Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (R.A)

 Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was a great Muslim Imam. His full name is Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu Abdullah Al-Shaybani. He was born 164 AH (780 CE) in Baghdad. He belonged to the tribe of Shayban from both parents. He was still an infant when his father died.

He studied fiqh (jurisprudence) under the  Abu Yusuf (a student and companion of  Imam Abu Hanifa). He was also a student of  Imam Al-Shafi.

When he was about 15 years old he started to study hadith (sayings/actions of the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him). He travelled the Muslim ruled lands to seek knowledge from the great Muslim scholars of his time. Musnad is a book of hadith compiled by him, this is the most important of his works. About 40,000 ahadith (plural of hadith) have been recorded in this book.

His faith in Allah subhanahu wata'ala and his understanding of Deen (religion) was tested when he took a stance against the Khalifa (Caliph) at the time, Mamoon. The Khalifa declared that even though the Quran is the speech of Allah subhanahu wata'ala, Allah subhanahu wata'ala created the Quran as a physical entity like any other living being. Many scholars of the time were punished and forced to agree. But Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and his companion Muhammad ibn Nuh stood firm in their belief against the ruler.

After Mamoon's death, Muttasim took over and continued the reign of torture, he had Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal flogged in public. When Muttasim died, Wathiq became the Khalifa and banished Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal from Baghdad. After Wathiq's death, his brother Mutawakkil became the Khalifa and circumstances started to change. He ordered to stop all discussions regarding the creation of the Quran and restored Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal's status.

He had eight children and many disciples. He went for Hajj five times during his lifetime, twice on foot. He died in Baghdad in 241 AH (855 CE).

The Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mutawkki.
The Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mutawkkil was a strong admirer of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. He once sent him some rich gifts, including a large amount of money. A highly placed official at court, who wished Ahmad well, wrote to him that the gift was forthcoming and alerting him that, should he refuse it, there would be no shortage of people who would be quick to try to use that in order to sew discord between him and the Caliph. Nevertheless, Ahmad did not allow any part of the gift to enter his home. He distributed it all to poor and needy people, taking nothing for himself or his family.

Thus was Ahmad ibn Hanbal: a model of courage, honesty who cared little for worldly comforts and luxuries that money may buy. What a Caliph would give held no temptation for him. Yet he did not consider taking such a gift to be forbidden. His son once asked him whether he could offer the pilgrimage using money he received from the Caliph. He answered that he could, because it was money obtained from a legitimate source, explaining that he would not take it himself, as he wished to maintain a standard of purity that he imposed on no one else. If such an attitude was certain to ensure great fame for the scholar, let us now look into his life.

Although the name Ahmad has been over the whole history of Islam one of the most common names in Islamic culture and throughout the Muslim world, when it is mentioned on its own in any scholarly work of hadith or Fiqh, there can be no mistake that the reference is to Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Ahmad was the founder of the fourth school of thought, but the ranking is made only on the basis of chronological order. He was born in 164 A.H, corresponding to 781 AD. This means that his birth took place 14 years after Abu Haneefah's death, and 15 years before Malik's death, but the two did not meet. He was a student of El-Shafie whom he respected very highly. His full name was Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal Al-Shaibani, which means that Hanbal was his grandfather, but the affiliation to his grandfather stuck to him, perhaps because his father died when he was a very young baby. Indeed he mentions that he did not see his father, which suggests that the father died when the young child was not yet able to recognise people with eyesight.

His grandfather was a governor in Persia, and although the family was purely an Arab one, it lived in Persia for many years that some of its members found it easier to converse in Persian, rather than Arabic. Ahmad himself spoke Persian, although the family moved to Baghdad when he was still very young. That helped Ahmad who showed strong inclinations to study and learning. His uncle was looking after the family, and directed his early studies, but it was his mother's influence that had the clearest mark on his upbringing and future attitudes. She was a remarkable woman of very strong faith and serious attitude. His early promise was recognised by teachers and friends. Thus, he was known to be among scholars as ‘the pious young man' and in his old age he was the master scholar withstanding torture and hardship for his beliefs.

Ahmad memorised the Quran at an early age, and as he was directed by his uncle and his mother to pursue his studies, his serious nature and early pious attitude ensured that he sought to study Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence. Baghdad was at the time not only the political capital of the vast Islamic state, stretching from the Atlantic in North Africa to Central Asia; it was also the most important centre of Islamic scholarship, witnessing at the same time the penetrating influence of other cultures, including Greek philosophy, Indian mythology and Persian traditions. Ahmad sought none of this, but went straight into the study of Fiqh, reading under Abu Yussuf, the best known student of Abu Haneefah. This means that his early studies took him into learning Fiqh that gave scholarly discretion a very high rank and relied much on analogy. But soon afterwards, he decided to pursue the study of hadith, delaying Fiqh study for a while.

Ahmad started his pursuit of the study of hadith in Baghdad at the age of 15, and continued to give it its full attention there for seven years. He realised that the main scholars of hadith did not all live in the capital. So he decided to seek them wherever they lived. He began to travel Basrah, Kufah, Hijaz and Yemen. He is said to have travelled five times to Basrah, and paid a similar number of visits to Hijaz. However, in the latter trips he combined offering the pilgrimage with his studies.

On all these trips, Ahmad's aim was to listen to the Prophet's hadiths from scholars personally. He could have easily learnt the hadiths from their books, but he was keen to listen to their hadiths as they personally reported them. That is a recognised virtue of excellence in the scholarship of hadith, because it ensured a smaller number of reporters in the chain of transmission of a hadith between the student and the Prophet himself. A shorter chain of transmitters, who were all reliable and trustworthy, meant the room for error is practically non-existent. Hence, scholars were keen to seek a hadith at the shortest chain of transmission they could achieve, even though that might have required them to undertake a long journey.

His trip to Yemen was one such effort. He was keen to meet Abdurrazzaq ibn Hammam, an eminent scholar of hadith who was at the time, and remains today, widely famous. In fact he had met Abdurrazzaq during pilgrimage, and he could have learnt from him whatever he wanted to learn, sparing himself a long journey to Yemen, but he preferred to learn from the scholars of Makkah and Madinah while he was on pilgrimage, and to go to Abdurrazzaq in Yemen later. That way, he would hope for God's reward for his arduous journey and get all that he could from the Yemeni scholar in his home surroundings.

Up to this stage, we recognise two major influences on Ahmad's scholarship: the early study of Fiqh under Abu Yussuf and the hadith study through which he collected a wealth of statements by the Prophet, or hadiths, together with rulings by the Prophet's companions and their successors as well as their judgements in disputes put to them. This represented a strong exposure to the practical application of hadith and other religious text, which means that he was not isolated from Fiqh during his study of hadith. However, a third influence was soon to have a major bearing on Ahmad and his scholarship. That was his meeting with El-Shafie who by that time had developed his methodological approach to Fiqh and the fundamental rules he set for construction and deduction of rulings and judgements. When he studied under El-Shafie, Ahmad started to review what he had learnt and collected of hadiths and reports of the Prophet's companions and their successors so as to pinpoint the relevance of those texts and reports to practical matters. That gave him a profound insight in Fiqh which was rare among scholars of hadith. Thus, Ahmad was at the same time a top scholar of hadith and a top scholar of Fiqh. That combination gave him a rare standard of excellence.

It was not until Ahmad was 40 years of age that he had a circle where he taught and gave rulings on any question put to him. This does not mean that he would not have given rulings earlier than that. Indeed he would answer when a question was put to him, because abstention meant suppression of knowledge and that is forbidden in Islam. But he would not sit for teaching and issuing rulings until he was 40. He had two reasons for that: the first was to follow the Prophet's example, who received his revelations and became a teacher for mankind at that age, and the other his respect for his teachers meant that he would not teach while they were alive. It was a coincidence that El-Shafie died in 204, when Ahmad was 40. A point to remember is that Abu Haneefah did the same, starting his study circle at the age of 40.

It did not take long for Ahmad to become widely known. Indeed his circle was soon very large, with some reports putting the number of students and listeners attending it at 5000, among whom one tenth wrote what he taught. While this may be rather exaggerated, even a circle one-fifth that size, i.e. 1000 students, is very large by any standard. People loved his teaching because they recognised in him a teacher of wide knowledge, and a highly pious man who spared no effort in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.

Three factors enhanced Ahmad's popularity as a teacher. The first was that his serious attitude to learning and teaching was coupled with exemplary humility and contentment. Secondly, he was always keen to report only that of which he was absolutely certain. Hence, he did not rely on his memory, fine and sharp as it was. He always referred to his books, which he had written with his own hand, when he learnt from his teachers. He feared that if he would report from memory, he might be mistaken and he would attribute to the Prophet what the Prophet did not actually say. Thirdly, he taught his students to write down what they learnt of hadith only. He did not allow them to write anyone else's views or teachings. To him, true knowledge that deserved to be documented was the Quran and the hadith.

This meant that despite the numerous trends of scholarship with which Baghdad was bustling at the time, Ahmad rejected any study that was not based on the Quran and hadith only. Thus, he would not take a logical approach to faith, nor would he discuss matters of faith in a purely rational or philosophical way. He rejected any involvement in debates of theological nature, such as whether God's names and qualities mentioned in the Quran were purely attributes of His, or they were the same as Himself. To him, that was a pursuit that brought no useful results.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal combined qualities that are always certain to ensure a degree of exceptional excellence. The first of these is one he shares with all hadith scholars of repute; that is, a sharp memory coupled with penetrative insight. In this regard Ahmad is rated by many scholars who knew him well as having the clearest, sharpest and most reliable memory of all his contemporaries.

The other quality that stands out when we discuss Ahmad's personality is his endurance and perseverance. This is the fruit of a strong will, sincerity and an aspiration to achieve only what is best. It gave him a most pleasant personality that combined poverty with generosity and dignity, self-respect with willingness to forgive those who caused him harm and injury, and a willingness to undertake difficulties in the pursuit of his goals. We will see how these qualities stood him in good stead during his long and hard trial when he was subjected to much persecution. As we try to delve deeper into his character, we find a person who derives his dignity from faith, relies on none other than God, aspires to nothing that a human being can confer, and fears God alone. Hence, he was a model of humility, always ready to overlook other people's mistakes and forgive whatever they might have caused him of hardship.

Ahmad's third quality was purity of heart in the broadest sense of the word. He never touched anything belonging to someone else, nor did he ever succumb to a desire. Moreover, his faith was pure, acknowledging no authority other than that of God. We find this quality rubbing on his scholarship. In beliefs and thought, he would not take any course other than that of the Prophet and his companions. In Fiqh, he would not even try to weigh up the different views of the Prophet's companions. If they differed on one questions, he would consider their differing views as equally acceptable. He treated the tabieen, or successors to the Prophet's companions in the same way.

His purity of heart affected his whole life. He tried his best to ensure that he would not touch any money, property or indeed anything that came from any source other than what he knew to be absolutely lawful. He would not accept money given to him by a teacher, friend, prince or Caliph. He was poor, living mostly on the rent he received for property he owned, but that rent was too little to give him a comfortable life. When a teacher like the Yemeni hadith scholar, Abdurrazzaq, tried to help him with some money as a gift, he apologised gently, pointing out that he preferred to live on his own earnings. Therefore, when he needed extra income, he worked, doing whatever job he could find. He did not hesitate even to copy with long hand a book for someone who needed it in return for some money.

Ahmad also maintained a high standard of honesty in everything he pursued. Thus, all his scholarship was for God's sake. He sought no recognition or position. Even when he was young, he would not carry his writing material in a visible way; he would hide them so that people would not say that he was going to study, or that he was a scholar.

It was an awesome scene in a terrifying place. The Caliph, Al-Mustassim, who was a courageous fighter and an uncompromising ruler, tried hard with the assistance of Al-Mutazilah scholars to persuade Ahmad ibn Hanbal to agree to their line of thinking stating that the Quran is a ‘creature of God'. Great and tempting promises were offered and hard punishment was threatened but he would not budge. The punishment was to be carried out there and then. A well-wisher who belonged to scholarly circles approaches him and whispers: "Why subject yourself to all this torture when God allows you to spare yourself by telling them what they wish to hear and maintain your own beliefs." Ahmad asked him whether he knew who was outside. The man said: "There are more than a thousand people carrying pen and paper." He said: "Yes. They all want to know what Ahmad says on this issue. If I conceal what I believe to be the truth in order to spare myself, this wrong idea will spread and flourish for generations to come. I will not meet my Lord having helped to spread it." He remained steadfast bearing excessive torture.

