Imam Muḥammad Ibn Ḥasan al-Shaybānī

Name

Abū ‘Abdullāh Muḥammad Ibn Ḥasan Ibn Farqad al-Shaybānī. The majority of scholars are of the view that Imām Muḥammad, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, has allegiance to Shaybān and is not from their descendants.[1] Some have incorrectly said that Imām Muḥammad’s grandfather was Wāqid and not Farqad.

Origin 

Qāḍī Abū Ḥāzim Abd al-Ḥamīd bin Abd al-Azīz al-Baṣrī, the teacher of Imām Ṭaḥāwī, mentions that Imām Muḥammad was originally from a village close to Ramlah in Palestine, thereafter he migrated to Kūfah. 

Muḥammad Ibn Sa’d, the scribe of al-Wāqidī in Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā mentions that Imām Muḥammad’s origin is from Algeria. His father was a soldier in Shām who came to Wāsiṭ, Iraq. 

Khatīb al-Baghdādī mentions in his Tarīkh that Imām Muḥammad was originally from a village called Ḥarasthā in Damascus. His father came to Iraq, where Imām Muhamamd was born.

Perhaps the correct view[2] is that Imām Muḥammad is originally from Algeria, from Banī Shaybān, thereafter his father became a soldier in Shām and became wealthy. Thus he resided once in Ḥarasthā as well as in Palestine, and both were considered to be part of Shām. Thereafter he moved to Wāsiṭ where Imām Muḥammad was born, and later returned to Kūfah where Imām Muḥammad was raised.     

Birth 

Imām Muḥammad, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, was born in the year 132 AH. The opinion of Ibn Abd al-Barr that Imām Muḥammad was born in the year 135 AH is incorrect. 

Imām Muḥammad and Abū Ḥanīfah 

Imām Muḥammad was an intelligent child, with a strong memory, beautiful in his features and character, stout and light spirited. When Imām Muḥammad was young he began memorising little from the Qur’ān, and thereafter attending lessons of Arabic and Ḥadīth. Kūfah at the time was a hub of Arabic, Fiqh, Ḥadīth and Islamic knowledge, due to many senior ṣaḥābah migrating there after ‘Alī, may Allāh ﷻ be pleased with him, made it the capital of the Islamic empire. 

When Imām Muḥammad reached the age of fourteen, he attended the circle of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, to ask him a question which he had. So he asked him saying; 

ما تقول في غلام احتلم بالليل بعد ما صلى العشاء؟ هل يعيد العشاء

What do you say regarding a child who has a wet dream at night after having already prayed ´Ishā’. Does he need to repeat ´Ishā’?

Imām Abū Ḥanīfah replied; Yes. Thereafter, Imām Muḥammad stood up, grabbed his sandals and prayed in the corner of the masjid. This was the first encounter of Imām Muḥammad with Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. When Imām Abū Ḥanīfah saw Imām Muḥammad repeating his ṣalāh, he remarked:

إن هذا الصبي يفلح إن شاء الله تعالى

Indeed this child will be successful, if Allāh ﷻ so wishes

Indeed it came true. After seeing the greatness of such gatherings, Allāh ﷻ granted in the heart of Imām Muḥammad love for fiqh. So Imām Muḥammad returned to the circle of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah so he could learn more, however Imām Abū Ḥanīfah said that he should learn the Qur’ān first. This is because the lessons and methodology of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah consisted of taking evidence from the Qur’ān, and the one who did not know Qur’ān would find it difficult. Imām Muḥammad at the time did not have the best memorisation of the Qur’ān, so he disappeared for seven days and thereafter returned with his father saying; I have memorised it. 

Once Imām Muḥammad asked Imām Abū Ḥanīfah regarding a question, and Imām Abū Ḥanīfah was so impressed he asked him; did you receive this question from someone else, or are you asking it from yourself? Imām Muḥammad replied that it was from himself. Thereafter Imām Abū Ḥanīfah said; You have asked a question which there continues to be difference of opinion. 

Imām Muḥammad during this period would frequent the lessons of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. He stayed in the company of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah for four years, until he passed away in 150 AH. During this time he would make a note of the answers to the questions in the lesson. After Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, passed away, Imām Muḥammad completed studying the fiqh of Abū Ḥanīfah from Imām Abū Yūsuf. 

Teachers in Ḥadīth

As for Imām Muḥammad’s teachers in aḥādīth, he took from Abū Ḥanīfah, Abū Yūsuf and other than them, many of which were from Kūfah, Baṣrah, Madīnah, Makkah, Shām, Irāq and others. He gathered knowledge from Imām al-Awzā’ī, Thawrī, Mālik until he became an expert in the fields of Tafsīr and Ḥadīth, and a master of the Arabic language. It is mentioned that Imām Muḥammad inherited 30,000 dirhams, so he spent half of it in acquiring Arabic language, and the other half was split between acquiring fiqh and ḥadīth.

