Home » Hanafi Fiqh » Qibla.com » Casting Aspersions on the Origins of the Hanafi School

Casting Aspersions on the Origins of the Hanafi School

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

 I have an important question concerning the attached writings from W. Hallaq’s book Authority, Continuity and Change in Islamic Law. It concerns Imam Abu Hanifa’s (RA)status as school founder and absolute mujtahid. I hope you have the time to read through the entire selection, but in particular pg 27 and onward and pg 29 where he concludes that Abu Hanifa (RA) “was no more a founder or even an absolute mujtahid than were his immediate predecessors and younger contemporaries, such as Abu Yusuf, Shaybani and al-Hasan b. Ziyad.”

My question is, are there any historical inaccuracies in Hallaq’s analysis and, if not, are his conclusions necessarily inconsistent with the traditional viewpoint?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I am familiar with the scholarship of Hallaq—I took classes with him at U of T and have read some of his works. He is a non-Muslim with distaste for Islam, arrogance, and old-style bombastic scholarship, that much less than he makes it appear.

In general, let us never forget the basic principle, established by Qur’anic texts you are no doubt familiar with, that the words of a non-Muslim are of no consequence in matters of religion.

The contemporaries of Abu Hanifa—particularly the fuqaha—were clear about his tremendous rank and depth in scholarship. Most of the Hanafi school is the positions of Abu Hanifa: his students Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan went so far as to state that they adopted almost no position save that it was a position also considered by Abu Hanifa. This is clear from the works of biography of Abu Hanifa, early and late.

The books of Zahir al-Riwaya of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan himself are in publication. The early works of Tahawi and others, from the 3rd and 4th Islamic centuries, are in existent. They all show clearly that Abu Hanifa was an absolute mujtahid, the founder of his school, and the one who laid down the principles of the school.

In this regard, the many writings of the great sword of Sunni Islam in the 20th Century, Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari—a voice of clarity in an age of methodological bewilderment and confusion—are essential.

The subtext of the writings of Hallaq and others is obvious: the schools of Islamic Law are merely temporal phenomena suited—perhaps—to past times, but of no relevance to our times. It is improper for Muslims to read such literature without having a solid foundation in the Islamic sciences and a deep understanding of the methodology and methodological bases of Islamic scholarship. Otherwise, one is polluting one’s heart, one’s mind, and ultimately one’s soul.

And Allah alone gives success.


Faraz Rabbani

This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.

Read answers with similar topics: