The Imam who could debate anyone

Abū Ḥanīfa’s journey began with his initial interest in the science of kalām,[1] and he would often debate deviant views and advocate the case for orthodox Islām. Indeed, he visited Basra in Iraq no less than 27 times for this purpose. His interlocutors included the Mu’tazila, the Khawārij, and others. Abū Ḥanīfa’s relentless efforts in defending orthodox Islām resulted in him becoming a nationally recognised figure, despite being only 20 years old at the time.
However, the pivotal point in the life of Abū Ḥanīfa that inspired him to turn from the field of kalām to that of fiqh was during a study circle he was leading in the Masjid. A woman asked him a basic fiqh question pertaining to divorce that he was unable to answer.

Abū Ḥanīfa referred the questioner to another nearby study circle within the Masjid which was led by Ḥammād b. Abī Sulaymān and asked the woman to inform him of the answer when she learnt it from Ḥammād. When she gave Abū Ḥanīfa the response, he said: “I have lost the interest for kalām.” He immediately picked up his shoes and made his way to the circle of Ḥammād to study fiqh.

Abū Ḥanīfa remained in that study circle learning from Ḥammād for a staggering 18 years. He would ardently serve Ḥammād for nearly two decades, not leaving his side until his teacher passed away. Abū Ḥanīfa’s mentor realised that before him was a marvel of a human being, memorising his teachings word for word whilst others would forget, and so Ḥammād said:

لا يجلس في صدر الحلقة بحذائي غير أبي حنيفة

“No one is to sit at the forefront of the study circle next to me but Abū Ḥanīfa.”[2]

There was an interesting event that took place ten years into Abū Ḥanīfa’s study with Ḥammād. Abū Ḥanīfa said:

“I accompanied Ḥammād for ten years, then my soul began to yearn for a position of authority. I considered breaking away and starting my own study circle. On one evening, I made my way to the Masjid with the intention of doing just that, but when I saw Ḥammād, I could not bring myself to do so. During that evening’s class, news was conveyed to Ḥammād that a relative of his in Basra had passed away. This relative had left behind him some wealth and Ḥammād was the only inheritor. So, he instructed me to sit in his place to teach.

Ḥammād left, and so the students asked me questions that I had not heard Ḥammād answer before. I would answer the questions and write down my answers. After two months, Ḥammād returned. I showed him the questions I was asked and how I answered them. There were around sixty questions. He approved of forty of my answers and disagreed with twenty of them. I vowed to myself that I will not leave his side until he passes away.”[3]

This event therefore marked the official deputisation of Abū Ḥanīfa, who taught in Ḥammād’s place when he was absent and subsequently succeeded him in Kufa after Ḥammād had passed away. Indeed, matters may have been different had Abū Ḥanīfa acted upon his wishes of breaking away from his teacher’s study circle that evening.

At times, one may eagerly aspire for a matter but knows deep down that going for it at that moment would not be the right thing to do. So he waits and exercises that much more patience, and then lo and behold, the matter which he was heading towards now heads towards him! The time is now right and the outcome is now best.

Ḥammād was not only the teacher of Abū Ḥanīfa, but of 4,000 other students as well, 93 of whom were from the tābi’ūn. It is important to note that Ḥammād was a scholar who was taught by Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’ī (the main jurist of Iraq at his time), who was taught by ‘Alqama, who was taught by ‘Abdullāh b. Mas’ūd, the Companion of the Prophet ﷺ. Hence, the fiqh of Abū Ḥanīfa has its roots in the earliest of traditions, and he is a man whose trustworthiness and knowledge cannot be doubted.

The personality and manners of Imām Abū Ḥanīfa

‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak once said to Sufyān al-Thawri: [4]

ما أبعد أبا حنيفة عن الغيبة، ما سمعتُه يغتاب عدوًّا له

“How distant is Abū Ḥanīfa from making slanderous statements. I have never even heard him backbite his enemies.”

Sufyān responded:

والله هو أعقل من أن يُسلِّط على حسناته ما يذهب بها

“By Allah, he is wiser than to allow someone to walk away with his good deeds.”[5]

Abū Ḥanīfa took a vow that every time he would take an oath using Allah’s name, he would follow this by donating a dinar of gold in charity. He did this out of veneration of Allah’s name and to train himself not to abuse the taking of oaths using Allah’s name. How different is this to those who use Allah’s name for the pettiest of oaths and for the lightest of matters, whilst Allah has said:

وَاحْفَظُوا أَيْمَانَكُمْ

“…and guard your oaths…”[6]

Abū Ḥanīfa was uniquely generous, pledging that for each dinar he would spend on his family, an equivalent amount would be donated in charity.

