The Birthdate of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah

By Mawlana Zeeshan Chaudri

He was born in the year 80AH which was during the time of the young companions.[1] Other scholars like Zāhid al-Kawtharī have argued for an earlier date, which would have made it more acceptable for him to have narrated and learnt from the companions.[2] He presents the narration from Tarīkh Bahgdād, where Muzāḥim Ibn Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah[3] narrates from his father (or possibly someone else) that Abū Ḥanīfah was born in the year 61AH[4]. Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī follows this narration up with the words ‘I do not know of any support for the person holding this opinion’[5].

The problem with the narration is apparent, and that is we are not sure who the actual narrator is. Is it Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah or someone else?[6] If the narrator is Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah, then he has been weakened by many Ḥadīth scholars[7] and if it is other than him, then an unknown authority narrates the date. This would then hold no weight.

As for al-Kawtharī’s evidences for an earlier date, he begins by citing from Abū Ḥātim Ibn Ḥibbān’s (d.354/965)[8] biography of Abū Ḥanīfah in his ‘al-Majrūḥīn min al-Muḥaddithīn wa al-Dhu’afā’ wa al-Matrūkīn’[9], which mentions the birthdate of Abū Ḥanīfah as 70AH, without mentioning any other date. This was read by al-Kawtharī in al-Azhar Library, Egypt. Although he does mention that there has been a correction in the margin of the manuscript which places the date at 80AH.[10]

He then cites Abū Sa’d Ibn Mansūr al-Sam’ānī (d.562/1166), where he mentioned the birthdate of Abū Ḥanīfah as 70AH[11]. But al-Sam’ānī himself in other places in his work dates the birth of Abū Ḥanīfah at 80AH[12]. Al-Kawtharī was aware of this, so said that perhaps al-Sam’ānī just scattered the varying dates in his book to show the varying narrations[13]. Furthermore, ‘Izz al-Dīn Ibn al-Athīr (d.630/1233), who produced a concise version of al-Sam’ānī’s ‘al-Ansāb’ with corrections, places Abū Ḥanīfah’s birthdate as 80AH rather than al-Sam’ānī’s 70AH[14]. This means there are only two historians al-Kawtharī could find who had given the birth date of Abū Ḥanīfah as 70AH, without mention of the date 80AH. As can be seen, Ibn Ḥibbān’s exact words are difficult to trace and al-Sam’ānī contradicts himself in the same work. And we have also seen Ibn al-Athīr correcting al-Sam’ānī’s dating.

The rest of the scholars on al-Kawtharī’s list, Abū al-Qāsim al-Simnānī (d.499/1105)[15], ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Qurashī (d. 775/1373)[16] and Badr al-Dīn al-‘Aynī, are those who mentioned different dates.

Al-Kawtharī still faced the objection, that why have the vast majority of historians dated his birth at 80AH. He points out that in the first generation of Muslims (after the companions of the Prophet); the era of codification (Tadwīn) of dates had not begun[17]. This means that it is difficult for us to pin point exactly the birthdates of people in this generation[18]. Secondly, precaution is taken when it comes to Sanad analysis. So if there are differing dates on the birth of a narrator, then the safer option would be to accept the later date. For example, Abū Ḥanīfah could have been born in 70AH or 80AH. If it is assumed that Abū Ḥanīfah narrates from X a Hadith, but X passed away 78AH. Now that narration, if Abū Ḥanīfah is born in 70AH is considered, would be plausible and graded Muttasil (connected)[19], if Abū Ḥanīfah was born in 70AH is considered. And if 80AH is considered, a gap would appear in the chain and it will be graded Munqaṭi’ (disconnected)[20]. The safer option in these types of scenarios would be to take the later dating, lest a disconnected narration is classified as connected[21].

Now, although this method was more precautious, but al-Kawtharī argues that this method is only applicable when the two dates don’t have external evidence giving one preference over the other. Whereas he claims that there is evidence to support a date earlier than 80AH. His first piece of evidence is from the 4th century Islamic scholar Muhammad Ibn Makhlad al-Dūrī (d.331/942), who wrote a book detailing the narrations of the ‘Elders’ (Akābir) who narrated from Mālik.[22] One of these Akābir was the son of Abū Ḥanīfah, Ḥammād Ibn Abī Ḥanīfah[23] and for him to be counted amongst the Akābir, he must have been born before Mālik, despite Ḥammād passing away three years before him[24]. Mālik was born in the year 93AH and if Ḥammād was born before that date, it is not possible for Abū Ḥanīfah to be born during 80AH. Rather anywhere before 70AH would make more sense. Then al-Kawtharī points out that Muhammad Ibn Makhlad was from the elite scholars and was a teacher of the famous al-Dāraquṭnī[25]. This is so Ibn Makhlad’s dating is not seen as a mistake[26].

This is a strong argument, only if Ibn Makhlad had made it a condition that the Akābir had to all been have born before Mālik. However, he lists Wuhaib Ibn Khālid[27] as one of the Akābir who narrated from Mālik[28] but died in the year 165AH or 167AH[29] and Ibn Ḥajar notes that he died at the age of 58[30]. Thus, his date of birth would have been 107/109AH and either way he would have been younger than Mālik, highlighting the fact that Ibn Makhlad’s Akābir did not have to be born before Mālik, but could simply be someone who was senior in his time[31]. This certainly weakens the argument of al-Kawtharī.

The second argument of al-Kawtharī is based on a narration that is found in ‘al-Dhu’afā’ of Abū Ja’far al-Uqaylī (d.322/933)[32]. The story states that when Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’ī died, five scholars from Kufah gathered to discuss who will replace al-Nakha’ī. Amongst these scholars was Abu Ḥanīfah and ‘Umar Ibn Qays al-Māsir, These five collected forty thousand Dirhams and went to al-Hakam Ibn al-‘Utaybah. They offered him the money and asked him to lead them in Irjā’[33]. He refused to take the role, so the group decide to go to Ḥammād, who took the money and the role.

Al-Kawtharī narrates the incident but glosses over the details. His point is that al-Nakha’ī died in the year 95AH, which would have made Abū Ḥanīfah fifteen years of age according to those who place his birthdate at 80AH. He claims that it is not possible for Abū Ḥanīfah to be part of a group of five scholars looking for the replacement of al-Nakha’ī, if he is only fifteen. This was an important task which only the elder students of al-Nakha’ī could participate in; hence Abū Ḥanīfah must have been born prior to 80AH[34].

The story from a Sanad perspective has many problems. Three of the narrators, Aḥmad Ibn Muhammad al-Harawī, Muhammad Ibn Mughīrah al-Balkhī and Ibrāhīm Ibn Isma’īl, it is not clear who they are[35]. Furthermore, the individual who narrates the incident Muhammad Ibn Sulaymān al-Asbahānī, has been classified by some Ḥadīth scholars as weak like Abū Ḥātim, al-Nasa’ī and Ibn ‘Adī’. Others like Ibn Ḥibbān considered him reliable[36]. Ibn Ḥajar concludes that he is truthful, but makes mistakes (Sadūq yukhti’[37]) Muhammad Ibn Sulaymān died in the year 181AH[38], so even if the chain is accepted, Muhammad Ibn Sulaymān would not have witnessed the death of Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’ī.

‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mu’allimī thinks that Abū Ḥanīfah has just been added to the story due to him being a famous promoter of Irjā’[39]. So again the evidence brought forth by al-Kawthari is severely weak.

Al-Kawtharī’s third and final evidence is based upon the narration in evidence two. He says that Abū Ḥanīfah spent many years as a debater specializing in Kalām. After that he turned to his study of Fiqh. He must have been engrossed in Fiqh at the death of al-Nakha’ī, as the narration (according to al-Kawtharī) indicates. This shows he could not have been fifteen at the death of al-Nakha’ī. Then he concludes that based on these reasons and others, an earlier date seems more correct and perhaps 70AH is more accurate[40]. The reply to this would be the same as evidence two.

Finally, a further argument I found, which was not used by al-Kawtharī[41], is a narration which is mentioned in Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s (d.463/1070) ‘Jāmi’ Bayān al’-Ilm wa Fadhlihi’. Abū Yūsuf narrated from Abū Ḥanīfah, that he performed Hajj with his father in the year 93AH at the age of sixteen[42]. This would make Abū Ḥanīfah’s birthdate 77AH. The problem with this is that an identical narration is presented by Abū Abdillah al-Saymarī (d.436/1043) in his ‘Akhbār Abī Ḥanīfah’ where Abū Ḥanīfah is reported to have gone Hajj with his father in the year 96AH at the age of sixteen[43]. This shows that the previous narration was most likely a mistake. It should also be noted that Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr was not aware of any birthdate for of Abū Ḥanīfah, other than 80AH[44], which further strengthens our point.

