AL-NU`MAN IBN THABIT al-Taymi, aka al-Imam Abu Hanifa (d. 150 AH), called “The Imam” by Abu Dawud, and “The Imam, one of those who have reached the sky” by Ibn Hajar, he is known in the Islamic world as “The Greatest Imam” (al-imam al-a`zam) and his school has the largest number of followers among the four schools of Ahl al-Sunna. He is the first of the four mujtahid imams and the only Successor (tabi`i) among them, having seen the Companions Anas ibn Malik, `Abd Allah ibn Abi Awfa, Sahl ibn Sa`d al-Sa`idi, Abu al-Tufayl, and `Amir ibn Wathila.
Abu Hanifa is the first in Islam to organize the writing of fiqh under sub-headings embracing the whole of the Law, beginning with purity (tahara) followed by prayer (sala), an order which was retained by all subsequent scholars such as Malik, Shafi`i, Abu Dawud, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, and others. All these and their followers are indebted to him and give him a share of their reward because he was the first to open that road for them, according to the hadith of the Prophet:
“He who starts something good in Islam has its reward and the reward of those who practice it until the Day of Judgement, without lessening in the least the reward of those who practice it. The one who starts something bad in Islam will incur its punishment and the punishment of all those who practice it until the Day of Judgement without lessening their punishment in the least.” Al-Shafi`i referred to this when he said: “People are all the children of Abu Hanifa in fiqh, of Ibn Ishaq in history, of Malik in hadith, and of Muqatil in tafsir.”
Al-Khatib narrated from Abu Hanifa’s student Abu Nu`aym that the latter said: “Muslims should make du`a to Allah on behalf of Abu Hanifa in their prayers, because the Sunan and the fiqh were preserved for them through him. Al-Dhahabi wrote one volume on the life of each of the other three great Imams and said: “The account of Abu Hanifa’s life requires two volumes.” His son Hammad said as he washed his father’s body for burial: “May Allah have mercy on you! You have exhausted whoever tries to catch up with you.”
Abu Hanifa was scrupulously pious and refused Ibn Hubayra’s offer of a judgeship even when the latter had him whipped. Like al-Bukhari and al-Shafi`i, he used to make 60 complete recitations (khatma) of Qur’an every Ramadan: one in the day, one in the night, besides his teaching and other duties. Ibrahim ibn Rustum al-Marwazi said: “Four are the Imams that recited the entire Qur’an in a single rak`a: `Uthman ibn `Affan, Tamim al-Dari, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, and Abu Hanifa.”
Ibn al-Mubarak said: “Abu Hanifa for a long time would pray all five prayers with a single ablution.”
Al-Suyuti relates in Tabyid al-Sahifa that a certain visitor came to observe Abu Hanifa and saw him all day long in the mosque, teaching relentlessly, answering every question from both the scholars and the common people, not stopping except to pray, then standing at home in prayer when people were asleep, hardly ever eating or sleeping, and yet the most handsome and gracious of people, always alert and never tired, day after day for a long time, so that in the end the visitor said: “I became convinced that this was not an ordinary matter, but wilaya (Friendship with Allah).”
Al-Shafi`i said: “Knowledge revolves around three men: Malik, al-Layth, and Ibn `Uyayna.” Al-Dhahabi commented: “Rather, it revolves also around al-Awza`i, al-Thawri, Ma`mar, Abu Hanifa, Shu`ba, and the two Hammads [ibn Zayd and ibn Salama].”
Sufyan al-Thawri praised Abu Hanifa when he said: “We were in front of Abu Hanifa like small birds in front of the falcon,” and Sufyan stood up for him when Abu Hanifa visited him after his brother’s death, and he said: “This man holds a high rank in knowledge, and if I did not stand up for his science I would stand up for his age, and if not for his age then for his Godwariness (wara`), and if not for his Godwariness then for his jurisprudence (fiqh).” Ibn al-Mubarak praised Abu Hanifa and called him a sign of Allah. Both Ibn al-Mubarak and Sufyan al-Thawri said: “Abu Hanifa was in his time the most knowledgeable of all people on earth.” Ibn Hajar also related that Ibn al-Mubarak said: “If Allah had not rescued me with Abu Hanifa and Sufyan [al-Thawri] I would have been like the rest of the common people.” Dhahabi relates it as: “I would have been an innovator.”
