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 is His slave and Messenger.
First of all, it should be noted that Abu Haneefah was one of the prominent figures and eminent scholars and jurists of this Ummah. He had many virtues and refined qualities which the scholars of Islam have mentioned about him. Indeed, some scholars authored books about him like Ath-Thahabi in his book, The Virtues of Imaam Abu Haneefah and his Two Companions: Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan. Also, Muhammad ibn Yoosuf As-Saalihi from the Shafi'i School of jurisprudence authored a book entitled, ’Uqood Al-Jumaan fi Manaaqib Abu Haneefah An-Nu’maan. For more benefit on the virtues of Abu Haneefah, please refer to Fataawa 92321 and 186945.
Abu Haneefah was known to be very concerned about Fiqh and did not pay much attention to the transmission of Hadeeth. In relation to that, Ibn Al-Mubaarak is quoted by Ibn Hibbaan Al-Busti as saying, as stated in his book Al-Majrooheen: “I heard Ibn Al-Mubaarak say that Abu Haneefah was poor in Hadeeth.” Also, the book Al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel by Abu Haatim Ar-Raazi reads: "I heard Ibn Al-Mubaarak say that Abu Haneefah was poor in Hadeeth."
Some scholars found an excuse for him in this regard; Siddeeq Hasan Khaan said in his book Al-Hittah fi Thikr As-Sihaah As-Sittah: "Imaam Abu Haneefah did not relate much Hadeeth because of his strictness about the criteria for the transmission and receiving of Hadeeth, and because he considered as weak the narration of a Hadeeth that is certain if it was contradicted by reason and logic, and as a result, he scarcely narrated Hadeeth. That is why Abu Haneefah did not report many Ahaadeeth; so he did not deliberately abandon narrating Hadeeth, as he is far above such an act.” [End of quote]
Abu Haneefah was not known to narrate Hadeeth in the first place and he was not famous for doing this so that people would report Hadeeth from him. However, the biographies written by some scholars, among whom were Shu'ayb ibn Is-haaq Al-Umawi, included him as a transmitter of Hadeeth, as mentioned by Ibn Abi Haatim in 'Ilal Al-Hadeeth. He mentioned among his students Al-'Alaa' ibn Husayn, and Musharraf ibn ‘Abdullaah, a Shaykh from Marw, and Nasr ibn Abdul Malik Al ’Ataki from Samarqand, and these were mentioned in the book Ath-Thiqaat by Ibn Hibbaan. There are others who included him as a transmitter of Hadeeth but this is not the place to mention them.
Imaam Abu Haneefah despite being a noble and prominent scholar, was criticized by some scholars, such as Yahya ibn Ma’een, Imaam Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Sa'd and Al-Haakim, for his transmission of Hadeeth. Also, some scholars considered him as a trustworthy narrator. For example, Yahya ibn Ma’een, was also quoted to say that he was trustworthy.
In brief, what can be said about Abu Haneefah in narrating Hadeeth is what Ibn Shaaheen said after quoting the statements of those who criticized him: “These statements about Abu Haneefah refer to the trustworthiness of the chains of narrators and the mistakes they may include, not that he used to fabricate Hadeeth or impose a chain of narrators on the text of a Hadeeth or impose a text on a chain of narrators or claim to have met those whom he did not meet, as he was far above and much nobler than to do such an act… The scholars preferred him in Fiqh. Among those who did so were Al-Qaasim, Ibn Ma‘een, Ash-Shaafi'i, Al-Muqri’, Ibn Mutee’, Al-Awzaa'i and Ibn Al-Mubaarak and many others. But there were isues regarding his transmission of Hadeeth, and he did not narrate much, and he had more insight in Fiqh than in Hadeeth...” [End of quote]
Allaah Knows best.