As for his teachers of ḥadīth from Kufa, they include:

  1. Abū Ḥanīfah (80 – 150 AH)
  2. Ismā’īl Ibn Abī Khālid al-Aḥmasī 
  3. Sufyān bin Sa’īd al-Thawrī 
  4. Mas’ar bin Kadām (d.155 AH)
  5. Mālik bin Mighwal
  6. Qays bin Rabī’
  7. ‘Umar bin Dharr
  8. Bukayr bin Āmir
  9. Abū Bakr al-Nahshali ‘Abdullāh bin Qiṭāf
  10. Maḥall bin Muḥriz al-Ḍabbī
  11. Abū Kudaynah Yaḥya bin Muhlab al-Bajlī
  12. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin ‘Abd Allāh bin ‘Utbah al-Mas’ūdī
  13. Isrā’īl bin Yūnus
  14. Badr bin Uthmān
  15. Abū al-Aḥwas Salām bin Sulaym
  16. Salām bin Sulaymān
  17. Abū Mu’āwiyah al-Ḍarīr Muḥammad bin Khāzim
  18. Zufar bin Hudhayl
  19. Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf
  20. Ismā’īl bin Ibrāhīm al-Bajlī
  21. Fuḍayl bin Ghazwān
  22. Ḥasan ibn ‘Amārah 
  23. Yunus bin Abī Isḥāq al-Sabī’ī
  24. Abd al-Jabbār bin al-‘Abbās al-Hamdānī
  25. Muḥammad bin Abān bin Ṣāliḥ al-Qurashī
  26. Sa’īd bin Ubayd al-Ṭā’ī
  27. Abū Farwah ‘Urwah bin al-Ḥārith al-Hamdānī
  28. Abū Zuhayr al-‘Alā bin Zuhayr

His teachers of ḥadīth from Madīnah include:

  1. Mālik bin Anas
  2. Ibrāhīm bin Muḥammad Abī Yaḥya 
  3. Ubaydullah bin ‘Umar bin Ḥafṣ al-‘Umrī
  4. ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar bin Ḥafṣ al-‘Umrī
  5. Khārijah bin ‘Abdullāh bin Sulaymān
  6. Muḥammad bin Hilāl
  7. Ḍaḥḥāk bin Uthmān 
  8. Ismā’īl bin Rāfi’
  9. A’ṭṭāf bin Khālid
  10. Isḥāq bin Ḥāzim
  11. Hishām bin Sa’d
  12. Usāma bin Zayd al-Laythī
  13. Dāwūd bin Qays al-Farrā’
  14. ‘Īsā bin Abī ‘īsā al-Khayyāṭ
  15. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Abī Zinād
  16. Muḥammad bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Abī Dhi’b
  17. Khuthaym bin Irāk 

 His teachers of ḥadīth from Makkah include:

  1. Sufyān bin ‘Uyaynah al-Kūfī
  2. Zam’ah bin Ṣāliḥ
  3. Ismā’īl bin ‘Abd al-Mālik
  4. Ṭalḥah bin ‘Amr
  5. Sayf bin Sulaymān
  6. Ibrāhīm bin Yazīd al-Umawī
  7. Zakariyya bin Isḥāq
  8. ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Ya’lā al-Thaqafī al-Ṭāifī

His teachers of ḥadīth from Baṣrah include:

  1. Abū al-‘Awām ‘Abd al-Azīz ibn Rabī’ al-Baṣrī
  2. Hishām bin Abī Abdillāh
  3. Rabī’ bin Ṣabīḥ
  4. Abū Ḥurrah Wāṣil bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān 
  5. Sa’īd bin Abī ‘Arūbah
  6. Ismā’īl bin Ibrāhīm al-Baṣrī
  7. Mubārak bin Faḍālah 

His teachers of ḥadīth from Wāsiṭ include:

  1. ‘Ubād bin al-Awām
  2. Shu’bah bin al-Ḥajjāj
  3. Abū Mālik ‘Abd al-Mālik al-Nakha’ī

His teachers of ḥadīth from Shām include:

  1. Abū ‘Amr ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Awzā’ī
  2. Muḥammad bin Rāshid al-Makḥūlī
  3. Ismā’īl bin ‘Ayāsh al-Ḥimṣī
  4. Thawr bin Yazīd al-Dimishqī

From Khurasān he took from ‘Abd Allāh bin al-Mubārak, whilst from al-Yamāmah his teachers include Ayyūb bin ‘Utbah al-Taymī. He also took from many others, whilst we have not mentioned those narrations which he took from his peers and those below him. 

