Imam Abu Hanifah’s Rank in Hadith
07 Oct, 2021
The following extensively researched article is by Shaykh Zameelur Rahman and has been uploaded here with his permission.
Imam Abu Hanifah (80 – 150 H) was from the generation of the Tabi’in as he was alive during the era of the Sahabah and he saw Anas ibn Malik (d. 93 H), although it is not authentic that he narrated from him or any other Sahabi. Imam al-Suyuti mentions in Tabyid al-Sahifah (Mahmud Muhammad Mahmud Hasan Nassar ed. p. 34) that Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani said, “Ibn Sa’d narrated with a sanad in which there is no harm that Abu Hanifah saw Anas.” Ibn Hajar goes on to mention that this distinguishes Abu Hanifah from all the other Imams of the major towns from his contemporaries like al-Awza’i, Hammad ibn Zayd, Hammad ibn Salamah, al-Thawri, Malik, Muslim ibn Khalid and al-Layth ibn Sa’d.
The Status of Imam Abu Hanifah as a Narrator of hadith
An Example of a Hadith Transmission from Imam Abu Hanifah
Narrations of Imam Abu Hanifah from Sharh Mushkil al Athar
Narrations of Imam Abu Hanifah from the Musannaf of ibn Abi Shaybah
The Scholarly Acceptance of Imam Abu Hanifah’s Pronouncements on al-Jarh wa al Ta’dil
The Status of Imam Abu Hanifah as a Narrator of Hadith
Imam Abu Hanifah’s authority in fiqh is accepted by all from the Ahl al-Sunnah, both his supporters and his detractors. However, some still insist on casting doubt on his reliaibility in the narration of hadith. Imam Abu Hanifah did not narrate many hadiths as his preoccupation was fiqh and recording its masa’il, but his dependence on hadith and athar is apparent from his rulings and in this sense he is from the mukthirin – those who narrated large amounts of hadith (see Abu Hanifah wa Ashabuhu l-Muhaddithun, pp. 19-23).
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrated in his Tarikh Baghdad (Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma’ruf ed. 15:473) with an authentic chain of narration [in which all the narrators, al-Khallal, al-Hariri, al-Nakha’i and Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Farisi are thiqat (trustworthy)] from Makki ibn Ibrahim (126 – 214 H), a narrator from Abu Hanifah and one of the oldest shaykhs of Imam Bukhari and a narrator of the six famous collections of hadith described by Ibn Hajar as “thiqah thabt” in al-Taqrib one of the loftiest grades of reliability, that he said about Abu Hanifah,
“Knowledge” (‘ilm) in that time was knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah, showing Abu Hanifah had vast knowledge of hadiths, but he would not be preoccupied with narration. Imam al-Dhahabi wrote:
Imam Abu Hanifah’s trustworthiness in narrating hadith has been transmitted from the following five Imams of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil:
1. Abu Dawud al-Sijistani (202 – 275 H), the author of the Sunan
Abu ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (368 – 463 H) narrates in his al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immati l-Thalathat al-Fuqaha (Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah ed. pp. 66-67): ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Mu’min ibn Yahya (al-Qurtubi), Allah have mercy on him, narrated to us: Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Bakr ibn ‘Abd al-Razzaq, known as Ibn Dasah, narrated to us: I heard Abu Dawud Sulayman ibn al-Ash‘ath ibn Ishaq al-Sijistani, Allah have mercy on him, say:
‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Mu’min al-Qurtubi is reliable (saduq) as mentioned in Lisan al-Mizan (4:587) which also states that “he is from the oldest of Abu ‘Umar (Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr)’s shaykhs.” Ibn Dasah (d. 346) is trustworthy (thiqah) and a narrator of the Sunan from Abu Dawud al-Sijistani (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala). The isnad is therefore sound (hasan).
