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Article Table of Contents


1. His views
2. FIQH: Essential Features
3. His juridical method
4. The sources of public law in his jurisprudence
5. Ab Ysuf and ul al-fiqh (legal theory)
6. Ab Ysuf's position in anaf jurisprudence
7. Ab Ysuf and the Ab al-adth
8. Works
9. Unpublished Works
10.
Lost Works
11.
Bibliography
Ab Ysuf, Yaqb b. Ibrhm b. abb b. Khunays al-Anr (113182/731798), was a famous judge
(q) and one of the founders of the anaf school of jurisprudence. His forebear was Sad b. Bujayr
of the Bajla tribe, who was one of the Companions of the Prophet and one of the first to emigrate from
Medina to Kfa (Ibn Sad, 6/34; Ibn Qutayba, al-Marif, 499; al-Dhahab, 57). According to Ab
Ysuf's own account, his father died while he was still a child, and because of their poverty and
straitened circumstances his mother sent him out to work for a fuller (qar) (al-Khab, Tarkh,
14/244; al-aymar, 92). Although he was poor, he took every opportunity to study and learn.
Ab Ysuf studied with two groups of Kfan traditionists (muaddithn), whom Ibn Sad classified
amongst the fourth and fifth abaqt of the tbin (the generation following that of the Prophet's
Companions). The most famous teachers in the earlier group were Manr b. al-Mutamir, A b. alSib, Sulaymn al-Amash, Ab Isq al-Shaybn, Muarrif b. arf, Isml b. Ab Khlid, and
Mujlid b. Sad; the later group included al-ajjj b. Art, Muammad b. al-Sib al-Kalb, Ab
amza al-Thuml, and Misar b. Kidm (Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/242; al-Dhahab,
58; see also Ab Ysuf's reports scattered throughout his extant works).
Ab Ysuf also studied adth under the shaykhs of Bara, including Abn b. Ab Ayysh and Dwd
b. Ab Hind, who belonged to the fourth abaqa of the tbin, and asan b. Dnr and Sad b. Ab
Arba who belonged to the fifth. In addition, he stayed for a while in the ijz in order to learn adth
there. He studied under the shaykhs of Medina, including Ubayd Allh b. Umar al-Umar and Yay
b. Sad al-Anr, and under the shaykhs of Mecca, including Ibn Jurayj and anala b. Ab Sufyn
(Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/242; al-Dhahab, 58). He was well known for learning
adths by heart, and he attended some of the shaykhs' lessons as their scribe and amanuensis. From
time to time he would write down the adths that he had heard (Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74; Wak, 3/255).
After having attended the gatherings of the muaddiths, Ab Ysuf became interested in Ab anfa's

school of jurisprudence, and became one of his companions (Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74). As a result, he
embarked on a new phase in his train- ing which revolutionised the nature of his scholarship.
Although he was regarded as a scholar among the traditionists, he was also considered the greatest
faqh (jurist) of the aab al-ray (proponents of considered opinion). During this period of his life Ab
Ysuf was still living in great poverty, and it is reported that Ab anfa supported him (al-aymar,
92; al-Tankh, al-Faraj, 2/387).
According to some accounts, Ab Ysuf was Ab anfa's companion for seventeen years (al-aymar,
93; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/252), which correspond to the years between the date of Ab anfa's return
from the ijz to Kfa in 132/750 and his death in 150/767. Gradually Ab Ysuf lost interest in
attending the lessons of the traditionists, and his liking for Ab anfa's fiqh was founded on the use of
personal judgement (ray). His studies came to an end with the death of Ab anfa. Thereafter he was
regarded as Ab anfa's most distinguished student and as an important faqh in scholarly circles in
Iraq.
After a while Ab Ysuf moved from Kfa to Baghdad. He was appointed q (judge) of Baghdad
during the caliphate of the Abbsid al-Mahd (r. 158169/775786) (Wak, 3/255256). Some sources
state that Ab Ysuf was appointed soon after the death in 162/779 of Ab Bakr b. Abd Allh b.
Muammad b. Ab Sabra, who had been q of Baghdad (Ibn Qutayba, al-Marif, 489). In 166/783
al-Mahd ordered Ab Ysuf to accompany his son and appointed heir, Ms, to Gurgn, and appointed
Ab Ysuf's son Ysuf, who was a great jurist, as q of Baghdad in his father's absence (Wak, 255
256; al-abar, Tarkh, 8/162). Ab Ysuf had to stay with Ms during his time in Gurgn; while
there, he served as q (Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74; al-Masd, 3/340), and also maintained his scholarly
activities. One of the people who learnt from Ab Ysuf and his responses on, fiqh was Muammad b.
Awwd b. Rshid, his host's son (see al-Sahm, 487).
When a messenger arrived in Gurgn announcing the death of al-Mahd and Ms's succession to the
caliphate, Ab Ysuf and Ms returned to Baghdad (Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74). Ms succeeded under the
title of al-Hd (r. 169170/786787), and Ab Ysuf was reappointed as q of Baghdad (Ibn Sad,
7(2)/74; Wak, 3/256). However, less than two years later al-Hd died.
Hrn al-Rashd (r. 170193/787809) allowed Ab Ysuf to remain q of Baghdad until his death
(Ibn Sad, 7(2)/74). After a while Hrn gave Ab Ysuf the title of q al-qut (supreme judge), the
first time in Islamic history that this title was used (Wak, 3/256; al-aymar, 90; al-Khab, Tarkh,
14/242; al-Dhahab, 61). Although it is not known exactly what powers and responsibilities this job
entailed, some accounts indicate that Ab Ysuf was responsible for appointing and dismissing qs in
the provinces of the empire (see for example al-Tankh, al-Faraj, 2/228; al-Maqrz, 2/333).
Ab Ysuf travelled extensively with Hrn al-Rashd, and during his absences his own son, Ysuf,
was again appointed to his post. For instance, Ab Ysuf went twice to Bara: once in 176/792 and
again in 180/796 (Khalfa, 2/716; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/255). He also accompanied the caliph (on one
or more occasions) on a journey to the ijz. According to some accounts, it was during one of these
journeys that Ab Ysuf met Imm Ms al-Kim in Mecca (Immate: 148183/765799), and they
discussed certain issues relating to the pilgrim's donning of the irm, the clothes signifying ritual

