Who was Imam e Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir rahma)

Introduction Imam e Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir rahma)

Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifa’s (Alaihir raHma) full name was Nuʿmān ibn Thābit ibn Zuṭā ibn Marzubān.
He was born in Kufa in Iraq in 80 A.H. He belonged to the pious period of the Taabi’ins (Successors of the Sahabas).


It is stated in a Hadith Shareef which Imam al-Harizmi reported from Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhuma) that, Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Among my Ummah, there will come a man called Abu Hanifa. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be the light of my Ummah”.

Another Hadith Shareef states: “In every century, a number of my Ummah will attain to high grades. Abu Hanifa will be the highest of his time”.

These two Ahadith are recorded in “Durr al-Mukhtar.”

Hazrat Anas (radi Allah anhu) reports that Rasoolullah said, ‘A person will be born in my Ummat, who will be named Nu’man and his title will be Abu Hanifa. He will revive the Deen of Allah and my Sunnah.’

[Manaaqib lil Maufiq pg 55]

It must be noted that amongst the Four Great Imams of Fiqh, the most superior and blessed status has been afforded to Imam Abu Hanifa and it is for this reason that even the greatest Imams in History have referred to him as Imam e-Azam (Alaihir rahma)

The Imam of the Shafi’i Madhab, Hazrat Sayyiduna Imam Ash Shafi’i (radi Allah anhu) says:

‘All the Ulama and Fuqaha amongst the people are the descendants of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) in the issue of Fiqh and Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) is the distant ancestor. Without reading and studying his books neither can anyone become a big Aalim nor can he become a Faqih.’

Imam Abu Hanifa Nu’man bin Thaabit (Alaihir raHma) was born in Kufa. There is a difference of opinion amongst the Ulama regarding the year of his birth, some say 70 Hijri and some mention that he was born in the year 80 Hijri.

Shareh Bukhari Mufti Muhammad Shariful Haq Amjad عليه الرحمه says, ‘Many people give preference to his birth being in 80 Hijri but many of the Muhaqiqeen have given preference to 70 Hijri. According to this humble servant (Shareh Bukhari), 70 Hijri is the correct date.’

His name was Nu’man bin Thaabit and his title ‘Abu Hanifa’. Regarding the excellence of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir Rahma), Shaykh Abdul Haq Muhadith Delhwi (radi Allah anhu) writes: ‘Some of the Ulama have mentioned that mention of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) has been made in the Taurat.

There is a narration from Hazrat Ka’ab bin Ahbar  (radi Allah anhu) that in the Taurat which was revealed upon Hazrat Moosa (Alaihissalaam), we have found that Almighty Allah says; “There will be a Noor in the Ummat of Muhammadur Rasoolullah and its title will be Abu Hanifa.” This is verified by the title Siraajul Ummat which has been afforded to Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma).

[Taáruf Fiqh wa Tasawuf pg 225]


While still in his youth, he met great Sahaba like Sayyiduna Anas bin Maalik, Sayyiduna Sahl bin Saad and Sayyiduna Abul Tufail Amir bin Wathilah (radi Allahu Anhumul Ajma’een). Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir Rahma) was first brought up as a trader, but soon started taking deep interest in Islamic learning.

Imam Abu Hanifa is a Taabi’ee

A Taabi’ee is one who saw a Companion of the Holy Prophet with the eyes of Imaan. This is the next level of excellence that has been awarded to anyone after the status of the Companions of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihiwasallam).

Hazrat Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was afforded with the honour and the status of being a Taabi’ee.

Allama Ibn Hajar Makki (Alaihir rahma) says, ‘It is reported from Imam Zahabi (Alaihir rahma) and proven from an authentic narration that as a child, Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir rahma) was blessed with seeing Hazrat Anas bin Maalik (Alaihir raHma) . He used to apply a reddish dye. Most of the Muhaditheen agree that a Taabi’ee is one who saw any Sahabi.

[AlKhairaatul Hasaan pg 73]

One narration mentions that Hazrat Anas bin Maalik (Alaihir raHma) passed from this world in 90 Hijri and another narration mentions that he passed from this world in 93 Hijri.

In both cases, it would be correct to accept that Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) did make ziyarat of him. When Hafiz Ibn Hajar Shafi’i was asked with regards to Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) being a Taabi’ee, he answered with the following words, ‘Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was blessed with seeing a Mubaarak Jamaát of Sahaba-e-Kiraam.