After this analysis, we can safely conclude that the majority opinion of 80AH is the most accurate due to the many narrations supporting this date, and because of the weaknesses of a contrary date[45].

[1] Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d.748/1382) ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’ 6/390. This is the famous opinion and majority view. See Abū ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d.463/1070) ‘al-Intiqā’ fī Fadhā’il al-Thalāthati al-A’immati al-Fuqahā: Mālik Ibn Anas al-Asbahī al-Madanī wa Muhammad Ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī al-Muttalibī wa Abī Ḥanīfah al-Nu’mān Ibn Thābit al-Kūfī wa ‘Uyūni Akhbārihim al-Shāhidati bi Imāmatihim wa Fadhlihim fī Adabihim wa ‘llmihim’, 2nd edition, Beirut: Dār al-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyyah, Ed. ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah 2010-1431, where Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr narrates from various routes that Abū Ḥanīfah was born in the year 80AH. He concludes that there is no difference of opinion upon this (p.192). ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah writes a footnote disagreeing and saying dates like 61AH, 70AH and 80AH have all been transmitted, although most agree on 80AH (p.192).

[2] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khatīb ‘alā mā Sāqahu fī Tarjamati Abī Ḥanīfah min al-Abāṭīl’ and with it ‘al-Tarḥīb bi Naqd al-Ta’nīb’ 1st edition, Damascus: Maṭba’atu al-Anwar, 1990/1410, with notes from Aḥmad Khayrī, p.41. He summarises the same points in al-Dhahabī’s ‘Manāqib al-Imām Abī Ḥanīfah wa Sāḥibayhi Abī Yūsuf wa Muhammad Ibn al-Ḥasan’, 4th edition, Hyderabad: Dā’iratu al-Ma’ārif al-Uthmāniyyah, Ed. Zāhid al-Kawtharī and Abū al-Wafā’ al-Afghānī, 1998/1419, p.13-14.

[3] In some books his name is written as Dhawwād Ibn Ulayyah, see Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalani (d.852/1448) ‘Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb’, 1st edition, Hyderabad: Dā’iratu al-Ma’ārif al-Nidhāmiyyah, 1326/1908, (12 vol), 10/100 and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu’allimī (d.1386/1966) ‘al-Tankīl bimā fī Ta’nīb al-Kawtharī min al-Abāṭīl’ , 3rd edition, Riyadh: Maktabatu al-Ma’ārif. Ed. Nāṡir al-Dīn al-Albānī, 2005/1426, (2 vol), 1/182.

[4] Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī (d.463AH/) ‘Tarīkh Baghdād’, 15/453.

[5] Ibid 15/453

[6] A further point can be added and that is Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzi (d.276/890) states about Muzāḥim ‘his Aḥādīth should be written, but not taken evidence with’, Ibn Ḥajar’s ‘Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb’, 10/100. Ibn Ḥajar himself concludes with the words of al-Nasa’ī (d.303/915) ‘There is no problem with him’ (la Ba’sa bihi).

[7] See his notice in Ibn Ḥajar’s ‘Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb’, 3/221-222. He has also been classified weak by Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mubārakfūrī (d.1353/) ‘Tuḥfatu al-Aḥwadhī bi Sharḥ Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhī’ Hadith no 1186, 4/307. Al-Mu’allimī has classified both of them as weak ‘al-Tankīl’, 1/182.

[8] The author of the famous ‘Saḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān’, See al-Dhahabī’s ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’ 16/92-104 for a lengthy biography.

[9] Al-Kawtharī refers to it as ‘al-Dhu’afā wa al-Matrūkīn’, Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.41)

[10] Ibid (p.41) This point was also used by Dr Musṭafā al-Siba’ī (d.1383/1963) ‘al-Sunnah wa Makānatuhā fī al-Tashrī’ al-Islāmī’, Dār al-Warrāq- al-Maktabatu al-Islāmi’, 2000/1420, p.437, See Abū Ḥātim Ibn Ḥibbān’s ‘al-Majrūḥīn min al-Muḥaddithīn wa al-Dhu’afā wa al-Matrūkīn’, 1st edition, Ḥalab, Dār al-Wa’yī, Ed. Muhammad Ibrāhīm Zayād, 1976/1396 (3vol), 3/62. This edition has the date as 80AH.

[11] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.41). See Abū Sa’d Ibn Manṡūr al-Sam’ānī (d.562/1166) ‘al-Ansāb’, 1st edition, Hyderabad: Dā’iratu al-Ma’ārif al-Uthmāniyyah, Ed. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu’allimī al-Yamānī, 1962/1382, 5/111.

[12] See for example Abū Sa’d Ibn Manṡūr al-Sam’ānī (d.562/1166) ‘al-Ansāb’ 6/65

[13] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.42)

[14] ‘Izz al-Dīn Ibn al-Athīr (d.630/1233) ‘al-Lubāb fī Tahdhīb al-Ansāb’, Baghdād: Maktabatu al-Muthannā, (3 vol) 1/439. The editor of al-Sam’ānī’s ‘al-Ansāb’, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mu’allimī, mentioned Ibn Athīr’s correction, see footnote ‘al-Ansāb’ 5/111 Al-Kawtharī is not sure if the manuscript in the possession of Ibn al-Athīr of al-Sam’ānī’s ‘al-Ansāb’ has 80AH or if it is a correction from the side of Ibn al-Athīr, see Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.42)

[15] See Abū al-Qāsim al-Simnānī (d.449/1105) ‘Rawdhatu al-Qudhāt wa Țarīq al-Najāt’ (d.499/1105), 3rd edition, Beirut: Mu’assasatu al-Risālah and Amman: Dār al-Furqān, Ed. Dr Ṣalaḥ al-Dīn al-Nāhī, 1984/1404, (4 vol) 4/1497. He states that there are two narrations regarding the birthdate of Abū Ḥanīfah. One narration from Ibn Kās, who states 70AH and the other from Ḥammād, who states 80AH.

[16] See ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Qurashī (d.775.1373) ‘al-Jawāhir al-Mudhiyyah fī Țabaqāti al-Ḥanafiyyah’, 2nd edition, Dār al-Ḥijr, Ed. Dr ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Muhammad al-Ḥilw, (5 vol) 1/53. Al-Qurashī states three dates, 61AH, 70AH and 80AH. He considered 80AH correct (Saḥiḥ).

[17] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.42)

[18] The death dates are better known for obvious reasons, as once a person gains fame then his/her death date would be noted more precisely. We will see this in Abū Ḥanīfah’s case.

[19] ‘It is when the chain is connected, so that every person from its narrators had heard it (the Ḥadīth) from the person above him, until it reaches its end’. This is also known as Mawṡūl (joined). Definition from Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ al-Shahrazūrī’s (d.577AH) ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth’ (more famously known as ‘Muqaddimah Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’), 17th edition, Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, Ed. Dr Nūr al-Dīn ‘Itr, 2012/1433, p.44.

[20] Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ discussed this term in his ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth’ and contrasts it with the word Mursal. He quotes Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr as having specified the word Mursal with the Tābi’īn and Munqaṭi’ as a gap anywhere below the chain, see p.58. For Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s original quote see his ‘al-Tamhīd limā fī al-Muwaṭṭa’ min al-Ma’ānī wa al-Asānīd’, 1st edition, al-Maghrib: Wazāratu Umūm al-Awqāf wa al-Shu’ūn al-Islāmiyyah, Ed. Musṭafā Ibn Aḥmad al-‘Alawī and Muhammad ‘Abd al-Kabīr al-Bakrī, 1387, (24 vol), 1/21. But he himself considers the most correct opinion being that Mursal and Munqaṭi’ are both inclusive for a disconnected chain, wherever the disconnection may be, see p.58.

[21] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.42)

[22] Muhammad Ibn Makhlad al-Dūri (d.331/942) ‘Mā Rawāhu al-Akābir an Mālik Ibn Anas’, 1st edition, Beirut: Mu’assasatu al-Rayān, Ed. Awwād al-Khalf, 1996/1416.

[23] Ibid p.45

[24] That would mean he passed away 176AH. See Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d.748/1382) ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’ 6/403

[25] We will discuss al-Dāraquṭnī later on.

[26] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.43)

[27] For his biography, see Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d.748/1382) ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’ 8/223-226 and Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī (d.852/1448) ‘Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb’, 11/169-170

[28] Muhammad Ibn Makhlad al-Dūri (d.331/942) ‘Mā Rawāhu al-Akābir an Mālik Ibn Anas’, p.41

[29] Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī (d.852/1448) ‘Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb’, 11/170, the date 165AH is what al-Bukhārī narrates and the other date comes with the wording ‘qīla’ indicating it is a weaker stance.

[30] Ibid 11/170

[31] ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu’allimī (d.1386/1966) adds Sufyān al-Thawrī (born 97AH) and Ḥammād Ibn Zayd (born 98AH) in his refutation of al-Kawtharī’s ‘al-Ta’nīb’ named ‘al-Tankīl bimā fī Ta’nīb al-Kawtharī min al-Abāṭīl’ , In the footnote, Nāṡir al-Dīn al-Albānī further adds Abdullāh Ibn Wahb (b.125) and Ashhab Ibn ‘Abd al-Azīz (b.145).

[32] See Abū Ja’far Muhammad Ibn ‘Amr al-Uqaylī (d.322/933), ‘al-Dhu’afā al-Kabīr’, Beirut: Dār al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah, Ed. ‘Abd al-Mu’ṭi Amīn Qal’ajī, 1984/1404, (4 vol), 1/304.

[33] This part of the story, when they ask al-Ḥakam and Ḥammād to lead them in Irjā’ was left out by al-Kawtharī. Instead he said that the group gave Ḥammād the money to help the scholarly community (al-Jamā’atu fī al-‘Ilm). This is probably because of the negative perception it can give on Abū Ḥanīfah, Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.43). But in his notes to al-Dhahabī’s ‘Manāqib’ (p.14) he narrates the full incident and adds that the Irjā’ here refers to the ‘Sunnī Irjā’. The topic of Irjā’ will be discussed later in the essay.

[34] Al-Kawtharī addresses a possible objection, that what is the big deal if Abū Ḥanīfah was fifteen at the time? Al-Shāfi’ī had reached the rank of Ijtihād at a similar age. To this he replies that the narrations which mention that al-Shāfi’ī reached the level of Ijtihad at such a young age, are from his Manāqib (works dedicated to listing the qualities of an individual, place etc.) in which scholars exaggerate, whereas the reality of the matter is that al-Shāfi’ī was much older when he began studying with Mālik. And he was over thirty four years old when he took knowledge from Muhammad Ibn al-Ḥasan. Ibid p,43-44

[35] I have searched in the famous books of Rijāl and failed to locate them. Then I saw al-Mu’allimī had also failed to find them, see his ‘al-Tankīl’ 1/188.

[36] See Yūsuf Ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mizzī (d.742/1341) ‘Tahdhīb al-Kamāl fī Asmā al-Rijāl’, 1st edition, Bierut: Mu’assasatu al-Risālah, Ed. Dr Bashshār Awwād Ma’rūf, 1980/1400, (35 vol), 25/308-311.

[37] Ibn Ḥajar al-Asqalānī (d.852/1448), 1st edition, Syria: Dār al-Rashīd, Ed. Muhammad Awwāmah, 1986/1406, p.481.

[38] Yūsuf Ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mizzī (d.742/1341) ‘Tahdhīb al-Kamāl’, 25/310

[39] ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu’allimī (d.1386/1966) ‘al-Tankīl’, 1/189. Al-Mu’allamī presents further reasons to doubt the narration, see Ibid 1/188-189.

[40] Zāhid al-Kawtharī ‘Ta’nīb al-Khaṭīb’ (p.44)

[41] I found this argument used by an Urdu author, Shāh Abū al-Ḥasan Zayd Fārūqī in his ‘Sawāniḥ Imām ‘e’ A’zam Abū Ḥanīfah’, Lahore: al-Faruq Book Foundation, 1999/1420, p.61-62.

[42] See Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d.463/1070) ‘Jāmi’ Bayān al-‘Ilm wa Fadhlihi’, 1st edition, Saudi Arabia: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, Ed. Abū al-Ashbāl al-Zuhayrī, 1994/1414, (2 vol) 1/203-205. The editor, Abū al-Ashbāl, classifies the narration as weak due to the gap between the first narrator and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr. He also casts doubt on it because the full narration mentions Abū Ḥanīfah going on to hear a Ḥadīth from a companion, but this topic will be discussed later.

[43] Abū Abdillāh al-Saymarī (d.436/1043) ‘Akhbār Abī Ḥanīfah wa Ashābihi’, 2nd edition, Beirut: ‘Ᾱlam al-Kutub, 1985/1405, p.18. The author of ‘Sawānih Imām ‘e’ A’zam Abū Ḥanīfah’ p.61 falsely claims that both Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr and al-Saymarī have mentioned that date 93. Al-Saymarī was one of the many historians to give Abū Ḥanīfah’s birthdate as 80AH, see his ‘Akhbār Abī Ḥanīfah wa Ashābihi’ p.17.

[44] See footnote 22

[45] I have found some modern writers from the Indian Sub-Continent using al-Kawthari’s arguments to reach the same conclusion. See Imdād al-Ḥaqq al-Ḥabībgangī ‘Hidāyatu al-Sāri ila Dirāsati al-Bukhāri’, 1st edition, Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008/1429, (2 vol), 1/271-272. The author commits many errors when narrating al-Kawtharī’s arguments. He claims that Ibn Ḥibbān, al-Sam’ānī and al-Simnānī preferred the view of 61AH. And writes Abū al-Qāsim al-Simnānī’s name as ‘al-Sam’ānī. He then concludes with the view of al-Kawtharī. Imdād al-Ḥaqq adds a further argument by quoting from Muhammad Ibn Ibrāhīm al-Wazīr (d.840/1436) in his ‘al-Rawdh al-Bāsim fī al-Dhabbi ‘an Sunnati Abī al-Qāsim’, 1st edition, Makkah: Dār ‘Ᾱlam al-Fawā’id li al-Nashr wa al-tawzī’, Ed. Alī Ibn Muhammad al-‘Imrān, p.313, that Abū Ḥanīfah died in the year 150AH at the age of 90. The editor of the work notes that in some manuscripts it is written 70. But the book ‘al-Rawdh al-Bāsim’ is a compendium of the authors longer work ‘al-‘Awāsim wa al-Qawāsim fi al-Dhabbi ‘an Sunnati Abī al-Qāsim’, 2nd edition, Beirut: Mu’assasatu al-Risālah, Ed. Shu’ayb al-Arna’ūṭ, 1992/1412, (9 vol), 2/86. Here he mentions his source, Abū Țālib (d.424/1032), where he got the number 90 from. The Ḥadīth scholar, Shu’ayb al-Arna’ūṭ disagrees in the footnote. Their reasoning for Abū Ḥanīfah being over the age of 90 at the time of death is that he must have met the companion, Anas Ibn Mālik, when he had passed the age of puberty and Anas died in the year 93AH. This is what they claim is ‘apparent’ (Dhāhir), but it can clearly be seen as a flimsy argument as it is based upon mere speculation with other possibilities being more plausible. Another author who takes from al-Kawtharī is Muhammad Ali Siddiqi al-Kandhalawī ‘Imām A’zam aur ‘Ilm al-Ḥadīth’, Lahore: Maktabatu al-Ḥasan, 2005/1426, p.199. The author does not reference al-Kawtharī, but it is clear he has taken the information from him. As he quotes the same three historians al-Kawtharī quotes, but makes the same error as Imdād al-Ḥaqq and thinks that these historians were proponents of 61AH. He also misspells al-Simnānī’s book. Another contemporary author is Dr Tāhir al-Qadrī ‘Imām Abū Ḥanīfah: Imām al-A’immah fī al-Ḥadīth’, Lahore: Minhāj al-Qur’ān, 2007/1427, p.50-51. He references to al-Kawtharī’s footnotes on al-Dhahabi’s ‘Manāqib’, but he prefers 80AH. Shāh Abū al-Ḥasan Zayd Fārūqī in his ‘Sawāniḥ Imām ‘e’ A’zam Abū Ḥanīfah’, p.62 quotes from Aḥmad Ridhā Bajnūrī’s ‘Anwār al-Bāri’, where Bajnūrī states Abū Ḥanīfah’s birth at 70AH, using al-Kawtharī’s arguments. Shāh Abū al-Ḥasan prefers the date 77AH, because of the narration from Abū Yūsuf mentioned above.

This article first appeared here and has been republished as is.

Chaudri, Z. (2016). The Birthdate of Imam Abu Hanifah. Available: Last accessed 8 June 2018.


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