Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 28 - The mother of Imam Abu Hanifa

They are not too cliched when they say that "behind every great man is a woman." In Islam, this should not even be a point of doubt as Islam lays immense credit on the mother. There is the popular saying of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that Paradise lies at the feet of the mother" and then there is my favorite story of when a Companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) asked him who he should respect of the most in order to attain Paradise, the Holy Prophet responded "Mother." The Companion repeated this question twice more and the Holy Prophet responded each time "Your mother."

Like yesterday though, this time too I am beginning with  the reference of a man but will actually aim to show here too that behind him was the role of a most exceptional woman, this time his mother. Today's story is about one of the greatest scholars of Islam - Imam Abu Hanifa. With him is attributed the name of one of the main four Sunni schools of thoughts in Islam - the Hanafi school of thought. Each school of thought's imams are to be equally revered and regarded as they were men of great knowledge and close to Allah.

About Abu Hanifa's mother (a story from our hajj scholar):
At hajj last year, the scholar accompanying our group told us a really wonderful story. Unfortunately, i am forgetting the names of the main characters of the story but it went something along the lines of a young man for whatever reason feeling like he had not been committed to Allah the way he had (I can't seem to recall as up until this point hadn't been concentrating on whether he had made a mistake or why he felt this way) asked his very learned teacher how he could overcome this. His teacher, I believe someone the young man wanted to stay affiliated with for his Islamic growth, advised him and followed this up with a clause saying that if you marry my daughter then. The young man instantly agreed without seeing who the daughter was. The teacher said "my daughter is blind, deaf and dumb" and the young man thought to himself and still agreed as his motive was to please Allah.

The marriage was solemnized and the young man approached his new bride's room. As per Islamic ettiquettes, learn from the sunnah (life) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) he knocked thrice and heard a feminine voice allowing him to enter the room. He was a bit surprised and wondered how it was that she spoke when he had been told that his bride was dumb. When he entered he found a beautiful, young woman awaiting him who could both see, hear and speak, he asked her why he had been told that she was deaf, dumb and blind. To this she replied "I am blind because I have never seen any thing that Allah does not like, I am deaf because I do not hear any thing Allah does not want us to hear and I am dumb because I do not say any thing that is not nice to say." According to our scholar, this young woman was the mother of Imam Abu Hanifa. 

Introduction to Islamic jurisprudence
Abu Hanifa's interest in Islamic jurisprudence was sparked perhaps by chance. While running an errand for his mother, he happened to pass the home of Sha'bi, one of Kufa's most well-known scholars. Sha'bi, mistaking him for a student, asked him whose classes he attended. When Abu Hanifa responded that he did not attend any classes, Sha'bi said, "I see signs of intelligence in you. You should sit in the company of learned men."

Respect for mother
One of my favorite stories about Imam Abu Hanifa's respect for his mother is that even when her son had turned out to be the leading scholar of fiqh, her curiosity in religious matters led her to ask her son to visit scholars she highly respected for answers to her questions. One such scholar was Amr bin Dharr, a well-known preacher of Kufah, who would feel embarassed answering these questions in front of Imam Abu Hanifa, who himself was so learned.

Abu Hanifa, however, always silently went to Amr bin Dharr and said it was his mother's wish to hear the response from him. Once, Amr bin Dharr did not know the answer to a question so he asked Abu Hanifa what the response would be if someone else posed him the same question. Abu Hanifa shared the response and Amr bin Dharr repeated this saying "Please tell your mother that this is Amr bin Dharr's answer." The Imam was able to return home and satisfy his mother's command.


Unable to see his mother in pain
The ‘Amir of Kufa, Ibn Hubayra offered the Imam the post of judge which he did not accept and Yazid punished him by flogging him 110 times. When asked why he would go through this suffering, Abu Hanifa said that it was not the lashes that caused him pain but the suffering it caused his mother that pained him more.

He was undoubtedly a man of great knowledge, God-consciousness, and righteousness and there are plenty of books and accounts recording this. Imam Abu Hanifa was the first to compile and classify the Fiqh science. Amongst his famous books are Fara'id and Shurut (Obligations and Conditions). The Hanafi approach of Islam spread most actively during the Ottoman period, so that today more than half of the Muslim world follows this approach.



  1. Just found out that this story was not about the mother of Abu Hanifa but rather Abdul Qadir Jilani. Check it well sister

  2. Very nice blog for those who want to get information about Islam!!

    hajj and umrah travel