Imaam Aboo Haneefah


Staff member

by Dr. Muhammad Esma'il Sieny
Heroes of Islam © 2000 Darussalam

It is a well-known fact that Muslims follow some basic schools of thought in matters of Islamic Jurisprudence, other than questions of faith and fundamentals of worship and legal practices. For the latter are not subject to controversy, since they have been clearly defined in the Qur'ân and in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

The renowned scholars of the four basic schools were Abu Haneefah, Malik ibn Anas (bio), Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafii (bio) and Ahmad ibn Hanbal (bio). Now we will try to shed some light on the personality of Abu Haneefah, whose school of thought is widely spread especially in Asia (including the Indian subcontinent, the whole of Central Asia and countries like Turkey and Afghanistan).

Abu Haneefah An-Nu`man was born in Koofa, Iraq, in the year 80 AH. He was lucky to be born in the second generation of Islam, since he had the opportunity to learn from some companions of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and many renowned scholars of the second generation. It has been pointed out that Abu Haneefah was the first to codify Islamic law or jurisprudence (commonly known as Fiqh) compiled from the Qur'ân and the Sunnah.

Our hero was a merchant by profession, but he spent both ends of the day in teaching in the mosque. He was exemplary in his conduct both as a merchant and a teacher. For he was not only very honest in his commercial dealings, but he was very conscientious as well, to the extent that he would refuse any profit he felt uneasy about, even if it was a legitimate one. Once a lady came to his store and requested him to sell a silk dress for her. He asked her about the suggested price for the dress. When she told him “100 dirhams”, he told her that it was worth more than that. She could not believe that until it was sold for her before her own eyes for 500 dirhams. On another occasion our hero warned his partner not to sell a certain garment due to some defects in it. Somehow his partners forgot and sold that garment. When our hero knew that, he decided to give out in charity all the money earned that day, and he broke the partnership with his friend who sold the defective garment even though inadvertently.

As a teacher, our hero used to support all his needy students in order for them to devote all their time to learning. His encouragement of education made him very generous even to scholars. It is reported that when he wanted to buy clothes for himself or his family, he would do the same for some of the scholars he knew. In fact, our hero's generosity reached everyone that came in contact with him. One day he was walking down the street when he noticed a man trying to hide from him. Abu Haneefah asked the man, “Why are you trying to hide from me?” When he was told that he owed our hero 10,000 dirhams and was embarrassed because he could not pay the money to him, our hero informed the man that he no longer wanted the loan back. He further asked the man to forgive him for causing him so much trouble and feeling of embarrassment!

As a typical man of piety our hero was very kind to all his acquaintances, whom he visited when ill and inquired about when absent. A very interesting case is reported in the encounter between our hero and his drunkard neighbour, who would get drunk and keep singing aloud all night long causing so much annoyance to Abu Haneefah. Once the police caught the man (the noisy neighbour) and took him to prison. Abu Haneefah noticed that night that the neighbourhood was quiet. So he inquired about his noisy neighbour. Upon knowing of his neighbour's imprisonment, he rushed to the governor of the city interceding for his neighbour who was immediately released. Not only that, Abu Haneefah gave the man some money to compensate for the earnings he lost due to imprisonment. The drunkard was so impressed with this kind attitude and treatment that he decided to repent and devote his time to learning the message of Islam in the mosque.

Abu Haneefah's fear of falling into fault made him refuse all the offers made by governors and the Caliph to appoint him in public offices, including the post of a judge. For that reason Caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansoor ordered that Abu Haneefah be put in jail where he died in the year 150 AH.

But even if our hero died in prison, his name is still very much alive in the memory of Islamic history and millions of the followers of his school of thought and others all over the world.


Staff member
Imaam Abu Hanifah an-Nu'maan ibn Thaabit [1]
Taken from 'The Creed Of The Four Imaams'
By Muhammad ibn Abdur Rahmaan al-Khumayyis

He is the imaam, the faqeeh, the Scholar of al-'Iraaq, Aboo Haneefah an-Nu'maan Ibn Thaabit Ibn Zawtaa at-Taymee al-Koofee, the master of Banee Taymullaah Ibn Tha'labah, it was said that he was from the sons of al-Faras.

