One of the four major schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence
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The Hanafi school (Arabic: حَنَفِي, romanizedḤanafī) is one of the four traditional major Sunni schools (maddhab) of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).[1] Its eponym is the 8th-century Kufan scholar, Abū Ḥanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit, a tabi‘i of Persian origin whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani.[2][3]

Under the patronage of the Abbasids, the Hanafi school flourished in Iraq and spread eastwards, firmly establishing itself in Khorasan and Transoxiana by the 9th-century, where it enjoyed the support of the local Samanid rulers.[4] Turkic expansion introduced the school to the Indian subcontinent and Anatolia, and it was adopted as the chief legal school of the Ottoman Empire.[5]

The Hanafi school is the maddhab with the largest number of adherents, followed by approximately one third of Muslims worldwide.[6][7] It is prevalent in Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, the Balkans, the Levant, Central Asia, and Bangladesh, in addition to parts of Russia, China, India, and Iran.[8][9] The other primary Sunni legal schools are the Maliki, Shafi`i and Hanbali schools.[10][11]


Hanafi usul recognises the Quran, hadith, consensus (ijma), legal analogy (qiyas), juristic preference (istihsan) and normative customs (urf) as sources of the Sharia.[2][12] Abu Hanifa is regarded by modern scholars as the first to formally adopt and institute qiyas as a method to derive Islamic law when the Quran and hadiths are silent or ambiguous in their guidance;[13] and is noted for his general reliance on personal opinion (ra'y).[2]

Nevertheless the usage of Ra'y as one of the sources of their jurisprudence, the Hanafite scholars still prioritize the textual approach of the Sahabah for their jurisprudence, as careful examination by modern Islamic jurisprudence researcher Ismail Poonawala, has found that the influence of the hadiths narrated by Zubayr regarding Rajm (stoning) execution as a form of punishment towards adulterers to be within Abu Hanifa's rulings in the Hanafite school of thought for such kinds of punishments' validity and furthermore, how to implement the punishment in accordance with Muhammad's teachings due to self-confession of the accused.[Notes 1] This Hanafite stoning law which is based on hadiths narrated by Zubayr arguably has historical and profound influence as various governments have implemented Hanafite code of law in their state laws from the late medieval to modern period:

  • Fatawa 'Alamgiri: Fatawa 'Alamgiri is an Islamic edict book first implemented as state law in India during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.[16] Later, the British Raj also implemented this law in an effort to better control their Indian Muslim subjects.[16]
  • Qanun: The Ottoman Empire through their Qanun law which is not dissimilar from Fatawa 'Alamgiri was formed and canonized as state law by Suleiman the Magnificent.[17][18] This law indirectly influenced their ally, the Sultanate of Aceh, who also had its own version of Rajm (stoning) law in their law codex.[19] This codex even became the autonomical legal codex of modern-day Aceh province, as the province recognizes Sharia law based on Qanun which they call Qanun Jinayat.[20] This Hanafite law of Rajm (stoning) in Aceh has survived to the 21st century as it was officially recognized by the Indonesian government in 2014, in addition to the Selangor state of Malaysia recognizing it in 1995 as an autonomical law,[21] The fundamentalist Taliban faction also reportedly follow their own variant of Hanafi Qanun.[22]

The foundational texts of Hanafi madhab, 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).[23][24][25]


The Hanafi school favours the use of istihsan, or juristic preference, a form of ra'y which enables jurists to opt for weaker positions if the results of qiyas lead to an undesirable outcome for the public interest (maslaha).[26] Although istihsan did not initially require a scriptural basis, criticism from other schools prompted Hanafi jurists to restrict its usage to cases where it was textually supported from the 9th-century onwards.[27]


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.[6][8] An estimated third of all Muslims living in Muslim-majority countries worldwide follow Hanafi law.[6]

As the fourth Caliph, Ali had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa, and many of the first generation of Muslims settled there. The Hanafi school of law based many of its rulings on the earliest Islamic traditions as transmitted by Sahaba 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]