Abū Ḥanīfa’s worship

Exemplary worship is a key quality that consistently reappears in the biographies of the luminaries of the past; their levels of worship were awe-inspiring. Such giants of Islām recognised that application is the core purpose of knowledge, and if such knowledge does not activate a tangible change in one’s behaviour, manners, and worship, then one will have fallen victim to the four elements from which the Prophet ﷺ sought protection against when he said:

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من علم لا ينفع ومن قلب لا يخشع ومن نفس لا تشبع ومن دعوة لا يستجاب لها‏

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from knowledge that is not beneficial, from a heart that does not humble itself to You, from desire that is not satisfied, and from a prayer that is not answered.”[7]

Ask yourself: it may be true that my ‘knowledge’ is increasing, but is it causing me to grow? How true were the words of ‘Abd al-A’lā al-Tamīmi who said:

من أوتي من العلم ما لا يبكيه فخليق أن لا يكون أوتي علماً ينفعه؛ لأن الله –عز وجل- نعت العلماء، وقرأ: إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ إِذَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ يَخِرُّونَ لِلْأَذْقَانِ سُجَّدًا * وَيَقُولُونَ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّنَا إِنْ كَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّنَا لَمَفْعُولًا * وَيَخِرُّونَ لِلْأَذْقَانِ يَبْكُونَ وَيَزِيدُهُمْ خُشُوعًا

“Whoever gains knowledge that does not cause him to cry has not gained beneficial knowledge. This is because Allah said in describing the scholars, “Those who were given knowledge before it – when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration, and they say, ‘Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the Promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.’ And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur’an increases them in humble submission.”[8]

Abū Qilāba said to his student Ayyūb al-Sikhtiāni:

 إذا أحدث الله لك علماً فأحدث له عبادة ولا يكن همك أن تحدث به

“If Allah gives you a new portion of knowledge, then give it a new portion of worship, and do not make your main intention the teaching of this knowledge.”[9]

Sufyān b. ‘Uyayna said:

إِذَا كَانَ نَهَارِي نَهَارَ سَفِيهٍ ، وَلَيْلِي لَيْلَ جَاهِلٍ ، فَمَا أَصْنَعُ بِالْعِلْمِ الَّذِي كَتَبْتُ ؟

“If I am spending my hours during the day foolishly and my nights ignorantly, then what is the point of the knowledge that I am writing?”[10]

Exemplary worship was the hallmark of our predecessors and was for them the sign of true knowledge. Abū Ḥanīfa was no exception. He performed Ḥajj no less than an astonishing 55 times. He would also pray the Fajr (dawn) prayer without needing to renew the wuḍū’ (ablution) that he had made for the ‘Ishā’ (night) prayer – this practice lasted for approximately 30 years. In other words, he did not sleep during the night.

Mis’ar b. Kidām said:

“I saw the Imām performing the Fajr (dawn) prayer, then he would sit to teach all the way until Ẓuhr (noon), then would remain in his place (teaching) until Maghrib (sunset), then again until near ‘Ishā’ (night). So, I asked myself: ‘When does he find time for worship?’ When the crowds lessened, he made his way to the Masjid and stood in prayer until the time for Fajr. He then went into his house, changed his clothes, then came back out for the Fajr prayer. I monitored this behaviour of his, and I only ever recall seeing him fasting during the day or praying at night.”

The mother of his child said that his sleep was only between Ẓuhr (noon) and ‘Asr (afternoon) in the summer, whilst in the winter he would sleep lightly in the first part of the night when he was in the Masjid.[11]

This may amaze many – and is certainly deserving of amazement – but this is the nature of the soul: it will become accustomed to whatever it is provided with. If the soul is offered excessive sleep, it will learn to demand such. However, if it is disciplined with patience, du’ā, and consistency, it will surrender to the wishes of its master like a wild beast which ultimately succumbs to a strong owner, even if it takes a while to achieve this.

There is no doubt that when Allah sees sincerity in a heart and a genuine desire to live a life of lofty goals and high aspirations, He will facilitate these ambitions through ways one could not have ever imagined.