An example of Abu Hanifa’s perspicuity in inferring legal rulings from source-texts is his reading of the following hadith:
The Prophet said: “Your life in comparison to the lifetime of past nations is like the period between the time of the mid-afternoon prayer (`asr) and sunset. Your example and the example of the Jews and Christians is that of a man who employed laborers and said to them: “Who will work for me until mid-day for one qirat (a unit of measure, part of a dinar) each?” The Jews worked until mid-day for one qirat each. Then the man said: “Who will work for me from mid-day until the `asr prayer for one qirat each?” The Christians worked from mid-day until the `asr prayer for one qirat each. Then the man said: “Who will work for me from the `asr prayer until the maghrib prayer for two qirat each?” And that, in truth, is all of you. In truth, you have double the wages. The Jews and the Christians became angry and said: “We did more labor but took less wages.” But Allah said: “Have I wronged you in any of your rights?” They replied no. Then He said: “This is My Blessing which I give to whom I wish.”
It was deduced from the phrase “We did more labor” that the time of mid-day to `asr must always be longer than that between `asr and maghrib. This is confirmed by authentic reports whereby:
The Prophet hastened to pray zuhr and delayed praying `asr. The Prophet said: “May Allah have mercy on someone who prays four rak`as before `asr.” `Ali delayed praying `asr until shortly before the sun changed, and he reprimanded the mu’adhdhin who was hurrying him with the words: “He is trying to teach us the Sunna!”
Ibrahim al-Nakha`i said: “Those that came before you used to hasten more than you to pray zuhr and delay more than you in praying `asr.” Al-Tahanawi said: “Those that came before you” are the Companions. Ibn Mas`ud delayed praying `asr.
Sufyan al-Thawri, Abu Hanifa, and his two companions Muhammad ibn a-Hasan and Abu Yusuf therefore considered it better to lengthen the time between zuhr and `asr by delaying the latter prayer as long as the sun did not begin to redden, while the majority of the authorities considered that praying `asr early is better, on the basis of other sound evidence to that effect.
Like every Friend of Allah, Abu Hanifa had his enemies. `Abdan said that he heard Ibn al-Mubarak say: “If you hear them mention Abu Hanifa derogatively then they are mentioning me derogatively. In truth I fear for them Allah’s displeasure.” Authentically related from Bishr al-Hafi is the statement: “No-one criticizes Abu Hanifa except an envier or an ignoramus.” Hamid ibn Adam al-Marwazi said: I heard Ibn al-Mubarak say: “I never saw anyone more fearful of Allah than Abu Hanifa, even on trial under the whip and through money and property.” Abu Mu`awiya al-Darir said: “Love of Abu Hanifa is part of the Sunna.”
Main sources: al-Khatib, Tarikh Baghdad 13:324-356; al-Dhahabi, Manaqib Abi Hanifa 22-36 and Tabaqat al-Huffaz 1:168; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 10:450; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya 10:114; al-Suyuti, Tabyid al-Sahifa p. 94-95; al-Haytami, al-Khayrat al-Hisan.
Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.
Greatness of Abu Hanifa
There is a current trend of slighting Imam Abu Hanifa and his School. To some people even in Arab lands, indulging this trend gives a sense of Madhhab identity (“We Such and-such” -pick a Madhhab-).
The Umma has long settled the issue that Imam Abu Hanifa are among those who are imitated in Islam. The unparallelled spread of his School to this day is a confirmation of this God-sanctioned acceptance. One should learn something of why his Madhhab spread so much: if not for curiosity in (the Divine conduct of) our intellectual history then at least for elemental acquaintance with the Fiqh followed by most Muslims. In this respect love of Abu Hanifa and his Madhhab is love and mercy for the Umma of Sayyidina Muhammad sallAllahu `alayhi wa Alihi wasallam.
The precondition of studenthood is adab – humility and poverty – which is not harmed by simply keeping quiet about what we do not know. However, actually slighting such a major Imam and the Ulema of his entire School shows arrogance and destroys works. Wal-`aqibatu lil-muttaqin.
What Hanafi has done for the Ummah what Al-Ash’ari and al-Ghazali have done?
Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and Shah Muhammad Naqshband, Allah be well-pleased with them.