Ahmad's great test of endurance and hardship began towards the end of the reign of the Abbasid Caliph, Al-Ma'moon, when the philosophical school known as Al-Mutazilah was on the ascendance. The Caliph himself was a scholar who loved philosophy and debate. He favoured Al-Mutazilah because of their logical approach to all matters. One major issue Al-Mutazilah raised was that of the position of the Quran in relation to God. It is well known that all Muslims believe that the Quran is, literally, the word of God, but Al-Mutazilah added that it was ‘created', in the sense that it did not share God's attribute of being ‘ever-present'. This attribute belonged to God and to no one and nothing else.

The Caliph accepted this view and defended it with enthusiasm. He even wrote in his will that he bears witness that ‘God is unlike anything else. He is One, the Sovereign of the universe with no partner. Everything else is a creation of His. The Quran cannot be anything other than the rest of creation, having the same qualities as everything else, while God is one with nothing like Him.' He also urged his brother, Al-Mu'tassim, who was to succeed him, to follow his ideas.

As Al-Ma'moon was staying at Tartoos, he wrote to Ishaq ibn Ibraheem, his Deputy in Baghdad, to examine all scholars on this point, insisting that they must accept that the Quran was ‘created' by God. The orders were carried out immediately, with the Deputy organising a meeting of all scholars and warning them that torture and affliction would be the lot of anyone who dissented. All scholars attending toed the official line, with the exception of four, but two of these later followed suit and two were left unwilling to compromise. Ishaq ibn Ibraheem decided to send them over to the Caliph, in fetters, as his orders specified. The two were Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muhammad ibn Noah. On the journey, the latter scholar died, a martyr, and Ahmad was transported to the Caliph. However, a couple of days later, news of the Caliph's own death were received, but the travelling party continued their journey until they arrived at the door of his successor, Al-Mu'tassim.

Al-Mu'tassim was in no way a scholar, nor did he understand what the whole issue was about. He was more of a military commander, but he loved his brother, Al-Ma'moon and trusted his judgement. Therefore, he was bent on carrying to the letter his brother's will, requiring him to eradicate the opposite view. Hence, Ahmad was brought to him, in fetters, and was asked about his views on the question at issue, i.e. the position of the Quran. He said in court, which was attended by a large number of scholars, mostly of Al-Mutazilah, that the whole subject was not mentioned in the Quran, the hadith or by the Prophet's companions. As such, it was better and safer not to be involved in such theological arguments and to confine oneself only to stating that the Quran was God's word. They would not accept that from him. Because of his popularity and high standing, they tried both to tempt him to agree and to scare him of the consequences of refusal, but without success. Hence, they inflicted on him physical torture, with slaves beating him up with whips, but he would not give in. Then he was taken to prison. This was carried out repeatedly over a period of 28 months, but Ahmad would not budge.

Ahmad's popularity increased, as people admired his resolute stand. Therefore, he was released, but placed under house arrest. He was banned from teaching or meeting other people. This continued for the rest of the reign of Al-Mu'tassim and his son, Al-Wathiq. However, when Al-Mutawkkil succeeded Al-Wathiq, in 232 AH, 837 AD, the trouble was over, as he leaned towards scholars of Fiqh and hadith, among whom Ahmad was the top figure. That was a time when Ahmad could have avenged himself against those who persecuted him, but he absolved them all of everything they did, seeking no revenge whatsoever.

To the end of his life, Ahmad maintained his position on the central question in this difficult period. He believed that the Quran was part of God's knowledge, and His word revealed to His last messenger, Muhammad [peace be on him]. It was not a ‘creature' of God. He relied in this on the fact that neither the Prophet nor any of his companions stated anything of the sort. Hence, Muslims should maintain the same position and refrain from such logical and theological debate that was bound to be futile.

Imam Ahmad devoted all his scholarly work to hadith and Fiqh. He attained a very high position in both disciplines, but this has led some scholars to classify him among the scholars of one speciality rather than the other. Whatever anybody may feel, the truth is that Ahmad was a scholar of Fiqh who paid great attention to hadith so that hadith became his distinctive scholarly mark. We will consider Ahmad's work in both capacities.

Imam Ahmad started his collection of hadith early in his scholarly career, and continued his efforts throughout his life. He kept all his material carefully, but without putting what he collected in any specific order. Late in his life, when he feared that what he collected might be lost, he gathered his sons and a few of his best students and related all his collection to them. He aimed to revise it all and classify it, but he died before he could do so. That task was left to his son Abdullah ibn Ahmad, who was a distinguished scholar of hadith in his own right. Abdullah added some hadiths which confirmed those collected by his father on different topics.

The system of classification followed by Abdullah ibn Ahmad was different from that of the other main collections of hadith which followed aspects of Fiqh. Al-Musnad is classified according to the first reporter of hadith, which means that it relates all the hadiths reported by one companion of the Prophet, regardless of subject matter. When these have been documented, a new chapter is started to relate all the hadiths reported by another companion, and so on. This makes it very difficult to use Al-Musnad by anyone who is not a scholar of hadith. This method of classification is useful in knowing the scholarly standpoint and views of each companion of the Prophet, but this is a specialised area.

Ahmad was keen to make his collection highly authentic. He was always looking into it, dropping any hadith that he suspected to have not been accurately reported. But he did not drop all the hadiths that were lacking in authenticity. He says to his son, Abdullah: "Had I aimed to include only what is highly authentic, I would have related only a small portion, but you, my son, know my method in relating hadith. I do not contradict a hadith whose authenticity is questionable unless there is some other hadith on the same subject to contradict it."

This means that Al-Musnad includes some hadiths that are somewhat lacking in authenticity, but, as Imam Ibn Taimiyah says, there is not a single hadith in Al-Musnad that has been proven to be false or fabricated.

That Ahmad was a top scholar of Fiqh is a matter of no doubt, but his Fiqh scholarship was based on his excellence in hadith. Suffice it to say that when Al-Bukhari completed his Sahih collection, he chose Ahmad to review it for him, and Ahmad raised questions only on four hadiths in the book that was destined to become the best known in the Muslim world for 12 centuries so far. Hence, Ahmad's fiqh is closest to the Sunnah and hadith. However, the mainstay of Ahmad's fiqh may be summed up as follows.

1.      Religious text, meaning the Quran and the hadith. When Ahmad finds a text applicable to a question, he adopts that and does not consider any other view, not even a ruling by any companion of the Prophet.

2.      Rulings by the Prophet's companions when there was nothing to contradict these. He would not say that such a ruling represented unanimity, but he would only say that he did not know of any opposing view.

3.      If he had different views of the Prophet's companions, he would choose the one that was more in line with the Quran and the Sunnah. If he could not determine that, he would report their disagreement without favouring any view. In this he is different from El-Shafie who would weigh up the different views and come out in preference of one. Ahmad considers analogy to be of lesser value than the view of a companion of the Prophet.

4.      Ahmad places some of the less authentic hadiths ahead of analogy, or qiyas, as a source of rulings. Such hadiths would be the ones whose reporters are not of the highest calibre on reliability, but are not accused of falsification or fabrication. This means that Ahmad would uphold the views of scholars of the generation of tabieen, who were successors to the Prophet's companions. If there were several views of this degree, he would consider them all acceptable.

5.      Analogy, or qiyas, to which he resorted only when necessary. However, he relies on this source less than other scholars, including El-Shafie.

6.      Unanimity of scholars, which is accepted as a main source of legislation by all schools of thought. However, Ahmad felt that such unanimity is very hard to achieve, particularly after the generation of the Prophet's companions. For unanimity to be ascertained, there must be no dissenting views, and with scholars available in every main city, it was very difficult to achieve.

7.      Serving the interests of the individual or the community, provided that these interests fit in with the aims of the religion and do not contradict any statement in the Quran or the Sunnah. This is what is known as massalih mursalah.

8.      Means of accomplishing ends. This is a principle that has been refined by the Hanbali school of thought. What it entails is that if something leads to a forbidden end, it is forbidden, and if it facilitates the accomplishment of a duty, it becomes a duty or highly recommended. For example, Ahmad imposes the payment of blood money, like in accidental killing, on a person who prevents another to eat or drink until he dies, because his action led to his death. He also makes it forbidden for a shopkeeper to slash his prices in order to damage his neighbour's business.

9.      An initial ruling remains valid unless we have clear evidence to show that it has changed. This is what is known in Islamic jurisprudence as istishab. What it means in practice is that all transactions and conditions incorporated in them are permissible unless they are clearly forbidden, because all things are initially permissible unless they come under a specific prohibition. The Hanbali school of thought implements this principle far more widely than the rest.

The Hanbali school of thought is rich with diverse opinions. We often have more than one Hanbali view on the same question. Several reasons have contributed to this, such as the fact that Ahmad would accept as valid all the views reported to have been expressed by the Prophet's companions, without favouring any of them. Another reason was that Ahmad would not give a ruling unless he studied the question in relation to the parties involved. Thus he may give two different rulings on very similar questions because the parties in each time have different circumstances, and he takes these into consideration. Moreover, over the years there were many highly distinguished scholars belonging to the Hanbali school who attained the grade of making independent ijtihad, or the exercise of scholarly discretion. These have greatly enriched Hanbali scholarship.

The Hanbali school of thought has not spread far and wide as the other three, mainly because it was the last of the four to develop. However, it always remained the one followed in the heart of Arabia, and after the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia it has spread to all parts of the Arabian Peninsula apart from Yemen and Oman. It continues to constitute a very valuable contribution to Islamic scholarship. Ahmad died in 241 A.H, corresponding to 856 AD.
 May God bless his soul.

May God reward Imam Ahmad  handsomely and bless his soul.

Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua  for me. !!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Imam Muhammad ibn Idris El-Shafie,

 Imam El-Shafie (R.A)

"If I were to walk from Madinah to Makkah [a distance of 500 kilometers] barefoot, with no mount to carry me, it would have been easier for me than to walk to Malik's home here in Madinah. I am never in a humble position until I stand at his doorstep." These were the words of the Governor of Madinah as he finished reading a letter addressed to him by the Governor of Makkah which wanted him to introduce a young man to the great scholar of Madinah. The young man continues the story:

"The Governor and a number of his men went with me until we reached Malik's home and one man knocked on the door. A maid opened and the man told her that the Governor wanted to see the scholar. She went in and came back after a long while to say: ‘My master greets you well and says: ‘If you have a case requiring a ruling, then you may write it down and he will send you the answer. If you want to learn hadith, you know the day when he holds his circle. You may wish to leave now.' The Governor said to her: ‘Tell him that I have a letter addressed to him from the Governor of Makkah with an important matter.' She went in, then she came out again, placing a chair. Shortly afterwards, Malik came out. He was a tall, old man who inspired much awe and respect. He sat on the chair and read the letter until he reached the request made by the Governor on my behalf. He threw the letter down and said: ‘Have we reached so low that the study of the Prophet's hadith is sought through favours and high position!' The Governor
of Madinah was in awe and could not reply. So I ventured to speak, saying: ‘May God grant you His favours. I am a man from the Muttalib branch of Quraysh, and I have so far done this and that…' "

Malik was endowed with penetrative insight. He asked the young man his name and then said to him: "Muhammad! Be always God-fearing, and avoid sin, for you will acquire distinction. God has given you light in your heart; so do not let it be put out by indulging in sin. Come tomorrow to read."

That was the first encounter between Imam Malik, the great scholar who was in his mid-seventies and El-Shafie who was just under 20 years of age and was destined to be among the greatest scholars in our history.

On the following day, El-Shafie went to his appointment, carrying Malik's book Al-Muwatta', and started to read. Malik was very pleased with his diction and delivery. When El-Shafie felt that he might have tired his teacher, he hesitated, but Malik told him to continue. Thus, he managed to complete reading the great book under the great imam in a very short period of time.

Muhammad ibn Idris El-Shafie, who was born in Gazza in 150 A.H.(Imaam Shafi’ (RA) was born in the year 150 A.H. the year the Great Imaam Abu Hanifah (R.A) had passed away)    corresponding to 767 CE. He was of Qurayshi origin, with an ancestry that met the Prophet's lineage at the Prophet's grandfather, Abdulmattalib. His father died when he was very young, leaving him and his mother in utter poverty. The mother, who was of Yemeni origin, was of great influence on the course he took in life. She decided that his place should be in Makkah, close to his tribal ancestry. She sent him to a relative in Makkah when he was nearly 10 years of age, then followed him there to direct him in his pursuit of studies. Because of his poverty, he could not find enough writing material. He would go to the Governor's offices in search for used paper that might be given to him free of charge, so that he would write his lessons on the unused part, or the backside.

