Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah)
The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu'maan ibn Thaabit, whose
companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse
warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to
accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the
imaams which contradict it:
1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my
2. "It is not permitted for anyone to accept our views if they do
not know from where we got them."
In one narration, "It is prohibited for someone who does not
know my evidence to give verdicts on the basis of my words."
Another narration adds, "... for we are mortals: we say one thing
one day, and take it back the next day."
In another narration, "Woe to you, O Ya'qub! Do not write
down everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one
opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion
tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow."
3. "When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah the
Exalted or what is narrated from the Messenger (sallallaahu
`alaihi wa sallam), then ignore my saying."
Maalik ibn Anas (rahimahullaah)
As for Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, he said:
1. "Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I
am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all
that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that
does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."
2. "Everyone after the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam)
will have his sayings accepted and rejected - not so the Prophet
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam)."
3. Ibn Wahb said: "I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning
between the toes during ablution. He said, `The people do not
have to do that.' I did not approach him until the crowd had
lessened, when I said to him, `We know of a sunnah about that.'
He said, `What is that ?' I said, `Laith ibn Sa'd, Ibn Lahee'ah
and `Amr ibn al-Haarith narrated to us from Yazeed ibn `Amr
al-Ma'aafiri from Abu `Abdur-Rahman al-Hubuli from
Mustawrid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashi who said, `I saw the
Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) rubbing
between his toes with his little finger.' He said, `This hadeeth is
sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.' Afterwards, I heard
him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered
cleaning between the toes."
As for Imaam Shaafi'i, the quotations from him are most
numerous and beautiful, and his followers were the best in
sticking to them:
1. "The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi
wa sallam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So
whenever I voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where
something contrary to my view exists on the authority of the
Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam), then the
correct view is what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi
wa sallam) has said, and it is my view."
2. "The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the
Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) is made
clear to someone, it is not permitted for him to leave it for the
saying of anyone else."
3. "If you find in my writings something different to the Sunnah of
the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam), then
speak on the basis of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam), and leave what I have said."
In one narration: "... then follow it (the Sunnah), and do not look
sideways at anyone else's saying."
4. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my
5. "You are more knowledgeable about Hadeeth than I, so
when a hadeeth is saheeh, inform me of it, whether it is from
Kufah, Basrah or Syria, so that I may take the view of the
hadeeth, as long as it is saheeh."
6. "In every issue where the people of narration find a report from
the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) to be
saheeh which is contrary to what I have said, then I take my
saying back, whether during my life or after my death."
7. "If you see me saying something, and contrary to it is
authentically-reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa
sallam), then know that my intelligence has departed."
8. "For everything I say, if there is something authentic from the
Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) contrary to my saying,
then the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam)
comes first, so do not follow my opinion."
9. "Every statement on the authority of the Prophet (sallallaahu
`alaihi wa sallam) is also my view, even if you do not hear it from
Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah)
Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imaams in collecting
the Sunnah and sticking to it, so much so that he even "disliked
that a book consisting of deductions and opinions be written."
Because of this he said:
1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Maalik,
nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they
In one narration: "Do not copy your Deen from anyone of these,
but whatever comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa
sallam) and his Companions, take it; next are their Successors,
where a man has a choice."
Once he said: "Following means that a man follows what
comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) and his
Companions; after the Successors, he has a choice."
2. "The opinion of Awzaa'i, the opinion of Maalik, the opinion of
Abu Haneefah: all of it is opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes.
However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions)."
3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of
Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) is on the brink of
20 Ibn `Aabideen in
al-Haashiyah (1/63), and in his essay Rasm al-Mufti (1/4 from
the Compilation of the Essays of Ibn `Aabideen), Shaikh Saalih
al-Fulaani in Eeqaaz al-Himam (p. 62) & others. Ibn `Aabideen
quoted from Sharh al-Hidaayah by Ibn al-Shahnah al-Kabeer,
the teacher of Ibn al-Humaam, as follows:
"When a hadeeth contrary to the Madhhab is found to be saheeh,
one should act on the hadeeth, and make that his madhhab.
Acting on the hadeeth will not invalidate the follower's being a
Hanafi, for it is authentically reported that Abu Haneefah said,
`When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my
madhhab', and this has been related by Imaam Ibn `Abdul Barr
from Abu Haneefah and from other imaams."
