The book Qamoos al-alam states: Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa’s name was Numan. His father’s name was Thabit. His grandfather’s name was Numan, too. He was the first of the four great imams of the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. ‘Imam’ means ‘profoundly learned scholar.’ He was one of the main pillars of the brilliant religion of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). He was a descendant of a Persian notable. His grandfather had embraced Islam. He was born in Kufa in 80 (698 A.D.). He was born early enough to see Anas ibn Malik, ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, Sahl ibn Sad as-Sa’idi and Abu al-Fadl Amir ibn Wasila, four Sahaabis (Radi-Allahu ta’ala anhum). He learned ‘ilm al-fiqh from Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman. He enjoyed the companionship of many notables of the Tabi’een, and of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala). He memorized innumerable Ahadith. He was brought up so as to become a great judge, but he became an imam al-madhhab. He had a superior, and amazingly keen intellect. In ‘ilm al-fiqh, he attained an unequalled grade in a short time. His name and fame became worldwide.
Yazid ibn ‘Amr, Governor of Iraq during the time of Marana ibn Muhammad, the fourteenth and last Umayyad Halifax, who was a grandson of Marwaan ibn Hakam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) and was killed five years after assuming the caliphate in Egypt in 132 (750 A.D.), proposed to Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) to become a judge for the law-court of Kufa. But, since he had as much zuhd, taqwa and wara’ as he had knowledge and intellect, he refused it. He was afraid of not being able to safeguard human rights because of human weaknesses. With a command from Yazid, he was given a whipping, hundred and ten blows to the head. His blessed face and head swelled. The next day, Yazid took the Imam out and oppressed him by repeating his offer. The Imam said, “Let me consult,” and obtained permission to leave. He went to the blessed city of Mecca and stayed there for five or six years.
The ‘Abbasid Khalifah Abu Ja’far Mansoor (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) commanded him to be the chief of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 150 A.H. [767 A.D.]. He refused it and was put into jail. He was subjected to whipping, ten blows more every following day. When the number of whipping reached one hundred, he attained martyrdom. Abu Sad Muhammad ibn Mansoor al-Harizmi (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), one of the viziers of Malikshah (447-485 A.H., the third Saljuqi Sultan and the son of Sultan Alparslan), had a wonderful dome built over his grave. Afterwards, Ottoman emperors embellished and had his tomb restored several times.
Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) was the first who compiled and classified ‘ilm al-fiqh, and he gathered information for each branch of knowledge. He wrote the books Fara’id and Shuroot. There are innumerable books describing his extensive knowledge on fiqh; his extraordinary ability in qiyaas; and his dumbfounding superiority in zuhd, taqwa, mildness and righteousness. He had many disciples, some of whom became among the great mujtahideen. The Hanafi Madhhab spread far and wide during the time of the Ottoman Empire. It almost became the official Madhhab of the State. Today, more than half of the Muslims on the earth and most of the Ahl as-Sunnah perform their ‘ibaadah according to the Hanafi Madhhab. Citation from the book Qamoos-ul alam ends here. The book Mir’at al-ka’inat states: The ancestors of al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) come from the province of Faaris, Iran. His father, Habit, had met Imam ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) in Kufa and Hadrat ‘Ali had pronounced a benediction over him and his descendants. Al-Imam al-azam was one of the greatest among the Tabi’een and saw Anas ibn Malik (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) and three or seven more of the as-Sahaabat ul-kiram. He learned Hadith ash-Sharif from them.
A hadith ash-Sharif, which al-Imam al-Harizmi reported from Abu Hurairah (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) through isnaad muttasil (an uninterrupted chain of reporters), states: “Among my Ummah, there will come a man called Abu Hanifa. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be the light of my Ummah.” Another hadith ash-Sharif states: “A man named Numan ibn Habit and called Abu Hanifa will appear and will revive Allah ta’ala’s Religion and my Sunnah.” And another one states: “In every century, a number of my Ummah will attain to high grades. Abu Hanifa will be the highest of his time.” These three Ahadith are written in the book Mawdua’at al-‘Uloom and in Durr-al-mukhtaar. This hadith ash-Sharif is also well known: “Among my Ummah, a man called Abu Hanifa will appear. There is a beauty spot between his two shoulder blades. Allahu ta’ala will revive His Religion through his hand.”