(Note: al-Ash`ari is claimed as a Maliki in their books cf. al-Dibaj al-Mudhahhab and Shajarat al-Nur al-Zakiyya. Further: the text of the Ibana attributed to al-Ash`ari states that he follows Imam Ahmad. Al-Ash`ari did have the Basrian Shafi`i Hafiz Zakariyya al-Saji, the student of al-Shafi`i’s companions: al-Muzani and al-Rabi` ibn Sulayman, as his teacher in Fiqh.)
Is there any Hanafi imam whose works are more famed than Imam Nawawi’s Riyadh al- Saaliheen and Forty Hadeeth, or Tafseer al-Jalaalain?
Is there any Shafi`i, Maliki, or Hanbali Imam whose works are more famed than the above?
(Nor does the fame of the Jalalayn denote an unanimous endorsement on the part of the Ulema.)
This is not to mention the major hadeeth imams (Buhkari etc) nearly all of whom were Shafi’is.
No. Not al-Bukhari, nor Muslim, nor Abu Dawud, nor al-Tirmidhi, nor Ibn Majah, nor al-Darimi. Just Ahmad, al-Tabari, and al-Nasa’i. But the former two became independent and the latter was also a Maliki.
In fact, the one most-followed School among the major Imams of Hadith that were the teachers or peers of al-Shafi`i, Ahmad, and al-Bukhari, was apparently the Hanafi School.
A few names of the Hanafi *muqallids* in Fiqh among the early hadith Masters:
– Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan: Ahmad would not dare sit in his presence; Yahya ibn Sa`id said: “We have not heard better than Abu Hanifa’s opinion and we have followed most of his positions.”
– Yahya ibn Ma`in, he said of Abu Hanifa that he is not only thiqa (trustworthy) but thiqa thiqa. Al- Dhahabi even calls Ibn Ma`in a fanatic Hanafi.
– Al-Layth ibn Sa`d the Egyptian Mujtahid whom al- Shafi`i considered superior to Malik: Shaykh al- Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari (in his Sharh al-Bukhari) and Ibn Khallikan (in Wafayat al-A`yan) – both Shafi`is – class al-Layth among the Hanafis as do the Hanafi books of Tabaqat.
– Al-Fadl ibn Dukayn, one of the major authorities of Ahl al-Hadith. He said: “Muslims should make du`a to Allah on behalf of Abu Hanifa in their prayers, because the Sunan and the fiqh were preserved for them through him.”
– Waki` ibn al-Jarrah, he replied to some of them: “You barred us from Abu Hanifa, are you going to bar us from Zufar??” (Zufar took over the teaching of Hanafi Fiqh in Kufa and Basra after the Imam.)
– Abu Mu`awiya al-Darir, he said: “Love of Abu Hanifa is part of the Sunna”.
– Ibn Dawud al-Khuraybi: “Among the people [of learning] there are plenty of enviers and ignorant ones concerning Abu Hanifa.”
– Bishr al-Hafi, he said: “None criticizes Abu Hanifa except an envier or an ignoramus”.
– Ibn al-Mubarak. When al-Awza`i criticized Abu Hanifa, Ibn al-Mubarak copied a compilation of Abu Hanifa’s fiqh under the name al-Nu`man. Al- Awza`i read it without interruption except for Salat al-Fard. Then he said: “This Nu`man is a grand master (hadha nabilun min al-ashyakh). Go to him and take as much as you can from him!” Ibn al-Mubarak said: “This is the Abu Hanifa you had forbidden me to see.” Tarikh Baghdad. Ibn al-Mubarak considered one’s hatred of Abu Hanifa a mark of Divine wrath. He also said: “If Allah had not rescued me with Abu Hanifa and Sufyan [al-Thawri] I would have been like the rest of the common people.” Al-Dhahabi relates it as: “I would have been an innovator.”
– Ibn `A’isha mentioned a fatwa of Abu Hanifa then said: “Truly, if you had seen him you would have wanted him [for your teacher]! Truly, his similitude and yours is as in the saying:
Curse them much or not, I care little to blame you;
But fill – if you can! – the space they left vacant.
This is not to mention Abu Hanifa’s Fiqh students that were the teachers of subsequent Imams:
Zufar (taught Ibn al-Mubarak); Abu Yusuf (taught Ahmad); Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (taught al-Shafi`i, Ahmad, Ibn Sallam) Asad ibn `Amr al-Bajali (taught Ahmad).
