Hanifa (Numan ibn Thabit)
Profile: Imam Abu Hanifa (Numan ibn Thabit)
Al- Imam Al Azam Abu Hanifa's name was Numan. His father's name was Thabit. His
grandfather's name was Numan, too. He was the first of the four great imams of
the Ahl as-Sunnah.
Imam Abu Hanifa was
a descendant of a Persian notable, he was born in Kufa in 80 (698 A.D.). He
learned Fiqh with the help of Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman
. He enjoyed the companionship of many notables of the Tabiin, and of Imam
. He memorized innumerable Hadiths. He was brought up so as to become a great
judge, but he became an Imam Al-madhhab. He had a superior, and amazingly keen
intellect. In Al fiqh, he attained an unequalled grade in a short time. He then
became very popular all over the world.
Imam Abu Hanifa
joined his father's business, where he showed scrupulous honesty and fairness.
His agent in another country once sold some silk cloth on his behalf but forgot
to point out a slight defect to the customers. When Abu Hanifa learnt
of this, he was greatly distressed because he had no means of returning the
money to the customers. So he immediately ordered the entire proceeds of the
sale of the consignment of silk to be distributed to the poor.
Abu Hanifa's interest
in Islamic jurisprudence was sparked perhaps by chance. While running an errand
for his mother, he happened to pass the home of Sha'bi, one of Kufa's most
well-known scholars. Sha'bi, mistaking him for a student, asked him whose
classes he attended. When Abu Hanifa
responded that he did not attend any classes, Sha'bi said, "I see signs of
intelligence in you. You should sit in the company of learned men." Taking
Sha'bi's advice, Abu Hanifa
embarked on a prolific quest for knowledge that would in due course have a
profound impact on the history of Islam. Of the most prominent of Abu Hanifa's
teachers was Jafar Sadiq
, who is regarded by many Islamic scholars as the root of most of Islamic
jurisprudence, with a massive influence on Hanafi, Maliki and Shia schools of
thought extending well into mainstream Hanbali and Shafi'i thought. Abu Hanifa is
quoted by many souces as having said "If it was not for those two years [I
spent with Ja'afar as-Sadiq] Numan [Abu Hanifah] would have perished" :
law laahu sanataan la halaka'n nu'man.
Imam Abu Hanifa
is also said to have studied Fiqh from Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman
and was eventually his successer in teaching Fiqh. Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman
himself was the successor to Ibrahim an-Nakha'i
, who was the successor to his uncle 'Alqamah ibn Qays an-Nakha'i
, a student of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad Sallal
Laahu Ta'ala Alayhi Wa Sallam .
Islamic law (fiqh) was systematically studied by his students under his
guidance. A number of his devoted and highly intelligent students worked under
him for thirty years, and it is their labor which produced the Hanifi school of
Imam Abu Hanifa
was probably the most liberal of the four great Imams of fiqh. The Hanifi fiqh
is thus the most flexible and adaptable. He saw Islamic law as an organic
growth in which changes would be necessary from time to time as society
changed. He advocated the use of reason based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah in the
consideration of religious questions.
Yazid ibn 'Amr, Governor of Iraq during the time of Marwan ibn Muhammad, the
fourteenth and last Umayyad Khalifah, asked Abu Hanifa
to become a judge for the law-court of Kufa. But, since he had he refused his
offer, for he wanted to devote his time and effort serving Islam, and had not
interest in worldly pleasures. He was afraid of not being able to safeguard
human rights because of human weaknesses. With a command from Yazid, he was
given a 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 left to Mecca and remained there for five or six years.
The 'Abbasid Khalifah Abu Jafar Mansur offered Imam Abu Hanifa
to be the chief of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 150 A.H. [767 A.D.]. Again
the Imam refused, 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. So many people attended his funeral that the
funeral service was repeated six times before the Imam was actually buried. Abu
Sad Muhammad ibn Mansur al-Harizmi, the third Saljuqi Sultan and the son of
Sultan Alparslan), had a wonderful dome built over his grave. Afterwards,
Ottoman emperors embellished and had his tomb restored several times.
Imam Abu Hanifa was
the first to compile and classify the Fiqh science, he collected information
for each branch of knowledge. He wrote the books Fara'id and Shurut
(Obligations and Conditions). There are a lot of books describing his wide
knowledge on fiqh, and his amazing superiority in piety, God consciousness,
mildness and righteousness.
The Hanafi Madhhab (approach) spread far and wide during the time of the Ottoman Empire.
It almost became the official Islamic approach of the State. Today, more than
half of the Muslims all over the world follow this approach.