Abū Ḥanīfa once recited the Qur’an from cover to cover in a single unit of prayer. He would complete the recitation of the entire Qur’an every three days. In fact, he once spent the entire night in prayer repeating one verse from the Qur’an as he wept – this verse is where Allah said:

بَلِ السَّاعَةُ مَوْعِدُهُمْ وَالسَّاعَةُ أَدْهَى وَأَمَرُّ

“But the Hour is their appointment, and the Hour is most disastrous and most bitter.”[12]

His knowledge and intelligence

Imām Mālik was asked: “Have you seen Abū Ḥanīfa?” To which he replied:

نَعَمْ، رَأَيْتُ رَجُلًا لَوْ كَلَّمَكَ فِي هَذِهِ السَّارِيَةِ أَنْ يَجْعَلَهَا ذَهَبًا لَقَامَ بِحُجَّتِهِ

“Yes, I saw a man who, if he wanted to convince you that this pillar was made out of gold, would be able to argue a case for it.”[13]

Imām al-Shāfi’ī once said:

ما طلب أحد الفقه إلا كان عيالاً على أبي حنيفة، وما قامت النساء على رجلٍ أعقل من أبي حنيفة

“Every student of fiqh is dependent upon Abū Ḥanīfa. No woman has ever given birth to a man who was wiser than Abū Ḥanīfa.”[14]

Abū Ḥanīfa once saw himself in a dream exhuming the grave of the Prophet ﷺ. This dream was then relayed to Muḥammad b. Sīrīn for its interpretation. Ibn Sīrīn expressed immense interest in it and enquired about who saw it. Ibn Sīrīn then explained:

صاحب هذه الرؤيا يثور علمًا لم يسبقه إليه أحد قبله

“The viewer of this dream has knowledge that overspills in unprecedented ways.”[15]

His manners

Imām Abū Ḥanīfa had a neighbour in Kufa who would drink most of the night and, once drunk, would sing at the top of his voice, repeating the same couplets over and over again:

أضاعوني وأي فتى أضاعوا ليوم كريهة وسداد ثغر

“They have neglected me, but what a man they have neglected. They shall realise their loss during times of war.”[16]

This drunk man would sing himself to sleep. As Abū Ḥanīfa would spend the entire night in prayer, he had the unfortunate privilege of hearing his neighbour’s din from beginning to end – each and every evening. On one evening, Abū Ḥanīfa did not hear his neighbour’s clamour. Out of concern at not enduring the nightly wailing and what this may mean, Abū Ḥanīfa enquired about him and discovered that he had been arrested and imprisoned by the city police for drunkenness.

The next morning, Abū Ḥanīfa carried out his Fajr prayer, mounted his ride, and made his way to the governor’s residence. The governor was pleased to see him and treated him as an honoured guest. During the meeting, Abū Ḥanīfa requested the release of his drunkard neighbour. Not only did the governor accede to this request, but he also decided to free all those who had been imprisoned that same evening in an act of clemency.

When his neighbour arrived home, Abū Ḥanīfa asked him:

يا فتى، أضعناك؟

“Young man, have I neglected you?”

The neighbour responded:

لا، بل حفظت ورعيت، جزاك الله خيرًا عن حرمة الجوار ورعاية الحق

“No, you preserved and safeguarded me, so may Allah reward you for being such a good neighbour and a guardian of rights.”

This marked the moment of repentance for this young man, who never returned to his old habits again.[17]

How beautiful are the words of al-Hasan al-Baṣrī who said:

ليس حسن الجوار كف الأذى ، حسن الجوار الصبر على الأذى

“Being neighbourly is not merely about refraining from harming your neighbour, rather it is about being patient in the face of harm.”[18]

Imām Abū Ḥanīfa was also a man of immense warā’ (caution) with respect to his religious affairs, not taking any risks with matters of the hereafter. He once asked his business partner to sell an item of clothing worth 30,000 dirhams. It had a defect, which Abū Ḥanīfa gave clear instructions was to be declared and shown to the buyer beforehand. The item was sold, and the money was given to Abū Ḥanīfa, but his partner had forgotten to show the defect to the buyer. At once, Imām Abū Ḥanīfa donated the entire 30,000 dirhams.[19]

The Prophet ﷺ said:

كن ورعًا تكن أعبدَ الناسِ

“Be cautious in your approach to matters and you will be, in Allah’s Eyes, the most devoted of all people.”[20]

A sign that Allah wants good for a Muslim is that He inspires such an individual to show great caution with respect to matters of religion: restraint with respect to casual glances, careful choice of words, consideration of dress in public, and cautiousness with regards to finances.

‘Ā’ishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ said:

“Abū Bakr had a servant who would bring Abū Bakr from his earnings that which he would eat from. On one of those days as Abū Bakr ate, the man said: ‘Do you know where I got this from?’ Abū Bakr asked: ‘From where?’ He responded:

كُنْتُ تَكَهَّنْتُ لِإِنْسَانٍ فِي الجَاهِلِيَّةِ، وَمَا أُحْسِنُ الكِهَانَةَ، إِلَّا أَنِّي خَدَعْتُهُ، فَلَقِيَنِي فَأَعْطَانِي بِذَلِكَ، فَهَذَا الَّذِي أَكَلْتَ مِنْهُ

“Once, in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance I foretold somebody’s future. Although I have no knowledge of foretelling, I cheated him, and when he met me, he gave me something for that service, and that is what you have eaten from.”