His Students

From amongst the students of Imām Muhamamd ,may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, are:

  1. Abū Ḥafṣ al-Kabīr al-Bukhāri Aḥmad bin Ḥafṣ al-‘Ijlī[3]
  2. Abū Sulaymān Mūsa bin Sulaymān al-Juzjānī[4]
  3. Abū ‘Abdullāh Muḥammad Ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī[5]  
  4. Abū Ubayd Qāsim bin Salām al-Harawī[6]
  5. ‘Amr bin Abī ‘Amr al-Ḥarrānī
  6. Muḥammad bin Smā’ah al-Taymī
  7. ‘Alī bin Ma’bad bin Shaddād al-Raqqī[7]
  8. Mu’alla bin Manṣūr al-Rāzī[8]
  9. Abū Bakr bin Abī Muqātil
  10. Asad bin al-Furāt al-Qayrawānī[9]
  11. Muḥammad bin Muqātil al-Rāzī[10]
  12. Yaḥya bin Ma’īn al-Ghiṭfānī[11]
  13. ‘Alī bin Muslim al-Ṭūsī
  14. Mūsa bin Naḍr al-Rāzī
  15. Shaddād bin Ḥakīm al-Balkhī
  16. Ḥasan bin Ḥarab al-Raqqī
  17. Ibn Jabalah
  18. Abū ‘Abbās Ḥamīd
  19. Abū Tawbah Rabī’ bin Nāfi’ al-Ḥalabī
  20. Ubaydullah bin Abī Ḥanīfah al-Dabbūsī
  21. Abū Burayd ‘Amr bin Yazīd al-Jurmī
  22. Muṣa’b bin Abdillāh al-Zubayrī
  23. Ayyūb bin Ḥasan al-Nīsāpūri 
  24. Khalaf bin Ayyūb al-Balkhī
  25. ‘Alī bin Ṣabīḥ
  26. ‘Aqīl bin ‘Anbasah
  27. ‘Alī bin Mihrān
  28. ‘Amr bin Mahīr
  29. Yaḥya bin Aktham 
  30. Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Mu’addib 
  31. ‘Alī bin Ḥasan al-Rāzī
  32. Hishām bin Ubaydullāh al-Rāzī
  33. Abū Ja’far Aḥmad bin Muḥammad bin Mihrān al-Nasawī[12]
  34. Shu’ayb bin Sulaymān al-Kaysānī[13]
  35. ‘Alī bin Ṣāliḥ al-Jurjānī[14]
  36. Ismā’īl bin Tawbah al-Qazwīnī[15]
  37. Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm bin Rustum al-Marwazī[16]
  38. Yaḥya bin Ṣāliḥ al-Waḥāẓī al-Ḥimṣī[17]
  39. Abū Mūsa ‘Īsā bin Abān al-Baṣrī[18]
  40. Sufyān bin Saḥbān al-Baṣrī[19]

Muḥammad bin ‘Umar al-Wāqidī narrates from Muḥammad, like he also narrates from al-Wāqidī from the narration of peers. 

Imām Muḥammad’s occupation with knowledge

Imām al-Dhahabī, al-Ṣamīrī and Khatīb al-Baghdādī mention with their chains to Muḥammad ibn Samā’ah that he said, Imām Muḥammad said to his family;

لا تسألوني حاجة من حوائج الدنيا تشغلوا قلبي، وخذوا ما تحتاجون إليه من وكيلي فإنه أقل لهمي وأفرغ لقلبي

Do not ask me for a worldy need, it will occupy my heart. Take what you need from my guardianship as this is lighter for my ambition and occupies my heart less.   

Imām Muḥammad and Imām Mālik 

Imām Muḥammad stayed in the company of Imām Mālik for three years and heard more than 700 aḥādīth from him. During this period, Imām Muḥammad also heard from all the scholars in Madīnah. 

The Muwatta of Imām Mālik has approximately twenty two different rescensions, which differ in terms of the number of narrations.[20] As for the Muwatta of Imām Muḥammad, it is counted amongst one of the better versions, due to Imām Muḥammad hearing directly from Imām Mālik over a period of three years. Imām Muḥammad mentions after each aḥādīth whether the opinion is followed by the people of Iraq, and he also mentions their opinion when there is a difference. 

Incident between Imām Muhamamd and Imām Mālik

Khatīb Baghdādī mentions with his sanad to Majāshi’ bin Yūsuf; I was with Imām Mālik in Madīnah whilst he was giving fatāwa, when Imām Muḥammad, the companion of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah entered upon him and asked: “What do you say regarding a junub (person in the state of major ritual impurity) who does not find any water except that it is in the masjid?” Imām Mālik replied: “A junub should not enter the masjid”. Imām Muḥammad asked; “What should he do if prayer has started and he can see the water?”. Imām Mālik repeated that; “A junub should not enter the masjid”. After Imām Muḥammad’s persistence  Imām Mālik asked him: “What do you say regarding this?”, Imām Muḥammad replied that the junub should perform tayammum, enter the masjid, take the water from the masjid, exit and perform ghusl. Imām Mālik asked him; “Where are you from?”, Imām Muḥammad pointed to the earth and said “From the people of this”, thereafter he left. The people informed Imām Mālik that this is Imām Muḥammad the companion of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. Imām Mālik said: “Muḥammad bin Ḥasan, how can he lie by saying he is from the people of Madinah”. They said, Imām Muḥammad said that he is from the people of this, pointing to the earth.  

Imām Muḥammad’s view regarding the fiqh of Imām Mālik

Abū Ismā’īl al-Harawī brings his chain to Imām Shāfi’ī, it is as if he can hear Imām Muḥammad saying; 

رأيت مالكا وسألته عن أشياء فما كان يحل له أن يفتى

I saw Imām Mālik and asked him many questions, however it is not permissible for him to give fatāwa.

