Narrations of Imam Abu Hanifah from the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah

Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah has over forty reports in his renowned al-Musannaf with Abu Hanifah in their chains. There is always only one narrator between him and Abu Hanifah, and these single intermediaries give us an excellent insight into those who would narrate hadiths from Abu Hanifah. The number and calibre of hadith scholars who narrate from a shaykh after hearing from him is an indication of the shaykh’s rank and reliability. As Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah said, Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated from Abu Hanifah “through the medium of 12 of his most eminent shuyukh.” (al-Musannaf li Bni Abi Shaybah, Muhammad ‘Awwamah ed. 20:6)

Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah (159-235 H), the name with which he is better known, is ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim. He was a contemporary of Imams Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ishaq ibn Rahwayh and ‘Ali ibn al-Madini. His narrations are found in all six of the famous collections of hadith besides the collection of Imam al-Tirmidhi. Abu Hatim, Ibn Khirash and al-‘Ijli said: “[He was] trustworthy,” and al-‘Ijli added: “He was hafiz of hadith.” ‘Amr ibn ‘Ali said: “I have not seen [anyone who] had memorised more than Ibn Abi Shaybah.” Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam said: “[Knowledge of] hadith culminates at four: Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma‘in and ‘Ali ibn al-Madini. Abu Bakr was the most retentive of them, Ahmad the most understanding of them, Yahya the most prolific of them and ‘Ali the most learned of them.” Ibn Hibban said: “He was a proficient and trustworthy master [of hadith], of those who wrote and collected and compiled, and he was the most retentive from the people of his time.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal, Bashshar ‘Awwad ed. 16:34-42) His work al-Musannaf is one of the largest collection of narrations including marfu‘, mawquf and maqtu‘ reports.

Based on Muhammad ‘Awwamah’s edition, I will list those who narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah and those who he narrated from according to the reports found in al-Musannaf, with reference to the hadith numbers in parentheses where those narrations can be found in the book:

Narrators from Abu Hanifah:

1. Ja‘far ibn ‘Awn (no. 1710)

His full name is Ja‘far ibn ‘Awn ibn Ja‘far ibn ‘Amr ibn Hurayth al-Makhzumi al-Kufi (120 – 206), and he is a narrator found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. His great grandfather, ‘Amr ibn Hurayth (d. 85) was from the young Sahabah, and is also a narrator found in the six collections. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “[He was] a pious man, there is no harm in his [narrations],” and Ahmad would recommend those who visit Kufa to take from Ja‘far. Yahya ibn Ma‘in, al-‘Ijli, Ibn Shahin, Ibn Qani‘, al-Dhahabi and others said he is “trustworthy” (thiqah). Ibn Sa‘d said: “He was trustworthy, with many hadiths.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal, Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf ed. 5:70-3)

2. Yazid ibn Harun (no. 5400)

Yazid ibn Harun Abu Khalid al-Wasiti (118 – 206) is also a narrator found in all six collections. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “He was a proficient master of hadith.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in, ‘Ali ibn al-Madini, Abu Hatim, Ibn Sa‘d and others all said he is trustworthy. Ibn al-Madini said: “I have never seen a man who had memorised more than Yazid ibn Harun.” Yazid ibn Harun said about himself: “I memorised 24,000 hadiths with their chains, and this is no boast!” Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah said: “I have not seen [anybody] with a more accurate memory than Yazid ibn Harun.” Al-‘Ijli said: “He was trustworthy and firm in hadith; and he was pious, with extremely wonderful Salah.” Ahmad ibn Sinan said: “I have not seen a scholar with more beautiful Salah than Yazid ibn Harun. He would stand as though a pillar praying from Zuhr to ‘Asr, and from Maghrib to ‘Isha’, he would not tire from Salah in the day and night.” Al-Mizzi states: “His excellences and virtues are very many.” (ibid. 32:261-70)

In earlier posts, I quoted Yazid’s praise of Abu Hanifah:

He said: “I comprehended the people and I have not seen anyone more intelligent, nor more virtuous, nor more scrupulous than Abu Hanifah!” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:498) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is sahih.” Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali reported: I heard Yazid ibn Harun when a man asked him, “O Abu Khalid! Who is the best in fiqh from those you have seen?” say, “Abu Hanifah.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:468) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments, “Its isnad is hasan.” The weight of such praise from Yazid ibn Harun of Imam Abu Hanifah can be gauged from this brief account of his qualities.

3. Waki‘ (no. 6147, 6222, 9580, 10125, 15124, 16941, 17599, 18841, 21925, 25743, 27713, 29599/33443)

Waki‘ ibn al-Jarrah al-Kufi (129 – 196) is also a narrator found in the six collections of hadith. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “I have not seen a greater container of knowledge than Waki‘, nor [one who] memorised more than Waki‘.” He also said: “I have never seen a man like Waki‘ in knowledge, memory, chain and chapters, along with humility and scrupulousness.” He also said: “Waki‘ was the Imam of Muslims in his time.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in said: “I haven’t seen anyone with a greater memory than Waki‘.” Ibn ‘Ammar said: “There was no one in Kufa in the time of Waki‘ greater in fiqh and more knowledgeable of hadith than him. Waki‘ was a luminary.” ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-San‘ani who was a contemporary of Waki‘ said: “I saw al-Thawri, Ibn ‘Uyaynah, Ma‘mar, Malik, and I saw and I saw, and my eyes have never seen the like of Waki‘.” ‘Ali ibn Khashram asked Waki‘ the method of acquiring such a proficient memory, and he said: “Abandoning sins, I have not experienced [anything] equal to it in [perfecting] memory.” Yahya ibn Aktham said: “I accompanied Waki‘ in journey and residence, and he would fast continuously and complete the Qur’an every night.” Waki‘’s son narrates: “My father would pray the entire night, and there did not remain in our house anybody except he would pray [in the night], and even our black slave girl would pray.” Al-‘Ijli said: “[He was] Kufan, trustworthy, a worshipper, pious, eloquent, from the memorisers of hadith, and he would issue fatwa.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 30:462-84)

As shown in an earlier post, Waki‘ would issue fatwa according to the opinions of Imam Abu Hanifah. Al-Mizzi also quotes this from Yahya ibn Ma‘in in Tahdhib al-Kamal (30:474-5). Some of the fatwas Waki‘ reported from Abu Hanifah are recorded in the Musannaf; see numbers 10713 and 32152. The hadith narrations of Waki‘ in the Musannaf include a number of reports reaching the Sahabah.

4. ‘Isa ibn Yunus (no. 5876, 29099)

‘Isa ibn Yunus al-Kufi (d. 187) is also a narrator found in the six collections of hadith. He was the grandson of the famous narrator from the Tabi‘in, Abu Ishaq al-Sabi‘i (d. 127), who he saw. He was the brother of the famous narrator Isra’il ibn Yunus (100 – 160). Ahmad ibn Hanbal, ‘Ali ibn al-Madini, Abu Hatim, al-Nasa’i and others said he is trustworthy. Abu Zur‘ah said he was a “master [of hadith]” (hafiz). (Tahdhib al-Kamal 23:62-76)

Number 29099 is a narration from Imam Abu Hanifah that reaches ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.

