Imam e Azam Abu Hanifa
|The true picture concerning the criticism levelled against IMAM E AA’ZAM (RADIYALLAHU ANHU)
Imam Abu Hanifah was very diligent in this topic. Whenever he use to do Qiyyas he used to always do it in the light of Qur’an or Sunnah. Now let us examine what Hafidhh Dhahabi, and Hafidhh Ibn Kathir wrote about Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh. They say:
Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was born in 80A.H, living in the time when there were still some Sahaba living. He saw the famous companion, Anas Bin Malik Radi allaho unho and six other companions too. He learnt Ahadith from a group of Tabi’een, and spent much of his time in worship.
Abdullah Ibn Mubarrak said: ‘He was the Greatest of all those who was well-versed in Islamic laws’. Imam Shaf’i said: ‘All those who study Fiqh, are children of Imam Abu Hanifah’ (Islamic law). Imam Yahya Bin Mau’een said: ‘there are no accusations on Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh, and he is clean from all lies’. Whoever wants to learn Fiqh, he is dependent upon Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh. The people should pray for Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh after their prayers. He was the one of the greatest scholars on the earth. When he used to recite the Qur’an at night, he used to cry so much that his neighbours used to pity him. The place were he died, Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh read the Qur’an seventy thousand times. He died on 15 Rajab, 150 A.H. At his funeral, there were so many people that the Salaah of Janazah had to be read six times. May Allah grant him peace and Blessings.
[Tazkarra Al Hufaz, Tarikh Ibn Kathir, By Hafidhh Dhabi and Hafidhh Ibn Kathir, “biography of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh]
Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah says:
There is no doubt regarding Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh’s knowledge, people later attributed many lies to Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh, which were all untrue. The aim of such writings was to taint Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh.
[Minhaaj Al Sunnah Al Nabaweea, Vol./1, page. 259, By Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah]
Hafidhh Ibn Al Qayyim says:
Imam Abu Hanifah would not do Qiyyas, even if he found a weak Ahadith. There are two types of Qiyyyas:
1) Which is against the Qur’an and the Sunnah, this is not permissible:
2) One that is in the light of Qur’an/Sunnah, this is permissible, our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] also gave permisiion to Ma’az Bin Jabal to do Qiyyas.
[Aalmul Muaqqeen chap Qiyaas]
Why is it then today, after such great scholars like Hafidhh Dhahabi and Hafidhh Ibn Kathir who have corrected such erroneous lies against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh, that people still propagate such vile accusations?
A review of Islamic history reveals that when Allah Almighty bestows any extraordinary scholar with His blessings, you can be sure that they would not have respite from distortions, slander and lies that are leveled against them. Imam Abu Hanifah was one of those great scholars of Islam against which such attempts were made. It is apparent, from the history books that Imam Abu Hanifah, (like the three Orthodox Sunni Mujtahid Imams; Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’ee, and Imam Ahmed) had many enemies.
Why did they have enemies, one may ask? Many of those who argued against and attacked them, were from misled Sects, such as the Khawarij. There were also those from amongst the court of the Khalif who for one reason or another, had opened their hearts to jealousy, but as such, had the support of the court and their stances were often enough not questioned
With such ferocity, and by the number of accusations leveled against Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) it is unfortunate to say that some of these accusations did have an effect on a few simple minded Muslims. It should be said that they cannot be entirely at fault, since even with the case of Aisah (Radiallaho anha.) we recall that even some of the Companions were convinced of these false accusations. However, this incident was no small matter. It resulted in Allah Ta’ala sending Revelation as a warning to those companions who believed the accusation. Allah Ta’ala questioned them that upon hearing the accusations, why did they not reject such slander?
To some extent, we can also say that similarly to the erroneous accusations that were leveled against Aisha that were shown to be baseless. Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) also faced such accusations, that have been mentioned by various pious people of later generations in their books.
We should thus learn from the incident involving Aisha (May Allah bless her and grant her peace]) that we should not accept accusations from the enemies of Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) such as the Kawarij and the Mutazilah. Whenever people utter words of malice and indulge themselves in accusations against Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) they never mention that the majority of them are found to stem from two particular misled Sects – namely the Khawarij and the Mu’tazilah. Rather, people end up mentioning two particular people. They are Imam Bukhariand Khatib al Baghdadi.
1) Imam Bukhari has stated:
Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah alayh) was a Murji’i.
