We hope that you could give us a brief overview of Imam Abu Haneefah and his madhhab, because I hear some people criticizing this madhhab because he relies too much on qiyaas (analogy) and ra’y (opinion).
Praise be to Allaah.
Imam Abu Haneefah is the great faqeeh and scholar of Iraq, Abu Haneefah al-Nu’maan ibn Thaabit al-Taymi al-Kufi. He was born in the year 80 AH, during the lifetime of some of the younger Sahaabah and saw Anas ibn Maalik when he came to them in Kufa. He narrated from ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabaah, who was his greatest Shaykh, and from al-Shu’bi and many others.
He was concerned with seeking reports and he traveled for that purpose. With regard to fiqh and examining and analyzing reports, he was the ultimate and people depended on him in that, as Imam al-Dhahabi said: “It would take two volumes to tell the story of his life, may Allaah be pleased with him and have mercy on him.”
He was an imam who was eloquent and well spoken. His student Abu Yoosuf described him as follows: “He was the most well-spoken of the people and the most clear in expressing himself. He was pious and very protective with regard to transgression of the sacred limits of Allaah. He was offered worldly gains and a great deal of wealth, but he turned his back on it. He was whipped to force him to accept the position of judge or controller of the bayt al-maal (treasury of the Islamic state) but he refused.
Many people narrated reports from him, and he died as a martyr of dropsy in 150 AH at the age of seventy. (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 6/390-403; Usool al-Deen ‘inda al-Imam Abu Haneefah, p. 63).
The Hanafi madhhab is one of the four well-known madhhabs, and it was the first of the fiqhi madhhabs. It was said that “The people are dependent on Abu Haneefah with regard to fiqh.” The origin of the Hanafi madhhab and all the other madhhabs is that these four imams – I mean Abu Haneefah, Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad – made the effort to understand the evidence of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they issued fatwas to people based on the evidence that had reached them. Then the followers of these imams took their fatwas and conveyed them and issued other fatwas based on them, and derived principles from them, and they set out guidelines for understanding the texts and reaching conclusions. Thus the fiqhi madhhab was formed, and the Hanafi, Shaafa’i, Maaliki and Hanbali madhhabs, and other madhhabs such as those of al-Awzaa’i and Sufyaan, but these latter madhhabs were not destined to continue.
As you can see, what these schools of fiqh are based on is following the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
With regard to the ra’y and qiyaas adopted by Imam Abu Haneefah, what this means is not opinion based on whims and desires, rather it is an opinion based on the evidence, or analogies, or following the general principles of sharee’ah. The salaf used to describe ijtihaad in difficult issues as ra’y (lit. opinion). Many of them used to say when commenting on a verse of the Book of Allaah, “This is my opinion (my ijtihaad) concerning it,” but that does not refer to opinion based on whims and desires, as stated above. Continue reading