Fiqh Hanafi is the oldest of all four Sunni Fiqhi schools. The Fiqhi rules and matters were first compiled in this school. This school spread the most in the Islamic world and it was followed by a majority of the Muslims. This Fiqh is attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah and therefore is called Hanafi. It came in to being at Kufa and the compilation was carried out by collective research and interpretations. This Fiqh is originally based on the opinions, fatwas, judgments and thinking methods of the outstanding Companion Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood and fourth Caliph Hadhrat Ali bin Abu Talib. These opinions, fatwas, judgments and thinking methods reached Abu Hanifah by the channel of Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman, Hadhrat Ibrahim Nakh’ee and Hadhrat Alqamah. Imam Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani, the renowned disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah, recorded the thousands of mas'alas (issues or cases) in to form of a book which were derived and compiled by a panel of forty ablest students and friends of Imam Abu Hanifah. Imam Abu Yusuf Ya’qub bin Ibrahim Ansari, the other student of Imam Abu Hanifah, played a prominent role in compiling and spreading Fiqh Hanafi.
Imam Abu Hanifah
The name of Imam Abu Hanifah is No’man bin Sabit Zooti. Abu Hanifah is his nickname. He was born in 80 Hijri in Kufa, a city of present day Iraq. As a profession, his family was cloth merchant and he also took in the same profession. A famous scholar of Kufa, Sha’bi apprehended his sharp-mindedness and sought him to achieve education. So, he joined the prominent circle of Hadhrat Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman and remained in his company till his demise. He benefited from all the scholars of Hadith in Kufa. He traveled Hijaz many a times and learned from the scholars and other educated ones. He benefited from Imam Malik in Medina and Imam Malik also benefited from him. He had so many teachers; among them are senior Tab’een (the successor of the companions of Prophet) from Makkah, Medina, Iraq and Syria. He himself was a Tab’ee, since he had the honour of visiting some companions of the Prophet (pbuh), though he did not narrate from them. After the demise of Hadhrat Hammad, all of his students agreed that Abu Hanifah, the youngest of them, is ablest among them to succeed their Shaikh. So they forced him to take over his position. This circle had the grand collection of the derivation method of Hadhrat Umar Farooq, traditions and fatwas of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood, rulings and thoughts of Hadhrat Ali and the Hadiths and traditions of scholars of Hadith in Kufa. Imam Abu Hanifah was bestowed matchless mind, power of understanding and derivation, expansion and depth in knowledge. He had good moral characters and held a high position in fearing Allah, piety, righteousness and nobility. He was prosperous, so he used to spend wealth wholeheartedly in the path of Allah. He was famous in honesty in dealings and business. Because of these virtues, his circle of teaching earned fame far and wide and prominent scholars started to attend his classes where this generous teacher encouraged them and discussed the academic matters openly. He observed the Umayyad sultanate and witnessed its decline. The Abbasid caliphate was established before his eyes. Some Alvis also made armed efforts to gain power. Realizing them as able for the position, he extended oral and financial support to them. When the Abbasid caliphate was established the Caliph Mansoor offered him the post of Qazi, most probably, in order to test his loyalty to his government. He denied it and as a punishment was whipped lashes at public place and was put in to prison. He was then about seventy years old. He continued teaching while he was in prison and the punishment of whips also continued. Ultimately, he died in prison in 150 H in the month of Rajab and was buried in the graveyard of Khaizuran.
Method & Characteristics
The Fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifah bears this characteristic that it was collectively formulated. Hadhrat Umar Farooq populated the city of Kufa with keen interest and sent Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood as teacher and Qazi with this letter: “O people of Kufa! I prefer you on myself by sending Ibn Mas’ood.” So much of the companions turned to Kufa that it accommodated more than one thousand companions. Hadhrat Ali Murtuza, the fourth Caliph of Islam, made it his capital. Later, this city competed the cities of Makka and Medina in Hadith and Islamic sciences. This city was newly built, therefore the new coverts, who were from urban background and brought with them an asset of Greek and Persian sciences and philosophy, inhabited there in a big number. The mixing of Arabs with Iranian culture created countless many new problems and issues. On the other side, there came up so many sects due to political differences and amalgamation of religions and nations. Some of them were secretly involved in anti-Islamic efforts. One of these phenomena was to forge false Hadith. Every sect forged Hadith to support its view. The cities of Hijaz; Makka and Medina, were secure from such kinds of special cases to an extent.
Hadhrat Umar Farooq had a special relation with Iraq. He himself sent Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood to Kufa. Hadhrat Umar was given the title of Muhaddith from the Prophet (pbuh) i.e. 'his tongue and heart spoke according to the revelation'. There were several verses in the Glorious Quran which were revealed according to his opinion. Hadhrat Umar Farooq prevented the companions to go out of Medina in his time of caliphate. He formed two groups among the companions. He used to consult smaller group of the elder companions in special cases. And, whenever there happened to occur any important matter he used to assemble all of the companions for consultations. His style of derivation was that he used to deliberate in the depth of the Quran and Hadith, used to keep the objectives of Shariah and the interest of the Muslims before his eyes, observed the circumstances and used to reach a conclusion by collective decision. His interpretative judgments and Awwaliyaat (pioneering judgments) are well known, and they not only played a key role to enliven the Islamic Shariah in the wide Islamic caliphate but also provided a firm basis for his successors. This style of derivation was circulated in Kufa by Hadhrat Ali and Abdullah bin Mas’ood. Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood and his disciples, Alqamah and Ibrahim Nakh’ee, on one hand applied strict laws in accepting narrations so that no false Hadith is accepted. On the other hand, they avoided attributing Hadith directly to the Prophet (pbuh) and liked to narrate attributing to companions and Tab’eens lest an incorrect meaning is associated to the Prophet (pbuh). Thirdly, they applied their reasons and issued fatwas. These were the characteristics and styles that Imam Abu Hanifah inherited.