[Al Tareekh Al Kabir under the life history of Nauman Bin Thabit]
Imam Bukhari also writes:
The time when Sufian Thuri (great scholar of Islam) heard news about the death of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh he said ‘Praise be to Allah that such a man had died as he was gradually destroying Islam. There could not be a worse person born in Islam’.
[Tareek Sagheer biography of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh]
Imam Bukhari also writes that :
On two occasions Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was ordered to repent from making blasphemous statements.
[Khitab Al Daufa Walmat Rukin by Imam Bukhari, Al Intiqa By Imam Abdul ‘barr]
Imam Bukhari informs us that he had taken these statements from his tutor Na’eem bin Hamad. [Tareekh Al Saghir by Imam Bukhari]
Imam Bukhari was so impressed by his tutor, that he never mentioned or used Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh as a reference for his book “As Sahih Al Bukhari” Although whenever he did mention Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh he referred to him as Kufi
(Nicknamed from his homeland – Kufa).
Before we proceed any further, it is important to refer to one particular accusation against Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) which was that he belonged to a deviant sect called the Murji’i. To answer this, we first need to see what character Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) possessed. Importantly, who gave Imam Bukhari information regarding Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) and In Sha Allah, we will demonstrate that he was not a Murjie and pinpoint from where this false accusation came from.
I have mentioned that Naeem Bin Hammad conveyed this information to Imam Bukhari, but before proceeding any further, let us take note of what Hafidhh Dhahabi, Hafidhh Asqalani and Kateeb al Baghdadi have written in connection to Naeem bin Hammad.
We learn that Naeem Bin Hammad was a famous Scholar from a reion called Marau. He had sight in one eye only. During the later part of his life he went to live in Egypt. At first, he belonged to a sect called Jahmiyya, and was an active member. He then later left this sect and wrote a book, which was the first book to use the science of Musnad. These were a compilation of narrations by the Sahaba, which were placed in an alphabetical order, according to whom he had narrated the Hadith. During this particular period, the Umma used to question whether the Holy Qur’an was Makhluq (created). When this question was put forward to Naeem Bin Hammad he did not give an explanation. He was then sent to prison along side Yaqub Faqia. He died in 228 Hijra. It was noted that no Janza [funeral prayer] was prayed over him and he was buried without a Kaffan [shroud].
This is a brief overview of his life and now we shall examine as to what status he held as a scholar. We shall do this by looking at what Hafidhh Dahabi and Hafidhh Asqalani have written, since they compiled together all the works by previous scholars who had written concerning Naeem Bin Hammad. What follows, are their accounts:
Imam Abu Dawud said that:
Naeem Bin Hammad, had attributed 20 Hadith to the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] which he in fact had never said, thus being fabricated sayings.
Here are two examples of such fabrications:
The Prophet of Islam [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] had said: “A time would come, when if you adhered to ten percent of Allah’s commands you will succeed, and if you leave this ten percent you will die. (spiritually, not physically).
The Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] had never uttered such words, this is a Munkar narration.
2) Abu Huraira narrated that :
The Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] had said: “A time will come when my Ummah will be split into more than 70 sects. The worst will be those who indulge in Qiyyas (analogical deduction) in matters of uncertainty.”
Abu Zur’a said: “I asked Imam Yayha bin Mu’een, where did Naeen bin Hammad get this Hadith? He answered that it has no origins and that this is not a Hadith but has been invented. Whatever Naeem Bin Hammad had said about Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh were all lies and had no substance. Abu Zur’a said that whenever Naeem Bin Hammad would narrate a Hadith of the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace], he would add in his own words in the Hadith. Whenever he would narrate a fabricated Hadith he would attribute it to the “great Imam of Hadith.”
Daar Qutni said that whenever Naeem used to mention a fabricated Hadith, he would do so to support the Sunnah. He had a lot of Munkar narrations, which other Imams did not have.
[Mizan Al Etedaal, and Tahzeeb Al Tahzeeb, by Hafidhh Dahabi and Hafidhh Asqalani, biography of Naeem Bim Hamaad]
Imam Bukhari took his narrations from Naeem Bin Hammad for his book, Sahih al-Bukhari and Tareekh. Since Naeem Bin Hammad received criticism from amongst the Muhaditheen likewise, Imam Bukhari also received criticism for his book of Hadith from the scholars of Hadith.
