The glorious period of the Caliphate Rashida lasting 30 years will go down in the history of mankind as the most

successful experiment of democratic rule in the world, in which there was hardly any distinction between the ruler and the ruled. Notwithstanding his being the Head of the mightiest Empire of his time, Umar the Great refused to taste wheat unless it was available to every citizen of his vast dominions. This golden epoch of Islamic democracy was, however, shortlived and the evil forces which lay dormant under the exemplary rule of the Iron Caliph, raised their head during the reign of Yazid. The noble descendants of the Prophet had to make supreme sacrifice without precedent in history in order to hold aloft the banner of truth and virtue in the world. Brutal political persecution by Yazid of his opponents was relentlessly continued by tyrant Hajjaj Bin Yusaf. Even such venerable persons as Hasan Basri and Anas Bin Malik could not escape the wrath of the Umayyed rulers and their lieutenants. The two and half years’ rule of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, who endeavoured to revive the traditions of his maternal grandfather Farooq-e-Azam, was only a glimmer in the vast gloom of evil, which at last prevailed over it. In such a dark atmosphere was born Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa who valiantly braved the persecution by the ruling class and never budged from the right path. Abu Hanifa, Nuaman Bin Tabit, the greatest authority on Muhammadan canon law, was born in Kufa in 80 ASH. (699 AD), in the reign of Abdul Malik Bin Marwan. He was an Arab of Persian extraction. His grandfather, Zauti, embraced Islam and presented Tabit, his son, to Hazrat Ali, who prayed for the glorification of his family which ultimately took shape in the form of Imam Abu Hanifa. The Imam saw the reign of ten Umayyad Caliphs including that of Umar bin Abdul Aziz who ruled when the Imam was eighteen years of age. He also saw two Abbasid Caliphs Saffah and Mansoor. The notorious tyrant Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, the great persecutor of the Muslims died when Imam Abu Hanifa was 15 years of age. During his childhood, Hajjaj was the Umayyad viceroy of Iraq. The venerable Imams and religious leaders who wielded great influence on the Arabs were made the main targets of his persecutions. Primarily occupied with his commercial occupations during the Caliphate of Waleed, the Imam paid little attention to education. But during the reign of Sulaiman, when education received state patronage and people showed greater inclination towards learning, Abu Hanifa developed a penchant for acquiring religious knowledge. An interesting story is told about the beginning of his studies. One day while he was passing through the Bazaar, he came across Imam Shebi, a well-known Kufi Divine, who casually questioned him about his literary pursuits. Receiving the reply in the negative, Imam Shebi felt sorry and advised young Hanifa to devote his time to studies. Imam Abu Hanifa took the advice to his heart and whole-heartedly plunged himself into studies and soon amassed knowledge of theology and jurisprudence. In those times, literature, Fiqh and Hadith, were the only subjects taught. The associations with Persian, Syrian and Egyptian savants enlarged the scope of Arabian studies. Philosophy and logic entered the sphere of religious doctrines which is termed as ‘Kalaam’. Abu Hanifa, who was gifted with a keen sense of reasoning and exceptional intelligence, acquired great fame as the interpreter of religious doctrines. Hammad, who was one of the greatest Imams of the time, owned the biggest school in Kufa. Abu Hanifa joined his school. Hammad was impressed by the intelligence, perspicuousness and extraordinarily retentive memory of the new pupil who soon became his favourite. Out of great regard for his learned teacher, Abu Hanifa did not open any school during the lifetime of Hammad, in spite of his great reputation as a unique jurist. Makkah and Medina, Kufa and Basra were the great centres of learning in those times. The venerable Companions of the Prophet (sws) and their illustrious associates resided in these cities and adorned their literary circles. Kufa, which was founded during Umar’s Caliphate as an Arab colony, had the distinction of being the Capital of Ali. It was inhabited by more than one thousand Companions of the Prophet (sws), including twenty-four who had participated in the battle of Badr. It grew to be the famous centre of Hadith, and Imam Abu Hanifa took full advantage of the presence of the celebrated mohaddis (teacher of Hadith) there. According to Abdul Mahasin Shifai, Imam Abu Hanifa had learned Hadith from as many as 93 teachers. He attended the lectures of Ata Bin Abi Rabah and Imam Ikrama who were reputed teachers of Hadith. They held Abu Hanifa in high esteem. The Imam went to Medina in 102 A.H. in pursuit of Knowledge and attended the lessons of seven top theologians. The celebrated Imam Musa Kazim and his illustrious son Imam Jafar