He memorised the Quran at a very young age,( His Education: The Imaam was from a very poor family in his youth and when he was sent to school his family could not afford to pay the teacher for his teachings. The teacher used to inadequately teach the children and anytime he taught something inadequately and then left the children, the Imaam would seize the opportunity and teach them the teacher’s lesson and suffice the children. When the teacher would see this and he understood that the Imaam was doing it he let him continue to do so. This way the Imaam would suffice his tuition through satisfying the teacher by teaching the children his lesson. This continued and the Imaam learned the whole Qur’an .

The Imaam himself used to say: “After I finished learning the Qur’an I would go to the Masjid and sit with the Scholars the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and Islamic matters. I used to live in Makkah among tent dwellers in such a state of poverty that I could not even afford to by paper to write, so I would write on bones instead.”

It is also reported that the Imaam used to recite Hadith in the Masjid of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) at the age of thirteen years old. It is also reported that the Imaam’s voice was very melodious and sweet. Al-Haakim reports by the authority of Bahr bin Nasr saying: “When we wanted to cry we would say come let us go to this young Muttalibee man to hear him recite the Qur’an. We would reach him and he would initiate his recitation until when the people would start falling down in front of him and the sounds of everyone weeping and yelling could be heard by him he would stop.”
)   and then decided to improve his knowledge of Arabic. So, he went deep into the desert to join the Bedouin tribe of Huthail, renowned for the best standard of literary Arabic. There he memorised poetry and learnt their prose reporting and stories. He would join the tribe on its nomadic travels, until he mastered all that was there to learn. He also learnt archery there, and acquired great skill. He would be able to hit the target with his arrows 10 times out of 10. He then returned to Makkah and continued his studies, completing all that its scholars had to teach by the time he was nearly 20. Yet his thirst for knowledge was still burning inside him. So he decided to travel to Madinah to learn from Imam Malik. However, he did not wish to attend Malik without knowing anything of what he taught. He managed to borrow Malik's book, Al-Muwatta', and as he read it, he was even more eager to meet Malik and study under him. We know all about the first meeting between the two scholars.

El-Shafie stayed very close to Malik for nine years, during which he only travelled to visit his mother in Makkah, or to stay for a short while with some bedouin tribes. In the last three years of attending Malik, El-Shafie had an additional benefit of meeting Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan Al-Shaibani, the eminent Iraqi scholar who recorded all the Hanafi scholarship. The latter had come to Madinah to study under Malik and stayed with him for those 3 years. That was a highly beneficial company that was to be renewed later.

Malik used to support his students who had no means of living. El-Shafie was one of these. When Malik (R.A.)died, El-Shafie went back to Makkah hoping to earn his living. It so happened that the Governor of Yemen visited Makkah at that time. Some people spoke to him about El-Shafie, and he took him with him on his return to Yemen where he assigned to him a post of justice in the city of Najran. The people there soon realised that they had a judge who was devoted to justice, unwilling to swerve from it for any favour or pressure. They loved him and learnt from him a great deal.

But people who are unwilling to compromise often find themselves in the bad books of rulers. El-Shafie stayed in Najran for five years, towards the end of which a strong-fisted governor was appointed. It was only natural that El-Shafie should criticise him for any injustice he might perpetrate. In his position, El-Shafie was able to curb that Governor's injustice. Hence, the latter disliked him and sought to remove him. So he wrote to the Caliph accusing him of supporting a fermenting revolt by people loyal to the Alawees, i.e. the descendents of Ali. He added: "I have no authority over this man, and he achieves by the word of his tongue much more than a fighter can achieve with his sword."

Was this accusation baseless? There is no doubt that it was, because El-Shafie never supported or advocated any revolt or rebellion against the Caliph. But he loved the Alawees, as they were the descendents of Ali and Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter. His love, however, never led him to belong to the Shia or to consider that Ali had the strongest claim to be the Caliph after the Prophet. Indeed he was of the view that the four Caliphs were elected to the post in accordance with the right order of their suitability. He also considered that Umar ibn Abdulaziz, the Umayyad ruler, was the fifth of the rightly guided Caliphs.

However, the accusation reached the Caliph in Baghdad, Al-Rasheed. El-Shafie was sent to him in fetters and chains in 184 A.H. when he was 34 years of age. The Caliph had him brought in when he was attended by his advisers and top officials, among whom was none other than Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, who was his Chief Justice. Two factors served him well at the time. The first was his lucid defence of himself. The other was Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan's testimony on his behalf. As El-Shafie stated that he had a share of scholarship known to the Chief Justice, the latter told the Caliph that El-Shafie was a scholar of eminence and that he would not be involved in such matters. The Caliph, who was kind and lenient, saw in this testimony his way out to spare El-Shafie. He told Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan to take El-Shafie to his home while he thought the matter over. That was all that the Caliph did. The accusation was never brought up again. The Governor of Najran had rid himself of a fearless critic, and he was no longer interested what happened to him.

Perhaps this accusation was the best thing that happened to El-Shafie, because it brought him back to the pursuit of knowledge. Moreover, El-Shafie stayed in Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan's home and read under him all the books he had written, recording the Fiqh of Abu Haneefah and his disciples. When he left Baghdad two years later, he said: "I carried with me a whole camel load of books, all of which I learnt directly from Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan."

It should be made clear that El-Shafie did not only learn the Iraqi fiqh in Baghdad, but he also memorised the hadiths that were known in Iraq, but not in Madinah or Hijaz. He also entered into debate with many scholars, speaking as a student of Malik, but he would only debate with lesser scholars than Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, whom he respected highly. We must remember that El-Shafie was Malik's disciple and Malik did not allow debate in his circle. On the other hand, Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, was Abu Haneefah's disciple, and Abu Haneefah's scholarship was imparted mainly through debate with his students. Hence, Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan insisted that El-Shafie should debate questions with him, and he reluctantly yielded.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of El-Shafie was his native intelligence which gave him an easy and good grasp of even the most difficult of questions. He always studied matters in depth, so as to arrive at the right verdict regarding any question put to him. His intelligence was coupled with a superb memory and ready argument. When he wanted to explain an idea, he would put it in a wealth of meanings that he always found ready to hand. He is not known to have been lost for words, yet his explanation was always rich and to the point.

El-Shafie had a fine literary style, which gave him powerful expression, coupled with lucid presentation. Moreover, his delivery was very clear and his voice added clarity to his thoughts. One of his students says: "Every scholar gives more in his books than when you meet him personally, except for El-Shafie whose verbal discussion gives you more than his books." When we remember that his books were among the finest in style, lucidity and presentation, we realise what this student is talking about.

When we spoke about Imam Malik, we mentioned that he had a profound insight. This is a quality that El-Shafie had in common with his teacher. This quality allowed him to strike the right balance between his students' ability to understand and his ability to explain, so as to achieve the best results. Hence, his students were devoted to him, eager to benefit by his superior knowledge.

Another main quality that facilitated for El-Shafie the achievement of the highest rank among Islamic scholars was his dedicated sincerity in the pursuit of the truth. This was coupled with his brave determination to declare the truth even if it was in conflict with what people used to believe. Should the truth be at variance with his devotion to his teachers, he would come out on the side of the truth. He was very reluctant to show his disagreement with Malik, because he loved him so much. The same was the case with Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, who did him a great favour when he saved him from the wrath of the Caliph. His gratitude to him did not prevent him from declaring his disagreement with him and his colleagues, supporting the Madinah scholars. But no one ever accused him of not accepting true evidence whenever it was presented. He urged his students to give much of their time and effort to the study of the hadith, repeatedly stating to them that should they find an authentic hadith in conflict with his views, they should abandon his views and take up the hadith.

This dedicated sincerity made him seek the truth, regardless of who presents it. He never lost his temper in debate, because his aim was not to win the debate, but to arrive at the true conclusion. Thus, if his opponent was right, he would not hesitate to accept his view. He is reported to have said: "I wish that people would learn what I have to give, without it being attributed to me. In this way, I receive the reward for it from my Lord, without having people's praise."

With such a character, there is no wonder that scholars loved him and placed him in the highest rank.

Once a man asked El-Shafie a question, and he started his answer by quoting a hadith stating the ruling on that question. The man then said: but what is your own view? El-Shafie shuddered and changed colour before saying: "What corner of the earth or the sky would shelter me if I report something the Prophet said and then give a different opinion?"

When people went to the Haram in Makkah late in the second century, they found a tall, dark man in his mid-thirties teaching in a circle which included young and mature students, many of whom were older than him. The teacher explained certain aspects of faith and Islamic jurisprudence which they could not learn from anyone else in their respective homelands, whether they came from Iraq, where much weight was given to scholarly discretion, or from Madinah where commitment to the hadith text was paramount. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal saw him when he was on his pilgrimage and was full of admiration. He persuaded his colleague, Isshaq ibn Rahaweih, to attend his circle. When they arrived, Isshaq said to Ahmad: "Are we to leave the circle of someone like Sufyan ibn Uyainah in order to attend this young man?" Ahmad said: "If you miss out on this man's rational thinking, you cannot find it anywhere else; while if you miss out on hadith at a higher level of reporting, you can still learn it with a lower level."

Such was the fruit of the great task undertaken by El-Shafie on returning to Makkah from Baghdad. Such was its importance that Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Isshaq ibn Rahaweih, two scholars destined to achieve great eminence, felt it more important to attend him than other more established scholars. What happened was that, back in Makkah after his long absence, El-Shafie gave much thought to what he had learnt, both in Madinah from Malik and in Baghdard. He compared methods and analysed differences and points of agreement. As El-Shafie was a scholar of the highest calibre, endowed with sharp intelligence, superb memory and an analytical mind, his comparative study yielded two highly precious fruits. The first was that he established his own school of thought, with its distinctive method of construction and deduction, independent from both the Hanafi and the Maliki schools. He would study Malik's views in depth to arrive at his own views, which might have agreed or disagreed with the great scholar. He would do the same with the views of Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan and his two renowned teachers, Abu Haneefah and Abu Yussuf. He recorded his disagreement with Malik in a book he called: Khilaf Malik, and his disagreement with the Hanafi scholar in another book, Khilaf al-Iraqiyeen. This established him as the founder of a third school of thought.

The second result of his endeavours was that he set in place the rules of deduction of rulings on all questions. That was what came to be known as Ussool al-Fiqh, or basic methodology of jurisprudence. Previously, eminent scholars had their own methods of deduction and construction, but they referred to these in general terms, giving no details. El-Shafie outlined these in detail, showing what rules and methods a scholar must follow so that he might not arrive at the wrong ruling or conclusion. This time El-Shafie stayed in Makkah for 9 years, teaching his students and taking them to a totally unfamiliar territory.

He then felt that he needed to spread this new knowledge in the rest of the Muslim world, and to do so he went again to Baghdad in 195 AH, when he was 45. In Baghdad, the most famous seat of learning at the time, he was welcomed by all its scholars. Even its eminent scholars were willing to read under him, including Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Isshaq ibn Rahaweih. They all recognised that he had come up with a perfectly new knowledge and a complete system of deduction.

It was during this stay in Baghdad, lasting over two years, that he dictated his books, mainly Al-Umm, which contains his views on all detailed questions of Fiqh, and Al-Risaalah, which is his book on the methodology of Fiqh, the first book ever to be written on this subject.

El-Shafie then went to Makkah, but did not stay long there. Apparently, his trip this time was to visit the Kaabah, pack up his belonging and bid farewell to his teachers, such as Sufyan ibn Uyainah. Soon afterwards, he went back to Baghdad, arriving in 198, but he was soon on the road again, aiming this time for Egypt, where he arrived in 199 and stayed until his death five years later, at the age of 54. We will refer later to his changed views in Egypt, because this serves as the best example of giving different rulings on the same questions because of a change of situation.

As we explained over the last two weeks, El-Shafie fascinated all people with his broad knowledge, logical analysis, and lucid style. He fascinated the scholars of Baghdad in his famous debates with the best among them, the scholars of the Muslim world who listened to him on their visits to Makkah for pilgrimage, and the scholars of Egypt when he brought them knowledge that they had never learnt from anyone before him. He also fascinated all scholarly circles with his design of Ussool al-Fiqh. Hence, numerous scholars were full of praise for him. Perhaps the best that sums up scholarly opinion of El-Shafie is Ahmad ibn Hanbal's words: "We have reported the hadith in which the Prophet states that God sends to the nation of Islam every 100 years a person to put its faith back on the right track. Umar ibn Abdulaziz was that man at the end of the first 100 years. As for the second hundred, I think the man was El-Shafie."

It is such great admiration by eminent scholars that tells of El-Shafie's standing as a scholar. Each would obviously praise him from the point of view of his own speciality. Thus, a scholar like Yahya ibn Ma'een, one of the highest authorities on hadith and its reporters describes El-Shafie in these words: "Had lying been lawful, his integrity would have stopped him from lying."

