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  • 10/18/2011

Peshawar Nights: The Sunni Ulema's condemnation of Abu Hanifa

(Session 4-Part 2)

ali

*The Sunni Ulema's condemnation of Abu Hanifa

*Imamate according to Shias means vicegerency of Allah

*The rank of Imamate is higher than that of general Prophethood

General and special Prophethood

 

THE SUNNI ULEMA'S CONDEMNATION OF ABU HANIFA

Well-Wisher: Imam Shafi'i said: "There never was born a more damned person in Islam than Abu Hanifa." He also said: "I looked into the books of the companions of Abu Hanifa, and I found in them 130 pages containing matter in opposition to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunna."

Abu Hamid Ghazali in his book Manqul fi Ilmi'l-Usul says: "In fact Abu Hanifa distorted the religious code, made its way doubtful, changed its arrangement, and intermingled the laws in such a way that the code prescribed by the Holy Prophet was totally disfigured. One who does so deliberately and considers it lawful is an infidel. One who does it knowing it to be unlawful is a sinner." According to this great scholar, Abu Hanifa was either an infidel or a sinner. Many other books condemn Abu Hanifa. Jarullah Zamakhshari, the author of Tafsir-e-Kashshaf and one of your pious ulema, writes in Rabiu'l-Abrar that Yusuf Bin Asbat said: "Abu Hanifa rejected at least 400 hadith of the Prophet of Islam." Yusuf remarked that "Abu Hanifa said: 'Had the Prophet of Islam known me, he would have accepted many of my sayings.'"

Your own ulema have made similar criticisms of Abu Hanifa and the other three Imams. They can be found in Ghazali's Mutahawwal, Shafi'i's Nuqtu'sh-Sharifa, Zamakhshari's Rabiu'l-Abrar, and Ibn Jauzi's Muntazim. Imam Ghazali says in his Mutahawwal, "There are many mistakes in Abu Hanifa's work. He had no knowledge of etymology, grammar, or hadith." He also writes, "Since he had no knowledge of hadith, he relied on his own conjecture. The first being who acted on conjecture was Satan."

Ibn Jauzi writes in his Muntazim, "All the ulema are united in condemning Abu Hanifa. There are three categories of such critics: one group holds that his faith in the fundamentals of Islam was uncertain; another says that he lacked a strong memory and could not remember hadith; a third believes that he acted on conjecture and that his opinion was always at variance with the true hadith."

Your own ulema have criticized your Imams. The Shia ulema have not attributed anything to them except what your own ulema have said about them. On the other hand, there is no difference of opinion among the Shia ulema concerning the position of the twelve Imams. We regard the holy imams as the pupils of the same teaching. These Imams - all of them - acted according to divine laws which the last of the Prophets gave them. They never acted on conjecture or approved of innovations. What they said or did agreed with the sayings of the Prophet. Hence, there was no difference among them.

 

IMAMATE ACCORDING TO SHIAS MEANS VICEGERENCY OF ALLAH

According to the definition given by the ulema, the Imamate or Vicegerency of Allah, is one of the fundamentals of Islam. We believe that the Imamate is the Vicegerency of Allah for all of creation and the Khilafat-e-Rasul (successors of the Prophet) for this world and the hereafter. Therefore, it is obligatory for all mankind to follow its tenants in all matters, temporal as well as spiritual.

Sheikh: It would be better if you did not declare categorically that the Imamate is included in the fundamentals of the faith, since the great ulema of Islam deny its inclusion. It is included in the articles of the practice of the faith. Your ulema have made it a part of the fundamentals.

Well-Wisher: My statement is not confined to the Imamate of the Shias. Even your great ulema have the same belief. One of them is your famous commentator Qazi Baidhawi, who says in his Minhaju'l-Usul in connection with the discussion on narrations of hadith, "The Imamate is one of the fundamental principles of the faith, whose denial and opposition leads to infidelity and innovation."

Mulla Ali Qushachi says in Sharh-e-Tajrid, "The Imamate is the general vicegerent of Allah for both the affairs of this world and religion, like the caliphate of the Prophet." And Qazi Ruzbahan, one of the most fanatical of your ulema, points to the same meaning.