It was his good fortune that Umar Bin Abdul Aziz had organised the study and recording of Hadiths on a sounder footing. On learning that he was imprisoned for his misbehaviour. She was wonder-struck with his honesty when he paid her five hundred dirhams for the piece. I am entering my house. he was in a rush. Imam Abu Hanifa also attended the classes of Imam Malik who was thirteen years younger than he. Imam Abu Hanifa had learnt Hadiths from more than four thousand persons. It redounds to the credit of Imam Abu Hanifa that he left behind the greatest number of pupils in the world of Islam.H. When he learned about it on return. the Imam. the record of Hadiths was confined to the memory of the people. who used to call names the whole night in a drunken state. Thereupon the Imam called him out why he was turning to the other side. His pupils wanted to oust him forcibly. The prices of commodities kept in his shop were fixed. but he prevented them from doing so. The Imam apprised him of the whole matter and secured the . he resented it very much. when the Imam got back home. who hired hooligans in order to tease and malign him. he said that he could not face the Imam as he owed him ten thousand dirhams which he could not afford to pay back. From his pulpit. He carried on a flourishing trade of textile goods. Once he sent a few pieces of cotton goods to one Hafs Bin Abdur Rahman with a word that some of the pieces were defective of which the customer should be apprised. Once a mercenary hoodlum intruded in the social gathering of the Imam and began to criticize and abuse him. In a letter addressed to the learned men of Medina in 101 A. Meanwhile the customer who was an inhabitant of Medina. This greatly irritated and upset the lieutenants of the Umayyad Government. The Imam was very much annoyed with a drunkard neighbour. His neighbours were fed up with his objectionable behaviour. including Qazi Abu Yusuf. He did not believe in excessive profits and never tolerated to earn money through illegal and questionable means. which is unparalleled in the annals of the world. he at once called on the Governor who was taken aback at the unexpected visit of the Imam. he inquisitively asked why the drunkard had assumed silence. Once a woman brought to him a piece of Haz (costly cloth) for disposal. told the debtor that he need not bother to pay him back. some of his pupils unknowingly sold certain articles at relatively higher prices.. The teaching of Hadiths. Please abuse me to your heart’s content before I step in’. His success in commercial enterprises was largely due to his absolute honesty in business transactions. he requested them to preserve in writing the record of Hadiths. he apologized to the borrower for causing him so much distraction. He was so much trusted by all that even non-Muslims deposited their wealth with him. The principal occupation of Imam Abu Hanifa was business. Imam Abu Hanifa was exceedingly kind-hearted.Sadiq the descendants of the House of the Prophet (sws). Once in his absence. Imam Muhammad. Halting at the gate. saying they had cheated the customer. the learned teacher discoursed on the subject and the pupils assembled round him with pen and paper and carefully took down the notes. too. Qazi Abu Yusuf rose to be the Grand Qazi of the Abbasid Caliphate during the time of Haroon Rashid. This deeply shocked the Imam who by way of atonement gave away the entire sum amounting to 30 thousand dirhams in charity. Abu Naeem Faza. Being deeply moved. The Imam was very popular among the masses who loved and respected him. Such was the humanitarianism of our Imams. When he started for home. and Abu Asim who acquired great fame in their days. The man stopped. It is stated on the authority of the celebrated mystic saint Shafiq Balkhi that once while he was accompanying Imam Abu Hanifa they sighted a person who suddenly turned to another lane. had undergone a revolutionary change. the police caught hold of him and put him behind the bars. were the greatest authorities in Islamic learning of their times and Imam Abu Hanifa took full advantage of their society in Medina. Hafs forgot to do so and disposed of all the pieces. Not only that. Imam Zuhri furnished the first collection of Hadiths. In the evening. had left Kufa. One day. Before the Caliphate of Umar Bin Abdul Aziz. On being accosted. She demanded hundred dirhams as its price. Hafiz Abdur Razzaq. he addressed him: ‘Brother. It is stated that the Imam himself undertook a journey to Medina and paid him the balance. He was highly impressed with the erudition of Imam Jafar Sadiq whom he acknowledged as the most learned man in the world of Islam. Contrary to the general tendencies prevalent among the wealthy class of people. Abdullal Bin Al Mubarak. you will not be able to get in. the hooligan followed him and went on abusing him to the very door steps of his house.