consecration for the pilgrimage. The imam is said to have criticised him for adhering to reasoning by
analogy (qiys) (al-Kulayn, 4/350, 352353; Ibn Bbawayh, Uyn, 1/64; cf. al-Mufd, al-Irshd, 298;
Ibn ws, 298). Sources also refer to Ab Ysuf's meeting in Medina with Mlik b. Anas, the epon-
ymous founder of one of the four Sunni madhhabs, and to an altercation between them (see Wak,
3/259 ff.; Ibn Qutayba (attrib.), al-Imma, 1/154155; al-Uqayl, 4/441). When a rebellion led by
Af b. Sufyn al-Azd broke out in Mawil in 180/796, and Hrn went there resolved to kill all the
men in the city, Ab Ysuf accompanied him and was able to utilise his considerable political skills to
save lives (al-Azd, 284285, 289; Ibn al-Athr, 6/152).
An overall assessment of Ab Ysuf's public and political persona shows that he was a political faqh
who used his intelligence and talent in legal matters to find solutions to critical situations. Because of
his political influence in the Abbsid state, Ab Ysuf was able to play a significant role in certain
historical events, although at times he attempted to justify acts of wrongdoing and abuse of power on
the part of the caliph and Abbsid court officials (al-aymar, 99; Ab ayyn, 3(1)/168171; alTankh, Nishwr, 1/252254). According to the accounts, one of his most significant and lasting acts
when he was q was the introduction of a specific formal gown to be worn by qs and religious
scholars (ulam) to distinguish them from other people (Ibn Khallikn, 6/379). Ab Ysuf died in
Baghdad in 182/798.

His views
Whilst Ab Ysuf sought to retain his influence over the adherents of the anaf madhhab, it was also
important to him that the traditionists took a positive view of him (see al-aymar, 9697). To achieve
this goal during such a tumultuous period Ab Ysuf had to avoid, as far as possible, being too explicit
on controversial matters.
Although some sources refer to Ab Ysuf's knowledge of theology (kalm) (see al-Makk, 1/112
113), he was never known as a theoretician, unlike Ab anfa. Tradi- tionist sources point to
statements in which Ab Ysuf criticised kalm and considered it either a heresy or the result of
ignorance (see Wak, 3/258; Ibn Baa, 1/419, 2/536 et passim). Al-Baghdd also mentions that Ab
Ysuf regarded the Mutazils as heretics (p. 104).
Some of the more fanatical traditionists attempted to criticise Ab Ysuf for being one of the Jahmiyya
(an early theological sect allegedly founded by Jahm b. afwn), like his master Ab anfa (alUqayl, 4/444), while others made use of Ab Ysuf's doctrines to attack Ab anfa because of their
religious fanaticism (see al-Fasaw, 2/782, 783; Ibn ibbn, Kitb al-majrn, 3/65). They argued that
Ab Ysuf did not follow Ab anfa's teachings, and regarded him merely as having taught him fiqh
(see Wak, 3/258; al-Khab, Tarkh, 13/386). Ibn ibbn observes that this was his own view (see alThaqt, 7/645, Mashhr, 270). On the other hand, Sunni writers of the anaf school, such as Ab alQsim al-akm al-Samarqand in his al-Sawd al-aam (p. 145) and Ab Jafar al-aw in alAqda (p. 7), argued that the views of Ab Ysuf and his fellow-student Muammad b. asan alShaybn were perfectly consonant with the anaf imam's doctrines.

An analysis of Ab Ysuf's views and jurisprudence reveals that he was a anaf scholar who by and
large agreed with the traditionists. On controversial issues such as whether the Qurn was created or
uncreated, Ab Ysuf seems to have agreed with the traditionist viewpoint (that it was uncreated), or at
least did not express a divergent opinion (Wak, 3/257258; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/253). Various
sourcesanaf, traditionist and othersstate that Ab Ysuf agreed with moderate anaf irj, the
doctrine which held that judgement of the actions of believers is postponed until the Day of
Resurrection (see Wak, 3/261; Ab Layth al-Samarqand, 181; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/256257; alNawbakht, 13; al-Shahrastn, 1/130).
Ab Ysuf's cooperation with the Abbsid caliphs and his official position as a faqh at the Abbsid
court suggest that he disagreed with Ab anfa on questions such as the necessary qualifications for a
rightful imam and rebelling against the rule of a tyrant. However, his remarks in al-Kharj about the
just imam and the tyrannical imam (see below) show that he took Ab anfa's views into
consideration on this matter. Ab Ysuf's prominent position among Ab anfa's students, on the one
hand, and his conservative opinions and beliefs on the other, meant that he was regarded as an authority
by two opposing groups within the anaf madhhab; the Sunni school and the school that advocated
justice.
Ab Ysuf's views on doctrine, in brief summaries divided into several chapters, have survived; and
these are regarded as expositions of the doctrines of the Sunni anaf school prior to the mid-3rd/10th
century (q.v. Ab anfa). In some of these treatises the fundamental doctrines of the anaf school are
attributed by Ab Ysuf to Ab anfa. The main headings which these treatises give to the responses
that Ab anfa provided to questions about the ahl al-sunna wa al-jama include: tafl alshaykhayn (giving preference to the two masters, that is, Ab Bakr and Umar), ubb al-khatanayn
(loving the two sons-in-law, that is, Al and Uthmn), al-mas al al-khuffayn (wiping over leather
socks as part of the ritual ablution), and adam takfr murtakib al-dhanb (not declaring a sinner to be a
disbeliever) (see al-Khwrazm, Qsim, 4/1545; Ibn Abd al-Barr, 161). Those summaries written in the
second half of the 3rd/10th century, including al-Sawd al-aam of Ab al-Qsim akm alSamarqand and al-Aqda of al-aw (al-Khwrazm, Qsim, 4/1545; Ibn Abd al-Barr, 161), take
the doctrines of Ab anfa, Ab Ysuf and Muammad b. asan al-Shaybn as the official tenets
of the Sunni anaf school.
On the other hand, Bishr b. Ghiyth al-Mars, one of the first representatives of the anaf school of
jurisprudence, was a student of Ab Ysuf's (see al-aymar, 156; al-Khab, Tarkh, 7/56); and
Muammad b. Shuj b. al-Thalj, another scholar of that school, narrated several reports praising Ab
Ysuf (al-aymar, 93, 95; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/260). In the mid-3rd/10th century the anaf jurists,
who were criticised by Uthmn b. Sad al-Drim and Fal b. Shdhn al-Nsbr, regarded Ab
Ysuf as one of their leaders (al-Drim, 125, 127 et passim; Fal b. Shdhn, 81, 168 et passim).

