The Life and works of Imam Abu Yusuf (RA)
A testing beginning of a Prestigious Life:
Imam Abu Yusuf’s Rahmatullahi alaihi humble beginnings in the path of knowledge mirror what many young Muslims suffer today from parental displeasure at occupying oneself in acquiring the sacred knowledge of Islam, at the detriment of one’s secular studies or in pursuing a career. Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi had a great passion for studying at a young age, however his father wanted his son to occupy himself in mastering some trade in order to make ends meet. The Imam followed his father’s wishes, but as soon as he was free of his days work he would scurry along to the circles of learning of the scholars. At first, as the Imam puts it:
‘I would go to the scholar Ibn Abi Layla Rahmatullahi alaihi, who recognised my potential, however when some issue would arise he would get it solved by Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi alaihi. Because of this, deep down in my heart I wanted to study with the Imam and benefit from him, but hurting the feelings of Ibn Abi Layla Rahmatullahi alaihi prevented me. Eventually, I did start to frequent the circles of Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi alaihi; Once when I was present in his circle, my father appeared and forcibly escorted me back home with him. At home he explained, ‘Son! Allah has made Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi alaih content about his livelihood, he is wealthy and rich - you are poor and needy, why do you wish to be like him? You should worry about gaining a livelihood.’’
Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) assesses the value of this gem:
Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi says after this bitter episode he reluctantly gave up his studies and started living with his father. A few days passed and Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi noticed the absence of his bright young student from his circle: ‘Why is it that Ya’qub no longer comes?’ he asked the other students. Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi says:
‘When I discovered Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi alaihi was asking about me I went to him and told him the whole story, the Imam then surreptitiously handed me a small bag. When I got home, I looked inside and found a thousand Dirhams. The Imam had also said to me: ‘When it finishes let me know’. However with the grace of Allah I never had to ask him, he would give me according to his own estimation regularly.’
A master of many sciences:
From then on Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi became a regular student from the horde of students that sat at the feet of the great Imam. The knowledge of Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi mainly acquired from Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi alaihi was that of Fiqh. However it should be noted that he was also highly talented in the field of Hadith and Aathar as well as such auxiliary sciences as history and literature.
The historian Ibn Khaldun rahmatullahi alaihi tells us that Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi had memorised a vast array of histories, from the Maghazi to the Ayyamul Arab. It is also well known that in Hadith he was an authority in his own right, so much so that when the other great Imam-Ahmed rahmatullahi alaihi - began his quest for Ahadith, his first stop was Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi as is recorded by Khatib Al Baghdadi in his Tarikh. Imam Ahmed rahmatullahi alaihi also had this to say about Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi and the Tarafayn (Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi and Imam Muhammad rahmatullahi alaihi):
‘Whenever the opinions of three men agree upon an issue, the disagreement of anyone else will not even be entertained.’ When asked who these three men were, he replied: ‘Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad Ibn Al Hasan. The reason being, Abu Hanifah with his insight of Qiyaas takes precedence above all, and Imam Abu Yusuf is ahead of all others in Ahadith and Athar and Muhammad is the Imam of the Arabic language.’
Glimpses form his unparalleled zeal of learning:
Such accolades being heaped upon one man is not down to his having read a few books or spending a few years in studying Fiqh, rather, it is the result of his immense sacrifice and devotion to sacred knowledge. Seldom has the world seen a person more dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge. To give our readers a glimpse into how deeply absorbed the Imam was in knowledge, we present the following two examples from his life:
It has been recorded that Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi was so engrossed in his studies that the frail student was oblivious to partaking of his meals. Often a whole day or two would go by with the Imam untiringly discussing Fiqhi issues with his fellow students from morning till late at night, his counterparts remarking:
‘Yet by the end of the day he seemed as alert and fresh as he was in the morning!’
The second incident may seem a bit strange to us today, but in reality it is the hallmark of the true seeker of knowledge.
It is recorded in several books that after thirty years had passed in the circle of Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi without being absent for a single day. Then one early morning disaster struck the house of Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi when the Imam’s young son became severely ill and died. That morning the funeral prayer was to be held and burial was to take place. The problem was that it meant that the Imam would, after thirty years of diligent attendance have to miss his Imam’s lecture. It bore too heavily on the Imam, that he should be deprived of even a moment of learning, compelling him to arrange for his neighbours to conduct the funeral prayers and see to the burial whilst he could take his place in the circle of the great Imam. Amazing! Especially for those students amongst us who due to a minor cold or headache nonchalantly absent ourselves for hours and even days from our Ustadh’s lectures.
