Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Kufah The Abode of Knowledge- Imam Abu Hanifah Series

Kufah the Abode of Knowledge[1]

This is a chapter from my extensive research on Imam Abu Hanifah, his school, colleagues, criticisers and most significantly his unparalleled rank in Hadith.

Iraq was dominated by the Muslims during the caliphate of Sayyiduna Umar at the hands of Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, May Allah be pleased with them both. Since its establishment in the17th hijri, Kufah received many major companions and masters of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

. Caliph Umar, for example, sent their Ibn Mas’ud whose agnomen was Ibn Umm Ma’bad. His mastery in fiqh and hadith was well known and many scholars praised his work in Kufah. Large groups of Sayyiduna Ali and Ibn Mas’ud’s students dwelled there, the names of who entail a voluminous book.

. The Major Tabi’i, Masruwq bin al-Ajda’ said, ‘‘I found that the knowledge of Muhammad’s men concludes at six men, Ali, Abdullah, Umar, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu al-Darda’, Ubayy bin Ka’b and the knowledge of these six is summed up in Ali and Abdullah.’’

. Ibn Jareer said, ‘‘No other person has famous men who document his verdicts and school other than Ibn Mas’ud. He used to take the opinion of Umar and leave his own. Very rarely did he oppose the opinion of Umar and he turned to it leaving his own’’.

. The likes of Sa’d bin Malik, Abu Waqas, Huzayfah, Ammar, Salman, Abu Musa and other unique companions went there to help Ibn Mas’ud enhance the city with Qur’an, hadith and the understanding of religion.

. Many of the Fuqaha among the companions used to instruct their students to accompany Ibn Mas’ud for his knowledge. Among them was Mu’adh ibn Jabal who advised his colleague Amr ibn Maymun al-Awdi to accompany Ibn Mas’ud in Kufah.

. Upon seeing the proliferation of knowledge in Kufah, Ali ibn Abi Talib remarked: ‘Allah have mercy on Ibn Umm Ma’bad, this region is plentiful of knowledge’’.

. Ibn Mas’ud left approximately four thousand students behind and those who studied with them. About them Sayyiduna Ali said, ‘‘the men of Ibn Mas’ud are lanterns of this city’’.

. Imam al-Ajali mentioned that the total number of Sahabah who dwelled there were 1,500 precluding those who lived elsewhere in Iraq. On the other hand, Muhammad bin al-Rabee’ al-Jeezi and Imam al-Suyuti manage to mention only 3,00 companions who entered Egypt. This signifies the significance of Kufah, alone, over entire Egypt.

. According to the report of al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, 1,000 companions dwelled in Kufah from which 3,00 were As’hab al-Ridhwan and 70 were from the people of Badr.

. Al-Ramahurmuzi cites the following statement of Anas bin Sirin in his al-Muhaddith al-Fasil who said: ‘‘I came to Kufah and found in it four thousand persons pursuing hadith and four hundred who had obtained fiqh’’.

Imam Zahid remarks to abovementioned narration saying, ‘‘and in which city among the Muslim cities other than Kufah do you find this mass of Hadith Masters and fuqaha? This narration indicates that the job of a faqih is very difficult, this is why the number of fuqaha does not measure up to the masses of Hadith narrators’’

. Madhkuwr bin Sulayman al-Wasiti said I heard Affan say, ‘‘we went to Kufah and stayed there for four months. If we wanted, we could have recorded one-hundred thousand hadiths yet we only documented fifty thousand. We only took that upon which the Ummah agrees’’.

Allamah Binnauwri remarks in his footnotes, ‘‘what he means by this is that we would not accept anyone’s hadith or narration except that which the Ummah upholds. Look at this stringent pre-requisite and then look out the amount of hadith the people of Kufah had that met this condition. This point is extremely important so beware of it’’.

He further introduces Imam Affan saying, ‘Affan bin Muslim al-Ansari al-Basri, Shaykh of Bukhari, Ahmad, Is’haq and many other scholars. He is the one about whom Ibn al-Madeeni said, ‘‘If he doubted a word in a hadith he would leave it’’. This is what is cited in al-Taqreeb…’’

. Imam Bukhari, whilst mentioning the people who travelled to Islamic cities for hadith, comments on Kufah saying ‘‘I cannot encompass the names of all of those who entered Kufah to pursue Hadith’’.

. Sayyiduna Umar said, ‘Kufah is the spear of Islam, treasure of Iman and brain power of the Arabs’.

. Sayyiduna Ali used to say, ‘Kufah is Allah’s sword’. His remarks regarding its knowledge have been mentioned previously.

. Sulayman al-Farisi used to say, ‘Kufah is the Abode of Islam’.. Many Qur’an specialists, such as Asim, Hamzah and Kisa’I who are among the seven major Qurra’ and fuqaha travelled to Kufah, and it was celebrated for its focus on knowledge. It was already famous for its Arabic since the most eloquent of Arabs and well learned of the Arabic language lived in its precincts.

