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For other uses, see Hanafi (disambiguation).

The Hanafi (Arabic: حنفيḤanafī) school is one of the four Sunni madhhabs (schools of law) in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It is named after the scholar Abū Ḥanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit, a tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani.


Among the four established Sunni schools of legal thought in Islam, the Hanafi school is one of the oldest. It has a reputation for putting greater emphasis on the role of reason. The other three schools are Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i.

Sources and methodology[edit]

Map of the Muslim world. Hanafi (grass green) is the Sunni school predominant in Turkey, the Northern Middle East, many parts of Egypt, Central Asia and most of the Indian subcontinent
Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver", for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system according to Hanafi law.

The sources from which the Hanafis derive Islamic law are, in order of importance and preference: the Qur'an, the authentic narrations of the Muslim prophet Muhammad (hadith), consensus of the Muslim community (ijma), analogical reasoning (qiyas), juristic discretion (istihsan) and the customs of the local population enacting said law (urf). The development of analogical reason and the scope and boundaries by which it may be used is recognized by the majority of Muslim jurists, but its establishment as a legal tool is the result of the Hanafi school. While it was likely used by some of his teachers, Abu Hanifa is regarded by modern scholarship as the first to formally adopt and institute analogical reason as a part of Islamic law.[1] As the fourth Caliph, Ali had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa, and many of the first generation of Muslims had settled there, the Hanafi school of law based many of its rulings on the prophetic tradition as transmitted by those first generation Muslims residing in Iraq. Thus, the Hanafi school came to be known as the Kufan or Iraqi school in earlier times. Ali and Abdullah, son of Masud formed much of the base of the school, as well as other personalities from the direct relatives of Muhammad from whom Abu Hanifa had studied such as Muhammad al-Baqir, Ja'far al-Sadiq, and Zayd ibn Ali. Many jurists and historians had lived in Kufa including one of Abu Hanifa's main teachers, Hammad ibn Sulayman. According to Abdalhaqq Bewley:[2]

"Hanafi methodology involved the logical process of examining the Book and all available knowledge of the Sunna and then finding an example in them analogous to the particular case under review so that God's religion could be properly applied in the new situation. It thus entails the use of reason in the examination of the Book and Sunna so as to extrapolate the judgments necessary for the implementation of Islam in a new environment. It represents in essence, therefore, within the strict compass of rigorous legal and inductive precepts, the adaptation of the living and powerful deen to a new situation in order to enable it to take root and flourish in fresh soil. This made it an ideal legal tool for the central governance of widely varied populations which is why we find it in Turkey as the legacy of the Uthmaniyya Khilafa and in the sub-continent where it is inherited from the Moghul empire."

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb performing salat prayer, also compiled Hanafi law by introducing the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri.


  • The Hanafi school permits marriage without consulting a wali (guardian).[3]
  • The Hanafi school considers that a woman is not obligated to cover her feet, differing with all other schools.[4]
  • The Hanafi school teaches that the time of the Asr prayer starts when the length of the shadow is twice as long as its original objects, while all other schools view that Asr prayer starts when length of the shadow is as long as its original object.[5]
  • The Hanafi school permits one who does not speak Arabic to pray in another language.[6]
  • The Hanafi school permits appointing female judges.[7]
  • The Hanafi school permits eating fish but not other aquatic animals.[8]
  • The Hanafi school considers admission in a court of law to be divisible; that is, a plaintiff could accept some parts of a defendant's testimony while rejecting other parts. This position is also held by the Maliki school, though it is opposed by the Zahiris and the majority of the Hanbalis.[9]
  • In Salat, the Hanafi school teaches to hold the hands near the navel for males and at chest for females.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See:
    *Reuben Levy, Introduction to the Sociology of Islam, pg. 236-237. London: Williams and Norgate, 1931-1933.
    *Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840-1940: A Sourcebook, pg. 280. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    *Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, pg. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
    *Keith Hodkinson, Muslim Family Law: A Sourcebook, pg. 39. Beckenham: Croom Helm Ltd., Provident House, 1984.
    *Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, edited by Hisham Ramadan, pg. 18. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
    *Christopher Roederrer and Darrel Moellendorf, Jurisprudence, pg. 471. Lansdowne: Juta and Company Ltd., 2007.
    *Nicolas Aghnides, Islamic Theories of Finance, pg. 69. New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC, 2005.
    *Kojiro Nakamura, "Ibn Mada's Criticism of Arab Grammarians." Orient, v. 10, pgs. 89-113. 1974
  2. ^ Essay by Abdalhaqq Bewley, "The Recovery of True Islamic Fiqh: An introduction to the work of Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi". (Citation awaiting copy editing).
  3. ^ Islamic Family Law in A Changing World: A Global Resource Book - Page 232, 2002
  4. ^ http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=2039
  5. ^ http://spa.qibla.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=928&CATE=4
  6. ^ Making Moral Decisions, p 106 John Holm
  7. ^ Nigeria "Political Shariʼa"?: Human Rights and Islamic Law in Northern Nigeria, Carina Tertsakian - 2004, p 64
  8. ^ Making Moral Decisions - Page 106, Jean Holm, John Bowker - 2001
  9. ^ Ṣubḥī Rajab Maḥmaṣānī, Falsafat al-tashrī fī al-Islām, pg. 175. Trns. Farhat Jacob Ziadeh. Leiden: Brill Archive, 1961.

Further reading[edit]

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