This is part of the completeness of
the knowledge and piety of the Imaams, for they indicated by
saying this that they were not versed in the whole
of the Sunnah, and Imaam Shaafi'i has elucidated
this thoroughly (see later). It would happen that they would
contradict a sunnah because they were unaware of it,
so they commanded us to stick to the Sunnah
and regard it as part of their Madhhab. May Allaah shower His mercy
on them all.
22 Ibn `Abdul Barr in Al-Intiqaa' fi Fadaa'il
ath-Thalaathah al- A'immah al-Fuqahaa' (p. 145), Ibn
al-Qayyim in I'laam al- Mooqi'een (2/309), Ibn `Aabideen in
his Footnotes on Al-Bahr ar-Raa'iq (6/293) and in Rasm
al-Mufti (pp. 29,32) & Sha'raani in Al-Meezaan (1/55) with the
second narration. The last narration was collected by `Abbaas
ad-Dawri in At- Taareekh by Ibn Ma'een (6/77/1) with a
saheeh sanad on the authority of Zafar, the student of Imaam
Abu Haneefah. Similar narrations exist on the authority of Abu
Haneefah's companions Zafar, Abu Yoosuf and `Aafiyah ibn
Yazeed; cf. Eeqaaz (p. 52). Ibn al-Qayyim firmly certified its
authenticity on the authority of Abu Yoosuf in I'laam
al-Mooqi'een (2/344). The addition to the second narration is
referenced by the editor of Eeqaaz (p. 65) to Ibn `Abdul Barr, Ibn
al-Qayyim and others.
If this is what they say of
someone who does not know their evidence, what would be their
knows that the evidence contradicts their
saying, but still gives
verdicts opposed to the evidence?!
Therefore, reflect on this saying, for it alone is enough
to smash blind following of opinion; that is why one of the muqallid
shaikhs, when I criticised his giving a verdict using Abu
Haneefah's words without knowing the evidence, refused to believe that
it was a saying of Abu Haneefah!
24 Ar.: fatwaa
25 i.e. Imaam Abu Haneefah's illustrious
student, Abu Yoosuf (rahimahullaah).
26 This was because the
Imaam would often base his view on Qiyaas (Analogy), after
which a more potent analogy would occur to him, or a hadeeth of
the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) would reach him, so
he would accept that and ignore his previous view. Sha'raani's
words in Al-Meezaan (1/62) are summarised as:
"Our belief, as well as that of every researcher into Imaam Abu
Haneefah (radi Allaahu `anhu), is that, had he lived until the
recording of the Sharee'ah, and the journeys of the Preservers of
Hadeeth to the various cities and frontiers in order to collect and
acquire it, he would have accepted it and ignored all the
analogies he had employed. The amount of qiyaas in his
Madhhab would have been just as little as that in other
Madhhabs, but since the evidences of the Sharee'ah had been
scattered with the Successors and their successors, and had not
been collected in his lifetime, it was necessary that there be a lot
of qiyaas in his Madhhab compared to that of other imaams. The
later scholars then made their journeys to find and collect
ahaadeeth from the various cities and towns and wrote them
down; hence, some ahaadeeth of the Sharee'ah explained others.
This is the reason behind the large amount of qiyaas in his
Madhhab, whereas there was little of it in other Madhhabs."
Abul-Hasanaat Al-Lucknowi quoted his words in full in An-
Naafi' al-Kabeer (p. 135), endorsing and expanding on it in his
footnotes, so whoever wishes to consult it should do so there.
Since this is the justification for why Abu Haneefah has
sometimes unintentionally contradicted the authentic ahaadeeth
- and it is a perfectly acceptable reason, for Allaah does not
burden a soul with more than it can bear - it is not permissible to
insult him for it, as some ignorant people have done. In fact, it is
obligatory to respect him, for he is one of the imaams of the
Muslims through whom this Deen has been preserved and
handed down to us, in all its branches; also, for he is rewarded
under any circumstance: whether he is correct or wrong. Nor is it
permissible for his devotees to continue sticking to those of his
statements which contradict the authentic ahaadeeth, for those
statements are effectively not part of his Madhhab, as the above
sayings show. Hence, these are two extremes, and the truth lies
in between. "Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who came
before us into the Faith; and leave not, in our hearts, any rancour
against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed Full
of Kindness, Most Merciful." (Al-Hashr 59:10)
27 Al-Fulaani in Eeqaaz al-Himam (p. 50), tracing it to Imaam Muhammad and
then saying, "This does not apply to the mujtahid, for he is not
bound to their views anyway, but it applies to the muqallid."