Preface to Durr al-mukhtaar writes: “A hadith ash-Sharif states: As Adam (‘alaihi ‘s-salaam) was proud of me so I am proud of a man of my Ummah named Numan and called Abu Hanifa. He is the light of my Ummah.’ ” Another hadith ash-Sharif states: “Prophets (‘alaihimu ‘s-salaam) are proud of me. And I am proud of Abu Hanifa. He who loves him will have loved me. He who feels hostility towards him will have felt hostility towards me.” These Ahadith are also written in the book Al-muqaddimah by the profound scholar Hadrat Abu ‘l-Laith as-Samarqandi and in Taqadduma, which is a commentary to the former. In the preface to the fiqh book Al-muqaddimah by al-Ghaznawi Ahadith praising him are quoted.
In Diya’ al-ma’nawi, a commentary on it, Qadi Abi ‘l-Baqa said, ‘Abul-Faraj ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi, based on the words of al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, said that these Ahadith were made’. Yet this remark of his is bigotry, for these Ahadith were reported by several chains of transmitters. Ibn ‘Abidin, in his commentary on Durr al-mukhtaar, proved that these Ahadith were not made’ and quoted the following hadith ash-Sharif from the book Al-khairaat al-hisaan by Ibn Hajar al-Makki: “The ornament of the world will be taken away in the year 150.” He went on, “The great fiqh scholar Shams al-aimmah ‘Abdul-Ghaffaar al-Kardari (d. 562/1166 A.D.) said, “It is obvious that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa, since he passed away in 150.” A hadith ash-Sharif given by al-Bukhaari and Muslim says, “If imaan went to the planet Venus, a man of Faaris (Persian) descent would bring it back.” Imam as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i alim, remarked, “It has been communicated unanimously that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-azam.” Numan Alusi writes in the book Ghaliyya that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to Abu Hanifa and that his grandfather descended from a Faaris family. ‘Allamah Yusuf, a Hanbali scholar, quoted in his work Tanwir as-sahifa from Hafiz ‘Allamah Yusuf ibn ‘Abdul-Barr (b. 368/978 and d. 463/1071 in Shaatiba), Qadi of Lisbon, Portugal, ‘Do not slander Abu Hanifa and do not believe those who slander him! I swear by Allahu ta’ala that I know not a person superior to him, having more wara’, or being more learned than he. “Do not believe what al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi said! He was antipathetic towards the ‘ulama’. He slandered Abu Hanifa, Imam Ahmad and their disciples.
The ‘ulama’ of Islam refuted al-Khateeb and censured him. Ibn al-Jawzi’s grandson, ‘Allamah Yusuf Shams ad-din al-Baghdadi, wrote in his forty-volume book Mirat az-zaman that he was astonished to know that his grandfather had followed al-Khateeb. Imam al-Ghazaali (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), in his Ihya’, praises al-Imam al-azam with such words as ”abid’, ‘zahid’ and ‘al-‘arif billah’. If the Sahaabat ul-Kiraam and the ‘ulama’ of Islam had different points of view from one another, it was not because they did not approve of each other’s words or because they were unsociable to one another or because they disliked one another; mujtahideen (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain) disagreed with one another concerning ijtihaad for Allah ta’ala’s sake and to help the religion.”1]
An alim dreamt of Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and asked him, ‘What would you say about Abu Hanifa’s knowledge?’ He answered, ‘Everybody needs his knowledge.’ Another alim asked in his dream, ‘O Rasul-Allah! What would you say about the knowledge Numan ibn Habit has, who lives in Kufa?’ He answered, “Learn from him and do as he says. He is a very good person.” Imam ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) said, “Let me inform you of a person called Abu Hanifa, who will live in Kufa. His heart will be full of knowledge and hikmah (wisdom). Towards the end of the world, many people will perish because of not appreciating him, just as the Shiites will perish because of not having appreciated Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhuma).”