5. Hafs ibn Ghiyath (no. 5881, 17775, 21106, 24313)

Abu ‘Umar Hafs ibn Ghiyath al-Kufi (117 – 194), a narrator found in all six collections of hadith, was the Qadi of Kufa for thirteen years under Harun al-Rashid, and he was Qadi of Baghdad for two years. Yet, when he died, he did not leave behind any wealth. Yahya ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Sa‘d and others said he is trustworthy. Al-‘Ijli said: “[He was] trustworthy, reliable, a jurist. Waki‘ was often asked about something, and he would say: ‘Go to our Qadi and ask him.’” Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan said: “The most trustworthy of the companions of al-A‘mash is Hafs ibn Ghiyath.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 7:56-70)

Waki‘ ibn al-Jarrah listed Hafs amongst the companions of Imam Abu Hanifah as mentioned here. This is also recognised in the books of later non-Hanafi authorities, as for example, Imam al-Nawawi refers to him as “Hafs ibn Ghiyath al-Hanafi” in his work on Usul al-Hadith called al-Taqrib of which al-Suyuti’s Tadrib al-Rawi is a commentary (Tadrib al-Rawi, Muhammad Ayman al-Shabrawi ed., p. 374). The narrations recorded in the Musannaf are all Hafs’s narrations from Abu Hanifah from Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, either from Hammad’s own opinion or narrating from Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i or Sa‘id ibn Jubayr.

6. ‘Abd Allah ibn Numayr (no. 9434, 9437, 12388, 12401, 12602, 18685, 27562)

‘Abd Allah ibn Numayr al-Hamdani al-Kufi (115 – 199) is also a narrator found in all six collections of hadith. He was declared thiqah by Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Daraqutni and others. Al-‘Ijli said: “Trustworthy, sound in hadith, a champion of the Sunnah.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 16:225-9).

7. Abu Mu‘awiyah (no. 11053, 11124, 28902)

Abu Mu‘awiyah Muhammad ibn Khazim al-Tamimi al-Sa‘di al-Kufi (113 – 195) is also a narrator found in all of the six collections. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “Abu Mu‘awiyah is the most retentive of the companions of [Sulayman ibn Mihran] al-A‘mash.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in was asked who is the strongest of the narrators from al-A‘mash, and he replied: “After Sufyan and Shu‘bah, Abu Mu‘awiyah, the blind.” Al-‘Ijli said: “[He was] a Kufan, trustworthy (thiqah).” Al-Nasa’i, Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah, Ibn Sa‘d and al-Daraqutni said he was thiqah. However, many authorities discovered some errors in his narrations. He was criticised because of irja’, but this was from the acceptable category of irja’ discussed in detail in an earlier post. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 25:123-34)

8. ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (no. 12532, 28611)

‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (118 – 181) was one of the imams and luminaries of Islamic scholarship and piety, and also a narrator found in the six collections. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi said: “The four imams are Sufyan al-Thawri, Malik ibn Anas, Hammad ibn Zayd and Ibn al-Mubarak.” Shu‘ayb ibn Harb said: “Ibn al-Mubarak did not meet any man except Ibn al-Mubarak was more virtuous than him.” Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “There was none in the time of Ibn al-Mubarak more ardent in gaining knowledge than him.” Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah: “I inspected the condition of the companions [of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] and I did not find any excellence in them over Ibn al-Mubarak except their companionship of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and their battles with him.” When the news of his death reached Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, he exclaimed: “Allah have mercy on him! Indeed he was a jurist, a scholar, a worshipper, an ascetic, generous and brave, a poet.” ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi would not favour anyone in hadith over Malik and Ibn al-Mubarak. When Ibn al-Mubarak’s students recounted his virtues, they would say: “He combined knowledge, jurisprudence, literature, grammar, language, poetry, eloquence, asceticism, scrupulousness, fairness, night-prayer, worship, pilgrimage, battles, bravery, insight, physical strength and avoiding talk about what did not concern him.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in said: “Ibn al-Mubarak was more learned than Sufyan al-Thawri.” Mu‘adh ibn Khalid ibn Shaqiq said: “I do not know that Allah has created a characteristic from the characteristics of virtue but Allah has put it in ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak.” Al-Mizzi said after collecting these narrations and others: “His virtues and excellences are very many.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 16:5-24)

It has been mentioned in earlier posts that it was transmitted with authentic chains from ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak that he said: “When the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Sufyan concur on something, that is strong,” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:471) “the greatest faqih of people, is Abu Hanifah,” “I have not seen the like of him in fiqh,” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:469) “If anyone has the right to issue [a legal verdict] using his opinion, Abu Hanifah has the right to issue [a legal verdict] using his opinion.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:471) According to another report with a good (hasan) chain, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak said Abu Hanifah was a “sign” (ayah) in “virtue” (khayr) (Tarikh Baghdad 15:461).

9. ‘Abbad ibn al-‘Awwam (no. 12909, 13092, 16257, 26182)

‘Abbad ibn al-‘Awwam (115 – 185) Abu Sahl al-Wasiti is also a narrator found in the six collections of hadith. Ibn Sa‘d said: “He was from the nobles amongst men in all his affairs.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Abu Dawud, al-‘Ijli, al-Nasa’i, Abu Hatim and al-Bazzar said he is thiqah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 14:140-5)

10. ‘Amr ibn Muhammad (no. 18274)

Amr ibn Muhammad al-‘Anqari al-Kufi (d. 199) is also a narrator found in all six books, although in Sahih al-Bukhari his narration is only used for support (istishhad). Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Nasa’i and al-‘Ijli said he is trustworthy. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 22:220-3)

11. ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Sulayman (no. 29599/33443)

‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Sulayman al-Kinani (d. 187) is a narrator found in all six collections. Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Abu Dawud and al-Daraqutni said he is thiqah. Al-‘Ijli said: “Trustworthy, pious, with many hadiths.” He was also known to have authored a number of books. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 18:36-9)

12. Abu Usamah (no. 30561, 35688)

Hammad ibn Usamah ibn Zayd (120 – 201) is also a narrator found in all six collections. Ahmad ibn Hanbal said he is thiqah and “the most learned of people about the conditions of people.” He also said: “How strong he was! He almost never erred.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Sa‘d, al-‘Ijli and al-Daraqutni said he is thiqah. It was reported from Abu Usamah that he said: “I wrote with these two fingers of mine 100,000 hadiths.” He was known to be from the constant worshippers (nussak) and and to have been extremely intelligent (Tahdhib al-Kamal 7:217-24).

