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Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Nu'man bin Thabit ibn Zauti,- well known in Islamic History as 'Imam Abu Hanifa' and 'Imam Azam' - was the son of a Persian merchant. He was born in Kufa, Iraq - in the Year 80 A.H. His father - Thabit - was privileged to meet Hazrat Ali (ra) who had at the time, made Kufa his capital. Kufa was founded in 17 A.H. by Hazrat Umar ibn Khattab (ra) the 2nd Khalif. Kufa had become the 3rd most important centre of learning during Hazrat Umar's (ra) Khilafat. A large number of Sahaba (ra) were sent to this new city to settle here by Umar (ra). These included Hazrat Abdulla ibn Ma'sood, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, Ammar, Huzaifa & Abu Moosa etc. (ra). Records indicate the presence of 1050 Sahaba in Kufa of whom 24 were the participants of Badr. At the age of 20, Imam Abu Hanifa turned his attention towards the pursuit of advancing his Islamic knowledge. Among his 1st and the most important tutors was Imam Hammad (Died 120 A.H.) whose educational lineage is linked with Hazrat Abdulla Ibn Mas'ood (ra). Imam Abu Hanifa is also a Tabi'ee = One who saw and benefited from at least one Sahabi. Imam Abu Hanifa benefited from nearly 4,000 Shaikhs.

In those days, the Hajj season was the best means of spreading and deriving Islamic knowledge as Muslims from every corner of the Islamic world assembled in Makka. In his lifetime Imam Abu Hanifa is reputed to have performed fifty Hajj.
Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) had joined his father's business wherein he showed scrupulous honesty and fairness.
Once his agent had sold a consignment of silk cloth on his behalf but forgot to mention a slight defect to the customers. When Abu Hanifa learnt of this, he was greatly distressed because he had no means of the refunding the customers; so he immediately ordered the entire proceeds of the sale ( 30,000 Dirhams ) to be given in charity.
The Imam was also keenly interested in education.

He established a school at Kufa, which later became a famous College of Theology. Here he delivered lectures on Islamic Law and related subjects.
Fiqah or Islamic Law was systematically studied by his students under his expert guidance. A large number of his devoted and highly intelligent students worked under him for 30 years, and it is the labour of these students that gave us the Hanafi School of thought.

Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) was the 1st of the Imams to advocate the use of "reason" in the consideration of religious questions based on the Qur'anand Sunnah.
He was also the 1st Imam to arrange all the subjects of Islamic Law systematically. His most important work is the Kitab-ul-Aasaar which was compiled by his students - Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad. In {164 A.H.} 763 A.C. Al-Mansoor - the Banu Abbas Khalifa of the Muslim Empire at Baghdad whose capital was Baghdad - offered Imam Sahib the post of Chief Qazi of the state, but the Imam declined to accept the post and chose to remain independent. In his reply to Al-Mansoor, the Imam excused himself by saying that he did not regard himself fit for the post offered. Al-Mansoor, who had his own ideas and reasons for offering the post, lost his temper and accused the Imam of lying.

"If I am lying," the Imam said, "then my statement is doubly correct. "How can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qazi?" Incensed by this reply, Al-Mansoor charged the Imam with contempt, had him arrested and locked in prison.
Even in prison, the Imam continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him. It was here in prison that the Imam was administered a dose of poison in 150 A.H. Realizing that the end was near, the Imam prostrated in prayer and passed away in this condition in the month of Rajab, 150 A.H. The news of his death soon spread throughout Baghdad. The whole town came out to pay their last homage to the greatest Imam of Islamic Law.

More than 50,000 people participated in the first Janaza Salaat.
People continued to flock and before the Janaza could be finally taken for burial, the Salaatul Janaza was offered 6 times in all. For days, people came in large numbers to pay their respects at the grave side.

Among the four Imams, Abu Hanifa has the largest number of followers even today in all parts of the world.

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