Imam Abu Hanifah and his connection to the Sahabi: Ibn Mas‘ūd (ra)
The following is a short treatise linking the Ḥanafī Madhab, one of the great schools of jurisprudence established during the time of the Salaf, to one of the great Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, and for the most part this treatise also serves as an answer to the accusations made against this great companion with regards to his credentials in the Islāmic sciences.
Imām Abū Ḥanīfah’s chain of knowledge is as follows:
1. Imām Abū Ḥanīfah al-Nu‘mān Ibn Thābit: he took over the seat of teaching in Kūfā after his teacher Ḥammād Ibn Abī Sulaymān passed away, and was recognised as his main student.
2. Ḥammād Ibn Abī Sulaymān: he was the most learned of the students of Ibrāhīm al-Nakha‘ī and the most noble.
3. Ibrāhīm al-Nakha‘ī: he was born into a family of Scholars, he succeeded ‘Alqamah Ibn Qays, his maternal uncle. He was also regarded as those who were most knowledgeable in regards to opinions and views of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd.
4. ‘Alqamah Ibn Qays: he was a highly recognised student of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd to the extent that he was regarded as the closest of the people in terms of attributes, conduct and habit, to ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd.
5. He is ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd (May Allāh be pleased with him), he was a noteable ṣaḥābī (companion) of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ and died in the year 33 or 34 ḥijrī. He has many outstanding virtues which would be far too lengthy to mention here. It suffices to say that there was not a field that he himself did not excel in, this is because of his attachment to the Messenger ﷺ and always being in close proximity to him; learning from him, helping him [doing his khidmah], asking questions related to the Dīn to the extent that even onlookers would think that he was part of the Ahl ‘l-Bayt [The Messenger’s ﷺ family].
Imām Shams ‘l-Dīn al-Dhahabī writes in his Siyar:
‘(Imām) al-Bukhārī and (Imām) al-Nasā’ī narrated from a narration of Abū Mūsā that he said: ‘Me and my brother came from Yemen [to Madīnah] and stayed for sometime, we were then led to believe that Ibn Mas‘ūd and his mother were part of the household of the Prophet ﷺ due to their constant going in and out [from the house]’.
He goes on to narrate further:
‘Manṣūr and al-A‘mash [both] narrate from Abū Wā’il that he said we were with Ḥudhayfah while Ibn Mas‘ūd went by, so Ḥudhayfah said [regarding Ibn Mas‘ūd]: ‘Verily, [he was] the closest of the people to the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ in terms of conduct, habit, judgement and speech, until he went in his home [after which we did not know]’.
‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd – The Narrator of Ḥadīth
From Ḥudhayfah that he said: ‘We were sitting with the Prophet ﷺ and he said: ‘I do not know how long I will be amongst you, so stick to the two after me,’ and he signalled towards Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, ‘be guided through the example of ‘Ammār and whatever Ibn Mas‘ūd narrates to you believe it [accept it]’. [Imām al-Tirmidhī said] This is a ḥasan ḥadīth, Ibrāhīm Ibn Sa‘d narrates this ḥadīth from Suyān al-Thawrī from ‘Abd ‘l-Mālik Ibn ‘Umayr from Hilāl the Mawlā of Rib‘ī from Rib‘ī from Ḥudhayfah from the Prophet ﷺ similar to the above. Sālim al-Murādī al-Kūfī also narrated the same from ‘Amr Ibn Harim from Rib‘ī Ibn Ḥirāsh from Ḥudhayfah from Prophet ﷺ similar to the above.
‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd – The Mufassir (Qur’ānic Exegete)
‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd said: ‘By Allāh besides whom there is no God, there is not a sūrah that was revealed from the Book of Allāh except that I am the most knowledgable regarding where it was revealed, and there is not an āyah from the Book of Allāh that was revealed except that I am the most knowledgeable regarding its [reason for] revelation, and if I were to know of anyone more knowledgeable than me regarding the book of Allāh who was within [the distance of] a camel’s journey, I would surely travel to him’.
‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd – The Faqīh (Jurisprudent)
The statement of ‘Umar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb regarding Ibn Mas‘ūd’s jurisprudential skills proves he also excelled in this field:
From Zayd Ibn Wahb, he said: ‘Abdullāh came by one day whilst ‘Umar was sitting, so he [‘Umar] said: ‘He [Ibn Mas‘ūd] is a person filled with [the knowledge of] fiqh’.
It is sufficient to mention that Imām al-Dhahabī gives him the title of Faqīh ‘l-Ummah (The Jurist of the Ummah).
‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd – The Natural Leader
From ‘Alī may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said: ‘If I were to appoint a leader (khalīfah) without consultation then I would appoint over them Ibn Ummi ‘Abd (Ibn Mas‘ūd)’. [Imām al-Ḥākim says] This is a ḥadīth which has an authentic chain although it was not narrated in the ṣaḥīḥayn’.
From ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Amr that he said: the Messenger of Allāh said: ‘Take the Qur‘ān [meaning it’s recitation] from four (people), from ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, Sālim, Mu‘ādh Ibn Jabal, and Ubayy Ibn Ka‘b’.
Points of Benefit:
One thing the above Imāms have in common is that they were all distinguished students of their teachers. This chain of knowledge containing intellectuals of the highest calibre from their respective times has been summarised in Radd ‘l-Muḥtār of ‘Allāmah Ibn ‘Ābidīn al-Shāmī as follows:
‘Fiqh was planted by ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd, irrigated by ‘Alqamah, harvested by Ibrāhīm al-Nakha‘ī, threshed by Ḥammād [Ibn Abī Sulaymān], milled by Abū Ḥanīfah, kneaded by Abū Yūsuf, and then baked by Muḥammad [Ibn ‘l-Ḥasan al-Shaybani]. [And now] the rest of Muslims are eating from his bread.'
It is manifest that the great companion ‘Abdullāh Ibn Mas‘ūd was a Mujtahid of highest repute, and left no field except that he had mastered it.
 Imām al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām ‘l-Nubalā (5/232)  Ibid.  Ibid (4/521)  Imām Dāraqūṭnī, Sunan al-Dāraqūṭnī (3/94 no. 3319)  Ibid (4/55), Imām al-Dhahabī writes:
Compiled by Abu Humayd