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr mentions that Imām Muḥammad said:

ما كان على صاحبكم أن يتكلم وما كان لصاحبنا أن يسكت

It is not suitable for your companion (Imām Mālik) to speak, nor is it suitable for our companion to remain silent. 

This was mentioned during the conversation of Imām Muḥammad with Imām Shāfi’ī. Imām Muḥammad was saying it is not suitable for Imām Mālik to give fatāwa during his era due to the presence of more senior scholars in his time. As for Imām Abū Ḥanīfah there was no one more capable in giving fatāwa during his era, thus it was incumbent on him to do so. 

Thus, even though Imām Muḥammad travelled from Kūfah to Madīnah to study aḥādīth under Imām Mālik, he did not view him as authoritative in the field of fiqh. It is perhaps for this reason that many narrate that they would ask Imām Mālik a question and he would frequently say “I don’t know”. Furthermore, it is known that Imām Mālik would not delve into hypothetical situations, and would refuse to answer questions unless it had already occurred. It is perhaps for this reason that in his Muwatta via the riwāyāh of Yaḥya al-Laythī there is a mention of approximately 3000 rulings, whereas the likes of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and his companions would cover the same amount of rulings in approximately three months. As for the many rulings found in the latter versions of the Muwatta narrated from Mālik, these are more likely rulings derived based on the methodology of Imām Mālik as has been clarified by others.[21]

Imām Muḥammad in comparison to Imām Mālik in terms of fiqh

Although Imām Muḥammad heard the Muwatta from Imām Mālik, there were many things he disagreed with in his opinion, such that he wrote a book called, “al-Ḥujaj”, known for refuting some of the practices of the people of Madīnah.

Many scholars have said that Imām Muḥammad was more virtuous in his fiqh than many of his teachers of ḥadīth. ‘Īsā bin Sulaymān says; When Yaḥya bin Aktham came with Ma’mūn, intending to travel to Egypt, they met Yaḥya bin Ṣāliḥ al-Waḥḥāẓī (from the teachers of Bukhāri from Shām), so he asked him; “O Abū Zakariyya, who is more knowledgeable Mālik bin Anas or Muḥammad bin Ḥasan? Yaḥya bin Ṣāliḥ replied: Imām Muḥammad. 

Khatīb Baghdādī mentions with his chain to Yaḥya bin Ṣāliḥ that he said; Ibn Aktham asked me; “I saw Imām Mālik, and I heard (aḥādīth) from him and I also accompanied Imām Muḥammad, which of the two is more well-versed in fiqh?”, so I said, “Muḥammad bin Ḥasan [in that which he deduces himself] is more well-versed in fiqh than Mālik.”. That which is in the square brackets has been found in published versions, and is perhaps inserted by editors of the publication. 

Imām Dhahabī mentions; 

انتهت إليه رياسة الفقه بالعراق بعد ابي يوسف وتفقه به أئمة وصنف التصانيف وكان من أذكياء العالم

He was the head of Jurisprudence in Iraq after Abū Yūsuf, and he was taught by him, he authored many works and was amongst the most intelligent in the whole world.

Imām Muḥammad’s role in the formation of the Mālikī Madhab

Asad bin Furāth left Qayrawān in the year 172 AH, and heard the Muwatta from Imām Mālik in Madīnah. The students of Imām Mālik would ask him questions, and he would answer them. It is narrated that once Asad bin Furāth asked Imām Mālik a question, so he answered him, thereafter Asad bin Furāth asked another question and Imām Mālik answered him again. Thereafter Asad bin Furāth asked Imām Mālik another question to which Imām Mālik replied:

حسبك يا مغربي إن أحببت الرأي فعليك بالعراق

That is enough O westerner, if you want to study fiqh then go to Iraq.

Thus, Asad bin Furāth found that his stay with Imām Mālik had been prolonged with many of the matters he sought, from meeting scholars and narrating aḥādīth from them, were being missed. So Asad bin Furāth travelled to Iraq where he met Imām Abū Yūsuf and narrated the Muwatta to him. Thus Imām Abū Yūsuf narrates the Muwatta of Imām Mālik through the intermediary of Asad bin Furāth. 

Asad bin Furāth studied with the companions of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, from amongst them; Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf, Asad bin ‘Amr al-Bajlī, Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan and others. When he came to Imām Muḥammad he said to him; “I am a stranger to this land, little in terms of fiqh, studying with you is difficult due to the numerous number of students you have, what can I do?”. Imām Muḥammad advised him, listen to the scholars in the daytime, and I will set aside a portion for you solely at night, therefore come to me at night and you can listen to me. Asad bin Furāth says that he would spend the nights in the company of Imām Muḥammad would keep a container of water in front of him, and when the nights stretched and he would get tired, Imām Muḥammad would scoop a handful of water and sprinkle it on his face to wake him up. He would do so until they reached the required amount which had been intended. 