According to one narration he was born in 80 Hijri in Kufa.

At that time, amongst the Sahaba-e-Kiraam that were present in Kufa, was Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abu Ufa (Alaihir raHma). He either passed away in 88 Hijri or just after that.

At the same time, Hazrat Anas bin Malik (Alaihir raHma) was in Basra. He passed from this world in 90 Hijri or just after that. Ibn Sa’ad has mentioned with a very authentic merit, that Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) saw Hazrat Anas bin Malik (Alaihir raHma).

With the exception of these Sahaba-e-Kiraam, numerous other Sahaba were present in numerous other cities at this time, who lived after this.

Imam Suyuti (Alaihir raHma) says that Imam Abu Ma’shar Tabri Shafi’i (Alaihir rahma) mentioned Hadith in his books, which Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) mentioned which he narrated from Sahaba-e-Kiraam رضى الله تعالى عنهما .

He mentions that Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) met with the following seven companions of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihiwasallam):

1. Sayyiduna Anas bin Malik
2. Sayyiduna Abdulla bin Haarith bin Jaza’
3. Sayyiduna Jaabir bin Abdullah
4. Sayyiduna Mu’qil bin Yasaar
5. Sayyiduna Waathila ibnil Asqa’
6. Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Unais
7. Sayyidatuna A’isha bint Ajrad رضى الّله تعالى عنهم اجمعين

Imam E Azam reported 3 Hadith from Hazrat Anas (رضى الّله تعالى عنهم اجمعين), 2 Hadith from Sayyiduna Waathila (رضى الّله تعالى عنهم اجمعين) and 1 Hadith each from Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Unais, Sayyidatuna Aisha bint Ajrad and Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Jaza (رضى الّله تعالى عنهم اجمعين).

He also reported a Hadith from Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Abi Ufa رضى الّله تعالى عنهم اجمعين and all these Ahadith are reported other than this chain of transmission as well.

[Tabayazus Sahifa pg 7]

It is further mentioned in Durr-e-Mukhtar that Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) met with twenty companions of Rasoolullah sallallahu alahi wassallam and it has been mentioned in Khulaasa Akmaal fi Asma’ir Rijaal, that he saw 26 Sahaba-e-Kiraam.

If we accept that Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was born in 80 Hijri, then it must be noted that the following Sahaba-e-Kiraam were still physically in this world at that time in numerous cities.

Those who are known to have been physically in this world in that time are:

1. Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Abdul Qari  [81 Hijri]
2. Hazrat Taariq bin Shihaab Kufi              [82 Hijri]
3. Hazrat Umar bin Abu Salma                   [83 Hijri]
4. Hazrat Waathil ibnil Asqa                        [83, 85 or 86 Hijri]
5. Hazrat Abdullah bin Jaza’                        [85 Hijri]
6. Hazrat Amr bin Hareeth                          [85 Hijri]
7. Hazrat Abu Umama Baahili                    [86 Hijri]
8. Hazrat Hazrat Qabisah bin Zuwaib       [86 Hijri]
9. Hazrat Abdullah bin Abu Ufa                 [87 or 88 Hijri]
10. Hazrat Utbah bin Abdus Salma            [87 Hijri]
11. Hazrat Miqdam bin Ma’di Kurb            [87 Hijri]
12. Hazrat Sahl bin Sa’ad                              [88 or 91 Hijri]
13. Hazrat Abdullah bin Basr                       [88 or 96 Hijri]
14. Hazrat Abdullah bin Tha’lba                 [89 Hijri]
15. Hazrat Saa’ib bin Khilad                        [91 Hijri]
16. Hazrat Saa’ib bin Yazid                          [91, 92 or 94 Hijri]
17. Hazrat Mahmood bin Rabi’                   [91 or 99 Hijri]
18. Hazrat Malik bin Aus                             [92 Hijri]
19. Hazrat Anas bin Malik                           [92, 93 or 95 Hijri]

20. Hazrat Malik ibnil Hawareeth             [94 Hijri]
21. Hazrat Mahmood bin Lubaid               [96 Hijri]
22. Hazrat Abu Umama Ansari                 [100 Hijri]
23. Hazrat Abu Tufail Aamir bin Waathila [102 or 110 Hijri]
24. Hazrat Abul Badah                                [117 Hijri]


When his teacher, Sayyiduna Hammad Basri (Alaihir raHma) passed away, Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was 40 years old and he began teaching. He became very famous and traveled many places. Students from all over the Muslim world came to him to listen to his lectures, interviews and debates.

