Al-Numan bin Thabit, commonly known as Abu Hanifah or Abu Hanifa, is considered the founder of one of the four schools or rites of Islamic legal knowledge (fiqh) within the Sunni schools of law. He is also widely known as Al-Imam Al-Aẓam (The Great Imam) and Siraj Al-Aimma (The Lamp of the Imams).

1. His Birth and Lineage:

According to most sources, Abu Ḥanifa Al-Numan bin Thabit bin Zuṭa bin Marzuban was born in Kufa, Iraq, in 80 AH (699 AC). His father, Thabit Ibn Zauta Al-Farisi, was a Persian merchant. Despite conflicting evidence about his lineage, it is certain that Abu Hanifa was not Arabic but of well-known Persian descent. He was born during the reign of Abdul Malik bin Marwan, the fifth Umayyad caliph.

The title "Abu Hanifa" is attributed to his devotion to worship and religious obligations, as "Hanif" in Arabic means inclined or devoted to the true religion.

2. His Early Life:

Abu Hanifa's father, a wealthy merchant and devout Muslim, played a significant role in his upbringing. Stories suggest that his family was affluent, as evidenced by encounters with Ali Ibn Abi Talib (R.A.) and the presentation of faludhaj to him. Abu Hanifa's early life involved education in Kufa, periodic pilgrimages, and scholarly visits to Makkah, Madinah, and other centers of learning.

As a silk cloth merchant, Abu Hanifa gained a reputation for honesty and fairness. Notably, a story recounts his selflessness when faced with a partner's mistake in a business transaction, where he chose charity over unjust profit.

3. His Conversion to the Study of Islamic Law (Fiqh):

Abu Hanifa's pivotal moment occurred when he encountered Imam Al-Shabi, who advised him to dedicate his talents to the study of the Islamic faith. This led Abu Hanifa to explore various branches of Islam, including the Quran, Hadith, language, poetry, and the idea of becoming a judge to guide people in distinguishing between halal and haram. He studied under Imam Al-Shabi and made the decision to specialize in Islamic jurisprudence.

4. His Pursuit for Knowledge:

Abu Hanifa studied theology (kalam) and Islamic legal knowledge (fiqh) in Kufa under the guidance of Hammad Ibn Sulaiman for 18 years. He furthered his education in Makkah and Madinah, learning hadith from Ata Ibn Rabah. His teachers included numerous scholars, with some sources indicating that he had around 4000 teachers, including companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Tabieen, and Tabi Tabieen.

5. Teachers of Imam Abu Hanifa:

Among his notable teachers were Abdullah bin Masud, Ibrahim Al-Nakhai, Amir bin Al-Shabi, Imam Hammad ibn Sulaiman, Imam Ata Ibn Rabah, Qatada Ibn Al-Numan, Rabiah bin Abu Abdurrahman, and others.

6. Students of Imam Abu Hanifa:

Abu Hanifa had thousands of students, with twenty-eight becoming judges and eight becoming Imams. Notable students include Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad bin Hasan as Shaybani, Imam Zufar, Imam Malik bin Mighwal, and many more.

7. The Works of Imam Abu Hanifa:

Imam Abu Hanifa authored several books, including Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, Kitab al-Raddala al-Qadariyyah, Al-Aalim wa al-Mutaallim, Al-Fiqh al-Absat, Kitab Ikhtilaf al-Sahaba, Kitab al-Jami, Al-Kitab al-Awsat, Kitab al-Sayr, Risalah Abu Hanifa ila Uthman al-Bayti, and Wasiyyah al-Imam Abu Hanifa fi al-Tawheed.

8. His Meetings with Sahabas:

Being among the Tabieen, Abu Hanifa had the privilege of meeting some companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), including Anas bin Malik, Abu Tufail ibn Waasila, Abdullah Ibn Abu Awfa, and Suhayl ibn Saad Saidi.

9. Abu Hanifa and the Caliphs/Khalifas:

Abu Hanifa's relationship with the Khalifas was ambivalent, with offers of prestigious positions that he declined due to concerns about compromising his principles. He faced imprisonment and flogging during the caliphate of Al-Mansur.

10. His Imprisonment and Death:

Around 146 AH (768 AC), Abu Hanifa was imprisoned and flogged, possibly resulting in his death at the age of 70 in 150 AH (767 AC). He passed away in prostration. He left instructions not to be buried in misappropriated land.

11. His Funeral Prayer and Burial Place:

Imam Abu Hanifa's funeral drew immense crowds in Baghdad, with multiple Janazah Salahs performed for the over 50,000 attendees. His body was buried in Al-Khayzaran cemetery in Baghdad, and the burial place is now in the Al-Adamiyah district. The Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad is built around his tomb.

12. His Children:

Details about Abu Hanifa's children are scarce, but he had a son named Hammad, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a judge in Basra.

13. His Sayings:

Imam Abu Hanifa left behind profound sayings, emphasizing the importance of knowledge, faith, and righteous deeds.

May Allah elevate the ranks of Imam Abu Hanifa in Jannah for his contributions to the Muslim Ummah. His legacy continues through his teachings and the Hanafi school of thought.

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Short Biography on Abu Hanifah

By The Islam Shop

Published on December 18, 2023

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Al-Numan bin Thabit, commonly known as Abu Hanifah or Abu Hanifa, is considered the founder of one of the four schools or rites of Islamic legal knowledge (fiqh) within the Sunni schools of law. He is also widely known as Al-Imam Al-Aẓam (The Great Imam) and Siraj Al-Aimma (The Lamp of the Imams).

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