Testimony of the Salaf Regarding the Piety and Character of Abu Hanifah

Narrations on the Piety of Imam Abu Hanifah

Imam Abu Hanifah, despite his mastery in the Islamic sciences, was recognised for his piety (taqwa), scrupulousness (wara’) and worship (‘ibadah). In the following I will quote a few excerpts from Imam al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s biographical dictionary Tarikh Baghdad, omitting the chains and relaying the editor’s, Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma’ruf’s, gradings of the chains, as he graciously included his expert analysis on most of the narrations from Abu Hanifah’s biography in the footnotes.

1. Yazid ibn Harun (118 – 206) said: “I comprehended the people and I have not seen anyone more intelligent, nor more virtuous, nor more scrupulous than Abu Hanifah.” (Tarikh Baghdad15:498) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is sahih.”

Yazid ibn Harun is a narrator of hadith found in the six famous collections, and is one of the greatest huffaz of hadith, said to have memorised over twenty thousand hadiths. He was one of the most reliable transmitters of hadith, and was also recognised for his devotion and piety. (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 11:366-9)

2. Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh (151 – 246) said: “Abu Hanifah was scrupulous and generous.”(Tarikh Baghdad 15:462-3) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments on this narration, “Its narrators are trustworthy (thiqat).”

3. Yahya ibn Ma‘in said: I heard Yahya al-Qattan say: “We have sat in the company of Abu Hanifah, by Allah, and we heard from him. By Allah, when I would look at him, I recognised in his face that he feared Allah!” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:482) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is hasan.”

Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan (120 – 198) was also a follower of the opinions of Abu Hanifah in fiqh, as shown in an here [Adherence amongst Salaf]. His standing in hadith was unmatched. (see: Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 216-20)

4. Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Balkhi narrated to us: I heard al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Laythi say: “I came to Kufa and inquired about the most devout (a’bad) of its inhabitants and I was directed to Abu Hanifah. Then I came when I was an old man and inquired about the best faqih amongst its inhabitants and I was directed to Abu Hanifah.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:482) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is good (jayyid).”

Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Laythi was the Qadi of Marw and ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak was favourably disposed to him. (Ibn Hibban, Kitab al-Thiqat 8:168) This narration, therefore, shows Abu Hanifah from an early period was known to the people of Kufa as the one who performed the most worship amongst them. Kufa was at that time a large city containing many learned and pious inhabitants.

5. Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (107 – 98) said: “Allah have mercy on Abu Hanifah. He was from the worshippers (musallin), that is, he was one of many Salahs.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:482) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “A sahih report.”

‘Ali ibn al-Madini narrated: I heard Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah say: “Abu Hanifah was an honourable person, and he would perform [much] Salah from early in his life.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:483) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is good.”

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah is the most prominent hadith-teacher of Imam al-Shafi’i, and is a prolific narrator found in the six famous collections of hadith.

6. Abu Muti‘ said: “I was at Makkah, and I did not enter into Tawaf in a moment from the moments of the night except I saw Abu Hanifah and Sufyan (al-Thawri) in Tawaf.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:483) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is hasan.”

7. Yahya ibn Ayyub al-Zahid (d. 168) said: “Abu Hanifah would not sleep at night [i.e. he would stay awake in worship].” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:483) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is hasan.”

Yahya ibn Ayyub al-Ghafiqi is also a narrator of hadith found in the six famous collections.

8. Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil (122-214) said: “Abu Hanifah would be called ‘the peg’ (al-watad) because of the abundance of his Salah.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:484) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is sahih. Its narrators are trustworthy.”

Abu ‘Asim al-Dahhak ibn Makhlad is a narrator of the six famous collections of hadith, and he is the greatest and eldest of al-Bukhari’s shaykhs. Some of al-Bukhari’s thulathiyyat (three-narrator chains) which are the shortest of al-Bukhari’s chains go through him. (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 4:450-3)

9. It is narrated from Imam Abu Yusuf: “While I was walking with Abu Hanifah, I heard a man say to another man: ‘This is Abu Hanifah, he does not sleep at night.’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘By Allah: It is not said of me what I do not do.’ He would revive the night in prayer, supplication and devotion.”(Tarikh Baghdad 485-6) Dr Bashshar comments that its chain is acceptable (salih).