Imām Muḥammad would gift Asad bin Furāth money after finding out that his money had finished. Once he gave him eighty Dinār’s after seeing him drinking from the water for wayfarers. Indeed it is rare to find someone as patient with his students, and more generous to them in granting them money, than Imām Muḥammad except for his teacher Imām Abū Ḥanīfah.

Asad bin Furāth narrates in his Riḥlah al-‘Irāqiyyah that once he was with Imām Muḥammad in one of his circles when a man announced that Imām Mālik, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, had passed away. Imām Muḥammad said:

إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون ، مصيبة ما أعظمها مات مالك بن أنس، مات أمير المؤمنين في الحديث
To Allāh ﷻ we belong and to Allāh ﷻ we return. What a great calamity, Malik bin Anas has passed away, the Amīr al-Mu’minīn fī al-ḥadīth has died.

The people were greatly aggrieved at the death of Imām Mālik. Thereafter, whenever Imām Muḥammad would narrate from Imām Mālik, many people would attend his circles, however when narrating from others only a few attended. 

Khatīb  Baghdādī relates with his sanad to Imām Muḥammad that he said:

ما أعلم أحداً أسوء ثناء على أصحابه منكم إذا حدثتكم عن مالك ملأتم على الموضع وإذا حدثتكم عن أصحابكم إنما تأتوني متكارهين

I do not know of anyone who praises his companions worse than you. If I narrate to you from Mālik, you fill the place, whereas if I tell you about your companions, you come to me reluctantly. 

Similar narrations have been by Ibn ‘Adiy in his al-Kāmil and by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his al-Intiqā. This should not come as much of a surprise as Iraq was filled with scholars who were narrating aḥādīth, and the people had access to these scholars whenever they wished. As for the the narrations of Imām Mālik, it is only right that people sought it and treasured it, especially from a scholar of the calibre of Imām Muḥammad, especially after their opportunity to hear directly from Imām Mālik had been cut off due to his passing away.

After benefiting from Imām Muḥammad, Asad bin Furāth went to Madīnah to ask the companions of Imām Mālik regarding the rulings he had studied with Imām Muḥammad. However he did not find the answers he was searching for, rather was directed to Egypt to ask some of the companions of Imām Mālik. When he went to Egypt he went to ‘Abdullāh ibn Wahb and asked him regarding the rulings of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, and what the view of Imām Mālik was regarding them. ‘Abdullāh ibn Wahb hesitated in answering the questions so Asad bin Furāth went to Ibn al-Qāsim[22] and asked him. Ibn al-Qāsim answered his questions to the best of his knowledge, narrating what he knew from Imām Mālik, and in those questions which he had doubt he would say “I think so and so”. Asad bin Furāth compiled these rulings in his book called al-Asadiyyah. Thereafter he returned to Qayrawān, where he gained status due to his work, al-Asadiyyah.

It is mentioned in Ma’ālim al-Imān that before going to Ibn al-Qāsim, Asad bin Furāth went to Ash’hab. So Asad bin Furāth asked him a question, to which Ash’hab replied. So Asad bin Furāth asked him, who said this, Imām Abū Ḥanīfah or Imām Mālik. Ash’hab replied; “This is my saying, may Allāh ﷻ bless you”. So Asad bin Furāth said; “What is wrong with you, I ask you regarding Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and Imām Mālik, and you give me your opinion”. Thereafter, ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Abd al-Ḥakam said to Asad bin Furāth, “What is the matter with you, a man answers your question, if you wish then accept it, if not then leave it”. 

Once ِAsh’hab had disrespected Imām Mālik and Imām Abū Ḥanīfah in a gathering, where voices were raised. Asad bin Furāth said; “O Ash’hab, O Ash’hab, O Ash’hab”. The students silenced him and it was said to him what do you intend to say to him, Asad bin Furāth replied: 

أردت أن أقول له : مثلك ومثلهما ، مثل رجل أتى بين بحرين فبال فرغی بوله فقال : هذا بحر ثالث

I want to say to him, the comparison between you (Ash’hab) and them two (Imām Mālik and Imām Abū Ḥanīfah) is like a man who comes between two seas and empties his urine and says, this is the third sea.

Were it not for the books which Asad bin Furāth had acquired from Imām Muḥammad regarding the fiqh of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, and thereafter presented it to Ibn al-Qāsim to give the ruling from the Mālikī point of view, it would not have been possible for Asad bin Furāth to ask these questions, nor for Ibn al-Qāsim to answer every question upon the structure of scholars of Iraq. Thus under the light of Imām Muḥammad Asad bin Furāth was able to compile the rulings of the Mālikī madhab in sixty books known as al-Asadiyyah. 

It is worthy of note that the development of Mālikī madhab was not solely due to Asad bin Furāth’s connection with Imām Muḥammad. Rather we know that even Imām Mālik himself would frequently review his fiqh with Imām Abū Ḥanīfah when he would visit Madīnah.

Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ mentions in the beginning of his Madārik that Layth Ibn Sa’d saw Imām Mālik sweating so he asked him, “I see you sweating?”, Imām Mālik replied;

عرقت مع أبي حنيفة إنه لفقيه يا مصرى

I am sweating due to Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, indeed he is a (true) faqīh, O Egyptian!

