Hanafi, Hanafiyyah, Hanafi SchoolGeneral Information
Aba Hanafa, Nu'man Abu Hanifah (d. 767)
DoctrinesThe Hanafiyyah school is the first of the four orthodox Sunni schools of law. It is distinguished from the other schools through its placing less reliance on mass oral traditions as a source of legal knowledge. It developed the exegesis of the Qur'an through a method of analogical reasoning known as Qiyas. It also established the principle that the universal concurrence of the Ummah (community) of Islam on a point of law, as represented by legal and religious scholars, constituted evidence of the will of God. This process is called ijma', which means the consensus of the scholars. Thus, the school definitively established the Qur'an, the Traditions of the Prophet, ijma' and qiyas as the basis of Islamic law. In addition to these, Hanafi accepted local customs as a secondary source of the law.
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The privileged position which the school enjoyed under the 'Abbasid caliphate was lost with the decline of the 'Abbasid caliphate. However, the rise of the Ottoman empire led to the revival of Hanafi fortunes. Under the Ottomans the judgement-seats were occupied by Hanafites sent from Istanbul, even in countries where the population followed another madhhab. Consequently, the Hanafi madhhab became the only authoritative code of law in the public life and official administration of justice in all the provinces of the Ottoman empire. Even today the Hanafi code prevails in the former Ottoman countries. It is also dominant in Central Asia and India.
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Abu Hanifa (699-767) placed the emphasis on opinions reached by individual reasoning, and used analogy extensively. His broad interpretations displayed a flexibility that increased the appeal of his jurisprudence, particularly to rulers who sought easy justifications for their actions. He was by profession a trader in silk in Kufa, where he also taught, and the school of law that now bears his name claims the largest number of Sunni adherents.
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
THE ELEMENTS OF ISLAM, Chapter 4
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any scholarly texts on this subject which have yet been translated into English. We know that a number of Arabic scholars have written wonderful texts in Arabic, and look for the day when we will be able to add higher quality texts to this presentation.
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