Yahya Ibn Ma’een (Rahimahullah) mentions from his teacher Yahya Ibn Sa’eed Al–Qattaan (Rahimahullah) that he said, “We have not heard better opinions than Abu Haneefa’s. And we take most of his opinions.”(Muqaddimah ofI’laa us Sunan, Vol.21 pg.14; Tabyeedus Saheefah pg.116; Al Khairaatul Hisaan pg.69) The Imam of Al–Jarh and At–Ta’deel (The knowledge of what was transmitted concerning the reliability of the individual narrators of Hadith) Yahya Ibn Sa’eed Al–Qattaan also said that by “By Allah Imam Abu Haneefah is the most knowledgeable person of this Ummah of what has come from Allah Ta’ala and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).” (Abu Haneefah An Nu’man: Imaamu Aimmatil Fuqaha, by Wahbi Sulaiman, pg. 183) Yahya Ibn Sa’eed Al–Qattaan is not only a great Muhaddith of the past, but he is one of the first Imaams in regards to the science of Al–Jarh and At-Ta’deel. His opinions are taken by all the scholars in regards to narrators of Hadith. In order to illustrate Yahya Ibn Sa’eed Al–Qattaan’s rank, we will mention an incident. Al–‘Aini (Rahimahullah) has mentioned in his book ‘Umdatul Qaari that after the ‘Asr Salah, Yahya–Ibn Saeed would sit leaning on the pillar in his Masjid and people like Yahya ibn Ma’een, Ahmad ibn Hambal, and Ali ibn Al–Madeeni would be standing in front of him. And they would stand and ask him about Hadith until Maghrib Salah. Yahya ibn Sa’eed would be answering their questions, and out of respect for him, they would not sit for the entire time and he would not tell them to sit either. (Umdatul Qaari Vol.1 Pg.140) These great scholars (i.e. Yahya ibn Ma’een, Ahmad ibn Hambal, and ‘Ali ibn Al–Madeeni) who are the teachers of Imam Al–Bukhari (Hadyus Saari, pg.665), and whom Al Bukhari took his Saheeh (compilation of Hadith) to in order that they may check it after it was completed (Hadyus Saari pg.667), were standing in front of Yahya Ibn Sa’eed Al–Qattaan like students, showing Yahya’s status in Hadith. And this same Yahya Ibn Sa’eed is the one who is saying that he has not heard of better opinions than those of Imam Abu Haneefah and that he takes most of Abu Hanifah’s Fataawa and that Al–Imam is the most knowledgeable person of this Ummah.
In the year 150 AH, when the news of Imam Abu Haneefah’s death reached Ibn – Jurayj one of the most famous Muhaddith of the past (a teacher of Yahya ibn Sa’eed Al-Qattaan), he said, “Knowledge has gone away.” (Tabyeedus Saheefah, pg.114) When the death of Imam Abu Haneefah reached Shu’bah (A very high ranking Muhaddith), he said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oon,” and added, “The Noor (light) of ‘Ilm has been extinguished from Koofah. They will not see his likeness ever.” (Al Khairaatul Hisaan pg.127 by ibnu Hajar Al Haithami) Remember that Koofah in those days was one of the strongholds of Islamic knowledge. And when Ibn Jurayj and Shu’bah say that the knowledge has gone away like this, they mean the knowledge of the science of Hadith. The proof of this is that Shamsuddeen Adh – Dhahabi has mentioned in Tadhkiraatul Huffaadh that, “Knowledge like al mantiq (logic), and the knowledge of debating, and philosophy were not present in the ‘Ilm (knowledge) of the Sahabah or Tabi’een, and al – Awza’ee, and Ath Thawri, and Malik, and Abu Haneefah, Instead, their knowledge was Quran and Hadith and the likeness of that.” (Muqaddimah of I’laaus Sunan, Vol.21 pg.12) So you can see that from what Adh – Dhahabi is saying it is understood clearly that when ‘Ilm was mentioned in the time of Imam Abu Haneefah, it was meant as Al – Quran and Hadith.
Darul Ihsan Centre