This overview concerning the character of Naeem Bin Hammad will allow us to understand that he was not a reliable Hadith expert in the eyes of the Scholars of Hadith. Now we shall elaborate upon the statements made by Imam Bukhari about Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah) by noting what the scholars of Hadith had to say concerning him.
From this we can demonstrate that Imam Bukhari’s Tarikh is in no way free from error, nor did it remain uncriticised from hadith scholars. As a result, it would be unfair to “blindly” accept everything that has been written in it as the absolute Truth.
By now, it should have been made obvious that the person that gave Imam Bukhari (ie Naeem Bin Hammad) information regarding Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was unreliable. The Muhaditheen tell us that he used to make up fabricated Hadith of the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace], and he also made false stories about Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh. As we are told not to believe in his narrations, similarly, we should not accept those statements regarding Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh since they are all lies, according to Hafidhh Dhahabi and Hafidhh Asqalni.
Anyone who has read the the history of Islamic scholarship accepts and understands that criticisms were not only made against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh but were also made against many of the Muhaditheen. The simple principal is, that when accusations are made against any of the great scholars of Islam, who have the respect from the majority of the Umma those accusations are rejected. We shall provide you with some examples:
Accusation made against Imam Bukhari.
Imam Bukhari was accused of saying that the Qur’an was Makhluq (Created) but in reality he was saying the words that we are reciting are Makhluq (Created). In one meeting a question was posed to Imam Bukhari, as to whether the Qur’an is Makhluq or not? He replied, that whatever we do is our doing, and our doing is Makhluq. When the Ulema heard about this everyone ceased to communicate to him, except for Imam Muslim and Ahmad Salma. However, Imam Muslim stopped taking any narrations from Imam Bukhari. Imam Muhammad Ibn Yahya (who was the teacher of both Imam Muslim, and Imam Bukhari) was also against Imam Bukhari on this issue. He then wrote many letters to various scholars informing them about Imam Bukhri’s belief of the Qur’an. The result of this was that wherever Imam Bukhari traveled the people would always harass him. Imam Bukhari prayed to Allah that He would take his soul into the next life. As a result from the fear of the scholars Imam Bukhari never clarified whether the Qur’an was Makhluq or not to the Scholars of the Kharasaan.
[Tahzeeb Al Tahzeeb by Hafidhh Asqalani]
From this incident, you can see what Imam Bukhari implied something else, but what people understood it to be was something else. It went so far that Imam Bukhari made Du’a for himself, “O Allah Take me away from this world” and Allah accepted his Du’a and he passed away; Both Hafidhh Asqalani and Hafidhh Ibn Kathir have mentioned in their books. The same happened to Imam Abu Hanifah: as he used to say one thing and the Khawarij and Mutazilah interpreted it as a completely different thing.
Imam Bukhari also had another teacher whose name was Ibn al Madini. Imam Bukhari used to attend his classes (Kitaab Al Ilaal) from which Ibn Al Madini used to teach from a book. This book was very precious to him and he would not allow anyone to come near it. One day, Ibn Al Madini went to visit some of his property and Imam Bukhari saw this as an opportunity to obtain the book. He went to Ibn Al Madini’s son and persuaded him with some money to part with the book for a short while. Once Imam Bukhari received the book he took it to be copied hastily. By the time Ibn Al Madini had returned, Imam Bukhari had returned the book. When classes resumed and Ibn Al Madini began to read from the book, he asked a question to his students. Before he finished the question Imam Bukhari had already produced the correct answer (which was from his book). Ibn Al Madini then realized that Imam Bukhari had seen the contents of his book. The shock of this behavior from Imam Bukhari sent Ibn Al Madini into a state of illness, from which he later died.
Hafidhh Ibn Al Asqalani after writing this account said that he did not believe it and then he gave the reason. He said that this was against the status of Imam Bukhari.
[Tahzeeb Al Tahzeeb, under “Life History of Imam Bukhari,” by Hafidhh Ibn Asqalni]
Imam Muslim writes that:
Hadrat Abbas and Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) had a dispute between each other, so thay went to the Khaleefah of the time, i.e. Hadrat Umar (Radiall hu anhu) to settle their dispute. Hadrat Abbas (Radiall hu anhu) said, concerning Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) “O Ameer-ul-Mu’mineen, judge between me and this liar, sinner, disloyal person, betrayer” Hadrat Umar(Radiall hu anhu) then made his judgement in their affair.
