Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I had occasion to hear a question addressed to [a major scholar] a few years ago, I am not quite sure I understood the question and the answer; I was wondering if you could explain what was being said.
Q: “Who was the last mohaqiq of the Hanafi Madhab, I heard it was Imam Abdul Hai al Laknawi?”
A: “Imam Laknawi was a great scholar but the last mohaqiq was Ibn Abidin.”
It would depend on what one means by the term Muhaqqiq. Yes, Ibn Abidin was the last muhaqqiq of the Hanafi school insofar as having systematically done tahqiq of the positions of the school.
However, not a few great muhaqqiqs [=scholars who determine what the soundest, or most appropriate fiqhi positions] have come after him, in the Arab world, Ottoman lands, and the Indian Subcontinent
For example, Imam Mahmoud Hamza, the Great Mufti of Damascus in the generation after Ibn Abidin, did tahqiq of many issues, and on some notable ones showed that the stronger position in the Hanafi school was other than what Ibn Abidin chose. For example, on the issue of washing clothes in a bucket, and how tahara is achieved. Or, in showing that (contrary to Ibn Abidin and others) it is permissible and valid to hire someone to recite the Qur’an for the dead. And other matters, as may be found in his Rasa’il. (He has an unpublished collection, in 4 volumes, of Fatawa, which I dearly want to get my hands on!) Similarly, Ibn Abidin’s very own student, Allama Abd al-Ghani al-Maydani, the author of al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab, took the relied-upon position on many an issue to be other than what his teacher chose, as I have found while teaching the latter text while checking back on Ibn Abidin’s Hashiya.
In the Ottoman lands, Allama Jawdat Basha and the other members of the committee of scholars that authored the Majalla as a codification of Hanafi commercial law (fiqh al-mu`amalat), often chose positions other than the tahqiq of Ibn Abidin, usually because of the needs of the times. Notably, Ibn Abidin’s son, Allama Ala’ al-Din Abidin, was on that committee.
Similarly, we see great tahqiq in the commentary on the Majallaby the late Ottoman faqih Allama Ali Haydar, Durar al-Hukkam fi Sharh Majallat al-Ahkam.
And the muhaqqiqs in the late 19th and 20th Century from the Indian Sub-continent have been many.
Yet none did what Sayyidi Ibn Abidin did.
May Allah be pleased with them all, and benefit us from their works, and through our love of them and their way, and the way of our teachers.