El-Shafie lived at a time when different branches of knowledge were taking shape and being set on firm basis, with dedicated scholars writing their reference books, each in his field of specialisation. In linguistics, poetry, literary criticism and other language studies, there were scholars setting these branches on firm footing. In hadith, criteria were identified to sort out authentic hadiths, isolating them from a multitude of hadiths attributed to the Prophet without firm evidence of authenticity. In Fiqh different schools were emerging and taking form, particularly with the writing of Al-Muwatta', by Imam Malik as the basic book of the Maliki school of thought, and Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan's books recording the Hanafi school's views.

At the same time, numerous works were translated from Greek, Persian and Indian languages in various fields. El-Shafie had a go at the study most of these. In addition, several political groupings emerged, each trying to advocate their position on the basis of religion, such as the different groups of Shia, and Khawarij. Philosophical and intellectual groups also emerged, particularly Al-Mu'tazilah, who advocated a rational philosophy that sought to subject religious truth to their approach. Others spoke of Divinity and theology on the basis of logic. El-Shafie rejected all these approaches, insisting that the only basis for such knowledge was the Quran and the Sunnah, making it clear that only the texts of the Quran and authentic hadith should be considered in such matters.

El-Shafie was very firm in his advice to his students to turn their backs on logical theology. However, he himself studied it and formulated clear views on its various issues. He once found some of his students debating one such issue. He said to them: "Do you think that I have no knowledge of this. Indeed I have gone deep into it, but this logical theology is useless. Let your debate be on something in which if you err, people would say that you have made a mistake, not that you have gone out of the faith altogether." This is a highly respectable attitude, seeking to abandon any philosophical approach to faith, because it served no real purpose and was bound to err.

In his method of construction and deduction of rulings on any question, El-Shafie defines five sources of evidence. These are stated in his book, Al-Umm: "The first is the Quran and the Sunnah when the latter is confirmed as authentic; the second, unanimity concerning a matter to which no reference is made in the Quran or the Sunnah; the third, some companions of the Prophet may state a view and we have no report of any other companion expressing a different view; the fourth, the views of the Prophet's companions when they differ over a certain question; the fifth; analogy. No source other than the Quran and the Sunnah may be considered when they voice a ruling. Knowledge is sought at the highest source first." This means that El-Shafie considers the Quran and the Sunnah the only source of Islamic law, while other sources are based on them. Moreover, he considers the two as one source.

Scholars of later generations mention the Sunnah as a separate source, ranking second after the Quran. The same has been stated by Abu Haneefah long before El-Shafie's time. Why does he, then, put them both together as one source, when they, in reality, cannot be placed at the same level? For certain, El-Shafie does not consider the Sunnah to be equal to the Quran in all respects, when the Quran is God's own word, while most of the Sunnah is reported in a lesser degree. El-Shafie has looked at the fact that the Sunnah explains what the Quran has stated in general terms, giving the details of what we need to know in order to fulfil God's orders. Hence, it must be placed at the same level as what it explains. Many of the Prophet's companions had the same view.

It is important, however, to realise that, in El-Shafie's view, the Quran is the main source while the Sunnah is complementary to it. Hence, the Sunnah derives its effect from the Quran. Moreover, El-Shafie feels that, in order to arrive at accurate rulings, knowledge of the Sunnah as a whole must be placed at the same level as knowledge of the Quran. This does not mean that every thing attributed to the Prophet should be treated as the Quran. Hadiths have different levels of authenticity. Hence, we cannot treat a hadith reported by a chain of single transmitters at the same level as a Quranic verse. El-Shafie acknowledges all this. Furthermore, when it comes to stating Islamic beliefs, El-Shafie gives the Sunnah a lesser status than the Quran.

We must say that El-Shafie has defended the Sunnah most determinedly against all groups that sought to reduce its status. There were many of those at his time, seeking to limit sources of Islamic law to the Quran only. He was able to show the weakness of their stand and reduce their influence to a minimum. Hence, he earned the title, ‘the advocate of the Sunnah.'

El-Shafie rejects what is termed as istihsan, or regressive analogy. This is when a scholar abandons a clear and apparent analogy in favour of a concealed one, because of what he considers to be in the best interests of the community or the individual. This sort of analogy is approved by both Abu Haneefah and Malik. Thus, he takes his stand in opposition to both.

When El-Shafie settled in Egypt in the last five years of his life, he revised many of his views as expressed in his books which he authored and taught in Iraq. He might have expressed two views on a certain matter when he was in Baghdad. Now he would come solidly in favour of either one of them, or he may express a third view to retain all three, or he may abandon both his two old views in favour of a third one which he finds to be better supported, either by a hadith he did not know before or by an analogy which he finds to be more valid. People often refer to this process as the ‘new El-Shafie school of thought', as distinguished from his old one that relies on his old books dictated in Baghdad. The fact is that it is all a thorough revision of his books, bringing out a new revised version. Indeed he considered the old version abrogated. This shows that El-Shafie continued his pursuit of the truth throughout his life.

The best known works of El-Shafie have been mentioned already. The first is Al-Risalah, which establishes a specialised branch of Islamic studies. That is the one known as Usool al-Fiqh, or the methodology of Islamic law. The second is Al-UmmI, in which he records his legal views on all questions. This is the book he continued to revise until his death. Al-Risalah continued to receive much attention by scholars and it has been published many times with annotation. It is a middle-sized volume of great importance. Al-Umm, which embodies the bulk of El-Shafie Fiqh has been published, but has not received the editing attention it deserves. Very recently, most of El-Shafie's books have been published together under the title, El-Shafie's Encyclopaedia, bringing 10 books together, in 10 large volumes. However, the work still needs more detailed editing and annotating attention.

The Shafie school of thought is distinguished by its richness in scholarly views, which made it easy to develop and enrich. Later scholars continued the process. Over the many generations since El-Shafie, numerous distinguished scholars contributed to its scholarship, placing it at the same level as the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought. Today, it commands much following in Iraq, Syria and Jordan, although it remains second to the Hanafi school in these countries. It is predominant in Egypt, and it has countless followers in Yemen and Persia, while it is followed by most people in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. It has practically no following in North African countries.

El-Shafie was a great scholar whose contribution to Islamic knowledge remains considerable, despite the passage of more than 1200 years since his death.

His Teachers: Among his eminent teachers were:

1. Muslim bin Khalid al-Zangi (a Mufti of Makkah during the year 180 A.H. (796 A.D.)

2. Sufyaan bin Uyainah al-Hilaali (one of the three distinguished scholars of that time in Makkah)

3. Ibrahim bin Yahya (a scholar of Madinah)

4. Malik bin Anas (Imaam Shafi’ee used to recite Hadith to Imaam Malik after the memorizing of his book, Muwatta Imaam Malik). The Imaam stayed in Madinah until Imaam Malik passed away in the year 179 A.H. (790 A.D.)

5. Wakee’ bin al-Jarraah bin Maleeh al-Kofi

6. Muhammad bin Hasan al-Shaibaani (a scholar of Busrah, and distinguished student of the Great Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)

7. Hammaad bin Usama al-Haashimi al-Kofi

8. Abdul-Wahhab bin Abdul-Majeed al-Busri

His Marriage: He married Hameedah bint Nafi’ bin Unaisah bin ‘Amr ibn Usman bin Affan.

Some Distinctive Characteristics:

1. His eloquent style of speech and abundant knowledge of the Arabic language

2. His Family Lineage-as a set standard reported by al-Hakam bin ‘Abdil-Muttalib that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, “Indeed Banu Haashim and Banu al-Muttalib are the same (ie. of the same family lineage). (Ibn Majah, 22, Kitaabul-Wasaaya/46 Chapter Division of Khumus/ Hadith No. 2329

3. Complete memorization of the Qur’an with recognition of its rules and its implications in all aspects of Islamic Knowledge of which others during his time did not yet reach to

4. His deep foresight in Hadith and comprehension of authentic and defective narrations

5. His understanding in the principles of Hadith and Fiqh

6. His rulings in Hadith Mursal (incompletely transmitted narrations) and completely transmitted narrations.

7. Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal used to say about Imaam Shafi’ee, “Our napes were in the hands of the Companions of Abu Hanifah (RA) when it came to hadith (ie. we were inclined to them more) until we saw Imaam Shafi’ee, he was the most knowledgeable in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that he would even suffice one who was not well informed in Hadith.

8. Al-Karaabeesi says about the Imaam, “Al-Shafi’ee was a mercy from Allah upon the followers of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).

9. Al-Humaidee says, “We used to want to refute the arguments of the Ashab-ul-Ra’iy, but we were not well informed to do so until Imaam Shafi’ee came along and opened up the way for us.

10. Ibn Raahway was asked, “How did Imaam Shafi’ee compose all these books at such a young age?” He replied, “Allah SWT made him intelligent and mature minded in just his youth.”

11. Rabi’ says, “We were just sitting awhile in the Knowledge Circle of Imaam Shafi’ee after the Great Imaam’s demise when a Bedouin Arab came along and said asked about where is the sun and moon of this circle. When we told him that he had passed away he started weeping heavily, and then said may Allah have mercy upon him and forgive him for verily he was one who opened up the veils of proofs through his explanations and closed the mouths of his disputer and opponent. He used to wash the blackened faces of their shame and disgrace and opened the closed doors with intellect and understanding. Then he turned away and left.”

His Humbleness:

Al-Hasan bin Abdul-Aziz al-Jarwi al-Misri reported form Imaam Shafi’ee used to say, “I have never debated with someone who I want to make a mistake, nor do I possess any knowledge that I want to keep to myself, rather that it should be with all and not just related to me.”

He also said, “I have never debated with someone who I want to make a mistake. And I have never debated someone except I say to them, O’ Allah, put the truth in his heart and on his tongue. If I am on the truth he will follow me, and if he is on the truth then I will follow him.”

A Scholar of Quraish:

Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal is reported to have said, “When I am questioned about some matter that I do not know of I say to myself Imaam Shafi’ee knows about this and he will have some say in it, because he is an ‘Alim (Scholar) of Quraish. And the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, An Alim of Quraish fills the earth with knowledge.” (al-Manaaqib, Lil-Baihaqi, Vol. 1, Page 54)

Al-Raazi says, “This Hadith is attainable by a man who possesses three characteristics: 1. that he is from Quraish 2. that he has abundant knowledge among religious scholars 3. that his abundant knowledge will indeed reach from east to west of the world

After saying this Al-Raazi says, “The man described above is no other than Al-Shafi’ee.” (Musnad of Abu Dawood Al-Tabalusi, p. 39-40)

The Imaam is from Quraish and the following other Ahadith (narrations) are indications towards him:

1. Abdullah bin Masood (RA) narrates from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) as saying, “Do not curse at the Quraish, for verily a scholar from there fills the earth with knowledge. O’Allah, you have made their first taste your punishment, now make the last of them taste your gift and favor.” (Musnad of Abu Dawood Al-Tabalusi, p. 39-40).

May God reward Imam Shafi’ee  handsomely and bless his soul.

Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua  for me. !!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Imam Malik ibn Anas.(R.A.)

Imam Malik ibn Anas.(R.A.)
Abu Abdullah, Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Amer al-Asbahee was born in Madinah in the year 93 A.H. (714 CE). His ancestral home was in Yemen, but his grandfather settled in Madinah after embracing Islam.

Born into a well-to-do family, Malik did not need to work for a living. He was highly attracted to the study of Islam, and ended up devoting his entire life to the study of Fiqh. He received his education in what was the most important seat of Islamic learning, Madinah, and lived where the immediate descendants and the followers of the companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasallam, were living.

It is said that he sought out over three hundred Tabi’een or those who saw and followed the companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Imam Malik held the hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasallam, in such reverence that he never narrated, taught any hadeeth or gave a fatwa without being in a state of ritual purity, Ghusl. Ismael ibn abi Uwaiss said, “I asked my uncle Malik – about something. He had me sit, made ablution, then said, ‘Laa hawla wala quwata illa billah.’ He did not give any fatwa without saying it first.”

