The following is the last 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 have been posted here [on Ekhlas] in a piecemeal fashion.
A number of points have come to light by the above [below in this case] discussion. We have learned that it is not possible to be a jurist and not possess a sound knowledge of the Sunna. Imam Abu Hanifa possessed deep insight into the knowledge of hadith, and was ranked as an authority in the field. ‘Allama Dhahabi listed him among the hadith masters [huffaz] in his book Tadhkirat al-huffaz, and many referred to him as the greatest scholar of his time.
Many jurists would narrate their hadiths in the form of “religious rulings,” which meant that they had fewer “formal narrations.” However, this cannot be used as reason for criticism, since the task of the jurist is to possess the hadiths and derive rulings from them, as was from the Imam’s conversation with the great hadith scholar, A’mash. It is therefore incorrect to criticize any great jurist on the basis of his not being aware of hadiths, especially someone of Imam Abu Hanifa’s caliber.
We now end this chapter by mentioning some of the noteworthy aspects of Imam Abu Hanifa’s gatherings and how his school of jurisprudence was formulated:
Khatib al-Baghdadi relates through his chain that Ibn Karama said, “We were once in the company of Waki’ ibn al-Jarrah when someone made a remark that Abu Hanifa has erred. Waki’ said, ‘How can Abu Hanifa err when he has in his company the likes of Abu Yusuf, Zufar, and Muhammad with their power of analogy [qiyas] and inference [ijtihad]; the likes of Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’ida, Hafs ; ibn Ghiyath, and Hibban and Mandal, sons of ‘Ali with their memorization and understanding of hadiths; Qasim ibn Ma’n with his understanding of the Arabic language and Dawud ibn Nudayr al-Ta’i and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad with their absitence [zuhd] and piety [wara‘]. How is anyone who has such people as his companions and sitting partners able to make a mistake? Even if he was to make one, they would surely guide him to the truth'” (Tarikh al-Baghdad 14:247).
Furthermore, Imam Tahawi related that Asad ibn al-Furat said,
The companions of Abu Hanifa who compiled and recorded the works [of his school] were forty. Those in the forefront were Abu Yusuf, Zufar, Dawud al-Ta’i, Asad ibn ‘Amr, Yusuf ibn Khalid al-Samti, Yahya ibn Abi Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’ida, who were their scribe for thirty years…
After quoting the above two statements, the great hadith scholar Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani comments:
Whoever has hadith masters [huffaz] of this caliber as his main students, to whom the hadith scholars have bowed their heads in recognition of their memorization [of hadiths] and extensive knowledge, then how is it possible for that person to have narrated only a few hadiths? (I’la’ al-sunan 19:331)
May Allah remove the veils of ignorance and deceit which distort and obscure the truth, and may He reveal it in its true form and grant us the ability to follow it, amin.
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