The great debate: Abu Hanifa v Imam Baqir
October 26th, 2009 Abdullah Hasan Leave a comment Go to comments
On his second visit to Madina Abu Hanifa met Imam Baqir, when he was introduced to Imam Baqir, the latter addressed him in the following words: “So it is you who contradicts the traditions of my grandfather on the basis of Qiyas”. Abu Hanifa said: “May Allah forbid, who dare contradict the Ahadith? After you sit down, Sayyidi, I shall explain my position.”
They had the following conversation:
Imam Abu Hanifa: “who is the weaker, man or woman?”
Imam Baqir: “woman”
Imam Abu Hanifa: “which of them is entitled to the larger share of the inheritance?”
Imam Baqir: “the woman”
Imam Abu Hanifa: “now, if I had been making more deductions through analogy, I should have said that the woman should get the larger share - because on the face of it, the weaker one is entitled to more consideration. But I have not said so.
“To take up another subject, which do you think is the higher duty, prayer or fasting?”
Imam Baqir: “prayer.”
Imam Abu Hanifa: “that being the case, it should be permissible for a woman during the period of her Hayd (menstruation) to postpone her prayers and not her fasts (which is lower than prayers). But the ruling I give is that she must postpone her fasting and not her prayers (following in the footsteps of the Prophet).”
Imam Baqir was so much impressed by his acumen and his love for the Prophet, he stood up and kissed his forehead. (Quoted from Shariah: Islamic Law by AR Doi)
The aforementioned conversation is emblematic in expressing the deep intellectualheritage of Islam and the methodological differences there are within the scholarly tradition, especially the Usuliyun (people of the principles).
There are two main traditional schools of thought when it comes to approaching the law of Islam. The inductive school (along with its various contours) which is championed by Imam Abu Hanifa and later scholars who traversed their path. And the deductive school (along with its various contours) which was championed by Imam al-Shafi’ and those who traversed his path of deductive reasoning. These different approaches even go back to the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) themselves, the hadith of praying in Bani Quraizah being one clear example.
Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi alludes to these two camps when answering a question regarding the Niqab. He says, “the controversy will remain as long as the texts themselves — from which rulings are derived — are amenable to disagreement with respect to their authenticity and meaning. [They will remain] as long as the minds of men are of varying strength in deriving rulings [from the texts], and [differ as to] the extent to which texts are to be taken literally, or in their general tenor, or whether one should adopt a more stringent position or a more lenient one, or a cautious position or an easier one.
“The controversy will remain as long as there are those who adopt the rigorous stances of Ibn Umar, and those who adopt the dispensations of Ibn Abbās; as long as there are those among them who will pray Aṣr on the way, and those who will not pray anywhere but in [the vicinity of] Banū Quraiẓah.
“It is of the mercy of God that these kinds of differences are not forbidden and entail no sin. The [scholars] who hold the incorrect opinion are excused. In fact they earn a single reward, and there are even those who say that no one is wrong in these juristic judgments; in fact they are all correct.
“Indeed, even the Prophet’s Companions, and the righteous generations following them differed in their juristic judgments, and this did not harm them in anyway. They agreed to disagree, and continued to pray behind one another without disapproval.”
Eager students of knowledge (in my view) should thoroughly understand the different spectrums of these two schools of thought, and appreciate the deep intellectual foundation they emerge from. So that any discussion or learning we immerse ourselves in, it is done with the proper etiquette and adab.
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