Brief overview of the madhhab of Imam Abu Haneefah
All Praise Be to Allah.
Imam Abu Haneefah is the great faqeeh andscholar of Iraq, Abu Haneefah al-Nu’maan ibn Thaabit al-Taymi al-Kufi.
He wasborn in the year 80 AH, during the lifetime of some of the younger Sahaabah
andsaw Anas ibn Maalik when he came to them in Kufa.
He narrated from ‘Ata’ ibnAbi Rabaah, who was his greatest Shaykh, and from al-Shu’bi and many others.
He was concerned with seeking reports andhe traveled for that purpose.
With regard to fiqh and examining and analyzingreports, he was the ultimate and people depended on him in that, as Imamal-Dhahabi said:
“It would take two volumes to tell the story of his life, mayAllaah be pleased with him and have mercy on him.”
He was an imam who was eloquent and wellspoken.
His student Abu Yoosuf described him as follows:
“He was the mostwell-spoken of the people and the most clear in expressing himself.
He waspious and very protective with regard to transgression of the sacred limits ofAllaah.
He was offered worldly gains and a great deal of wealth, but he turnedhis back on it.
He was whipped to force him to accept the position of judge orcontroller of the bayt al-maal (treasury of the Islamic state
) but he refused.
Many people narrated reports from him, andhe died as a martyr of dropsy in 150 AH at the age of seventy.
(Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 6/390-403; Usool al-Deen ‘inda al-Imam Abu Haneefah,p. 63).
The Hanafi madhhab is one of the fourwell-known madhhabs, and it was the first of the fiqhi madhhabs.
It was saidthat “The people are dependent on Abu Haneefah with regard to fiqh.”
The originof the Hanafi madhhab and all the other madhhabs is that these four imams –
Imean Abu Haneefah, Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad – made the effort tounderstand the evidence of the Qur’aan and Sunnah,
and they issued fatwas topeople based on the evidence that had reached them.
Then the followers of theseimams took their fatwas and conveyed them and issued other fatwas based onthem,
and derived principles from them, and they set out guidelines forunderstanding the texts and reaching conclusions.
Thus the fiqhi madhhab wasformed, and the Hanafi, Shaafa’i, Maaliki and Hanbali madhhabs,
and othermadhhabs such as those of al-Awzaa’i and Sufyaan, but these latter madhhabswere not destined to continue.
As you can see, what these schools of fiqhare based on is following the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
With regard to the ra’y and qiyaas adoptedby Imam Abu Haneefah, what this means is not opinion based on whims anddesires,
rather it is an opinion based on the evidence, or analogies, orfollowing the general principles of sharee’ah.
The salaf used to describeijtihaad in difficult issues as ra’y (lit. opinion).
Many of them used to saywhen commenting on a verse of the Book of Allaah, “This is my opinion (myijtihaad) concerning it
but that does not refer to opinion based on whims anddesires, as stated above.
Imam Abu Haneefah followed ra’y and qiyaasa great deal in matters other than hudood punishments,
expiations and othershar’i issues, and the reason for that is that he had fewer ahaadeeth at hisdisposal than other imams
, because he came before the other imams and was verystrict about accepting ahaadeeth,
as false reports were so widespread in Iraqat that time and there was a great deal of tribulation.
It should be noted that not all theopinions and views of the Hanafi madhhab that is named after Imam Abu Haneefah
are the words of Abu Haneefah himself, or can be correctly attributed to him.
Many of those views go against what Imam Abu Haneefah himself said, but theywere regarded as part of his madhhab
because they were worked out according tothe guidelines of the madhhab which is derived from the other texts of theimam.
Similarly the Hanafi madhhab may adopt the view of a student of the imamsuch as Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad,
and it also includes the ijtihaad of studentsof the imam, which subsequently became part of the madhhab.
This does not applyonly to the madhhab of Abu Haneefah, rather the same may be said of all thewell-known madhhabs.
If it is said: If the four madhhabs arebased on the Qur’aan and Sunnah, why do we find differences of opinion betweenthem on matters of fiqh?
The answer is
: Each imam issued fatwas onthe basis of the evidence that reached him.
A hadeeth may have reached ImamMaalik on the basis of which he issued fatwas,
that did not reach Abu Haneefah,so he issued fatwas stating something different, and vice versa.
Similarly ahadeeth may have reached Abu Haneefah with a saheeh isnaad so he issued fatwason that basis
, and the same hadeeth may have reached Imam al-Shaafa’i with adifferent isnaad that was da’eef (weak),
so he did not issue fatwas based onit, or he may have issued a fatwa saying something that went against thehadeeth
based on the conclusion he reached.
This is why differences arose amongthe scholars, but ultimately the point of reference is the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
In fact, Imam Abu Haneefah and other imamsfollowed the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah,
even if some of their fatwas werenot based on that, the reason being that all four imams stated that if ahadeeth was saheeh,
then that was their madhhab, that is what they followed, onwhat they based their fatwas
and from what they derived their evidence.
Imam Abu Haneefah said:
“If the hadeeth issaheeh then that is my madhhab.”
And he said:
“It is not permissible for anyoneto follow what we say if they do not know where we got it from.”
According toanother report he said:
“It is haraam for the one who does not know my evidenceto issue a fatwa based on my words.”
And according to another report he added:
“We are human, we may say something today and retract it tomorrow.”
“If I say something that goes against the Book of Allaah or the report ofthe Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), then ignore what Isay.”
Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him)said:
“I am only human, sometimes I make mistakes and sometimes I get thingsright.
Look at my opinion and whatever is in accordance with the Qur’aan andSunnah, take it,
and whatever is not in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah,ignore it.”
And he said:
There is no one after the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) whose words cannot be taken or left,
apartfrom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). ”
Imam al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy onhim) said:
There is no one who will not be unaware of some of the Sunnah ofthe Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
Whatever Isay or whatever guidelines I establish, if there is a report from the Messengerof Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
which is different towhat I said, then what matters is what the Messenger of Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said, and that is my opinion.”
Imam Ahmad said:
“Do not follow me blindlyand do not follow Maalik or al-Shaafa’i or al-Awzaa’i or al-Thawri blindly.
Learn from where they learned.”
And he said:
“The opinion of al-Awzaa’i and theopinion of Maalik and the opinion of Abu Haneefah are all mere conjecture
andit is all the same to me. Rather evidence is to be found in the reports – i.e.,in the shar’i evidence.”
This is a brief look at Imam Abu Haneefah(may Allaah have mercy on him) and his madhhab.
In conclusion, the Muslimcannot but acknowledge the status and position of these imams,
but tht shouldnot lead us to give precedence to their views over the Book of Allaah and thesaheeh reports from the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah beupon him), because in principle we should follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah
and notthe opinions of men; any man’s opinion may be taken or left,
except theMessenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him),
as Imam Maalik(may Allaah have mercy on him) said.
May Allah have mercy on Imam Abu Haneefah , all the Imams and the Ummah Ameeen