[Sahih Muslim baab-ul-fayy]
Hafidh Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
Hadrat Ibn Mas’ud, and Hadrat Uthmaan (Radiall hu anhu) used to verbally abuse each other. Hadrat Ammar bin Yaasir said to Hadrat Uthmaan that Uthmaan, had become a kaafir. Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) once asked Ammar, “Do you not deny the God who Uthmaan worshipped?” Once, Husaid bin Huzair said to Sa’d bin Ubaidah, “You have become a munaafiq and you support the munaafiqeen!” In this way other Sahaba used to do this to each other but we know that when one pious person accuses another pious person it has no effect on his status.
[Minhaaj-as-Sunnah, chapter, ikhtilaaf-us-sahaba, by Hafidh Ibn Taymiyyah]
Sayyed Mawdoodi writes:
The scholars of Hadith criticized each other throughout history, but they were human and so have made mistakes. The reason for this was because sometimes a scholar may not like another scholar for a personal reason. This is why we see in history that scholars have criticized each other in strange ways. An example is of Ibn Abdul Barr, who wrote in his book Jaami’al-bayaan, Imam Hummad had once said that the scholars of Hijaaz have no knowledge. He also said that our children know more than them. He also said that Imams Ataa ibn Rubaah, Tawoos, and Mujaahid had no knowledge. Imam Zuhri said, whilst commenting on the scholars of Makkah, he had never seen anyone break the walls(i.e the rules) of Islam more than the scholars of Makkah. Even though great Sahaba and Taabe’een were resident in Makkah.
We know that Shaabee and Ibraheem Nakhee were great scholars but they used to attack each other. Shaabee said “Look at at Ibraheem Nakh’ ee! He asks me masaa’il by night and preaches to the people in the morning as though it is his own research!” Ibraheem Nakhee said: “Look at Shaabee! He is a liar, and narrates Hadith from Masrook, but he has never met him!” Imam Dahaaq once boasted that he know more than the companions. Imam Sayyid bin Jubair once said that Shaabee was a liar. He also said about Imam Ikramah that he is the student of Abdullah bin Abbas and he attributes false Ahadith to ibn Abbaas.
Imam Malik said about Muhammad bin Is-haaq that he is was one of the dajjaal. Imam Malik also said about the scholars of Iraq that they have become like the people of the book, so don’t say that they are speaking the truth or that they are lying. Imam Abdullah bin Mubarak once said, “I don’t consider Imam Malik to be a scholar” Imam Abu Hanefah said about Imam ‘Amash that he has never kept the fast of Ramadhan nor taken the bath of major impurity. Imam Yahya bin Mu’een has criticised the high-ranking scholars of Hadith. He has even said that Imam Shafi’ is weak in Hadith. This is the situation of the scholars of Hadith but the strangest thing is that human weaknesses even overcame the Sahabah. For this reason the Sahabah used to critisize each other. An example is Abdullah bin Umar, who when was told that the Witr Salaah was not compulsory by Abu Hurairah, said that Abu Hurairah was a liar.
Hadrat A’isha (Radiall hu anha) once said the Anas bin Malik and Abu Sa’eed Khudree do not know anything
About Hadith as they were children at the time of the Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace]. Once Hasan bin Ali (Radiall hu anhu) interpreted a verse of the Qur’an and someone said that ibn Umar and Abdullah bin Zubair have given another interpretation. Hasan then said that they are both liars. Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) once said that Mugheerah bin Shubah is a liar. Ubaidah bin Thabit said that Mas’ood bin Aws Ansaari is a liar, even though he fought in the battle of Badr.
If one wants to investigate this matter further one can read the history of jarh-ut-ta’deel. These books have critisised other scholars. The reason for this is that they were human and had human weaknesses and so sometimes they would call a weak scholar a good scholar, and vice versa. It is necessary to refer to these books carefully before making any presumptions about a particular scholar.