Teachers:

1. Hammad (no. 1710, 5400, 5876, 5881, 6222, 9434, 9437, 9580, 10125, 11053, 12388, 12401, 12532, 12602, 12909, 13092, 15124, 16257, 17599, 17775, 18685, 21106, 24313, 27562, 27713, 28611, 29099, 30561)

Abu Isma‘il Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman al-Ash‘ari (d. 120) was the first and primary teacher of Imam Abu Hanifah. His narrations are found in all six collections of hadith, although in Sahih al-Bukhari they are without chain (mu‘allaq). He narrated from the Sahabi Anas ibn Malik (d. 93), and from the famous Tabi‘i, Sa‘id ibn Jubayr (38-95 H), and others. His primary teacher was Ibrahim al-Nakha‘i, a major scholar of hadith and fiqh from the Tabi‘in, who was the most learned regarding the opinions of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud and his students. Ibn Abi Hatim narrated with his chain from ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Iyas: “I asked Ibrahim [al-Nakha‘i]: ‘Who should we ask after you?’ He said: ‘Hammad.’” Yahya ibn Ma‘in and al-Nasa’i said he is thiqah. Al-‘Ijli said: “Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, a Kufan, trustworthy. He was the greatest jurist from the companions of Ibrahim.” Dawud al-Ta’i said: “Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman was generous with food and he was generous with dinars and dirhams.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 7:269-79)

Al-Dhahabi said under the biography of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’: “The greatest faqih from the inhabitants of Kufa were ‘Ali and Ibn Mas’ud. The greatest faqih from their companions was ‘Alqamah. The greatest faqih from his companions was Ibrahim [al-Nakha’i]. The greatest faqih from the companions of Ibrahim was Hammad [ibn Abi Sulayman]. The greatest faqih from the companions of Hammad was Abu Hanifah. The greatest faqih from his companions was Abu Yusuf. The companions of Abu Yusuf spread to the furthest regions, and the greatest faqih from them is Muhammad [ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani]. The greatest faqih from the companions of Muhammad is Muhammad Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Shafi’i. Allah (Exalted is He) have mercy on them all.” Siyar A’lam al-Nubala (5:236)

2. ‘Ata’ (no. 6147, 21925)

‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah (ca. 27 – 115) was the greatest of Imam Abu Hanifah’s teachers as he himself mentioned (see here), and he has many narrations found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. One of the scholars said: “‘Ata’ was black, blind in one-eye, snub-nosed, lame and limp and then he became blind after this, yet he was trustworthy [in transmitting hadith], a jurist and a scholar possessing many hadiths!” (Tahdhib al-Kamal, 20:76) He met 200 companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and he would issue fatwa in the presence of the companions, such that Ibn ‘Abbas would say to questioners: “O people of Makkah! Do you gather your questions to me, when Ibn Abi Rabah is amongst you?!” (ibid. 20:77) (Tahdhib al-Kamal 20:69-86)

The two reports of Abu Hanifah reporting from him in the Musannaf are in the form of fatwas which he took from him. In the first, Abu Hanifah asked ‘Ata’ about an illegitimately born man leading the people in prayer, and he replied: “There is no harm in it – is there not from amongst them those who pray and fast more than us?” This indicates that Imam Abu Hanifah took both fiqh and hadith (an example was given in the previous post) from ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah.

3. ‘Alqamah ibn Marthad (no. 11124)

‘Alqamah ibn Marthad al-Hadrami’s (d. 126) hadiths are also found in all six collections.  (Tahdhib al-Kamal 20:308-11)

4. Kathir al-Rammah (no. 16941)

Ibn Hibban mentions him in his Kitab al-Thiqat as follows: “Kathir ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Aslam al-Rammah, a Kufan who narrated from Nafi‘ from Ibn ‘Umar…Isma‘il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman narrated from him.” (Kitab al-Thiqat 7:353)

5. Al-Haytham (no. 18274, 25743, 28902)

His full name is al-Haytham ibn Habib al-Kufi al-Sayrafi. He was declared trustworthy by Ibn Ma‘in, Abu Zur‘ah and Abu Hatim. He was recommended by Shu‘bah ibn al-Hajjaj for those wishing to narrate from Kufan scholars. His narrations are found in the Marasil of Abu Dawud.  (Tahdhib al-Kamal 30:369-70)

6. ‘Ammar ibn ‘Imran al-Hamdani (no. 18841)

He is probably ‘Ammar ibn ‘Imran al-Ju‘fi who was declared thiqah by al-‘Ijli (Misbah al-Arib 2:410)

7. Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn al-Muntashir (no. 26182)

He is a narrator found in the six collections of hadith. He narrated from Anas ibn Malik, and this particular report of Abu Hanifah from him is from Anas ibn Malik (see below). Ja‘far al-Ahmar said: “He was from the most virtuous of those we saw at Kufa in his time.” He was declared thiqah by a number of authorities, including al-Nasa’i, Ahmad, Abu Hatim, Ibn Hibban, al-‘Ijli and others. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 2:183-4)

8. ‘Asim ibn Bahdalah (no. 29599/33443)

‘Asim ibn Bahdalah or ‘Asim ibn Abi al-Najud al-Kufi is the famous founder of one of the seven readings of the Qur’an, and the commonest reading known as “Hafs from ‘Asim” is from the narration of his student from him. He is a narrator of hadith found in the six collections.  He acquired his knowledge of Qur’an recitation from Zirr ibn Hubaysh who acquired it from ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud who said: “I took more than seventy chapters [of the Qur’an directly] from the mouth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace)” (Sahih al-Bukhari) and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever it pleases to recited the Qur’an freshly as it was revealed, then let him read according to the recitation of Ibn Umm ‘Abd [i.e. ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud].” (Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Ibn Majah) (Tahdhib al-Kamal 13:473-80)

9. ‘Awn ibn ‘Abd Allah (no. 35688)

‘Awn ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Utbah ibn Mas‘ud al-Kufi al-Zahid (ca. 50 – ca. 115) was the grandson of the Sahabi ‘Utbah ibn Mas‘ud, and he is a narrator found in the six collections of hadith besides Sahih al-Bukhari. He was a Tabi‘i who narrated from a number of the younger companions. Al-‘Ijli, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Sa‘d and al-Nasa’i said he is thiqah. ‘Awn ibn ‘Abd Allah said he prayed behind Abu Hurayrah (d. 59) situating his birth around the middle of the first century. He was known as an ascetic who would frequently remember the afterlife and weep. Musa ibn Abi ‘Isa narrated that when ‘Awn would narrate to them, his beard would become wet with tears. Maslamah ibn Ja‘far narrated that ‘Awn would say: “May I be destroyed! How can I become heedless of my soul while the Angel of Death is not heedless of my soul?! May I be destroyed! How can I claim I have my intellect while I put to waste my share of the afterlife?! May I be destroyed! May I be destroyed! Nay, woe to me! Woe to me! Destruction is inevitable for me if I die proceeding upon the disobedience of my Lord.” Then he would cry until his beard became wet with tears. At his death, he distributed all his properties to the poor. It was reported from ‘Awn that he said: “Those before us would assign for their worldly life whatever was left over from their afterlife, while you assign for your afterlife whatever is left over from your worldly life.” He also said: “I don’t think a person looks at the faults of men but from a heedlessness which has made him to forget himself.” (Tahdhib al-Kamal 22:453-61)

The Marfu‘ Narrations of Abu Hanifah from the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah

1. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates: ‘Abbad ibn al-‘Awwam narrated to us from Abu Hanifah from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn al-Muntashir from Anas ibn Malik: He said: “No one ever sat with Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and then stood up until he stood up.” (no. 26182, vol. 13:169-70)

2. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates: Abu Mu‘awiyah narrated to us from Abu Hanifah from ‘Alqamah ibn Marthad from Ibn Buraydah from his father, he said: When Ma‘iz was stoned, they said: “O Messenger of Allah! What shall we do with him?” He said: “Do with him as you do with your dead, of bathing, shrouding, perfuming and praying over him.” (no. 11124, vol. 7:115)

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Narrations of Imam Abu Hanifah from Sharh Mushkil al-Athar

Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (239 – 321) narrated several hadiths in his masterpiece work, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, containing Imam Abu Hanifah in its chain. One of them is referenced in an earlier post. I will quote another five below, and another in a later post inshaAllah when discussing Imam al-Nasa’i’s narration from Abu Hanifah. All references are based on Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut’s excellent edition of the work available for download here. The second and fourth narrations in this list are examples of Imam Abu Hanifah’s thuna’iyyat (two-narrator chains).

