Examples of the Eminent Disciples of Imam Abu Hanifah from the Salaf
One of the greatest indications that Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinions in fiqh were informed by an immense knowledge of hadiths, and related Islamic sciences, is the companionship with him of some of the most learned scholars of the salaf. In this respect, the following narrations should shed some light:
1. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (392 – 463) narrates in Tarikh Baghdad: Al-Khallal informed me: ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr al-Hariri informed me that ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: Najih ibn Ibrahim narrated to us: Ibn Karamah narrated to us: We were with Waki‘ [ibn al-Jarrah] (126 – 196) one day and a man said: “Abu Hanifah erred!” Waki‘ said: “How can Abu Hanifah err when with him are the likes of Abu Yusuf (113 – 182) and Zufar (110 – 158) in their logic; and the likes of Yahya ibn Abi Za’idah (120 – 182), Hafs ibn Ghiyath (117 – 194), Hibban (111 – 171) and Mindal (103 – 169) in their memorisation of hadith; and the like of al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n (100 – 175) in his knowledge of language and Arabic; and Dawud al-Ta’i (105 – 162) and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad (107 – 187) in their asceticism and their scrupulousness? The one whose sitting partners are such, he does not come close to erring, because if he erred they would correct him.” (Tarikh Baghdad 16:365)
All the narrators in this chain are trustworthy (thiqat) with the possible exception of Najih ibn Ibrahim: Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali Abu Muhammad al-Khallal (352 – 439) isthiqah according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 8:454); ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr ibn Sahl Abu l-Husayn al-Hariri (292 – 380) is thiqah according to al-‘Atiqi (Tarikh Baghdad 13:470); ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Abu l-Qasim al-Nakha‘i known as “Ibn Kas” (d. 324), is thiqah according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 13:540); and Ibn Karamah is Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Karamah (d. 256), and he is a narrator found in Bukhari’s Sahih, declared thiqah by al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib.
The problematic narrator between Ibn Kas and Ibn Karamah, Najih ibn Ibrahim, is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s al-Thiqat (9:220), which means he is saduq or thiqah according to Ibn Hibban. However, Maslamah ibn al-Qasim (d. 353) believed him to be weak (da‘if) as mentioned by al-‘Asqalani (Lisan al-Mizan 8:254). Maslamah ibn al-Qasim, himself, however, was considered da‘if by al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I‘tidal (Lisan al-Mizan 8:61), and Abu Ja‘far al-Malaqi (d. 702) said “he is questionable (in his reliability).” Imam al-Dhahabi transmitted some criticism of him in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, and no one said he is trustworthy or reliable. A principle of al-Jarh wa l-Ta‘dil states that the criticism of someone who was himself subject to valid criticism is not accepted unless the one criticised is free of any words of praise. Hence, the accreditation (ta‘dil) of Ibn Hibban stands and Maslama’s criticism is rejected. This narration is therefore either hasan or sahih. Moreover, the companionship of those mentioned in this narration is established by other evidence, like those below.
All of the companions mentioned by Waki‘, besides Abu Yusuf and Zufar, are narrators whose hadiths can be found in some of the six famous collections of hadith, and two of them, Yahya and Hafs, have narrations in all six. All of them are also trustworthy narrators (thiqat) of hadith with the possible exceptions of Hibban and Mindal, the sons of ‘Ali al-‘Anbari, regarding whom hadith scholars had mixed opinions.