The 5th Sunni sheikh and 6th Shi'ite Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a descendant of Muhammad) was reportedly a teacher of Sunni Imams Abu Hanifah and Malik ibn Anas, who in turn was a teacher of Imam Ash-Shafi‘i,[28][29]: 121  who in turn was a teacher of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Thus all of the four great Imams of Sunni Fiqhs are connected to Ja'far, whether directly or indirectly.[30]

In the early history of Islam, Hanafi doctrine was not fully compiled. The fiqh was fully compiled and documented in the 11th century.[31]

The Turkish rulers were some of the earliest adopters of the 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.[32] 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 Indian subcontinent, with the establishment of Seljuk Empire, Timurid dynasty, Khanates, Delhi Sultanate, Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Empire. Throughout the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Hanafi-based Fatawa-e-Alamgiri served as the legal, juridical, political, and financial code of most of South Asia.[31][32]

Sunni schools

Hanbali School: Named after Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Died 855)

Hanafi School: Named after Abu Hanifa (Died 764)

Shafi 'i: Named after Al-Shafi'l (Died 819)

Maliki: Named After Malik Bin Anas (Died 795)

Shi'a schools

Zaydi School: Named after Zayd Ibn Ali (Died 740)

Ja'Fari School: Named after Ja'far al-Sadiq (Died 765)

During the early periods of time that Islam was just being found up (mainly the first 250 years), there were around 100+ school of thoughts. [33]

List of Hanafi scholars

See also

  • Islam portal
  • iconpolitics portal


  1. ^ See Poonawala works.[14] For similar purpoted Hadith involving Zubayr ibn al-Awwam as executor of stoning towards adulterer see Hamad Abdul Karim works.[15]


