is a well-known fact that Muslims follow some basic schools of thought in
matters of Islamic Jurisprudence, other than questions of faith and fundamentals
of worship and legal practices. For the latter are not subject to controversy,
since they have been clearly defined in the Qur'an and in the teachings of
Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam |
renowned scholars of the four basic schools were Abu Haneefah, Maalik ibn Anas,
Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafii and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Now we will try to shed
some light on the personality of Abu Haneefah, whose school of thought is widely
spread especially in Asia (including the Indian subcontinent, the whole of
Central Asia and countries like Turkey and Afghanistan).
Haneefah An-Nu`man was born in Koofa, Iraq, in the year 80 AH. He was lucky to
be born in the second generation of Islam since he had the opportunity to learn
from some companions of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, and many
renowned scholars of the second generation. It has been pointed out that Abu
Haneefah was the first to codify Islamic law or jurisprudence (commonly known as
Fiqh) compiled from the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
hero was a merchant by profession, but he spent both ends of the day in teaching
in the mosque. He was exemplary in his conduct both as a merchant and a teacher.
For he was not only very honest in his commercial dealings, but he was very
conscientious as well, to the extent that he would refuse any profit he felt
uneasy about, even if it was a legitimate one. Once a lady came to his store and
requested him to sell a silk dress for her. He asked her about the suggested
price for the dress. When she told him “100 dirhams”, he told her that it
was worth more than that. She could not believe that until it was sold for her
before her own eyes for 500 dirhams. On another occasion our hero warned his
partner not to sell a certain garment due to some defects in it. Somehow his
partners forgot and sold that garment. When our hero knew that, he decided to
give out in charity all the money earned that day, and he broke the partnership
with his friend who sold the defective garment even though inadvertently.
a teacher, our hero used to support all his needy students in order for them to
devote all their time to learning. His encouragement of education made him very
generous even to scholars. It is reported that when he wanted to buy clothes for
himself or his family, he would do the same for some of the scholars he knew. In
fact, our hero's generosity reached everyone that came in contact with him. One
day he was walking down the street when he noticed a man trying to hide from
him. Abu Haneefah asked the man, “Why are you trying to hide from me?” When
he was told that he owed our hero 10,000 dirhams and was embarrassed because he
could not pay the money to him, our hero informed the man that he no longer
wanted the loan back. He further asked the man to forgive him for causing him so
much trouble and feeling of embarrassment!
a typical man of piety our hero was very kind to all his acquaintances, whom he
visited when ill and inquired about when absent. A very interesting case is
reported in the encounter between our hero and his drunkard neighbor, who would
get drunk and keep singing aloud all night long causing so much annoyance to Abu
Haneefah. Once the police caught the man (the noisy neighbor) and took him to
prison. Abu Haneefah noticed that night that the neighborhood was quiet. So he
inquired about his noisy neighbor. Upon knowing of his neighbor's imprisonment,
he rushed to the governor of the city interceding for his neighbor who was
immediately released. Not only that, Abu Haneefah gave the man some money to
compensate for the earnings he lost due to imprisonment. The drunkard was so
impressed with this kind attitude and treatment that he decided to repent and
devote his time to learning the message of Islam in the mosque.
Haneefah's fear of falling into fault made him refuse all the offers made by
governors and the Caliph to appoint him in public offices, including the post of
a judge. For that reason Caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansoor ordered that Abu Haneefah
be put in jail where he died in the year 150 AH.
even if our hero died in prison, his name is still very much alive in the memory
of Islamic history and millions of the followers of his school of thought and
others all over the world.
By: Dr. Muhammad Esma'il Sieny