Eight distinctive qualities of Imam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ

Great Islamic personalities

Eight distinctive qualities of Imam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه

Maulana Abu Mu’awiyah Attari Madani

Eponymous founder of the largest Islamic school of thought today and Imam to hundreds of millions of adherents across the globe, the Greatest Imam (Imam Al-A’zam), Nu’man Bin Saabit رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, better known by his teknonym Abu Hanifah, holds a unique position in the history of Islam. Hailed as a genius of Islamic Law, his authority, juristic acumen, and intelligence is widely acknowledged.

Perhaps his name was a sign of his future role in the formulation of Islamic Jurisprudence, as Imam Ibn-e-Hajar Al-Haytami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه explained: ‘Lexically, ‘Nu’man’ refers to the blood by which the entire anatomy is maintained and because of which all mechanisms of the body are able to function; the blessed person of Imam Al-A’zam رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه is like that life-force and epicentre of Islamic Jurisprudence. (Al-Khayraat-ul-Hisaan, p. 31)

Divine grace favoured him with many unique merits and qualities, eight of which are described below:

1.   He was an eminent Follower (Taabi’i), being born in the second of the three blessed generations. During his lifetime, he was privileged to encounter four companions of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, viz.: Anas Bin Malik, Abdullah Bin Abi Awfa, Sahl Bin Sa’d Al-Sa’di, and Abu Tufayl Amir Bin Wasilah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم. (Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, Muqaddamah-tul-Mu`allif, vol. 1, p. 75)

2.   He had had four thousand teachers and approximately eight hundred students; more than any other Imam of jurisprudence. (Al-Khayraat-ul-Hisaan, p. 37; Al-Manaqib-lil-Kardari, vol. 1, p. 15)

3.   After the Companions, he was the first widely followed founder of a legal tradition (Mujtahid) that survived the test of time. The codification of and approach to jurisprudence that he initiated was adopted by all subsequent jurists and hadith scholars, including Imam Malik رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه in his Hadees compendium, the Muwatta. (Tabyeez-us-Sahifah, p. 138; Mirat-ul-Manajih, Muqaddamah, vol. 1, p. 15)

4.   All jurists after him drew on his approach to legal deduction (Istidlaal) and inference (Istinbaat). Imam Al-Shaafi’i famously alluded to this: ‘مَنْ اَرَادَ اَنْ يَتَبَحَّرَ فِی الْفِقْهِ فَهُوَ عِيَالٌ عَلَى اَبِی حَنِيفَةَ’ ‘Everyone who wants to gain expertise in jurisprudence is dependent on Abu Hanifah.’ Others added that Imam Abu Hanifah is the garden of Islamic Law; jurists and non-jurists alike need him. (Rad-ul-Muhtar, Muqaddamah, vol. 1, p. 151)

5.   Allah Almighty granted special acceptance to his school of thought, making it the largest school in terms of number of adherents. According to ‘Allamah Ali Al-Qaari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, two thirds of the Muslim population adhere to the school of Imam Abu Hanifah. (Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, Muqaddamah-tul-Mu`allif, vol. 1, p. 74)

6.   Along with knowledge, he was a beacon of asceticism, piety, worship, and spirituality, the likes of which are seldom found. (Majmu’ah Rasaail Abul-Hasnaat, p. 37) He completed the recitation of the Quran seven thousand times at the place where he passed away. (Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, Muqaddamah, vol. 1, p. 77)

7.   The academic genealogies of all jurists (Fuqaha) and Hadees scholars (Muhaddiseen) link back to him, making them his direct or indirect students. (Mirat-ul-Manajih, Muqaddamah, vol. 1, p. 15)

8.   His school of thought was able to bring Islam to and flourish in lands which no other school of thought could reach, including Pakistan, India, Byzantium, Turkey, and Ancient Transoxiana. (Majmu’ah Rasaail Abul-Hasnaat, p. 37)




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