1. Al-Tahawi narrates: Ibrahim ibn Abi Dawud narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn al-Muthanna narrated to us: He said: Ishaq ibn Yusuf al-Azraq narrated to us from Abu Hanifah from ‘Alqamah ibn Marthad from Sulayman ibn Buraydah from his father: He said: the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The inviter to goodness is like its doer.” (no. 1545, vol. 4:204)

The shaykh of Imam al-Tahawi, Ibrahim ibn Abi Dawud, is Ibrahim ibn Sulayman ibn Dawud al-Barallusi al-Suri (d. 270). Al-Tahawi narrated many hadiths from him. Al-Dhahabi described him as a “proficient master” (al-hafiz al-mutqin) and Abu Sa‘id ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad ibn Yunus (d. 347), the biographer of Egyptian narrators and a student of Imam al-Tahawi, said: “He was one of the memorisers, proficient Qur’an-reciters, trustworthy and firm narrators.” (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, al-Arna’ut ed. 12:612-3) The rest of the narrators in the chain are trustworthy hadith transmitters found in all six of the famous collections of hadith.

The narrator from Abu Hanifah, Ishaq ibn Yusuf (117 – 195 H), better known as al-Azraq, was declared thiqah by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Ma‘in, al-‘Ijli, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Bazzar and al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 1:257-8). The shaykh of Abu Hanifah in this chain is ‘Alqamah ibn Marthad al-Hadrami (d. 126), a Kufan narrator of hadith. Al-Mizzi lists Abu Hanifah amongst those who narrated from him (Tahdhib al-Kamal 20:310).

This hadith was narrated through the same chain by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241) in his Musnad (no. 23027, vol. 38:132, Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut ed.) from al-Azraq who narrated from Abu Hanifah from ‘Alqamah.

2. Al-Tahawi narrates: Ahmad ibn Dawud narrated to us: He said: Isma’il ibn Salim narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn al-Hasan narrated to us: He said: Abu Hanifah narrated to us: He said: ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah narrated to us from Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him): He said: Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “When the star appears, calamity is lifted from the inhabitants of every land.” (no. 2282, vol. 6:53)

The shaykh of Imam al-Tahawi is Ahmad ibn Dawud ibn Musa al-Makki (d. 282), declared thiqah by Ibn Yunus (Misbah al-Arib no. 1593). Isma’il ibn Salim Abu Yahya al-Kufi is a narrator found in the collections of Muslim, Abu Dawud and al-Nasa’i, and was declared thiqah by Ibn Ma’in, Ahmad, Ibn Sa’d and others. Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (132 – 189 H) is a mujtahid Imam, from the foremost students of Imam Abu Hanifah. Al-Dhahabi said: “[He is] strong in [his narrations from Imam] Malik,” ‘Ali ibn al-Madini said he is “reliable” (saduq), and al-Daraqutni said: “He does not deserve rejection.” (Lisan al-Mizan, Abu Ghuddah ed. 7:60-3) Al-Daraqutni also counted him amongst “the trustworthy masters [of hadith].” (Nasb al-Rayah, Muhammad ‘Awwamah ed. 1:409) His transmission of the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik which includes approximately a thousand narrations was well-received by the ‘ulama which is a strong indication of his strength and credibility in hadith science. The strong criticism of him from some authorities was a result of methodological differences and is of no consequence. ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah (ca. 27 – 115) was the greatest of Imam Abu Hanifah’s teachers as he himself mentioned (see here), and he has many narrations found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. One of the scholars said: “‘Ata’ was black, blind in one-eye, snub-nosed, lame and limp and then he became blind after this, yet he was trustworthy [in transmitting hadith], a jurist and a scholar possessing many hadiths!” (Tahdhib al-Kamal, 20:76) He met 200 companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and he would issue fatwa in the presence of the companions, such that Ibn ‘Abbas would say to questioners: “O people of Makkah! Do you gather your questions to me, when Ibn Abi Rabah is amongst you?!” (ibid. 20:77)

(For an elucidation of the meaning of this hadith, see Imam al-Tahawi’s commentary that follows after narrating it)

3. Al-Tahawi narrates: Rawh ibn al-Faraj narrated to us: He said: Yusuf ibn ‘Adi narrated to us: He said: ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Sulayman al-Razi narrated to us from al-Nu’man ibn Thabit Abi Hanifah from Hammad [ibn Abi Sulayman] from Sa’id ibn Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them): He said: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) dispatched the weak of his family in the night from Muzdalifah, and he said to them: ‘Do not pelt the jamrah until sunrise.'” (no. 3495, vol. 9:120)

Al-Tahawi’s shaykh, Rawh ibn al-Faraj Abu al-Zinba’ (d. 282), was a Maliki jurist and also the one who taught Imam al-Tahawi the science of qira’ah according to his transmission from the founder of one of the seven readings, ‘Asim ibn Bahdalah. He was thiqah as mentioned by al-‘Asqalani in Taqrib al-Tahdhib. Yusuf ibn ‘Adi ibn Zurayq (d. 232) is a narrator found in the collections of al-Bukhari and al-Nasa’i, and he was thiqah (Tahrir al-Taqrib no. 7872). The narrator from Abu Hanifah, ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Sulayman al-Kinani (d. 187), is a narrator found in all six collections of hadith, and was declared thiqah by a number of authorities. Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman (d. 120) was the primary teacher of Abu Hanifah in fiqh, and he was a mujtahid Imam, the greatest of the students of Ibrahim al-Nakha’i as he himself expressed. Hammad’s narrations are found in all six collections of hadith, although in Sahih al-Bukhari there is only one narration narrated as mu’allaq (i.e. where Imam al-Bukhari does not cite his chain to Hammad). For the scholars’ praise of his knowledge and reliability, see Tahdhib al-Kamal (7:269-79).

4. Al-Tahawi narrates: Yazid narrated to us: Abu Qatan narrated to us: Abu Hanifah narrated to us from ‘Atiyyah from Abu Sa’id [al-Khudri] from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), then he mentioned the equivalent of it [i.e. the words: “Whoever lies upon me deliberately, let him take his seat in the Fire.”] (no. 401, vol. 1:361)

The shaykh of al-Tahawi, Yazid ibn Sinan ibn Yazid al-Qazzaz (178 – 264), is also one of the shaykhs of al-Nasa’i in his Sunan. (Imam al-Tahawi in fact shares some shuyukh with all the collectors of the six books of hadith besides al-Bukhari.) He was declared thiqah by al-Nasa’i, Ibn Yunus and Ibn Abi Hatim (Tahdhib al-Kamal 32:152-5). The narrator from Imam Abu Hanifah Abu Qatan ‘Amr ibn al-Haytham (121 – 198) is a narrator found in all six of the famous collections of hadith besides Sahih al-Bukhari, and was declared thiqah by al-Shafi’i, Yahya ibn Ma’in, ‘Ali ibn al-Madini (Tahdhib al-Kamal 22:280-5). The shaykh of Imam Abu Hanifah is ‘Atiyyah ibn Sa’id ibn Junadah al-‘Awfi (d. 111), a narrator found in the collections of Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and also in al-Bukhari’s al-Adab al-Mufrad. It was reported from Yahya ibn Ma’in that he said he is “acceptable” (salih) and “there is no harm in him,” and Ibn Sa’d said “he is thiqah if Allah wills,” although it is also reported from Ibn Ma’in that he considered him weak and this was reported from a number of other authorities also (Tahdhib al-Kamal 20:145-9). The text of the hadith itself, however, is of unquestionable authority, and is probably the most authentic hadith in existence.

