The Hanafi (Arabic حنفي) school is the oldest of the four schools of thought "(Madhhabs)" or jurisprudence (Fiqh) within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after its founder, Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit (Arabic: النعمان بن ثابت‎) (699 - 767CE /89 - 157AH), and his legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani. The latter's works, known collectively as "zāhir al-riwāya", remained authoritative for later Hanafis.


Among the four established Sunni schools of legal thought in Islam, the Hanafi school is the oldest, Abu Hanifah was the first to systematically arrange and compile Islamic law. A unique feature of the school is the method in which the law was codified: Abu Hanifah would convene and preside over a board of jurists (consisting of about 40-50 of his own students) and each would give his own opinion on a particular legal issue, Abu Hanfia would then decide which is the opinion that is to be selected by corrobrating it or sometimes would offer his own unqiue opinion. The Hanafi school also has the most followers among the four major Sunni schools. (Both the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire were Hanafi so the Hanafi school is still widespread in their former lands). The other three schools of thought are Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali. Today, the Hanafi school is predominant among the Sunnis of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China as well as in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia in the Balkans and the Caucasus. It is also found in large numbers in other parts of Muslim world. Hanafi school was also one of the widespread schools beside Shaf'i school in Iran, especially in Khorasan, before 1500.

Sources and Methodology

The sources from which the law is dervied, in order of importance and preference are: the Qur'an, the authentic narrations of the Prophet (Hadith), Consensus (ijma) and analogical reasoning (qiyas), qiyas only being applied if direct material cannot be found in the Qur'an or Hadith. As the forth Caliph, 'Ali, had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa and the fact that many of the companions of the Prophet had settled there, the Hanafi School had based many of its rulings on Prophetic narrations (Hadith) transmitted by companions residing in Iraq, thus it came to be known as the Kufan or Iraqi school in earlier times. Hence 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud formed much of the base of the school, as well as other personalities from the household of the Prophet with whom Abu Hanfiah had studied such as Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja'far al-Sadiq (Born in Medina 79 AH and died in Medina 142 AH) and Zayd ibn 'Ali. Many jurists and Hadith transmitters had lived in Kufa including one of Abu Hanfia's main teachers, Hammad ibn Sulayman.

According to Abdalhaqq Bewley:

"Hanafi methodology involved the logical process of examining the Book and all available knowledge of the Sunna and then finding an example in them analogous to the particular case under review so that Allah's deen could be properly applied in the new situation. It thus entails the use of reason in the examination of the Book and Sunna so as to extrapolate the judgements necessary for the implementation of Islam in a new environment. It represents in essence, therefore, within the strict compass of rigorous legal and inductive precepts, the adaptation of the living and powerful deen to a new situation in order to enable it take root and flourish in fresh soil. This made it an ideal legal tool for the central governance of widely varied populations which is why we find it in Turkey as the legacy of the Uthmaniyya Khilafa and in the sub-continent where it is inherited from the Moghul empire."