“Imam” has different meanings, but when used in the context of hadith science and narrator-criticism, it is on par with “trustworthy” (thiqah) and “proof” (hujjah) and “firm” (thabt), as mentioned by al-Sakhawi in his Sharh Alfiyyat al-’Iraqi (al-Raf’ wa l-Takmil, p. 75-6). Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani also sufficed with “Imam” when grading Imam Abu Hanifah’s reliability in Taqrib al-Tahdhib, indicating this term is sufficient to establish trustworthiness.
2. Ali ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Madini (161 – 235 H), the great Imam of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil
Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn al-Husayn Abu l-Fath al-Azdi al-Mawsili (d. 374) mentioned in his book, al-Du‘afa, (quoted in Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s Jami‘ Bayan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih, Abu al-Ashbal al-Zuhayri ed., p. 1083) ‘Ali ibn al-Madini said:
Abu l-Fath al-Azdi narrated it without chain but his manner of narration (using sighat al-jazm) indicates it is authentic according to him.
3. Shu’bah ibn al-Hajjaj (85 – 160 H), the creator of the science of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrated (Al-Intiqa fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha) from Hakam ibn al-Mundhir from Abu Ya‘qub Yusuf ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf Ibn al-Dakhil from Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Hafiz from ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Dawraqi: Yahya ibn Ma‘in was asked about Abu Hanifah while I listened. He said:
Al-Dawraqi is trustworthy (thiqah) according to al-Daraqutni and reliable (saduq) according to Ibn Abi Hatim (Misbah al-Arib 2:133). The rest of the narrators are known as huffaz and muhaddithin but their reliability is unknown. This narration is therefore either weak (da’if) or sound (hasan), depending on the principles used.
Shu’bah ibn al-Hajjaj would only narrate from trustworthy narrators, so if the above narration is sound, this would amount to Shu’bah declaring Abu Hanifah trustworthy.
4. Yahya ibn Ma’in (158 – 233 H), the great scholar of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil
Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhriz, a student of Ibn Ma’in, narrated in his transmission of Ma’rifat al-Rijal of Ibn Ma’in from Yahya ibn Ma‘in that he said:
And he said once:
Ma’rifat al-Rijal, Muhammad Kamil al-Qassar ed., vol. 1, no. 230; also al-Khatib with his chain in Tarikh Baghdad 15:580
Ibn Muhriz’s reliability is unknown (he is majhul al-hal) but his narrations from Ibn Ma’in on the narrators of hadith have generally been accepted by the scholars of Rijal, and this transmission from him is corroborated by other narrations (mentioned below). It is well-known that Ibn Ma’in’s statement “there is no harm in him” is equivalent to his statement “trustworthy” (thiqah), as mentioned in Tadrib al-Rawi. This narration, therefore, proves Imam Abu Hanifah is trustworthy according to Ibn Ma’in.
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates: (Abu l-Hasan Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad) ibn Rizq (325 – 412) narrated to us: Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar ibn Hubaysh al-Razi narrated to us: I heard Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isam (d. 313) say: I heard Muhammad ibn Sa‘d al-‘Awfi say: I heard Yahya ibn Ma‘in say:
Ibn Rizq is trustworthy according to al-Khatib and al-Barqani. Ahmad ibn Ali ibn ‘Umar ibn Hubaysh is trustworthy (Tarikh Baghdad 5:510). Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isam’s reliability is unknown. He is mentioned in Tarikh Asbahan of Abu Nu‘aym. Muhammad ibn Sa‘d al-‘Awfi is weak (layyin) according to al-Khatib but according to al-Daraqutni “there is no harm in him.” The narration is therefore weak (da’if) or sound (hasan), but more probably the latter as it is supported by similar statements from Ibn Ma’in like the two narrations mentioned above.