He was born in the year 80H during the lifetime of the younger Companions, and he saw Maalik Ibn Anas when he came to them in al-Koofah. However, not a single letter from them has been confirmed from him.

Ahmad al-'Ijlee said, "Aboo Haneefah at-Taymee was from a group of oil dealers, he used to buy and sell silken fabrics."

And 'Umar Ibn Hammaad Ibn Abee Haneefah said, "As for Zawtaa, then he is from the people of Kaabil and he was born firm upon Islaam. And Zawtaa was in possession of the tribe of Taymullaah Ibn Tha'labah. So he was old and his allegiance was to them, then to the tribe of Qifl." He said, "And Aboo Haneefah was a fabrics merchant, and his shop was known in Daar 'Amr Ibn Hareeth."

And Nadr Ibn Muhammad al-Marwazee said, "From Yahyaa Ibn Nadr who said, "The father of Abee Haneefah was from Nisaa."

And Sulaymaan Ibnur-Rabee' relates from al-Haarith Ibn Idrees who said, "The origin of Aboo Haneefah is from Tirmidh."

And Aboo 'Abdur-Rahmaan al-Muqree said, "Aboo Haneefah was from the people of Baabil."

And Aboo Ja'far Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq Ibnul-Bahlool relates from his father, from his grandfather who said, "Thaabit, the father of Aboo Haneefah was from the people of al-Anbaar."

From Mukrim Ibn Ahmad al-Qaadee who said, Ahmad Ibn 'Abdullaah Ibn Shaadhaan al-Marwazee informed us from his father, from his grandfather: I heard Ismaa'eel saying, Ismaa'eel Ibn Hammaad Ibn Abee Haneefah an-Nu'maan Ibn Thaabit Ibnul-Marzabaan informed us from the sons of Faaris al-Ahraar, by Allaah softness never fell upon us. "My grandfather was born in the year 80H, and Thaabit went to 'Alee whilst he was young. So he supplicated for his blessing and for his offspring, and we hope that this supplications from Alee was answered through us.

Muhammad Ibn Sa'd al-'Awfee said, `I heard Yahyaa Ibn Ma'een saying, `Aboo Haneefah was reliable (thiqah), and he did not relate any hadeeth, except those that he had memorized, and he did not relate those that he had not memorized."

And Saalih Ibn Muhammad said, `I heard Yahyaa Ibn Ma'een saying, `Aboo Haneefah was thiqah in hadeeth.'

And Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibnul-Qaasim Ibn Mahraz relates from Ibn Ma'een, `There was no problem in Aboo Haneefah.' And he said another time. `He was from the people of truthfulness according to us, and he was not faulted with lying.' Indeed Ibn Hubayrah left the judiciary to him, so my father used to be a judge.'

From Shu'ayb Ibn Ayyoob as-Sareefeenee, Aboo Yahyaa al-Himaanee informed us, `I heard Abaa Haneefah saying, `I saw a dream that terrified me. I saw that I was digging up the grave of the Prophet (Sallahhaahu ‘alaihi-Wa-salam). So I came to al-Basrah, so I commanded a man to ask Muhammad Ibn Seereen, so he asked him. So he said, `This man is digging up the narrations of the Messenger of Allaah (Sallahhaahu- ‘alaihi-Wasalam)"

The muhaddith, Mahmood Ibn Muhammad al-Marwazee said, Haamid Ibn Aadam informed us, Aboo Wahb Muhammad Ibn Mujaahim informed us saying, `I heard 'Abdullaah Ibnul-Mubaarak saying, `If Allaah had not aided me through Abee Haneefah and Sufyaan, I would have been like the rest of the people."

From Ahmad Ibn Zubayr, Sulaymaan Ibn Abee Shaykh informed us, Hujr Ibn 'Abdul-Jabbaar informed me saying, `It was said to al-Qaasim Ibn Ma'n, `Are you pleased to be from amongst the boy servants of Aboo Haneefah?' He said, `The people have not sat in circle more beneficial than that of Abee Haneefah.' So al-Qaasim said to him, `Come with me to him.' So when he came to him, he stuck to him, and he said, `I have not seen the likes of this.'