Also, Malik saw fatwa as a sensitive, precise, and important action that can have far reaching results, and used to be extremely careful about giving it to the extent that if he was not sure about a matter, he would not dare to talk. Al-Haytham said, “I once was with  Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasallam when he was asked more than forty questions and I heard him reply, ‘I do not know,’ to thirty two of them.
Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn `Amr, al-Imam, Abu `Abd Allah al-Humyari al-Asbahi al-Madani (93-179), the Shaykh of Islam, Proof of the Community, Imam of the Abode of Emigration, and Knowledgeable Scholar of Madina predicted by the Prophet. The second of the four major mujtahid  imams, whose school filled North Africa, al-Andalus, much of Egypt, and some of al-Sham, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khurasan. He is the author of al-Muwatta’ ("The Approved"), formed of the sound narrations of the Prophet from the people of the Hijaz together with the sayings of the Companions, the Followers, and those after them. It was hailed by al-Shafi`i as the soundest book on earth after the Qur’an, nearest book on earth to the Qur’an, most correct book on earth after the Qur’an, and most beneficial book on earth after the Qur’an according to four separate narrations. Malik said: "I showed my book to seventy jurists of Madina, and every single one of them approved me for it (kulluhum wâta’ani `alayh), so I named it ‘The Approved’." Imam al-Bukhari said that the soundest of all chains of transmission was "Malik, from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar." The scholars of hadith call it the Golden Chain, and there are eighty narrations with this chain in the Muwatta’.

This particular knowledge is a matter of religion. Be careful in choosing whom to learn from. I have met more than 70 people who often quoted the Prophet's statements accurately close to those pillars of his mosque. You could trust any one of them with the state treasury and you would be sure that he would discharge his trust most meticulously. But I did not take anything from them because they were not of the scholarly type.

These were the words of a scholar distinguished by his profound insight which enabled him to recognise reliable scholars and the breadth of their knowledge. That was Imam Malik.

Malik ibn Anas Al-Assbahi, the founder of the Maliki school of thought, was born in Madinah in 93 A.H. corresponding to 712 AD. His parents were Arabs of Yemeni descent. His tribe, Assbah, still lives in Yemen. His grandfather, who bore the same name, Malik, arrived in Madinah to complain to the Caliph against a governor, but decided to settle in Madinah, where he met a number of the Prophet's companions, and learnt from those of them who were known for their scholarly standing, such as Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Aisha, Talhah and many others. Thus, he became well known as a scholar. He taught his children and encouraged them to pursue Islamic knowledge. This provided the young grandson, Malik, with the best platform to pursue his natural inclination of study. He never sought to learn any trade. In fact, his brother An-Nadhr ibn Anas was well known in scholarly circles, particularly those devoted to hadith. As Malik started frequenting the same circles, he was known as An-Nadhr's brother, but when he became better known for his own scholarly gifts, the elder of the two became known as Malik's brother.

Malik first sought to memorise the Quran, which he soon did. He then suggested to his family that he should attend scholars' circles to write down the hadith and Fiqh. They welcomed that, particularly his mother, who took extra care of his appearance, helping him to dress in his best attire, and directing him to whom he should go and what he should learn. She encouraged him to attend the circle of Rabi'ah ibn Abdurrahman who was renowned for exercising scholarly discretion. Malik learnt from him this highly commendable approach, particularly because it was restrained with commitment to hadith and the Quran.

Malik provided a great example of a student eager to improve his knowledge and achieve a standard of excellence in his scholarship. He would go to Nafi', one of his teachers, waiting for him until he came out of his home, in very hot temperature, having no shade. When he came out, Malik would follow him, without accosting him at first, until he had walked some distance. He would then greet him and keep quiet. When he approached his destination, he would ask him one or two questions, learn the answers and memorise them.

Malik was very selective in his choice of teachers. He was keen to study under Az-Zuhri, the first specialised scholar of hadith who had studied under Saeed ibn Al-Musayyib and other celebrated scholars of the Tabi'een generation that succeeded the Prophet's companions. Malik reports that on one Eid day he thought that Az-Zuhri would be free, so he went to his home and waited at his door. He heard him asking his maid to find out who was at the door. When she told him that it was young Malik, he told her to let him in. He asked him: "I see that you have not gone home yet… Would you like to have something to eat?" Malik said: "No. I only would like you to teach me some hadiths." Az-Zuhri told him to take out his sheets and dictated to him 40 hadiths. Malik requested more, but the teacher said: "That should be enough for you. If you learn these well, you are a great learner."

Rabi'ah ibn Abdurrahman was one of Malik's teachers, as we have already mentioned. He was nicknamed Rabi'ah Ar-Rai, which means ‘the-point-of-view'. This is a reference to the fact that he exercised scholarly discretion to a much greater extent than many scholars in Madinah would have liked. In Islamic scholarship there have always been two trends. The first limits all effort to learning the texts of the Quran and hadith, understanding their meanings and stopping at that. The other trend tries to go deeper into the texts to understand their wider applicability and to reconcile what may appear to be a conflict between two texts. In our articles on Imam Abu Haneefah, we mentioned that he was the best known figure of the latter trend. That is because he and his school resort to analogy in arriving at rulings for questions that are not specifically mentioned in any text. The process involves using a text that concerns one question in order to arrive at a ruling for another question, because the two have the same factor constituting the basis of that ruling. This process was widely used in Iraq and scholars indulged in finding rulings for hypothetical questions. In Madinah the use of discretion was much more limited and concentrated on reconciliation of texts. Yet the basis of intellectual and scholarly discretion was clearly in place there.

Malik's residence in Madinah afforded him the best possible grounding in Islamic scholarship, because Madinah was full of scholars. Moreover, it was the place of residence of the Prophet and his companions. It was also frequented by Muslims from all over the world who visited the Prophet's mosque when they travelled to offer the pilgrimage to Makkah. By Malik's time, there were a number of highly distinguished scholars who either learnt directly from the Prophet's companions or from their successors. Thus, Malik received knowledge that was both authentic and pure. To the two of his teachers we have already mentioned we may add the names of Abdurrahman ibn Hurmuz, Abu Az-Zinad, Yahya ibn Said Al-Ansari and Ja'afar As-Sadiq.

What is important to realise is that Malik acquired broad knowledge through his teachers. This knowledge was not limited to learning the Quran and the hadith, the rulings passed by the Prophet's companions and their successors. It also involved studying the thinking and the beliefs of the different schools and factions that started and flourished in different areas of the Muslim land at the time. It is well known that after the events that led to the assassination of both the third and fourth Caliphs, Uthman and Ali, there emerged different factions, such as the Shia and Khawarij. The first were those who claimed that Ali was the person who should have become the ruler of the Islamic state after the Prophet, and the latter were those who rebelled against him. In both groups there were different factions and different trends of moderation and extremism. Malik learnt all their thoughts and beliefs, as well as their views in understanding the Quran and the Islamic faith, through his teacher Ibn Hurmuz. However, he did not pass that information to the majority of his students, because he felt that this aspect of knowledge should be given only to those who are particularly interested in it and those who can make good use of it to maintain the purity of Islamic beliefs.

When Malik was sure of having attained a standard that qualified him to teach, he consulted people of good standing in scholarship and society in Madinah about starting a teaching circle. He says: "I did not sit to teach until I have obtained agreement of 70 scholars that I am fit to do so." But even then, he did not sit to teach until he fell into disagreement with his teacher Rabi'ah. Yet he continued to praise Rabi'ah long after his death, stating that "he was a man of much goodness, sound mind, clear virtues, profound understanding of Islam, true love and friendship to all people, particularly to his students. May God bless his soul, forgive him and reward him far better than his good deeds merit."  Rabi'ah died when Malik was 43, which suggests that the scholarly disagreement between them occurred when Malik was a well established scholar.

When he started his teaching circle, Malik sat where Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to sit in the Prophet's mosque, and he lived in the house that belonged to Abdullah ibn Massoud. Thus, he surrounded himself with the atmosphere of the Prophet's companions in his teaching and living quarters. However, he later moved his circle to his home because he suffered from urinary incontinence. He did not mention his illness until just before his death. When he was asked about his absence from the mosque, he would say: "Not every one is able to publicise his excuses."

His circle was of two types: one for hadith and the other for Fiqh and rulings to questions posed. The latter he would do in whatever he was wearing, but when he taught the hadith, he would appear in his best attire, wearing perfume and taking a most serious and devoted attitude. He then divided his days between the two circles. Private questions would be put to him and he would write the answer down for the person concerned. His approach was the same even when the question was raised by the Governor of Madinah. Moreover, he would not give an answer to any hypothetical question. If a problematic question was put to him, he would ask whether it had taken place. If it had not, he would not consider it, even though it might have been probable. Moreover, he exercised extreme caution in answering questions. He would not venture to give an answer unless he was certain of it. Should he feel unsure of his answer, he would not give it. He would tell the questioner that he did not know the answer.

It is reported that someone put to him a question and said: "I have been sent to you with this question from my hometown in Morocco, undertaking a journey of 6 months to reach here." Malik listened to the problem and reflected on it before saying to the man: "Tell the person who sent you that I have no knowledge of this matter." The man asked: "Who knows it, then?" Malik said: "A person to whom God has given knowledge of it." Another report speaks of another man from Morocco putting a question to him, and he said: "I do not know. We have not been exposed to a problem like this in our hometown. Nor have we heard any of our teachers speaking about it. If you come back tomorrow, I may have something for you." When the man came the following day, Malik told him that he reflected over the matter but he could not arrive at an answer. He did not know it. The man said: "People back home say that there is no one on the face of the earth who is a better scholar than you." Malik said: "I do not have the competence to answer it." This humility tells us something about Malik, the sort of scholarly atmosphere that prevailed in Madinah in his time, and how he was taught by his teachers.

Malik was distinguished by a superb memory and a clear insight, with both qualities enabling him to achieve eminence among his peers. His teacher, Az-Zuhri, describes him as a ‘great vessel of knowledge', and his student, Al-Shafie, says: "When it is a question of hadith, then Malik is the brightest star." Yet despite his vast knowledge, he would only mention a hadith when he felt that it would be useful to teach it to others.

Another important quality of Malik was his tireless pursuit of knowledge. He endured a lot of hardship in order to achieve his position of distinction. He is quoted as saying: "No one can achieve what he wants of scholarship until poverty has bitten hard at him, but he would endure it nevertheless." With this determination and power of endurance, he was able to stand up to rulers when it was necessary for him to confront them.

Moreover, Malik was sincere in all that he pursued. His pursuit of knowledge had no objective other than seeking God's pleasure. Hence, he approached all questions with the same seriousness, even when they were very simple. He would say: "There is nothing simple in this scholarship. It is all hard, particularly what we will have to account for on the Day of Judgement." It is this sincerity that motivated Malik to refrain from entering any debate or argument with other scholars. When Harun Al-Rasheed, the Caliph, suggested that he should have a debate with Abu Yussuf, the second highest-ranking Hanafi scholar, Malik refused saying: "This scholarship is not like stirring a fight between animals or roosters." He felt that debates and arguments caused hearts to be hardened and generated animosity between people. He, however, argued with a few sincere scholars in order to show them the evidence on which he based his views.

By God who is the only deity in the universe, I never ordered what was done to you, nor did I know of it. The people of the two sacred cities will remain well as long as you are alive among them. I feel that you are their security against suffering. I believe that, through you, God has lifted a great trial which would have befallen them, because they are always ready to cause trouble. By God, I have ordered that he [meaning the Governor] should be brought here in a state of humiliation and imprisoned in harsh conditions. I must inflict on him far more severe punishment than what he inflicted on you. – These were the words of the most powerful man on earth, Al-Mansoor, the second Abbasi Caliph, apologising to Imam Malik for the harsh treatment he received from the Governor of Madinah for being true to his convictions.

Malik was subjected to a harsh trial, which involved that he was subjected to torture at one stage. That was in 164 A.H. Historians give different reasons for this hardship. is the one given by the, Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zuhrah, a distinguished contemporary scholar gives perhaps the most accurate account of this unfortunate episode. During Al-Mansoor's reign, a rebellion was led by a descendent of Ali, known as Muhammad An-Nafs Az-Zakiyah, who claimed that the pledge of loyalty to Al-Mansoor was given as a result of coercion. Malik used to mention the hadith in which the Prophet is quoted as saying: "No oath given under coercion is valid." The rebels used this hadith to encourage people to join them, asserting that their pledge of loyalty to Al-Mansoor was not binding. The Governor of Madinah told Malik not to mention this hadith, imparting to him that it was the order of the Caliph. Then the Governor himself sent someone to his circle to ask him about this hadith. Malik, the scholar who valued honesty in scholarship, repeated it as authentic in front of all people in his circle. His view was that a scholar could not conceal knowledge when asked about it. To do so is sinful.

The result was that the Governor felt that he was encouraging the rebels. In consequence, Malik was flogged and his arm was dislocated. The people of Madinah were very angry, feeling that he was treated very harshly. Both the Governor and the Caliph regretted what happened. Hence, on his trip to pilgrimage, Al-Mansoor stopped in Madinah and called in Malik to apologise to him.

When he received the Caliph's apology, Imam Malik gave the reply to be expected from one like him: generous, noble and forgiving: "May God bless the Caliph and give him His blessings. I have forgiven him because he is a descendent of the Prophet and because he is a relative of yours."