Collective Compilation of Fiqh
When Imam Abu Hanifah formed his penal to compile Fiqh he selected forty people from among his students. They were experts of Quranic exegesis, Hadith, Asmaur Rijal (complete record of the narrators), language, literature, logic, philosophy, analogy, history, mathematics and several other sciences. He himself had the experience of trade and marketing. He started this noble mission of compiling Fiqh. It was thus that a matter was presented before the panel and each member used to express his view, and he himself put his opinion. Sometimes, the discussion continued till a month on a single matter. When a decision was reached on he ordered to record it down. The matter was discussed in the light of Quran and Hadith. If they did not find any evidence in any of them, they turned to the sayings of the companions. Having failed they used to apply analogy. All the members also sometimes discussed analogy and some times discrete in legal matters. The conclusions of the discussion were written down in registers. Thus, the Mas'alas of Fiqh were compiled in a new order. This order was known as Fiqhi order; starting from chapter of prayers, dealings and ending at inheritance. It is said that thus 500,000 matters were compiled and 38000 matters of them were related to prayers.
Method of Derivation
Imam Abu Hanifah himself describes his method of derivation: "First of all I look in to the Noble Quran, then search the matter in the Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) and take the narrations of the Faqeeh (jurist) narrators. If the matter is not found in the Quran and Hadith, then I turn to the sayings of the companions. If their opinions differ then I prefer any of them. If the opinions of the companions contradict the opinions of others I never go against the opinions of the companions. And, when it come to the opinions of Ibrahim Nakh’ee, Hasan Basari, Ibn Seereen, Saeed bin Musayyib and others then I also apply mind and interpret as they do.
After the collective compilation of the Fiqh matters, some companions of Imam Abu Hanifah wrote books. There is no book recorded on Fiqh by Imam Abu Hanifah. But, the books of his disciple Imam Muhammad Shaibani are considered to the first and foremost source of Hanafi Fiqh. In Fiqh Hanafi there are three types of books:
(1) Books of ‘Zahir Al-Riwayah’
(2) Books of ‘Nawadir’
(3) Fatawa and Waqi;aat.
The contents of Zahir Al-Riwayah are most trusted ones. Zahir Al-Riwayah is a collection of six books written by Imam Muhammad.
1. Al-Jame’ Al-Sageer: Eisa bin Aban and Muhammad bin Sama’ah narrated this book from Imam Muhammad. In this book, Imam Muhammad narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah through Imam Abu Yusuf. But, this book does not contain proofs.
2. Al-Jame’ Al-Kabeer: This book is like the previous one, but it deals with the subjects in details.
3. Ziyadaat: This is the complementary of Al-Jame’ Al-Kabeer.
4. Al-Mabsoot: This is also known as ‘Al-Asl’. In this book, Imam Muhammad has collected the thousands of Mas'alas that were derived by Imam Abu Hanifah. This book deals with Ahadith that is followed by Mas'alas and the variant opinions of the contemporary Ulama.
5. Al-Siyar Al-Sageer: This book deals with the subject of Jihad and international laws.
6. Al-Siyar Al-Kabeer: This is his last Fiqhi book that was narrated by Abu Sulaiman Jauzjani.
Muhammad bin Ahmad Marwazi, known as Hakim Shahid, amassed all of Imam Muhammad’s books with the name of ‘Al-Kafi’ after the deletion of repeated matters. Imam Sarkhasi has written its detailed commentary named as ‘Al-Mabsoot’.
Nawadir comprises the matters that are found in books other than the books of Imam Muhammad or in the books of Imam Abu Yusuf or Imam Hasan bin Ziyad. The collection of Nawadir consists of:
1. Harooniyaat: Imam Muhammad dictated it in the reign of Caliph Haroon Al-Rashid, this book is attributed to the Caliph.
2. Kisaniyaat: The narrations of his student Shoaib bin Sulaiman Kisani.
3. Ruqyaat: These are the matters that he expressed while he was Qazi in Ruqa area.
4. Kitabul Mujarrad: It is written by Hasan bin Ziyad.
5. Kitabul Amali: It is attributed to Imam Abu Yusuf.
Nawazil were the Mas'alas about which there was no mention in the aforementioned books and the succeeding scholars of Fiqh derived solutions keeping these books before them. Kitab Al-Nawazil of Abul Lais Samarqandi, Majmoo’un Nawazil wal Waqi’aat of Natifi and Al-Waqi’aat of Sadr Shahid are well known among scholars.
Translated and partly prepared by:
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Maulana Afzal Qasmi, Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi