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Short Biographies Of The Four Imams

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Imam Abu Hanifa ra



Out of the four Imams, Imam Abu Hanifah ra has the greatest following. He is known as the “Lamp of the Ummah” and “The leader of the Jurists”. He was a pious, kind and generous person. He was born in the era of the Sahaaba RA in Kufa, Iraq in 80 AH. Kufa was the centre of learning in those times. He was a Tabi’ee (one who has met the Companions) and closest to the era of the Prophet s.


Great Scholars and Jurists have acknowledged his eloquence in judicial matters and in understanding complex issues. Imam Shafi’ee said about him, “Mankind is dependant on Imam Abu Hanifa in the field of jurisprudence”. Imam Maalik stated, “Imam Abu Hanifa has been granted such a deep insight in jurisprudence that he experiences no perplexity in Fiqh”.


A distinctive feature of the Hanafi Madhab is it’s liberality. Imam Abu Hanifa interpreted most laws in favour of man and Schiolars agree that he erected a very tolerant system of law. The Deen was made very moderate, sensible and easy to follow. The Prophet s said,


“The best religion is the easiest religion”


We of the Asian subcontinent inhabited a land where the Hanafi Madhab was predominant and this predominance was not the result of our effort or choice. Scholars and books of Hanafi Fiqh was established in these lands and it would have been difficult to acquire knowledge of the Shari’at through another Madhab.


Imam Abu Hanifah ra was jailed and tortured for not accepting the post of Chief Justice. He was forcefully made to drink poison in prison and he died at the age of 70 in the posture of sujood. 50,000 people attended his funeral.


Imam Maalik ra


Was born in 93 AH in Madinah. He was a Tabi-Taabe’ee and he acquired his knowledge from great teachers within Madinah. Here he spent his life acquiring and imparting knowledge and here he died in 179 AH.


Imam Shafi’ee ra



Was born in a town in Syria in 150 AH. He was a very learned scholar. At the age of 2 he was taken to Makkah where he started acquiring knowledge, after which he gained education in Madinah. At the age of 7 he knew the whole Qur’an with knowledge of it’s meaning and he learnt Imam Malik’s “Muatta” at the age of 10. He was very intelligent and eloquent and people came from far and wide to attend his teachings. He was very generous, broad-minded and understanding. He died at the age of 58 on a Friday in Egypt.


Imam Ahmad Ibne Hambal ra



Was born in Baghdad in 164 AH. His pious and scholastic ways were recognised at a very early age. He acquired knowledge from the great scholars of Baghdad and then he travelled to Kufa, Basra, Makkah, Madinah, Syria etc. He died at the age of 77 in 241 AH in Baghdad and 600 000 people attended his funeral with rows formed throughout the city. Even non-muslims mourned his death as they had expressed their admiration for him during his life.


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