Imam Abu Hanifa First of the four great imams of fiqh, Nu`man ibn Thabit, Imam Abu Hanifa was born in 80 A.H. in Kufa. He is known as imâm al-a`zam (the greatest imam) and called “The Imam” by Abu Dawud. His school has the largest number of followers among the four imams. He was the only tâbi`i (who met with the companions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) out of the four luminaries. He had the privilege of seeing Anas ibn Malik, Sahl ibn Sad as-Sa’idi, ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa and Abu al-Fadl Amir ibn Wasila. Hammad Basri, Ata bin Abi Rabah, Imam Baaqir, Imam Jafer Saadiq, Abdullah ibn Umar, Aqabah bin Umar and many other distinguished scholars are among the teachers of imam Abu Hanifa. Qadi Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammed are among his famous students. He was the pioneer in classification and compilation of fiqh. One of the biggest contributions of Imam Abu Hanifa is that he organized fiqh into functional sub categories starting with tahara (purification). All other imams and scholars followed his organization. He is known for his unparallel knowledge of fiqh and skill in qiyaas as well as taqwa and an amazing memory. A quote attributed to Imam Shafi’i states that a person who wanted to specialize in fiqh should read Abu Hanifa’s books. Abdullah Ibn Mubarak said, “I have not seen another specialist as learned as Abu Hanifa in the knowledge of fiqh.” Sufyan al-Thawri encapsulated all of the qualities of imâm al-a`zam in this statement, “This man holds a high rank in knowledge, and if I did not stand up for his science I would stand up for his age, and if not for his age then for his God wariness (wara`), and if not for his God wariness then for his jurisprudence (fiqh).” Qadi Abu Yusuf , while describing imam Abu Hanifa’s personality, said, “As far as I know, Abu Hanifah was extremely pious, avoided forbidden things, remained silent and absorbed in his thoughts most of the time, and answered a question only if he knew the answer. He was very generous and self-respecting, never asked a favor of anybody, shunned the company of the worldly-minded and held worldly power and position in contempt. He avoided slander and only talked well of people. He was a man of profound learning and was as generous with his knowledge as with his money.” Despite being regarded as one of the greatest contributors to Islamic jurisprudence, Imam Shafi`i openly acknowledges the stature of Imam Abu Hanifa. “People are all the children of Abu Hanifa in fiqh.” During the reign of Caliph Mansur of the Umayyad dynasty, Imam Abu Hanifa was offered the seat of Qaadi but he refused and was imprisoned thereafter. In 150 A.H. he was reportedly poisoned by the orders of the caliph and passed away.