FIQH: Essential Features


Ab Ysuf's scholarship began to emerge in Kfa at a time when the exercise of ray (subjective legal
opinion) was much discussed and debated in Kfan jurisprudence. Ibn Shubruma, Ibn Ab Layl and

Ab anfa were regarded as the three greatest Kfan jurists of the first half of the 2nd/9th century.
According to the available evidence on Ab Ysuf's life, he initially attended the gatherings of the
traditionists and learnt from them, but then gradually moved closer to the ab al-ray. In Kfa Ab
Ysuf went to the classes of Ibn Ab Layl and particularly Ab anfa, and thus acquired a vast
knowledge of the jurisprudence and teachings of the ab al-ray (al-aymar, 93; al-Khab, Tarkh,
14/245). A variety of sources regard Ab Ysuf as a companion and friend of Ab anfa, but seldom
refer to his close relationship with Ibn Ab Layl. However, a study of his writings indicates that Ibn
Ab Layl greatly influenced Ab Ysuf's ideas about fiqh. Although Ammr b. Ab Mlik's statement
that Ab Ysuf sought to pass on the doctrines of Ibn Ab Layl and Ab anfa to future generations
(al-aymar, 92) would appear to be exaggerated, at least his remarks about Ibn Ab Layl are not so far
from the mark.
It is clear that Ab anfa's jurisprudence was more disciplined, systematic and established than that of
Ibn Ab Layl, but Ibn Ab Layl's was more traditional thanks to his long career as a judge. Perhaps it
was such comparisons that made Ab Ysuf prefer Ibn Ab Layl's jurisprudence and impelled him to
select his method for subsidiary subjects, while not rejecting outright Ab anfa's jurisprudence. Ab
Ysuf's attitude towards these two faqhs led some people to regard Ab Ysuf's fiqh as a combination
of Ab anfa's and Ibn Ab Layl's doctrines (al-Makk, 1/104). The fact that Ab Ysuf's best-known
work, Ikhtilf Ab anfa wa Ibn Ab Layl, describes the great contrast between the two styles of
jurisprudence, suggests that Ab Ysuf felt free to select a given view anddepending on the
circumstancesprefer one to the other (Ab Ysuf, al-Kharj, 88, 174; al-aw, Ikhtilf, 1/159,
197202, 219220; al-Kind, 452).
Nobody has disproved the assertion that Ab Ysuf was a jurist of the ray school. However, a
comparative study of the doctrines of faqhs who were proponents of ray shows that Ab Ysuf clearly
inclined towards the traditionist approach. This preference led al-Muzan al-Shfi to regard him as a
jurist of the Iraqi school (who followed Ab anfa and favoured ray) who adhered closely to the
sunna (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/246), while Amr al-Nqid, a traditionist scholar, put forward the extreme
view that he was the only one of the ab al-ray who followed the sunna (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/253;
al-Dhahab, 63). Ibn Ad, another traditionist, stated that Ab Ysuf often followed athar (pl. thr:
traditions of the practices and sayings of the Prophet and his Companions) and was not intimidated by
the objections of his colleagues (Ibn Ad, 7/2604).
A study of Ab Ysuf's writings, particularly the al-Kharj and al-Radd al siyar al-Awz, shows
that Ab Ysuf followed the standard methods of the traditionists (viz. referring to the adth together
with its isnd or chain of transmission). So whilst traditionists criticised other ray school jurists for
dispensing with the revealed and transmitted texts (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/260), Ab Ysuf cited
traditions with uninterrupted chains of transmission.

His juridical method


In one of his works Ab Ysuf describes his method as follows: Take the Qurn and the accepted
(marf) sunna as your guide, and follow that. And measure by it those problems which are not clear to