10. It is narrated from Mis’ar ibn Kidam (d. 155): “One night I entered the masjid and I saw a man praying, and I found his recitation pleasing. He recited a seventh (of the Qur’an) and I thought he would bow down. Then he recited a third and then half and he continued to recite until he completed it all in one rak‘ah. I looked, and behold, it was Abu Hanifah.” (Tarikh Baghdad 487-8) Dr Bashshar comments that it has a hasan chain with all the narrators being trustworthy (thiqah) except Hafs ibn Abd al-Rahman who is reliable (saduq).

Mis’ar ibn Kidam was a contemporary of Abu Hanifah, and he is a narrator found in the six famous collections of hadith, and was known for his worship and piety.

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Imam al-Dhahabi wrote in a volume dedicated to the merits of Imam Abu Hanifah and his two companions: “Abu Hanifah’s standing in the night in prayer, his night-vigilance, and his devotion have been mass-transmitted (tawatarat).” (Manaqib al-Imam Abu Hanifah, al-Dhahabi, Lajnatu Ihya’ al-Ma’arif al-Nu’maniyyah, pp. 20-1)

Many pious men of the generation of the Atba’ al-Tabi’in kept the company of Imam Abu Hanifah, such as Dawud al-Ta’i, Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad and Shaqiq al-Balkhi, whose virtues are endless and can be read in the biographical literature. This is also a great testament to the profound spiritual station reached by Imam Abu Hanifah.

 

Imam Abu Hanifah’s Refusal of Judgeship and his Political Activism

Both the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates demanded Imam Abu Hanifah take the position of Qadi, and upon his refusal to align himself with the state, he was punished both times. In the second time, he was imprisoned and probably poisoned under the caliph al-Mansur which led to his death, making him a shahid. The reason for his imprisonment was not only refusal of judgeship but because he ideologically and financially assisted the anti-Abbasid rebellion of the descendents of ‘Ali, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali better known as “al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah” (the pure soul) and his brother, Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd Allah. In this respect, I will quote a few authentic narrations from Imam al-Khatib’s Tarikh Baghdad:

Under the Umayyads:

1. Al-Khatib narrates: Qadi Abu al-‘Ala’ Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Wasiti narrated to us: He said: Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Hammad ibn Sufyan narrated to us in Kufa: He said: al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn al-Farzadaq al-Fazari narrated to us: He said: Abu ‘Abd Allah ‘Amr ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Sarj narrated to us in Egypt: He said: Yahya ibn Sulayman al-Ju‘fi al-Kufi narrated to us: He said: ‘Ali ibn Ma‘bad narrated to us: He said: ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Amr al-Raqqi narrated to us: He said: “Ibn Hubayrah spoke to Abu Hanifah, [demanding him] to accept the role of Qadi of Kufa for him, which he refused. Thereupon, he struck him with a hundred and ten lashes, ten lashes every day. He [persisted] on [his] rejection, and when he saw this, he let him go.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:448) – Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is sahih, and the narrations which come after it add strength to it and support it.”

Yazid ibn ‘Umar ibn Hubayrah (d. 132 H) was the last Umayyad governor over Iraq under Marwan (d. 132), the last Umayyad caliph.