According to Shaykh Wahbi al-Ghawji, even Imam al-Bukhari began as a Hanafi. I would think that this is true of Imam al-Darimi also.
This is all to say that if one ignores the warnings of Abu Mu`awiya, Ibn Dukayn, Bishr, Ibn Dawud, Ibn `A’isha etc. then also fails to grasp the meaning of al-Shafi`i’s statement about the Fuqaha’ being all indebted to Abu Hanifa in Fiqh [including al-Layth, al-Awza`i, and Malik], let them consider the non-Hanafi hadith Masters’ awe before him in the following works of “Merits”:
– Manaqib al-A’immat al-Thalathat al-Fuqaha’ by Ibn `Abd al-Barr [Maliki]; – Manaqib Abi Hanifata wa Sahibayh by al-Dhahabi [Hanbali…]; – Manaqib al-A’immat al-Arba`a by Yusuf ibn `Abd al-Hadi [Hanbali]; – Tabyid al-Sahifa fi Manaqib Abi Hanifa by al-Suyuti [Shafi`i]; – Al-Khayraat al-Hisaan fi Manaaqib al-Nu`maan by al-Haytami [Shafi`i]; – `Uqd al-Jumaan fi Manaqib al-Nu`man by al-Salihi [Shafi`i].
All in print.
If all this fails to show you that love of Abu Hanifa and his School is not for Hanafis but for Muslims as a whole, then consider the meaning of Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani’s expression in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib about Abu Hanifa: “He is of those whose rank reaches over the firmament.” This expression means: try as you may, you cannot dent his name with the least aspersion; it is beyond dispute that Allah Most High has written acceptance for him in the Umma.
So the question is why Hanafis would consider these candidates to be more significant than Shafi’is whose works were of benefit to the whole Ummah.
“More significant” – if claimed – might be true numerically from the start, even before the Hanafis emerged above the rest in the res publica.
Muslims of intellect today are like candlelights flickering on a cold, windy night, discussing galaxies. They should not, in addition, try to blow each other out. This Umma is rich enough to have not two, but ten Mujaddids per century. However, who is listening? Who is acting?
Allah have mercy on all of them and us.
The Involvement of the Pious Salaf in Kalam
Abu Hanifa’s Works in Kalam
Among the works of the Imam in kalam:
* * Al-Fiqh al-Akbar (“The Supreme Wisdom”), authentically narrated from the Imam by his son Hammad. The Ash’ari Shaykh Ab al-Muzaffar al-Isfarayini  said in his book al-Tabsir fil-Din: “Al-Fiqh al-Akbar was narrated to us by the trustworthy through a reliable way and a sound chain of transmission from Nasir ibn Yahya [up to] Abu Hanifa.” In it the Imam said: “Allah is ‘something’ unlike any other thing, and the meaning of ‘something’ here is: neither a body (jism), nor an indivisible substance (jawhar), nor an accident (‘arad.); and He has no limit (hadd).” He also said: “Whatever Allah I mentioned in the Qur’an about the ‘Face,’ Hand,’ and ‘Essence,’ these are His Attributes without asking how. Let it not be said that His Hand is [but] His Power (qudra) or Bounty (ni’ma) because doing so is a nullification of the Attribute and is the position of the Qadaris and Mu’tazilis. His Hand is an Attribute without asking how!” Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari comments in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar: “That is, without knowledge of any modality, exactly as we are incapable of having knowledge of the true nature (kunh) of the rest of His Attributes, not to mention the true nature of His Essence.” Imam Abu Hanifa’s caveat does not contradict the Maturidi position that the Attributes of corporeality are not corporeal (as in al-Tahawi’s ‘Aqida) but are among the Mutashabihat (as in al-Pazdawi’s Usul and its Sharh. by al-Bukhari). These guidelines – avoidance of figurative interpretation, avoidance of corporeal explanation, and affirmation that Yad etc. are among the Mutashabihat – are also within the Ash’aris’ method. The latter allow the option of interpretation if it coincides with the bases of the Arabic language and the general purport of
‘Aqida, as does Imam al-Maturidi in Kitab al-Tawhid. The reconciliation with Imam Abu Hanifa’s statement is to understand it to mean: “It should not be categorically affirmed that His hand is His power and nothing else.” And Allah knows best. This work received no less than fifteen commentaries, among them those of al-Qari, al-Maghisawi, and al-Bayadi, all three of them in print.
