Quarterly: Issue No 81
Muharram 1438 / October 2016
BOOK OF LIFE
Reflect on the book of life that is constantly turning its pages. Every morning opens a new page. It adds to the pages turned and lessens the remaining ones. The day is not far when we will be enjoying the last moments of our life. This book will then be closed and all our entries saved and secured.
Have we ever thought about what we are adding to this book? What changes we make in its contents each day? However aware or unaware we may be, this work of ours is progressing and does not stop. We are on it with all our might. We write in this book all that we think, see, hear, desire, perform and achieve. We and only we (personally) can make additions to it. Nobody else can make the slightest change to its contents. We are the sole writer of this book and are constantly working on it.
Stop and think for a while. One day we will find the same book in our hands and Almighty Allah, our Rabb, will be saying to you:
"Read your book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day." (Surah Al-Israa 17:14)
THE GREATER EXAMINATION
When we look at students take an examination at a centre and the sight of them makes us think that Allah’s system of trial is quite similar. Usually a student is at liberty to write what he chooses. The examiners do not question him for giving right or wrong answers. Similarly, Allah has given man liberty to do good or evil in this world. Allah is not accountable for anything during the test of life. This liberty is essential for all examination systems. But today’s modern man has taken it wrongly and thinks that he will not be questioned for his deeds. He may act as he pleases. Examination systems in this world grant a degree only after one passes an examination. In the same way, Allah will bestow us with His Degree (Jannah) after we succeed in the test He has put us through. Today’s man is a person who is naïve enough to demand his certificate during the test he is undergoing. He is unaware of the fact that he is on trial; so he yearns for the Degree (Jannah) right in this world. How can he obtain it without passing the examination?
The conditions we are destined to live in are, in fact, a sort of an examination in their very nature. But people take them as a reward and waste their life away. If someone is blessed with abounding success and riches, he becomes engrossed in them thinking that he has got his final reward. In the same way, he who is confronted with failure and poverty wail over them and regard them as his ultimate dismal fate, whereas wealth and poverty, success and failure, health and ailments are all tests. Worth considering is the fact that the Degree (Jannah) is awarded forever and what we have in this world is not meant to be everlasting. So our conditions here can only be termed as a test not a degree, because it embodies eternity.
Let us hold firm to the fact that in this world all conditions, healthy or unhealthy, stand for a test only, not a reward. Let us take this life as an examination and act accordingly so that we may deserve the everlasting Degree of Jannah. Let us leave wailing over failures and being proud of our success and realize the fact that both the states are temporary. Why worry or feel proud then if we cannot make them permanent. Let us behave as Allah demands us to behave in these transient circumstances so that we may evade everlasting failure and achieve everlasting success. That behaviour is humbleness in success and perseverance in failure.
WHY AGAINST IMAM ABU HANEEFAH (RAHIMAHULLAH)?
There is so much propaganda nowadays made by our Muslim ‘Modernists’ that it was the opinion of Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) in his book al-Kunaa wal Asmaa, and Imam Nasa’i (rahimahullah) in his book ad-Du’afaa, that Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) was weak for his poor memorization of Ahadeeth.
Though it is true that Imam Nasa'i (rahimahullah) included Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) in his book al-du’afaa wa al-matrukeen where he said: “Nu’man ibn Thabit Abu Haneefah, laysa bil-qawiyyi fil-hadith” i.e. "Nu’man ibn Thabit Abu Haneefah is not strong in Hadith". Although Imam Nasa'i did transgress his limits in including Imam Abu Haneefah in his book, and apart from the truth or merit of his remark that "he is not strong," this nevertheless does not constitute tad’eef as if he had said: "He is weak." It only means that Imam Nasa'i found something objectionable in him to deny him the rank of strength, and not that he considered him weak as a narrator of Hadith, because one does not have to be strong in Hadith in order to be a trustworthy narrator. Therefore, the claim that "the grading of Imam Abu Haneefah as weak was the position of Imam Nasa'i in his Sunan" is not entirely true as this is not the case. If one insists that this was the opinion of Imam Nasa’i, then Imam Nasa'i would be contradicting it himself since in his own Sunan he did narrate Hadith from Imam Abu Haneefah as stated in al-Mizzi’s Tahdhib, al-Dhahabi's Tadhkirat al-huffaz and his al-Kashshaf fi ma’rifati man lahu riwayatun fil-Kutub is-Sittah, Ibn Hajar's Taqreeb, and al-Khazraji's Khulasat tadhhib tahdhib al-kamal.
Equally baseless is their claim that Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) declared Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) weak since all he said in his book al-Kuna wa al-Asma is: sahib al-ra'y mudtarib al-hadith laysa lahu kabir hadith sahih: "The scholar of the "school of opinion" his narrations of Hadith are not firm in their wording and he has not many correct ones." Imam Muslim did not say that Imam Abu Haneefah was weak. Furthermore, generally speaking, Imam Muslim's judgment is tainted and prejudiced by the difference in methodology between him and Imam Abu Haneefah. This is evident in the tone he uses since he calls Imam Abu Haneefah “sahib al-ra’y”, a loaded term of criticism by which the Hanafis are labelled by those who disagree with them.
Neither Imam Nasa’i’s nor Imam Muslim's remarks about Imam Abu Haneefah are acceptable as legitimate “jarh” (narrator criticism) of the Imam. The reason is that one of the fundamental rules of narrator-criticism is that if the critic is known to differ with the narrator in matters of doctrine and methodology -- and it is widely known that the so-called "School of Hadith" differed with the so-called "School of Opinion" (ra'y) -- then the critic must state the reason for his criticism (jarh), and both Imam Nasa'i and Imam Muslim omitted to state any reason for their criticisms of Imam Abu Haneefah. Therefore their criticism (jarh) is not acceptable until it is explained and can thus meet the criteria of this specific discipline.