Immediately, Abū Bakr wedged his finger into the back of his throat and vomited all that he had eaten.[21] In other narrations, Abū Bakr’s attempts to induce vomit failed at first, so he continued to drink water and vomit until nothing remained. Then Abū Bakr said:

 اللهم إني أعتذر إليك مما حملت العروق وخالطه الأمعاء

“O Allah, I apologise to you from the remnants of that food which has reached my intestines and passed into my veins.”[22]

It was then said to him: “May Allah have mercy upon you! You did all of that to yourself for one mouthful?” Abū Bakr responded:

لَوْ لَمْ تَخْرُجْ إِلا مَعَ نَفْسِي لأَخْرَجْتُهَا ، سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، يَقُولُ : ” كُلُّ جَسَدٍ نَبَتَ مِنْ سُحْتٍ فَالنَّارُ أَوْلَى بِهِ ”

“If that food was only going to exit with my soul, I would have still made sure that it left my body. I heard the Prophet ﷺ say: “Anyone whose body grows through impermissible earnings; the fire is worthier of it.”[23]

Do not wait to be taken by surprise on the Day of Reckoning. Rather, make sure to diligently bring yourself to account whilst you are still able to. Do not let yourself fall asleep this evening before you have audited each word you have spoken, every image you have posted online, and every penny that has been deposited into your bank account. Make warā’ part and parcel of every decision you make, and hope that in doing so you become, in Allah’s Eyes, the most devout of all people.

His school of thought

It is important to note that the fiqh of Imām Abū Ḥanīfa was formulated as a collective effort, as opposed to being the mere opinions of Imām Abū Ḥanīfa alone. The Imām would lead a council that included the likes of Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan, Al-Qāḍi Abū Yūsuf, Ḥafs b. Ghiyāth, and other scholars of fiqh, language, ḥadīth, and of the judiciary. It was the main study circle of the city of Kufa.

mas’ala (matter of discussion) would be posed, then every participant would speak and there would be a back and forth which would, at times, last an entire month, during which Imām Abū Ḥanīfa did not impose his opinion. After a thorough dissection and discussion of the issue, and after each participant was given the space to air his opinion, only then would Imām Abū Ḥanīfa give his view. Once consensus had been reached and an opinion was settled on, only then would this opinion be documented as part of the fiqh of Imām Abū Ḥanīfa. So, this circle was in essence the formation of the first Majma’ Fiqhi (fiqh council) in the Ummah – Imām Abū Ḥanīfa was therefore a trailblazer.

This is why when Wakī’ heard a person saying: “Imām Abū Ḥanīfa made a mistake,” he responded: “How can he make a mistake when with him are the likes of Abū Yūsuf and Zufar who are known for their Qiyās;[24] Yaḥya b. Abī Zā’ida, Ḥafs b. Ghiyāth, Ḥibbān, and Mandal, all of whom are known for their memorization of hadīth; Al-Qāsim b. Ma’n who is known for his knowledge of the Arabic language; and Dāwūd al- Ṭā’i and Al-Fuḍayl b. ‘Iyāḍ who are known for their Zuhd and caution? Whoever has such people as his companions will rarely make mistakes, because if he does, they will correct him.”

Whilst Abū Ḥanīfa was pioneering with his fiqh council, he would not hide behind the group if an issue could not be solved. Rather, he took responsibility for this himself.

If a matter remained unclear to Abū Ḥanīfa, struggling to reach a conclusive opinion, he would say to his companions:

 ما هذا إلا لذنب أذنبته

“This is due to my sins.”

He would repent to Allah, and at times would stand in prayer until the matter became clear. He would then say:

رجوتُ أنه تيب عليَّ

“My hope is that I have been forgiven.”[25]

Imām Abū Ḥanīfa was blessed with impressively loyal and scholarly students. These pupils included Abū Yūsuf (who would act as a chief judge during the reign of the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd), Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Shaybāni (a scholar, judge, and prolific writer of the treatise Introduction to the Law of Nations), Zufar, and of course, ‘Abdullāh b. Mubārak.