* * Al-Wasiyya (“The Testament”), a brief epistle dictated by Abu Hanifa on his death-bed according to the Sunna, in which he states: “The meeting (liqa’) of Allah Most High with the dwellers of Paradise is by visual sight without modality, nor simile, nor direction” and “We affirm that Allah established Himself on the Throne without his having need for it and without settlement on it as He is the Preserver of the Throne and other than the Throne. If He stood in need for it, He would have been unable to bring the world into being or dispose of it, just like created beings [are unable]. And if He became in need of sitting down and settling, then, before creating the Throne, where was Allah I Rather, He is greatly and immensely transcendent beyond all such notions.”
* * Risalat Abi Hanifa ila ‘Uthman al-Batti, a brief epistle to the Mujtahid of Basra Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthman ibn Muslim al-Batti (d. 143) also narrated through Nasir ibn Yahya – from Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Sama’a al-Tamimi, from Abu Yusuf, from Abu Hanifa, in which the Imam explains the principle of his School whereby iman has two, not three pillars, namely: conviction in the heart and affirmation by the tongue, in refutation of those who imputed him with the label of Murji’.
* * Al-‘Àlim wal-Muta’allim (“The Teacher and the Apprentice”), placed by Abu al-Muzaffar al-Isfarayini “among the overwhelming proofs against atheists and innovators,” narrated through two chains, both of them through Abu Hanifa’s student Abu Muqatil Hafs ibn Salm al-Fazari al-Samarqandi but actually attributed by some to Abu Muqatil, who is – in either case – mostly discarded.
* * Al-Fiqh al-Absat. (“The Greatest Wisdom”), the same work as the Fiqh al-Akbar but in catechetic form narrated from the Imam exclusively by Abu Muti’ al-Hakam ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Muslim al-Balkhi al-Khurasani through Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Alma’i al-Kashghari (d. >484), both of them discarded as narrators. In this version the Imam is related to state:
 “Whoever says, ‘I do not know whether my Lord is in the heaven or on earth’ commits disbelief (qad kafar), as does whoever says, ‘He is on the Throne and I do not know whether the Throne is in the heaven or on earth.'” Imam Ab al-Layth al-Samarqandi (d. 373) in his Sharh. al-Fiqh al-Akbar (misattributed to al-Maturidi) and his commentary on the Fiqh al-Absat., and Imam al-Bayadi in Isharat al-Maram all said: “He is a disbeliever because he attributes a place to Allah Most High.”
 “(The Hand of Allah is above their hands) (48:10), not like the hand of creatures, and it is not a limb (laysat bi-jarih.a).”
 “If someone says, ‘Where is Allah’ The answer for him is that Allah existed when there was no ‘where,’ no creation, nothing! And He is the Creator of everything!” This is confirmed as the true position of the Imam by al-Tahawi’s article in his “Exposition of the Doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a” that “This is the religion of the Muslims. Anyone that does not guard himself against negation [of the Divine Attributes] or likening [Allah to something else], has gone astray and missed transcendence. For our Lord – Glorified and Exalted! – is only described in terms of oneness and absolute singularity. No creation is in any way whatsoever like Him. He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or having boundaries, or having parts, limbs, or organs! Nor is He contained by the six directions as all created things are.”
Certain versions of the Fiqh al-Absat. have undergone identifiable interpolations such as that narrated by the anthropomorphist al-Harawi al-Ansari in his book al-Faruq fil-Sifat as pointed out by al-Kawthari.
The above documentation shows that the pious Salaf did not wholly condemn
involvement in kalam as a blameworthy activity but only, as Imam Ab Zahra
pointed out, its specific use by the innovators – particularly their main sect, the Mu’tazila – who diverged from the doctrines of Ahl al-Sunna. Those whom the Salaf meant in their condemnations of kalam were the likes of Dawud al-Jawaribi, Ibn Karram, and other leaders of sects such as those described in heresiographies such al-Ash’ari’s Maqalat al-Islamiyyin, al-Baghdadi’s al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, Ibn Hazm’s al-Fisal fil-Milal, and al-Shahrastani’s al-Milal wal-Nihal.
