The Leading Fiqh Scholars (Founders of the four schools of Fiqh)

source :Osoul Global Center

A brief introduction to the meaning of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), its principles, and The Leading Fiqh Scholars such as Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al-Shafi'i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. It includes all the practical rules that every Muslim, man or woman, should know, citing their bases in the Qur’an and the Sunnah in an easy and simple way.

The Leading Fiqh Scholars (Founders of the four schools of Fiqh)

1-Imam Abu Hanifah
Imam al-Nu'man ibn Thabit, more widely known by his nickname Abu Hanifah, was born in Kufah, Iraq, in 80 AH/700 CE. He was of Persian origin, but Arab by birth and upbringing, and belonged to a rich and very religious family.[1]

He memorized the Qur’an at a young age, learning its recitation under  'Asim ibn Abi al-Nujud of Kufah, who was one of the best known reciters of the Qur’an. He frequented the circles of a large number of Kufah scholars, from whom he learned about Fiqh and Hadith.

In the beginning, he was interested in scholastic theology, but he did not pursue that branch for long, turning his attention to Hadith and Fiqh. He learned the Hadith under  'Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah and Nafi', the disciple of  'Abdullah ibn  'Umar. His main teacher was Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, and he continued to attend him until he passed away. Following the death of Hammad, after having spent 18 years with him, Abu Hanifah replaced his teacher. He was 40 at the time.

Abu Hanifah then started to explain his methodology of arriving at rulings for different questions, and his approach to Fiqh. His views gained acceptance and he secured wide popularity.

It should be made clear that Abu Hanifah learned from a large number of leading scholars. He is best known as the leading scholar of the school that gives prominence to personal reasoning, and he was the main Fiqh scholar in Iraq. Imam al-Shafi'i said of him: ‘In Fiqh, all of us are indebted to Abu Hanifah.’[2] Abu Hanifah died in 150 AH (768 CE).

Methodology of the Hanafi school

Explaining his methodology of arriving at rulings, Abu Hanifah said: ‘I refer first of all to Allah’s book, the Qur’an. If I do not find in it what is applicable, I refer to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Sunnah and the authentic reports of his guidance that are well known. If I find nothing in either Allah’s book or the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Sunnah, I refer to his companions, taking the view of whomever I prefer and leaving aside others, but I would never discard all their views in preference to anyone else’s view. If I find nothing and the matter is left to people like Ibrahim and al-Sha'bi, (naming a few others), I look into the question myself, just like they did.’[3]


  1. Al-Makki, Manaqib Abu Hanifah, pp. 9-10; al-Sayrami, Akhbar Abu Hanifah, p. 3.
  2. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 13, p. 346; al-Mazzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 29, p. 433; al-Dhahabi, Siyar A'lam al-Nubala’, vol. 6, p. 403
  3. M. Abu Zahrah, Abu Hanifah, p. 239; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 13, p. 365; al-Mazzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 29, p. 433.


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