It is true that the other three notable Imāms (Mālik, al-Shāfi’ī, and Aḥmad) were also blessed with dutiful students. However, none can be compared to the students of Imām Abū Ḥanīfa particularly with respect to the service they offered the works of their Imām and the role they played in promoting it. The books that can be directly attributed to Abū Ḥanīfa’s authorship are few; it was his students who carried the load of propagating his school of thought throughout the world.

Imām Abū Ḥanīfa’s school of thought is today the most widely adopted school worldwide. This has arguably been the case for the past 13 centuries. Imām Abū Ḥanīfa’s systemisation of Islamic legal doctrine had acquired such prestige that it became the school of thought for the Abbāsid dynasty, which ruled over the Islamic empire for nearly half a millennium. It was also the chosen madhhab for the Ottoman dynasty, which played a significant role in its spread throughout Iraq, al-Shām,[26] Egypt, the Indian sub-continent, and even China. Today, over half of the Muslim Ummah follows Imām Abū Ḥanīfa’s school of thought. 

Abū Ḥanīfa’s death

Like Prophet Yūsuf before him, and many scholars including Imām Aḥmad as well as those currently languishing in prisons, Imām Abū Ḥanīfa was unjustly imprisoned. He had been invited on at least two occasions to accept the position of Qāḍi (judge) but refused both invitations. After declining the position on the second invitation, Abū Ja’far al-Mansūr al- ‘Abbāsi ordered the imprisonment of Abū Ḥanīfa for the first time in his life. There are some reports that he was also lashed 110 times.

On this, Imām Abū Ḥanīfa commented:

قال: كان غم والدتي أشد علي من الضرب

“The grief that I knew my mother was experiencing because of my trial was more painful than the lashes.”[27]

At the fragile age of 70, Imām Abū Ḥanīfa, the son of a rich merchant, spent his final days enduring cruel conditions in captivity. As the days passed, his body tired and his limbs became weak, but he remained resolute. This is one of the miraculous qualities of īmān – despite the body being bloodied and bruised, the soul stands tall and defiant.

Nevertheless, there is only so much an old man can take. In the year 150AH in the month of Rajab – whilst he was fettered in chains[28] – Imām Abū Ḥanīfa’s soul would return to its Creator. Some have suggested that al-Mansūr had in fact poisoned the Imām’s food. If this is true, one can be hopeful of the position of martyrdom for this great Imām. We ask Allah that it is so.

Imām Ibn Kathīr said:

وصُلِّي عليه ببغداد ست مرات لكثرة الزحام، وقبره هناك رحمه الله

“The funeral prayer was conducted six times in Baghdad due to the masses of people. His grave is there. May Allah have mercy upon him.”[29]

Allah’s mercy upon this Ummah is vast, for in the same year in which Imām Abū Hanīfa passed away, another great Imām would be born: Muḥammad b. Idrīs Al-Shāfi’ī. The scholars would later say:

مات قمر وولد قمر

“A moon died and another was born.”



[1] Literally in reference to the “science of discourse”, which is concerned with firmly establishing religious beliefs by adducing proofs and banishing doubts.

[2] Tārīkh Baghdād

[3] Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā

[4] ‘Abdullāh b. Mubārak was a student of both Abū Ḥanīfa and Sufyān al-Thawri whilst becoming a scholar in his own right. He was also celebrated for defending the borders of Islām.

[5] Manāqib al-Muwaffaq

[6] Al-Qur’an, 5:89

[7] Muslim, on the authority of Zayd b. Arqām

[8] Musnad al-Dārimi

[9] Jāmi’ al-Bayān al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih, by Ibn ‘Abd-al-Barr

[10] Akhlāq al-‘Ulamā, by al-Ājurry

[11] Al-Khayrāt al-Ḥisān

[12] Tārīkh Baghdād

[13] Naṣb al-Rāya

[14] Manāqib al-Imām al-A’dham Abū Ḥanīfa

[15] Al-Ḥāwi al-Kabīr

[16] In other words, people see him of no value at present, but when the armies clash during times of war, people will realise his true value when they miss his brave contributions on the front line.

[17] Tārīkh Baghdād

[18] Al-Ādāb al-Shar’iyya

[19] Al-Khayrāt al-Ḥisān

[20] Aḥmad, on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[21] Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of ‘Āishah

[22] Iḥyā ‘Ulūm Al-Dīn

[23] Ḥilya al-Awliyā’, on the authority of Zayd b. Arqām

[24] A process of deductive analogy

[25] Manāqib Abū Ḥanīfa

[26] Modern-day Syria, Palestine, and parts of Lebanon

[27] Tārīkh Baghdād

[28] Others have argued that he died as a free man.

