Golden Advice of Imam Abu Hanifah for Ramadan

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates:

Al-Jawhari reported to us: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Abhari reported to us: He said: Abu ‘Arubah al-Harrani narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Sayf narrated to us: He said: I heard Abu ‘Asim al-Nabil say:

“A man said to Abu Hanifah: ‘When is eating prohibited for a fasting person?’ He said: ‘When dawn comes.’ Then the questioner said to him: ‘And if the middle of the night comes?’ Thereupon, Abu Hanifah said to him: ‘Stand up [in prayer] O lame one!’” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:481-2)

Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf comments: “Its isnad is sahih.”

Tahajjud (the night-prayer) is a highly recommended Salah, particularly in the month of Ramadan. It is described as “the way of the righteous” in hadith and as an expiation for sins and a safeguard against wrongdoing. Since Muslims should generally be awake for the pre-dawn meal (suhur), there should be no difficulty in praying a minimum of two rak’ahs of Tahajjud Salah during the nights of Ramadan. We should all, insha Allah, make a resolve to act on this golden advice of Imam Abu Hanifah for the coming Ramadan, and ask Allah to make it easy for us.

The Soft Heart of Imam Abu Hanifah

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates:

Al-Khallal reported to us: He said: Al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Bakhtari ibn Muhammad narrated to us: He said: Muhammad ibn Sama‘ah narrated to us from Muhammad ibn al-Hasan [al-Shaybani]: He said: al-Qasim ibn Ma‘n narrated to me that Abu Hanifah stood [in prayer] one night with this verse: “Nay! The Hour is their appointed time, and the Hour is more calamitous and bitterer,” (54:46) repeating it, and weeping and humbling himself (yatadarra’). (Tarikh Baghdad 15:489)

Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad comments: “The isnad of this report is sahih; its narrators are trustworthy.”

In this is an embodiment of the verses: “Allah has revealed the finest discourse, a Book con-similar oft-repeated, at which the skins of these who fear their Lord tremble; then their skins and their hearts soften at the remembrance of Allah.” (39:23) “Only they are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith.” (8:2) “Remember your Lord in your heart with humility and awe, and without speaking loudly, in mornings and evenings, and do not be among the heedless. ” (7:205)

Imam Abu Yusuf’s Supplication for Imam Abu Hanifah after the Obligatory Salah

The foremost student of Imam Abu Hanifah, the mujtahid Imam, Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ibrahim, the first to be given the post of Qadi al-Qudat (Chief Judge) in Islam, would supplicate for his teacher after the obligatory Salahs, a time in which du’as are “most heard” according to a hadith recorded by al-Tirmidhi.

Hafiz Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates:

‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan narrated to us: He said: Qasim ibn Asbagh narrated to us: He said: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Abu Sufyan al-Himyari narrated to us from ‘Ali ibn Harmalah: He said: Abu Yusuf al-Qadi used to say after his Salah: “O Allah! Forgive me, and my parents and Abu Hanifah.” (al-Intiqa’ fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha p. 258)

The chain up to Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh was shown to be authentic in earlier posts. Abu Sufyan al-Himyari (112 – 202), or Sa’id ibn Yahya al-Wasiti, has some narrations in Sahih al-Bukhari and Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, and was considered reliable (saduq) by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib, and trustworthy (thiqah) by Abu Dawud as mentioned in Tahdhib al-Kamal (11:109). ‘Ali ibn Harmalah, a Qadi of Kufa, was a contemporary of Imam Abu Yusuf, and is mentioned in Kitab al-Thiqat of Ibn Hibban. The chain is therefore sound.

This practice may have been inherited from Imam Abu Hanifah himself. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates with his chain that Abu Hanifah said: “I have not prayed a single Salah since Hammad [ibn Abi Sulayman] died but I sought forgiveness for him with my parents, and indeed I seek forgiveness for those from whom I acquired knowledge or [those to] whom I imparted knowledge.” (Tarikh Baghdad 15:457) The chain contains one unknown narrator, while the rest of the narrators are reliable except for Ibrahim ibn Sama’ah, the narrator from Imam Abu Hanifah, who was described as a “Shi’i” (Lisan al-Mizan 1:295).

The Kindness of Imam Abu Hanifah to His Mother

As can be gleaned from many of the earlier posts, Imam Abu Hanifah was exemplary in many facets of an Islamic character, from his worship and piety, to his generosity, knowledge, patience and activism. The following narrations also display his exemplary character in his behaviour with his mother.