Imam Muhammad al-Baaqir ibn Zain al-‘Abidin ‘Ali ibn Hussain (rahmat-Allahi ‘alaihim, b. 57 A.H. in Medina and d. 113, buried in the shrine of Hadrat ‘Abbas [Radi-Allahu ‘anhu] in Medina) looked at Abu Hanifa and said, “When those who destroy the religion of my ancestors increase in number, you will revive it. You will be the savior of those who fear and the shelter of those who are confused! You will lead the heretics to the right way! Allahu ta’ala will help you!” When he was young, al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) studied ‘ilm al-kalaam and ma’rifah and became very skillful. Then after serving Imam Hammad for twenty-eight years, he attained maturity. When Hammad passed away, he took his place as a mujtahid and Mufti.
His knowledge and superiority became known far and wide. His virtue, intelligence, sagacity, zuhd, taqwa, trustworthiness, readiness of wit, devotion to Islam, righteousness and his perfection in every respect as a human being were above those of all others of his time. All the mujtahideen and those who succeeded him and noble people -even Christians- praised him. Al-Imam ash-Shafi’i (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) said, “All men of fiqh are Abu Hanifa’s children.” He said once, “I get blessings (tabarruk) from Abu Hanifa’s soul. I visit his tomb every day. When I am in difficulty, I go to his tomb and perform two rak’ah of salaat. I invoke Allahu ta’ala, and He gives me what I wish.” Al-Imam ash-Shafi’i was a disciple of Imam Muhammad.2 He remarked, “Allahu ta’ala bestowed knowledge upon me through two persons. I learned the Hadith ash-Sharif from Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah and fiqh from Muhammad ash-Shaibaani.”
He said once, “In the field of religious knowledge and in worldly affairs, there is one person to whom I am grateful. He is Imam Muhammad.” And again, al-Imam ash-Shafi’i said, “With what I learned from Imam Muhammad I have written a pack-animal-load of books. I would not have acquired anything of knowledge had he not been my teacher. All men of knowledge are the children of the ‘ulama’ of Iraq, who were the disciples of the ‘ulama’ of Kufa. And they were the disciples of Abu Hanifa.” Al-Imam al-azam acquired knowledge from four thousand people. The ‘ulama’ of every century wrote many books describing the greatness of al-Imam al-azam. In the Hanafi Madhhab, five hundred thousand religious problems were solved and all of them were answered. [Editor’s note: It is to be noted that that number is close to doubled in the present-day era.]
Al-Hafiz al-kabir Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Harizmi wrote in his book Musnad, “Saif al-aimmah reports that when al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa derived a matter from Qur’an al-karim and Hadith ash-Sharif, he would propound it to his masters. He would not give the answer to the inquirer unless all of them confirmed it.” One thousand of his disciples attended all his classes when he taught in the mosque of Kufa city. Forty of them were mujtahideen. When he found the answer for a matter he would propound it to his disciples. They would study it together and, when they were all in agreement that it was consistent with Qur’an al-karim and Hadith ash-Sharif and with the words of the Sahaabat al-kiraam, he would be delighted and say, “Al-hamdu lillah wallahu Akbar,” and all those who were present would repeat his words. Then he would tell them to write it down.”
It is written in the book Radd al-Wahhabi 3: [THE FOLLOWING IS A VERY IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION!!!] “Being a mujtahid requires first being specialized in the Arabic language and in the various linguistic sciences such as awda’, sahih, marwi, mutawaatir; ways of radd; made’ vocabulary; fasih, radi and mazmun forms; mufrad, shadh, nadir, mustamal, muhmal, mu’rab, marifa, ishtiqaq, haqiqa, majaz, mushtarak, izdad, mutlaq, muqayyad, ibdal and qalb. Next you must be specialized in sarf, nahw, ma’ani, bayan, badi’, balaghat, ‘ilm al-usul al-fiqh, ‘ilm al-usul al-hadith, ‘ilm al-usul at-tafsir, and have memorized the words of the imams of jarh and tadil. Being a faqih requires, in addition to these, knowing the proof for every matter and studying the meaning, the murad and tawil of the proof.