The Aim of those who Deny the Existence of Sunni Kalam
As for those who, today, insist on claiming that the Salaf rejected all of kalam in unqualified terms, their aim in such a misrepresentation is threefold:
* * First, to empower themselves to cast the label of bid’a against those who do not agree with their anthropomorphist leanings, in calculated ignorance of the strong proofs adduced by the Ash’ari and Maturidi Scholars of kalam against the heresies of the Hashwiyya and Mujassima.
* * Second, to instill obscurantism into the hearts of uneducated Muslims and degree-bearing Muslims uneducated in the Religious sciences, as well as fear of learning the foundations of belief from the mouth of the great Scholars who elucidated the texts of the Qur’an and Sunna, on the specious grounds that “all that people need is the Qur’an and Sunna.”
* * Third, to promote the idea that all the Sunni Imams of the Khalaf – whose majority are Ash’aris – are in fact Jahmi-like innovators except two or three controversial figures that happened to revive anthropomorphist doctrines.
The First Mutakallim is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
The truth is that all four of the Four Imams practiced or supported kalam, in one form or another, precisely in order to refute kalam-based innovations. In so doing they actually imitated the major Companions who had debated the Khawarij and defeated them both in disputation and on the field. Imam al-Ghazzali said: “The first to initiate (sanna) the invitation of innovators back to the fold of truth through disputation is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib t who sent Ibn ‘Abbas *# to the Khawarij to speak to them.”
The Involvement of the Mujtahid Imams in Kalam
The following are authentic examples illustrating the involvement of the Imams into kalam after Abu Hanifa:
* * It is established that Imam al-Shafi’i entered kalam disputations with Hafs. al-Fard over the issue of the creation of the Qur’an until he declared Hafs. a disbeliever, and he used to nickname him “Hafs. the Isolated” (H.afs. al-Munfarid). Hafs. had tried unsuccessfully to make ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Hakim and Yusuf ibn ‘Amr ibn Yazid debate him before al-Shafi’i accepted – and defeated him. Al-Bayhaqi said: “And how could he [al-Shafi’i] possibly consider the kalam of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a reprehensible when he himself practiced it, debated whoever he debated in it, and exposed the fallacies of those who had cast doubt into the minds of some of his students”  Al-Shafi’i also debated the Mu’tazili Ibrahim ibn Isma’il ibn ‘Ulayya – the student of Abu Bakr al-Asamm – and the Jahmi Bishr al-Marisi at whose house he once resided when he first came to Baghdad.
* * Imam Malik compiled a refutation of the Qadariyya for the benefit of his student Ibn Wahb.
* * Imam al-Awza’i debated and defeated the Qadari Ghaylan ibn Muslim al-Dimashqi upon the request of the Caliph Hisham ibn ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, after which Hisham had him executed.
* * Imam Ahmad’s disputations with Abu ‘isa Muhammad ibn ‘isa Barghth and his condemnations of the Jahmiyya and Mu’tazila over the issue of the creation of the Qur’an and the Divine Attributes are recorded in a number in the books of his School, as well as his numerous statements of doctrine – narrated by Ibn Abi Ya’la in his Tabaqat al-H.anabila – which are, with Abu Hanifa’s works, among the early manifestos of Sunni kalam. However, the spurious work entitled al-Radd ‘ala al-Zanadiqa and attributed to Imam Ahmad by anti-Ash’aris today, is a work of the worst sort of kalam whose authenticity is categorically rejected by al-Dhahabi and others.
* * Imam al-Bukhari compiled a refutation of the Qadariyya and other sects titled Khalq Af’al al-‘Ibad, and was expelled from Naysabr by the Hanbalis because of what they perceived as an unacceptable stand in kalam.
And Allah knows best.
The full chains of transmission for all these works are given in
al-Muwaffaq’s Manaqib and al-Kawthari’s Ta’nib al-Khatib as well as (in
part) his introduction to al-Bayadi’s Isharat al-Maram (p. 6).