Sha'raani expanded on that in Al-Meezaan (1/26):
"If it is said: `What should I do with the ahaadeeth which my
Imaam did not use, and which were found to be authentic after
his death?' The answer which is fitting for you is: `That you act
on them, for had your Imaam come across them and found them
to be authentic, he would have instructed you to act on them,
because all the Imaams were captives in the hand of the
Sharee'ah.' He who does so will have gathered all the good with
both his hands, but he who says, `I will not act according to a
hadeeth unless my Imaam did so', he will miss a great amount of
benefit, as is the case with many followers of the Imaams of the
Madhhabs. It would be better for them to act on every hadeeth
found to be authentic after the Imaam's time, hence implementing
the will of the Imaams; for it is our firm belief about the Imaams
that had they lived longer and come to know of those ahaadeeth
which were found authentic after their time, they would have
definitely accepted and acted according to them, ignoring any
analogies they may have previously made, and any views they
may have previously held."
28 Ibn `Abdul Barr in Jaami' Bayaan al-'Ilm (2/32), Ibn
Hazm, quoting from the former in Usool al-Ahkaam (6/149), &
similarly Al-Fulaani (p. 72)
29 This iswell known among the later scholars to be a saying of Maalik.
Ibn `Abdul Haadi declared it saheeh in Irshaad as- Saalik
(227/1); Ibn `Abdul Barr in Jaami' Bayaan al-'Ilm (2/91) & Ibn
Hazm in Usool al-Ahkaam (6/145, 179) had narrated it as a
saying of Al-Hakam ibn `Utaibah and Mujaahid; Taqi ad- Deen
as-Subki gave it, delighted with its beauty, in al- Fataawaa
(1/148) as a saying of Ibn `Abbaas, and then said: "These words
were originally those of Ibn `Abbaas and Mujaahid, from whom
Maalik (radi Allaahu `anhu) took them, and he became famous
for them." It seems that Imaam Ahmad then took this saying
from them, as Abu Daawood has said in Masaa'il of Imaam
Ahmad (p. 276): "I heard Ahmad say, `Everyone is accepted and
rejected in his opinions, with the exception of the Prophet
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam)'."
30 From the Introduction to
Al-Jarh wat-Ta'deel of Ibn Abi Haatim, pp. 31-2.
31 Ibn Hazm
says in Usool al-Ahkaam (6/118):
"Indeed, all the fuqahaa' whose opinions are followed were
opposed to taqleed, and they forbade their companions from
following their opinion blindly. The sternest among them in this
regard was Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah), for he repeatedly
emphasised, more than anyone else, following the authentic
narrations and accepting whatever the proof dictated; he also
made himself innocent of being followed totally, and announced
this to those around him. May this benefit him in front of Allaah,
and may his reward be of the highest, for he was the cause of
32 Related by Haakim with a continuous sanad up
to Shaafi'i, as in Taareekh Dimashq of Ibn `Asaakir (15/1/3),
I'laam al- Mooqi'een (2/363, 364) & Eeqaaz (p. 100).
34 Ibn al-Qayyim (2/361) & Fulaani (p. 68)
35 Harawi in
Dhamm al-Kalaam (3/47/1), Khateeb in Al-Ihtijaaj bi
ash-Shaafi'i (8/2), Ibn `Asaakir (15/9/10), Nawawi in Al-
Majmoo' (1/63), Ibn al-Qayyim (2/361) & Fulaani (p. 100); the
second narration is from Hilyah al-Awliyaa' of Abu Nu'aim.
Nawawi in Al-Majmoo' (1/63), Sha'raani (1/57), giving its
sources as Haakim and Baihaqi, & Fulaani (p. 107). Sha'raani
said, "Ibn Hazm said, `That is, ... found to be saheeh by him or by
any other Imaam'." His saying given next confirms this
Nawawi says: "Our companions acted according to this in the
matter of tathweeb (calling to prayer in addition to the adhaan),
the conditions on coming out of ihraam due to illness, and other
issues well-known in the books of the Madhhab. Among those
of our companions who are reported to have passed judgment on
the basis of the hadeeth (i.e. rather than the saying of Shaafi'i)
are Abu Ya'qoob al-Buweeti and Abu l-Qaasim ad-Daariki. Of
our companions from the muhadditheen, Imaam Abu Bakr
Al-Baihaqi and others employed this approach. Many of our
earliest companions, if they faced an issue for which there was a
hadeeth, and the madhhab of Shaafi'i was contrary to it, would
act according to the hadeeth and give verdicts based on it,
saying, `The madhhab of Shaafi'i is whatever agrees with the
hadeeth.' Shaikh Abu `Amr (Ibn as-Salaah) says, `Whoever
among the Shaafi'is found a hadeeth contradicting his Madhhab,
he would consider whether he fulfilled the conditions of ijtihaad
generally, or in that particular topic or issue, in which case he
would be free to act on the hadeeth; if not, but nevertheless he
found it hard to contradict the hadeeth after further analysis, he
would not be able to find a convincing justification for opposing
the hadeeth. Hence, it would be left for him to act according to
the hadeeth if an independent imaam other than Shaafi'i had
acted on it, and this would be justification for his leaving the
Madhhab of his Imaam in that issue.' What he (Abu `Amr) has
said is correct and established. Allaah knows best."
