Repost # 4: ‘Imam Abu Hanifa and Hadith’ Series: Part 1
‘Reposts’ are posts of yester- day/week/year which shall be posted again, Insha’llah once a week and can be found in the ‘Reposts’ category.
“The year 80 A.H. witnessed the birth of a great personality–one who engaged himself in the study of the religious sciences under the great scholars of his time; one who proceeded to process and codify this knowledge, especially in the field of jurisprudence [fiqh], for the benefit of the Umma of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم . This person was none other than Abu Hanifa Nu’man ibn Thabit of Kufa. The intelligence, wisdom, prudence, piety, devotion, generosity, and good conduct he exemplified made him unique in his time. He attained a very high status in the various fields of sacred knowledge [‘ilm] and was given the title al-Imam al-A’zam of “the Greatest Imam.””
[Imam Abu Hanifa] …”who is renowned all over the world for his services to Islam and who is accepted by consensus of this Umma’s scholars as a reliable interpreter of the sacred texts. His school of fiqh [madhhab] has continued to be adopted and followed by the vast majority of the People of the Sunna and Community [Ahl al-Sunna wa ‘l-Jama’a] to this day.
Unfortunately, there are some who have considered themselves at liberty to raise objections to the Imam and slander him. They attempt to lower his status and show him to be deficient in the field of hadith. However, anyone who studies the pages of history objectively will surely be impressed by his scholarship in the various fields of Islamic learning, especially his insight in hadith–the knowledge of which is indispensable for any jurist, let alone for someone regarded as “al-Imam al-A’zam.””
The following is the first of a series of topics that have been covered regarding al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifa in the book Fiqh al-Imam, Key Proofs in Hanafi Fiqh by Shaykh Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf, under the general heading of Imam A’zam Abu Hanifa and Hadith, and will be posted here [on Ekhlas] in a piecemeal fashion. They are:
1. Imam Abu Hanifa: A Follower [Tabi’i]
2. Imam Abu Hanifa Narrated From the Companions
3. Imam Abu Hanifa: Most Learned Person of His Time
4. Imam Abu Hanifa: A Hadith Master [Hafiz]
5. Imam Abu Hanifa: An Authority and Critic of Hadith
Imam Abu Hanifa: A Follower [Tabi’i]
According to the majority of hadith scholars, a tabi’i or “Follower” is someone who met a companion of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم or merely saw one while in the state of faith [iman]. It is not necessary for him to have remained in his company or to have narrated from him. Hafiz ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani has stated this definition to be the most preferred one (I’la’ al-sunan 19:306). ‘Allama ‘Iraqi, Ibn al-Salah, Nawawi, and Hakim, among others, also agree on this definition.
According to this widely accepted opinion, Imam Abu Hanifa is considered to be a tabi’i, and this has been confirmed by many biographers and historians. This is a unique position held by him, since the same cannot be said regarding the other great Imams, Shafi’i, Malik, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah be well please with them all).
‘Allama Dhahabi writes in his Tadhkirat al-huffaz that Abu Hanifa was born in 80 A.H. He saw Anas ibn Malik رضى الله عنه more than once (every time Anas visited Kufa). Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi states:
Abu Hanifa saw Anas رضى الله عنه (Tadhkirat al-Rashid 427).
Ibn Hajar l-Makki writes:
It is true, as Dhahabi has stated that Abu Hanifa saw Anas ibn Malik رضى الله عنه when he was young (al-Khayrat al-hisan).
Khatib al-Baghdadi confirms in his Tarikh al-Baghdad:
Abu Hanifa saw Anas ibn Malik رضى الله عنه (Tadhkirat al-Rashid 281).
Hamza al-Sahami states:
I heard Daraqutni say, “Abu Hanifa did not meet any Companion of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم except Anas ibn Malik رضى الله عنه” (Tabyid al-sahifa 502).
Therefore, as many scholars have confirmed, Imam Abu Hanifa was most certainly a tabi’i.
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