once requested him to pay him occasional visits for which he would be highly grateful to him.’ The drunkard was so much struck with the angelic behaviour of the Imam that he abstained from wine forever and became one of the famous pupils of the Imam. Governor of Kufa. The powerful Umayyad and Abbasid rulers tried to win his favour. A man is empowered to marry more than once provided he is capable of doing equal justice to all of his wives?’ The last part of Imam’s reply went against the interests of the Caliph. On reaching home in the evening he found a man waiting for him with a bag of guineas and a letter of thanks from the wife of the Caliph. he frankly replied. years. and was flogged everyday under orders of the governor. but the Imam preferred the latter. The whole Durbar wondered at the boldness of the Imam. Thereupon he was put behind the bars. if not worse for him. but his mother survived till his old age. a courtier explained. you have taken the oath of allegiance to the Amir-ul-Momineen. the Abbasid Caliph. The Khatun wanted the matter to be referred to Imam Abu Hanifa.’ There had been some dispute between the Abbaside Caliph Mansur and his wife Hurra Khatun. ‘Why should I meet you?’ If you favour me. Since he abhorred corrupt rulers. he returned to his native town Kufa from Hejaz. A Liar is unfit for the post of a Qazi. On transferring his capital from Hashmiya to Baghdad. More than fifty thousand people participated in his first funeral prayer. the Imam said to the drunkard: ‘Brother. I do not aspire for any position or wealth. The Caliph asked the Imam. we do not want to lose you at any cost. The Caliph indignantly shouted. They stepped up his persecution. Mansur. ‘Abu Hanifa. Mansur. The whole citizenry came out to pay their last homage to their greatest Imam. The news of his death soon spread throughout Baghdad. until the Umayyad Caliphate was replaced by the Abbasids. ‘How many wives at a time are allowed in Islam?’ The Imam replied. ‘Supposing a complaint is lodged against you in my court and you wanted it to be decided in your favour otherewise I would be thrown into the river.’ The Imam pinned rosy hopes on the Abbasid Caliphate. ‘You are a liar. The governor swore that he would have to do his bidding.. the Umayyad Governor of Kufa. Under the effect of the poison. but he always kept away from them. I will be associating myself with your evil. He could never be purchased or cowed down by the ruling power.release of the drunkard on his surety. He respected and served her devotedly.H.: Please rest assured that I would prefer to be drowned in the river rather than tamper with justice. Ibni Hubaira. during the Caliphate of Marwan II persuaded the Imam to accept some respectable job in the government which he refused. Mansur cried out to his wife.’ The Caliph became nonplussed and swore that he would have to accept the post of the Grand Qazi. But soon he was disillusioned for the Abbasids turned out to be equally bad. He scrupulously avoided association with corrupt and tyrannical administrators. the second Abbasid Caliph offered him the post of Grand Qazi. ‘But it is easier for the Caliph to compensate for his oath. His funeral prayer . saying that it was repugnant for him to share the money of the Bait-ul-Maal which was public property and should go to the needy. ‘You have upheld my contention. The Imam lost his father in his childhood. He was released after a few days. once offered him a high sum as a gift which he declined. Imam Abu Hanifa possessed exceptional qualities of head and heart. The Imam flatly declined it saying that the he was not fit for it. the 1st Abbasid Caliph. son of Hisham. he prostrated in prayer and died. Yazid Bin Umar Bin Hubaira.’ The Imam retorted. the Umayyad Caliph. ‘But this is subject to one condition.’ The Imam promptly replied. ‘Our government offered two alternatives to Imam Abu Hanifa--either to accept the keys of our the treasuries or to get his back flogged. The Imam returned the money with the remarks that it was his duty to speak the truth without any fear or favour. On being free. ‘Four’. once said.’ Thereupon the Imam was thrown into a dark prison in 146 A. The Imam too swore that he would not. On the accession of Safah. Hakam. The Imam was summoned by the Caliph and his wife also sat behind the curtain. but the Imam stuck to his words. and left Kufa for Hejaz where he stayed for 2 1/2. ‘Did you listen what the Imam said?’ The Imam at once said. Whatever God has given me I am content with it. Rabi. If you persecute me you will add to my insults. Mansur offered him the high post of Grand Qazi of his vast Empire to which Abu Hanifa bluntly replied.’ This outspoken reply of the Imam silenced the Caliph for the time being. There he was poisoned.