1. Al-Khatib narrates: Al-Khallal reported to us: He said: al-Hariri informed us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Abu Salih al-Bakhtari ibn Muhammad narrated to us: He said: Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah narrated to us: Sulayman ibn Mansur narrated to me: He said: Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Hadrami narrated to me: He said: “In our mosque, there was a storyteller called Zur‘ah. The mosque of the Hadramites was associated with him. The mother of Abu Hanifah wanted to seek fatwa in a matter so Abu Hanifah issued her a fatwa but she did not accept. She said: ‘I will only accept what Zur‘ah – the storyteller – says.’ So Abu Hanifah brought her to Zur‘ah and he said: ‘This is my mother, she is seeking a fatwa in such and such a matter.’ He said: ‘You are more learned than me and have more knowledge of jurisprudence! So you issue her a fatwa.’ Abu Hanifah said: ‘I had given her such and such a fatwa.’ Zur‘ah said: ‘The [correct] opinion is as Abu Hanifah said.’ Then she was satisfied and returned.’”

The chain is hasan: Al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators, as shown in earlier posts. Al-Daraqutni said about al-Bakhtari ibn Muhammad (d. 290) according to Su’alat Hakim “there is no harm in him” (Mawsu‘at Aqwal Abi al-Hasan al-Daraqutni, p. 145, Tarikh Baghdad 7:640-1); Ya‘qub ibn Shaybah (182 – 262) is the famous author of a Musnad and is thiqah (Tarikh Baghdad 16:410-12);  Sulayman ibn Mansur (d. 240) was declared thiqah by al-Nasa’i, and he narrated from ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181) (Tahdhib al-Kamal 12:75); Hujr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in al-Thiqat. Al-Khatib also narrated the same incident through a second chain, giving it further support.

2. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan narrated to us: He said: Qasim narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Zuhayr narrated to us: He said: Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh narrated to us: He said: Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah – who died in the year 180 at the age of 90 or so – narrated to me: He said: “We would pray with ‘Umar ibn Dharr in the month of Ramadan the [night] vigil [of Tarawih], so Abu Hanifah would come and would bring his mother with him, though his place was very far and Ibn Dharr would pray till close to the pre-dawn [meal time].” (Al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha p. 256)

The chain is sahih: ‘Abd al-Warith ibn Sufyan al-Qurtubi (d. 395) is thiqah according to al-Dhahabi in Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’ (Misbah al-Arib 2:297); al-Qasim ibn Asbagh al-Qurtubi (247 – 340) was called “the great hafiz” and “the muhaddith of Cordoba” by al-‘Asqalani and is saduq (Lisan al-Mizan); Ahmad ibn Zuhayr ibn Harb (205 – 299) is thiqah according to al-Daraqutni and al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 5:265-7); Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh (151 – 246) is thiqah according to Abu Dawud (Tarikh Baghdad 10:68)

Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah is Hamzah ibn al-Mughirah ibn Nashit al-Makhzumi al-Kufi. He is mentioned in Kitab al-Thiqat of Ibn Hibban. Al-Mizzi lists ‘Umar ibn Dharr amongst those he narrated from and Sulayman ibn Abi Shaykh amongst those who narrated from him. Yahya ibn Ma‘in said “there is no harm in him” which for him is equivalent to thiqah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 7:340) ‘Umar ibn Dharr al-Hamdani al-Kufi (d. 153), who led the Tarawih prayer in this report, is a narrator found in the six collections besides Muslim and Ibn Majah, although the latter transmitted from him in his Tafsir. He narrated from his father, ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and others. Al-Mizzi lists Abu Hanifah amongst those who narrated from him and says “he was from his contemporaries.” Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Qattan, al-Nasa’i, al-Daraqutni, al-‘Ijli and Ya‘qub ibn Sufyan said he is thiqah. (Tahdhib al-Kamal 21:334-40)

3. In an earlier post, I mentioned the following narration in which Imam Abu Hanifah expresses his love and concern for his mother:

Al-Khatib narrates: Al-Khallal reported to us: al-Hariri reported to us that al-Nakha‘i narrated to them: He said: Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan narrated to us: He said: Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid narrated to us from his father: He said: “Abu Hanifah would be brought out every day,” or he said, “amongst the days, and he was beaten, to [force him to] accept judgeship but he refused. He wept on some of the days, and when he was freed, he said to me: ‘The grief of my mother was more difficult on me than the beating.’” (Tarikh Baghdad15:449)

The chain is sound: the narrators al-Khallal, al-Hariri and al-Nakha‘i are trustworthy narrators (thiqat) as detailed in earlier posts; Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Affan (d. 277) was declared thiqah by al-Daraqutni (Misbah al-Arib 3:195); although some imams held negative opinions of Yahya ibn ‘Abd al-Hamid (d. 228), he was declared thiqah by Mutayyan, Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ibn Numayr and Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Bushanji (204-290) [a great hadith-scholar whose narrations are found in Sahih al-Bukhari], and Ibn ‘Adi said: “I did not find in his Musnad or his hadiths anything objectionable (munkar), and I hope there is no harm in him” (Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 11:243-9); Abu Yahya ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 202) is 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)

The Generosity of Imam Abu Hanifah

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).”