Needless to say that Malik's reply greatly enhanced his position with the Caliph, who asked him to write to him whatever he wished, to remove any injustice or to promote people's interests. Also his position among people was highly enhanced. He continued to enjoy people's love and respect until his death in 179 A.H. His scholarship continues to inspire scholars all over the Muslim world as his became one of the leading schools of thought in our history.

If the whole episode speaks of Malik's courage, willingness to state the truth as he knew it, regardless of who may be offended, it also speaks of his sincerity and the value he attached to the position of a scholar in the Muslim community. Malik's sincerity aimed at arriving at the truth, regardless of who takes the credit for it. He would not give a ruling on any matter that had anything to do with judges and their verdicts. He would not criticise any verdict they might have issued. This is unlike Abu Haneefah's attitude who criticised any verdict if he felt that the judge was mistaken. However, both attitudes are motivated by sincerity. Abu Haneefah's attitude showed his great respect and sincerity in pursuing what was right, while Malik was sincere in avoiding anything that could cause trouble. He, however, would speak privately to judges, showing them any point of evidence that they might have overlooked.

In his appearance, Malik was awe-inspiring. Many reports agree that Malik had a spiritual influence on people that made everyone look at him with great respect, love and awe. Furthermore, he was also a man of great insight, not only in knowledge and scholarship, but in people's characters and qualities. Al-Shafie was still young when he went to Madinah. He reports: "When I arrived in Madinah and met Malik, he listened to me and then looked at me for a while. He was a man of insight. He then asked me my name and said, ‘Muhammad, maintain fear of God and avoid all sin. You are certain to have a position of distinction.'"

Malik lived in poverty for a long time during his pursuit of knowledge. His main income was from a business with a small capital. When he was recognised as a scholar whose views were sought by rulers and caliphs, he was in a much better situation. He accepted financial gifts only from Caliphs, but not from provincial rulers or governors. When he was asked about this, he gave a clear answer that the pursuit of knowledge should be supported by the state. But he never kept all that he received for himself or his family. He supported those of his students who needed support. Among these was Al-Shafie who, like many other students, would not have been able to study without this support. Al-Shafie lived in this status for nine years.

In his political views, Malik was clear that a Caliph should be selected through a process of consultation. Yet if a ruler was to gain his position without consultation, he should be obeyed if he maintains justice. If he follows a dictatorial policy, then that is due to the fact that the people have allowed him to do so. Nevertheless, it is not permissible, according to Malik and many other scholars, to start an armed rebellion against him because that may lead to far greater injustice. Dictators should be advised sincerely whenever a chance arises.

With regard to his scholarship Malik was a highly distinguished scholar of hadith and Fiqh at the same time, and he became an imam, or leader in both fields. Yet he lived at a time when many alien ideas spread. There were groups that maintained that human beings have no will or freedom of choice in any of their actions. One group preached that a person who commits a cardinal sin is a non-believer, while other groups maintained that no sin condemns a believer and no good action is of any benefit when the person who does it is a disbeliever. There were those who took a political view that affected their beliefs, such as the Shia and the Khawarij who rebelled against Ali, the fourth Caliph. People looked up to Malik for guidance on all these matters. He provided that in the clearest possible way. He advised people that the way to follow was that of the early Muslims, the Prophet's companions and their successors. He advocated that faith should be understood on the basis of the Quran and the Sunnah, not on the basis of pure reasoning and logic. However, he pointed out that nothing in Islam contradicts logic and sound reasoning.

As a great scholar of fiqh Malik followed a method of construction and deduction which he did not write down. Yet some scholars who followed his school outlined this method, which we summarise in the following paragraphs.

Malik places the Quran as the top source of evidence in all questions and rulings. It is the source of Islam in its most comprehensive outlook. He upholds any Quranic text which admits only one interpretation. As for any text admitting different interpretations, he takes it at face value, as long as there is no evidence requiring a different interpretation. He also upholds any ruling that may be deduced from the Quran, even by a hint. Anything that is understood from the Quran is to be given precedence over every thing else. Thus, he may reject a hadith, even though he reports it with an authentic chain of transmission, because he finds in it an element of conflict with the Quran. For example, he rejects the hadith permitting a son or daughter to offer the pilgrimage on behalf of their parents, unless the parents ask them to do so. His basis for rejecting it is the Quranic statement: "Each man shall have the reward only of his labours, and his labours shall certainly be scrutinised, and he shall then be justly requited for them." (53: 39-41)

The second source is the Sunnah, which Malik considers binding if the hadith is of the type that is known as mutawatir, which means that it is reported by a number of transmitters at every stage, or mashhoor, which is close to that according to hadith classification. When a hadith is transmitted by a single reporter at every stage, Malik upholds it as a source of evidence, but in a later position, placing ahead of it other sources, as we will see. He may also reject some hadiths of this type if he finds them in conflict with a more valid principle. For example, he rejects the hadith recommending fasting 6 days of the month of Shawwal, starting with the second day of the month, because he feels that it may lead to increasing the duty of fasting beyond one month.

Malik considers a practice prevailing in Madinah as evidence for rulings, when such a practice could not have come about except through God's messenger. He often repeated his teacher, Rabi'ah's, view: "One thousand following one thousand are better than one taking from one." He means that a practice of Madinah has been transmitted by its people, generation after generation. Hence, he rejects a hadith of the single reporter type if it happens to be in conflict with the established practice of the people of Madinah.

Another source of evidence, according to Malik, is a ruling by the Prophet's companions. He equates this with hadith, arguing that a companion of the Prophet would not give a ruling on a matter, unless he has learnt it from the Prophet himself. Hence, he equates such a ruling with hadith. Therefore, should there be a conflict, he takes the one which serves the interests of the people and the community better.

Malik also resorts to analogy, which means applying the ruling specified in a text on a certain matter to other matters when they have the same cause in common. He may also give more weight to a specific interest. Thus, Malik is always looking for what serves the interests of the individual and the community, believing that it is approved by Islam in any matter where we do not have a specific ruling in the Quran or hadith.

The last source of evidence Malik approves is that termed as ‘means leading to a result'. Thus, what leads to something forbidden is itself forbidden, and what leads to something permissible or useful is permissible. To sell grapes is a perfectly legitimate and permissible matter, but to sell it to someone engaged in brewing wine is forbidden, because selling it to such a person is the ‘means' leading to the making of an intoxicant drink that Islam forbids.

Malik was an outstanding scholar of hadith. His book, known by the name Al-Muwatta', was the first written collection of hadith. He worked on it for a long time after Al-Mansoor requested him to compile it. He finished it during the reign of Al-Mansoor's son, Al-Mahdi. In fact, Al-Rasheed, who ruled later, wanted to endorse it as the law of the state and to place a copy of it at the Kaabah, but Malik refused, arguing that Islam was much broader than that. To restrict people to such a book is to overburden them.

Malik divides his book on the basis of the topics of Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence. He mentions the hadiths relevant to each topic, as well as the prevailing practice in Madinah. He also mentions some of the views of those successors to the Prophet's companions whom he had met, and the views of those he had not met. He then records his own view on the matter in question.

Malik's book has been transmitted in several versions, because Malik continued to revise it and improve on it until his death. It remains one of the most useful books of hadith and fiqh.

The Maliki school of thought remains predominant in North Africa as well as in most sub-Sahara African countries. May God shower His blessings on Malik, a great figure in Islamic scholarship.


The best known work of Imam Malik is Al-Muwatta'. Other books are attributed to Malik, but these have been lost. A letter which is alleged to have been sent by Malik to the Caliph, Haroon Al-Rasheed, was published in Egypt, but there are considerable doubts about its authenticity. Malik could have written a letter to Al-Rasheed, but it seems that over the centuries many additions were made to that letter to make its attribution to Malik unsupportable.

Al-Muwatta' is the first book of hadith and fiqh ever to be written by a well-known scholar in Islamic history. Prior to its writing scholars relied more on their memory, and wrote only for themselves. They did not write ‘for publication', as it were. They simply wanted to make sure that they would not forget what they had learned. One or two scholars, contemporaries of Malik, also wrote books, but Malik felt that such books should concentrate mainly on hadith. Therefore, he wrote his book, including in it hadiths, statements by the Prophet's companions and whatever scholars were unanimous about. He added what he knew to be the normal practice of the people of Madinah on different questions and what scholars have ruled and became well known. If he could find nothing of this on a particular question, he would write down what he felt to be more accurate of the views of contemporary scholars, and if he found nothing in that, he would include his own view on the question, based on analogy. In all this he would rely on the Madinah scholarship only.

One of the main features of Al-Muwatta' is the fact that Malik arranged it on the basis of Fiqh topics, which makes it easy for scholars and laymen to learn what the Prophet said about different questions. This method has been followed by the great scholars of hadith who were to collect the authentic hadiths, such as Al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nassaie, Abu Dawood and al-Tirmithi.

Al-Muwatta' includes 1720 hadiths and statements by the Prophet's companions and their successors, but Malik continued to review his book, always deleting some hadiths and statements. His idea was to rely only on the most authentic. Some of its later versions bring the number of hadiths in Al-Muwatta' to 1100 only. This testifies for Malik's tireless revision and insistence on retaining only the sum-up of a life of scholarship.

Some scholars place Al-Muwatta' at the same level as the two Sahih collections by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, while others give it a rank immediately below these and above the other four collections. However we rate it, it is a remarkable and unprecedented effort which continues to inspire millions of Muslims throughout the world.

May God reward Imam Malik  handsomely and bless his soul.
May God bless his soul...

Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua  for me. !!

Imam Abu Haneefah Numan.(R.A.)--Nu`man bin Thabit bin Zuta bin Mah

.......Imam Abu Haneefah Numan......

How Imam Abu Hanifa received his kunya

A delightful report about how Imam Abu Hanifa received his name Nu`man bin Thabit bin Zuta bin Mah), an account of why the wife is forbidden to take more than one husband is recounted:

Abu Hanifa' is an unusual name because it means 'the father of Haneefah', and Hanifa was his daughter. It was not the custom in those days to do this. Normally, the name would be 'the father of the name of a son.' How this came about is quite edifying. One day the great Imam Abu Hanifa was asked a question that, for the first time in his illustrious career, he was unable to answer. The question was, "Why were women forbidden to marry more than one husband at a time?" To make a long story short, Abu Hanifa's daughter said that she knew the answer and would solve this question if her father would make a promise to her that if she succeeded in solving this problem, he would then assure her a place in history. Abu Hanifa agreed. So she gathered a group of women together and gave each of them a cup. Then she brought in a large bowl of milk and asked each of them to dip their cups in the milk and to fill their cups. They did so. She then asked them to pour back the milk into the bowl. They did this too. She then asked them to re-fill their cups taking back only their own milk that they had poured into the bowl. This, obviously, was impossible to do. Hanifa had clearly demonstrated the kind of predicament that would be created if a woman had several husbands. With more than one husband, if she were to become pregnant, she would have exceptional difficulties determining who the actual father was. Identifying parentage and lineage would then be insurmountable for the offspring. Imam Abu Hanifa was so pleased with her answer that he took the name 'Abu Hanifa', 'the father of Hanifa', so his daughter did indeed earn a place in history.

Once upon a time, a pious young man of Persian origin was sitting by the bank of the Tigris River in Iraq when he saw an apple floating on the water. Feeling rather hungry, he picked up the apple and ate it. Then soon afterwards he began to question himself on having eaten something that does not belong to him, without permission by its owner. Therefore he decided to look for the owner. Had the young man been a scholar, he would have known that he could eat the apple without need of permission by anyone. However, he went upstream, looking at houses close to the river, until he saw a house with a garden and an apple tree, full of fruit and with some branches stretching over the water. It was a splendid house, with a large garden. He knocked on the door and asked to see the owner. He was ushered into the presence of an old man with a pleasant face, who seemed to be very decisive in his attitude.

On hearing the story, the house owner reflected a little before saying to the young man that he committed a gross error. He should have known better than seeking forgiveness after the misdeed is done. However, he was prepared to forgive the young man if he would meet his condition. The young man was full of hope, but when he heard the condition, his heart sank. The house owner said to him: I have a daughter of marriageable age, but she is physically and mentally handicapped, and I am worried about what would happen to her after my death. Looking at you, I feel that you could provide her with the care she needs. If you are prepared to marry her, I will forgive you what you have done.

The young man thought hard, and then decided that going through life with such a wife was much easier than having to go to hell for his misdeed. Therefore he accepted. Then on the wedding night he was surprised to find his wife a beautiful and well educated young woman.

