Al-Imam Al-A’zam Abu Hanifa is the first among the four great imams of ahl-Al Sunnah. He was born in the city of Kufa (present day Iraq) in the year 80 Hijra. (699 A.D.) and spent most of his life there. He memorized the Qur’an when he was very young and became one of the people who knew the Qur’an by heart. Nuʿmān ibn Thābit ibn Zutā ibn Marzubān, better known as “Al-Imam Al-A’zam”, which means “The Great Imam”, was a Sharia scholar and the founder of the Sunni Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.
Among the four established Sunni schools of legal thought, the Hanafi school was the first . This school that first appeared in Iran spread to almost all parts of the Islamic world. It subsequently became influential in every region the Abbasids could reach. During the Abbasid dynasty the majority of judges were of the Hanafi school . Both the Seljuk and Kharzem Shah State were also Hanafi.
The Hanafi school was also embraced as the official school of law in Iraq, Trans-Jordan and the other conquered eastern regions. In Damascus, both the public and the government were administered in compliance with the legal concepts of the Hanafi school. When Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt ruled Egypt, he proclaimed the Hanafi school as the sole official school of legal thought of the Ottomans.
The Scholar Life of Al-Imam al-A’zam
When he was very young, Al-Imam al-A’zam learned the Qur’an by heart and also learned proper Arabic grammar, syntax, in addition to classical Arabic poetry and literature. In the early years of his youth, he met Anas ibn Malik, Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, Wa’ila ibn al-Asqa`,Sahl ibn Sa`d of Ashab al-Qiram, and Abu at-Tufayl Amir ibn Wasila who was the last to die in 102 Hijra (720 A.D.) in Mecca and learned ahadith from them.
Upon the advice of Imam Shabi, one of Kufa’s most well-known scholars, Abu Hanifa embarked on a prolific quest for knowledge, and he attended Imam Shabi's classes. Imam Al-Azam learned Islamic theology, faith and doctrine from Shabi. Then he studied Islamic jurisprudence under the guidance of Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman for twenty-eight years.
Abu Hanifa did not leave his teacher Hammad as long as he did not have an excuse or obstacle and during this period, he took lessons, participated in debates, transmitted knowledge and made evaluations. In 130 Hijr, ( 747 A.D.) he left Kufa for Mecca where he also spent many additional years in studying. Meanwhile during the pilgrimage voyages, he also learned Islamic law from other scholars.
Some of the hadiths narrated by Al-Imam al-A’zam
- Good deeds are accepted only by means of intention. One benefits only from what he intends.
- A person’s abandoning empty words is due to the beauty of his faith.
- None of you can be considered to have faith in its truest sense as long as you do not want what you wish and love for your own lower-self for your brother in religion.
- No doubt what is lawful and unlawful are obvious. Allah is beautiful; He only accepts beautiful things.
- Muslim is the one who, whether it be with his hands or his tongue, does not inflict suffering on Muslims. Fear from Allah’s wrath and hope for His mercy; remain in a spirit in between hope and awe. When you are healthy, remain in a spirit in between awe and ease. Think the best of Almighty Allah.
-For the sake of Allah always be like how you appear and appear as how you are.
- When it comes to telling the truth, fear no one including the sultan.