Imam Abu Hanifah

Imam Abu Hanifah’s Early Years

Imam Abu Hanifah was born in Kufa, Iraq in the year 80A.H. He was the son of a Persian merchant and his full name is Nu’man bin Thabit ibn Zauti (more famously known in Islamic History as ‘Imam Abu Hanifah’ and ‘Imam A’zam’).

His father – Thabit – was privileged to meet Hazrat Ali (R.A.) who had at the time, made Kufa his capital. Kufa, at the time of Imam Abu Hanifah was one the most important learning centres in the Islamic world and was blessed with the presence of over a thousand sahabah at one stage in its history.

Imam Abu Hanifah is himself also a Tabi’ee (One who saw and benefited from at least one Sahabi).

At the age of 20, Imam Abu Hanifah turned his attention towards the pursuit of advancing his Islamic knowledge.

Imam Abu Hanifah’s Teachers

Imam Abu Hanifah benefited from nearly 4,000 Sheikhs. Among his 1st and the most important tutors was Imam Hammad (Died 120 A.H.) whose educational lineage is linked with Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (R.A.). Such was his respect for his tutor, Imam Hammad that Imam Abu Hanifah says; whilst in my home I never even stretched my legs towards the house of my tutor, despite living 7 streets away.

Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A.) had joined his father’s business wherein he showed scrupulous honesty and fairness. Once his agent had sold a consignment of silk cloth on his behalf but forgot to mention a slight defect to the customers. When Imam Abu Hanifah learnt of this, he was greatly distressed because he had no means of the refunding the customers; so he immediately ordered the entire proceeds of the sale (30,000 Dirhams ) to be given in charity.

Imam Abu Hanifah was also keenly interested in education. He established a school at Kufa, which later became a famous College of Theology. Here he delivered lectures on Islamic Law and related subjects.

Fiqah or Islamic Law was systematically studied by his students under his expert guidance. A large number of his devoted and highly intelligent students worked under him for 30 years, and it is the labour of these students that gave us the Hanafi School of thought.

Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A.) was the 1st of the Imams to advocate the use of “reason” in the consideration of religious questions based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. He was also the 1st Imam to arrange all the subjects of Islamic Law systematically.

His most important work is the Kitab-ul-Aasaar which was compiled by his students – Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad.

In {146 A.H.} 763 A.C. Al-Mansoor – the Banu Abbas Khalifa of the MuslimEmpire at Baghdad whose capital was Baghdad – offered Imam Sahib the post of Chief Qadhi of the state, but Imam Abu Hanifah declined to accept the post and chose to remain independent. In his reply to Al-Mansoor, Imam Abu Hanifah excused himself by saying that he did not regard himself fit for the post offered. Al-Mansoor, who had his own ideas and reasons for offering the post, lost his temper and accused Imam Abu Hanifah of lying.

“If I am lying,” the Imam said, “then my statement is doubly correct. “How can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qazi?”

Incensed by this reply, Al-Mansoor charged the Imam with contempt, had him arrested and locked in prison.

Even in prison, Imam Abu Hanifah continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him.

It was here in prison that Imam Abu Hanifah was administered a dose of poison in 150 A.H. Realizing that the end was near, the Imam prostrated in prayer and passed away in this condition in the month of Rajab, 150 A.H.

The news of his death soon spread throughout Baghdad. The whole town came out to pay their last homage to the greatest Imam of Islamic Law. More than 50,000 people participated in the first Janaza Salaat. People continued to flock and before the Janaza could be finally taken for burial, the Salaatul Janaza was offered 6 times in all. For days, people came in large numbers to pay their respects at the grave side.

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