you from the Qurn and sunna (al-Radd, 32). This was equally the general principle of Ab anfa's
jurisprudence. However, the only distinctive characteristics of Ab Ysuf's juridical proofs are certain
details that he took into consideration, such as limiting authorised traditions to those classified as
marf (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/254).
By going back to the primary sources of anaf jurisprudence, particularly to Ab Ysuf's works, and
analysing the differences between Ab Ysuf and Ab anfa, it is possible to elucidate the nature of
Ab Ysuf's general doctrines on the derivation of juristic rulings (akm al-fiqh). Since Ab Ysuf's
fiqh is largely based on Ab anfa's, and can in fact be regarded as a continuation of it, this article
only discusses the differences between them.
One of the most significant differences between Ab Ysuf and Ab anfa in matters of fiqh is the
avoidance of shudhdh (irregularity) and the endeavour to follow ijm (consensus). In fact, Ab Ysuf
dissented from Ab anfa's more extreme juristic decisions, which were also profoundly disagreed
with by jurists of other madhhabs. For instance, one can cite the following examples: the
permissibility of reciting the Qurn in Persian during the ritual prayer (al-Sarakhs, al-Mabs, 1/37);
that reciting any verses of the Qurn will suffice as prayer (al-Qudr, 1/77); referring to Allh as the
shortest khuba (sermon) that will suffice for the Friday prayer (al-Qudr, 1/110111), praying for rain
not being regarded as sunna (al-Qudr, 1/120121); and the invalidity of sharecropping contracts and
leases (muzraa wa musq) (al-Qudr, 2/228233). While Ab Ysuf had no interest in Ab
anfa's combative approach to fiqh, he nonetheless adhered to the systematic and disciplined
principles of legal deduction and reasoning which the latter had established. If he departed from these,
the departure would always be justified by reference to another rigorously argued and systematic
doctrine.
Before going into Ab Ysuf's juristic methodology and its most significant differences compared with
Ab anfa's fiqh, it should be said that in those cases where they differed Ab Ysuf's doctrines were
sometimes extremely perceptive, mature and expedient in comparison with Ab anfa's. Yet there are
many instances where Ab Ysuf rejected Ab anfa's formulations in favour of older written
opinions which were more superficial (for an example of this, see Schacht, The Origins, 303306).
Disagreements between Ab Ysuf and Ab anfa can be found throughout anaf works of
jurisprudence, but are more often found in chapters on ritual and religious observances (ibdt),
including prayer and alms, and in those on social life (mumalt) such as confinement, hire, power of
attorney and endowment. One feature of the chapter on alms (zakt), for example, is that whenever Ab
Ysuf refutes Ab anfa's viewpoint, al-Shfi takes exactly the same line and also rejects Ab
anfa (al-s, al-Khilf, Kitb al-zakt, case nos 4, 15, 33, 62, 68, 73, 83, 96, 119).
Another notable feature of Ab Ysuf's fiqh is his upholding and following akhbr d [sing.
khabar wid, a tradition of which the isnd (chain of transmission) goes back to a single authority].
Here Ab Ysuf and Ab anfa's ideas on akhbr d diverged in two different ways: firstly, the vast
collection of adth that was assembled during the lifetime of Ab Ysuf meant that his studies under
several prominent shaykhs in Iraq and the ijz clearly provided him with access to traditions that were
unknown to his teacher, Ab anfa (see Schacht, The Origins, 301302). Secondly, Ab Ysuf often

shifted the boundaries between devotional and non-devotional acts and sometimes preferred akhbr
d over ray, a point with which his teacher disagreed. Furthermore, their disagreements on subjects
such as social transactions and legal provisions also arise from this issue.
Ab Ysuf's views on the authenticity of khabar wid are noteworthy in the history of jurisprudence.
In order to refute the views of the Syrian traditionists, in his chapter on Siyar, Ab Ysuf argues that
traditionists refer to a adth which is adth wid and which is not authentic. He stated that any
adth wid should be considered shdhdh (irregular) and therefore, from a juristic viewpoint, is not
adducible (al-Radd, 41). To what extent this statement can be taken as a rule for legal issues, including
religious observance, social transactions and other legal provisions, requires examination. However,
what is known as Ab Ysuf's rule is his opposition to those adths which he regards as shdhdh. He
regards those traditions which are known to most scholars as marf as authentic Traditions. He states
that adths which are shdhdh are not authentic and one should not rely upon them (al-Radd, 24). In
another source, when Ab Ysuf criticises a large number of adths he states that a tradition is
regarded as shdhdh if it is either not known to the ulam or it conflicts with the Qurn and sunna
(al-Radd, 31, 105; al-Khab, Sharaf, 126). Accordingly, he sometimes regarded adths to which Ab
anfa had referred as shdhdh, as akthar (transmitted by several), awthaq (established as sound), or
aamm (generally accepted) (al-Kharj, 1819, 5253, 89).
Although Ab Ysuf, designated a adth as authentic sometimes on the grounds of its popularity, he
designated some traditions that were known and popular amongst the people of the ijz and al-Shm
as inauthentic on the grounds that they lacked an uninterrupted isnd going back to the Prophet. He was
critical of jurists from the ijz and al-Shm who regarded those traditions as authentic (Ab Yusuf,
al-Radd, 11, 21, 41). This raises the question as to whether Ab Ysuf departs from Ab anfa's
doctrines, such as saying Allh Akbar before performing the d prayer, were made simply to
contradict Ab anfa's rulings, or whether Ab Ysuf had come across an authorised isnd and was
returning to the prevailing tradition. In this particular instance, however, because of the lack of an
authorised isnd, a large number of prominent anaf scholars have emphasised the correctness of Ab
anfa's viewpoint instead (al-Ghanm, 1/165).
Examples can often be found in Ab Ysuf's works of both istisn (applying personal discretion in
juristic decisions) and diverging from qiys (systematic reasoning by analogy) in favour of athar
(taking a tradition as precedent), a process which he also calls istisn (al-Kharj, 178). In certain
cases a serious question arises as to whether it was athar which prompted Ab Ysuf to abandon qiys,
or whether on the contrary athar was merely an excuse (mubarrir) for doing so. In other words,
according to Ab Ysuf it is possible for the content of the athar to be mustasan (approved) through
the exercise of ray, and in some cases discretion should be applied to an athar; in such cases istisn
will compensate for the weakness of the athar's chain of transmission. Here one can refer to a case in
which Ab Ysuf abandoned qiys and preferred to accept the opinion (ray) of an unnamed jurist,
describing this act of his as istisn. There can be no doubt that the main principle of istisn was
based on ray (al-Kharj, 189).
A general comparison of Ab anfa and Ab Ysuf's jurisprudence indicates that while istisn can

also be found in Ab anfa's fiqh (q.v. Ab anfa), Ab Ysuf uses istisn more extensively. In fact
Ab Ysuf diverges from qiys in favour of istisn in many cases where Ab anfa simply uses
qiys (see for example Ibn Mundhir, 2/479, 526; al-Sarakhs, al-Mabs, 24/46 et passim; al-Ghanm,
2/57, 93 et passim).
As a result of the use of istisn, the principle of taghyr al-akm, or the mutability of juristic rulings,
developed in Ab Ysuf's fiqh. It has drawn the attention of scholars, even non-anafs, including Ibn
Abd al-Salm and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, in the modern period. This rule states that religious
obligations are mutable and changeable depending on the circumstances of time and place. The
principle that a legal decision based on customary law (urf) and convention (da) can be subject to
change if the customary law changes, allows Ab Ysuf to pronounce a ruling which, although at
variance with the apparent text of legal proof, is in fact in accord with the real motive of the law (illat
al-shar). A notable example of Ab Ysuf's views in this is the amount of tax (kharj) to be levied: he
states that kharj should be paid according to the particular circumstances of time and place, but he
does not recommend following the wording of a proof-text which has been handed down by tradition
on the matter (al-Kharj, 8586; al-Qudr, 4/141; for examples of this kind of reasoning and Ab
Ysuf's istisn views, such as Qidat taysr lil- arra and Taassuf f istiml al-uqq, see alMaman, 126130).