It has also been narrated from ‘Abd al-Azīz al-Darāwardī that Imām Mālik would read the books of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and benefit from them. It has also been mentioned by Imām Shāfi’ī in his Kitāb al-Umm from al-Darāwardī that Imām Mālik had approximately sixty thousand rulings from Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. 

Thus Imām Mālik would benefit from Imām Abū Ḥanīfah in Masjid al-Nabawī. Imām Muḥammad heard the Muwatta from Imām Mālik. Imām Shāfi’ī studied the Muwatta from Imām Mālik and also benefited from Imām Muḥammad. Imām Aḥmad bin Ḥanbal gained proficiency in fiqh through Imām Abū Yūsuf and Imām Shāfi’ī and benefitted from the books of Imām Muḥammad. Like this the imām of all four madhab are connected and through this the blessings of knowledge was attained. 

Asad bin Furāth spread the madhab of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and Imām Mālik in Africa, thereafter he sufficed on spreading the madhab of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, thus it spread in the western lands. Asad bin Furāth passed away in 213 AH. 

Some of the senior scholars of the Mālikī madhab have said that when there is now narration from Imām Mālik regarding a ruling, then take the ruling of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. Some have said that the difference between both the madhabs lies in only thirty two rulings.  

Imām Shāfi’ī and Imām Muḥammad

Muḥammad bin Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī studied fiqh under Muslim bin Khālid al-Zanjī (100-180 AH) in Makkah until he gave him permission to give fatāwa. Thereafter, Imām Shāfi’ī travelled to Madīnah, when he was approximately fourteen years old, where he studied the Muwatta under Imām Mālik. During this time he also heard from Ibrāhīm bin Muḥammad bin Abī Yaḥya al-Aslamī, one of the competitors of Imām Mālik. After this he travelled to Makkah to study from Sufyan bin Uyaynah, and after that he went to Yemen to work due to financial difficulties and stayed there for a while. In the year 184 AH Imām Shāfi’ī travelled to Iraq where he studied under Imām Muḥammad and accompanied him for a long time. During this period Imām Shāfi’ī devoted himself to studying fiqh under Imām Muḥammad and he copied the works of Imām Muḥammad for approximately sixty dinars. This stay with Imām Muḥammad was one of the most crucial components in Imām Shāfi’ī rise in stature.

It is narrated that Imām Shāfi’ī once wrote to Imām Muḥammad asking to borrow his books[23] so that he could copy them. As Imām Muḥammad didn’t answer his request, Imām Shāfi’ī wrote the following couplet:

قل للذي لم تر عين … من رآه مثله

حتى كأن من رآه … قد رأى من قبله

العلم ينهى أهله … أن يمنعوه أهله

لعله يبذله … لأهله لعله

Say to those which no eye has seen (his like)… who has seen his like

As if the one who saw him… had seen those before him

Knowledge forbids its people… to prevent it from its people

Perhaps he may give it to its people… to its people perhaps

Thereafter it is said that Imām Muḥammad immediately gifted his books to Imām Shāfi’ī. It is well known that Imām Shāfi’ī met and benefited from the likes of Imām Mālik, Wakī’ ibn al-Jarrāḥ and Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah, even then he mentions that he has not seen the likes of Imām Muḥammad. If only Imām Shāfi’ī had met Imām Abū Ḥanīfah!

Imām Dhahabī mentions in his Tarīkh al-Kabīr with his chain to Abū Ubayd that he says I saw Imām Shāfi’ī with Imām Muḥammad and he had given him fifty Dinars, and before this he had given him fifty dirhams. He would say, “If you wish to seek knowledge, then do so”. Abū Ubayd says I heard Imām Shāfi’ī say; “I wrote a camel load of books from Imām Muḥammad bin Ḥasan”. When Imām Shāfi’ī would go to Imām Muḥammad he would say, don’t be embarrassed, Imām Shāfi’ī replied; “If you were to me someone I should be shy of I would not have accepted your charity”. 

Imām Muḥammad was thus very generous with his students, in terms of giving them financial aid as well as giving them time. It is for this we know that Imām Shāfi’ī took many narrations from Imām Muḥammad, which others do not have. This is due to Imām Muḥammad giving Imām Shāfi’ī time for private lessons just as he did with Asad bin Furāth, Abū ‘Ubayd and other great scholars of his time. This patience and perseverance of Imām Muḥammad with his students is unmatched from the scholars of the past, except for Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. 

Imām Shāfi’ī mentions:

أمن الناس علي في الفقه محمد بن الحسن

The most gracious of people to me in fiqh is Muḥammad bin Ḥasan. 

Khatīb  Baghdādī also mentions with this chain to Imām Shāfi’ī that he said:

أعافني الله برجلين بابن عيينة في الحديث وبمحمد في الفقه

Allāh ﷻ helped me through two men, (Sufyān) Ibn ‘Uyaynah in Ḥadīth and Muḥammad (bin Ḥasan) in fiqh.

Rabī’ narrates from Imām Shāfi’ī that he said:

ليس لأحد علي منة في العلم وأسباب الدنيا ما لمحمد علي

No one has favoured me more in knowledge and in this world than Imām Muḥammad. 

Imām Muḥammad would always look after Imām Shāfi’ī and be kind with him, such that Ibn Samā’ah narrates that Imām Muḥammad gathered from his companions one hundred thousand dirhams for the sake of Imām Shāfi’ī. 

Imām Dhahabī mentions from Idrīs bin Yūsuf al-Qarāṭīsī that he heard Imām Shāfi’ī say: 

ما رأيت أعلم بكتاب الله من محمد كأنه عليه نزل

I did not see anyone more knowledgeable of the book of Allāh ﷻ than Muḥammad, as if it was revealed upon him.

As for some of the rivalry which has been mentioned between Imām Muḥammad and Imām Shāfi’ī, these have been refuted due to various reasons from biasness, weak narrators, confusion in wording etc. Those who are interested in the details may read Bulūgh al-Amānī by Muḥammad Zāhid bin Ḥasan al-Kawtharī where he refutes all such notions.

Imām Muḥammad and Imām Abū Yūsuf

After Imām Abū Ḥanīfah passed away, Imām Muḥammad joined the circles of Imām Abū Yūsuf to study fiqh and ḥadīth under him. He completed his studies and became the main narrator for the opinions of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and Imām Abū Yūsuf in his books; al-Mabsūṭ, al-Jāmi’ al-Saghīr and Siyar al-Saghīr. He was the one who spread the madhab throughout his other books, whether or not he mentioned their views. 

Imām Ṭaḥāwī mentions with his narration to Ismā’īl bin Ḥammād that he said; Imām Muḥammad would be early to the gatherings of hadith, whilst we would go early to the gathering of Imām Abū Yūsuf. Imām Muḥammad would come whilst having missed some rulings. We would talk whilst Imām Abū Yūsuf would repeat the rulings to Imām Muḥammad. One day Imām Muḥammad came whilst we were talking and Imām Abū Yūsuf asked him regarding a ruling which had been covered previously, and Imām Muḥammad replied in contrast to what had passed. Thus Imām Abū Yūsuf said this is not the correct reply, and thus an disagreement entailed when Imām Muḥammad said; “This is not his (Imām Abū Ḥanīfah’s) saying”. Until they asked for the book to check the reference. Once they checked the book it became apparent that Imām Muḥammad was correct, thus Imām Abū Yūsuf said; “This is how memorisation should be”.

Khatīb Baghdādī mentions with his chain to Yaḥya bin Ma’īn; I heard it was said to  Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan, the jurist, have you heard this book from Abū Yūsuf. He replied; “No By Allāh! I did not hear it from him, rather I heard it from the most knowledgeable of people, and I have not heard anything from Abū Yūsuf except for Jāmi’ al-Saghīr”. 

Imām Ṭaḥāwī narrates from Ibn Abī ‘Imrān from al-Ṭabarī that he heard Mu’allā bin Manṣūr saying; I met Abū Yūsuf whilst he was the judge, so he said to me; “Oh Mu’allā, who have you kept company with today?”. I said; “I accompanied Muḥammad bin Ḥasan”. So Abū Yūsuf said;

ألزمه فإنه أعلم الناس

Accompany him, for he is the most knowledgeable of people.

Thereafter, he met me afterwards and said: “Oh Mu’allā, who have you kept company with today?”. I said “Muḥammad bin Ḥasan”. So Imām Abū Yūsuf said; 

ألزمه فإنه من أعلم الناس

Accompany him, for he is from amongst the most knowledgeable of people. 

Thus, Imām Abū Yūsuf lowered the rank of Imām Muḥammad in comparison to his first statement. 

Perhaps the reason for the hostility between Imām Muḥammad and Imām Abū Yūsuf is due to the issue of judgeship. This is what has been narrated by Ibn Abī al-‘Awām with his chain to Muḥammad ibn Samā’ah. He mentions; Abū Yūsuf counsel was sought regarding the best person to be judge of Raqqah. Abū Yūsuf said I do not know of anyone more worthy for the post than Muḥammad bin Ḥasan although he is in Kūfah. If you wish then seek him out. Thus they sought out Muḥammad bin Ḥasan, and when he came he went to Abū Yūsuf and ask him why he had been chosen. Abū Yūsuf replied, They sought my counsel for the judge of Raqqah so I indicated towards you. I thought that Allāh ﷻ has transmitted our knowledge in Kūfah and Baṣrah and the whole east, so I desired that from this perspective our knowledge should also be spread through you in the lands of Shām. Imām Muḥammad replied, Subḥān Allāh! I do not have in my self desire for such a position. This incident was the sole cause for the hostility between Imām Muḥammad and Imām Abū Yūsuf, and this is also mentioned by Imām al-Dhahabī. 

Imām Muḥammad was extremely weary of taking positions of leadership and governship, due it distracting him from knowledge and teaching, just like the path of his teacher Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. Some have said that due to this Imām Muḥammad did not attend the funeral of Imām Abū Yūsuf when he passed away, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him. However, ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī mentions that the reason why Imām Muḥammad did not attend his funeral prayer was because the janāzah took place in Baghdād whilst Imām Muḥammad was in position as Qāḍī of Raqqah and it was not possible for him to leave his duties. 