(2) ‘Al Alim Wal Mutaam’ and (3) ‘Musnad’. Imam Malik is the author of ‘Mu`attaa’. According to Khwarizmi.’ The Imam occupies the same place in Fiqh which Aristotle occupies in Logic. The greatest contribution of Imam Abu Hanifa is to the Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence.’ His grave was a place of pilgrimage for the Muslims for a long time. He is the most outstanding jurist of Islam. but the number of Ahaadith was reduced to seven hundred only on subsequent revision of the book by Imam Malik. ‘The number of sections of Islamic law framed by him is more than 83 thousand of which 38 thousand are related to religious matters and 45 thousand deal with worldly affairs. whose Fiqh is followed by the majority of the Muslims of the world including Egypt. Actually. followed for distinguishing between authentic and non-authentic Ahaadith. Imam Abu Hanifa has the distinction of being the greatest jurist of Islam. a book of Hadith which is well-known in the Islamic world. He left behind him three works namely (1) ‘Fiqh-i-Akbar’. and his two disciples. he formulated the Islamic jurisprudence in a scientific manner. According to him. the celebrated explorer of Asia saw this school when he visited Baghdad and was highly impressed by its good management as well as its boarding facilities. too much reliance on common sense for distinguishing between the authentic and non-authentic Ahaadith was resented. According to the historian Khatib. Once Imam Shafi said. ‘Hazrat Abu Bakr had reported only seventeen Ahaadith from the Prophet (sws). Being the highest authority of Islamic canon law. Turkistan. During the time of Imam Abu Hanifa. Imam Ahmad Bin Hambal is also a celebrated Muhaddis of his time. Afghanistan and the sub-continent. (who became Chief Qazi of Baghdad under Harun). the celebrated historian says. and Muhammad Ash-Shaibani. which is very popular. 3) If the religious people are not the friends of God. Ameer Ali. then God has no friends in this world. Hazrat Umar reported about fifty. Commenting on his death. It is said that ‘Mu`attaa’ contained more than ten thousand Ahaadith. The exponents of Hadith are divided in two groups--Those who collected the Hadith from various sources and those who critically examined the authenticity of those sources and interpreted them according to their knowledge. 4) Knowledge does not take root in the heart of a person who attains knowledge for the benefits of the world. ‘Fiqh-i-Akbar’ a brief magazine. Sheba bin Hajjaj said.’ The Ahaadith which are against common sense should not be accepted. Imam Abu Hanifa has left behind scores of wise sayings some of which are as follows: 1) No person has sustained greater loss than that whose learning could not restrain him from indulging in vices. Abu Yusaf.H. 5) To have learned discourses with a person who has no sense of knowledge is to annoy him unnecessarily. ‘Night has settled over Kufa. Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik have laid down similar conditions for appraising the authenticity of hadith. By ‘analogous deductions’ he endeavoured to make the simple Quranic verses applicable to a variety of circumstances. The second group was called the Mujtahid and Imam Abu Hanifa belonged to this group. Hazrat Usman and even Hazrat Ali who was so closely related to the Prophet (sws) had reported very few Ahaadith. but the Imam followed this principle to a great extent and during the later centuries his principles were universally accepted. The Imam was the greatest jurist of Islam who gave a sounder basis to Fiqh.was offered six times.’ Though the Imam has not left behind any collection of Hadith. Sultan Alp Arslan Suljuki built a tomb over it as well as a school attached to it. This was the criterion which Imam Jozi in the 6th century A. established Abu Hanifa’s conception on a regular basis. ‘He was a jurist who relied greatly on analogy for deducing law. Writing in ‘The Spirit of Islam’. the Companions of the Prophet of . the funeral prayers of the Imam were offered for twenty days after his burial. to counsel on the codification of Islamic doctrines and to transform the Islamic Shariah in the form of law. 2) A person who talks of religion and does not think that he will have to account for what he says does not know the meaning of religion. He founded a body of intellectuals. he occupies a high place as a Muhaddis. Ibn Batuta. his disciples and followers form a majority of Islamic world. of which he was the president. Shah Wali Ullah of Delhi has written a fine article describing the history of Fiqh.

The Hanafi Fiqh. who held important posts of Qazi during the Abbasid Caliphate also immensely contributed to its propagation. Besides the points mentioned above. The Prophet was scrupulously and faithfully followed by his Companions. which had to be solved through the common-sense of the learned Muslims. intelligible. It also received the patronage of the After the death of the Prophet. source: http://www. Saljuki and other Muslim ruling dynasties.renaissance.html . the conquests of the Arabs spread over the three continents and new problems in religious matters cropped up. soon gained much popularity among the masses.Islam never enquired from him about his action. The pupils of the Imam. Ibn Abbas says that the associates of the Prophet did not ask the explanation of more than 13 doctrines from the Prophet during his lifetime. there are other inherent factors which made Hanafi Fiqh popular among Muslim masses as well as among the academics. The secret of its popularity lies in its being more rational. being too liberal and liberal and universally applicable.