The sources of public law in his jurisprudence


In his book al-Kharj, which was written to give the caliph Hrn al-Rashd guidance on the governing
of provinces and on administering certain matters of state, Ab Ysuf deals with many legal issues
which in modern classifications of law are regarded as public law. Although the book largely discusses
matters of debate such as public finance and taxation, and, to a lesser extent, issues concerning the
penal code and warfare, one can also find certain detailed and disparate observations which are
significant for the study of the history of public law in Islamic civilisation and also for recognising a
legal entity in Islamic jurisprudence.
Ab Ysuf describes the supreme head of an Islamic state as al-imm al-dil (the just imam) and alwl al-mahd (the rightly-guided governor), someone who has full authority and responsibility in
Muslim society (for the use of these terms, see Ab Yusuf, p. 58). Although Ab Ysuf does not
mention what Muslims are required to do when the state is ruled by an unjust or tyrannical imam (alimm al-jir), or specify his attitude towards the doctrine of rebelling against the unjust ruler which
his teacher Ab anfa upheld, he does from time to time in the book warn the caliph Hrn against
committing injustice (jawr) (see pp. 3, 106107 et passim).
In several places in his other book, al-Radd al siyar al-Awz (pp. 24, 34, 131), Ab Ysuf mentions
his general attitude towards state and government. He states that there are major distinctions between
the prerogative and authority of the Prophet and the imams (by which he means the caliphs): for
instance, the caliphs had no right to take booty in time of war, whereas this was permitted for the
Prophet. In several places in al-Kharj (pp. 6061, 6466), he emphasises the inalienable financial
rights of the people, and states unequivocally that rulers are not allowed to seize or remove the people's

wealth without legitimate cause.


In a significant statement in al-Kharj (p. 94), which can be regarded as a precept, Ab Ysuf says that
the imam is responsible for the people's general well-being (malaa) and prosperity (manfaa) (see
also p. 105). On the subject of public works and improving the people's prosperity, he even includes
dredging silt and mud from the river (presumably in this instance the Tigris) in the ruler's duties and
responsibilities (pp. 97, 110). The use of the words all (permissible) and arm (forbidden) in
relation to public administration is a noteworthy feature of al-Kharj. Ab Ysuf argues that the
arbitrary increase of taxes is unlawful (p. 106). In another place, he states that it is forbidden (arm)
for the ruler to employ dishonest and corrupt persons (p. 111).
Ab Ysuf warned the government against interfering in matters which were not necessarily relevant to
the state. On the issue of reviving dead land (i.e. land not used or owned by anyone), unlike Ab
anfa, Ab Ysuf affirms that it is not essential to obtain the ruler's permission for the appropriation
of land which is to be revived, and he argues that the ruler does not have the right to undermine the
right of appropriation. Referring to the Prophetic adth: Man ay aran mawtan, fahiya lahu
(Whoever revives dead land, that land belongs to him [and a trespasser has no right]), he states that
every individual is authorised and at liberty to revive dead land, that is, unless his liberty to do so
infringes on the liberty of others (see p. 64).
It should be said that Ab Ysuf provides practical advice on the matter of selecting executors and
supervising their work, and also on certain reforms to the judicial system, urban infrastructure and
public administration (pp. 108112, 123, 186187).

Ab Ysuf and ul al-fiqh (legal theory)


In the first half of the 2nd/8th century, certain fundamental issues in the development of legal
methodology, such as qiys and ray, were under discussion. Ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 142/759), in a brief
but valuable treatise entitled Rislat al-aba (pp. 125126) addressed to the Abbsid al-Manr,
referred to the chaotic condition of the judicial system at that time, and urged the caliph to ensure that
all legal provisions and laws be codified systematically, and that the law be generally promulgated as a
rule and a statute. However, there is no evidence to show that this task was accomplished. By writing
the book of Adab al-q (chapter on thr), which was regarded as the first book on the proper
foundations of legal judgement in Islamic civilisation, Ab Ysuf was able to codify legal provisions
and laws to some extent. However, how effective Ab Ysuf's codification or compiling of the
principles of jurisprudence is another matter. In al-Radd al siyar al-Awz (p. 21), Ab Ysuf
criticised his traditionist opponents for their ignorance of what he termed ul al-fiqh (the theoretical
principles of Islamic jurisprudence). By this he meant a kind of general understanding of inference and
juristic deduction in legal thought. Replacement of the phrase adillat al-fiqh (juristic proofs) with the
equivalent term ul al-fiqh (legal theory) can be found throughout works of the 4th/10th century (alKhwrazm, Muammad b. Amad, 79; al-Mufd, al-Tadhkira, 2728), and demonstrates that ul
al-fiqh became the phrase used to explain this particular science over a period of time, and was not
coined by Ab Ysuf.