Being a muhaddith, that is, a scholar of hadith, requires only memorizing the Ahadith as one heard them; it is not compulsory to know the meanings, murads, tawils, or to understand the proofs for the rules of Islam. If a faqih and a muhaddith disagree with each other about a hadith ash-Sharif, e.g. if the former says that it is sahih and the latter says that it is daif, the faqih’s word will be valid. Therefore, al-Imam al-azam’s word or decision is more valuable than all the others because he was the first mujtahid and the highest faqih due to his having heard many Ahadith directly from the Sahaabat al-kiraam without any intervention. A hadith ash-Sharif that was said to be sahih by this exalted imam was said to be sahih by all Islamic scholars. A muhaddith cannot be in the grade of a faqih. And he can never reach the grade of an imam al-madhhab.”
‘Abdulhaq ad-Dahlawi, a scholar of hadith, wrote in his book Sirat-i mustaqim, “Some Ahadith which al-Imam ash-Shafi’i took as documents were not taken as documents by al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa. Seeing this, the la-madhhabi used it as an opportunity for traducing al-Imam al-azam and claimed that Abu Hanifa had not followed the hadith ash-Sharif. However, Hadrat al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa found and took other Ahadith which were more sahih and dependable in documenting the matter.”
A hadith ash-Sharif states: “The most beneficial ones of my Ummah are those who live in my time. The next most beneficial ones are those who succeed them. And the next most beneficial ones are those who will come after them.” This hadith ash-Sharif shows that the Tabi’een were more beneficial than Taba’ at-Tabi’een. The Islamic ‘ulama’ all agree that al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa saw some of the as-Sahaabat al-kiraam, heard Ahadith from them, and, therefore, was one of the Tabi’een. For example, al-Imam al-azam heard the hadith, “A person who builds a mosque for Allahu ta’ala’s sake will be given a villa in Paradise,” from ‘Abdullah ibn Awfa, who was a Sahaabi.
Jalaal ad-din as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i scholar, wrote in his book Tabyid as-sahifa that al-Imam ‘Abdulkarim, one of the Shafi’I scholars, wrote a complete book describing the Sahaabis whom al-Imam al-azam had seen. It is written in Durr al-mukhtaar that al-Imam al-azam saw seven Sahaabis. Among the four aimmat al-madhahib, only al-Imam al-azam was honored with being one of the Tabi’een. It is a rule in ‘ilm al-usool that the view of those who admit something is preferred to the view of those who refuse it. It is obvious that al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa, being one of the Tabi’een, is the highest of the aimmat al-madhahib. The la-madhhabis’ denying al-Imam al-azam’s superiority or their trying to vilify this exalted Imam by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of hadith, is similar to their denying the superiority of Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhuma).
This perverse negation of theirs is not a sort of illness that can be cured by preaching or advice. May Allahu ta’ala cure them! The Muslims’ Khalifah ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) said during his khutbah: “O Muslims! As I tell you now, Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told us during his khutbah: “The most beneficial people are my Sahaabah. The most beneficial after them are their successors. And the next most beneficial are those who will come after them. There will be liars among those who will come after these.’ ” The four Madhhabs which Muslims have been following and imitating today are the Madhhabs of those beneficial people whose beneficence was corroborated by Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The Islamic ‘ulama’ declare in consensus that it is not permissible to adopt a Madhhab other than these four Madhhabs.