Hafiz al-Mizzi (654 – 742), the teacher of al-Dhahabi, writes in the introduction to his major work on narrators Tahdhib al-Kamal,
Tahdhib al-Kamal, Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf ed., 1:153
In his biography of Abu Hanifah in Tahdhib al-Kamal, he mentions the two narrations above without isnad, and also a third:
Salih ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn Habib al-Asadi (d. 293) is trustworthy as mentioned by al-Daraqutni, al-Khatib and others (Misbah al-Arib, 2:93). Hence, this narration is authentic according to al-Mizzi.
There were other narrations from Ibn Ma’in declaring Abu Hanifah trustworthy as mentioned in Tarikh Baghdad but they have weaknesses in them.
Based on these aforementioned four narrations (from al-Dawraqi, Ibn Muhriz, Salih ibn Muhammad al-Asadi and al-’Awfi), the later scholars have agreed the preserved (mahfuz) opinion of Yahya ibn Ma’in is Abu Hanifah is trustworthy. This is clear from al-Mizzi’s relation of only the three above-mentioned narrations in his Tahdhib al-Kamal, followed by al-Dhahabi in his Siyar and al-’Asqalani in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib. Dr. Bashshar Awwad also mentions in his footnotes to Tarikh Baghdad the preserved (mahfuz) opinion of Yahya ibn Ma’in is that Abu Hanifah is trustworthy. None of the later scholars like Mizzi, Dhahabi and ‘Asqalani mentioned any criticism from Ibn Ma’in of Abu Hanifah, indicating they believed the criticism narrated from him is inauthentic or unreliable.
There is however a narration with an authentic chain to Ibn Ma‘in, as narrated by Ibn ‘Adi in his al-Kamil fi Du’afa al-Rijal from ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Sulayman (227 – 317) who is thiqah according to Ibn Yunus (Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala) from Ahmad ibn Sa‘d ibn Abi Maryam (d. 253) who is saduq according to Ibn Hajar in al-Taqrib: “I asked Yahya ibn Ma‘in about Abu Hanifah and he said: “His hadiths are not written.”” This narration is also found in Tarikh Baghdad. Criticising this narration because of Ahmad ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Maryam as was done by Imam al-Kawthari in his Ta’nib al-Khatib is incorrect, as is clear from the biographical notices on Ahmad ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Maryam. While the phrase “his hadiths are not written” does not necessarily indicate weakness in Ibn Ma‘in’s usage, if it is accepted as a weakening (tad’if), it would contradict the above-mentioned more reliable and more numerous narrations, and would thus be shadhdh (an anomaly) and thus rejected when compared to the mahfuz narrations from Ibn Ma’in. There is another narration narrated in Tarikh Baghdad (15:581) from Ibn Ma’in saying Abu Hanifah “was weakened” but this is undoubtedly fabricated due to a particular narrator (Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Shaybah) in the chain.
5. Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi (321 – 405 H), the author of al-Mustadrak
Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi (321 – 405 H) , one of the first to write on the subject of ‘Ulum al-Hadith, wrote in his seminal work Ma’rifatu ‘Ulum al-Hadith in “Type 49 of the sciences of Hadith” (p. 642) that, “This type of science is knowledge of the well-known trustworthy imams (al-a’immat al-thiqat al-mashhurin) from the Tabi’in and their successors [i.e. the second and third generations] of those whose hadiths are gathered for memorisation, revision and seeking blessing through them. We will list them, from the east to the west.” (p. 642) While listing the “famous trustworthy imams” from Kufa, he mentions “Abu Hanifah al-Nu’man ibn Thabit al-Taymi” (p. 649).
