The Hanafi (Arabic: حَنَفِي Ḥanafī) school is one of the four religious Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence (fiqh). It is named after the scholar Abū Ḥanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit (d. 767), a tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani. The other major schools of Sharia in Sunni Islam are Maliki, Shafi`i and Hanbali.
The Hanafi school is the maddhab with the largest number of followers among Sunni Muslims. It is predominant in the countries that were once part of the historic Ottoman Empire, Mughal Empire and Sultanates of Turkic rulers in the Indian subcontinent, northwest China and Central Asia. In the modern era, Hanafi is prevalent in the following regions: Turkey, the Balkans, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Afghanistan, parts of Iraq, parts of Iran, parts of Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, parts of India and China, and Bangladesh.
Sources and methodology
The sources from which the Hanafi madhhab derives Islamic law are, in order of importance and preference: the Quran, and the hadiths containing the words, actions and customs of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (narrated in six hadith collections, of which Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are the most relied upon); if these sources were ambiguous on an issue, then the consensus of the Sahabah community (Ijma of the companions of Muhammad), then individual's opinion from the Sahabah, Qiyas (analogy), Istihsan (juristic preference), and finally local Urf (local custom of people).
Abu Hanifa is regarded by modern scholarship as the first to formally adopt and institute analogy (Qiyas) as a method to derive Islamic law when the Quran and hadiths are silent or ambiguous in their guidance.
The foundational texts of Hanafi madhhab, credited to Abū Ḥanīfa and his students Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani, include Al-fiqh al-akbar (theological book on jurisprudence), Al-fiqh al-absat (general book on jurisprudence), Kitab al-athar (thousands of hadiths with commentary), Kitab al-kharaj and Kitab al-siyar (doctrine of war against unbelievers, distribution of spoils of war among Muslims, apostasy and taxation of dhimmi).
As the fourth Caliph, Ali had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa, and many of the first generation of Muslims had settled there, the Hanafi school of law based many of its rulings on the earliest Islamic traditions as transmitted by Sahaba residing in Iraq. Thus, the Hanafi school came to be known as the Kufan or Iraqi school in earlier times. Ali and Abdullah, son of Masud formed much of the base of the school, as well as other personalities such as Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja'far al-Sadiq, and Zayd ibn Ali. Many jurists and historians had lived in Kufa including one of Abu Hanifa's main teachers, Hammad ibn Sulayman. The Shi'ite Imam Ja'far (a descendant of the Islamic Nabi (Prophet) Muhammad) was reportedly a teacher of Sunni Imams Abu Hanifah and Malik ibn Anas, who in turn was a teacher of Imam Ash-Shafi‘i,:121 who in turn was a teacher of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Thus all of the four great Imams of Sunni Fiqh are connected to Ja'far, whether directly or indirectly.
In the early history of Islam, Hanafi doctrine was not fully compiled. The fiqh was fully compiled and documented in the 11th century.
The Turkish rulers were some of the earliest adopters of the relatively more flexible Hanafi fiqh, and preferred it over the traditionalist Medina-based fiqhs which favored correlating all laws to Quran and Hadiths and disfavored Islamic law based on discretion of jurists. The Abbasids patronized the Hanafi school from the 10th century onwards. The Seljuk Turkish dynasties of 11th and 12th centuries, followed by Ottomans adopted Hanafi fiqh. The Turkic expansion spread Hanafi fiqh through Central Asia and into Indian subcontinent, with the establishment of Seljuk Empire, Timurid dynasty, Khanates, Delhi Sultanate, Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Empire. Throughout the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb the Hanafi based Fatawa-e-Alamgiri served as the legal, juridical, political, and financial code of most of South Asia.
- Outline of Islam
- Glossary of Islam
- Apostasy in Islam
- Islamic schools and branches
- Islamic views on sin
- List of major Hanafi books
- List of Hanafis
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