Imam-i A'zam Abu Hanifa (Part 2)


He was the first to divide the knowledge of fiqh [1] into branches; he gathered the sections of information belonging to each branch, and wrote the books Faraid and Shurut. There are innumerable books describing his extensive knowledge in fiqh, his miraculous power in qiyas [2], and his dumbfounding superiority in zuhd, taqwa, mildness and piety. He had very many disciples, some of whom became mujtahids [3].

He died in 150 A. H. , when he was seventy years old. Because he would not accept the presidency of the Supreme Court of Appeal offered by Abu Ja'far Mansur, he was sent to jail. There he was whipped. He was whipped ten times more for each following day. He became a martyr when the number of whippings became a hundred. Abu Sa'd-i Harazmi, one of the viziers of the Seljuki Emperor Sultan Melikshah, had a wonderful tomb built over Hadrat [4] Abu Hanifa's grave. Later on, this tomb was restored and embellished various times by Ottoman Sultans.

The Hanafi Madhhab [5] spread everywhere during time of the Ottoman Empire. It was almost the official Madhhab of the State. Today, more than half of the Muslim population over the world and the majority of the Ahl as-sunnat [6] worship according to the principles of the Hanafi Madhhab."

This concludes some of the writings of Shamsaddin Sami Bey in his Qamus-ul a'lam.

[1] fiqh: knowledge dealing with what Muslims should do and should not do; actions, a'mal, 'ibadat.
[2] qiyas: (of a mujtahid) to resemble, to compare, an affair not clearly stated in the Qur'an, Hadith or ijma' to a similar one stated clearly; conclusion drawn from such comparison; ijtihad.
[3] mujtahid: great 'alim capable of employing ijtihad; mujtahid imam, mujtahid mufti.
[4] Hadrat: title of respect used before the names of great people like and Islamic scholars.
[5] madhhab: all of what a profound 'alim of (especially) Fiqh (usually one of the four-Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali) or iman (one of the two, namely Ash-ari, Maturidi) communicated.
[6] Ahl as-Sunna (wa'l-Jama'a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.