. Kufah and Basrah were far-famed for their specialization in the Arabic language. People their would collect the different Arab dialects during the era of revelation so it helped them understand the secrets of Qur’an and hadith. Students of Arabic language are familiar with these two mother schools of Language.

. Even the Sahabah used to advise people to stick to the opinions of the men of Kufah. When the people of Kufah went to Ibn Abbas asking him for fatwa on their issues, he would ask them, ‘‘Do you not have Ibn Umm al-Dahma among you?’’ i.e. Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr.

. Khuzaymah once went to Madinah to consult Abu Hurayrah about an issue. He remarked, ‘‘why would you have to come to Madinah when you have the knowledge in Kufah?’’

. Statements attributed to Rabee’ah and Imam Malik on the weakness of Iraq and its poorness are fabricated.

Here is a list of some of Sayyiduna Ali and Ibn Mas’ud’s colleagues who took fiqh from him

1. Ubaydah bin Qays al-Salmani, d.72h. Imam Shireeh used to consult him in issues of fiqh. Imam Shireeh is well known for his excellence among the Tabi’een in fiqh and issues of law.

2. Amr bin Maymun al-Awdi, d.74h. He was from the early colleagues of Mu’adh and then accompanied Ibn Mas’ud. He performed 100 hajj and umrahs.

3. Zarr bin Hubaysh, d.82h. He was the most learned in Arabic. Ibn Mas’ud used to consult him about the language. He narrates the Qur’anic recitation from Ibn Mas’ud and Asim took it from him.

4. Abu Abd al-Rahman Abdullah bin Habib al-Salami, d.74h. He studied the Qur’an under Ali, Zaid bin Thabit and Uthman and taught it in the mosque of Kufah for forty years. Asim took the Qur’anic recitation of Ali from him and Hafs took it from Asim.

5. Suwayd bin Gaflah al-Mudh’haji, d.82h. He was born in the year of the elephant and accompanied Abu Bakr for many years. He died in Kufah.

6.Alqamah bin Qays al-Nakha’i, d.62h. Ibn Masu’d said, ‘‘I do not known anything except that Alqamah knows it’’. Jareer bin Qabuws asked his father, ‘‘why do you go to Alqamah and leave the Prophet’s companions?’’ To which he replied, ‘‘Oh son! Because the companions turn to him in their issues and he has travelled to take knowledge from Abu al-Drda’ in Shaam, Umar, Zayd, and Aishah in Madinah. He is among those who collected the sciences of all cities. He was the maternal uncle ‘khal’ of the Imam of Iraq, Ibrahim ibn Yazeed al-Nakha’i.’’

7. Masruwq bin al-Ajda’, d.63h. He travelled extensively for knowledge.

8. Al-Aswad bin Yazeed bin Qays al-Harithi, d.74h. He performed 80 hajj and umrahs. He was the nephew of Alqamah.

9. Shireeh bin al-Harith al-Kindi, d.80h. He was appointed as the Qadhi for Kufah during the caliphate of Umar. He remained as Qadhi for 62 years. Sayydiduna Ali said to him, ‘‘stand oh Shireeh! You’re the most learned of juridical matters among the Arabs’’. He nourished the fiqh of Iraq with his peerless opinions.

10.Abd al-Rahman bin Abi Layla, d.83h. He met 125 companions and was appointed as Qadhi.

After listing the names of another 23 colleagues, Imam Zahid al-Kawthari remarks, ‘‘Most of these met with Umar and Aishah too, and took knowledge from them. If their hadith or fiqh were recited to an insane person his sanity would restore. None who understands what he is saying is ever able to object to their Hadith and fiqh’’.

To sum everything said we can say, Kufah was the centre of learning Fiqh, Hadith, language, and Qur’an in the era of the companions and those after them.
By having a just look at the aforementioned background to Abu Hanifah’s city of learning, one is obliged to believe that it is irrational to deem Abu Hanifah inexperienced in Hadith whilst dwelling and studying in the city of so many sahabah and men of knowledge.
Bare in mind also that Abu Hanifah travelled to Basrah and Madinah many times and performed Hajj fifty five times, according to one narration, once of which he stayed in Makkah for six years from 130h till 136h. Hence, how is it logical to say that Abu Hanifah narrated only a handful hadith and had no expertise in them?

Main References: Fiqh Ahl al-Iraq wa Hadeethuhum & al-Tabaqat al-Kubra


© Aqsa Publications 2005
Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi

[1] Much of this section is an abridgement of Imam Zahid al-Kawthari’s section on ‘The High place of Kufah in the Sciences of Ijtihad’ in his excellent epistle, Fiqhu Ahl al-Iraq wa hadeethuhum, p24 to 32.