‘Allāmah Sarakhsī mentions in his Sharḥ Siyar al-Kabīr: Imām Muḥammad did not mention the name of Abū Yūsuf in his Siyar al-Kabīr as he authored this work after the growing hostility between them. Everytime he uses a narration of Imām Abū Yūsuf he mentions “Akhbaranī al-thiqah” (A reliable narrator informed me). 

‘Allāmah Muḥammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī mentions in Bulūgh al-Amānī that any hostility between Imām Muḥammad and Imām Abū Yūsuf is false and has been exaggerated. Indeed Imām Abū Yūsuf was a great scholar of his time, he had mastery over the different sciences, an abundance of students and had many written works. His work entitled Kitāb al-Amālī in itself comprised of three hundred volumes as narrated by Abū Āṣim al-‘Āmirī. How is it possible that a man of such stature can be jealous of his student, Imām Muḥammad, due to him having a great number of students, as some have falsely mentioned. Rather this should be a source of pride and honour for him. Furthermore, if he had so much jealousy towards him why would he praise him on multiple occasions and select him for Qaḍa of Raqqah. ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī rejects all such accusations in his Bulūgh al-Amānī in a chapter titled “Hiya al-Kidhb min ayyi al-nawāḥī āthaythahā” (It is a lie from whichever perspective you view it).

Asceticism of Imām Muḥammad

-> Add notes of incident with Caliph Hārūn Rashīd

Ḥasan ibn Shuhūb mentions that; I saw Muḥammad bin al-Ḥasan go to the dyers and ask about their work and that which they do. Look at this great mujtahid, how he does not suffice on his knowledge of Qur’ān, sunnah, the statements of the ṣaḥābah, tābi’īn, fuqaḥā and even his vast wealth. Rather he himself goes out to see how the dyers work in their day to day life, so that he can be well informed with regards to their state when issuing a ruling.

-> To be added:

  • Praise of Imām Aḥmad bin Ḥanbal for Imām Muḥammad’s works
  • Praise of scholars for Imām Muḥammad
  • Written works of Imām  Muḥammad

Death of Imām Muḥammad

It is said Imām Muḥammad, may Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him, passed away on the same day as Imām Kisā’ī[24] such that the Caliph Hārūn Rashīd exclaimed:

دفنت الفقه والنحو بالري

Fiqh and Nahw have been buried in Ray.

Bibliography

  1. Bulūgh al-Amānī fī Sīrah Muḥammad bin Ḥasan al-Shaybānī
  2. Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā, Al-Dhahabī
  3. Ta’līq al-Mumajjad 

[1] Bulūgh al-Amānī pg. 4

[2] Bulūgh al-Amānī pg. 5

[3] Imām Bukhāri took the fiqh of Abū Ḥanīfah from him, so did Sufyān al-Thawrī

[4] Through him the kutub al-Sitta were spread 

[5] One of the four Imāms of the madhāhib

[6] Imām al-Mujtahid al-Kabīr

[7] He narrates the Jāmi’ al-Kabīr and Jāmi’ al-Ṣaghīr from Imām Muḥammad (Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā)

[8] Muftī of Baghdād 

[9] Scribe of the Māliki madhab

[10] Teacher of Ibn Jarīr

[11] Imām of Jarḥ and Ta’dīl 

[12] Rāwī of the the Muwatta from Imām Muḥammad 

[13] Rāwī of Kaysāniyāt from Imām Muḥammad  

[14] Rāwī of the Jurjāniyāt from Imām Muḥammad 

[15] Rāwī of Siyar al-Kabīr from Imām Muḥammad 

[16] Rāwī of Nawādir from Imām Muhammad

[17] From the teachers of Bukhāri in Shām

[18] Rāwī of the Ḥujjaj ‘Ala ahl Madīnah frm Imām Muḥammad, the author of al-Ḥujaj al-Kabīr and Kitāb al-Ḥujaj al-Ṣaghīr, Kitāb ‘ala al-Marīsī wa al-Shāfi’ī fī Shurūṭ qabūl al-Akhbār

[19] Author of Kitāb al-’Ilal

[20] Dar al-Quṭnī has written regarding the different versions of the Muwatta and those narrations which are found in all, and those which differ. 

[21] Such as ‘Abd al-Malik bin Habīb, Muḥammad bin Aḥmad bin ‘Abd al-Azīz al-’Utbiyy the author of ‘Utbiyyah which mentions the views of Imām Mālik narrated through his students, and others. 

[22] Ibn al-Qāsim accompanied Imām Mālik for approximately twenty years, and is from amongst the more distinguished companions of Imām Mālik. 

[23] Imām Ṭaḥāwī mentions that it was his Kitāb al-Siyar 

[24] It has also been narrated that Kisā’ī passed away two days after Imām Muḥammad (Bulūgh al-Amānī pg. 41).

Scroll to Top