2. Al-Khatib narrates: Al-Khallal reported to us: al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: He said: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid narrated to us from his father: He said: “Abu Hanifah would be brought out every day,” or he said, “amongst the days, and he was beaten, to [force him to] accept judgeship but he refused. He wept on some of the days, and when he was freed, he said to me: ‘The grief of my mother was more difficult on me than the beating.’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:449)

The chain is sound: the narrators al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators (thiqat) as detailed in earlier posts; Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan (d. 277) was declared thiqah by al-Daraqutni (Misbah al-Arib 3:195); although some imams held negative opinions of Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid (d. 228), he was declared thiqah by Mutayyan, Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Numayr and Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Bushanji (204-290) [a great hadith-scholar whose narrations are found in Sahih al-Bukhari], and Ibn ‘Adi said: “I did not find in his Musnad or his hadiths anything objectionable (munkar), and I hope there is no harm in him” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 11:243-9); Abu Yahya ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 202) is a narrator found in the Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, and declared thiqah by Ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Qani‘ and others, although some invalid criticism was levelled at him because of irja’. (Tahrir al-Taqrib 2:300-1)

This narration shows even as he endured severe physical punishment, it was the effect that this would have on others that concerned him. This illustrates his strength and patience in the path of truth, and his selfless concern for others, particularly his close family.

Under the Abbasids:

3. Al-Khatib narrates: Abu ‘Umar al-Hasan ibn ‘Uthman al-Wa‘iz reported to us: He said: Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hakam al-Wasiti reported to us [here, al-Khatib includes a second chain which I have omitted]: Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ya‘qub narrated to us: He said: My grandfather narrated to us: He said: Bishr ibn al-Walid al-Kindi narrated to us: He said: “Abu Ja‘far [al-Mansur] the commander of the faithful, sent for Abu Hanifah. He wanted him to accept the role of judge but he refused. Thereupon he made an oath he will do [this], and Abu Hanifah made an oath he will not do [so]. Then al-Mansur [again] made an oath he will do [this], and Abu Hanifah made an oath he will not do [so]. Al-Rabi‘ al-Hajib said: ‘Do you not see that the Commander of the Believers is making an oath?!’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘The Commander of the Believers is more capable of compensating for his [broken] oaths than I am of compensating for my [broken] oaths.’ And he refused to take the position [of Qadi]. Immediately al-Mansur ordered him to be imprisoned.”

The chain is authentic: al-Khatib said about Abu ‘Umar al-Wa‘iz (347 – 426) “there is no harm in him” (Tarikh Baghdad, 8:348); Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Wasiti (d. 353) is thiqah according to al-Khatib and Ibn Abi al-Fawaris (Tarikh Baghdad, 8:152-3); Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah (254 – 331) is thiqah according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad, 2:248); he heard from his grandfather, the famous trustworthy hafiz Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah (180 – 262), as a child; Bishr ibn al-Walid al-Kindi (d. 238 H) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni and others (Misbah al-‘Arib, 1:247).

Abu Ja‘far al-Mansur (95 – 158) was the second Abbasid caliph, and the reason he wanted Abu Hanifah to represent his government as judge was not only because of the Imam’s great standing amongst the scholars and the people in general, but because al-Mansur gained intelligence of Abu Hanifah’s role in anti-Abbasid efforts, so he wished to force him to align himself with the regime.

4. Al-Khatib narrates: Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rizq reported to us: He said: Isma‘il ibn ‘Ali al-Khutabi reported to us: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman narrated to us: He said: Nasr ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman narrated to us: He said: al-Fadl ibn Dukayn narrated to us: He said: Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl narrated to me: He said: “Abu Hanifah would speak openly and harshly in the days of Ibrahim (ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib) [in support of his resistance against the Abbasids]. So I said to him: ‘By Allah! You will not stop until ropes are strung around our necks!’ It wasn’t long before the letter of al-Mansur came to ‘Isa ibn Musa (the governor of Kufa) to deport Abu Hanifah. When I came to him in the morning, it was as though his face was wiped off. He deported him to Baghdad and he lived for 15 days, and then they gave him a drink, whereupon he died. That was in the year 150. And Abu Hanifah died when he was seventy years old.”