Imam Ab al-Muzaffar Tahir ibn Muhammad al-Isfarayini al-Shafi’i
al-Ash’ari, known as Shahafur (d. 471), author of Taj al-Tarajim fi Tafsir
al-Qur’an lil-A’ajim cf. Hajji Khalifa, Kashf al-Z.unn (1:268, 1:442). In
his book al-Tabsir fil-Din wa-Tamyiz al-Firqat al-Najiya min Firaq
al-Halikin he defines Ahl al-Sunna as the Ash’aris.
In al-Tabsir (p. 113) as cited by al-Kawthari in his introduction to
al-Bayadi’s Isharat al-Maram (p. 5). The complete chain is: ‘Ali ibn Ahmad
al-Farisi < Nasir [not Nusayr nor Nasr] ibn Yahya [al-Balkhi (d. 268)] <
Abu Muqatil < ‘Isam ibn Yusuf [ibn Maymun al-Balkhi (d. 210 or 215)] <
Hammad ibn Abi Hanifa < Abu Hanifa. (Ibid. p. 6.) Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman
Ghawiji said in his edition of al-Qari’s Sharh. al-Fiqh al-Akbar (p. 13)
that he saw in Maktabat Shaykh al-Islam ‘Àrif Hikmat in Madina (Compendium
#226 or #234) a manuscript of the Fiqh al-Akbar with the same chain.
Printed together with al-Nasafi’s Matn al-Manar fi Us.l al-Fiqh
(Cairo: al-Matba’at al-Mahmudiyya, 1326).
In al-Tabsir (p. 113) as cited by al-Kawthari in his introduction to
al-Bayadi’s Isharat (p. 5).
Cf. al-H.akim, al-Madkhal ila al-S.ah.ih. (p. 130 #42), al-Dhahabi,
Mizan (‘Ilmiyya 2:219), Ibn H.ajar, Lisan (2:322-323), Ibn al-Jawzi,
al-D.u’afa’ wal-Matrkin (1:221), and al-Khalili, Irshad (3:975).
Cf. Ghawji, Ab H.anifa (p. 260).
In his introduction to al-Bayad.i’s Isharat al-Maram (p. 6 n. 1) as
well as his edition of the Fiqh al-Absat. together with al-‘Àlim
wal-Muta’allim and other doctrinal texts of the Imam.
”Whenever you hear Abu Yusuf or Muhammad or al-Shafi’i or Ibn Hanbal
and others [among the early Imams] revile the science of kalam and those who
take knowledge by following the methods of the mutakallimun, know that
they only meant the Mu’tazila by their criticism, and their methods.” Abu
Zahra, Abu Hanifa (p. 133).
”He described the God that he worshipped as possessing all the human
organs except the pudenda and the beard.” Al-Shahrastani, al-Milal
wal-Nihal (1:105, 1:187).
He used to say: “Allah is firmly seated on the Throne and He is in
person (dhatan) on the upper side of it.” Al-Shahrastani, al-Milal
Cf. Hasan al-Saqqaf, Sahih Sharh. al-‘Aqida al-Tahawiyya (p.
Al-Ghazzali, Ih.ya’ ‘Ulm al-Din (1:96).
Ab ‘Amr al-Bas.ri Hafs. al-Fard, also known as Abu Yahya, he came to Basra as a Mu’tazili then turned against them and joined the Jabriyya as stated by Ibn al-Nadim in al-Fihrist (p. 255).
Ibn ‘Asakir, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (1404 ed. p. 338-340) and
al-Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i (1:455). See also al-Lalika’i, Us.l Ahl
Al-Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i (1:454-455).
Cf. al-Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i (1:229, 1:407, 1:464), Ibn
Taymiyya, Muqaddima fil-Tafsir (Risala ed. p. 69), and al-Lacknawi,
al-Fawa’id al-Bahiyya (p. 94).
Narrated by al-Qadi ‘Iyad. in Tartib al-Madarik (1:204). Al-Dhahabi declared its chain of transmission sound (sahih.) in Siyar A’lam
al-Nubala’ (Arna’t. ed. 8:88).
Cited by Shith ibn Ibrahim (d. 598) in H.azz al-Ghalasim (p. 112)
cf. al-Razi, I’tiqadat Firaq al-Muslimin (1:40), al-Yafi’i, Marham al-‘Ilal
(1992 ed. p. 133) and Ibn Taymiyya, Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyya (1:275=
al-Ta’sis fi Radd Asas al-Taqdis).