Ibn Nujaim al-Misri (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), author of the book Bahr ar-ra’iq, wrote in his work Ashbah, “Hadrat al-Imam ash-Shafi’i said that a person who wanted to be a specialist in the knowledge of fiqh should read Abu Hanifa’s books.” Abdullah Ibn Mubaarak said, “I have not seen another specialist as learned as Abu Hanifa in the knowledge of fiqh. The great alim Mis’ar used to kneel in front of Abu Hanifa and learn what he did not know by asking him. I have studied under a thousand ‘ulama’. Yet, had I not seen Abu Hanifa, I would have slipped into the bog of Greek philosophy.” Abu Yusuf said, “I have not seen another person as profoundly learned as Abu Hanifa in the knowledge of hadith. There is not another alim who can expound Ahadith as competently as he did.” The great alim and mujtahid Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “In comparison with Abu Hanifa, we were like sparrows with a falcon. Abu Hanifa is the leader of the ‘ulama’.” ‘Ali ibn Asim said, “If Abu Hanifa’s knowledge were to be measured with the total knowledge of all the ‘ulama’ contemporary with him, Abu Hanifa’s knowledge would prove to be greater.”
Yazid ibn Harun said, “I studied under a thousand ‘ulama’. Among them I did not see anyone who had as much wara’ as Abu Hanifa did or who was as wise as Abu Hanifa (Rihimahu Allahu Ta’ala).” Muhammad ibn Yusuf ash-Shafi’i, one of the Damascene ‘ulama’, praises al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa much, explains his superiority in detail, and says that he is the leader of all mujtahideen in his book Uqud al-jaman fi manaqibi’n-Numan. Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa said, “We esteem and love Rasulullah’s (‘alaihi ‘s-salam) Ahadith above all. We search for the words of the Sahaabat al-kiraam, choose and adopt them. As for the words of the Tabi’een, they are like our words. Translation from the book Radd-i Wahhabi ends here. This book was printed in India and in Istanbul, in 1264 (1848 A.D.) and in 1401 (1981 A.D.), respectively.
In the book Sayf-ul-muqallidin ala a’nak-il-munkirin, Mawlana Muhammad ‘Abdul-Jalil wrote in Persian: “The la-madhhabi say that Abu Hanifa was weak in the knowledge of hadith. This assertion of theirs shows that they are ignorant or jealous. Al-Imam az-Zahabi and Ibn Hajar al-Makki say that al-Imam al-azam wasan alim of hadith. He learned Ahadith from four thousand ‘ulama’. Three hundred of them were among the Tabi’een and were ‘ulama’ of hadith. Al-Imam ash-Sharaani says in the first volume of al-Mizaan, ‘I have studied three of al-Imam al-azam’s Musnads. All of them transmit information from the well-known ‘ulama’ of the Tabi’een.’ Hostility which the la-madhhabi people bear against the Salaf as-saliheen and their jealousy towards the mujtahid imams, particularly towards their leader al-Imam al-Muslimeen Abu Hanifa, must have obstructed their perception and conscience to the extent that they deny the beauty and superiority of these Islamic ‘ulama’.
They are intolerant of the fact that pious people have what they do not have. It is for this reason that they deny the superiority of the imams of Islam and thus venture into the shirk (polytheism) of jealousy. It is written in the book Hada’iq: “When al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa memorized Ahadith he wrote them down. He kept the hadith books he wrote in wooden boxes, some of which he always kept at hand wherever he went. His quoting only a few Ahadith does not show that the number of Ahadith he memorized was small. Only bigoted enemies of Islam may say so. This bigotry of theirs proves al-Imam al-azam’s perfection; an inept person’s slandering the learned indicates the former’s perfection.” Founding a great Madhhab and answering hundreds of thousands of questions by documenting them with ayahs and Ahadith could not have been done by a person who was not deeply specialized in the sciences of tafsir and hadith. In fact, bringing forth a new, unique Madhhab without a model or an example is an excellent proof for al-Imam al-azam’s expertise in the sciences of tafsir and hadith. Because he worked with extraordinary energy and brought forth this Madhhab, he did not have time to quote the Ahadith or to cite their transmitters one by one; this cannot be grounds for denigrating that exalted imam by jealously casting aspersions on him by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of hadith. It is a known fact that riwayah (transmitting) without dirayah (ability, intelligence) has no value. For example, Ibn Abdul-Barr said, “If riwayah without dirayah were valuable, a dustman’s quoting a hadith would be superior to Luqman’s intelligence.”
