Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Abu Hanifa's Golden Words: "I MAY be wrong."

Imam Abu Hanifa (r.) is known to have said, "I believe that my opinions are correct, but I'm cognizant of the fact that my opinions MAY be wrong. I also believe that the opinions of my opponents are wrong, but I am cognizant of the fact that they may be correct."

So, having read this about him, who among us can HONESTLY say that we have scholars today like Abu Hanifa who will *admit* that they MAY be wrong? That there's at least a slight chance that they may be wrong and their opponents, whoever those might be, MAY be right? How many "scholars" today are willing to accept the *fact* that their views are just that -- views! Not necessarily FACTS, as much as they might want them to be facts?

Then there's that hadith I heard about some years ago that went something like:
"Every mujtahid (a person who applies ijtihad, which is  independent judgment to legal issues, using reason and knowledge) is correct. If the mujtahid is correct in her/his ijtihad, she/he receives two bounties; if wrong, then only one bounty." (Narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Hanbal, and some otheres -- but I can't find the exact hadith; if anyone else does, please lemme know. Thanks in advance.)

((The preconception and expectation is, of course, that the mujtahid will have studied for an ample amount of time and ample classical and contemporary texts to arrive at the conclusion she/he ultimately does. And so if they err, there's nothing wrong with it, for they will be rewarded either way for their studying and trying.))

Then there are other classical jurists and interpreters who, when citing the views of other scholars, they'd say, "According to A, this verse means ...; according to B's interpretation, this is the case; C, on the other hand, believes that such and such is the case; ... ; as for ME, I interpret it this way."

HOW many Quran/hadith interpreters -- or scholars of Islam in general -- are this way? THIS is the sign of a true scholar. When they tell you only THEIR views, THEIR answers to questions, or then the answers of only those with whom they agree, then you should know that this person isn't a real scholar and is afraid of having someone disagree with him.

Supposedly, most Muslims worldwide belong to the Hanafi School of Thought. (And I'm starting to think that it's because Hanifa was, for the most part, the most reasonable of all the classical jurists and scholars. It's such a relief to see that humans DO possess the ability to distinguish reason from ... what's the opposite of reason? stupidity? k, maybe not.)
Now, if this is really the case, HOW MUCH do we know about Abu Hanifa? How many Hanfi followers REALLY know what Hanifa really said? How many can claim to have any knowledge about his words of wisdom at all? Why don't we ever, EVER hear anyone reminding us that he said this and that we should learn something from him? ...

(Note: I understand that many of us don't believe in any madhhabs or schools of thought, but realistically speaking, they're there, and there's just no point in denying that. So! Hanafi law is the most ecumenical among Muslims today.)

Then there's also the hadith that "the disagreement of the ummah is a source of mercy." (Well, it MIGHT not be a hadith; we're not sure because it might just be a word of wisdom instead .... but I read it in a book about Quran and authority, and the author said it's accepted as a hadith among many scholars but as simply words of wisdom among others.)
Anyway, so, one of the first books that Islamic Law students are assigned to read is The Disagreement of the Scholars is a Mercy for the Nation. Does anyone wanna guess why? Obviously because that gives us more leeway: we might agree with one scholar on one thing and disagree with her/him on other things WHILE agreeing with another on something else.

So what *I* wanna know is ... why do we hate disagreeing with each other? Why do we FEAR disagreements among ourselves? Sure, it's unhealthy when we are not taught how to *handle* those disagreements, and we end up abusing each other and declaring that those who disagree with us are heretics and such; it gets even worse when violence is used BECAUSE of those disagreements.

But why don't we try to read different views instead of accepting only ONE view as "correct" to realize that we JUST MIGHT not be right? that our favorite scholars JUST might not be the ONLY "correct" people on earth?

Is it really far more convenient to just fight and fight and kill each other than it is to listen to the other side's views and understanding?


  1. Zabardast, very deep thinking, and a rational approach. Beautifully written. Sincerity of the writer can be felt in each line.

    Keep writing more on such issues please.

  2. Salaam, Ata!
    Sorry I JUST saw this comment of yours! Thank you very much for the encouragement! I'm grateful :)

  3. Salaam,

    Just started reading your blog. When I saw the name Abu Hanifa, I couldn't resist but click. I love Abu Hanifa so much and still I follow many rulings of Imam Shaafi. As you said, majority followers of Hanafi madhhab don't know the first thing about Imam Abu Hanifa. If he were alive, he would never approve of what people do in the name of his madhhab. There was no one in comparison to Imam Hanifa in logic and reasoning. And still was very humble and disliked authority. It is these same qualities that led him to prison and later death.

    Great blog. keep the good work. Looking forward to reading more of your blog and more comments will be posted...

  4. Salaam, Anees!
    Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for your comment! It'll be great to hear from you more often and to learn from you!

  5. Abu Hanifa: Belief does not increase nor decrease.


Dare to opine :)

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