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Fiqh: Abdullh b. Masd planted it, Alqamah watered it, Ibrhm alNakhai harvested it, ammd threshed it, Abu anfah milled it, Abu
Ysuf kneaded it, and Muammad baked it. The rest of the people are
eating from his bread.
~ Imam Ibn bidn

A BR I E F HI S T OR Y OF T H E A N A F I M A D H HA B
ITS ESTABLISHMENT, CONTRIBUTORS, AND FOUNDATIONAL SOURCES1
Shaykh Dr. Muammad Abu l-Sayyid2
[What follows are a] few words about the anafi school of Fiqh, its imm, and its most
significant contributors.
The madhhab is attributed to al-Imm al-Aam (the Great Imm) Abu anfah al-Numn. He
was of Persian descent and lived in Iraq, where he established his school. He was among the
very early generations of scholars (mutaqaddimn). In fact, many count him as one of the Tbin
because he met some of the Companions. He was born in the year 80 A.H. [699 C.E.], and he
passed away in the year 150 A.H. [767 C.E.], the same year that Imam al-Shfi may Allah have
mercy on them both was born. Therefore it is said, One imm died, another imm was born.
Al-Imm al-Aam Abu anfah al-Numn held lessons in the mosque on all topics, which
hundreds of students attended. Some of these students remained with him for many years until
they qualified to give fatw. Others went on to become judges. Still others went on to train
students for the judiciary. Indeed, some of his students took up the position of Q al-Qut
(Chief Justice), namely Imam Abu Ysuf Yaqb b. Ibrhm.

This article was transcribed from a portion of a lecture given by the shaykh Muqaddimah f Ul al-Madhhab al-anafi Al-

Ikhtiyr 1 by AzharTV, and translated, by Shoaib A. Rasheed


2
The esteemed Shaykh Dr. Muammad Abu l-Sayyid is a contemporary anafi scholar at the University of al-Azhar

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ANAFI MADHHAB


Imam Abu anfahs teaching method was one of discussion. He would present a legal case
for the students to hear, and they would discuss that case together, after which he would give
his opinion and his rebuttal of the opposing arguments. In this way, he would arrive at the
ruling of the case. This was how the madhhab came to be.
[The most important contributors of the anafi madhhab were Imam Abu anfahs two
principle students: Imam Abu Ysuf Yaqb b. Ibrhm and Imam Muammad b. asan alShaybni.]
Imam Abu Ysuf remained in the circle of Imam Abu anfah for a long time. Eventually he
advanced to the level of ijtihd mulaq (absolute or unrestricted ijtihd).3 As for Imam
Muammad, he only attended Abu anfahs classes for a few years because the imm passed
away when Imam Muammad was only eighteen years old. Nevertheless, Imam Muammad is
considered a master (fi) of the Fiqh of Imam Abu anfah, its documenter, and its
transmitter to the next generations (muwarrith). Let us explore how this came to be.
First, Imam Muammad remained in the circles of Abu anfah until the imm may Allah
have mercy on him passed away. Then he switched to the circles of Abu Ysuf, the senior
student of the Imm. Then he journeyed to the city of Madnah and learned from Imam Mlik b.
Anas. He even transmitted a narration of the Muwa from Imam Mlik.
In this way, both Imam Muammad and Imam Abu Ysuf arrived at the level of ijtihd
mulaq not merely ijtihd that was restricted to within the madhhab. Since they were satisfied
with the methodology of Imam Abu anfah and convinced of the superiority of his madhhab,
they ascribed themselves to him. But their relation to the madhhab was not that of mujtahid fi lmadhhab. Rather, they associated themselves with the madhhab by choice, because of their
contentment with the doctrine and knowledge of their imm. In many instances, therefore, we
find them differing with the imm. [On these occasions,] they presented their own reasons and
evidences, and they held to their own opinions of course, this is the prerogative of a scholar
who is a mujtahid mulaq.

After the eleventh century, Sunn legal literature developed rankings of jurists according to their ability to
practice ijtihd. One predominant classification credited the founders of the legal schools with the distinction of
being absolute mujtahids (mujtahid mulaq) who were capable of laying down a methodology of the law and of
deriving from it the positive doctrines that were to dominate their respective schools. Accordingly, each legal school
represented a different methodology for ijtihd. Next came the mujtahids who operated within each school (mujtahid
muntasim or mujtahid f al-madhhab), who followed the methodology of the school's founder but proffered new
solutions for novel legal cases. The lowest rank belonged to the muqallid, the jurist-imitator who merely followed the
rulings arrived at by the mujthids without understanding the processes by which these rulings were derived.
Between the ranks of mujthids andmuqallids there were distinguished other levels of jurists who
combined ijtihd with taqld. [Rabb, Intisar A. "Ijtihd." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford
Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0354 (accessed 08-Jun-2013).]

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ANAFI MADHHAB


Imam Muammad would write and record what he heard from his first teacher Imam Abu
anfah as well as from Imam Abu Ysuf. When he went to Imam Mlik, he recorded his
knowledge also. These writings of Imam Muammad spread among the students of knowledge
and were an important factor in the wide dissemination of Imam Abu anfahs madhhab. This
collection of books is known as hir al-Riwyah. They are also known by another name: Kutub
al-Ul not in reference to the science of ul al-fiqh rather, they explained the ul
(principles) of the madhhab, upon the bases of which branched out its practical rulings (fur).
These books were six in total: al-Jmi al-Kabr, al-Jmi al-Saghr, al-Siyar al-Kabr, al-Siyar alSaghr, al-Mabst (also called al-Al), and al-Ziydt.
The books of hir al-Riwyah were narrated from Imam Muammad by way of tawtur. In
other words, a very large number of students transmitted the books from him, and after that
this large group of students transmitted them to another very large number of their own
students, and so on. [This assures them a high level of authenticity.]
Imam Muammad had another collection of books that were narrated from him, but not by
way of tawtur. Rather, they were related by solitary transmissions (riwyat d). For this
reason, they are one level lower [in authenticity] than hir al-Riwyah. They are known as
Kutub al-Nawdir.
Therefore, if the same legal question is found in both hir al-Riwyah and Kutub al-Nawdir,
and we find that the answer to that question differs between the two books, then the primary
and most preferred (rji) opinion in the madhhab is that which appears in the hir al-Riwyah.
Herein lies the benefit (fidah) of knowing the levels of sources in the anafi madhhab: The
highest level is the books of hir al-Riwyah and then next is Kutub al-Nawdir, both of which
were authored by Imam Muammad b. asan al-Shaybni.
We also have the books of fatw and wqit. The legal matters discussed in these books
arose after the era of Imam Abu anfah and his students. The later scholars of the madhhab
were facing issues in their time that did not exist in the past, and for this reason there was no
answer (ukm) to be found from the earlier imms. So they performed ijtihd in accordance
with the principles and doctrines of the madhhab and derived answers in this way. These are
known as al-Fatw wa l-Wqit, and are also attributed to the anafi madhhab.
But if we find conflict between these three collections, we give precedence to what is in
hir al-Riwyah over what is in Kutub al-Nawdir, and we give preference to Kutub al-Nawdir
over what is in al-Fatw wa l-Wqit.