5. Al-Tahawi narrates: Ahmad ibn Dawud narrated to us: He said: Isma’il ibn Salim al-Sa’igh narrated to us : He said: Abu Mu’awiyah narrated to us: al-Nu’man ibn Thabit reported to me from ‘Alqamah ibn Marthad from Ibn Buraydah from his father: He said: “Ma’iz al-Aslami came to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while he was seated and confessed [that he committed] adultery. He rejected his [confession] four times, and then he ordered his stoning. Thereupon, they stood him up in a place with few stones. When stones struck him, he began to worry, so he came out running until he reached al-Harrah wherein he was stopped by them and they pelted him with its stones until he became silent. Later, they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! When stones struck Ma’iz he became worried and ran.’ He said: ‘Why did you not let him go?!'” (no. 432 vol. 1:379-80)

The chain is the same as the second narration mentioned above, except for the narrator from Abu Hanifah, Abu Mu’awiyah Muhammad ibn Khazim (113 – 195), whose narrations are found in all six collections of hadith, and he was declared thiqah by the major authorities of narrator-criticism. This hadith is well-known and is found with different chains of transmission in many books of hadith.

The Scholarly Acceptance of Imam Abu Hanifah’s Pronouncements on al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil

‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani wrote in his Abu Hanifah wa Ashabuhu al-Muhaddithun: “Know that the opinions of Imam Abu Hanifah in al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil (narrator-criticism) and the principles of hadith were accepted and received from him by the ‘ulama of this field. They quoted him in their books as proof or for consideration, just as they took from Imam Ahmad, al-Bukhari, Ibn Ma’in, Ibn al-Madini, and other scholars of this field. This shows you his great standing in [the science of] hadith and his expansive knowledge and mastery.” (Abu Hanifah wa Ashabuhu al-Muhaddithun, Idarat al-Qur’an wa al-‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, p. 45)

I will quote below a few examples of the scholarly acceptance of Imam Abu Hanifah’s pronouncements in this important field:

1. Al-Saymari narrates in his published book Akhbar Abi Hanifah wa Ashabih: Muhammad ibn ‘Imran ibn Musa al-Marzubani reported to us: Muhammad ibn Makhlad al-‘Attar narrated to us: Abu Musa Qays al-Mu’addib narrated to us: Suwayd ibn Sa‘id narrated to us: Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah narrated to us: “The first to sit me down to narrate hadith was Abu Hanifah.” I [Suwayd] said: “How was this so?” He said: “When I entered Kufa, Abu Hanifah said to them [i.e. the Kufans]: ‘This is the most learned of them regarding [the hadiths of] ‘Amr ibn Dinar.’ Then the scholars (mashayikh) gathered around me, asking me about the hadiths of ‘Amr ibn Dinar.” (Akhbar Abi Hanifah wa Ashabih, p. 82)

This chain is hasan: Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Saymari (351 – 436) is a Hanafi faqih and muhaddith who narrated from al-Daraqutni and Ibn Shahin, and is saduq according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 8:634-5); Abu ‘Ubayd Allah Muhammad ibn ‘Imran ibn Musa al-Marzubani (296 – 384) is thiqah according to al-‘Atiqi. (Tarikh Baghdad 4:227-9); Muhammad ibn Makhlad al-‘Attar (d. 331) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni (Tarikh Baghdad 4:501); Abu Musa Qays ibn Ibrahim ibn Qays al-Tawabiqi al-Mu’addib (d. 284), al-Daraqutni said he is acceptable (salih) (Tarikh Baghdad 14:478-9); Suwayd ibn Sa‘id ibn Sahl al-Harawi (140 – 240) is thiqah according to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and a narrator of Muslim (Tahdhib al-Kamal)

The same narration was also narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr through a different chain:

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: [Abu Ya‘qub Yusuf ibn al-Dakhil narrated in his book Fada’il Abi Hanifah wa Akhbaruhu]: Abu l-‘Abbas al-Farid narrated to us: Muhammad ibn Isma‘il [al-Sa’igh] narrated to us: Suwayd ibn Sa‘id al-Anbari narrated to us: I heard Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah say: “The first to sit me down to narrate hadith in Kufa was Abu Hanifah. He sat me down in the mosque and said: ‘This is the strongest of people regarding the hadith of ‘Amr ibn Dinar,’ then I narrated to them.” (al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathah, p. 199)

Ibn al-Dakhil (d. 388) is described as the “muhaddith of Makkah” by al-Dhahabi in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, but besides this there is no other criticism or praise of him, although his biography is known. Abu al-‘Abbas Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Farid, his reliability is unknown. Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Sa’igh (d. 276) is thiqah according to Abu Dawud and al-Dhahabi. Hence, although the chain is weak because of the unknown narrator in the chain, it is not “very weak” (da‘if jiddan) that it cannot be used as a supporting narration. This narration therefore strengthens the previous one.

The narration also corresponds with the information known about Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (107 – 198) from the books of Rijal. As mentioned in Taqrib, he “was the strongest narrator from ‘Amr ibn Dinar (45 – 126).” Ibn ‘Uyaynah himself referred to ‘Amr ibn Dinar as “thiqah thiqah thiqah” – the repetition is for emphasis. And it is known some major Kufan narrators like Waki‘ ibn al-Jarrah and Yahya ibn Zakariyyah ibn Abi Za’idah narrated from him as mentioned in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (4:118). Waki‘, as mentioned in an earlier post, would issue fatwas according to the opinions of Abu Hanifah, and Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah, who was the strongest and greatest narrator in Kufa after Sufyan al-Thawri, is known to have been a “student of Abu Hanifah” as mentioned in al-Dhahabi’s Tadhkirat al-Huffaz.

