In his comprehensive hagio-biography of Imām Abu l-Hasan al-Ash‘arī (260 – 324 H) Tabyīn Kadhib al-Muftarī, Hāfiz Ibn ‘Asākir (499 – 571 H) quotes a lengthy letter written by Imām al-Bayhaqī (384 – 458 H) to the grand vizier of the Seljuk Empire, ‘Amīd al-Mulk (415 – 456 H), on his views about the personality and theology of Imām al-Ash‘arī. Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī reproduces most of the letter in his Tabaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyyah al-Kubrā with his chain via Ibn ‘Asākir.
Below we present a translation of the letter, which demonstrates Imām al-Bayhaqī’s great respect for Imām al-Ash‘arī and his appreciation of the efforts he made to defend the ‘aqīdah of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. Continue Reading
An extensive and thorough collection of authentic narrations on various aspects of the Great Imam of the Salaf, Imam Abu Hanifah Nu’man ibn Thabit, with brief commentary and critical analyses of the chains of narration (isnad).
Imam Abu Hanifah, despite his mastery in the Islamic sciences, was recognised for his piety (taqwa), scrupulousness (wara’) and worship (‘ibadah). In the following I will quote a few excerpts from Imam al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s biographical dictionary Tarikh Baghdad, omitting the chains and relaying the editor’s, Dr Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma’ruf’s, gradings of the chains, as he graciously included his expert analysis on most of the narrations from Abu Hanifah’s biography in the footnotes.
One of the greatest indications that Imam Abu Hanifah’s opinions in fiqh were informed by an immense knowledge of hadiths, and related Islamic sciences, is the companionship with him of some of the most learned scholars of the salaf. In this respect, the following narrations should shed some light.
Imam Abu Hanifah (80 – 150 H) was from the generation of the Tabi’in as he was alive during the era of the Sahabah and he saw Anas ibn Malik (d. 93 H), although it is not authentic that he narrated from him or any other Sahabi. Imam al-Suyuti mentions in Tabyid al-Sahifah (Mahmud Muhammad Mahmud Hasan Nassar ed. p. 34) that Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani said, “Ibn Sa’d narrated with a sanad in which there is no harm that Abu Hanifah saw Anas.” Ibn Hajar goes on to mention that this distinguishes Abu Hanifah from all the other Imams of the major towns from his contemporaries like al-Awza’i, Hammad ibn Zayd, Hammad ibn Salamah, al-Thawri, Malik, Muslim ibn Khalid and al-Layth ibn Sa’d.