Assessing the Status of Imām Abū Hanīfah According to the Methodology of the Hadīth Scholars
By Shaykh Shākir Fayyād
With comments by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah
[Translator’s Preface: the following is a summary by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah of a book which analyzes the allegation of weak memory leveled against Imām Abū Hanīfah. In this study, the author uses the methodology of the Hadīth scholars themselves, some of whom are reported to have made the above claim against the Imām. This article was translated from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh’s footnotes on Mabādī ‘Ilm al-Hadīth wa Usūluhū of Mawlānā Shabbīr Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī (pp.237-240) – Muntasir Zaman]
More than twenty years ago, I came across an important and lengthy treatise entitled “Abū Hanīfah bayn al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl” by Ustādh Shākir Dhīb Fayyād from Jordan who at the time was a student at King Abdulazīz University. This treatise was a Master’s dissertation in the aforementioned university under the supervision of Shaykh Muhammad al-Sādiq ‘Arjūn (Allah have mercy upon him) in the year 1396 AH.
The author writes in the introduction: Read the rest of this entry »
The profound influence ones environment has in shaping his personality, worldview, and knowledge is a universally accepted fact. It is as the age-old proverb goes, “Tell me the company you keep, and I will tell you who you are.” As such, to appreciate the early Muslim scholars of ‘Irāq, in particular those of Kūfah, it is of paramount importance to understand the academic status of their hometown and those who helped shape it. The following is an excerpt from the book Fiqh Ahl al-‘Irāq which explains the stages the city of Kūfah went through until it developed into an unparalleled city of knowledge, from its inception when ‘Umar dispatched ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with them) until the era of Imām Abū Hanīfah.
The author commences by highlighting the lofty rank and vast knowledge of Kūfah’s first mentor, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him). Thereafter, he speaks about the shift of the khilāfah in the era of ‘Alī (Allah be pleased with him) from Madīnah to Kūfah which increased the amount of Companions and scholars who travelled and took residence there. From among the Companions, one-thousand five hundred took residence in Kūfah, apart from those who spent time and taught there. Further, he enumerates the names of prominent students of ‘Alī and Ibn Mas‘ūd, such as Qādī Shurayh, Abīdah al-Salmānī, and ‘Alqamah who were leading authorities of their time. He then discusses the status of Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’ī and his student Hammād ibn Abī Sulaymān, who was the teacher of Imām Abū Hanīfah. By this, he establishes the chain of knowledge from the Companions until Imām Abū Hanīfah. He concludes with a few incidents on the excellence of Kūfah in the sciences of Hadīth, Fiqh, Arabic, and Qirā’ah.
An idiomatic translation was adopted and subtitles were added in many places to make the article more reader friendly. The footnotes of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah and Mawlānā Yūsuf Banūrī were selectively added and notified; for the sake of brevity, these were often abridged. An attempt was made by the translator to reference all the quotations and necessary passages. These references alongside other footnotes from the translator were placed in square brackets.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »
As the day of ‘Īd draws near, the exuberance and joy of Muslims becomes increasingly manifest. After devoting an entire month to fasting, worshiping, and other religious obligations, a believer embraces the joyous occasion of ‘Īd al-Fitr spiritually uplifted and reformed. It is with immense grief, however, that during such blessed days we witness reoccurring episodes of futile quarreling in many Masjids, thus stripping the atmosphere of the unity greatly needed in our times. What makes the matter more disheartening is that these arguments too often ensue regarding issues wherein there exists a legitimate scope for differences in Islāmic jurisprudence. A common example, which by now has become somewhat of a cliché, is the issue of moon-sighting, or more sardonically put, “moon-fighting.”
With the possibility of ‘Īd al-Fitr happening this year on the blessed day of Jumu‘ah, there comes along an important question in respect to Islāmic jurisprudence: will a person be absolved from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer due to performing the ‘Īd prayer? As was witnessed on numerous occasions, issues of such a nature serve as a pretext for the unlearned to quarrel and exhibit their intolerance and ignorance.