In brief, therefore, it is established from Yahya ibn Ma’in, Abu Dawud al-Sijistani and al-Hakim that they believed Abu Hanifah was trustworthy and reliable in narrating hadith. The narration from Shu’bah is not as strongly established, while the narration from Ibn al-Madini is sound according to Abu l-Fath al-Azdi. Once it is established from the reliable scholars of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil that a narrator is trustworthy (thiqah) as is the case here, any unexplained criticism (jarh mubham) will not be accepted, based on the accepted principles of this science. Hence, al-Bukhari’s statement “they abandoned him” (“sakatu ‘anhu” which for al-Bukhari is equivalent to “tarakuhu“), al-Nasa’i’s “he is not strong” (laysa bi l-qawi), Muslim’s assessment in his al-Kuna wa l-Asma (no. 963 ed. ‘Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Ahmad al-Qashqari) that he is “confused in hadith” (mudtarib al-hadith) and al-Daraqutni’s “da’if” will not be accepted as they are unexplained. The explained criticism mentioned in the printed version of Mizan al-I’tidal by al-Dhahabi in which it mentions “al-Nasa’i and others weakened him due to his memory,” this is an insertion by a later scribe as is established by internal evidence (al-Dhahabi said he would not mention the biographies of the four imams of fiqh) and external evidence (al-’Asqalani did not mention it in Lisan al-Mizan which is an expansion of al-Dhahabi’s work; and the earliest manuscripts of Mizan al-I’tidal do not contain a biography of Abu Hanifah). This was detailed by Abu Ghuddah in his footnotes to al-Raf’ wa l-Takmil.
Ibn Ma’in, in fact, also provides us with an explanation of the reason for other muhaddithun’s criticism of Abu Hanifah. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates: ‘Abd al Rahman ibn Yahya narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Sa‘id narrated to us: Abu Sa‘id ibn al-A‘rabi narrated to is: ‘Abbas ibn Muhammad al-Duri narrated to us: I heard Yahya ibn Ma‘in say: “Our companions have gone overboard in [their bias] against Abu Hanifah and his companions.” It was said to him: “Would Abu Hanifah lie?” He said “He was nobler than that.” (Jami‘ Bayan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih, Abu al-Ashbal al-Zuhayri ed., p. 1081) The editor Abu al-Ashbal al-Zuhayri says “It’s isnad is sahih.” This indicates the muhaddithun had a bias against Abu Hanifah and his students due to what they perceived as excessive issuance of rulings based on opinion, so their criticism should be taken with precaution. Hafiz Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463 H) wrote: “Those who narrated from Abu Hanifah, and declared him trustworthy, and praised him, are more than those who criticised him; and those who criticised him from the scholars of hadith, most of what they blamed him for is immersion in juristic opinion, analogy and irja’ [all of which are invalid criticisms].” (Jami‘ Bayan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih, quoted in the footnotes to al-Intiqa’ fi Fada’il al-A’immat al-Thalathah, p. 185)
Explained criticism (jarh mufassar), however, has precedence over accreditation (ta’dil). Some scholars of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil did explain their criticism of Abu Hanifah. Ibn Abi Dawud (230 – 316) said as narrated by al-Khatib (Tarikh Baghdad 15:576) that Abu Hanifah narrated 150 hadiths and erred in half of them. However, it is known that there were individuals who fabricated narrations with chains through Abu Hanifah, and it was probably these narrations that these scholars criticised. This is known to have been the case with Ibn ‘Adi who narrated narrations from Abu Hanifah through Abba ibn Ja‘far al-Najirami who was active in the third century Hijri and would narrate fabricated hadiths through Abu Hanifah (Lisan al-Mizan 1:231). Many of his false hadiths are included in Musnad Abi Hanifah by Abu Muhammad al-Harithi (257 – 340). Al-Najirami was probably the reason why Ibn Abi Dawud believed Abu Hanifah would make mistakes and confused his narrations. Furthermore, there is some question over the integrity of Ibn Abi Dawud himself as mentioned in Lisan al-Mizan.