[29] Al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah


Shaikh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’ and ‘The Ten Lanterns”, and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

Well-wishing Businessmen

Well-wishing is a fundamental part of our Din.

In the famous, authentic (sahih) Hadith, Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:

‘The Din [of Islam] is well-wishing.’

(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 196)

The fact that Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) used such an expression shows how inherent this quality is in Islam.

According to ‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahullah), this Hadith is the core of our Din. i.e, The whole of Din is based on this principle of well-wishing (nasihah). This quality governs all aspects of a Muslim’s life.

( Al-Minhaj, commentary of Hadith: 197)

Well-Wishing Tradesmen

Well-wishing is undoubtedly a quality that is needed in every Muslim, in every facet of his/her life.

The following is a Hadith in which Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) exhorted the adoption of this quality specifically in business and trade too. This applies to both parties of any deal; both should be considerate to each other, and apply the fundamental principle of well-wishing (nasihah).

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

The best of earning, is the earnings of that worker who well-wishes.’ [i.e. Is honest, upright, is one who has the well-being of the customer in mind].

(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 2 pg. 334)

Inspiring Incidents

There are several inspiring examples of the Sahabah (radiyallahu’anhum) and those after them adopting this beautiful quality in their business dealings.

Among them are the following:

1 & 2. Sayyiduna Jarir ibn ‘Abdillah (radiyallahu’anhu)

‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahullah) writes:

‘It is reported about Sayyiduna Jarir (radiyallahu ‘anhu) that he ordered his slave to buy a horse for 300 dirhams, the slave came with the owner of the horse to discuss the price. Sayyiduna Jarir (radiyallahu’anhu) said to the owner of the horse, your horse is worth more than 300 dirhams, will you sell it to me for 400. He said you can have it, O Abu Abdir Rahman. Then Sayyiduna Jarir said it is worth more than that, sell it for 500. In this manner he continued increasing the offer by 100 and the owner was happily agreeing until it reached 800 dirhams, upon which the deal was concluded. Sayyiduna Jarir (radiyallahu’anhu) was asked about this to which he said: I pledged allegiance to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to be a well-wisher for every Muslim.’

(Summarised from Al-Minhaj, commentary of Hadith: 197. Also see Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, Hadith: 2395)

It was Sayyiduna Jarir’s (radiyallahu’anhu) habit whenever he bought or sold anything to anyone, to say to him:
‘I want you to know that what I have taken from you is more preferred to me than what I have given you. You may choose again if you wish.’

(Sunanul Kubra of Bayhaqi, vol.5 pg.271)

3. Another Sahabi (radiyallahu’anhu)

Sayyiduna Anas (radiyallahu’anhu) mentions that he went with a man to the market, when they noticed a particular item being sold. [Sayyiduna Anas says] I enquired about it, the seller asked for thirty. The man [that I was with] looked at it and said: ‘I will take it for forty.’ The seller asked: ‘What makes you do this, whereas I am offering it to you for less?’ The man took another look and said: ‘I will take it for fifty.’ The seller asked: ‘What makes you do this, whereas I am offering it to you for less?’ He replied: ‘I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying: ‘A bondsman will not be a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself’, and I see this to be worth fifty.’

(Musnad Bazzar, Hadith: 7548 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 1 pg. 95)

4. Imam Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd (rahimahullah)

The Tabi’i; Imam Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd (rahimahullah) was a cloth merchant in Basrah.

On one occasion someone came to sell him a silken robe. When he enquired the price, he was told it was being sold for five hundred dirhams.

Imam Yunus (rahimahullah) replied: ‘It is better than that.’ i.e, it’s worth more.

The seller raised the price to six hundred, to which Imam Yunus gave the same answer.

This continued until he (the buyer) raised the price to a thousand dirhams!

(Tadhkiratul Huffaz, vol.1 pg.145)

5. Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah)

One one occasion, a merchant came to sell cloth to Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah).

The merchant wanted one hundred dirhams for it.

Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said that it’s actually worth more. (Again here, the buyer is actually raising the price!)

This person then asked for two hundred dirhams for that cloth.

Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said: ‘Its worth more than that!’

The person then raised the price to three hundred dirhams.

To which Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) gave the same answer.

When the price was raised to four hundred, he said:

‘It’s actually worth more, but I’m prepared to pay four hundred if you agree.’

(Fadail Abi Hanifah of Ibn Abil ‘Awwam, vol.1, pg.130)


The underlying lesson in all these incidents is for the buyer to look at the benefit of the seller. When one looks again at these incidents, one will understand that even the seller had the well-being of the buyer in mind, therefore in each of these incidents the seller didn’t ask for an unreasonable price!