2. With the same chain up to al-Nakha‘i, al-Khatib narrates: Al-Nakha‘i said: I heard Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i say: I heard Isma‘il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah say: “The [foremost] companions of Abu Hanifah were ten: Abu Yusuf, Zufar, Asad ibn ‘Amr al-Bajali (d. 190), ‘Afiyah al-Awdi (d. 160), Dawud al-Ta’i, al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n al-Mas‘udi, ‘Ali ibn Mushir (d. 189), Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah, Hibban and Mindal the sons of ‘Ali al-‘Anbari, and there was not amongst them the like of Abu Yusuf and Zufar.” (Tarikh Baghdad 16:363)
This narration is sound: Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i is Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn ‘Awn al-‘Amiri, Abu Bakr al-Kufi (d. 264), mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s al-Thiqat (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 9:37) and al-‘Asqalani said he is “saduq” (Taqrib al-Tahdhib). Isma‘il ibn Hammad (d. 212) is the grandson of Imam Abu Hanifah and he studied under Abu Hanifah’s direct students like Abu Yusuf. He was Qadi of Baghdad and Basra. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari (118 – 215), a trustworthy (thiqah) narrator of hadith found in all six of the famous collections of hadith, who studied fiqh under Zufar and Abu Yusuf, said: “No one took charge of judgeship from the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab to this day more learned than Isma‘il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah.” Abu Bakr al-Jubbi said to him: “O Abu ‘Abd Allah! Not even al-Hasan ibn Abi l-Hasan (i.e. al-Basri)?!” He said: “No, not even al-Hasan.” (Lisan al-Mizan 2:114) Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (d. 654), the grandson of the famous Ibn al-Jawzi, said in his Mir’at al-Zaman, Isma‘il ibn Hammad is “trustworthy and reliable” (thiqah saduq). Although Ibn ‘Adi said he is “weak,” his criticism was moved by bias against the Hanafi Imams as he said the same regarding Imam Abu Hanifah in the very same sentence. Salih Jazarah also said “he is not thiqah,” but this was probably because of Isma‘il’s reputation for supporting the doctrine of “the creation of the Qur’an,” but as Sibt ibn al-Jawzi mentioned, his support for this Mu‘tazili doctrine was for reasons of self-preservation, and this was the practice of a number of scholars at that time.
3. In al-Jawahir al-Mudiyyah (no. 307, biography of Asad ibn ‘Amr), al-Qarashi quotes from a book by Imam al-Tahawi the following:
Ibn Abi Thawr wrote to me, narrating to me from Sulayman ibn ‘Imran: Asad ibn al-Furat narrated to me: “The companions of Abu Hanifah who would compile books were 40 men. From the ten foremost of them were: Abu Yusuf, Zufar, Dawud al-Ta’i, Asad ibn ‘Amr, Yusuf ibn Khalid al-Samti (122 – 189), Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah, and he was the one who would write for them (i.e. the companions of Abu Hanifah) for thirty years.”
Ibn Abi Thawr is better known as Ibn ‘Abdun, and his full name is Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Thawr (d. 299). He was a faqih in the Hanafi madhhab, and he was Qadi of Qayrawan (Amani al-Ahbar 1:41). Sulayman ibn ‘Imran narrated from the hafiz Hafs ibn Ghiyath, but according to Ibn Abi Hatim “his hadiths indicate he is unreliable (laysa bi saduq)” (Lisan al-Mizan 4:162). Asad ibn al-Furat (144 – 213) wrote from Yahya ibn Abi Za’idah, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Imam Malik. He was one of the reasons for the codification and spread of the Maliki madhhab. This chain is therefore weak but not very weak, so may be used as supporting evidence. Moreover, all of the individuals mentioned in the narration are recognised and known as companions of Abu Hanifah.
The individuals mentioned in these lists of the prominent students and companions of Abu Hanifah were major scholars from the salaf. I will elaborate on the hadith-knowledge of some of these aforementioned companions of Abu Hanifah:
‘Ali ibn Mushir (120 – 189)
His narrations are found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. Al-‘Ijli said: “He was of those who combined hadith and fiqh. Trustworthy (thiqah).” Al-‘Ijli also said about him, “A champion of the sunnah (sahib sunnah), trustworthy in hadith.” Ibn Sa‘d said, “He was trustworthy, and [possessed] many hadiths.” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 7:383 – 4)
It is clear from al-‘Ijli’s comment that ‘Ali ibn Mushir was not only known for his knowledge of hadiths and the sunnah, but was also known for his mastery in fiqh. His fiqh was acquired through his companionship with Imam Abu Hanifah. It has authentically been reported that ‘Ali ibn Mushir was also the means by which Sufyan al-Thawri learnt of Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinions in fiqh which he would often follow. This explains why the opinions of Sufyan and Abu Hanifah concur in many controversial matters of fiqh, and ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-Mubarak said, “When the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Sufyan concur on something, that is strong.” (Narrated by al-Khatib with a sahih chain in Tarikh Baghdad 15:471, and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr with a different sahih chain in al-Intiqa p. 206)
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463) mentioned that Abu Ya‘qub Yusuf ibn al-Dakhil (d. 388), a major muhaddith of Makkah who transmitted al-‘Uqayli’s book on weak narrators, narrated in his book on the merits of Abu Hanifah: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Firas narrated to us: Musa ibn Harun narrated to us: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani narrated to us: from ‘Ali ibn Mushir: He said: I was with Sufyan al-Thawri when a man asked him about a man who did wudu with water from which another [person] performed wudu. He said: “Yes, he is pure.” I said to him: “Abu Hanifah says it shouldn’t be used for wudu.” He said to me: “Why did he say this?” I said to him: “It is used water (ma’ musta‘mal).” Later, I was with him several days after this when a man came to him asking him about doing wudu from water which had been used by another and he said: “It should not be used for wudu because it is used water,” so he retracted in this [issue] to the opinion of Abu Hanifah. (al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathah, p. 269)
The chain is hasan: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Firas (d. 344) is trustworthy (thiqah) according to al-Dhahabi (Misbah al-Arib 1:18); Musa ibn Harun (d. 294) is trustworthy (thiqah) according to al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib; Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (150 – 228) is trustworthy according to Yahya ibn Ma‘in and al-Ramadi (d. 265) who said he is more trustworthy than even Ibn Abi Shaybah, and Ibn ‘Adi said “I hope there is no harm in him.” However Ibn al-Madini and others criticised him, bringing the hadith down to the level of hasan.
Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Saymari (351 – 436), who is saduq according to al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Tarikh Baghdad 8:634-5), narrated similar narrations in his Akhbar Abi Hanifah wa Ashabih (p. 73) and he said regarding ‘Ali ibn Mushir: “He is the one from whom Sufyan took the knowledge of Abu Hanifah.” (Akhbar Abi Hanifa, 158)
‘Ali ibn Mushir, despite his greatness in hadith, was not only a companion and follower of Imam Abu Hanifah, but a propagator of his madhhab, such that the likes of Sufyan al-Thawri gained the knowledge of Abu Hanifah’s opinions through him.
Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah (120 – 182)
Imam al-Dhahabi introduces Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah as “The firm and proficient hafiz, the faqih, Abu Sa‘id al-Hamdani al-Wadi‘i, their freed-slave, the companion of Abu Hanifah.” (Tadhkirat al-Huffaz 1:267) This is clear proof that Imam al-Dhahabi, an undisputed authority in the field of Rijal, regarded Yahya, based on the above reports and others, as being from the companions of Abu Hanifah.
‘Ali ibn al-Madini said, “There was not in Kufa after Sufyan al-Thawri [anyone] stronger [in hadith] than him.” (ibid p. 268) Al-‘Ijli said, “He was from those who combined fiqh and hadith, and he was judge over al-Mada’in, and is counted amongst the huffaz of the Kufans.”
Again, there is an indication that Yahya gained his reputation as a faqih due to his companionship with Abu Hanifah. Al-Saymari reported: Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Sayrafi informed us: ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr al-Hariri reported to us: Ibn Kas al-Nakha‘i narrated to us from his father: Salih ibn Suhayl narrated to me: “Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah had memorised the most hadiths from the people of his time and [he had] the most fiqh from them, along with constant companionship with Abu Hanifah and Ibn Abi Layla, and [along with] piety and scrupulousness.” (Akhbar Abi Hanifah, 156)
The shaykh of al-Saymari, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Sayrafi (d. 394) is better known as Ibn al-Abnusi. Hamzah ibn Muhammad ibn Tahir al-Daqqaq said “he would not lie” and “he loved to collect books” (Tarikh Baghdad 6:231-2). The remaining narrators are all thiqat except Ibn Kas’s father who is unknown. The narration is therefore weak but not very weak, so can be used as supporting evidence.
Asad ibn ‘Amr al-Bajali (d. 190)
Ahmad ibn Hanbal said regarding him, “saduq.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in said, “There is no harm in him,” which for him is equivalent to “thiqah.” Ibn ‘Adi said, “There is no harm in his hadiths and narrations, and there is not amongst the champions of opinion [one] with more hadiths than him after Abu Hanifah.” Ibn Sa‘d said, “He has many hadiths (hadith kathir) and he is trustworthy (thiqah) if Allah wills,” and Abu Dawud said, “there is no harm in him.” (Lisan al-Mizan 2:90-2) Although some scholars of Rijal criticised him, this was probably due to methodological differences, and not over hadith narration. Otherwise, Imam Ahmad’s, Ibn Ma‘in’s and Abu Dawud’s testimony is enough. Ibn ‘Adi and Ibn Sa‘d both said he possessed “many hadiths.” The books of Rijal that contain his biography all agree he was a close student and companion of Abu Hanifah.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates with an authentic chain in al-Intiqa (262 – 3) that Abu Yusuf said, Asad ibn ‘Amr “was the most exemplary of Abu Hanifah’s companions.” The men in the chain after Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr are as follows: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan al-Qurtubi (d. 395) who is thiqah according to al-Dhahabi in Siyar (Misbah al-Arib 2:297); al-Qasim ibn Asbagh al-Qurtubi (247 – 340), called “the great hafiz” and “the muhaddith of Cordoba” by al-‘Asqalani, is saduq (Lisan al-Mizan); Ahmad ibn Zuhayr ibn Harb (d. 299) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni and al-Khatib; and Mus‘ab ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Zubayri (d. 236), is thiqah according to Ahmad, Ibn Ma‘in and others, and a narrator of al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.