There is, however, another narration from Ibn al-Madini as narrated by al-Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad (15:581): ‘Ali ibn Muhammad (ibn al-Hasan) al-Maliki informed me: ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Uthman al-Saffar reported to us: Muhammad ibn ‘Imran al-Sayrafi reported to us: ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Madini narrated to us: “I asked my father about Abu Hanifah, the champion of opinion, and he weakened him severely and said: “Were he in front of me, I would not ask him about anything. He narrated fifty hadiths in which he erred.”” This is an explained criticism as it states the weakening is due to the errors found in his narrations. All the narrators are trustworthy, besides al-Khatib’sshaykh, Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Maliki (350 – 437 H) who is reliable (saduq) as mentioned in Tarikh Baghdad (13:584), and besides the son of Ibn al-Madini whose reliability is unknown. The narration therefore has a questionable chain. Moreover, it is contradicted by the narration mentioned above from Ibn al-Madini that Abu Hanifah is trustworthy in hadith. It is also contradicted by the narration from Yahya ibn Ma’in mentioned above in which he said “I have not heard anyone weakening him,” as Ibn al-Madini was a contemporary. This narration from Ibn al-Madini is therefore objectionable (munkar) with respect to its matn (text), particularly since the later specialists in the field of narrator-criticism who had full knowledge of Abu Hanifah’s available hadith narrations in the Masanid, Kitab al-Athar and other works, like Imams al-Mizzi, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir and Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, had only praise of him and assessed him to be strong in hadith; and if they found a large number of errors in his hadiths when compared to the hadiths of other narrators, they would not have made such an assessment.
The above is a detailed analysis of the bulk of the authentic information from the early scholars explicitly relating to Abu Hanifah’s reliability in narrating hadith. There are of course many other narrations relating to Imam Abu Hanifah’s piety and knowledge, and others criticising him in relation to fiqh and religion, but these have little relevance when it comes to his reliability in hadith. However, many evidences with respect to Abu Hanifah’s knowledge, honesty and memory support the conclusion that he was trustworthy in hadith.
In sum, it is established Abu Hanifah is trustworthy according to Yahya ibn Ma’in, Abu Dawud and al-Hakim, and probably Shu’bah ibn al-Hajjaj and Ibn al-Madini, so the ambiguous criticism of some muhaddithun will not be accepted based on the principle that an unexplained criticism is rejected in light of accreditation, while the authentic statements of Ibn Abi Dawud and Ibn ‘Adi explaining the criticism of Abu Hanifah that he erred when narrating hadiths can be explained by the deliberate fabrications made against Abu Hanifah circulating at that time. There is no doubt that the later pre-modern great scholars who had full access to all the primary sources and used them in their works, like al-Mizzi (in Tahdhib al-Kamal), al-Dhahabi (in Siyar A’lam al-Nubala and Tadhkirat al-Huffaz) and al-’Asqalani (in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib), all believed Abu Hanifah was trustworthy in hadith, based on a complete analysis of the evidence. It should therefore be accepted that Abu Hanifah was trustworthy in narrating hadith. Modern detractors of Abu Hanifah like al-Albani dug up statements criticising Abu Hanifah after the ummah agreed to reject them and with no apparent knowledge of the principles of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil, they present them as conclusive evidence of Abu Hanifah being weak in narrating hadith. Fair analyses, taking into account all the evidence and the principles outlined by the scholars of al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil, and devoid of bias in favour of Abu Hanifah or against him, clearly show he was a reliable transmitter of hadith.
An Example of a Hadith Transmission from 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
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.
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 above. 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 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:
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 further down below), 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:
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 inTaqrib 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:
The shaykh of al-Tahawi, Yazid ibn Sinan ibn Yazid al-Qazzaz (178 – 264), is also one of theshaykhs 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’ighnarrated 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:
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.
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)
Here is 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 here, 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-Taqribof 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 here. (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 other articles 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 inSahih 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).
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 greatestfaqih 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 faqihfrom 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 further down below), 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 besidesSahih 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:
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:
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:
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 saduqaccording 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:
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’sTadhkirat al-Huffaz.
After mentioning the abovementioned narration, ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani says:
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 another 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 inTahdhib 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.”
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.