Imam Maalik (Alaihir raHma) also learnt under him. When he was 56 years old, Caliph Mansur came to power after the Ummayad dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids in 132 A.H.

His abstention from the company of the Rulers

Once, the Abbasi Khalifa sent him 200 Dinars. He returned it by saying, ‘I have no right over it’. Once, the Ameerul Mo’mineen of the era sent forth a beautiful servant to him but he did not accept. He said, ‘I do all my chores with my own hands. Thus, I have no need for a slave-girl (maid).’

Once, the Governor made a request to him by saying, ‘Sir! You should visit me every now and then, so that I too may acquire some benefit.’ He boldly replied, ‘What will I get from meeting with you? If you treat me with compassion then I will fall within your payroll and if you become upset with me and then distance me after granting me closeness then for me it is a means of embarrassment. So, I have no need for the wealth which you possess and none can rob me of the wealth (i.e. knowledge) which I possess.’

Since Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) opposed the Caliph’s ruthless killing of the Ahle Bait, he was arrested.

The Caliph offered the Imam the post of a Qaadi (Judge), but he refused. The Caliph Mansur had him beaten with a stick 30 strokes. His feet bled.

Caliph Mansur repented and offered Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) 30000 pieces of silver. The great Imam refused once more.

He was imprisoned again and thrashed 10 more strokes every day.


Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) passed from this world in 150 Hijri. We pray that Almighty Allah showers the rains of Mercy over his Holy Grave and blesses us through his Blessings and knowledge.

Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) passed away while in Salaah. He had been poisoned by the orders of Caliph Mansur. His Janaza Salaah was performed six times and each time 50,000 people took part.

People continued to come and pray for him for 20 days after he was buried. He was 70 years old. In 459 A.H. a Mazaar (Tomb) was built for him by the Seljuki ruler Alp Arsalan.

He lies buried in a Tomb situated near Baghdad in Iraq.


Imam A’zam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) left behind about 980 students.

The most famous among them being:

1. Sayyiduna Qadi Abu Yusuf (Alaihir raHma)
2. Sayyiduna Imam Muhammed (Alaihir raHma)
3. Sayyiduna Imam Zufur (Alaihir raHma)


For 40 years Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) performed the Fajr Salaah with the Wudu that he made for the Isha Salaah (ie. he did not sleep after the night prayer).

He performed Hajj 55 times. He used to recite the entire Holy Quran once every day and once every night. Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) had so much of Taqwa (Piety) that for 30 years he fasted every day (except for the 5 forbidden days).

He often read the Holy Quran in one rakaah or two. He did not accept any presents from anyone.

Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) once said: “I laughed once in my life and I regret it.” He talked little and thought much. It is said that at the place where his soul was taken, he read the Holy Quran 7000 times.

Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) possessed exemplary character and moral values. Abu Nu’aim (Alaihir raHma) says as follows, ‘Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) had a pleasant face. He was well dressed and fragrant and his gatherings were virtuous. He was a very caring, kind person and showed much affection and care towards his companions.’

Umar bin Ham’mad (Alaihir raHma) says, ‘He was very handsome and well dressed. He used a lot of fragrance. When he approached or when he emerged from his home, the scent of his fragrance would reach there even before he arrived.’

[Khateeb Baghdadi Vol 13 Page 330]

Hazrat Abdullah ibn-e-Mubaarak (Alaihir raHma) said to Hazrat Sufyan Thauri (Alaihir raHma), ‘Hazrat Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) remained miles away from committing gheebat. I have never ever heard of him backbiting in regards to any of his opponents.’

Sufyan (Alaihir raHma) said, ‘By Allah! He was a very intelligent person. He did not wish to place any such thing of his good deeds which would be a source of destroying his virtuous deeds.’

Once, a woman intended to sell a bail of silk fabric to him. He asked her regarding the price of the fabric. She mentioned that she would charge a 100 for it. He said that she was asking for a very minimal price as the fabric was much more valuable. The lady then said that she would charge 200. Again he objected and said that it was too cheap, so she increased the price by another 100. This went on, until the price reached 400.