[Tafheemaat, chapter, maslak-e-it’daal, by Sayyed mawdoodi]
It is proved, from the above, that if a scholar claims something about another scholar then we cannot say that his claim is always correct. The only thing that we can conclude is that the claim is only the scholar’s personal view. If we say that the claim is always correct then we would have to accept every scholar’s word, which is impossible. An example is that of Hadrat Abbas (Radiall hu anhu) claiming that the Ali (Radiall hu anhu) was a liar, sinner, and betrayer. We cannot accept that Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) was actually that which Abbas (Radiall hu anhu) said. This is because we know about the greatness of Hadrat Ali (Radiall hu anhu) who was neither a liar nor betrayer. He was one of the ten who was given glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise) in their lifetime and the fourth Khaleefah of Islam. We know also that Imam Malik was a great scholar so no-one can accept Abdullah bin Mubaarik’s claim that Imam Maaik was not a scholar. We also do not accept Imam Yahya bin Mu’een’s claim that Imam Shaafe’ee was weak in Hadith. In the same way, no-one can accept the claims made against Imam Abu Hanefah by following what some scholars say about him. In short, we have to see what the majority of scholars have said about a particular scholar and then accept or reject their opinions.
Now let us look into the second person who is often used to justify attacks against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh
2) Khatib al Baghdadi:
His correct name was Abu bakr Ahmed Bin Ali Al Khatib Al Baghdadi and he passed away 463 Hijra. Khatib Baghdadi was a great scholar of Hadith wrote many books on Usul-al-Hadith (principles of Hadith) but his most popular book is Tareekh Baghdad, (written in 14 volumes). The copy that I am using was issued in Al Maktaba Salfia Al Madina Al Manawara. If we look at volume 13 under the life history of Nauman Bin Sabit (name of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh) there are two chapters on Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh.
In the first chapter he writes how the other scholars have praised Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh and in the second chapter he talks about what the enemies of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh said about him. Khatib Baghdadi said that I personally recognized the greatness of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh and his knowledge. It is my right that where I have mentioned his excellence I can also bring forward the opinions of the people who were against him. The enemies of Imam Abu Hanifahh do not mention those narrations, which are in praise of Imam Abu Hanifahh. They only mention Khateeb’s narration, which are against him- and imply that al Khateeb too was against the Imam.
Before we go further, at this point it can be concluded that whatever has been said against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh cannot be accepted as the truth:
Our Shaykh Shah Abu Al Hassan Zaid Farooqi Naqsh Bandi said: “In 1931 I was in Egypt. In that period an article was published in the popular newspaper Al Ahraam that Khateeb’s Tareek has been published and will be available soon. In his Tareekh there is one chapter against Imam Abu Hanifah. Al Azhar decided that it was upon themselves to respond to this chapter written by Khatib Baghdadi. This response was then printed in the footnote of the book Tareekh Baghdad. Upon reading the above book and its footnote it is clearly understood that the said chapter is totally untrue.
Furthermore it is noted that whosoever reported Khateeb’s accusations against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayy. We see that in the same book he also says that these narrators are not trustworthy. Moreover Muhadis Al Asar Alama Zahidul Al Kausri (Rahmatullah Alai) wrote a book called Taneeb Al Khatib in which he clarifies that truly these accusations are false and notes that all the evidences used were from the same book Tareekh Baghdad.
Now let us see what Khateeb says about Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh in Tareekh Baghdad under the biography of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh. (a number of examples are taken)
1. Khateeb says Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was from the Murj’iee
2. He says that Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh confirmed that Riba (interest) is halal (Permissible)
3. In Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh Halqas (meetings) there was no salutation
(Salaah/blessings) bestowed on the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace].
3. Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayhs and his students were like Christians. (As’tagfirullah) (Changing Qur’an and Sunnah like the Christians).
4. Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayhs followers said that his knowledge was greater than that of the Prophets [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]. (‘Astagfirullah’)
5. Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh used to say that had the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] been present at his time he would have taken his opinion (that is He would have learnt many things) from me. (‘Astagfirullah’)
6. When a Hadith would be presented he would reject and say scrap this with the pig’s tale.
[Tareekh Baghdad by Khateeb Al-Baghdadi under Nu’maan Bin Thabit]
We do not need to go any further as you will have already realised that this is not acceptable by any Muslim. From the above accusations let us clarify one thing that the other accusations are very similar.
Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh said that if Usman Bathi Al Basri was present in my time he would have taken many of my opinions but the above narrator Khateeb al-baghdadi removed Usmans name and replaced it by the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace].
[Footnote, Tareekh Baghdad chapter Abu Hanifahh]
Khateeb took this information from Yusaf Bin Sabat, Abi Nassar, Azdi, and Al Wass Wassy, In the same book, Khateeb also wrote about these narrators, that:
One of them was who used to make fabricated Hadiths. One of them was weak in the Hadith, the other was a person who did not even believe in Hadiths. One of them was Qadari (Sect), one of them used to make up fabricated stories.