After mentioning the abovementioned narration, ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani says: “Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah is one of the outstanding imams, chief of the muhaddithin and shaykh of Islam, yet he says: ‘The first to sit me down to narrate hadith was Abu Hanifah.’ In this is a great proof of the greatness of Abu Hanifah in the science of hadith, and people’s reliance on his opinion with respect to the reliability of narrators. Thus, he (Allah be pleased with him) was not only a muhaddith, but he was from those who made men muhaddithin!” (Abu Hanifah wa Ashabuhu al-Muhaddithun, p. 17)

2. Imam al-Tirmidhi narrates in his Kitab al-‘Ilal: Mahmud ibn Ghaylan narrated to us: He said: Abu Yahya al-Himmani narrated to us: He said: I heard Abu Hanifah say: “I have not seen anyone a greater liar than Jabir al-Ju‘fi (d. 128), nor anyone more virtuous that ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah (27 – 115).” (Al-Jami‘ al-Kabir, Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf ed., 6:233)

Imam al-Tirmidhi narrated this in the context of determining the provenance of the science of al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil. The narrators in al-Tirmidhi’s chain are reliable: Mahmud ibn Ghaylan (d. 239) is a narrator found in the Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, and declared thiqah by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib (Tahrir al-Taqrib 3:353). Abu Yahya ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 202) is also a narrator found in the Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Muslim, and declared thiqah by Ibn Ma‘in, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Qani‘ and others, although some invalid criticism was levelled at him because of irja’. (Tahrir al-Taqrib 2:300-1)

This narration has also been quoted in the books of Rijal under the biographies of Jabir al-Ju’fi and ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah (e.g. Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 2:48), illustrating the acceptance of Imam Abu Hanifah’s view amongst the later experts of this science.

3. In an earlier post, I also quoted Imam Abu Hanifah’s authentic criticism of deviant groups:

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates: al-Khallal reported to us: al-Hariri reported to us that ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Mukram narrated to us: Bishr ibn al-Walid narrated to us: I heard Abu Yusuf say: Abu Hanifah said: “Two groups of the worst of people are from Khurasan: the Jahmiyyah and the Mushabbihah (antropomorphists),” and he probably said “Muqatiliyyah (followers of Muqatil ibn Sulayman (d. 150 H)).” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:514-15) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf said: “Its isnad is sahih, its narrators are trustworthy (thiqat).”

With the same chain, al-Khatib narrates: al-Nakha‘i said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Himmani narrated to us from his father: I heard Abu Hanifah say: “Jahm ibn Safwan is a kafir.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:515) Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf said: “Its isnad is hasan.”

Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinion on Jahm is in fact quoted in the books of Rijal. Al-’Asqalani said in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (vol 10:281): “Muhammad ibn Sima’ah (who is thiqah according al-Saymari and saduq according to al-’Asqalani in al-Taqrib) narrated from Abu Yusuf from Abu Hanifah that he said: ‘Jahm went overboard in negation until he said: He [i.e. Allah] is nothing, and Muqatil went overboard in affirmation until He deemed Allah to be like His creation.’Al-’Asqalani also quotes him saying: “Two disgusting opinions came to us from the east: Jahm the negator [of Allah’s attributes] and Muqatil the anthropomorphist.”

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For more examples of the recorded statements of Imam Abu Hanifah on al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dil from Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, see Abu Hanifah wa Ashabuhu al-Muhaddithun, pp. 45-7.

An Example of a Hadith Transmission from Imam Abu Hanifah

In our classes of Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar by Imam al-Tahawi, we were honoured today to read a hadith via the transmission of Imam Abu Hanifah. In Bab al-Mustahadatu kayfa Tatatahharu li al-Salah (Chapter on how the Woman in Post-Menstrual Bleeding Purifies Herself for Salah), Imam al-Tahawi narrates:

حدثنا صالح بن عبد الرحمن قال ثنا عبد الله بن يزيد المقرىء قال ثنا أبو حنيفة رحمه الله ح وحدثنا فهد قال ثنا أبو نعيم قال ثنا أبو حنيفة رحمه الله عن هشام بن عروة عن أبيه عن عائشة رضي الله عنها أن فاطمة بنت أبي حبيش أتت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت إني أحيض الشهر والشهرين فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إن ذلك ليس بحيض وإنما ذلك عرق من دمك فإذا أقبل الحيض فدعي الصلاة وإذا أدبر فاغتسلي لطهرك ثم توضئي عند كل صلاة

Translation

Salih ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman narrated to us: He said: ‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’ narrated to us: He said: Abu Hanifah narrated to us – ha [a sign for the start of a new chain] – and Fahd narrated to us: He said: Abu Nu’aym narrated to us: He said: Abu Hanifah narrated to us from Hisham ibn ‘Urwah from his father from ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) that Fatimah bint Abi Hubaysh came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and she said: “I was menstruating for a month or two months.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “That is not menstruation, but that is a [ruptured] vessel of your blood. Therefore, when the menstruation comes, leave Salah, and when it leaves [and post-menstrual bleeding begins], then bathe for your purification and then perform wudu for every Salah.” (Amani al-Ahbar fi Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar, Idaratu Ta’lifat Ashrafiyya, 2:91-2)

Brief Analysis of the Chain

Imam al-Tahawi transmits this hadith from Abu Hanifah through two routes, both containing two narrators between him and Abu Hanifah. After that the chain is the same, through the famous link of “Hisham from his father from ‘A’ishah.” Salih ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman, the first shaykh of al-Tahawi, was declared truthful by Ibn Abi Hatim in al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil (ibid. 1:33). Fahd ibn Sulayman, the second shaykh, was declared “thiqah thabt” by Ibn Yunus (Misbah al-Arib, 2:491), one of the highest grades of reliability.

The two narrators from Imam Abu Hanifah are eminent narrators found in all six of the famous collections of hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah). Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’ (120 – 213) was a famous scholar of hadith and readings of the Qur’an (qira’at). Abu Nu’aym al-Fadl ibn Dukayn (130 – 219) was a direct teacher of Imam al-Bukhari, and he narrates many of his hadiths in the Sahih.

The teacher of Abu Hanifah, Hisham ibn ‘Urwah (61 – 146), was a major narrator from the generation of the Tabi’in who heard and narrated from the Sahabah. His narrations, particularly through the route of his father from ‘A’ishah which is found here, are common in the six books of hadith.

(Al-Tahawi also narrated this hadith with the same two chains in his later unparalleled work Sharh Mushkil al-Athar (no. 2732, 7:157, Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut ed.))

This is one amongst many examples which illustrate the eminence of both those who took from Imam Abu Hanifah and those he took from, and puts to rest the claim that hadiths were alien to Abu Hanifah and his fiqh.

Examples of the Eminent Disciples of Imam Abu Hanifah from the Salaf

One of the greatest indications that Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinions in fiqh were informed by an immense knowledge of hadiths, and related Islamic sciences, is the companionship with him of some of the most learned scholars of the salaf. In this respect, the following narrations should shed some light:

1. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (392 – 463) narrates in Tarikh Baghdad: Al-Khallal informed me: ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr al-Hariri informed me that ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: Najih ibn Ibrahim narrated to us: Ibn Karamah narrated to us: We were with Waki‘ [ibn al-Jarrah] (126 – 196) one day and a man said: “Abu Hanifah erred!” Waki‘ said: “How can Abu Hanifah err when with him are the likes of Abu Yusuf (113 – 182) and Zufar (110 – 158) in their logic; and the likes of Yahya ibn Abi Za’idah (120 – 182), Hafs ibn Ghiyath (117 – 194), Hibban (111 – 171) and Mindal (103 – 169) in their memorisation of hadith; and the like of al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n (100 – 175) in his knowledge of language and Arabic; and Dawud al-Ta’i (105 – 162) and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad (107 – 187) in their asceticism and their scrupulousness? The one whose sitting partners are such, he does not come close to erring, because if he erred they would correct him.” (Tarikh Baghdad 16:365)

All the narrators in this chain are trustworthy (thiqat) with the possible exception of Najih ibn Ibrahim: Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali Abu Muhammad al-Khallal (352 – 439) is thiqah according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 8:454); ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr ibn Sahl Abu l-Husayn al-Hariri (292 – 380) is thiqah according to al-‘Atiqi (Tarikh Baghdad 13:470); ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Abu l-Qasim al-Nakha‘i known as “Ibn Kas” (d. 324), is thiqah according to al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 13:540); and Ibn Karamah is Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Karamah (d. 256), and he is a narrator found in Bukhari’s Sahih, declared thiqah by al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib.