Finally, it must be known that it is a rule of the discipline of “jarh wa at-ta’deel” that if the unexplained jarh (narrator-criticism) contradicts the explained ta’deel (narrator-authentication) by an authority of authentication who is fully aware of the jarh, then the explained ta’deel takes precedence over it without hesitation. This is exactly the case with Imam Nasa'i's and Imam Muslim's criticism of Imam Abu Haneefah not being retained after them by later traditionists like Imam Abu Dawood and others, or by later authorities such as al-Mizzi, Dhahabi, Ibn Hajar, al-Khazraji and al-Suyuti.
It is also claimed by our Muslim “Modernists” that Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) - in his book at-Taareekh al-Kabeer - graded Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) as weak for his poor memorization of Hadith. To refute this claim at a scholarly level without any prejudice to both the respected Imams, Imam Al-Bukhari’s negative opinion of Imam Abu Haneefah in both his books (Sahih Al-Bukhari & and at-Taareekh al-Kabeer) is a rejected type of jarh (narrator-criticism) and is considered unacceptable. It is now time that the truth is revealed to the public as this criticism has been going on for a long time but the Hanafi ulama opted to keep silent in the face of the great sheikh of Hadith Al-Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah). Any scholar of Islam knows very well that Imam Al-Bukhari had fundamental differences with Imam Abu Haneefah on the subject of principles, fiqh and methodology. In fact, the entire Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari’s collection, in many parts, is an unspoken attempt to refute Imam Abu Haneefah and his School of Thought. The Indian scholar Zafar al-Tahanawi showed Imam Bukhari's fanaticism against Imam Abu Haneefah in the book edited by his student Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah under the title Qawaa’id fi uloom al-Hadith, and other scholars as well have highlighted this aspect of disagreement between them, such as Sayyid Muhammad Rida Bijnoori - son-in-law of the great Deoband scholar Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahimahullah). Among them also is the Hanafi faqih and Muhaddith Al-Imam al-Zayla’i, who said in his book ‘Nasb al-raayah li-Ahaadithil Hidayah’:
“No student of Science adorned himself with a better garment than fairness and the relinquishment of fanaticism.... Imam Al-Bukhari is very much pursuing an agenda in what he cites from the Sunnah against Imam Abu Haneefah, for he will mention a Hadith and then insinuate something about him, as follows: ‘Allah's Messenger said: such and such, and some people said: such and such.’ By ‘some people’ he means Imam Abu Haneefah in particular. So he casts him in the ugliest light possible, as someone who detests the Hadith of the Prophet. Imam Bukhari also says in the beginning of his book (Sahih): ‘Chapter whereby Salaah is part of Imaan’ and then he proceeds with the narrations of that chapter. And his purpose in that is to refute Imam Abu Haneefah's saying: "Deeds are not part of Imaan" although many scholars do not realize this. Had Imam Bukhari found one Hadith to the effect that Salaah is part of Imaan which met his criterion or came close to it, then it would have been included in his book (Sahih Al-Bukhari).”
Another example is the undue weakening
of a so-called “
The difference with Imam Abu Haneefah which Imam Bukhari has criticized resides, amongst others, in Imam Abu Haneefah's belief that IMAAN (Faith) stands for one’s Islam and vice-versa and therefore neither increases nor decreases once acquired. It is a fundamental tenet of the Maturidi school with which Imam Bukhari differed and which is illustrated by the latter’s chapter-titles in his Sahih like “Salaah is part of Imaan”, “Imaan increases and decreases” etc. The vast majority of Hanafis and the entire Maturidi school of doctrine hold the opposite view, as illustrated by Shaikh Ali al-Qari’s naming two chapter-titles of his Sharh of Imam Abu Haneefah’s al-Fiqh al-Akbar: “Imaan neither increases nor decreases”, and another chapter is entitled: “The believers are equal in Imaan but differ in deeds” and another: “The grave sins do not expel one from Imaan”. All the above is also the sound doctrine of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama’ah, as opposed to some present-day extremists who declare anyone who commits a major sin to be a disbeliever (kaafir) in need of repeating his shahadah or be killed - and the latter contradicts the view of Imam Ahmad, who insisted that no Muslim should be called a disbeliever (kaafir) for any sin, as clearly shown by Abu Ya’laa al-Hanbali in his ‘Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah’.
It is only a myth that Imam Abu Haneefah did not have a large amount of Hadith at his disposal. Such a claim shows ignorance of this great Imam’s Fiqh, which reflects extensive knowledge of the Hadith. This claim also shows ignorance of the fact that Imam Abu Haneefah's Musnad exceeds in size the Musnad and Sunan of Imam al-Shafi’i (rahimahullah), but no-one questions the latter’s standing in Hadith.
For knowledgeable sources on the relation of the Hanafi School of Thought to Hadith and its sciences, refer to the following:
Hafiz al-Salihi’s ‘Uqood al-Jumaan’.
- Imam al-Kawthari’s ‘Fiqh Ahl al-Iraaq’
- Al-Kawthari’s ‘al-Hawi fi Seerat it-Tahaawi’
- The introduction to al-Tahanawi’s ‘E’laa-us-Sunan’.
- Muhammad Abdur-Rashid Nu’mani’s ‘Makaanat al-Imam Abi Haneefata fil-Hadith’.
These are those bare facts which had to be surfaced some time or the other. By rightly defending Imam A’zam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah), we are not committing the sin of personality worship. What we need to understand is the extent to which lies and propaganda are being circulated by our Muslim ‘Modernists’ against the great Imam for which he is being unjustly criticized.
May Allah bless all the great Imams and Muhaddithoon for their great service to the Deen of Islam! Ameen.
I request your sincere du'aas.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN