The Hanafiyyah School is the first of the four orthodox Sunni schools of law. It is distinguished from the other schools through its placing less reliance on mass oral traditions as a source of legal knowledge. It developed the exegesis of the Qur"an through a method of analogical reasoning known as Qiyas. It also established the principle that the universal concurrence of the Ummah (community) of Islam on a point of law, as represented by legal and religious scholars, constituted evidence of the will of God. This process is called ijma", which means the consensus of the scholars. Thus, the school definitively established the Qur"an, the Traditions of the Prophet, ijma" and qiyas as the basis of Islamic law. In addition to these, Hanafi accepted local customs as a secondary source of the law.
The Hanafi School of law was founded by Nu"man Abu Hanifah (d.767) in Kufa in Iraq. It derived from the bulk of the ancient school of Kufa and absorbed the ancient school of Basra. Abu Hanifah belonged to the period of the successors (tabi"in) of the Sahabah (the companions of the Prophet). He was a Tabi"i since he had the good fortune to have lived during the period when some of the Sahabah were still alive. Having originated in Iraq, the Hanafi School was favoured by the first "Abbasid caliphs in spite of the school"s opposition to the power of the caliphs.The privileged position which the school enjoyed under the "Abbasid caliphate was lost with the decline of the "Abbasid caliphate. However, the rise of the Ottoman Empire led to the revival of Hanafi fortunes. Under the Ottomans the judgment-seats were occupied by Hanafites sent from Istanbul, even in countries where the population followed another madhhab.Consequently, the Hanafi madhhab became the only authoritative code of law in the public life and official administration of justice in all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire.
Even today the Hanafi code prevails in the former Ottoman countries. It is also dominant in Central Asia and India.
There are no official figures for the number of followers of the Hanafi School of law. It is followed by the vast majority of people in the Muslim world. Main Centre: The school has no headquarters as such. It is followed by the majority of the Muslim population Of Turkey, Albania, the Balkans, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India and Iraq.
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