The status of Imaam Abu Haneefah
Fatwa No: 186945

Question

assalamu alikum was abu hanifa liar? there are many shais and ahlul hadeeth who are using these narrations to prove him a munafiq “Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Fazari narrated to us: We were with Sufyan Ath-Thawri when we received the news of the death of Abu Hanifah, and he said: “Al-Hamdulillah, The One who relieved the Muslims from him, he was destroying the chains of Islam, one by one. None was born in Islam more ill-omened than him”(Tarikh al Saghir 2/97) Abu Ishaq Al Fazari Says Abu Hanifa used to say the Imaan of Iblees and Abu Bakr is same, because Abu Bakr said “Ya Rab” and Iblees also said Ya Rab. (Kitab al Sunnah Vol 1 pg218) here shias say that see abu hanifa also said iblees and abu bakar ra had same level of eeman i.e they both were kaafir naudhubillah. Ibn e Sulaiman heard from Imam Shafai rahimaullah that Abu Hanifah used to forge a Matter first, then he used to Qiyas the whole book over it. (Adaab as-Shafai wa Manaqib pg431)

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him was one of the Imaams of Islam and one of the scholars of our religion of whose truthfulness, piety, vast knowledge and broad-mindedness most Muslim scholars have witnessed. Indeed, many books have been written on his virtues. The scholars have very much praised him to an extent that it would be impossible to mention it in this Fatwa. It would be enough for you to refer to his biography in the book entitled "As-Siyar (Siyar ‘Aalaam An-Nubalaa’)" and the book entitled "Taareekh Al-Islam" both of which were authored by Ath-Thahabi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

Nonetheless, some scholars dispraised Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him but this is something that one can hardly escape. However, the scholars who considered him as trustworthy and praised him are much more than those who degraded him, as stated by Ibn Abdul-Barr  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and the matter settled down on praising him and eulogizing him.

Among those who testified to his excellence and mastery in Fiqh was Ash-Shaafi’i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him who was one of the students of his students. He said: “People are dependent on Abu Haneefah in Fiqh.” He also said: “Abu Haneefah was someone for whom the Fiqh was made easy.” Therefore, it is enough a great rank and high status that this Imaam praised him (Abu Haneefah).

Hence, such statements that were reported from some scholars about people who have been lastly praised, and whose virtues have been acknowledged and agreed upon, should be ignored and not be reported or spread. Rather, a Muslim should know the status of the Imaams and mention and spread their virtues while avoiding to slander them out of ignorance or out of following one’s desires, and he should be among those about whom Allaah Says (what means): {And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith.} [Quran 59:10]

As regards what is attributed to Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him about Irjaa' (i.e. saying that ‘Eemaan [faith] is the affirmation of the heart and the saying of the tongue, and that deeds [actions] are not an integral part of ‘Eemaan), then Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him has explained this in his book entitled Al-Eemaan Al-Kabeer, and he clarified that the difference of opinion between him (Abu Haneefah) and the majority of the scholars is a verbal difference (i.e. it is just in wording and merely in form and not in meaning); although he did not include deeds in the term ‘Eemaan, he agreed with the majority of scholars in making the obligation obligatory and the prohibition prohibited and that one deserves a reward for fulfilling an obligation and refraining from a prohibition, in the same way he deserves a punishment for doing the opposite.

You may also refer to Sharh At-Tahaawiyyah authored by Ibn Abel ‘Izz  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him as he elaborated on this issue.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the Imaams whose status was acknowledged by the Muslims never deliberately contradicted the religious texts; rather, each one of them had an excuse for what he might say contradicting a religious text. So, a person should seek excuses for them but this does not prevent from refuting an error if someone has committed one as the statement of each person can be accepted if it is right or refuted if it is wrong. For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 85732 and to the book entitled "Rafa’ Al-Malaam" authored by Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

In addition, those who dispraise Abu Haneefah and others, their statements are not to be taken into account in such a matter; rather, those who are relied upon in praising or dispraising, in accepting or refuting, are the Imaams specialized in this field who are among the prominent scholars and whose books are full of praising Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and mentioning his virtues and this is something that is known to all.

Allaah Knows best.

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