Ibn Hajar al-Makki was one of the ‘ulama’ in the Shafi’i Madhhab, but he wrote in his book Qala’id: “The great alim of hadith A’mash asked al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa many questions. Al-Imam al-azam answered each of his questions by quoting Ahadith. After seeing al-Imam al-azam’s profound knowledge in hadith, A’mash said, ‘O, you, the ‘ulama’ of fiqh! You are like specialized doctors, and we the ‘ulama’ of hadith are like pharmacists. We cite Ahadith and their transmitters, but you are the ones who understand their meanings.’ ” It is written in the book ‘Uqud al-jawahiri ‘l-munifa: “While ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Amr was in the company of the great alim of hadith A’mash, someone came up and asked a question. As A’mash thought about the answer, al-Imam al-azam joined in. A’mash repeated the question to the Imam and requested an answer. Al-Imam al-azam immediately answered it in detail.
Admiring the answer, A’mash said, “O Imam! From which hadith do you derive this?’ Al-Imam al-azam quoted the hadith ash-Sharif from which he derived the answer and added, ‘I heard this from you.’ ” Al-Imam al-Bukhaari knew three hundred thousand Ahadith by heart. He wrote only twelve thousand of them in his books because he feared very much the threat in the hadith ash-Sharif, “If a person quotes, in the name of hadith, what I have not uttered, he will be tormented very bitterly in Hell.” Having much wara’ and taqwa, al-Imam al-azam imposed very heavy conditions for the transmitting of Ahadith. He would quote only those Ahadith fulfilling these conditions. Some ‘ulama’ of hadith transmitted numerous Ahadith because their branch was wider and their conditions were lighter. The ‘ulama’ of hadith never belittled one another on account of differing conditions. Had this not been so, Imam Muslim would have said something to offend al-Imam al-Bukhaari (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihima). Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa’s transmitting only a few Ahadith because of his circumspection and taqwa is only a good reason for praising and lauding him.”4
The book Mirat al-ka’inat goes on: “Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) performed morning prayer in a mosque and answered his disciples’ questions until noon every day. After noon prayer, he taught his disciples again until night prayer. Then he would go home and, after resting for a while, return to the mosque and worship until morning prayer. Mis’ar ibn Kadam al-Kufi, one of the Salaf as-saliheen, who passed away in 115 (733 A.D.), and many other great people reported this fact. He earned his living in a halaal way by trading. He sent goods to other places and with his earnings he met the needs of his disciples. He spent much for his household and gave an equal amount as alms to the poor. Moreover, every Friday he distributed twenty gold coins to the poor for his parents’ souls. He did not stretch his legs towards his teacher Hammad’s (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) house, though he lived at a distance of seven streets away. Once he found out that one of his partners had sold a large amount of goods incompatibly with Islam. He distributed all the ninety thousand aqchas earned to the poor, not taking one penny of it. After brigands had raided the villages of Kufa and had stolen sheep, he, thinking that these stolen sheep might be slaughtered and sold in the town, did not eat mutton for seven years, for he knew that a sheep lived seven years at the longest. He abstained from the haraam to that degree. He observed Islam in his every action.
For forty years al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) performed the morning prayer with the ablution he had made for the night prayer [that is, he did not sleep after the night prayer.] He performed hajj fifty-five times. During the last one, he went into the Ka’bah, performed a prayer of two rak’ah and recited the whole Qur’an al-karim during the prayer. Then, weeping, he invoked, “O my Allahu ta’ala! I have not been able to worship Thee in a manner worthy of Thee. Yet I have understood very well that Thou cannot be comprehended through intelligence. For this understanding of mine, please forgive the defects in my service! At that moment a voice was heard, “O Abu Hanifa! You have acknowledged me very well and have served me beautifully. I have forgiven you and those who will be in your Madhhab and follow you until the end of the world.” He read Qur’an al-karim from the beginning to the end once every day and once every night.