Such are the sublime teachings of the Sunnah, that everyone should look at how to benefit the opposite party, and Allah grants barakah in those dealings. Unlike is common in the current capitalist system; where everyone looks for his own gain, irrespective of the collateral damage it may entail, whilst all are deprived of barakah!

The above incidents should serve as eye-openers for Muslims of today. See more on this, here.

Such was the exemplary traits of our predecessors. May Allah Ta’ala inspire us all to follow.

Imagine what a better place this world would be with such impeccable business practices!

Well-wishing Businessmen

emulating the kuffaar

Question: Is there any encompassing rule to determine whether something is Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar (emulating the kuffaar wal fussaaq) or not, especially with regards to clothes, eating, etc.?


There is no comprehensive principle regarding Tashabbuh Bil Kuffaar. The times and norms play a prominent role. Also, the wijdaan and baseerat of the Aalim of Haqq is important for determining this issue.

To correctly understand the mas’alah of Tashabbuh, there are three essentials: Ilm, Ikhlaas and Baseerat. Baseerat is the effect of Taqwa. Minus Taqwa, one’s ikhlaas will be contaminated. This contamination will eliminate Baseerat. The importance of Baserat could be understood from Imaam Abu Hanifah’s fatwa on the impurity of Maa-e-Musta’mal (used water). With his Baseerat he observed the spiritual filth in maa-e-musta’mal, hence his view is the strongest on this issue.

Without Ikhlaas and Baseerat, the view on an issue will be the emotion of the mufti maajin (a moron ‘mufti’ whose ‘fatwas’ are the products of his bestial nafs). Consider the example of western clothes. To which extent does Tashabbuh apply? The mufti maajin who himself may be wearing western fashionable dress styles will argue that the dress has become universal (aam) and there is no longer any religious connotation attached to it, e.g. the tie, hence it is permissible to wear shirt, pants, jeans, skippers, ties and all the miserable artefacts of shaitaan and his western progeny. Just imagine the level of jahaalat and mental convolution of even Ulama who argue that the satanic bermuda pants monstrosity is permissible simply because it is below the knees.

The baatini corrosion has blighted the intellectual perception so thoroughly that the mufti maajin fails to realize that a dress such as the bermuda pants is a pure western kuffaar fashionable dress item just recently introduced. Even prior to it assuming the decrepit and apodalic attribute of being aam, the maajin character proclaims it permissible simply on just one count, namely, the covering of the knees. Well, your wife’s ijaar and her burqah offer greater concealment of satr than the bermuda pants, and at the same time it is Tashabbuh bil Muslimah (emulation of a Muslim female), which rationally is better than Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar. Notwithstanding this fact, Tashabbuh bil Muslimah is also mal-oon (accursed). Thus, to a greater degree will a male who adopts kuffaar dress be mal-oon because of Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar.

However, the Mufti who focuses on the Aakhirat and who understands the maqsood (objective) of life on earth, ruminates with his Baatini (Spiritual) Heart and asks: Why does a Muslim want to wear shirt, pants, jacket, jeans, T-shirts and ties and strut about with a bared head, when Islamic dress is available, and when millions of Muslims are wearing such dress by which one can recognize from a mile away that the person is a Muslim? Careful reflection will convince one that there is the thief, shaitaan lurking in his nafs or it is the deception of his nafs which constrains him to proffer the ‘aam’ argument.

Since his nafs craves to don kuffaar garments because it is stylish and appealing to the desire, and it blends suitably with the kuffaar environment in which we live, he presents spurious arguments to justify such kuffaar dress. Little does he realize that in so doing he is according preference to kuffaar dress over and above Islamic dress which is easily available to him. This attitude thus confirms the element of Tashabbuh in kuffaar dress.

Someone may raise the argument that items such as jerseys, socks, shoes, raincoars and other necessary items of dress which all of us wear, are also of western origin. Does Tashabbuh apply here too? The response to this ishkaal (conundrum) is as follows:

Yes and no! At times it will be Tashabbuh and at times it will not be. In our environment and the circumstances in which Muslims work and live, these items are necessary. There is no suitable Islamic substitute for these items of dress. The idea of Tashabbuh is furthest from the mind. In this scenario the argument of the dress being universal is valid. Nevertheless, this still precludes such of these items which have entered society as the latest fashions. It also precludes footwear on whch appears logos and the like.

But, in a different setting such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, they are perfectly at home with a chaadar (shawl) thrown around the shoulders. They are comfortable in it and it does not interfere with their activities. Thus, for Muslims in those lands the element of Tashabbuh will be even in jerseys, and to a degree even in the type of shoes which we wear in the western world. The type of jooties worn in India and Pakistan suit them well although it is unsuitable for us here due to the flimsiness of the shoes and due to the feminine appearance.