The problematic narrator between Ibn Kas and Ibn Karamah, Najih ibn Ibrahim, is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s al-Thiqat (9:220), which means he is saduq or thiqah according to Ibn Hibban. However, Maslamah ibn al-Qasim (d. 353) believed him to be weak (da‘if) as mentioned by al-‘Asqalani (Lisan al-Mizan 8:254). Maslamah ibn al-Qasim, himself, however, was considered da‘if by al-Dhahabi in Mizan al-I‘tidal (Lisan al-Mizan 8:61), and Abu Ja‘far al-Malaqi (d. 702) said “he is questionable (in his reliability).” Imam al-Dhahabi transmitted some criticism of him in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, and no one said he is trustworthy or reliable. A principle of al-Jarh wa l-Ta‘dil states that the criticism of someone who was himself subject to valid criticism is not accepted unless the one criticised is free of any words of praise. Hence, the accreditation (ta‘dil) of Ibn Hibban stands and Maslama’s criticism is rejected. This narration is therefore either hasan or sahih. Moreover, the companionship of those mentioned in this narration is established by other evidence, like those below.

All of the companions mentioned by Waki‘, besides Abu Yusuf and Zufar, are narrators whose hadiths can be found in some of the six famous collections of hadith, and two of them, Yahya and Hafs, have narrations in all six. All of them are also trustworthy narrators (thiqat) of hadith with the possible exceptions of Hibban and Mindal, the sons of ‘Ali al-‘Anbari, regarding whom hadith scholars had mixed opinions.

2. With the same chain up to al-Nakha‘i, al-Khatib narrates: Al-Nakha‘i said: I heard Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i say: I heard Isma‘il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah say: “The [foremost] companions of Abu Hanifah were ten: Abu Yusuf, Zufar, Asad ibn ‘Amr al-Bajali (d. 190), ‘Afiyah al-Awdi (d. 160), Dawud al-Ta’i, al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n al-Mas‘udi, ‘Ali ibn Mushir (d. 189), Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah, Hibban and Mindal the sons of ‘Ali al-‘Anbari, and there was not amongst them the like of Abu Yusuf and Zufar.” (Tarikh Baghdad 16:363)

This narration is sound: Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Bakka’i is Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn ‘Awn al-‘Amiri, Abu Bakr al-Kufi (d. 264), mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s al-Thiqat (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 9:37) and al-‘Asqalani said he is “saduq” (Taqrib al-Tahdhib). Isma‘il ibn Hammad (d. 212) is the grandson of Imam Abu Hanifah and he studied under Abu Hanifah’s direct students like Abu Yusuf. He was Qadi of Baghdad and Basra. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari (118 – 215), a trustworthy (thiqah) narrator of hadith found in all six of the famous collections of hadith, who studied fiqh under Zufar and Abu Yusuf, said: “No one took charge of judgeship from the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab to this day more learned than Isma‘il ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah.” Abu Bakr al-Jubbi said to him: “O Abu ‘Abd Allah! Not even al-Hasan ibn Abi l-Hasan (i.e. al-Basri)?!” He said: “No, not even al-Hasan.” (Lisan al-Mizan 2:114) Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (d. 654), the grandson of the famous Ibn al-Jawzi, said in his Mir’at al-Zaman, Isma‘il ibn Hammad is “trustworthy and reliable” (thiqah saduq). Although Ibn ‘Adi said he is “weak,” his criticism was moved by bias against the Hanafi Imams as he said the same regarding Imam Abu Hanifah in the very same sentence. Salih Jazarah also said “he is not thiqah,” but this was probably because of Isma‘il’s reputation for supporting the doctrine of “the creation of the Qur’an,” but as Sibt ibn al-Jawzi mentioned, his support for this Mu‘tazili doctrine was for reasons of self-preservation, and this was the practice of a number of scholars at that time.

3. In al-Jawahir al-Mudiyyah (no. 307, biography of Asad ibn ‘Amr), al-Qarashi quotes from a book by Imam al-Tahawi the following:

Ibn Abi Thawr wrote to me, narrating to me from Sulayman ibn ‘Imran: Asad ibn al-Furat narrated to me: “The companions of Abu Hanifah who would compile books were 40 men. From the ten foremost of them were: Abu Yusuf, Zufar, Dawud al-Ta’i, Asad ibn ‘Amr, Yusuf ibn Khalid al-Samti (122 – 189), Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah, and he was the one who would write for them (i.e. the companions of Abu Hanifah) for thirty years.”

Ibn Abi Thawr is better known as Ibn ‘Abdun, and his full name is Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Thawr (d. 299). He was a faqih in the Hanafi madhhab, and he was Qadi of Qayrawan (Amani al-Ahbar 1:41). Sulayman ibn ‘Imran narrated from the hafiz Hafs ibn Ghiyath, but according to Ibn Abi Hatim “his hadiths indicate he is unreliable (laysa bi saduq)” (Lisan al-Mizan 4:162). Asad ibn al-Furat (144 – 213) wrote from Yahya ibn Abi Za’idah, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Imam Malik. He was one of the reasons for the codification and spread of the Maliki madhhab. This chain is therefore weak but not very weak, so may be used as supporting evidence. Moreover, all of the individuals mentioned in the narration are recognised and known as companions of Abu Hanifah.

The individuals mentioned in these lists of the prominent students and companions of Abu Hanifah were major scholars from the salaf. I will elaborate on the hadith-knowledge of some of these aforementioned companions of Abu Hanifah:

‘Ali ibn Mushir (120 – 189)

His narrations are found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. Al-‘Ijli said: “He was of those who combined hadith and fiqh. Trustworthy (thiqah).” Al-‘Ijli also said about him, “A champion of the sunnah (sahib sunnah), trustworthy in hadith.” Ibn Sa‘d said, “He was trustworthy, and [possessed] many hadiths.” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 7:383 – 4)

It is clear from al-‘Ijli’s comment that ‘Ali ibn Mushir was not only known for his knowledge of hadiths and the sunnah, but was also known for his mastery in fiqh. His fiqh was acquired through his companionship with Imam Abu Hanifah. It has authentically been reported that ‘Ali ibn Mushir was also the means by which Sufyan al-Thawri learnt of Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinions in fiqh which he would often follow. This explains why the opinions of Sufyan and Abu Hanifah concur in many controversial matters of fiqh, and ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-Mubarak said, “When the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Sufyan concur on something, that is strong.” (Narrated by al-Khatib with a sahih chain in Tarikh Baghdad 15:471, and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr with a different sahih chain in al-Intiqa p. 206)