  1. ^ Ramadan, Hisham M. (2006). Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary. Rowman Altamira. pp. 24–29. ISBN 978-0-7591-0991-9.
  2. ^ a b c Warren, Christie S. "The Hanafi School". Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved 26 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Sunan Abi Dawud 903 – Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat) – كتاب الصلاة – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". sunnah.com. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  4. ^ Hallaq, Wael (2010). The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 9780521005807.
  5. ^ Hallaq, Wael (2009). An Introduction to Islamic Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0521678735.
  6. ^ a b c Jurisprudence and Law – Islam Reorienting the Veil, University of North Carolina (2009)
  7. ^ "Hanafi School of Law – Oxford Islamic Studies Online". www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b Siegbert Uhlig (2005), "Hanafism" in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha, Vol 2, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447052382, pp. 997–99
  9. ^ Abu Umar Faruq Ahmad (2010), Theory and Practice of Modern Islamic Finance, ISBN 978-1599425177, pp. 77–78
  10. ^ Gregory Mack, Jurisprudence, in Gerhard Böwering et al (2012), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691134840, p. 289
  11. ^ "Sunnite". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014.
  12. ^ Hisham M. Ramadan (2006), Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, Rowman Altamira, ISBN 978-0759109919, p. 26
  13. ^ See:
    *Reuben Levy, Introduction to the Sociology of Islam, pp. 236–37. London: Williams and Norgate, 1931–1933.
    *Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840–1940: A Sourcebook, p. 280. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    *Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, p. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
    *Keith Hodkinson, Muslim Family Law: A Sourcebook, p. 39. Beckenham: Croom Helm Ltd., Provident House, 1984.
    *Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary, edited by Hisham Ramadan, p. 18. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
    *Christopher Roederrer and Darrel Moellendorf [de], Jurisprudence, p. 471. Lansdowne: Juta and Company Ltd., 2007.
    *Nicolas Aghnides, Islamic Theories of Finance, p. 69. New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC, 2005.
    *Kojiro Nakamura, "Ibn Mada's Criticism of Arab Grammarians." Orient, v. 10, pp. 89–113. 1974
  14. ^ Abū Ḥanīfah & Poonawala (2002, p. 450) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFAbū_ḤanīfahPoonawala2002 (help)
  15. ^ Abdul Karim Da'wah al-Husaini, Hamad (2006). المدينة المنورة في الفكر الإسلامي [Madinah al-Munawwarah in Islamic thought] (in Arabic). Dar al-Kotob Ilmiyah. p. 106. ISBN 9782745149343. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  16. ^ a b Baillie & Elder (2009, pp. 1–3 with footnotes) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFBaillieElder2009 (help)
  17. ^ Punar (2016, p. 20) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFPunar2016 (help)
  18. ^ an Naim Na (2009, pp. 35–39, 76–79, 97) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFan_Naim_Na2009 (help)
  19. ^ "Relasi Aceh Darussalam dan Kerajaan Utsmani, Sebuah Perspektif" [The Relationship between Aceh Darussalam and the Ottoman Empire, A Perspective]. Aceh institute. [email protected] 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  20. ^ Cammack & Feener (2012, p. 42) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFCammackFeener2012 (help)
  21. ^ Harahap (2018) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFHarahap2018 (help)
  22. ^ Rahimi, Haroun (2021). "A Constitutional Reckoning with The Taliban's Brand of Islamist Politics A Constitutional Reckoning with The Taliban's Brand of Islamist Politics: The Hard Path Ahead". Qala-e-9 Borja, Kart-e-Parwan, Kabul, Afghanistan: 220–222. Retrieved 13 December 2021. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: location (link)
  23. ^ Oliver Leaman (2005), The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0415326391, pp. 7–8
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ Majid Khadduri (1966), The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani's, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0801869754
  26. ^ "Istihsan". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Retrieved 26 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ Hallaq, Wael (2008). A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunnī Uṣūl al-Fiqh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-0521599863.
  28. ^ Dutton, Yasin, The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal, p. 16
  29. ^ Haddad, Gibril F. (2007). The Four Imams and Their Schools. London, the UK: Muslim Academic Trust. pp. 121–194.
  30. ^ "Imam Ja'afar as Sadiq". History of Islam. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2012. Archived 21 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ a b Nazeer Ahmed, Islam in Global History, ISBN 978-0738859620, pp. 112–14
  32. ^ a b John L. Esposito (1999), The Oxford History of Islam, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195107999, pp. 112–14
  33. ^ "SCHOOLS OF ISLAMIC LAW". Maslaha. Retrieved 12 December 2021.

Further reading

  • Branon Wheeler, Applying the Canon in Islam: The Authorization and Maintenance of Interpretive Reasoning in Ḥanafī Scholarship (Albany, SUNY Press, 1996).
  • Nurit Tsafrir, The History of an Islamic School of Law: The Early Spread of Hanafism (Harvard, Harvard Law School, 2004) (Harvard Series in Islamic Law, 3).
  • Behnam Sadeghi (2013), The Logic of Law Making in Islam: Women and Prayer in the Legal Tradition, Cambridge University Press, Chapter 6, "The Historical Development of Hanafi Reasoning", ISBN 978-1107009097
  • Theory of Hanafi law: 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
  • Hanafi theory of war and taxation: Majid Khadduri (1966), The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani's, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0801869754
  • Burak, Guy (2015). The Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Ḥanafī School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-09027-9.

External links

  • Hanafiyya Bulend Shanay, Lancaster University
  • Kitab al-siyar al-saghir (Summary version of the Hanafi doctrine of War)[dead link] Muhammad al-Shaybani, Translator – Mahmood Ghazi
  • The Legal Aspects of Marriage according to Hanafi Fiqh Archived 22 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine Islamic Quarterly London, 1985, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 193–219
  • Al-Hedaya[dead link], A 12th century compilation of Hanafi fiqh-based religious law, by Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani, Translated by Charles Hamilton
  • Development of family law in Afghanistan: The role of the Hanafi Madhhab Central Asian Survey, Volume 16, Issue 3, 1997
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