of the third century such as Ibn al-Madini, Imam Ahmad, Duhaym, Abu Zur`a, Abu Hatim al-Razi, Ya`qub ibn Sufyan al-Fasawi, and others. Note that like Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi`i is declared trustworthy by the early authorities with the expression la ba’sa bihi in Dhahabi’s Tadhkirat al-huffaz (1:362).]

Abu Wahb Muhammad ibn Muzahim said: I heard Ibn al-Mubarak say: “The most knowledgeable of people in fiqh (afqah al-nas) is Abu Hanifa. I have never seen anyone like him in fiqh.” Ibn al-Mubarak also said: “If Allah had not rescued me with Abu Hanifa and Sufyan [al-Thawri] I would have been like the rest of the common people.” [Dhahabi in Manaqib Abu Hanifa (p. 30) relates it as: “I would have been an innovator.”]

Ibn Abi Khaythama said from Sulayman ibn Abu Shaykh: “Abu Hanifa was extremely scrupulous (wari`) and generous (sakhi).”

Ibn `Isa ibn al-Tabba` said: I heard Rawh ibn `Ubada say: “I was with Ibn Jurayj in the year 150 when the news of Abu Hanifa’s death reached him. He winced and pain seized him; he said: “Verily, knowledge has departed (ay `ilmun dhahab).” Ibn Jurayj died that same year.”

Abu Nu`aym said: “Abu Hanifa dived for the meanings of matters so that he reached the uttermost of them.”

Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Sa`id al-Qadi said: I heard Yahya ibn Ma`in say: I heard Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan [Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s greatest shaykh] say: “This is no lie on our part, by Allah! We have not heard better than Abu Hanifa’s opinion, and we have followed most of his sayings.” [This is also related by Dhahabi in Manaqib Abi Hanifa (p. 32).]

[About Yahya al-Qattan, Imam Nawawi relates on the authority of Ishaq al-Shahidi:

I would see Yahya al-Qattan — may Allah the Exalted have mercy on him — pray the midafternoon prayer, then sit with his back against the base of the minaret of his mosque. Then `Ali ibn al-Madini, al-Shadhakuni, `Amr ibn `Ali, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma`in, and others would stand before him and ask him questions about hadith standing on their feet until it was time for the sunset prayer. He would not say to a single one of them: “Sit” nor would they sit, out of awe and reverence.

Related in Nawawi’s al-Tarkhis fi al-ikram bi al-qiyam li dhawi al-fadl wa al-maziyya min ahl al-islam `ala jihat al-birr wa al-tawqir wa al-ihtiram la `ala jihat al-riya’ wa al-i`zam (The Permissibility of Honoring, By Standing Up, Those Who Possess Excellence and Distinction Among the People of Islam: In the Spirit of Piousness, Reverence, and Respect, Not in the Spirit of Display and Aggrandizement) ed. Kilani Muhammad Khalifa (Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir al-islamiyya, 1409/1988) p. 58.]

al-Rabi` and Harmala said: We heard al-Shafi`i say: “People are children before Abu Hanifa in fiqh.”

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Yusuf that he said: “As I was walking with Abu Hanifa we heard a man saying to another: This is Abu Hanifa, he does not sleep at night. Abu Hanifa said: He does not say something about me which I do not actually do. He would — after this — spend the greatest part of the night awake.”

Isma`il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifa said that his father (Hammad) said: When my father died we asked al-Hasan ibn `Amara to undertake his ritual washing. After he did he said: “May Allah have mercy on you and forgive you (O Abu Hanifa)! You did not eat except at night for thirty years, and your right side did not lay down at night for forty years. You have exhausted whoever comes after you (who tries to catch up with you). You have outshone all the readers of the Islamic sciences.”

`Ali ibn Ma`bad said on the authority of `Ubayd Allah ibn `Amr al-Raqi: Ibn Hubayra told Abu Hanifa to undertake the judgeship of Kufa and he refused, so he had him lashed 110 times, but still he refused. When he saw this he let him go.

Ibn Abi Dawud said on the authority of Nasr ibn `Ali: I heard Ibn Dawud — al-Khuraybi — say: “Among the people concerning Abu Hanifa there are plenty of enviers and ignorant ones.”…

Ahmad ibn `Abda the Qadi of Ray said that his father said: We were with ibn `A’isha when he mentioned a saying of Abu Hanifa then he said: “Verily, if you had seen him you would have wanted him. Verily, his similitude and yours is as in the saying:

Censure them little or much: I will never heed your blame. Try only to fill, if you can, the space that they filled.

al-Saghani said on the authority of Ibn Ma`in: “I heard `Ubayd ibn Abi Qurra say: I heard Yahya ibn al-Daris say: I saw Sufyan [al-Thawri] being asked by a man: “What do you have against Abu Hanifa?” He said: “What is wrong with Abu Hanifa? I heard him say: I take from Allah’s Book and if I don’t find what I am looking for, I take from the Sunna of Allah’s Messenger, and if I don’t find, then from any of the sayings that I like from the Companions, nor do I prefer someone else’s saying over theirs, until the matter ends with Ibrahim (al-Nakh`i), al-Shu`bi, Ibn Sirin, and `Ata’: these are a folk who exerted their reasoning (ijtihad) and I exert mine as they did theirs.” [i.e. Sufyan criticized Abu Hanifa, a junior Tabi`i, for placing his own opinion at the same level as that of the senior Tabi`in.] …

[Mentions of Abu Hanifa’s date of death and of the fact that Tirmidhi and Nisa’i narrated hadith from him.] End of Ibn Hajar’s words

Al-Suyuti relates in Tabyid al-Sahifa that a certain visitor came to observe Abu Hanifa and saw him all day long in the mosque, teaching relentlessly, answering every question from both the scholars and the common people, not stopping except to pray, then standing at home in prayer when people were asleep, hardly ever eating or sleeping, and yet the most handsome and gracious of people, always alert and never tired, day after day for a long time, so that in the end the visitor said: “I became convinced that this was not an ordinary matter, but wilâya (Friendship with Allah).”

Al-Shafi`i said: “Knowledge revolves around three men: Malik, al-Layth, and Ibn `Uyayna.” Al-Dhahabi commented: “Rather, it revolves also around al-Awza`i, al-Thawri, Ma`mar, Abu Hanifa, Shu`ba, and the two Hammads [ibn Zayd and ibn Salama].”

Al-Shafi`i said: “People are all the children of Abu Hanifa in fiqh, of Ibn Ishaq in history, of Malik in hadith, and of Muqatil in tafsîr.”