 He says: "The Imamate, according to the followers of Abu'l-Hasan Ash'ari, is the vicegerency of the Prophet of Islam for establishing the faith and safeguarding the interests of the Muslim community. All the followers are bound in duty to comply with its dictates. Had the Imamate not been a part of the articles of the practice of the faith, the Prophet would not have said that 'Whosoever dies not knowing the Imam of his age, dies the death of ignorance.'"

This has been quoted by your distinguished ulema, like Hamidi in Jam'i-Bainu's-Sahihain and Mulla As'ad Taftazani in Sharhe Aqa'id-e-Nasafi. Not knowing a single article of the practice of the faith would not be equivalent to ignorance stated by Baidhawi about not knowing the fundamentals, namely that ignorance of them is the cause of infidelity. Therefore, the Imamate is one of the fundamentals of the faith and is the completing stage of prophethood. Hence, there is a vast difference between the concept of our Imamate and those interpreted by you. You call your ulema Imams, such as Imam Azam, and Imam Maliki. But this is in the verbal sense. We also use the terms Imam-e-Juma'a, Imam-e-Jama'at. So there may be hundreds of Imams at one time, but in the technical sense in which we use the word "Imam," it means vicegerency of Allah. In this sense there is only one Imam at one time. The noble qualities of knowledge, magnanimity, valor, devotion to Allah, and piety have been perfected in him. He surpasses humanity in all merits and occupies a state of infallibility. The world shall not be without such an Imam until the Day of Judgement. An Imam of such excellence is at the highest stage of spiritual attainment. Such an Imam is divinely commissioned and is appointed by the Holy Prophet. He surpasses all creation, including the prophets of the past.

Hafiz: On the one hand you condemn the Ghalis, and on the other hand, you yourself unduly praise the Imams and consider their position higher than that of the prophets. Common sense denies this, and the Holy Qur'an has also declared that the prophets are placed at the highest rank. Their position lies between Divine Self-Existence and the possible. Since your assertion is not supported by reason it cannot be accepted.

 

THE RANK OF IMAMATE IS HIGHER THAN THAT OF GENERAL PROPHETHOOD

Well-Wisher: You have not yet asked on what grounds I have made this statement, and therefore you say it is without reason. The best proof for my statement is the Holy Qur'an, which, narrating the life of the Prophet Abraham, says that, after giving him three tests (of life, wealth, and sons), Allah intended to make his rank more exalted. Since prophethood and the title of Khalil (Friend) did not apparently warrant a higher rank, the office of Imamate was the only office of a higher order to which even a Prophet of Allah could be entrusted. The Holy Qur'an says: "And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: 'Surely I will make you an Imam of men.' Abraham said: 'And of my offspring?' 'My covenant does not include the unjust,' He said." (2:124) This verse, which indicates the position of the Imamate, also proves that the rank of the Imamate is superior to that of prophethood, since the position of the Prophet Abraham was raised from prophethood to the Imamate.

Hafiz: This means, according to your reasoning, that Ali's position was superior to that of the last Prophet. This is what the Ghalis believed, as you have yourself admitted.

 

GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROPHETHOOD

Well-Wisher: I do not mean what you have concluded. As you know, there is a great difference between general prophethood and special prophethood. The rank of the Imamate is higher than the rank of general prophethood, but lower than special prophethood. The last Prophet is the highest stage of special prophethood.

Nawab: Excuse my interruption. Weren't all the prophets sent by Allah? They are undoubtedly of the same rank. The Holy Qur'an says: "We do not differentiate between any of the prophets." (2:285) Then why have you differentiated between them and divided prophethood into two categories, general and special?

WISHER: Of course this verse is true in its proper context. That is, so far as achieving the aim of prophethood is concerned (which means teaching the people about existence of Allah, the Day of Judgement, and the training of their minds), all the prophets from Adam to the last of the prophets, are equal. But they differ in their qualities, achievements, and rank.

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