There is another possibility which Ibn as-Salaah forgot to
mention: what would one do if he did not find anyone else who
acted according to the hadeeth? This has been answered by Taqi
ad-Deen as-Subki in his article, The Meaning of Shaafi'i's
saying, "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my
madhhab" (p. 102, vol. 3): "For me, the best thing is to follow the
hadeeth. A person should imagine himself in front of the Prophet
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam), just having heard it from him:
would there be leeway for him to delay acting on it? No, by
Allaah ... and everyone bears a responsibility according to his
The rest of this discussion is given and analysed in I'laam al-
Muwaqqi'een (2/302, 370) and in the book of al-Fulaane, (full
title:) Eeqaaz Himam ulu l-Absaar, lil-Iqtidaa' bi Sayyid al-
Muhaajireen wal-Ansaar, wa Tahdheeruhum `an al-Ibtidaa'
ash- Shaa'i' fi l-Quraa wal-Amsaar, min Taqleed
al-Madhaahib ma'a l- Hamiyyah wal-'Asabiyyah bain
al-Fuqahaa' al-A'saar (Awakening the Minds of those who
have Perception, towards following the Leader of the Emigrants
and Helpers, and Warning them against the Innovation
Widespread among Contemporary Jurists in the Towns and
Cities, of following Madhhabs with Zeal and Party- Spirit). The
latter is a unique book in its field, which every desirer of truth
should study with understanding and reflection.
Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah).
38 Related by Ibn
Abi Haatim in Aadaab ash-Shaafi'i (pp. 94-5), Abu Nu'aim in
Hulyah al-Awliyaa' (9/106), al-Khateeb in Al- Ihtijaaj
bish-Shaafi'i (8/1), and from him Ibn `Asaakir (15/9/1), Ibn
`Abdul Barr in al-Intiqaa' (p. 75), Ibn al-Jawzi in Manaaqib
al-Imaam Ahmad (p. 499) & Harawi (2/47/2) with three routes
from `Abdullaah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal from his father that
Shaafi'i said to him: ...etc; thus, it is authentic on the authority of
Shaafi'i. This is why Ibn al- Qayyim attributed it definitely to
him in I'laam (2/325), as did Fulaani in Eeqaaz (p. 152) and then
said: "Baihaqi said, `This is why he - i.e. Shaafi'i - used
hadeeth so much, because he gathered knowledge from the
people of Hijaaz, Syria, Yemen and `Iraq, and so accepted all
that he found to be authentic, without leaning towards or looking
at what he had considered out of the Madhhab of the people of
his land when the truth was clear to him elsewhere. Some of
those before him would limit themselves to what they found in
the Madhhab of the people of their land, without attempting to
ascertain the authenticity of what opposed it. May Allaah forgive
all of us'."
39 Abu Nu'aim (9/107), Harawi (47/1), Ibn
al-Qayyim in I'laam al-Muwaqqi'een (2/363) & Fulaani (p.
40 Ibn Abi Haatim in
al-Aadaab (p. 93), Abul
Qaasim Samarqandi in
al-Amaali, as in the
selection from it by Abu Hafs
al- Mu'addab (234/1), Abu Nu'aim
(9/106) & Ibn `Asaakir
(15/10/1) with a saheeh sanad.
Ibn Abi Haatim, Abu
Nu'aim & Ibn `Asaakir (15/9/2).
Ibn Abi Haatim (pp. 93-4).
al-Jawzi in al-Manaaqib (p. 192)
Fulaani (p. 113) &
Ibn al-Qayyim in I'laam (2/302).
45 Ar.: ittibaa'
Abu Daawood in Masaa'il
of Imaam Ahmad (pp. 276-7)
47 Ibn `Abdul Barr
in Jaami' Bayaan al-'Ilm (2/149).
48 Ibn al-Jawzi (p. 182)2)