The excerpt before you is a section from I‘lā al-Sunan of the great Hadīth scholar Mawlānā Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī pertaining to the issue at hand. The author discusses the various evidences on the subject while cogently substantiating the view of the majority (that is, the view of three of the four schools of Islāmic law and even the view of the Literalist school ) that one is not exempted from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer by virtue of performing the ‘Īd prayer. Nevertheless, according to Imām Ahmad, one will be exempted and therefore the matter will stand as expressed by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī:
Thus, the follower of evidence is not allowed to depart from restricting the dispensation (of not praying Jumu‘ah due to the ‘Īd prayer) to the people of the village… However, a Hanbalī muqallid is excused for following what is documented in the books of his madhhab, even though the issue may be weak in terms of evidence, as is the ruling for anyone who adheres to the followed Imāms. 
In order to make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Select passages from an article on the subject by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī were added in the footnotes. These passages and the translator’s footnotes were placed in square brackets.
Clarifying the Maxim: Our Madhhab is Correct and Possibly Incorrect While the Madhhab of Others is Incorrect and Possibly Correct.
By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
Objection: The following maxim is often quoted in the books of Fiqh: Our madhhab is correct and possibly incorrect while the madhhab of others is incorrect and possibly correct. What kind of conduct is this with those who hold a different opinion? How can they say this when they granted permission to make Taqlīd and recommended the observance of differences?
Clarification: It is true that they said this, but it is our responsibility to understand it according to their explanation and not according to hearts that are ill mannered towards them or minds that have failed to understand their intent. The correct method of understanding their statement is by establishing the conflict between the two statements. Thus we say:
Their statement regarding Taqlīd is proof of their approval of the madhhab of the one being followed (the Imām), and their recommendation for observing the opposing view is a clearer proof of their approval and regard for the opinion of the one who differs, so how did they make this statement? Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a dialogue that took place between ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī (d. 1371) and Shaykh Taqī al-Dīn al-Hilālī (d.1407) regarding the status of lifting ones hands (raf’ al-yadayn) in prayer in light of hadīth. The purpose of translating this dialogue is not to exhaust all the existing evidence of a particular view or to prove the superiority of one practice over the other. Rather, it is to point out the flaw of adopting a superficial approach when dealing with matters of jurisprudence, which at times may appear to contradict authentic hadiths due to shallow knowledge of the dynamics of Islāmic sciences. To make the article more-reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »
The Forty-Scholar Council of Imām Abū Hanīfah
By Muntasir Zaman
Among the various specialties of the Hanafī school of thought, one outstanding specialty is the rigorous manner in which it was developed. Imām Abū Hanīfah had a group of prominent scholars with whom he would consult. Often they would only come to a conclusion on a particular issue after debating it for three days.
As such, one can understand the truthfulness of what Imām Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāh stated when a person in his gathering claimed that Imām Abū Hanīfah erred. He said:
How can Abū Hanīfah err when with him are the likes of Abū Yūsuf and Zufar in their logic; and the likes of Yahyā ibn Abī Zā’idah, Hafs ibn Ghiyāth, Hibbān, and Mindal in their memorization of hadīth; and the like of al-Qāsim ibn Ma‘n in his knowledge of language and Arabic; and Dāwūd al-Tā’ī and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyād in their asceticism and their scrupulousness? The one whose companions are such, he does not come close to erring, because if he erred they would correct him.
Moreover, there was a council of forty scholars from his companions who documented the legal issues. The following is a report that mentions this council, followed by its grading.
It is reported in Fadā’il Abī Hanīfah of Ibn Abī al-‘Awām:
With the month of Ramadān drawing near, both students and scholars have begun their preparation by reading books and revising discussions that relate to the blessed month, such as the laws of fasting and Salāt al-Tarāwih. Although countless books are available on the subject of Salāt al-Tarāwih, English readers have asked for a treatise in English that adequately covers the major aspects with their supporting evidences. To address this request, we have translated the chapter on Tarāwīh from the monumental work I’lā’ al-Sunan of Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī. This comprehensive chapter deals with relevant discussions rarely found in other books, such as the proofs for making one complete recital of the Qur’ān in the Tarāwīh prayer. To make the article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places and subtitles were added.