Abū Hanīfah (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Abū Hanīfah, celebrated eighth century Muslim jurist and theologian, was the founder of the first of four orthodox schools of Islamic law, the Hanifite. His brilliant use of reason and his gift for systematic thought provided Muslim civilization with a coherent and applicable system of law.
Abū Hanīfah An-Nuʿmān ibn Thābit was born in the city of Kufa, in what is now Iraq, around the year 699. Though some traditions assert that he was descended from Persian royalty, the more likely genealogy is Afghan. It seems that his grandfather, Zuta, was brought as a slave from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Kufa. Zuta came into the possession of the prominent Taym-Allah ibn Tha’laba family. For unknown reasons, Zuta was set free. He and his descendants, however, remained clients (mawla) of the Tha’laba family. Though born into the non-Arab or client class of Muslims in Kufa, Abū Hanīfah was no stranger to wealth. His father, like the Prophet Muhammad, was a successful merchant. Abū Hanīfah followed in his father’s footsteps and won fame as a silk trader and cloth manufacturer. Like Muhammad, the merchant Abū Hanīfah won a reputation for his honesty and generosity. Abū Hanīfah endowed scholarships for needy students and shared liberally with the poor.
Economic prosperity enabled Abū Hanīfah to turn from business to scholarship. That was a sound choice. With a sharp...
(The entire section is 2649 words.)
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