It was into that marriage that Imam Abu Haneefah, Numan, was born in Kufah, southern Iraq in 80 A.H. corresponding to 700 AD. He belonged to a business family trading in clothes. Abu Haneefah grew up as a very religious young man, and he memorized the Quran when he was very young. He also began to learn hadith so that he would know how to conduct his life and business in accordance with Islam. He was clear in his mind that he would carry on with his family business, which brought affluence to his family.

His intelligence was evident at an early age. In his youth, he was involved in debates with the adherents of various beliefs and philosophies, relying mainly on his natural instinct. This gave him a good training that was to stand him in good stead in his later pursuit of Islamic studies which he started at the advice of Amir Al-Shaabi, one of the most distinguished scholars of the generation following the Prophet's companions who said to him: "You should better pursue knowledge and attend the circles of scholars. I can see in you a man with an alert mind and penetrative understanding."

Since debate was his main hobby, now he began to concentrate on beliefs, learning them in depth. He then traveled frequently to the other centre of learning, Basra, where he was involved in numerous debates with different groups. But then he felt that such debates were largely a waste of time, and could not bring benefit to anyone. So he turned to the study of fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence.  

Kufah was a city where different trends of knowledge had converged. Abu Haneefah aimed to achieve full understanding of four trends of fiqh scholarship: 1) Umar's fiqh based on what benefits people; 2) Ali's fiqh based on deduction and a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of Islamic law; 3) Abdullah ibn Massoud's fiqh based on analogy; and 4) Ibn Abbas's thorough knowledge of the Quran. He learnt from different scholars, but he had a teacher to whose company he committed himself. That was Hammed ibn Abu Suleiman, a highly distinguished scholar who had studied under Al-Shaabi and Ibrahim An-Nakha'ie, two of the most distinguished scholars of the second Islamic generation.

Abu Haneefah also learnt fiqh from other scholars, particularly during his pilgrimage trips. He did the pilgrimage almost every year, absenting himself only when there was an unavoidable reason. On these trips he met numerous scholars and he learnt much through them.

When his teacher, Hammed ibn Abu Suleiman died in 120, Abu Haneefah, his most distinguished student, took his place and continued his circle. He was soon to acquire great fame for he had added broad scholarship to superb intelligence and an exceptional ability in both analysis and debate. Moreover, he did not stop his business activity. In fact he continued his business, but went into partnership with a friend who was responsible for carrying on with all activities. Abu Haneefah, however, continued to exercise close supervision to ensure full compliance with Islamic law.

Abu Haneefah followed a meticulous method of learning. On the importance of combining the study of fiqh with the study of hadith he says: "Anyone who learns hadith without studying fiqh is like a pharmacist who has all the medicines but does not know for which conditions they are used. He must wait until the doctor comes. A hadith student must also wait for the scholar of fiqh."

As a teacher, Abu Haneefah followed a method similar to that of Socrates. He did not lecture. Rather, he would present a case to his students and outline the principles that apply to it. That opens the way for a discussion or a debate. Each one was free to express his thoughts on the case. They may agree with him or object to his views. The discussion may even be a heated one. When everyone has had his say and defended his view as forcefully as he could, Abu Haneefah would sum up the discussion and outline the conclusion giving the final verdict. Everyone would accept his final verdict without hesitation. Thus he was able to debate with his students as if he was one of them, and retains the position of the teacher who has the ultimate say. Hence, his students loved him dearly.

But perhaps he loved his students more than they ever loved him. He treated them as a father treats his children. He often gave them grants to cope with their needs. If a student wanted to get married and did not have the means to do so, Abu Haneefah would pay the expenses of his marriage. One of his contemporaries describes this relationship as follows: "He would keep his student in good means, supporting him and his dependents. When he has attained a good standard, he would say to him, ‘now you have attained what is more valuable than wealth; for now you know what is lawful and what is forbidden.'

Two personal qualities had a great influence on his scholarship the first was his independent thinking. He would not accept any verdict on any question unless he has considered it thoroughly, looking at all factors that could influence the final verdict on it. This gave him two highly important scholarly characteristics. The first is his patience and forbearance. He did not use hard words to anyone who attacked him. Once, someone accused him of being a heretic who invented matters that had no basis in Islam. Very calmly, Abu Haneefah said to the man: "May God forgive you, for He knows that I am unlike what you have said. Ever since I came to know Him, I have not transgressed in my beliefs. There is nothing that I hope for more than His forgiveness, and nothing that I fear more than His punishment." The man asked him earnestly to absolve him of what he said. Abu Haneefah said: "I forgive anyone who says something against me if he is ignorant. If he is a scholar, then the situation is more difficult. A slur by a scholar leaves its trace for long."

The second characteristic derived from his independent thinking was his courage. He would state his views very clearly, not swerving from any of them for any reason. However, he admitted that he could be mistaken over any question. He frequently repeated to his students: "What we say is merely an expression of an opinion, which is the best we have determined. If anyone comes to us with something better, he is entitled to uphold the truth." All this gave him a highly respectable status among all who knew him. He added to that a penetrative insight. He was indeed the top scholar of Iraq in his time.

Abu Haneefah never accepted any gift, in cash or kind, from any ruler or governor. In this attitude, he was subsequently joined by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who lived much of his life in poverty. On the other hand, Imam Malik felt that Islamic scholarship had a claim to public funds. He took money from rulers, considering it as a salary, which he used to support his students. El-Shafie used to take an allowance that he earned by virtue of his belonging to the Quraish and related to the Prophet.

As a businessman, Abu Haneefah had four characteristics that distinguished him among his peers: 1) A clear sense of integrity, which steered him away from greed and doubtful gains; 2) Exemplary honesty; 3) Kindness in his dealings; and 4) a profound sense of religion that considered honest and fair trading a kind of worship. This made him exceptional among people of business. He was likened to Abu Bakr in his trading, showing any defect in the merchandise he was selling, without placing the good and attractive items on top or in the front. He placed them with the rest of the goods in order not to let in any element of cheating.

His honesty was demonstrated in both buying and selling. A woman brought him a silk dress which she wanted to sell. She asked 100 for it, but Abu Haneefah would not take it for the asking price, because, as he informed the woman, it was worth more. So she increased the price, but he kept saying it was worth more. She eventually asked him to pay her 400, but he again said that she asked too little. She looked at him suspiciously and said, ‘are you mocking me?' He suggested that she should get someone who was an expert in this line. When the expert came, he valued it at 500, and Abu Haneefah bought it at that price.

He was willing to forgo his profit if the case merited that. An old woman said to him once: "I am old and poor. Be honest with me and sell me this dress without charging too much for it." He said: "Take it, then, for 4 dirham." Knowing that the dress was worth much more, she said with a touch of anger: "Are you mocking me when I am an elderly woman?" He said: "The fact is that I bought two dresses, and sold the first one for 4 dirham short of what I paid for the two. So, if you take the dress for this price, I will have got my money back."

It is difficult to cover all aspects of such a rich personality in the space allowed for one article. Hence it is necessary to leave some important aspects to a second article, to be published, God willing, in the next issue when we will tackle Abu Haneefah’s political views and his method of deduction of rulings in all fields of Islamic Jurisprudence.

"Had I known that people would not let him down, I would have joined him in his jihad, because he is the right leader. However, I will help him financially." These were Imam Abu Haneefah's reported words in reference to Imam Zaid ibn Ali who rebelled against the Umayyad rule in 122 A.H. He was true to his word and he sent a large donation to Zaid. Abu Haneefah lived most of his life under the Umayyad Caliphate, but he felt that the Umayyad had no right to be the rulers and he was against making the choice of the Caliph hereditary. In fact Abu Haneefah was a sympathizer of the Alawees against the Umayyad and he felt that Zaid had far stronger claims to be the head of the Muslim state. However, when he looked at the prevailing situation, he felt that Zaid had no chance of winning, because he relied on the support of the people of Kufah, who were well known to desert their masters at the moment of truth. That was what they did with Ali and with his son Al-Hussein. In such a situation, rebellion would be foolhardy.

Later when the Umayyad Caliphate was facing its stiffest test, the Umayyad governor in Kufah, Ibn Hurayrah, wanted to consolidate their position in Iraq by getting the support of scholars. He called in the best known and most popular scholars and practically pressurized them into accepting official positions with the Umayyad rulers. They accepted these, with the exception of Abu Haneefah, who refused all offers. Ibn Hubairah then offered him the seal, so that no government correspondence would be issued and no financial allocations made unless he would sign and seal it. But he refused. The Governor requested some scholars to try to persuade him, but Abu Haneefah spoke to them kindly. In repeating his refusal he said: "If he wanted me to count the doors of the main mosque for him, I would not do it. How can I agree to sign and seal a letter ordering that a man should be beheaded? I will never agree to do any work for him."

That brought matters to a head, and the Governor ordered his punishment. So he was imprisoned and beaten up. Then the Governor feared that such punishment could lead to his death, and that would place a lasting stigma on the Umayyad rule. So, he requested other scholars to persuade Abu Haneefah to allow the Governor to fulfill his oath. Abu Haneefah would not accept co-operation, not even by seeking a postponement of the appointment. The Governor had no choice but to release him. When freed, Abu Haneefah left Kufah with his family, going straight to Makkah where he spent the next few years. That was in 130 AH.

With the Abbasids, he was first on good terms, but relations with Al-Mansoor, the Caliph, were again strained. Al-Mansoor called in several scholars, including Abu Haneefah, and told them that the people of Mussel rebelled, while they had earlier pledged loyalty, making it clear that they would be liable to be killed should they ever rebel. The Caliph wanted to know if this case comes under the principle laid down by the Prophet: "Believers will always honor their pledges." That would mean that all those who rebelled were liable to capital punishment. One man present said to the Caliph: "You have all authority over them. Should you forgive them, it is only your noble character, and if you punish them, they have deserved punishment."

As people voiced their views, Abu Haneefah remained silent. Al-Mansoor asked him for his opinion, reminding him that rebellion threatened people who otherwise were enjoying security. Abu Haneefah did not hesitate to state the truth as he knew it. He said to the Caliph: "They have pledged what is not theirs to offer, and you have imposed on them a condition that you have no right to impose. Capital punishment cannot be imposed on a Muslim except in one of three cases. That is the condition God has imposed, and His condition is the one you are better advised to honor. If you impose your condition, you kill them without justification." On hearing this, Al-Mansoor dismissed his attendants, but retained Abu Haneefah. When he was alone with him, he said: "Yours is the correct view. You may go home, but do not issue rulings that detract from your Caliph, so that you do not encourage rebellion."

This respect, which Al-Mansoor expressed to Abu Haneefah, was countered by his fear of his standing with the people. A shrewd politician, Al-Mansoor felt that the only way was to appease Abu Haneefah by a post or favors. He called him in and offered him the post of Chief Justice. Abu Haneefah said: "The only person who is suitable for that post is one who has the guts to pass judgment against you, your children and commanders. I am not such a person." Al-Mansoor asked him: "Why, then, do you not accept my gift?" Abu Haneefah replied: "I have not rejected any gift the Caliph has given me of his own property. What he has given me belongs to the public treasury, to which I have no claim. I am not one who fights in armies to claim a fighter's allowance, and I am not a youngster to get a child's benefit; nor am I a poor person to take what poor people receive."

Al-Mansoor pressed his offer, but Abu Haneefah continued to refuse, despite immense personal pressure. Then the Caliph warned him but Abu Haneefah said: "If you threaten to drown me in the Tigris, I would choose drowning in preference to being a judge. You have courtiers who need to be appeased for your sake." In this last sentence, Abu Haneefah was making it clear that he would not be prepared to appease anyone, not even the Caliph. The Caliph ordered that he would be imprisoned, but shortly afterwards he released him, fearing public anger at detaining such a highly respected scholar.

Imam Abu Haneefah was one of the leading scholars of Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence in our history. It is sufficient to quote one or two views of other leading scholars. El-Shafie says: "In Fiqh all people are dependent on Abu Haneefah." Ibn Al-Mubarak describes him as "the core of knowledge." By this he refers to Abu Haneefah's honest and diligent pursuit of the truth, never swerving from it. After a debate with him, tackling several issues, imam Malik described him as ‘a true scholar of fiqh.' Abu Haneefah died in year 150, at the age of 70. May God bless his soul.

Imam Abu Haneefah was one of the leading scholars of Fiqh, or Islamic Jurisprudence in our history. It is sufficient to quote one or two views of other leading scholars. El-Shafie says: "In Fiqh all people are dependent on Abu Haneefah." Ibn Al-Mubarak describes him as "the core of knowledge." By this he refers to Abu Haneefah's honest and diligent pursuit of the truth, never swerving from it. After a debate with him, tackling several issues, imam Malik described him as ‘a true scholar of fiqh.'