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463) mentioned that Abu Ya‘qub Yusuf ibn al-Dakhil (d. 388), a major muhaddith of Makkah who transmitted al-‘Uqayli’s book on weak narrators, narrated in his book on the merits of Abu Hanifah: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Firas narrated to us: Musa ibn Harun narrated to us: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani narrated to us: from ‘Ali ibn Mushir: He said: I was with Sufyan al-Thawri when a man asked him about a man who did wudu with water from which another [person] performed wudu. He said: “Yes, he is pure.” I said to him: “Abu Hanifah says it shouldn’t be used for wudu.” He said to me: “Why did he say this?” I said to him: “It is used water (ma’ musta‘mal).” Later, I was with him several days after this when a man came to him asking him about doing wudu from water which had been used by another and he said: “It should not be used for wudu because it is used water,” so he retracted in this [issue] to the opinion of Abu Hanifah. (al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathah, p. 269)

The chain is hasan: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Firas (d. 344) is trustworthy (thiqah) according to al-Dhahabi (Misbah al-Arib 1:18); Musa ibn Harun (d. 294) is trustworthy (thiqah) according to al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib; Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (150 – 228) is trustworthy according to Yahya ibn Ma‘in and al-Ramadi (d. 265) who said he is more trustworthy than even Ibn Abi Shaybah, and Ibn ‘Adi said “I hope there is no harm in him.” However Ibn al-Madini and others criticised him, bringing the hadith down to the level of hasan.

Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Saymari (351 – 436), who is saduq according to al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Tarikh Baghdad 8:634-5), narrated similar narrations in his Akhbar Abi Hanifah wa Ashabih (p. 73) and he said regarding ‘Ali ibn Mushir: “He is the one from whom Sufyan took the knowledge of Abu Hanifah.” (Akhbar Abi Hanifa, 158)

‘Ali ibn Mushir, despite his greatness in hadith, was not only a companion and follower of Imam Abu Hanifah, but a propagator of his madhhab, such that the likes of Sufyan al-Thawri gained the knowledge of Abu Hanifah’s opinions through him.

Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah (120 – 182)

Imam al-Dhahabi introduces Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah as “The firm and proficient hafiz, the faqih, Abu Sa‘id al-Hamdani al-Wadi‘i, their freed-slave, the companion of Abu Hanifah.” (Tadhkirat al-Huffaz 1:267) This is clear proof that Imam al-Dhahabi, an undisputed authority in the field of Rijal, regarded Yahya, based on the above reports and others, as being from the companions of Abu Hanifah.

‘Ali ibn al-Madini said, “There was not in Kufa after Sufyan al-Thawri [anyone] stronger [in hadith] than him.” (ibid p. 268) Al-‘Ijli said, “He was from those who combined fiqh and hadith, and he was judge over al-Mada’in, and is counted amongst the huffaz of the Kufans.”

Again, there is an indication that Yahya gained his reputation as a faqih due to his companionship with Abu Hanifah. Al-Saymari reported: Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Sayrafi informed us: ‘Ali ibn ‘Amr al-Hariri reported to us: Ibn Kas al-Nakha‘i narrated to us from his father: Salih ibn Suhayl narrated to me: “Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah had memorised the most hadiths from the people of his time and [he had] the most fiqh from them, along with constant companionship with Abu Hanifah and Ibn Abi Layla, and [along with] piety and scrupulousness.” (Akhbar Abi Hanifah, 156)

The shaykh of al-Saymari, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Sayrafi (d. 394) is better known as Ibn al-Abnusi. Hamzah ibn Muhammad ibn Tahir al-Daqqaq said “he would not lie” and “he loved to collect books” (Tarikh Baghdad 6:231-2). The remaining narrators are all thiqat except Ibn Kas’s father who is unknown. The narration is therefore weak but not very weak, so can be used as supporting evidence.

Asad ibn ‘Amr al-Bajali (d. 190)

Ahmad ibn Hanbal said regarding him, “saduq.” Yahya ibn Ma‘in said, “There is no harm in him,” which for him is equivalent to “thiqah.” Ibn ‘Adi said, “There is no harm in his hadiths and narrations, and there is not amongst the champions of opinion [one] with more hadiths than him after Abu Hanifah.” Ibn Sa‘d said, “He has many hadiths (hadith kathir) and he is trustworthy (thiqah) if Allah wills,” and Abu Dawud said, “there is no harm in him.” (Lisan al-Mizan 2:90-2) Although some scholars of Rijal criticised him, this was probably due to methodological differences, and not over hadith narration. Otherwise, Imam Ahmad’s, Ibn Ma‘in’s and Abu Dawud’s testimony is enough. Ibn ‘Adi and Ibn Sa‘d both said he possessed “many hadiths.” The books of Rijal that contain his biography all agree he was a close student and companion of Abu Hanifah.

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates with an authentic chain in al-Intiqa (262 – 3) that Abu Yusuf said, Asad ibn ‘Amr “was the most exemplary of Abu Hanifah’s companions.” The men in the chain after Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr are as follows: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan al-Qurtubi (d. 395) who is thiqah according to al-Dhahabi in Siyar (Misbah al-Arib 2:297); al-Qasim ibn Asbagh al-Qurtubi (247 – 340), called “the great hafiz” and “the muhaddith of Cordoba” by al-‘Asqalani, is saduq (Lisan al-Mizan); Ahmad ibn Zuhayr ibn Harb (d. 299) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni and al-Khatib; and Mus‘ab ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Zubayri (d. 236), is thiqah according to Ahmad, Ibn Ma‘in and others, and a narrator of al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.

Hafs ibn Ghiyath (117 – 194)

Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan said: “Hafs is the most trustworthy (awthaq) of the companions of al-A‘mash,” and this is why al-Bukhari would rely on his narrations from al-A‘mash. He is a narrator found in all six of the famous collections of hadith. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said: “Hafs would narrate many hadiths, and he was a hafiz of hadith and strong therein. He was even ahead of the mashayikh from whom he heard hadith.” (Tarikh Baghdad 9:75) Al-‘Ijli said: “Hafs ibn Ghiyath is trustworthy and reliable, a faqih, and he was judge over Kufa. Waki‘ would often be asked about something and he would say: ‘Go to our Qadi and ask him’” (al-Thiqat).

And as mentioned in Waki’s statement above, he was from Abu Hanifah’s companions. However, it is also reported about Hafs ibn Ghiyath that he left the circle of Imam Abu Hanifah (Tarikh Baghdad 15:554).

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There were many other major scholars of the salaf that narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah and admired his opinions, including Waki‘ ibn al-Jarrah, Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan, al-Fadl ibn Dukayn, Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil, Makki ibn Ibrahim, ‘Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’ and others.

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As is clear from the brief biographies of the aforementioned companions of Abu Hanifah, they all combined between memorisation of a large quantity of hadiths and an insight into fiqh which they acquired from the company of Imam Abu Hanifah. This is a great proof that Abu Hanifah did not formulate his opinions while ignorant of hadiths, rather he was aware of all or most of the hadiths that were directly or implicitly related to the issues on which he passed judgement. This is why such great muhaddithin as Yahya ibn Zakariyya ibn Abi Za’idah and ‘Ali ibn Mushir saw no contradiction in their memorisation of a large number of hadiths and the fiqh of Abu Hanifah, and why such masters and huffaz of hadith like Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan and Sufyan al-Thawri would frequently adopt his positions in fiqh.