Hafs ibn Ghiyath (117 – 194)
Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan said: “Hafs is the most trustworthy (awthaq) of the companions of al-A‘mash,” and this is why al-Bukhari would rely on his narrations from al-A‘mash. He is a narrator found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said: “Hafs would narrate many hadiths, and he was a hafiz of hadith and strong therein. He was even ahead of themashayikh from whom he heard hadith.” (Tarikh Baghdad 9:75) Al-‘Ijli said: “Hafs ibn Ghiyath is trustworthy and reliable, a faqih, and he was judge over Kufa. Waki‘ would often be asked about something and he would say: ‘Go to our Qadi and ask him’” (al-Thiqat).
And as mentioned in Waki’s statement above, he was from Abu Hanifah’s companions. However, it is also reported about Hafs ibn Ghiyath that he left the circle of Imam Abu Hanifah (Tarikh Baghdad15:554).
There were many other major scholars of the salaf that narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah and admired his opinions, including Waki‘ ibn al-Jarrah, Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan, al-Fadl ibn Dukayn, Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil, Makki ibn Ibrahim, ‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’ and others.
As is clear from the brief biographies of the aforementioned companions of Abu Hanifah, they all combined between memorisation of a large quantity of hadiths and an insight into fiqh which they acquired from the company of Imam Abu Hanifah. This is a great proof that Abu Hanifah did not formulate his opinions while ignorant of hadiths, rather he was aware of all or most of the hadiths that were directly or implicitly related to the issues on which he passed judgement. This is why such great muhaddithin as Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah and ‘Ali ibn Mushir saw no contradiction in their memorisation of a large number of hadiths and the fiqh of Abu Hanifah, and why such masters and huffaz of hadith like Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan and Sufyan al-Thawri would frequently adopt his positions in fiqh.
Imam Abu Hanifah’s Description of his Close Attachment to Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman
The following report from al-Khatib’s Tarikh illustrates the importance of the close apprenticeship to a master teacher in order to develop the ability of ijtihad and fiqh. Just as ‘Alqamah and Aswad closely accompanied Ibn Mas’ud and as a consequence acquired his adeptness at fatwa, and Ibrahim al-Nakha’i likewise earned this quality from his close companionship of them, and then Hammad as is clear from the biographical notices on him was the closest and most adept student of Ibrahim, Abu Hanifah gained the quality of faqahah by a close attachment to his shaykh. And, consequently, the group of fuqaha in this chain were the greatest jurists of their times as stated by Imam al-Dhahabi in his Siyar A’lam al-Nubala‘.
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates:
Al-Khallal informed us: al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn Hazim narrated to me: al-Walid ibn Hammad narrated to us from al-Hasan ibn Ziyad from Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl: He said: I heard Abu Hanifah say:
“I would examine dialectical theology (kalam) until I reached therein a degree in which I could be pointed to with the fingers. We would sit close to the circle of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman (d. 120 H) and a woman came to me one day and said to me: ‘A man has a slave-girl as a wife whom he wishes to divorce by the Sunnah method. How many times does he pronounce divorce on her?’ I did not know what to say so I instructed her to ask Hammad and then return and inform me. She asked Hammad and he said: ‘He issues one divorce to her when she is pure from menstruation and [in a period in which there was no] intercourse, and then leaves her until she experiences two periods of menstruation. When she bathes, she is lawful for [potential] husbands.’ Then she returned and informed me. Thereupon, I realised I have no need for dialectical theology.