There is no doubt that Abu Haneefah was a scholar of the highest caliber. Yet he was beset with controversy in his own time, because his method of scholarly thinking was practically new in the sense that no one delved into it with similar vigor. Coupled with his independence and consistency, his method was liable to irritate those who take all religious text at face value. At the same time he was extremely unpopular with those who followed deviant creeds, because they felt that he established a solid system of construction and deduction in Islamic Jurisprudence.

He outlined his method with regard to religious text, stating: "I rely on God's book, and when I do not find applicable text, and then I rely on the hadith of the Prophet. When I have nothing available in either, I take what the Prophet's companions said, but I take any of their views when I have more than one. I do not leave what they say to take up anybody else's view. When a question is left to Ibrahim, Al-Shaabi and Al-Hassan [i.e. the tabieen scholars], they are simply people who endeavored to arrive at a ruling based on scholarly discretion. I will make May own."

This, together with his approach where no text is directly applicable provides a system of scholarly Endeavour that has 7 main elements, which are:

   1. The Quran, the basis of all religious thought and rulings, and the basic source in any ruling;
   2. The Sunnah, or the hadith, which serves to explain God's book and represents the Prophet's effort in conveying God's message;
   3. Statements by the Prophet's companions, as they were fully aware of the events that preceded revelation, witnessed its implementation by the Prophet, and imparted their knowledge to subsequent generations;
   4. Analogy, or Qiyas, which applies a clear text to something other than that to which it relates, because of a basic cause common to both of them;
   5. Regressive analogy, or Istihsan, which means to abandon a clear analogy in order to establish a ruling that is at variance with it. This is because the analogy, or Qiyas, appears to be faulty in some details. What a scholar would do, then, is to try to determine another cause [or illah] that the matter in question has in common with something else. Resorting to this is sometimes called, ‘concealed analogy'. Regressive analogy is also employed when Qiyas is at variance with either a clear text or unanimity of scholars or tradition.
   6. Unanimity of scholars, or ijmaa'.
   7. Social tradition, which refers to the practice of Muslim community with regard to a matter to which no clear text in the Quran, hadith or the Prophet's companions' views applies. If tradition is at variance with a clear text, then it has no value.

One distinctive feature of Abu Haneefah's scholarship is the high importance it attaches to personal freedom. In all his studies and views, he valued very highly the free choice of a human being in practically every type of behavior, provided he or she are sane. It is not for the community or the ruler to interfere in personal choices, as long as the individual has not contravened a religious order.

Such emphasis on personal freedom manifests itself in various areas. One of the most important of these is that Abu Haneefah gives an adult woman the authority to enter into a marriage contract by herself, without reference to her guardian. All scholars agree that no guardian may force a woman under his guardianship to marry anyone without her consent, but she may not marry without his approval. Her direct verbal consent is not sufficient to initiate a marriage contract. Her guardian must act for her. Abu Haneefah disagrees with all scholars on this point, making an adult woman free to enter into a marriage contract by herself, without her guardian. He considers a young woman equal to a young man. As he can marry by himself, so can she. And as she has full authority over her property, she has full authority over herself with regard to marriage. Guardianship over a free and sane person must work in that person's favor. To restrict one's freedom does not serve one's interests. It is indeed harmful.

Abu Haneefah's respect of individual freedom is also manifested in his verdict that does not allow withdrawing a person's rights of dispensing with his money or property on account of his being stupid or irrational. As long as his action  do not cause harm to others, then Abu Haneefah feels that society or ruling authorities have no right to restrict his freedom of action. If he squanders his money, he will reap the results himself. Society will not be harmed, as the money will still be there, in other people's hands. Restricting a person's freedom is much more harmful to society than that person's loss of his money or property.

Similarly Abu Haneefah does not consider it permissible to restrict a person's freedom of dispensing with his property as a result of being in debt, even if his debts exceed all his property. A debtor may be forced to repay his debts, but not through restriction of his freedom of action.

Abu Haneefah did not write any book, but some pamphlets are said to be authored by him. It is his students who recorded his views. Abu Yusuf, his best known student, wrote several books in which he recorded Abu Haneefah's views and rulings. However, his other student, Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan, was the main scholar who collected, related and published Abu Haneefah's fiqh in six books representing the first systematic collection of a particular method of fiqh. It should be mentioned that Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan did not study under Abu Haneefah for long, as he was 18 when the great scholar died, but he was one of his best students and he read much under Abu Yusuf. The other main scholar of the Hanafi school of thought was Zufar ibn Al-Huthail.

The Hanafi school of thought spread far and wide, particularly because of the very large number of scholars who followed it in successive generations. It is the main school of thought in central Asian countries, as well as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Turkey. It is widely followed in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, but not in African countries.

Imam Hanifa had thousands of students. Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhummad and Sayidina Ibn Mubarak were the most famous students of Imam Hanifa.

“Shaykayn” said which means Imam Hanifa and Imam Yusuf said.
“ Sahibayn” said which means Imam Yusuf and Imam Muhammad said.
“ Tarafayn” said which means Imam Hanifa and Imam Muhammad said.

The Work Conducted By His Students
Imam Hanifa had a council of 40 students who lived and studied in his academy. He has reportedly spoken on 83,000 juristic issues.

Whenever an issue came to the attention of Imam Hanifa’s council they used to discuss the matter for months and reach a conclusion based on the consensus. The council used to resolve the problems of the community, they were unlike some of the scholars today who are harsh and send people away. They used to “speculate” and “assume” issues and then passed Fatwa’s on them. It is for this reason why the permissibility of test tubes babies was announced approximately 800 years ago. The Fiqh of Imam Hanifa is compatible and applicable to modern times.

Imam Hanifa believed that no one should interfere with the decisions of a sane and mature person. It is for this reason why he is the only Imam who believes that a mature and sane woman can get married without the permission of her parents.

28 of Imam Hanifa’s students became judges in different towns, cities and provinces and 8 became Imams, capable of passing legal rulings according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

He told his students that they should…
1 Not ask questions when he is walking
2 Not ask questions when other people in the gathering are talking
3 Not ask questions when he is standing.

Code Of Conduct Of His Students
One of his students named Tobah Bin Saad had some questions that he wanted to ask Imam Hanifa. So he went to his home and waited until he came out and walked behind him with his note book and wrote down all the answers to the questions. The next day he went to visit Imam Hanifa in his study circle and found that he was discussing the same questions that he had asked him yesterday, but was giving completely different answers to what he had been told. When Tobah Bin Saan asked Imam Hanifa the reason he was giving different answers to what he had been told, Imam Hanifa told him “I had told you not to ask me questions when I am walking”.

Imam Hanifa used to tell his students to keep their appearance and mannerism respectable. He used to say “If you are walking down the street and someone calls you from behind don’t turn around, have dignity”.

He gave his students a code of conduct on how they should behave in court. He told them that their purpose was to serve people and NOT rule them. They should not behave like dictators and should serve with justice. He told them to resign from a post if they felt things were not in their control. He advised them against working for the sake of salary and greed and told them to keep their doors open day and night.

In one incident Imam Yusuf returned home late one night and was getting ready to retire to bed. A messenger of the Caliph knocked on his door and told Imam Yusuf that the Caliph needed him. Imam Yusuf told the messenger that it was late and told him to make up some excuse. The messenger told Imam Yusuf that he was unable to do so. Imam Yusuf had a bath, changed his clothes, applied some perfume and left to meet the Caliph. The Caliph apologised for disturbing the Imam late at night and told him that he had a problem that needed to be resolved. The Imam told him that not only he but his family had also been disturbed, but the Imam was more then willing to resolve the Caliphs problem. The Caliph informed him that he wanted a man to either give him or sell him a slave girl. But the man had sworn an oath that if he gives her as a gift or sells her then his wife is divorced. The Imam had a solution, he told the man to give half of her as a gift and sell half of her that way his oath will not be broken.

Imam Hanifa informed his students to offer their five daily obligatory prayers in the Mosque and after every prayer they should make an announcement to the people urging them to come to their court if they needed justice. After Isha prayer this announcement should be repeated three times.

Imam Ibn Mubarak fell in love with a slave girl; he spent an entire night talking to her. He was so infatuated by her that when he heard the Fajr adhan he assumed that it was the Adhan for Isha. He later realised that he was wasting his time with someone who’d be of no benefit to him in the hereafter.

Imam Ibn Mubarak told his followers that he learned a lot from his slave. If anyone ever asked him who was his teacher he would reply; ‘My slave’. He told them that when he purchased his slave and brought him home he asked him his name. His slave told him ‘I do not have a name you can call me whatever you wish’. The Imam asked him “What would you like to eat?” the slave replied ‘I do not have any particular desire, so give me whatever you feel like giving me’. He then asked him “Don’t you have any desires of your own?” The slave replied “I do not have any desires of my own - I only desire whatever you desire”. On hearing this reply the Imam cried and said “I wish I was the slave of my Lord in the same way”.

Once someone told Imam Ibn Mubarak that his slave steals the shrouds of the dead and sells them for money. The Imam became upset, because he had a contact with his slave, he had told him to give him one dinar every day for a year and then he will be free. One night the Imam followed the slave into the graveyard and watched him remove the earth on a grave and get into it, the Imam became convinced that he was stealing the shrouds of the dead. However, much to the astonishment of the Imam, the slave spent the night in worship of Allah (swt) telling Him (swt) that during the day he is busy serving his master which is why he is unable to serve Him (swt), he begged Allah (swt) to make him his Friend and pleaded for forgiveness. The Imam watched from a distance and wept all night. At Fajr time the slave left for the Mosque and read his Fajr in Jamaat. The Imam watched him pray to Allah (swt) and saw him raise his hands towards the heaven telling Allah (swt) that because he was busy in His (swt) service all night long he was unable to work and earn money for his master and asked Him (swt) to give him one Dinar. Miraculously one Dinar fell into his open hands. The Imam then revealed himself and told his slave that he was now free, however the slave looked up towards the heavens said “Ya Allah you has exposed me” and died instantly.

Another student of Imam Hanifa used to drink alcohol and was fond of music. Once he heard a singer say “What is the face that had not gone to dust? And what is the eye that had not shed a tear?” these lyrics inspired him to repent and change his ways. He became a great Wali (friend) of Allah (swt). He inherited 20 dinars from his father which took him 20 years to spend.

Imam Yusuf was from a poor background. His father took him to Imam Hanifa’s circles. However, his father became convinced that the wealth of Imam Hanifa would have a negative psychological effect on his son so he stopped taking him to Imam Hanifa. However, since Imam Yusuf had become attached to Imam Hanifa he started to go his circles again. Imam Hanifa asked Imam Yusuf the reason behind his long absence, Imam Yusuf explained to Imam Hanifa the reason. From then on Imam Hanifa used to give Imam Yusuf 100 dinars monthly.

In another narration, Imam Yusuf’s mother used to take her son to an oil producing factory every morning so that he could work and bring home some money. However, Imam Yusuf used to run to Imam Hanifa’s circles. Imam Yusuf’s mother complained to Imam Hanifa and told him to advise her son to work. Imam Hanifa told her that her son had a bright future; he could see him eating Halwa (a rich desert) in the future. Imam Yusuf’s mother became angry and asked him how he could make fun out of their poverty. Imam Hanifa took Imam Yusuf under his guardianship and trained him to become a well renowned judge. Once the Caliph came to visit Imam Yusuf and brought with up a specially prepared dish that he did not normally make; it was a Halwa and Imam Yusuf smiled when the Caliphs servants uncovered the dish.

Once Haroon Rashid and Zubaida had an argument and in a fit of anger Haroon had told his wife that if she does not leave his kingdom by the evening she would be divorced. He later regretted his actions; his kingdom was very large, it consisted of two oceans and three continents, it was impossible for Zubaida to leave his kingdom by the evening. They summoned Imam Yusuf and asked for his advice, Imam Yusuf told Haroon that his wife should spend the night in the Mosque, for that was not the Kingdom of Haroon but was the kingdom of Allah (swt).

Imam Muhammad was 18 years old when Imam Hanifa passed away. He was not allowed to join the circle of Imam Hanifa as he had not memorized the Qur’an. So he went away and returned two years later after memorizing the entire Qur’an. His father had left him 30,000 dinars and he spent 15,000 dinars on Arabic poetry and grammar and 15,000 on Hadith and fiqh. He was a great Imam and also a judge, he spent 3 years learning 700 hadiths at the door of Imam Malik’s house.

May God reward Abu Haneefah handsomely and bless his soul.
May God bless his soul...

The beliefs must be corrected first, then follows all of the other aspects of the religion.

Have fun praying and getting ready for the Day of Judgment coz that day will NOT be fun :) P.S.: don’t forget to make dua  for me. !!