Imam al-Dhahabi said: “Abu Hanifah al-Nu‘man ibn Thabit was from the geniuses of the sons of Adam. He combined fiqh, worship, scrupulousness and generosity.” (Al-Dhahabi, al-’Ibar, 1:214) He also said: “Regarding the generosity and kindness of Abu Hanifah many reports have been transmitted.” (Manaqib al-Imam Abi Hanifah, Zahid al-Kawthari ed. p. 18)
In the following, I will quote a few authentic narrations from al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s Tarikh Baghdad on Imam Abu Hanifah’s generosity:
1. Al-Khatib narrates: al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Hanifi reported to us: He said: ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan al-Razi narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Za‘farani narrated to us: He said: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar narrated to me: He said: “People have not seen a more noble sitting-companion than Abu Hanifah, nor [anyone] more generous to his companions.” Hujr said: “It used to be said: ‘Possessors of nobility are more intelligent than [those] besides them.’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:493) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf said: “Its isnad is hasan.”
The same narration from Hujr is also reported via a different authentic route by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha (p. 260). Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Wa’il ibn Hujr is the grandson of the Sahabi Wa’il ibn Hujr and is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s Kitab al-Thiqat (6:235). His father ‘Abd al-Jabbar died in the year 112, thus Hujr was senior to most of Abu Hanifah’s students.
2. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: He said: Isma‘il ibn Yusuf al-Shanbazi narrated to us: He said: I heard Abu Yusuf say: “Abu Hanifah would never be asked for any need except he fulfilled it. A man came to him and said to him that ‘I owe so-and-so 500 dirhams though it is difficult for me, so ask him to be patient with me and give me respite.’ So Abu Hanifah spoke to the owner of the wealth, and the owner of the wealth said: ‘It is for him, I have forgiven him for it.’ The one who was in debt said: ‘I have no need for this!’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘The need is not yours, but the need is mine that has been fulfilled.’”
The chain is hasan: Al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators as shown in earlier posts. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan (d. 277) was declared thiqah by al-Daraqutni (Misbah al-Arib 3:195). Isma‘il ibn Yusuf is probably Isma‘il ibn Yusuf ibn Sadaqah Abu Muhammad al-Azdi al-Himsi mentioned by Ibn Hibban in his Kitab al-Thiqat (Kitab al-Thiqat 8:94), as Ibn Hibban lists him amongst those who narrated from the Atba‘ al-Tabi‘in, and Abu Yusuf was from the Atba‘ al-Tabi‘in. Imam Abu Yusuf (113 – 182 H) was declared thiqah by Yahya ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i and al-Bayhaqi and was declared saduq by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and ‘Ali ibn al-Madini.
3. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i narrated to us: He said: I heard Ja‘far ibn ‘Awn al-‘Umri say: A woman came to Abu Hanifah requesting from him a garment of silk. He took out a garment for her and she said to him: “I am a weak woman and indeed it is a trust, so sell this garment to me as it is valued on you.” He said: “Take it for four dirhams.” She said: “Do not mock me! I am a very old woman.” He said: “I bought two garments, and I sold one of them for the price with which I bought both of them besides four dirhams, so this garment remains [valued] on me at four dirhams.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:495) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is hasan.”
4. Al-Khatib narrates through the route of al-Khallal from al-Hariri: Al-Nakha‘i said: Al-Husayn ibn al-Hakam al-Hibari narrated to us: He said: ‘Ali ibn Hafs al-Bazzaz narrated to us: He said: “Hafs ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman was a business partner of Abu Hanifah, and Abu Hanifah would prepare [the goods] for him. He sent him amongst a group with some items and he informed him that in a certain garment there is a defect, so when you sell it clarify [this defect to the buyer]. Hafs sold the item and forgot to explain, and he couldn’t remember who he sold it to. When Abu Hanifah learnt [of this] he gave in charity the price of all the items.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:490). Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is excellent (jayyid).”