Home > Biographies > Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 2

Imam Abu Hanifa (Rd) : Part 2

Statements from Imam Bukhari

Imam Bukhari never met Imam Abu Hanifah ( died 150 AH). We don’t have any record that Imam Bukhari read any one the books attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah .

So the question now is , what was the source of information to Imam Bukhari?

1) Imam al-Bukhari has stated:

“Imam Abu Hanifa was a Murji’i”

[Al-Ta’rikh al-Kabir, under the ‘Biography of Numan ibn Thabit’]

Imam al-Bukhari also writes:

“When Sufyan ath-Thawri [a great scholar of Islam] heard news about the death of Imam Abu Hanifa, he said: ‘Praise beto Allah that such a man had died as he was gradually destroying Islam. There could not be a worse person born in Islam’ “

[Ta’rikh Saghir, Biography of Imam Abu Hanifa]

Imam al-Bukhari also writes:

“On two occasions Imam Abu Hanifa was ordered to repent from making blasphemous statements”

[al-Bukhari, Kitab ad-Daufa Walmat Rukin; Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Barr, Al-Intiqa]

Imam al-Bukhari informs us that he had taken these statements from his tutor Na’im ibn Hamad [Ta’rikh as-Saghir]

Imam al-Bukhari was so convinced by his tutor, that he never mentioned or used Imam Abu Hanifa as a reference for his book Sahih al-Bukhari, although whenever he did mention Imam Abu Hanifa he referred to him as ‘Kufi’ (nicknamed from his homeland – Kufa).

Before we proceed any further, it is important to refer to one particular accusation against Imam Abu Hanifa – the accusation that he belonged to a deviant sect called the Murji’ites.To answer this, we first need to see what character Imam Abu Hanifa possessed. It is important in responding to this accusation to find out who gave Imam al-Bukhari information regarding Imam Abu Hanifa. Insha’llah, we will demonstrate that he was not a Murji’i and pinpoint from where this false accusation came from.

I have mentioned that Na’im ibn Hammad conveyed this information to Imam al-Bukhari but before proceeding any further, let us take note of what Hafiz adh-Dhahabi, Hafiz al-‘Asqalani and Katib al-Baghdadi have written in connection to Na’im ibn Hammad:

” Na’im ibn Hammad was a famous scholar from a region called Marau. He had sight in one eye only. During the later part of his life he went to live in Egypt.At first, he belonged to a sect called the Jahmites, and was an active member. He then later left this sect and wrote a book, which was the first book to use the science of Musnad. These were a compilation of narrations by the Sahaba, which were placed in an alphabetical order, according to whom they had narrated the hadith. During this particular period, the Umma used to question whether the Holy Qur’an was makhluq (created). When this question was put forward to Na’im ibn Hammad he did not give an explanation. He was then sent to prison along side Yaqub Faqia. He died in 228 AH. It was noted that no janaza [funeral prayer] was prayed over him and he was buried without a kaffan [shroud]”

[al-Baghdadi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz; adh-Dhahabi, Tahzib al-Tahzib; al-‘Asqalani and al-Baghdadi, Biography of Na’im ibn Hammad]

This is a brief overview of his life and now we shall examine as to what status he held as a scholar.We shall do this by looking at what Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-‘Asqalani have written, since they compiled together all the works by previous scholars who had written concerning Na’im ibn Hammad. What follows are their accounts:

Imam Abu Dawud said:

“Na’im ibn Hammad had attributed twenty ahadith to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) which he in fact had never said, thus being fabricated sayings.

Here are two examples of such fabrications:

1) Abu Hurayra reported that:

“The Prophet of Islam (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had said:’A time will come, when if you adhere to ten percent of Allah’s commands you will succeed, and if you leave this ten percent you will die [spiritually, not physically].”

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had never uttered such words – this is a munkar narration (narrated by a weak reporter that goes against another authentic hadith).

2) Abu Hurayra narrates:

“The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had said: ‘A time will come when my Umma will be split into more than 70 sects.The worst will be those who indulge in qiyas [analogical deduction] in matters of uncertainty’.”

Abu Zur’a said: “I asked Imam Yayha ibn Mu’in, ‘Where did Na’im ibn Hammad get this hadith?’He answered that it has no origins and that this is not a hadith but has been invented.”Whatever Na’im ibn Hammad had said about Imam Abu Hanifa were all lies and had no substance.Abu Zur’a said that whenever Nu’aym ibn Hammad would narrate a hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), he would add in his own words in the hadith. Whenever he would narrate a fabricated hadith he would attribute it to the “great Imam of Hadith.”

Daraqutni said that whenever Nu’aym used to mention a fabricated hadith, he would do so to support the Sunna. He had a lot of munkar narrations, which other Imams did not have [adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I’tidal and Tahzib al-Tahzib; al-‘Asqalani, Biography of Nu’aym ibn Hammad]

Imam al-Bukhari took his narrations from Nu’aym ibn Hammad for his book, Sahih al-Bukhari andTa’rikh.Since Nu’aym ibn Hammad received criticism from amongst the Muhaddithin likewise, Imam al-Bukhari also received criticism for his book of Hadith from the scholars of Hadith.

This overview concerning the character of Nu’aym ibn Hammad will allow us to understand that he was not a reliable Hadith expert in the eyes of the Scholars of Hadith.Now we shall elaborate upon the statements made by Imam al-Bukhari about Imam Abu Hanifa by noting what the scholars of Hadith had to say concerning him.

From this we can demonstrate that Imam al-Bukhari’s Ta’rikh is in no way free from error, nor did it remain uncriticised from Hadith scholars.As a result, it would be unfair to “blindly” accept everything that has been written in it as the absolute Truth.

By now, it should have been made obvious that the person that gave Imam Bukhari information regarding Imam Abu Hanifa (i.e. Nu’aym ibn Hammad) was unreliable.The Muhaddithin tell us that he used to make up fabricated hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and he also made false stories about Imam Abu Hanifa. As we are told not to believe in his narrations, similarly, we should not accept those statements regarding Imam Abu Hanifa, since they are all lies, according to Hafiz adh-Dhahabi and Hafiz al-‘Asqalni.

Anyone who has read the the history of Islamic scholarship accepts and understands that criticisms were not only made against Imam Abu Hanifa but were also made against many of the Muhaddithin.The simple principle is that when accusations are made against any of the great scholars of Islam, who have the respect from the majority of the Umma, those accusations are rejected.We shall provide you with some examples:

Categories: Biographies
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