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Biographies of the four imams

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

As salamo alaikum
dear brother,

Could you please give me the summarized Biography of the following four Imams :

1. Abu Hanifa No`man Bin Sabit
2. Malik Bin Anas
3. Muhammad bin Idris Ash Shafie (Imam Shafie)
4. Ahmad Bin Hamble.

Jazak Allah Khair 

 

(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)

 

Answer:

 

Biographies of the four imams

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Summarized biography of Imam Abu Hanifah.

Numān ibn Thābit ibn Zuā ibn Marzubān popularly known as Abu anifah (699 765 CE / 80 148 AH) is credited with founding the Hanafi School of Islamic Jurisprudence.

 

Abu Hanifa belong the generation of the Tabiun, the generation after the noble companions of the Messenger of Allah (saws). He reportedly saw the noble companion and attendant to the Prophet (saws), Hadrat Anas ibn Malik (r.a.) and transmitted hadiths from him.

 

Abu Hanifa was born 67 years after the death of the Prophet Mohamed (saws) in the city of Kufa in Iraq during the reign of the Abdul Malik bin Marwan. His father, Thabit bin Zuta, a trader from Kabul, part of Khorasan in Persia (the capital of modern day Afghanistan), was 40 years old at the time of Abu Hanifa's birth.

 

His ancestry is generally accepted as being of non-Arab origin (Persian) as suggested by the etymology of then names of his grandfather (Zuta) and great-grandfather (Mah).

 

Abu Hanifa grew up in a period of oppression during the caliphates of Abdul Malik bin Marwan and his son Al-Walid I. The governorship of Iraq was under the control of Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, a loyal follower of Abdul Malik. During his governorship leaders in religion and learning were especially targeted by Hajjaj as they were proving to be an obstacle to Abdul Malik's establishment of his rule across Arabia and Iraq.

 

Following the deaths of Hajjaj in 95 AH and Walid in 96 AH, justice and good administration began to make a comeback with the caliphates of Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik and thereafter Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Umar encouraged education to such an extent that every home became a learning institution.


 

On the advice of As-Shabi, a renowned scholar of the times, Abu Hanifa embarked on a prolific quest for knowledge that would in due course have a profound impact on the history of Islam. He spent a great deal of time in the tutelage of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, a great jurist of Kufah. Abu Hanifa was also one of the distinguished students of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (the Prophets (saws) great grandson).

 

It is recorded that in the year 763, Al-Mansur, the Abbasid monarch offered Abu Hanifa the post of Chief Judge of the State, but he declined to accept the offer, choosing to remain independent. In his reply to the offer of the monarch Al-Mansur, Abu Hanifa refused the post by saying that he did not regard himself worthy of the position of being appointed Chief Judge of the State. Al-Mansur, who had his agenda for offering the post to Abu Hanifa, lost his temper and accused Abu Hanifa of lying.

 

"If I am lying," Abu Hanifa said, "then my statement is doubly correct. How can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qadi (Judge)?"

 

Incensed by this reply, the ruler had Abu Hanifa arrested, locked in prison and severely tortured. Even in prison it is reported that the indomitable jurist continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him.

 

His student Abu Yusuf was subsequently appointed Chief Judge of the State by the monarch.

 

In 767, Abu Hanifa died in prison. It was reported that so many people attended his funeral that the funeral service was repeated six times for more than 50,000 people who had amassed before he was actually buried.

 

Summarized biography of Imam Malik.

Mālik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn 'Āmr al-Asbahi popularly known as Imam Malik is credited with founding the Maliki School of Islamic Jurisprudence. Imam Shafei, who was one of Imam Malik's students for nine years and a scholarly giant in his own right is reported to have stated, "when scholars are mentioned, Malik is like the star amongst them."

 

Malik was born the son of Anas ibn Malik and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Medina in the year 711. His family was originally from the al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather Abu 'Amir relocated the family to Medina after converting to Islam in the second year after Hijra (623).

 

Living in Medina gave Malik access to some of the most learned minds of early Islam. He memorized the Quran in his youth, and studied Islam under various famed scholars including Hisham ibn Urwah, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, and Imam Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi School of thought.

 

The high reputation of Imam Malik as a scholar and teacher attracted people from all regions of the then Islamic Empire. Among the notables who benefited from Imam Maliks learning were caliphs like Al-Mansur, Medhi, Harun Rasheed and Mamun; jurist like Imam Shafi, Sufian Suri and Qazi Muhammad Yusuf; scholars like Ibn Shahab Zahri, Yahya bin Saeed Ansari, Ibrahim bin Adham, Zunnun Misri and Muhammad bin Fazil bin Abbas. According to reliable historical sources, the number of his students who acquired eminence as scholars in their lives was more than 1,300.

 

Imam Malik left behind him more than a dozen works including his most famous and widely used: Al-Muwatta.

 

Imam Malik continued to serve the noble cause of education for 62 years. He died on 11th Rabiul Awwal 179 A.H, at the age of 86 or 89 in Medina in 795 and is buried in the cemetery of Al-Baqi across from the Masjid al Nabawi.

 

Summarized biography of Imam As-Shafei.

Abu Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shafei popularly known as Imam Shafei was reported born in the year 767 and is credited with founding the Shafei School of Islamic Jurispurdence.

 

As-Shafi'i belonged to the Qurayshi clan Banu Muttalib which was the sister clan of the Banu Hashim to which Prophet (saws) and the Abbasid caliphs belonged. Although it is reported that Imam Shafei had connections in the highest social circles, he grew up in abject poverty.

 

As-Shafei was born in Gaza and moved to Makkah when he was about two years old. He subsequently moved to Madinah to teach others of the message of Islam and be taught by Imam Malik. In addition to living in Makkah and Madinah, the Imam reportedly aslo lived a portion of his life in Baghdad and finally Egypt.

 

Among his teachers were Imam Malik ibn Anas and Muammad ibn al-asan al-Shaybānī, whom he studied under in Madinah and Baghdad.

 

Imam Shafei died at the age of 54 on the 30th of Rajab in 204 AH (820 AD). He was buried in al-Fustat, Egypt.

 

Summarized biography of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu Abd Allah al-Shaybani popularly known as Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is considered the founder of the Hanbali School of Islamic Jurisprudence.

 

The actual place of birth of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is disputed by the historians. While the majority of historians claim that he was born in Baghdad, some state that his place of birth was Merv in the year 780 CE (164 AH). The Imam died in Baghdad in the year 855 CE (241 AH) at the age of seventy seven.

 

It is reported that the eminent scholar Imam Shafei said: I left Baghdad and did not leave behind me anyone more virtuous (afdal), more learned (alim), more knowledgeable (afqah) than Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

 

During the reign of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutasim Imam Ahmad faced the wrath of the great fitnah or trial of the timesie. the fitnah of Mutazila. The caliph and his court tried to force and coerce the Imam to publicly espouse the position that the Holy Quran was the creation of Allah, but Imam Ahmad unflinchingly stood his ground and refused to renounce his belief that the Glorious Quran is the Word of Allah Subhanah. For taking this stand, the Imam was imprisoned and severely tortured for twenty-eight long months by the then caliph Al-Mutasim, but the Imam steadfastly stood his ground.

 

When Ahmad died in 241/855 in Baghdad, he was reportedly accompanied to his resting place by a funeral procession of eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women, marking the departure of the last of the four great mujtahid Imams of Islam.

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your brother and well wisher in Islam,

 

 

Burhan

 


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