The chain is authentic: Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad Ibn Rizq (325 – 412) is trustworthy according to al-Khatib and al-Barqani (Tarikh Baghdad, 2:211-3); Ismail ibn ‘Ali ibn Isma‘il ibn Yahya Abu Muhammad al-Khutabi (269 – 350) is thiqah according to Daraqutni and Ibn al-Fawaris (Tarikh Baghdad, 7:304-6); Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah (210 – 297) was declared thiqah by Salih Jazarah, Ibn ‘Adi said he did not find any of his hadith objectionable (munkar), ‘Abdan said “there is no harm in him,” Ibn Hibban mentioned him in al-Thiqat, and Maslamah ibn Qasim said “there is no harm in him, the people wrote from him, and I do not know anybody who abandoned him.” (Lisan al-Mizan, 7:340-2) [although there was some criticism of him, most of it comes through Ibn ‘Uqdah whose reports from the scholars regarding narrator-criticism are not accepted]; Nasr ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kufi (d. 248), is thiqah (Tahrir al-Taqrib, 4:13); al-Fadl ibn Dukayn (130-219) is a narrator found in the six collections of hadith; and Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl al-‘Anbari (110-158), a major student of Imam Abu Hanifah, was declaredthiqah by Ibn Ma‘in, al-Fadl ibn Dukayn and Ibn Hibban (Lisan al-Mizan, 3:501-3).

According to this report, Abu Hanifah was a martyr as he was poisoned to death. This is one of the great merits of Imam Abu Hanifah, and distinguishes him from the other three Imams of fiqh. Imam al-Dhahabi also recognised this where he said under the biography of Abu Hanifah in Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ “He died as a poisoned martyr in the year 150 when he was 70 years old.” (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ 6:403) He supported the rebellion of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah (d. 145 H) against al-Mansur; and then his brother, Ibrahim. Imam Malik also supported this rebellion (Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa p. 208); and Imam Abu Hanifah even expressed a desire to participate with Ibrahim in battle, as shown in the following narration:

5. Al-Khatib narrates: Ibn al-Fadl reported to us: He said: Ibn Darastuwayh reported to us: He said: Ya‘qub narrated to us: He said: Safwan ibn Salih al-Dimashqi narrated to me: He said: ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Sulami narrated to me: He said: I heard Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Fazari narrate to al-Awza‘i, he said: “My brother was killed with Ibrahim al-Fatimi [the brother of al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah], so I rode to check his inheritance. I met Abu Hanifah and he said to me: ‘From where did you come and where are you heading?’ I told him that I came from al-Massisah and I am heading to a brother of mine killed with Ibrahim.’ He said: ‘If you were killed with your brother, it would have been better for you than the place you have come from!’ I said: ‘What prevented you from that?’ He said: ‘Were it not for the possessions and belongings of people that are with me, I would not have delayed [doing] that!’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:529-30) – Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is sahih.”

6. Hafiz Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrated with his chain to Ahmad Ibn Abi ‘Imran (d. 280, thiqah) from Bishr ibn al-Walid (d. 238, thiqah) from Imam Abu Yusuf: “Al-Mansur’s anger with Abu Hanifah, despite his recognition of his excellence, was only because when Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hasan seceded in Basra, it was mentioned to him that Abu Hanifah and al-A‘mash conspired with him in Kufa. Al-Mansur wrote [i.e. forged] two letters on his tongue, one [addressed] to al-A‘mash and another to Abu Hanifah from Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hasan, and he sent them with one he trusted. When the letter reached al-A‘mash, he took it from the man and read it, and then he stood up and fed it to a goat while the man watched, so he said to him: ‘What do you mean by this?’ He said: ‘Say to him: You are a man from Banu Hashim, and you are all loved by him, and peace [be on you].’ As for Abu Hanifah, he accepted the letter and replied to it. This remained in the heart of Abu Ja‘far until he did with him what he did.” (al-Intiqa’ fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha, pp. 323-4)

 

The Composure of Imam Abu Hanifah

Al-Khatib narrates with his chain to ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-San‘ani (126 – 211 H), the author of the Musannaf:

“I was in the presence of Abu Hanifah at Masjid al-Khayf when a man asked him about something and he replied to him. Thereupon, a man said: ‘Al-Hasan [al-Basri] says such and such.’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘Al-Hasan erred.’ At this, a man whose face was covered with bandages arrived and said: ‘You say al-Hasan erred, Oh son of an adulterous?!’ Then he left. [Imam Abu Hanifah’s] face did not change, nor did it gain colour. Then he said: ‘Yes, by Allah, al-Hasan erred, and Ibn Mas‘ud was right.’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:481)

Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “The chain of this report is sahih.”

