Blessed Birth and Family:
Numan bin Sabit رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was born in the city of Kufa (Iraq) in the year 80 A.H/689 C.E. He is better known as Al-imam al-Azam (the greatest Imam) or by his kunyah Abu Hanifa. He was born into a family of tradesmen; the imam’s family was of Persian origin. Imam Abu Hanifa’s father, Sabit, had met in the city of Kufa the companion Sayyiduna Ali رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ who made dua for him and his progeny, and some say that Abu Hanifa was a result of this dua.
Appearance and Characteristics
Imam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was of medium of height, he would meet people with very dignified manner, he would apply fragrance abundantly and he would also be recognized by his pleasant fragrance. Sayyiduna Nuaym رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ has stated: regarding the personality of Imam Azam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ, his blessed face, clothing and shoes etc. would always remain in a good condition and he would help everyone who visited him. He used to guard his tongue and used to speak little. Sayyiduna Shareek رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said: Sayyiduna Imam Azam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ used to remain silent, he was incredibly intelligent and despite being such a great Jurist, he used to avoid debates and arguments with others.
Once Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Mubarak رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہ told Sayyiduna Sufyan Sauri رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ that Imam Azam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was against of backbiting very much and I have never heard the Imam speaking ill of even his enemies. The respected teacher of Imam Bukhari Sayyiduna Makki bin Ibrahim رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said: I was blessed with the company of many Islamic scholars in Kufa, but found no one amongst them as pious as Imam e Azam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ.
Sayyiduna Yazeed bin Haroon رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ has said ‘I acquired knowledge from one thousand teachers, but Imam Azam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was the best amongst them in piety and control of his tongue. (Al Kherat ul Hassan, pp. 58)
Once Imam Azam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was told that people were using offensive language against him upon listening that he stated ‘my patience over foul language of people is a great favour and grace of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, Who bestows this blessing whomsoever He wants.’
First Mujtahid and a Tabie
He is the first of the four Mujtahid imams and the only Tabie among them, having seen the companions Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Haris, Maqal bin Yasar رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہم. A person becomes a tabei by meeting a Sahabi in the state of faith and till his demise remains on faith. (Sahabi is the companion of the beloved Rasool صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ). Imam Azam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was not only tabie but he also narrated from the companions in this regard some said that Imam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ narrated from seven companions while others said that he narrated from eighteen. He is one of the four Imams whose school of jurisprudence is followed most. Imam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِwas the first to start the systematic study of jurisprudence, analyses Islamic jurisprudence and divide it into subjects.
Abdullah bin Mubarak رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ (d.181 A.H / 797 C.E) said: Imam Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ is the best in jurisprudence among the people. I have not seen the like of him in jurisprudence. His authority in the field of jurisprudence can be realized by reading the statement of Imam Shafi رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ who said: الناس عيال علي ابي حنيفة في الفقه ويقول مارايت احد افقه من ابي حنيفةit means that people are dependent on Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ in the field of jurisprudence. I have not seen anyone better in jurisprudence than Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ. In another statement he said: People are children to Abu Hanifa رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ in jurisprudence. Imam Zahbi رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ added: Leadership in the matters of jurisprudence and its details belongs to him and there is no doubt on this issue. (Tarikh e Bagdad, 15:471)
He passed away on the 2 Shaban-ul-Muazzam, 150 AH at the age of 70. His blessed tomb is situated in Baghdad. (Nuzha-tul-Qari, vol. 1, pp. 169, 219)