Al-Imam al-azam had so much taqwa that for thirty years he fasted every day [except the five days of a year on which it is haraam to fast]. He often read the whole Qur’an al-karim in one rak’ah or two. And sometimes, during salaat or outside it, he read an ayah describing Heaven and Hell over and over again and sobbed and lamented.5 those who heard him pitied him. Among the Ummah of Muhammad (‘alaihi ‘s-salam), reciting the whole Qur’an al-karim in a single rak’ah of salaat fell to the lot of only ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, Tamim ad-Daari, Sad ibn Jubair and al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa. He did not accept any presents from anyone. He wore clothes like those of the poor. Yet at times, in order to exhibit the blessings of Allahu ta’ala, he wore very valuable clothes. He performed hajj fifty-five times and stayed in Mecca for several years. Only at the place where his soul was taken, he had read the whole Qur’an al-karim seven thousand times. He said, “I laughed once in my life, and I regret it.”
He talked little and thought much. He discussed some religious matters with his disciples. One night, while leaving the mosque immediately after performing the night prayer in jama’ah, he began to talk with his disciple Zufar on some subject. One of his feet was inside the mosque and the other was outside. The conversation continued until the morning adhan. Then, without taking the other step out, he went back in for the morning prayer. Because Hazrat ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) had said, “It is permissible to have a personal allowance of up to four thousand dirhams,” he distributed to the poor what was more than four thousand dirhams of his earnings. The Khalifah Mansoor revered the Imam very much. He presented him ten thousand aqchas and a jariyah. The Imam did not accept them. At that time one aqcha was worth one dirham of silver. In 145 A.H., Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hasan ibn ‘Ali was recruiting men in order to help his brother Muhammad (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain), who had proclaimed himself the Khalifah in al-Madinat al-munawwarah. When he came to Kufa, it was rumored that Abu Hanifa was helping him. Mansoor heard this and had the Imam taken from Kufa to Baghdad. He told him to tell everybody that Mansoor was rightfully the Khalifah. He offered him the presidency of the Supreme Court of Appeal as recompense. He imposed on him very much. The Imam did not accept it. Mansoor imprisoned him and had him thrashed with a stick thirty strokes. His blessed feet bled. Mansoor repented and sent him thirty thousand aqchas, only to be refused again. He was imprisoned again and thrashed ten strokes more every day.
According to some report, on the eleventh day, for fear that the people might rebel, he was forced to lie down on his back and poisonous sherbet (a sweet fruit drink) was poured into his mouth. As he was about to die, he prostrated (sajdah). Some fifty thousand people performed janazah salaat for him. Because of the enormous crowd, it was performed with difficulty and finished not before the late afternoon prayer. For twenty days many people came to his tomb and performed janazah salaat for him near his tomb. He had seven hundred and thirty disciples. Each of them was famed for his virtue and pious deeds. Many of them became Qadis or Muftis. His son Hammad (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) was one of his notable disciples. Passages from the book Mirat-ul-kainat ends here. They have been leaders guiding the ahl-i din, rahmat-Allahi ‘alaihim ajmain.
There were some disagreements between al-Imam al-azam and his disciples on the information that was to be deduced through ijtihaad. The following hadith ash-Sharif declares that these disagreements were useful: “Disagreement (on the ‘amal, practices) among my Ummah is [Allahu ta’ala’s] compassion.” He feared Allahu ta’ala very much and was very careful in following Qur’an al-karim. He said to his disciples, “If you come across a document (sanad) inconsistent with my words on a subject, ignore my words and follow that document.” All his disciples swore, “Even our words inconsistent with his words surely depend on a proof (dalil, sanad) we had heard from him.”
Hanafi Muftis have to issue fatwas agreeable with what al-Imam al-azam said. If they cannot find his word, they should follow Imam Abu Yusuf. After him, Imam Muhammad should be followed. If the words of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad are on one side and those of al-Imam al-azam on the other, a Mufti may issue a fatwa according to either side. When there is darura (a pressing difficulty), he may issue a fatwa suitable with the words of the mujtahid who showed the easiest way. He cannot issue a fatwa that does not depend on the words of any of the mujtahideen; such an issue cannot be called a fatwa.