أخبرني عبد الله بن يحيى السكري، أخبرنا إسماعيل بن محمد الصفار، حدثنا أحمد بن منصور الرمادي، حدثنا عبد الرزاق قال: شهدت أبا حنيفة في مسجد الخيف فسأله رجل عن شئ فأجابه فقال رجل: إن الحسن يقول كذا وكذا. قال أبو حنيفة: أخطأ الحسن، قال فجاء رجل مغطى الوجه قد عصب على وجهه فقال: أنت تقول أخطأ الحسن يا ابن الزانية؟ ثم مضى، فما تغير وجهه ولا تلون، ثم قال: إي والله أخطأ الحسن وأصاب ابن مسعود

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The Generosity of Imam Abu Hanifah

Imam al-Dhahabi said: “Abu Hanifah al-Nu‘man ibn Thabit was from the geniuses of the sons of Adam. He combined fiqh, worship, scrupulousness and generosity.” (Al-Dhahabi, al-’Ibar, 1:214) He also said: “Regarding the generosity and kindness of Abu Hanifah many reports have been transmitted.” (Manaqib al-Imam Abi Hanifah, Zahid al-Kawthari ed. p. 18)

In the following, I will quote a few authentic narrations from al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh Baghdad on Imam Abu Hanifah’s generosity:

1. Al-Khatib narrates: al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Hanifi reported to us: He said: ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan al-Razi narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Za‘farani narrated to us: He said: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar narrated to me: He said: “People have not seen a more noble sitting-companion than Abu Hanifah, nor [anyone] more generous to his companions.” Hujr said: “It used to be said: ‘Possessors of nobility are more intelligent than [those] besides them.’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:493) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf said: “Its isnad is hasan.”

The same narration from Hujr is also reported via a different authentic route by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr inal-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha (p. 260). Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Wa’il ibn Hujr is the grandson of the Sahabi Wa’il ibn Hujr and is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s Kitab al-Thiqat(6:235). His father ‘Abd al-Jabbar died in the year 112, thus Hujr was senior to most of Abu Hanifah’s students.

2. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: He said: Isma‘il ibn Yusuf al-Shanbazi narrated to us: He said: I heard Abu Yusuf say: “Abu Hanifah would never be asked for any need except he fulfilled it. A man came to him and said to him that ‘I owe so-and-so 500 dirhams though it is difficult for me, so ask him to be patient with me and give me respite.’ So Abu Hanifah spoke to the owner of the wealth, and the owner of the wealth said: ‘It is for him, I have forgiven him for it.’ The one who was in debt said: ‘I have no need for this!’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘The need is not yours, but the need is mine that has been fulfilled.’

The chain is hasan: Al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators as shown in earlier posts. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan (d. 277) was declared thiqah by al-Daraqutni (Misbah al-Arib3:195). Isma‘il ibn Yusuf is probably Isma‘il ibn Yusuf ibn Sadaqah Abu Muhammad al-Azdi al-Himsi mentioned by Ibn Hibban in his Kitab al-Thiqat (Kitab al-Thiqat 8:94), as Ibn Hibban lists him amongst those who narrated from the Atba‘ al-Tabi‘in, and Abu Yusuf was from the Atba‘ al-Tabi‘in. Imam Abu Yusuf (113 – 182 H) was declared thiqah by Yahya ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i and al-Bayhaqi and was declared saduq by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and ‘Ali ibn al-Madini.

3. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i narrated to us: He said: I heard Ja‘far ibn ‘Awn al-‘Umri say: A woman came to Abu Hanifah requesting from him a garment of silk. He took out a garment for her and she said to him: “I am a weak woman and indeed it is a trust, so sell this garment to me as it is valued on you.” He said: “Take it for four dirhams.” She said: “Do not mock me! I am a very old woman.” He said: “I bought two garments, and I sold one of them for the price with which I bought both of them besides four dirhams, so this garment remains [valued] on me at four dirhams.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:495) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is hasan.”

4. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Al-Husayn ibn al-Hakam al-Hibari narrated to us: He said: ‘Ali ibn Hafs al-Bazzaz narrated to us: He said: “Hafs ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman was a business partner of Abu Hanifah, and Abu Hanifah would prepare [the goods] for him. He sent him amongst a group with some items and he informed him that in a certain garment there is a defect, so when you sell it clarify [this defect to the buyer]. Hafs sold the item and forgot to explain, and he couldn’t remember who he sold it to. When Abu Hanifah learnt [of this] he gave in charity the price of all the items.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:490). Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is excellent (jayyid).”

 

The Kindness of Imam Abu Hanifah to His Mother

As can be gleaned from many of the earlier posts, Imam Abu Hanifah was exemplary in many facets of an Islamic character, from his worship and piety, to his generosity, knowledge, patience and activism. The following narrations also display his exemplary character in his behaviour with his mother.

1. Al-Khatib narrates: Al-Khallal reported to us: He said: al-Hariri informed us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Abu Salih al-Bakhtari ibn Muhammad narrated to us: He said: Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah narrated to us: Sulayman ibn Mansur narrated to me: He said: Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Hadrami narrated to me: He said: “In our mosque, there was a storyteller called Zur‘ah. The mosque of the Hadramites was associated with him. The mother of Abu Hanifah wanted to seek fatwa in a matter so Abu Hanifah issued her a fatwa but she did not accept. She said: ‘I will only accept what Zur‘ah – the storyteller – says.’ So Abu Hanifah brought her to Zur‘ah and he said: ‘This is my mother, she is seeking a fatwa in such and such a matter.’ He said: ‘You are more learned than me and have more knowledge of jurisprudence! So you issue her a fatwa.’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘I had given her such and such a fatwa.’ Zur‘ah said: ‘The [correct] opinion is as Abu Hanifah said.’ Then she was satisfied and returned.’”

The chain is hasan: Al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators, as shown in earlier posts. Al-Daraqutni said about al-Bakhtari ibn Muhammad (d. 290) according to Su’alat Hakim “there is no harm in him” (Mawsu‘at Aqwal Abi al-Hasan al-Daraqutni, p. 145, Tarikh Baghdad 7:640-1); Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah (182 – 262) is the famous author of a Musnad and is thiqah(Tarikh Baghdad 16:410-12);  Sulayman ibn Mansur (d. 240) was declared thiqah by al-Nasa’i, and he narrated from ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181) (Tahdhib al-Kamal 12:75); Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in al-Thiqat. Al-Khatib also narrated the same incident through a second chain, giving it further support.

2. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan narrated to us: He said: Qasim narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah – who died in the year 180 at the age of 90 or so – narrated to me: He said: “We would pray with ‘Umar ibn Dharr in the month of Ramadan the [night] vigil [of Tarawih], so Abu Hanifah would come and would bring his mother with him, though his place was very far and Ibn Dharr would pray till close to the pre-dawn [meal time].” (Al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha p. 256)

The chain is sahih: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan al-Qurtubi (d. 395) is thiqah according to al-Dhahabi in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’ (Misbah al-Arib 2:297); al-Qasim ibn Asbagh al-Qurtubi (247 – 340) was called “the great hafiz” and “the muhaddith of Cordoba” by al-‘Asqalani and is saduq (Lisan al-Mizan); Ahmad ibn Zuhayr ibn Harb (205 – 299) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni and al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 5:265-7); Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh (151 – 246) is thiqah according to Abu Dawud (Tarikh Baghdad 10:68)

Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah is Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah ibn Nashit al-Makhzumi al-Kufi. He is mentioned in Kitab al-Thiqat of Ibn Hibban. Al-Mizzi lists ‘Umar ibn Dharr amongst those he narrated from and Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh amongst those who narrated from him. Yahya ibn Ma‘in said “there is no harm in him” which for him is equivalent to thiqah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 7:340) ‘Umar ibn Dharr al-Hamdani al-Kufi (d. 153), who led the Tarawih prayer in this report, is a narrator found in the six collections besides Muslim and Ibn Majah, although the latter transmitted from him in his Tafsir. He narrated from his father, ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and others. Al-Mizzi lists Abu Hanifah amongst those who narrated from him and says “he was from his contemporaries.” Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan, al-Nasa’i, al-Daraqutni, al-‘Ijli and Ya‘qub ibn Sufyan said he is thiqah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 21:334-40)

3. I’ve already mentioned above the following narration in which Imam Abu Hanifah expresses his love and concern for his mother:

Al-Khatib narrates: Al-Khallal reported to us: al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: He said: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid narrated to us from his father: He said: “Abu Hanifah would be brought out every day,” or he said, “amongst the days, and he was beaten, to [force him to] accept judgeship but he refused. He wept on some of the days, and when he was freed, he said to me: ‘The grief of my mother was more difficult on me than the beating.’” (Tarikh Baghdad15:449)

The chain is sound: the narrators al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators (thiqat) as detailed in earlier posts; Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan (d. 277) was declared thiqah by al-Daraqutni (Misbah al-Arib 3:195); although some imams held negative opinions of Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid (d. 228), he was declared thiqah by Mutayyan, Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Numayr and Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Bushanji (204-290) [a great hadith-scholar whose narrations are found in Sahih al-Bukhari], and Ibn ‘Adi said: “I did not find in his Musnad or his hadiths anything objectionable (munkar), and I hope there is no harm in him” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 11:243-9); Abu Yahya ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 202) is a narrator found in the Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, and declared thiqah by Ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Qani‘ and others, although some invalid criticism was levelled at him because of irja’. (Tahrir al-Taqrib 2:300-1)

 

The Soft Heart of Imam Abu Hanifah

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates:

Al-Khallal reported to us: He said: Al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Bakhtari ibn Muhammad narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn Sama‘ah narrated to us from Muhammad ibn al-Hasan [al-Shaybani]: He said: al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n narrated to me that Abu Hanifah stood [in prayer] one night with this verse: “Nay! The Hour is their appointed time, and the Hour is more calamitous and bitterer,” (54:46) repeating it, and weeping and humbling himself (yatadarra’). (Tarikh Baghdad 15:489)

Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad comments: “The isnad of this report is sahih; its narrators are trustworthy.”

In this is an embodiment of the verses: “Allah has revealed the finest discourse, a Book con-similar oft-repeated, at which the skins of these who fear their Lord tremble; then their skins and their hearts soften at the remembrance of Allah.” (39:23) ”Only they are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith.” (8:2) “Remember your Lord in your heart with humility and awe, and without speaking loudly, in mornings and evenings, and do not be among the heedless. ” (7:205)

Golden Advice of Imam Abu Hanifah for Ramadan

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates:

Al-Jawhari reported to us: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Abhari reported to us: He said: Abu ‘Arubah al-Harrani narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Sayf narrated to us: He said: I heard Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil say:

“A man said to Abu Hanifah: ‘When is eating prohibited for a fasting person?’ He said: ‘When dawn comes.’ Then the questioner said to him: ‘And if the middle of the night comes?’ Thereupon, Abu Hanifah said to him: ‘Stand up [in prayer] O lame one!’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:481-2)

Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is sahih.”

Tahajjud (the night-prayer) is a highly recommended Salah, particularly in the month of Ramadan. It is described as “the way of the righteous” in hadith and as an expiation for sins and a safeguard against wrongdoing. Since Muslims should generally be awake for the pre-dawn meal (suhur), there should be no difficulty in praying a minimum of two rak’ahs of Tahajjud Salah during the nights of Ramadan. We should all, insha Allah, make a resolve to act on this golden advice of Imam Abu Hanifah for the coming Ramadan, and ask Allah to make it easy for us.

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