A daleel for us is the amal of Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh). After he became the Qaadhi and he had to do considerable walking, he changed his style of shoes and adopted the style of the Ajam. When someone objected, he explained that because of the toughness of these shoes he has adopted them.

In conclusion: In our environment, shirts, suits, ties, jeans, T-shirts and the like are Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar without the least doubt, and furthermore it borders on kufr because it is preferred over Islamic dress which is readily available. Preferring a kuffaar style over an Islamic style is a major sin of kufr proportions.

Regarding the practice of eating from tables and eating with knives and forks, the element of Tashabbuh is too glaring for the need to cudgel brains for the determination of the Shar’i Hukm. The argument of its ‘permissibility’ on the basis of this practice having become universal is contemptuously baatil. Abandonment of the Sunnah is haraam whether it is abandoned by a few or by the entire population. After fourteen centuries of the Ummah eating on the floor, suddenly the table and chair practice becomes ‘halaal’ on the decrepit and deceptive basis of ‘universality’. If this has to be accepted as a standard ‘principle’ for abrogation of Shar’i and Sunnah practices, the same fate which has destroyed the Shariats of Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) and Nabi Isaa (allayhis salaam) will mangle and mutilate the Sunnah which this Ummah of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has followed since the inception of Islam.

Those who have adopted tables and chairs for eating, after abandoning their original Sunnah practice, are hovering on the brink of kufr for having preferred a kuffaar practice over and above the Sunnah practice. Those who have been eating in western style since birth, whilst not perpetrating haraam as the former group, nevertheless, are under Waajib obligation to abandon the kuffaar style and to adopt the Sunnah style. If, after having been made aware of this essentiality, they refuse, then they will be guilty of the haraam practice of Tashabbuh bil Kuffaar. And, Allah knows best.


The Hanafi Madh-hab is the first among the four schools of thought. The Madhhab was developed very early and it had numerous followers from the pious predecessors (Salaf). Imam Abu Hanifa, himself a Tabi’i, had a panel of forty of his students where issues were discussed and the results compiled. This was the first Fiqh Academy in history. Imam Abu Hanifa was the first to compile juristic verdicts into different chapters. [See for example: Al-Khawarizmi, Jami’ al-Masaneed 1/34 and Al-Makki, Manaqib Abi Hanifa 2/131]

In this brief article, we will give a few examples of such pious predecessors who expressed their affiliations and adhered to the Hanafi Madhhab.
Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in the biography of Shu’ayb ibn Is-haq ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman ad-Dimashqi al-Umawi (118-189 H), a narrator in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim: “He narrated from his father and Abu Hanifa and he adopted his Madhhab (Tamadhhaba lahu).” [Tahdhib at-Tahdhib 4/347-348]
After quoting this saying, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwama adds: “So, adhering to Madhhab is something ancient (Qadeem).” [Annotations on Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 20/7]

Another example of those following the Hanafi Madhhab is Waqi’ ibn al-Jarrah (127-196 H). He was among the teachers of Imam Ash-Shafi’i and from the narrators of both Al-Bukhari and Muslim in their respective Sahihs. Imam Yahya ibn Ma’īn said about him: “I have not seen the like of Waki’ and he would give Fatwa according to the opinions of Abu Hanifa.” [Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Intiqa 211]

Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan (120-198 H), the master and authority in Hadith criticism was a staunch follower of the Hanafi Madhhab. He said: “We do not lie in front of Allah. We have not heard any better opinions than that of Abu Hanifa and we have adopted most of his opinions.” [Al-Khatib, Tarikh Baghdad 15/474]

There are many such examples. Citing all these will be difficult in this brief article. Only in Sahih al-Bukhari, the number of students of Imam Abu Hanifa and those adhering to his Madh-hab rose to one hundred and fifteen narrators. Shaykh Mufid ar-Rahman compiled an entire book of four hundred and seventy-nine pages on these Hanafi narrators in Sahih al-Bukhari which he entitled “Al-Warda al-Haadira fi Ahadith Talaamidh al-Imam al-‘Adham wa Ahadith ‘Ulama al-Ahnaf fi al-Jami’ as-Sahih lil Imam al-Bukhari”.
The Madh-hab of Imam Abu Hanifa thus started spreading during the time of the pious predecessors and was accepted from this blessed early era of Islam. So, there is no reason why people of this age cannot make the Taqlid of Imam Abu Hanifa. The criticism usually facing the Hanafi followers in the name of the Salaf in recent days are thus baseless.