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For other uses, see Hanafi (disambiguation).

The Hanafi (Arabic: حنفيḤanafī) school is one of the four religious Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence (fiqh).[1] It is named after the scholar Abū Ḥanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit (d. 767), a tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani. The other major schools of Sharia in Sunni Islam are Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.[2][3]

Hanafi is the fiqh with the largest number of followers among Sunni Muslims.[4] It is predominant in the countries that were once part of the historic Ottoman Empire and Sultanates of Turkic rulers in the Indian subcontinent, northwest China and Central Asia. In the modern era, Hanafi is prevalent in the following regions: Turkey, the Balkans, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, parts of Iraq, the Caucasus, parts of Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India and China, and Bangladesh.[4][5][6]

Sources and methodology[edit]

Map of the Muslim world. Hanafi (light green) is the Sunni school predominant in Turkey, the Western Middle East, Western and Nile river region of Egypt, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of Southeast Europe, India, China and Russia.[4][5] An estimated one-third of all Muslims worldwide follow Hanafi law.[4]

The sources from which the Hanafi madhhab derives Islamic law are, in order of importance and preference: the Quran, and the hadiths containing the words, actions and customs of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (narrated in six hadith collections, of which Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are the most relied upon); if these sources were ambiguous on an issue, then the consensus of the Sahabah community (Ijma of the companions of Muhammad), then individual's opinion from the Sahabah, Qiyas (analogy), Istihsan (juristic preference), and finally local Urf (local custom of people).[7]

Abu Hanifa is regarded by modern scholarship as the first to formally adopt and institute analogy (Qiyas) as a method to derive Islamic law when the Quran and hadiths are silent or ambiguous in their guidance.[8]

The foundational texts of Hanafi madhhab, credited to Abū Ḥanīfa and his students Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani, include Al-fiqh al-akbar (theological book on jurisprudence), Al-fiqh al-absat (general book on jurisprudence), Kitab al-athar (thousands of hadiths with commentary), Kitab al-kharaj and Kitab al-siyar (doctrine of war against unbelievers, distribution of spoils of war among Muslims, apostasy and taxation of dhimmi).[9][10][11]


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 earliest Islamic traditions as transmitted by 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 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.[citation needed]

In the early history of Islam, Hanafi doctrine was not fully compiled. The fiqh was fully compiled and documented in the 11th century.[12]

The Turkish rulers were some of the earliest adopters of relatively more flexible Hanafi fiqh, and preferred it over the traditionalist Medina-based fiqhs which favored correlating all laws to Quran and Hadiths and disfavored Islamic law based on discretion of jurists.[13] The Abbasids patronized the Hanafi school from the 10th century onwards. The Seljuk Turkish dynasties of 11th and 12th centuries, followed by Ottomans adopted Hanafi fiqh. The Turkic expansion spread Hanafi fiqh through Central Asia and into South Asia, with the establishment of Seljuk Empire, Timurid dynasty, Khanates and Delhi Sultanate.[12][13]


Suleiman the Magnificent, known in the East as "The Lawgiver" for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system according to Hanafi law.

Broad-minded without being lax, this school appeals to reason (personal judgment) and a quest for the better. It is generally tolerant and the largest movement within Islam. The Hanafi school is known for its liberal religious orientation that elevates belief over practice and is tolerant of differences within Muslim communities.[14][14]

Islamic school of legal thought (madhhab) whose origins are attributed to Abu Hanifah in Kufa, Iraq, in the eighth century. Most widespread school in Islamic law, followed by roughly one-third of the world's Muslims. Dominant in the Abbasid caliphate and the Ottoman Empire. Remains the dominant legal authority in successor states for personal status and religious observances. Uses reason, logic, opinion (ray), analogy (qiyas), and preference (Istihsan) in the formulation of laws. Legal doctrines are relatively liberal, particularly with respect to personal freedom and women's rights in contracting marriages. First school to formulate contract rules for business transactions involving resale for profit and payment for goods for future delivery.[15]

Hanafi scholars refuse to control a human religious or spiritual destiny, and refuse to give that right to any human institution. Among the Hudud crimes, those crimes against God, blasphemy is not listed by the Hanafis. Hanafis concluded that blasphemy could not be punished by the state. The state should not be involved in deciding God-human relationships. Rather, the state should be concerned only with the violation of human rights within the jurisdiction of the human affairs and human relationships.,[14][15]

Sunni Islam does not possess clerical hierarchies and centralized institutions. Despite some very minor disputes there are many Sub-Groups in the four groups like Kharjiites, Wahabis, Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamat, Ahle Hadith, Ghurba Ahle Hadits, Sunnis of Green Turban, Sunnis of Brown Turbans etc. etc.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hisham M. Ramadan (2006), Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, Rowman Altamira, ISBN 978-0759109919, p. 24-29
  2. ^ Gregory Mack, Jurisprudence, in Gerhard Böwering et al (2012), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691134840, p. 289
  3. ^ Sunnite Encyclopedia Britannica (2014)
  4. ^ a b c d Jurisprudence and Law - Islam Reorienting the Veil, University of North Carolina (2009)
  5. ^ a b Siegbert Uhlig (2005), "Hanafism" in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha, Vol 2, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447052382, pp. 997-999
  6. ^ Abu Umar Faruq Ahmad (2010), Theory and Practice of Modern Islamic Finance, ISBN 978-1599425177, pp. 77-78
  7. ^ Hisham M. Ramadan (2006), Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, Rowman Altamira, ISBN 978-0759109919, p. 26
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Oliver Leaman (2005), The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0415326391, pp. 7-8
  10. ^ Kitab Al-Athar of Imam Abu Hanifah, Translator: Abdussamad, Editors: Mufti 'Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf, Shaykh Muhammad Akram (Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies), ISBN 978-0954738013
  11. ^ Majid Khadduri (1966), The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani's, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0801869754
  12. ^ a b Nazeer Ahmed, Islam in Global History, ISBN 978-0738859620, pp. 112-114
  13. ^ a b John L. Esposito (1999), The Oxford History of Islam, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195107999, pp. 112-114
  14. ^ a b c Oxford Islamic Studies "Hanafi Islam", Global Security.org, 2015. Retrieved on 9 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b Oxford Islamic Studies "Hanafism School of Law", Oxford University, Oxford, 2015. Retrieved on 9 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Sunni Islam", 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.

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