To prove that Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was a Kaffir. From the writings of Khateeb, we are led to believe that Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was an atheist, Jew, innovator, etc., etc., we seek shelter in Allah, from this!!!
Now we shall review the accusations that were made against Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh who said that he was a Murji’i. Who were the Murji’ee? And who called Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh one?
Allama Shahar Sattaani, wrote in his famous book Al Milal, that:
In the early days the Shi’ahs began to propogate stories against Abu Bakr and Umar Radi Allaho unhooma. During a period where there were differences amongst the Companions, the Shi’ahs also made strange stories concerning their differences. It was also the time when the Khawarij declared the majority of Muslims, as Kafir they believed that whoever committed a major sin was a Kafir. At this time,the sahiah sect became famous. They said that differences that the companions of the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] had should go without anything said about them, we should remain silent, and the matter will be dealt with Allah Sub Hana hu Wataala. They also believed that those Muslims who commit a great sin (Kabiraa) are not kafirs. Some of the Murji’e believed that Imaan (Faith) is embedded in the heart, so that, if someone utters blasphemous remarks, or worships statues, or has a belief like a Jew or Christian, or worships whatever he likes, he still is beloved to Allah and a perfect Muslim. They thus believed that if a Kafir was to perform a good act then he/she would receive no benefit from it, similarly, if a Muslim was to indulge himself in blasphemous he/she remarks, or commits any major sin, it would have no effect on his/her Imaan. In this way, they left all good actions out and they openly indulged themselves in bad actions.
Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh also said that those who commit a major sin were not Kafirs. The enemies of Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh picked upon this point to argue that he was a Murji’e. Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh openly conducted good acts and never said not to do good actions. He also never encouraged people that worship what you like. The Mutazillah called every one who did not agree with them concerning their belief as Murji’e. The Khawarij, on the other hand, argued that the one who claimed that to perform a major sin is not to be a Kafir. In this way, the Khawarij and Mutazillah gave Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh the title of Murji’ee. These two sects not only called Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh a Murji’e, but many other great scholars of Islam, such as: Hassan Bin Muhammad, Sa’eed Ibn Jubair, Talaq Bin Habib, Umar Bin Murar, Mahaarib Bin Wassaar, Maqaatil Bin Sulimaan, Hamaad Bin Abi Sulaimaan, called a number of the scholars as Murji’e.
[Al Milal, By Allama Shahar Sitaani, Madhab Al Islammiya and Hiyaat Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh, By Allama Abu Zuhraar Misri]
If Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh was a Murji’ee, it would have become apparent in all the Hanafi books that it is permissible to worship the cross, idols or you can be a Christian, Jew etc. Why is it then that in the Hanafi books it is clearly stated that to worship idols, the cross etc., is Kufr? (See the books of Hanafi Fiqh)
Why is it also, that there is a special book, which explains what punishments are expected for those who perform bad acts? If you take any book concerning Hanafi Fiqh, you will see two chapters dedicated to explaining what things can make you a Kafir. The other chapters will deal with the punishments’ that those people will receive who indulge themselves. In acts of adultery, stealing and other evil acts. This is a clear proof that those who claim that Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh is a Murji’ee, is repeating those accusations made by the Khawarij and the Mutazalah are wrong.
There is another accusation made by people that Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh knew only seventeen Hadith. Let’s examine what little truth this bears but before we go further lets see the sources from which Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh extracted his information.
Hafidhh Iban Al Qayyim states:
Allah Soob ha Na hu Wat’aala sent the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] to teach Islam. During that early period those that learnt became known as companions which were over hundreds of thousands, out of which one hundred and thirty (130) gave more Fatwas than the rest. There were seven amongst the companions that gave the highest number of Fatwas. Those seven were Umar Bin Khatab, Ali Bin Abu Talib, Abdullah Bin Masaud, Umul Momineen Aisha, Zaid Bin Sabet, Abdullah Bin Abbass, Abdullah Bin Umar Radi allahounhoom. Umar sent Abdullah Bin Masaud to reside at Koofa. This was because Abdullah Bin Masaud had great knowledge. Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] said in a statement that he was great scholar.
