Law cannot remain static for long: Imam Abu Hanifa


Imam Abu Hanifa was a firm
believer that a code of laws
cannot stay static for too long, at
the risk of no longer meeting the
needs of the people. Thus he
advocated interpreting the
sources of Islamic law (usul al-
fiqh) in response to the needs of
the people at the time. This
dynamic form of legalism did not
supersede the Quran and Sunnah
(sayings and doings of the
Prophet ﷺ), of course. Instead, he
promoted the use of the Quran
and Sunnah to derive laws that
addressed the issues that people
dealt with at that time.
A major aspect of his
methodology was the use of
debate to derive rulings. He
would commonly pose a legal
issue to a group of about 40 of
his students, and challenge them
to come up with a ruling based
on the Quran and Sunnah.
Students would at first attempt
to find the solution in the Quran,
if it was not clearly answered in
the Quran, they would turn to the
Sunnah, and if it was not there,
they would use reason to find a
logical solution.
Abu Hanifa based this
methodology on the example
when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ sent
Mu’adh ibn Jabal to Yemen and
asked him how he will resolve
issues using Islamic law. Mu’adh
responded that he would look
into the Quran, then the Sunnah,
and if he does not find a direct
solution there, he would use his
best judgement, an answer that
Muhammad ﷺ was pleased with.
Using such a process for
codifying fiqh, the Hanafi
madhab (school of law) was thus
founded, based on the rulings of
Imam Abu Hanifa, and his
prominent students, Abu Yusuf,
Muhammad al-Shaybani, and
Zuffar. It became the first
codified madhab, through the
main book of Abu Hanifa’s legal
opinions, al-Fiqh al-Akbar.