Some distinctive opinions of Abu Hanifa and the Hanafi School

*The Hanafis pray with their hands placed below the navel and raise their hands only at the start of prayer, except in the witr prayer in which they raise the hands and then make takbeer - pronounce "allaahu akbar" - (after placing the hands as in all prayers) just before the qunoot (supplication of witr prayer in the 3rd unit) which is done before ruku` (bowing posture) except when there has been a great tribulation and then witr qunoot will be done after rising up from the ruku` and placing the hands and pronouncing the takbeer.
*The Hanafis do not recite the fatihah (the first sura) behind the Imam in any of the prayers except dhuhr and `asr prayers in which they do recite both fatihah and an additional sura in the first two units of each prayer and fatihah alone in the second two units of each prayer (unlike in all sunnah prayers that are 4 units, in which all 4 schools recite both fatihah plus an additional sura in all 4 units).
*It is prohibited or disliked to eat some forms of non-fish seafood based on the hadith of the prophet Muhammad: "Two types of dead meat and two types of blood have been made lawful for your consumption [without being slaughtered] : fish and locust, liver and spleen". (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Majah,).
*Every salah needs to be made in its regular time. It is not valid to combine prayers out of their normal time frames, so instead the dhuhr prayer is prayed at the end of dhuhr time (2 units) and the `asr is prayed at the beginning of the normal time for `asr (remember, dhuhr ends later and `asr begins later than in the other schools and this is based on numerous ahaadeeth).
*Abu Hanifah held that "wine" (the fermented juice of dates or grapes) was absolutely prohibited. But he thought it was permissible to drink small non-intoxicating amounts of other alcoholic beverages (e.g. made from honey or grains). Later Hanafi scholars tend to rule that all alcoholic beverages are prohibited regardless of source. The issue is actually far more complex than this but basically the ruling is the same as in the thaahiri school, which is that the only alcohol which is NAAJIS (filthy and makes one impure for 40 days and the prayers not accepted although still legally obligatory) is literally khamr - wine made from dates and grapes - because we understand the 'ayah of the qur'aan with regards to this in a literal manner. So it is NOT permissible to get intoxicated with any type of alcohol, but if they are consumed in food or medicine in an amount not possible to intoxicate or if the alcohol is a synthetic type that cannot cause intoxication any more than water can or if it is merely a non-intoxicating chemical merely belonging to the alcohol family of chemicals then it does not invalidate the prayers for 40 days because only date wine and grape wine are naajis and the qur'aan and ahaadeeth specifically mention KHAMR (specifically date wine or grape wine).
*Abu Hanifah held that "the Quran" consists of the meaning of the text and so in the daily prayers it was permissible to recite "the Quran" in any language unconditionally. Later Hanafis only held that this meant it was only permissible if the person praying was unable to recite the Quran in Arabic, but the original opinion is still upheld as a difference.
*Bleeding can break one's wudu if the blood moves from its location. This is NOT in contradiction to the sunnah because the only type of blood flow mentioned in the ahaadeeth during which companions prayed was the type of blood flow that will not stop flowing, ie. a sword wound. The type of bleeding that will break the wudhu is the type that will stop flowing without cauterization or death.
*Abu Hanifah and the Maturidis say that "Faith neither increases nor decreases" and that "Actions are not a part of faith". He actually said that faith increases and decreases in STRENGTH/QUALITY and that although actions are not faith itself they are INSEPERABLE from islaam (ie. actions) and neither can faith exist without islaam (the practical side of the religion, ie. actions) nor can islaam exist without faith.All four schools are respected and in fact the differences between the schools are considered a blessing. There are cross-pollination of ideas and debates between the four schools in respect to each school's understanding of Islam. All four schools are respected as valid legal schools of Sunni Islam that have arrived through their analysis of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Notable Hanafis

*Abu Hanifah
*Abu Yusuf
*Muhammad al-Shaybani
*Ashraf Ali Thanvi
*Zufr bin Hudhayl
*Hasan bin Ziyad
*Qasim Nanotwi
*'Abdullah bin Mubarak
*Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi
*Ibn Nujaym
*Uthman ibn `Ali al-Zayla`i
*Jamalludeen al-Zayla`i
*Abu Mansur Al Maturidi
*Ibn Abidin
*Mulla 'Ali al-Qari
*Shah Abdul Haqq Muhadith Delhwi
*Ahmad Sirhindi
*Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari
*Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
*Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi
*Farid al-Din Attar
*Shah Waliullah
*Ahmed Raza Khan Barelwi
*Allama Amjad 'Ali Azami
*Allama Sardar Ahmed
*Naeemuddeen Muradabadi
*Imam al-Kawthari
*Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani (Mufakkir-e-Islam)
*Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah
*Ahmed Saeed Kazmi
*Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi
*Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
*Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi
*Ahmad yar khan naeemi
*Ilyas Attar Qadri
*Shibli Nomani
*Ibn Abi al-Izz
*Mufti Imam Tahir Mahmood Kiani
*Syed Abdullah Shah Naqshbandi
*Mufti Ghulam Rasool Jamaati
*Fethullah Gülen
*Zameer Ikraam Sattaur
*Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi
*Yusuf Motola
*Abdul Wahab Sheikh- JMC, New York
*Hazrat Allamah Abdul Latif Chowdhury (Fultali Saheb Qiblah), Bangladesh
*Hazrat Allamah Mufti Alauddin, Bangladesh
*Hazrat Allamah Mohammed Mujahid Uddin Choudhury (Dubagi Saheb), Bangladesh
*Hazrat Allamah Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, Pakistan

Hanafi Groups and Movements

*Deobandi "includes" Tablighi Jamaat
*Sunni Bohra


* [http://www.shaykhabdalqadir.com/content/articles/Art033_15012005.html The Recovery of True Islamic Fiqh]

External links

* [http://www.SunniPath.com SunniPath.com Hanafi ruling website]
* [http://www.shariahboard.org/ Shariah Board] (Hanafi) Audio Fatawa in many languages (free online)
* [http://rightislam.com/ Sahih al Islam] Over 2,000 Collection of Islamic Information
* [http://www.quransunnah.com Online Urdu Audio on Various Subjects]
* [http://kitabghar.org Kitab Ghar] Urdu Translation of Hanafi Fiqh and Hadith Books
* [http://www.hizmetbooks.org/ Hizmet Books] Hanafi books in English (free online)
* [http://www.whitethreadpress.com White Thread Press] Books on Hanafi Fiqh and Hadith
* [http://www.al-rashad.com Al-Rashad Books and Audio] Books and Audio on Hanafi Fiqh

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