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Hadhrat Imam Abu Hanifah

Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah alaih) is the name familiar to all Muslims of the
Sunni sect. His full name was Nauma'an bin Thaabit bin Zotae. He was an
inhabitant of "Kufa". By occupation he was a draper (cloth seller) and traded in
silken cloths. His grandfather Zota'e had migrated from Kabul. According to
reports, Imam Abu Hanifah's (RA) father 'Sa'abith' during his young age presented
himself before Hadhrat Ali (Radhiyallahu anhu) - the fourth and last Khalifah of
Islam at Kufa.

It is said that Hadhrat Ali (RA) gave his blessings to Hadhrat Sa'abith, and prayed
for his offspring that might be born.

In this background Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) was born at Kufa in the year 80th
Hijri, i.e about 40 years after the death of the fourth Khalifah of Islam, and it was
the period when the power of Banu Omaiyyah who had usurped the Khilafat from
the House of Hadhrat Ali (RA) was also fast diminishing and the Abbasids were
deeply involved to overthrow the government of the weakened Banu Omayyah.

Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) took his lessons in Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqah) from a
renowned scholar of his time, Hammad bin Abee Suleiman and Aha'adith from
Ata'a bin Abee Robah, Abu Ishque Saleeyi, Mohammad bin Mankadar, Nafa'a
Hussham bin Arwa Samak bin Harb and some other noted Mohaddatheen. Later
some noted Muhaddutheen like Abdullah bin Mubarak, Wakee bin Jurrah, Yesied
bin Haroo, Qaadhi Aboo Yousuf and Mohammad bin Hassan Shaybanee, narrated
Ahaadith quoting the authority of Imam Abu Hanifah (RA).

Meanwhile, as stated above the "Khilafat" of the Omayyah which had now
disappeared and a new dynasty known as the "Abbasids" had gained power.
Khalifah Mansoor who was the second Khalifah of the "Abbasids" shifted his
capital from Damascus in Syria to Baghdad in Iraq. Mansoor was a man of
dubious character. He had suspicion in his to mind that the two great scholars and
experts in Islamic jurisprudence, viz. Hadhrat Ma'alik bin Anas (Rahmatullah
alaih), who is popularly known to us as Hadhrat Imam Maalik - the proponent of
the Maalik Madhab and compiler of the great book of Ahaadith which is called
"Muwatta" and the other man whom we know as Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) the
topmost Islamic jurist of his time, were engaged in conspiracy against him.
Mansoor, therefore on pretenses to honour them and install them on high posts,
invited them to his new capital at Baghdad. On their refusal these two shining stars
of their time were arrested and were lashed upon, and later thrown into jails.

Mansoor, through the governor of Kufa, asked Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) to
become the chief Qaadhi of Kufa, but Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) declined to accept
that post. As a result of this refusal he was caught by the administrative officials
and for ten consecutive days he was striped with ten lashes daily.

The Imam, however, remained firm to his conviction and as a result he was freed.
After wards the cunning Mansoor hit upon a new plan. He called Imam Abu
Hanifah (RA) on some other pretext to Baghdad and this time he wished to offer
the department of justice to him.

The Khalifa Mansoor vowed that Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) would be compelled to
accept his offer, while the great Imam also vowed that come what may be he
would not accept Mansoor's offer at any cost. When Mansoor found that he had
become unable to budge the Imam slightly from his position, he threw him into
prison. In this very state of confinement the great Imam breathed his last in the
year 150 Hijri in Baghdad. He was buried in the precincts of the Mausoleum of
'Kheezra'. His tomb is still visited by a large number of people.

Hakim bin Hushsham said that once while he was in Syria, a group of learned
persons narrated to him that Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) topped the list of those
persons in whom trust and confidence could be reposed. They cited his
determination when the ruler wanted to entrust the responsibility of his treasury to
him, but the Imam declined to accept it, and he preferred to bear the wrath of the
ruler that to ear the wrath of Allah. In another case at a gathering of scholars
which was held at the house of great 'Muhaddith' Abdullah bin Mubarak, someone
mentioned Imam Abu Hanifah's (RA) name whereupon Abdullah bin Mubarak
said, "You are talking about a man on whose feel the wealth of the whole country
was brought at but he left everything which related to the world."

According to narration Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) was a person of medium height,
but his face was very beautiful, his conversation with others was very polite and
contained a high degree of humility. Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) always took care of
his friends and companions. According to a narration of Hadhrat Imam Sha'af'ee
(RA) one day someone asked Hadhrat Imam Ma'alik the reputed compiler of
Ahaadith in his book Muwatta whether he had ever met Imam Abu Hanifah (RA).
He replied 'Yes and what I fathomed about him is that if he says that this pillar is
made of gold, then you must rest assured that he can prove it with his strong
arguments. He has that power of justification." One another occasion Imam
Sha'af'ee, speaking about Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) said that if anybody wished to
get perfection in the knowledge of 'Fiqh' he could not attain it without the
guidance of Imam Abu Hanifah (RA).

It has been stated by the renowned philosopher, jurist and theologian Hadhrat
Imam Abu Haamid Ghazzali (RA) that Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) used to spend
half portion of his night time in prayers offering Tahajjud; one day while he was
going somewhere a person beckoning towards him said to one of his companions
"This is the man who keeps on praying and awaking the whole night." After
hearing what the passerby had described about him, Imam Abu Hanifah (RA)
from that very day kept himself engaged in prayers to Allah for the whole night.
He said "I feel very much ashamed before Allah that they attribute such things to
me which I do not do or do not have as regards to my prayers."

One scholar of his time 'Nakhaee' said that Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) was person
who did not talk much and it appeared that he was always thinking about
something, a man of pensive mood, and this was a sure sign of his involvement in
matters of thinking about 'Deen'. He further added that a person who was blessed
with two things viz. silence and disenchantment from the worldly affairs he was
capable of acquiring knowledge at its apex.

To sum up, Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) was a top class scholar, practices, abstained
from sinful deeds, Allah fearing and Imam of Shari'ah of his time.