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ABU HANIFA Nu'man ibn Thabit (d. 150/767) is a towering figure in the early history of Islamic Law. He was among the first to deploy the recognized methods of legal reasoning consistently, and to gather the legal dicta of his time into a systematic corpus. The understanding of Islam as law (fiqh) that evolved from his style of reasoning was favoured by the ruling dynasties of the three most extensive, populous, and enduring of the Muslim empires - the 'Abbasids, Ottomans, and Mughals - who enforced it consistently, though never exclusively, in their dominions. The Hanafi Madhhab (doctrine or school) has remained ever since the one most widely followed among the world's Muslims.
Abu Hanifa was both analytical and reflective in his thinking, able to deal equally productively with details and general principles. He combined a passion for knowledge with the capacity to organize his own thoughts about it and the thoughts of others: he was researcher and teacher, theoretician and practitioner. It is in this sense that his name became securely associated with a Hanafi school. As a man, he was exemplary in personal discipline and piety, warmly loved by his neighbours and deeply revered by his scholarly peers. He consistently refused to serve the State; the State punished his refusal by imprisoning and, finally, poisoning him. His reputation with the people as an imam - as someone to be followed - was the greater for that proof of his integrity.
In this book Mohammed Akram reviews the life and legacy of Abu Hanifa, and surveys the evolution of the Hanafi school in different regions of the Islamic world. His argument is based on the traditional sources and faithfully reports both history and legend about the man. However, the main focus of the book focuses on the approach and pattern of reasoning that distinguish Abu Hanifa's Fiqh.
Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi is a graduate of the world renowned Nadwatul 'Ulama (India) where he studied and taught Shari'ah.
Shaykh Akram is a Muhaddith of the highest calibre who has specialised in 'Ilm ul Rijal [the study of the narrators of Hadith]. He has Ijaza (licenses) from many of the most renowned scholars of our time including Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. He has a doctorate in Arabic Language and has authored and translated over 20 titles on Fiqh, Qur'an and Hadith including his monumental 40 volume work on the lives of female scholars of Hadith. His scholastic status is acknowledged internationally.
He is currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University.
This book is no. 7 in the 'Makers of Islamic Civilization' series, run by the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. Published jointly by Oxford University Press (Delhi) and I.B. Tauris (London), these books are written by specialists for the general reader. They are intended to serve as an introduction to pivotal Islamic thinkers and actors, whose works and legacy make up the pool of cultural experiences and resources on which contemporary Muslims continue to draw.