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Abu Hanifah and His Students Were Upon the Aqidah of Ahl us-Sunnah, the Righteous Salaf
It is agreed upon by the people of verification that Imaam Abu Hanifah (d. 150H), and this two companions Abu Yusuf Ya'qub bin Ibraaheem al-Ansaaree (d. 182H) and Muhammad bin al-Hasan ash-Shaybaanee (d. 189H), and others besides them likewise Abu Ja'far at-Tahaawi (d. 321H) were all upon the Salafi aqidah, and they are also from the generality of the Salaf of this ummah, like the other prominent scholars and Imaams of Ahl us-Sunnah in that time.
Many factions of the innovators from the later Hanafis ascribed to these scholars that they settled upon deviant beliefs, such as the saying of the creation of the Qur'an, or rejection of Allah's uluww and all of this is from the inventions and fabrications of the people of innovation against the scholars of Islaam, in order to beautify and spread their innovations amongst the people.
There are a number of issues mentioned by the Scholars of the Sunnah and Hadeeth in relation to Abu Hanifah himself in that he used to speak with the creation of the Qur'an, but they also mentioned that he was asked to repent from that, and that after repenting, his affair remained upright, upon what would be presumed about this Imaam, and thereafter many of the Scholars of the Sunnah declared him innocent of this saying, from the head of them Imaam Ahmad.
And Shaykh al-Albaanee says in Mukhtasar al-Uluww that most of what has been narrated about Abu Hanifah in this regard, that he spoke with the creation of the Qur'an is not free of criticism, and that if anything from it is authentic then it is all before Abu Yusuf, his student, debated him on the issue, after which his view became that it is uncreated.
Adh-Dhahabee brings with a good (jayyid) chain of narration, as occurs in Mukhtasar al-Uluww (p. 155) from Alee bin al-Hasan al-Kuraa'ee who said: Abu Yusuf said:
I debated Abu Hanifah for six months, and then our view became united that the one who said the Qur'an is created is a kaafir.
And al-Bayhaqi also relates this in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat, narrating from Abdullaah bin Ahmad bin Abdur-Rahmaan bin Abdullaah ad-Dushtaki who said: "I heard Abu Yusuf saying..", then he mentioned it, and then he (al-Bayhaqi) said: "Abu Abdullaah (meaning al-Haakim) said, "All of its narrators are thiqaat"."
Further, there are hundreds of narrations from Abu Hanifah and Abu Yusuf indicating that they were clearly upon the way of the Salaf in the affairs of creed. The only thing that can be said is regarding the issue of eemaan (faith), for it is reported from him that he said that eemaan is "tasdeeq" (assent, belief) with the heart and affirmation with the tongue but actions (amal) is outside of the reality of eemaan" - and this is a form of irjaa' (expelling actions from eemaan). However, Abu Ja'far at-Tahawi reports a narration regarding an incident in which a discussion took place between the two Imaams, Abu Hanifah (d. 150H) and Hammaad bin Zayd (d. 179H) which indicates that he returned back from that saying.
The Splitting and Deviation of the Hanafis
Unfortunately, many of the Hanafis did not traverse the way of Imaam Abu Hanifah and his students. For many false beliefs entered into them from an early stage, close to the time of this Imaam, and they became callers to corruption, deviation and were the heads of innovations and desires. Many different factions appeared amongst them, and they can be summarized as follows:
And thus many of those ascribing to and claiming to follow Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullaah) swerved from his way specifically and from the way of the Salaf of this ummah generally, and they became many diverse sects, with the full acknowledgment of Hanafi Maturidis, and even the Kawthariyyah themselves. The only ones who followed the way of Abu Hanifah and his associates were the "Hanafiyyah Sunniyyah", or the "Hanafiyyah Salafiyyah", or the "Hanafiyyah Kaamilah", and all of these are expressions of al-Allaamah Abdul-Hayy al-Luknowi (a Hanafi Scholar, d. 1304H).
Reference for this article:
Important Note: Many of the innovators, from amongst the Ash'aris and Maturidis use what occurred from some of those who came after Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal ascribing themselves to him, of departure in certain areas of creed, as a route to attack the creed of Ahl us-Sunnah, the Righteous Salaf. It is important to remember the fact that whatever deviation occurred to those ascribing to Imaam Ahmad, amongst the Hanbalis who came after him in general, is, by the praise of Allaah, very small and insignificant compared to the deviations that occurred with those who ascribed themselves to Abu Hanifah, Imaam Malik and Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee (rahimahumullaah) - this is a matter of historical record. However, for the purpose of attacking the Salafi creed, the likes of the Ash'ariyyah and Maturidiyyah used the fact that there were some who departed from the creed of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal as a means to attack the Hanbalis in general, and the Salafi creed in particular. This is really the subject of separate articles, but it is worthy to point out here as it has a broad connection to the topic of this article. To give one example, the likes of al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa (d. 458H), and Abu al-Hasan Ibn az-Zaghuni (d. 527H) were affected by the Kullaabi doctrine of negating what they referred to as hawaadith in reference to Allaah's sifaat fi'liyyah in some of their speech and some of the language of negation such as jism and jihah and so on. And while this is certainly not from the way of Imaam Ahmad and the Hanbalis in general, the Innovators have used such matters to deceive and confuse those who may be unaware and to bolster and support their own doctrines in the process. This method is taken because their own doctrines do not stand on their own merits, and thus, a bit of scaremongering is a necessity so that their own creed becomes more palatable. A classical example is their attachment to Ibn al-Jawzee and his writings - and that's the subject of another article.
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