He said, ‘This is even more valuable than four hundred.’

She said, ‘Are you mocking me?’

He gave her 500 and then purchased the fabric. His piety and truthfulness benefited his business instead of plunging him into any loss.

Subhaan’Allah! Look at the character and the manner in which Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) did business.

His Fear for Allah and Piety

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Alaihir raHma) whilst discussing the piety and Allah fearing of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) writes as follows in Al Khairatul Hasaan: ‘Asad bin Amr (Alaihir raHma) says that at night, the sound of Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa’s weeping could be heard. He would weep to the extent that his neighbours would feel sad for him. Waqi’ؓ(Alaihir raHma) says that he was faithful and trustworthy and Allah’s Grandeur and Magnificence was well embedded in his heart.

He gave precedence to the Pleasure of Allah, over everything else and even if he had to be cut into pieces with a sword, he would not have left seeking the pleasure of his Creator. His Rub became so pleased with him, like he is pleased with an Abraar. Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was from amongst the Abraar.’

[Al Khairatul Hasaan page 12]

Hazrat Abdullah ibn Mubaarak (Alaihir raHma) says, I have not seen a person more pious than Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma). What can be said about such a person, before who heaps of wealth is placed, yet he does not even raise his eyes to look towards it. He was lashed for this reason but still he remained patient.

What can be said about that person, who for sake of Allah’s Pleasure endured hardships but he did not accept wealth and the like and he did not desire (wealth or its like) like others usually do, for which people make hundreds of excuses and efforts to attain it.

By Allah! He was different from all those scholars who desired that the world should follow them. He used to flee from it.

[Manaaqib lil Maufiq]

After presenting a lengthy discussion on Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) Imam Ibn Hajar Shafi’i (Alaihir raHma) says, ‘When he would perform his Salaah at night then the sound of his tears falling on the grass mat could be heard, just as one hears the raindrops fall. The sign of his fasting could be seen in his eyes and on his face. (All I can say) is that, Allah have Mercy on him and be pleased with him.’

[Al Khairatul Hasaan]

Love for His Parents

Even though he was blessed with such vast knowledge and excellence, Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) was a humble and affectionate personality. He showed dear love to his parents and honoured them with the honour that they deserved. His mother would often pity him due to the hardships he was forced to face in striving for the truth.

Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) personally mentions the following: ‘When I would be lashed (for speaking the truth), my mother would say to me; ‘Abu Hanifa! Knowledge has brought you to this level of endurance. Leave this knowledge and live the life of the ordinary people in the world.’ I said, ‘My Beloved Mother! If I have to leave knowledge, how then will I attain the Pleasure of Allah?’

Imam Abu Hanifa says, ‘I give out 20 Dirhams of khairaat (charity of good virtue) every Friday, for the Esaal e-thawaab of my parents and I have taken a vow for this. I give 10 dirhams for my father and 10 dirhams for my mother.’ With the exception of this, he used to distribute other things as Sadqa on behalf of his parents as well.

[Al Khairatul Hasaan 196]

Imam Azam’s Intelligence and Insight

Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) was a very intelligent and wise personality. It was his intelligence and wisdom that complimented his personality. Imam Ali bin Aasim (Alaihir raHma) says, ‘If the intelligence of Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) had to be weighed with the intelligence of half the people of the world then the intelligence of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) would supersede them all.’

A few incidents relating to the intelligence of Imam Abu Hanifa are being presented below.

First Incident: A man had an argument with his wife and during the course of the argument; she had a cup of water in her hand and was walking towards him with it. He said, ‘If you drink water from that cup, then there are three Talaqs upon you; if you drop it (pour it) onto the ground then too there are three Talaqs upon you; and even if you give it to some other person to drink, there are three Talaqs upon you.’

After his anger subsided, he realised what he had done and thus took his case before the learned Ulama but none could find a solution to stop the Talaq from applying on his wife.

Finally, he went to Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) and presented his case.

He said, ‘Put a rag into the cup and soak the water into it. In this way, your condition will be fulfilled and your wife will be saved from Talaq.’

Second Incident: There was a wealthy Raafdhi (Shia) residing in the city of Imam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma). He had an abundance of wealth. He always hosted gatherings but during these gatherings, he would audaciously claim that (Allah Forbid) Hazrat Uthman-e-Ghani (Alaihir raHma) was a Jew.