Once two groups of people came from Syria and Koofa to visit Umar. Umar gave gifts to both groups and the group from Koofa asked Umar “why is it that we have received less than the Syrians.” Umar replied: ‘Did I not give you Abdullah Bin Masaud which is the greatest of all gifts’. Abdullah Bin Masaud often said that I know about every Surah in the
Qur’an and further who and what it was revealed for, if I know a person that knows more than me I must go to him and learn from him. Ibn Umar used to say Ibne Masaud is filled with knowledge. Imam Ibn Jareer says that there is no other companion whose students wrote all his Fatwas and his Fiqh, except Abdullah ibn Masuood. After a short while hundreds of other companions also went to Koofa to reside there. Later when Ali became Khaleefah he also moved to Koofa that is how Koofa became the capital of the Islamic State. This then influenced further companions to move to Koofa. Koofa became one of the center points of knowledge of the Companiuns. At that time the most popular school was of Ali and Abdullah Bin Masaud.
Later on some people started to attribute fabricated narrations linked to Ali. Which is why the only acceptable narrations of Ali are those which are through his generation and through students of Abdullah Bin Masuad. Ali and Abdullah Bin Masaud had many popular students like Umar Bin Sharjeel, Masrooq, Al Qamma, and others. And then Abraham and Hammad Bin Suleiman became their students and Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah alayh became their student.
[Aalam Al Muwaqqaiy-een Chapter Qiyyas by Hafidhh Ibn Al Qayyim]
Imam Ibn Sa’ad says:
One large group of Companions started to reside in Kufa, There were more than five hundred companions residing in Kufa. That is why Umar Radi allaho unho said that Kufa is the center of the treasure. (Faith) Kufa was the center at that time of knowledge.
[Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad volume 6 chapter Kufa]
In the very same Kufa Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullah was born. In the same place, he acquired his knowledge, he saw and learnt from the Companions and learnt from the Tabe’een. To learn more knowledge he often travelled to Makkah, Madina, Syria, Yemen and Basra. How can it be said that he only knew seventeen Ahadith? It is like saying to a Hafidhh of the Qur’an that he knows Surah Fatiha only!
Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah writes that:
Amongst the Scholars there were those who are Scholars of Ahadith, and some that were Scholars of Fiqh. The Scholars who are knowledgeable of both Ahadith/Fiqh are Imam Sahfi’, Imam Ahmed, Imam Ishaq, Imam Abu-Yusuf, Imam Abu Hanifah.They also had a very high status which was suitible for all of them Rahmatullahe ajmaeen.
[Kitab Al Istegatha page 13 by Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyya]
When Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyya writes and accepts that Imam Abu Hanifah was a scholar in Ahadith, and fiqh, then how can his followers discredit Imam Abu Hanifah, and say that he only knew seventeen Ahadith?
Ibn Khaldun has touched upon the accusation that Imam Abu Hanifah knew only seventeen hadith. He has written about it in his book At-Muqadmah. He writes that this accusation is completely false as, Imam Abu Hanifah’s student Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad narrated a great number of Hadith from Imam Abu Hanifah. Which they have written in their books, and they have written two books where they have accumulated all the Ahadith that they narrate from Imam Abu Hanifah; (the name of the books are Kitabul Al Athar by Imam Abu Yusuf, and Kitabul Al Athar by Imam Muhammad.) More-over all the narrations of Hadith are accumulated in one book, which is called Jamie Al-Masaneed by Imam Abu Hanifah the famous scholar of Hadith/Fiqh. Imam Abu Hanifah is one of the first people who have dictated books on Hadith/Fiqh. The Hadiths which Imam Abu Hanifah has narrated, he heard them directly from the Companions or the Tabeen (Student of the Companions) He was the first Imam in Hadith/Fiqh, Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Nasai, Imam Tirmizi, Ibn Majah, etc, etc, they all came a very long time after him, So that is why his status should be the highest of all of them. From the famous scholars of Hadith/Fiqh he is the only one who is a Ta’bee (Who have seen the Companions) This Privilege was awarded to Imam Abu Hanifah and not to Imam Malik Imam Sahfi’, Imam Ahmed, Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Abu Dawood, Imam Tirmizi, etc, etc, He was unique in this privilege
Lastly I make Du’a that may Allah Soobha Nahu Wata’ala grant all the scholars the best possible place in Paradise. They worked hard for Islam and spent their lives gathering information and passing it on to us, especially Imam Abu Hanifah, may Allah Soobha Nahu Wata’ala fill his grave with (Noor) light.
May Allah Soobha Nahu Wata’ala accept what I have written and if I have made any mistakes may He forgive me. Amin.