Hanafi School is one of most important and most widely followed school of Sunni Islam.

Sub-sects in Sunni Law

Four major sub-sects are broadly recognized in schools of Sunni law. They are,

  • the Hanafi school,
  • Maliki school,
  • Shafii school and
  • Hanbali school.

The overwhelming majority of Sunnis in India follow the Hanafi school of law.

Mulla in Principles of Mahomedan Law[1], has this to say about the Hanafi school:

“This is the most famous of the four schools of Hanafi law. This school was founded by Abu Hanifa (699-767 A.D.). The school is also known as Kufa School. Although taught by the great Imam Jafar-as-Sadik, the founder of the Shia School, Abu Hanifa was, also a pupil of Abu Abdullah ibn-ul-Mubarak and Hamid bin-Sulaiman and this may account for his founding a separate school.

Cause for popularity

This school was favoured by the Abbasid Caliphs and its doctrines spread far and wide. Abu Hanifa earned the appellation The Great Imam.

The school was fortunate in possessing, besides Abu Hanifa, his two more celebrated pupils, Abu Yusuf (who became the Chief Kazi at Baghdad) and Imam Muhammad Ash-Shaybani, a prolific writer, who has left behind a number of books on jurisprudence.

The founder of the school himself left very little written work. The home of this school was Iraq but it shares this territory with other schools although there is a fair representation.

The Ottoman Turks and the Seljuk Turks were Hanafis. The doctrines of this school spread to Syria, Afghanistan, Turkish Central Asia and India.

Other big name related to Hanafi School

Other names connected with the Kufa School are Ibn Abi Layla and Safyan Thawri. Books on the doctrines are al-Hidaay of Marghinani (translated by Hamilton), Radd-al-Mukhtar and Durr-ul-Mukhtar of Ibn Abidin and al-Mukhtasar of Kuduri.

The Fatawa-i-Alamgiri collected in Aurangzeb’s time contain the doctrines of this school with other material.

[1] (20th Ed.), pg. xix to xxi