Hazrat Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma) went to his home. He recognised Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) based on his knowledge and standing in the community.

Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) commenced a conversation with him and whilst talking to him, he said; ‘I have brought a proposal of marriage for your daughter. He is the son of a Sayed and also a very wealthy person. He has memorised the Qur’an-e-Paak and he stays away for most parts of the night praying. In an entire night, he completes the recitation of the entire Qur’an. He is very afraid of Allah.’

When the Raafdhi heard this, he said, ‘Sir! It is very difficult to find a person of such standing. Please be swift in this arrangement. I do not want any delays in this. I have been in search of a son in-law like this.’

Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) said, ‘There is however one issue. He has such a quality which you will not be pleased with.’

He asked what this was, so Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) said, ‘He is a Jewish by faith.’

He said, ‘Being an Aalim, you are advising me to marry my daughter to a Jew!’

Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) said; ‘If you are not willing to marry your daughter to a wealthy and reputable Jew then could Rasoolullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam have given two of his daughters into the marriage of someone if he was a Jew?’

On hearing what Imam E Azam (Alaihir raHma) had to say, he immediately repented and changed his view in regards to Hazrat Uthman (Allaihissalam).

These incidents and all that has been mentioned in this discussion point to the intelligence and wisdom of Imam E Azam Abu Hanifa (Alaihir raHma). There is no doubt that he is Imam E Azam.


Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan said:
“We have not heard better than Abu Hanifa’s opinion and we have followed most of his positions.”

Yahya ibn Ma`in, he said of Abu Hanifa that
“He is not only thiqa (trustworthy) but thiqa thiqa. Al- Dhahabi even calls Ibn Ma`in a fanatic Hanafi.”

Al-Fadl ibn Dukayn, one of the major authorities of Ahl al-Hadith. He said:
“Muslims should make du`a to Allah on behalf of Abu Hanifa in their prayers, because the Sunan and the fiqh were preserved for them through him.”

Waki` ibn al-Jarrah, he replied to some of them:
“You barred us from Abu Hanifa, are you going to bar us from Zufar??” (Zufar took over the teaching of Hanafi Fiqh in Kufa and Basra after the Imam.)

Abu Mu`awiya al-Darir, he said:
“Love of Abu Hanifa is part of the Sunnah”.

Ibn Dawud al-Khuraybi:
“Among the people there are plenty of enviers and ignorant ones concerning Abu Hanifa.”

Bishr al-Hafi, he said:
“None criticizes Abu Hanifa except an envier or an ignoramus”.

Ibn al-Mubarak. When al-Awza`i criticized Abu Hanifa, Ibn al-Mubarak copied a compilation of Abu Hanifa’s fiqh under the name al-Nu`man. Al-Awza`i read it without interruption except for Salat al-Fard. Then he said: “This Nu`man is a grand master (hadha nabilun min al-ashyakh). Go to him and take as much as you can from him!” Ibn al-Mubarak said: “This is the Abu Hanifa you had forbidden me to see.” (Tarikh al-Baghdad)

Ibn al-Mubarak considered one’s hatred of Abu Hanifa a mark of Divine wrath. He also said:
“If Allah had not rescued me with Abu Hanifa and Sufyan [al-Thawri] I would have been like the rest of the common people.” Al-Dhahabi relates it as: “I would have been an innovator.”

Ibn `A’isha mentioned a fatwa of Abu Hanifa then said:
“Truly, if you had seen him you would have wanted him ! Truly, his similitude and yours is as in the saying: Curse them much or not, I care little to blame you;
But fill – if you can! – the space they left vacant.”


  1. Knowledge without deeds is like a body without a soul. As long as knowledge does not embrace the existence of action it will not be enough not agreeable nor sincere.
  2. Difficulties are the result of sin. The sinful therefore does not have the right to lament when difficulties befall him.
  3. To reduce the connection of the World means that a person takes that which is essential from the World and leaves that which is non essential.
  4. That person who seeks knowledge to attain the World finds that knowledge has no place in his heart.
  5. That person whose knowledge does not prevent him from committing sin and transgressions then who is that person who has suffered or incurred a greater loss than him.
  6. For the attainment of knowledge satisfaction is useful and satisfaction is not gained by increasing information but by decreasing it.
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