There is no doubt, however, that after Ab anfa, Ab Ysuf played a signifi- cant role in the
establishment of the primary principles of Islamic jurisprudence. He laid the bases on which
Muammad b. al-asan al-Shaybn and al-Shfi were able to build. Ab Ysuf's works are
noteworthy because they contain issues of principle such as qiys (reasoning by analogy) and istisn
(juristic preference), as well as akhbr d (traditions going back to a single authority). The juristic
and theological writings of anaf scholars in later centuries refer to many formulations of principle as
those of Ab Ysuf, and compare his views with the opinions of Ab anfa and Muammad b. alasan al-Shaybn (al-Bazdaw, 1/248, 2/76 et passim; al-Sarakhs, Ul, 1/29, 36, 47 et passim).
Those views, however, were not taken directly from Ab Ysuf's works, but were either understood or
deduced from his juristic thinking. Although some sources say that Ab Ysuf was the first to write
works on ul al-fiqh (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/245246; al-Makk, 2/245), this is doubtful.
Ab Ysuf laid particular emphasis on the need to establish proper juridical reasoning, and sometimes
criticised al-Awz for being unsystematic in this regard, giving examples of how contradictory and
confused his arguments were (Ab Yusuf, al-Radd, 4748, 5051, 5556, 77, 124). It is worth
mentioning that Ab Ysuf frequently followed certain specific methods in his argumentation, one of
his favourite being similar to the burhn al-khulf (reductio ad absurdum) of the logicians. As a way of
proving the falsity of their position, he would first state the principles that his opponents upheld and
then apply them to extreme or border-line cases in order to demonstrate that their opinion was false
(Ab Ysuf, al-Radd, 62, 68, 9596; Schacht, The Origins, 302). This approach caught Schacht's
attention and he refers to it as reductio ad absurdum (Schacht, The Origins, 302); however, Ab
Ysuf's methods are more complex, and cannot be reduced to this simple formula of logic, even if
there is a certain similarity on the surface.

Ab Ysuf's position in anaf jurisprudence


After Ab anfa, Ab Ysuf is the principal founder of the anaf madhhab. These two jurists, along
with Muammad b. al-asan al-haybn, constitute the three pillars of anaf fiqh. For 1,200 years,
their juridical opinions have been discussed along with Ab anfa's viewpoints, and the differences
between them pointed out. During the Middle Ages, jurists had to approve and accept a single opinion
as the authoritative and final ruling on a given matter. As a result they started to lay down criteria by
which to choose the definitive ruling. According to al-zjand (1/23), if Ab anfa and Ab Ysuf
held the same opinion on a matter, that opinion was regarded as authoritative. However, if Ab Ysuf
and Muammad b. al-asan both disagreed with Ab anfa's opinion in a case where their
disagreement was to do with the circumstances of the time (they both coming later than Ab anfa),
then their opinion was considered superior to his (for example, the legitimacy of leasing agricultural
land). On other matters, opinions varied according to the mujtahid (the legal expert who uses his own
discretion), with some accepting the opinion of Ab anfa (Mustawf, 628; Ibn bidn, 1/2627). As
for issues on which Ab anfa did not comment, if Ab Ysuf discussed them then his opinion is
regarded as the authenticated viewpoint; but if he too did not supply a comment, then Muammad b.
asan's view is considered the authoritative one (Mustawf, 628; Ibn bidn, 1/2627). It is a
significant fact that in the history of anaf jurisprudence, the shaykhs of Balkh laid great emphasis on

the superiority of Ab Ysuf's opinion over that of Muammad b. asan (al-Ghanm, 2/180, 186; cf.
idem, 1/23 on reports written by Ab anfa).
As with the doctrines of Ab anfa and Muammad b. asan, anafs divide the reported viewpoints
of Ab Ysuf into two categories. The first category is al-ul (principles) or hir al-riwya (apparent
meaning of the tradition), which refers to the whole authoritative body of doctrine explained in the six
canonical books, which are: al-Mabs, al-Ziydt, al-Jmi al-aghr, al-Jmi al-kabr, al-Siyar alaghr, al-Siyar al-kabr. The second category is al-nawdir (rare cases), which refers to those opinions
given in books by Ab anfa's students. The ul were given doctrinal precedence over the nawdir,
and this precedence was established on the basis of the authority of the anaf ulam and their
references to the traditions cited in the six canonical books.
It should be pointed out that although Muammad b. al-asan al-Shaybn died only seven years after
Ab Ysuf, and like him attended Ab anfa's teaching circle, he also listened to Ab Ysuf's
teachings as if he were a student and became one of the most important authorised transmitters of Ab
Ysuf's fiqh. As has been said, al-Shaybn's works are regarded as the earliest available source on Ab
Ysuf's juristic views (al-Shaybn, al-Al, 1/57 et passim, al-Jmi al-aghr, 154 et passim, and other
works).
During Ab anfa's time and immediately afterwards, Ab Ysuf and Zufar b. Hudhayl al-Anbar (d.
158/775) were regarded as two of his most prominent students. Several accounts show that they were
also viewed as rivals at Ab anfa's lectures (al-aymar, 95, 105107; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/247
248). This juxtaposition of contrasting ideas and perspectives can be seen by comparing the fiqh of the
two men, and one example was the early work Ikhtilf Zufar wa Yaqb, on which al-Sarakhs would
later base himself (al-Sarakhs, al-Mabs, 4/106).
In contrast to the opposing doctrines of Ab Ysuf and Zufar, many similarities can be seen between
Ab Ysuf and Muammad b. al-asan al-Shaybn. Statistical analysis of the differences between the
three pillars of anaf jurisprudence shows that Muammad b. al-asan's views were largely in accord
with those of Ab Ysuf. He also had the same attitude towards his teacher (Ab anfa) as Ab Ysuf.
One can point to the circumstances of time and place, their residence in the same city, Baghdad, and
other common social and intellectual circumstances as elements which may have influenced this
similarity of outlook.
Apart from Muammad b. al-asan al-Shaybn, the following fuqah studied under Ab Ysuf and
reported his juristic opinions: Ab Sulaymn al-Jzjn and Ab Yal al-Muall b. Manr al-Rz,
the transmitters of Kutub and Aml; Ab Abd Allh Muammad b. Sama, who transmitted the
Nawdir; Bishr b. al-Wald al-Kind, the transmitter of Aml; Hishm b. Ubayd Allh al-Rz, asan
b. Ab Mlik, Bishr b. Ghiyth al-Mars, Ibrhm b. al-Jarr, the q of Egypt, and Hill b. Yay
known as Hill al-Ray (Ibn al-Nadm, 257; al-aymar, 154156; al-Dhahab, 61). Reports by these
jurists can be found in works such as al-aw's Ikhtilf al-fuqah (1/105108, 122123, 177 et
passim).
Some works of jurisprudence mention two contradictory reports deriving from Ab Ysuf (al-Ghanm,