The Legacy of Imam Abu Hanifa r.a


in terms explaining of how the
rulings are made. Fiqh literally
means to
understand. He mentioned that
Muhadith collected the hadeeth
and their
example is like the Pharmacists
who have a large collection of
but do not prescribe the cure.
The Faqih derive rulings based
on the
Quran and Hadeeth and they are
similar to a Doctor who
prescribes the
cure. You cannot be a Faqih
unless you are a Muhadith. He
it was not the job of a Faqih to
collate a large number of
but his job is to analyse the
evidences and derive the rulings.
job of a Faqih is much more
difficult because you need to
have sound
knowledge of Quran and the
background of Hadeeth to come
out with the
rulings. In Hanafee Fiqh the
rulings were based on the Quran
and Hadeeth
but again here they were certain
principles in place. He mentioned
one of the principles is Quran is
given preference over to
Hadeeth. For
example reading Surah Fatihah in
salah, there is a Hadeeth in
where it mentions salah is not
valid for one who does not read
al Fatihah. However there is a
clear verse in the Quran where is
read whatever of the Quran is
easy for you. Therefore even if
you read
3 verses of Quran your salah will
be valid because this is Fard.
Surah al Fatihah is Wajib because
of the Hadeeth. So in summation
Madhab look at clear cut
evidences (Quran) and then look
at Hadeeth and
if the Hadeeth opposes the verse
than preference is given to the
6.55 � 7.40pm Shaykh Zaheer ï
¿½ The Sacrifice and Character of
Abu Hanifah Again very inspiring,
he talked about Imam Abu
piety, worship and dedication to
Allah. He was unswerving in his
and was steadfast in the face of
oppression. Very moving incident
mentioned when the ruler asked
him to take up position of chief
judge but
Imam Abu Hanifah refused. The
ruler took an oath that Imam Abu
will become the Chief Qadi
(Judge); Imam Abu Haifa took an
oath that
he will not. Then he mentioned
why he refused, Imam Abu
Hanifah said
it is far easier for me to take the
punishment (because he was
for refusing) in this world than
to face Allah on the day of
with some innocent soul who
was executed because I a ruling
on favour
of the ruler. Basically the position
will entail authorising verdicts
on behalf a ruler rather than
being just for the sake of Allah.
was whipped many times but
cried only when struck on the
face. They
thought his resolve was broken
but Imam Abu Hanifah
mentioned that I
only cry for the sake of my
mother who will see in this state
and not
for my self. Imam Abu Hanifah
was indeed like a rock and spoke
of truth in the face of an
oppressive ruler.
7.45 � 8.35pm Mufti Abdur-
Rahman � Aqeedah
This topic was quite complex and
the Mufti tried to simplify is as
as possible. He mentioned the
history of deviant sects those
went to
extremes in the attributes of
Allah. Imam Abu Hanifah firstly
refuted all
these deviant sects in Kufah and
Basrah. His intellect was amazing
and he
defeated the Khawarij, Mu’tazilah,
the Qadriyyah and the Atheists.
ever a controversy arose in Iraq
and nobody could handle it, they
refer to Imam Abu Hanifah to
debate with them. He blessed by
Allah with
such piercing insight that he
would use their arguments
against them. An
example of this is when the
Khawarij approached Imam Abu
Hanifah and told
him to repent. The Khawarij
believed if you committed a sin
you became
kaffir. Imam Abu Hanifah said is
it something you know for
certain or do
suspect that I have committed
kufr. Their leader said no it
we suspect, So Imam Abu
Hanifah mentioned verse of the
Quran �O you
who believe! Avoid much
suspicion; indeed some is a sinï
¿½ï¿½ (49:12)
and said now you repent
because you have committed
kufr based on your
own belief. The mufti then
mention about the classical
scholars and
how they believed in verses
regarding the attributes of Allah,
the Yad
(hand), Sight, Istawa upon the
Arsh. He said they would believe
in it
without changing the meaning
and leaving the reality unto Allah.
8.40 � 9.25pm � Shaykh Abu
Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq � The
Legacy of Imam
Abu Hanifah This was an en
excellent talk which was rich in
nature and
focused to the topic at hand.
Persia was not as we know it
today and at
that time included Afghanistan.
Imam Abu Dawud was from
Kabul. Shaykh
first talked about history of Kufa
from the times of Sahabah and
it developed into a centre for
learning which became the
military garrison and learning
centre of the entire Islamic
Empire. He
mentioned we praise Imam Abu
Hanifah with only that much as
Allah had
given him and not more.
During the time Sayyiduna Umar
(ra) he sent Abdullah ibn Masï
(ra) to the people of Kufa with a
letter stating �O People of Kufa
am sending someone who I am
in need of but I give preference
over to
you than myself to teach your
religion so treat him well�.
short many people flocked to the
gathering Abdullah ibn Masï
¿½ud (ra)
and learnt knowledge from him.
Also no fewer than 70 veterans
of Badr
settled in Kufa, along with many
other companions whose
number reached
1500. Thus Kufa became a
bustling centre for learning and
when Sayyiduna
Ali (ra) became Ameer he shifted
the capital from Madinah to Kufa.
he came and saw the knowledge
being spread, he remarked �O
you have indeed filled this land
with knowledge�. The two
who were head shoulders above
the rest in knowledge from the
in Kufah were Sayyiduna
Abdullah ibn Mas�ud and
Sayyiduna Ali (May
Allah be pleased with them).
There were so many
knowledgeable sahabah
residing in kufa but it terms
leading lights it was Abdullah ibn
and Ali (ra). Abdullah ibn Masï
¿½ud (ra) produced many
scholars but his
most leading students were
Alqama and Aswad. Their leading
student was
Ibraheem al Nakhai who was the
leading Faqih in kufa and he
his leading student Hammad ibn
Sulaiman. The best and most
student of Hammad was Imam
Abu Hanifah who travelled to
Makkah and
Madinah to learn from students
of Abdullah ibn Abbas and
Abdullah ibn
Umar (May Allah be pleased with
them). Imam Abu Hanifah was
by people throughout the ages
and Imam Muhammad would say
they only
attack him because of ignorance
and envy. Shaykh mentioned a
poem in
Arabic �They have ascribed
partners to Allah and attacked
the Prophet
(saw) so who am I that they may
not attack me�. Shaykh said if
you are
somebody than people will attack
you and if you are insignificant
nobody will know about you.
This has been case throughout
history. He
mentioned that Quran and
Hadeeth are like raw information
which needs to
be distilled so you can
understand it. You cannot just
pick up a book of
hadeeth and come to your own
conclusions because it is near
and this is where Imam Abu
Hanifah would discuss each
masail at length
with over 40 of his students and
then come to a verdict. They
masters in their own right Imam
Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad,
Yayah ibn
Ma’in, Abdullah ibn Mubarak and
many others.
Regarding Yahah ibn Ma�in,
Imam Ahmad stated if he does
not know a
hadeeth than it is not a hadeeth.
Imam Ahmad took many
narrations from
Yayah ibn Ma�in because he
was a leading Muhadith.
However despite
being the leading Muhadith
Yayah ibn Ma�in followed the
Fiqh very closely. Shaykh then
mentioned about people who
say Imam Abu
Hanifah did know hadeeth than
this a non starter because you
cannot be
Faqih unless you are a Muhadith.
It is true that Imam Abu Hanifah
not compile a book on Hadeeth
but this does take away anything
him because Sayyiduna Abu Bakr
(ra) only narrated few Hadeeth
and Abu
Huriarah narrated over 5200, yet
Abu Bakr (ra) knew much more
the Prophet (saw).
9.30 � 10.30 Shaykh Ahmad Ali
� Taqleed
He mentioned Hafidh ibn Hajjar
in great detail and how much he
yet he followed the Hanbali fiqh.
The books which were written
him went into volumes and so
many other leading authorities
such ibn
Kathir followed one of the 4
schools of thought. These
scholars were
head and shoulders above the
contemporary scholars we have
yet they adhered to a madhab