“I took my shoes and sat next to Hammad and I would listen to his juristic opinions and memorise his speech. Then he repeated it the next day and I had it memorised, while his [other] companions erred. So he said: ‘None is to sit at the head of the circle next to me besides Abu Hanifah.’ Thereafter, I accompanied him for ten years. Then my soul incited me to seek leadership, so I wished to separate from him and sit in my own circle. I left one day in the evening with resolve to do this and then when I went to the mosque and saw him, my soul did not find it pleasing to separate from him so I came and sat with him. There came to him that night the news of the death of a relative of his who died in Basra who left behind some wealth and had no heir besides him. He ordered me to sit in his place. As soon as he left, questions came to me [the answers to] which I had not heard from him, so I would answer and write my answers. He was away for two months. When he returned, I showed him the answers and they were around sixty verdicts. He agreed with me in forty and disagreed with me in twenty. Then I insisted to my soul that I will not part from him until he dies, so I did not part from him until he died.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:456-7)
A Brief Look at the Chain
Al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are all trustworthy narrators. Al-Walid ibn Hammad is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s Thiqat (9:226), indicating he is either saduq or thiqah according to him, and al-’Asqalani mentions him in Lisan al-Mizan and refutes the claim that he is unknown (Lisan al-Mizan 8:382). Al-Hasan ibn Ziyad, a major disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah, was criticised by mostmuhaddithun although Maslamah ibn al-Qasim said he is thiqah and he is included in Abu ‘Awanah’s Mustakhraj, indicating he is thiqah or saduq according to him. Moreover, his narrations from Abu Hanifah in fiqh were accepted by the Hanafi jurists, which is an assessment from them of his reliability. Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl is thiqah according to Ibn Ma‘in, al-Fadl ibn Dukayn and Ibn Hibban. The narrator in the middle, Ja‘far ibn Muhammad ibn Hazim, is majhul al-hal (unknown in reliability), though not majhul al-‘ayn (unknown in identity), as at least two people have narrated from him [which removes jahalat al-‘ayn], Ibn Kas and Ibn ‘Uqdah.
This narration therefore contains some degree of weakness, but is not very weak. In the narration of history and biography, the scholars of hadith were more relaxed than they were in narrating hadiths related to law and creed, so long as the narration is not very weak or fabricated. Later biographers and historians, like al-Mizzi and al-Dhahabi, included this narration in their notices on Imam Abu Hanifah.
In Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, after quoting this narration, al-Dhahabi says: “Allah knows best its authenticity!” (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ 6:398) Also in relation to this report, al-Dhahabi expressed his skepticism of the existence of the science of Kalam in this early period. However, Imam Abu Hanifah’s familiarity with the heresies of his day, of the Jahmiyyah, Mushabbihah, Rafidah and Mu’tazilah, and his nuanced criticism of them, indicates he probably did engage in some form of proto-Kalam, which he in his later life referred to as “Kalam.” Both al-Khatib and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr have sections in their early biographies of the Imam on his views related to creed
Hafiz ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrated with an authentic chain to the trustworthy narrator, Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh, that he said: “One of the Kufans informed me: Abu Hanifah was told that there is a circle in the mosque examining fiqh. He asked: “Do they have a head?” They said: “No.” He said: “These people will never attain fiqh!”” (al-Intiqa’ p. 257)
Imam Abu Yusuf’s Supplication for Imam Abu Hanifah after the Obligatory Salah
The foremost student of Imam Abu Hanifah, the mujtahid Imam, Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ibrahim, the first to be given the post of Qadi al-Qudat (Chief Judge) in Islam, would supplicate for his teacher after the obligatory Salahs, a time in which du’as are “most heard” according to a hadith recorded by al-Tirmidhi.
Hafiz Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates:
‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan narrated to us: He said: Qasim ibn Asbagh narrated to us: He said: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Abu Sufyan al-Himyari narrated to us from ‘Ali ibn Harmalah: He said: Abu Yusuf al-Qadi used to say after his Salah: “O Allah! Forgive me, and my parents and Abu Hanifah.” (al-Intiqa’ fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha p. 258)
The chain up to Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh was shown to be authentic in earlier posts. Abu Sufyan al-Himyari (112 – 202), or Sa’id ibn Yahya al-Wasiti, has some narrations in Sahih al-Bukhari and Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, and was considered reliable (saduq) by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib, and trustworthy (thiqah) by Abu Dawud as mentioned in Tahdhib al-Kamal (11:109). ‘Ali ibn Harmalah, a Qadi of Kufa, was a contemporary of Imam Abu Yusuf, and is mentioned in Kitab al-Thiqat of Ibn Hibban. The chain is therefore sound.
This practice may have been inherited from Imam Abu Hanifah himself. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates with his chain that Abu Hanifah said: “I have not prayed a single Salah since Hammad [ibn Abi Sulayman] died but I sought forgiveness for him with my parents, and indeed I seek forgiveness for those from whom I acquired knowledge or [those to] whom I imparted knowledge.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:457) The chain contains one unknown narrator, while the rest of the narrators are reliable except for Ibrahim ibn Sama’ah, the narrator from Imam Abu Hanifah, who was described as a “Shi’i” (Lisan al-Mizan 1:295).