3/11). They refer to two views: one earlier and one later (al-abar, Ikhtilf, 232233, 247; al-s, alKhilf, 1/146, 216). This raises the question whether the fundamental change in viewpoint to which alAb
Ysuf and the Ab al-adth
Sahm refers in Tarkh Jurjn (p. 488), where he also states that Ab Ysuf withdrew the unknown and
Because
Ysuf avoided
statements
on the
of the traditionists,
on the one
shdhdh Ab
(exceptional)
reportsmaking
which explicit
he had narrated
during
hisopinions
stay in Gurgn,
may have some
hand,
and because
of the similarities
the fiqh of the traditionists and his juristic opinions, on
connection
to Ab Ysuf's
earlier andbetween
later doctrines.
the other, the ab al-adth were able to take a positive view of Ab Ysuf's scholarship. In
consideration of his social status, Ab Ysuf tried to give positive opinions about the traditionists and
to be on good terms with them (al-Khab, Sharaf, 49, Tarkh, 14/255).
The traditionists of Kfa, such as Sufyn al-Thawr (d. 161/778), Shark b. Abd Allh al-Nakha (d.
177/793) and their successors, Wak b. al-Jarr and Abd Allh b. Idrs, and others such as Yazd b.
Hrn, the faqh of Wsi, had a personal rivalry with Ab anfa and with his student, Ab Ysuf,
which made agreement more difficult (al-Uqayl, 4/441442; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/257258). In
other lands, however, it was possible for traditionists who were Ab Ysuf's contemporaries and later
generations to find points of agreement. Two different viewpoints can be discerned amongst his
contemporaries. On the one hand, there is a tradition which reports a friendly and a respectful
relationship between Ab Ysuf and Sufyn b. Uyayna, the scholar of Mecca (al-aymar, 94); on the
other hand, the reports by Abd Allh Ibn al-Mubrak, the jurist of Marw, indicate that he was very
antagonistic towards Ab Ysuf (al-Uqayl, 4/440443; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/256257).
A number of prominent traditionists, including Amad b. anbal, Yay b. Man, Al b. Jad, and
Amad b. Man learnt adths from Ab Ysuf, and Amad b. anbal even regarded Ab Ysuf as his
first adth teacher (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/242, 255). These traditionists, although not interested in
circulating Ab Ysuf's adths, still upheld his integrity and believed in his honesty. In their writings
dealing with the ab al-ray, they regarded Ab Ysuf as unique within this group (Ibn Ab tim,
4(2)/201; al-aymar, 90, 9596; al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/243, 259).
In later centuries, the ab al-adth had two different views regarding Ab Ysuf: some, such as alNas, Ab tim al-Rz and Ibn Shhn, regarded him as a trustworthy narrator and upheld the
authority of his adths (Ibn Ab tim, 4(2)/202; Ibn Shhn, 358; Ibn ajar, 6/301), while others,
such as Al al-Dn al-Bukhr (4(2)/397), al-Jzjn (p. 76) and al-Draqun, regarded him as weak
(af) and unreliable (al-Khab, Tarkh, 14/260).
A number of Ab Ysuf's reports are recorded in certain Shii books of adth, such as al-kutub alarbaa. For instance, one can point to the report of Ab al-Qsim al-Kf from Ab Ysuf, on the
authority of Layth b. Ab Salm (some sources spell this incorrectly as Sulaymn), with an
uninterrupted chain of transmission back to Imam Al, which discusses obligations (on questions of
inheritance) (Ibn Bbawayh, Faqh, 4/188189; al-s, Tahdhb, 9/249250; Ibn Bbawayh, Aml,
185).
It has been said that apart from jurisprudence and adth, Ab Ysuf had a vast knowledge of other
fields of study including tawl and tafsr, maghz, and ayym al-Arab (al-aymar, 93).