And Bishr Ibnul-Waleed relates from al-Qaadee Aboo Yoosuf who said, `Once when I was walking with Aboo Haneefah, I heard a man saying to another, `This Aboo Haneefah does not sleep at night.' So Aboo Haneefah said, `By Allaah, do not relate from me that which I do not do.

'Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Muhammad Ibnul-Mugheerah said, `I saw Aboo Haneefah pronouncing verdicts for the people at a Masjid in al-Koofah, upon his head was a long black hood."

And Ibnul-Mubaarak said, `I have not seen a man more dignified in his gathering, nor having better' manners and mildness than Aboo Haneefah.'

Yazeed Ibn Haaroon said, "I have not seen anyone more easy going than Aboo Haneefah."

Wakee' said, `I heard Abee Haneefah saying, `Urinating in the Masjid is better than some analogical deduction (qiyaas)."

And from Mu'aawiyah ad-Dareer who said, "Loving Abee Haneefah is from the Sunnah."

And from Mugheeth Ibn Badeel who said, `Aboo Haneefah was called by al-Mansoor to the judiciary, so he refused. So he said, `Do you desire that which we have?' So he said, "No, I am not appropriate." He said, `You have lied.' He said, "So the Leader of the Believers has ruled that I am not appropriate. Since I am a liar, then I am not appropriate. And if I was truthful, I would have informed you that I was not appropriate." So he was detained.

And Ismaa'eel Ibn Abee Uways relates something similar from ar-Rabee' al-Haajib, and in it Aboo Haneefah said, "By Allaah, I am not safe from pleasure, so how could I be safe from anger? So I am not appropriate for that." So al-Mansoor said, `You have lied. Rather, you are appropriate.' So he said, `How is it lawful for you to give authority to one who lies?' And it was said that Aboo Haneefah worked for him. So he judged in one affair and remained for two days, then he complained for six days and died.

And the faqeeh, Aboo 'Abdullaah as-Saymaree said, "He did not accept the position of judge. So he was beaten and detained and he died in jail.' And Hayyaan Ibn Moosaa al-Marwazee said, `Ibnul-Mubaarak was asked, `Is Maalik better in fiqh, or Aboo Haneefah?' He said, `Aboo Haneefah." And al-Khuryabee said, `No one finds fault with Aboo Haneefah, except one who is jealous, or an ignoramus.'

And Yahyaa Ibn Sa'eed al-Qattaan said, "We do not lie in front of Allaah. We have not heard anything better than the opinion of Abee Haneefah. And indeed we have taken many of his statements."

And 'Alee Ibn 'Aasim said, "If the knowledge of Imaam Aboo Haneefah was weighed against the knowledge of the people of his era, he would have outweighed them."

And Hafs Ibn Ghiyaath said, The speech of Abee Haneefah in fiqh is more intricate than poetry. No one finds fault with it except an ignorant person.

And Jareer said, `Mugheerah said to me, `Sit with Aboo Haneefah to gain fiqh, since if Ibraaheem an-Nakha'ee was living, he would sit with him.' And Ibnul-Mubaarak said, "Aboo Haneefah had more fiqh than the rest of the people."


[1] The following biography is taken from Siyar A'laamun-Nubalaa (6/394 -403), slightly adapted. For biographies of Aboo Haneefah, refer to: Tabaqaatul-Khaleefah (no. 176-327), Taareekhut-Bukhaaree (8/81), Taareekhus-Sagheer (2/43), al-Jarh wat-Ta'deel, (8/449-450), Kitaabul-Majrooheen (3/61), Taareekh Baghdaad (13/323-324), al.Kaamil fit-Taareekh (5/549. 585), Wafiyaatul-A'yaan (5/415-423), Tahdheebul-Kamaal (no. 1414-1417), Tahdheebut-Tahdheeb (1/98/4), Tadhkiratul-Huffaadh (1/168), Meezaanul-I'tidaal (4/265), al'Ibr (1/314), Maraatul-Jinaan (1/309), al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (10/ 107 ), Taqreebut-Tahdheeb (10/449452), an-Nujoomuz-Zaahirah(2/12), al-Jawaahirul-Mudee'ah (1/26-32), Khilaasah Tahdheebul Kamaal (no. 402), Shadhamatudh -Dhahab (1/227-229).