Works
Published Works
al-thr [a collection of Ab Ysuf's juristic transmissions from Ab anfa.] The work is known as
Musnad Ab anfa, although Ab Ysuf refers throughout to many related transmissions from his
1
other shaykhs (p. 11, nos 49, 51). It was edited by Ab al-Waf al-Afghn and publisehd in Cairo
.
in 1355/1936 (for the connection between al-thr and Musnad Ab anfa, see al-Khwrazm,
Muammad b. Mamd, 1/75; Sezgin, 1/414).
Ikhtilf Ab anfa wa Ibn Ab Layl, which contains Ab Ysuf's comparative study of the
viewpoints and analyses of the Kfan faqhs. Besides outlining their views, Ab Ysuf explains his
2 own opinions. Al-Shfi gave a description of the book and added some annotations to it. Ab
. Ysuf's book and the notes by al-Shfi can be found in al-Imm Shfi (7/96163) (al-Sarakhs,
al-Mabs, 30/128, ff.). It was published separately in Cairo in 1357/1938 by Ab al-Waf alAfghn.
al-Kharj is the earliest comprehensive treatise on the theory of public finance and taxation. It was
written at the request of Hrn al-Rashd, the Abbsid caliph (see the introduction to the book; also
Ibn al-Nadm, 257). Although others, including Ab Ubayd Allh Muwiya b. Yasr, the vizier of
al-Mahd, and afawayh (or afaawiya, perhaps a corruption of Muwiya) are reported to have
written books bearing the same title (Ibn al-Nadm, 150; Ibn al-iqaq, 247), assuming that the
reports are accurate, their work had no influence on the structure of fiqh relating to kharj, and their
ideas soon became obsolete or disappeared. The few pages written on kharj by Ab al-Wazr (q.v.
Ab al-Wazr), while composed before Ab Ysuf's monograph, were also not theoretical in nature.
Ab Ysuf's work was originally written for the caliph, but later became a textbook for study by the
3 anaf school, where it was copied with interpolations such as Said Ab Ysuf which are found
. in modern editions (Ben Shemesh, 1/11). In 1302/1885 al-Kharj was published for the first time in
Blq, and it was subsequently republished several times. The work was translated into Italian by
Tripodo (Rome, 1906); and into French by Fagnan (Paris, 1921) (for related articles in German by
Riedel and Hartmann, see Brockelmann, SI/288). Turkish translations, under the title Wa al-thr
an ulam al-amr (Vaz' l-asar an ulema il-emsar), by Muammad Mudzdah (Mehmed
M'idzade) and M. Rudusl Zdah (M. Rodosluzade) exist in manuscript form in certain libraries in
Turkey (Sezgin, 1/420; see also the copy in the Dr al-Kutub in Cairo, Fihris, 1/246247). In
1169/1756 Abd al-Azz b. Muammad al-Raab al-Baghdd wrote a description of Ab Ysuf's
work entitled Fiqh al-mulk wa mift al-ritj al-muraad al khiznat kitb al-Kharj, which
was edited by Amad Ubayd al-Kubays in Baghdad in 1974.
al-Radd al siyar al-Awz is about the Shara rulings on warfare. In this book, Ab Ysuf often,
but not always, defends the statements made by Ab anfa, and gives substantial replies to Ab
4
anfa's critic Abd al-Ramn b. Amr al-Awz (d. 157/773), the traditionist and jurist of al.
Shm. It was edited by Ab al-Waf al-Afghn and published in Cairo in 1357/1938 (as part of alShfi's Kitb al-umm, 7/339369).
Apart from these, Ab Ysuf wrote a work entitled al-iyal (on legal devices) (al-Ji, 3/11), which
Muammad b. al-asan al-Shaybn summarises in his al-Makhrij f al-iyal (ed. Schacht, Leipzig,
1930) (Schacht, Die arabische, 217; Ab Yusuf, al-Kharj, 80).

Unpublished Works
Adab al-q, which has been described as the first work on judicial procedures in Islamic
jurisprudence (jj Khalfa, 1/46). There is a manuscript in the National Library of Tunisia
(Bibliothque nationale de Tunisie) (Sezgin, 1/421).

Lost Works
Apart from al-Kharj, the following works are listed by Ibn al-Nadm (pp. 256257) among the
writings by Ab Ysuf: al-alt, al-Zakt, al-iym, al-Fari, al-Buy, al-udd, al-Wakla, alWay, al-ayd wa al-dhabi, al-Ghab wa al-istibr, Ikhtilf al-amr and al-Radd al Mlik b.
Anas, the last two being on comparative jurisprudence. According to Ibn al-Nadm, Ab Ysuf
compiled al-Jawmi, which was also on comparative jurisprudence and comprised forty works of
jurisprudence, for Yay b. Khlid (al-Barmak, the vizier of Hrn al-Rashd). Apart from these, Ibn
al-Nadm (pp. 256257) mentions a collection called al-Aml consisting of thirty-six juridical works
which Bishr b. al-Wald transmitted from Ab Ysuf.
anaf authors refer to copies of a work by Ab Ysuf entitled either al-Aml or al-Iml, about which
little is known (see for example al-aw, Ikhtilf, 1/67; al-Sarakhs, Ul, 1/333; al-Ksn, 1/46,
189; regarding two works entitled al-arf and al-Zawl, see al-aymar, 97; al-s, al-Khilf, 1/56).
A testament attributed to Ab anfa and addressed to Ab Ysuf was published in al-Ashbh wa alnair of Ibn Nujaym (pp. 516522), although the attribution is doubtful. Various biographical works
were written on Ab Ysuf, such as Manqib Ab anfa wa ibayh Ab Ysuf wa Muammad b. alasan by Shams al-Dn Muammad al-Dhahab, and another with the same title by Muarram b.
Muammad al-Zayla (d. 1007/1599, Sezgin, 1/420). Apart from these, numerous books and articles
about Ab Ysuf's life and scholarship have been produced by modern writers.
Ahmad Pakatchi
Tr. Maryam Rezaee

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al-Shahrastn, Muammad, al-Milal wa al-nial, ed. Muammad Badrn (Cairo, 1375/1956)
al-Shaybn, Muammad b. al-asan, al-Al (Hyderabad, 1389/1969)
idem, al-Jmi al-aghr (Beirut, 1406/1986)
al-abar, Ikhtilf al-fuqah (Beirut, n.d.)
idem, Tarkh
al-aw, Amad, al-Aqda (Beirut, 1408/1988)
idem, Ikhtilf al-fuqah, ed. Muammad aghr asan Mam (Islamabad, 1391/1971)
al-Tankh, al-Muassin, al-Faraj bad al-shidda, ed. Abbd al-Shlj (Beirut, 1398/1978)

idem, Nishwr al-muara, ed. Abbd al-Shlj (Beirut, 1391/1971)


al-s, Muammad, al-Khilf (Tehran, 1377/1999)
idem, Tahdhb al-akm, ed. asan al-Msaw al-Kharsn (Najaf, 1379/1959)
al-Uqayl, Muammad, al-uaf al-kabr, ed. Abd al-Mu Amn Qalaj (Beirut, 1404/1984)
al-zjand, Fakhr al-Dn, Fatw, in the margins of al-Fatw al-Hindiyya (Cairo, 1323/1905)
Wak, Muammad, Akhbr al-qut (Beirut, n.d.).
Cite this page

Pakatchi, Ahmad; Rezaee, Maryam. "Ab Ysuf." Encyclopaedia Islamica. Editors-in-Chief: Wilferd
Madelung and, Farhad Daftary. Brill Online, 2015. Reference. Emory University. 05 November 2015
<http://referenceworks.brillonline.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/entries/encyclopaedia-islamica/abuyusuf-COM_0164>
First appeared online: 2008