True knowledge inherits love, respect and humbleness:
One can fully gauge the depth of Imam Abu Yusuf’s rahmatullahi alaihi knowledge by a study of the famous Hanafi fiqh book al-Hidayah. The arguments and proofs that he gives to bolster his positions often time leaving the reader mesmerised and in awe. On many occasions he takes a position against the other Imams, but this in no way indicates that any sort of rivalry or enmity existed between them. In fact Imam Abu Yusuf Rahmatullahi alaihi had indescribable awe and each and every word that would leave his mouth, which is shown by the fact that in the text of Al-Hidayah in one issue related to Hajj we find the words: “Were a woman to do Tamattu; and then sacrifice a sheep it would not suffice her for the Dam of Tamattu as she performed what was not wajib upon her.” This Masalah applies equally to men and the only person we find the text amiting it to women is because these are the exact words relayed to Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi from his teacher Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi when he asked him the Masalah (which had arisen concerning women). So precious were these words to the Imam he did not even adjust the words to suit the general applicability of the ruling.
In another place in al Hidayah we find the rare phase “… and accordingly to Yaqub,” the explanation for this that Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi stipulated out of deference for his teacher, that “whenever my opinion conflict with the Imam’s relay it from Yaqub” and not from Abu Yusuf.
As for Imam Abu Yusuf’s rahmatullahi alaihi recognition of his colleagues Imam Muhammad rahmatullahi alaihi in term of his immense erudition as shown, for example by the fact that the Imam reduced the Najasah of the urine of such animals that can be eaten from being ghalizah to khafifah because Imam Muhammad rahmatullahi alaihi held contrary to the majority of scholars, that their urine is pure.
On the seat of Chief Justice:
Later on in life Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi was given the highest legal post in the entire Khilafah; that of Qadi ul Qudaat, the modern equivalent of a Chief Justice. During the day he’d listen to the cases and give Fatawa. The visitors to his court were amazed at his skill, the most complicated legal issues would be put before him and in a matter of moments he would have them solved. The night would be given over to teaching Hadith and Fiqh. One would imagine one who is so occupied in these affairs would have little time for the worship of his lord, but on the contrary the Imam was able to even with all his duties, offer two hundred Rakaats in Tahajjud every night.
Final moments of a grand living:
The Imam’s Rahmatullahi alaihi last moments before departing from this World were spent in pain and restricted to his bed. It is narrated that once, during his time, a visitor entered upon him and noticed the Imam was in a distressed state, the visitor questioned him, “Is it the pangs of death? The Imam replied: “It is not that, the reason for my unease is my fear about what Allah (SWT) will do to me because of a case I judged between a Muslim and a Jew. Though al-Hamdulillah, I judged in the end correctly- in favour of the Jew I cannot forget that in the court the Muslim was seated in a higher position than the Jew (showing inequality).” Allahu Akhbar!, can there be a more stricter example of Taqwa? May Allah bestow upon us the Taqwa of our Predecessors-Ameen.
There are several other incidents related about the Imam during his final illness, such as him discussing Fiqh issues with his visitors in between bouts of unconsciousness. It is recorded that just before he died he said: “O Allah! You know that I never intentionally judged against the apparent. I have always gave your Book and the Sunnah of your Messenger precedence over all else. And whenever a complex issue would arise I would use Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi as my source, and to my knowledge he used to understand your laws fully, never leaving the bounds of the Truth on purpose. I thank Allah (SWT) and it is His blessing upon me that I never knowingly opposed anyone nor ever favoured any side, whether king or subject. O Allah! You are aware that I never intentionally partook of anything forbidden nor consumed any unlawful dirhams…”
Article taken (with Thanks) from inter-islam.org
Imam Hasan Al-Basri (RA)
In Madinah during the reign of Sayyidinah Umar (R.A). Born in 21 AH, his father was a freed slave of Zaid ibn Thãbit (R.A), a famous companion of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Hasan Basri (R) was himself brought up in the house of Ummul Mu’meneen Ummi-Salmah (R.A).
Capabilities of Hasan Basri (R)
Hasan Basri (R) had been gifted with noble virtues and brilliant capabilities essential to make his exhortation for revival of Islãm. He was distinguished for his usual temperament, friendly and considerate, winning and enchanting, on one hand. As also for his scholarship and profound learning strengthened with good judgment and wisdom on the other. In his knowledge of the Qur’ãn and Hadith he excelled all the learned men of his times. He had the opportunity of being an associate of the Sahãbah (R.A) he was fully aware of the deficiencies in practises that had crept in among the different sections of the society, and the measures necessary to eradicate them. Whenever he lectured on the hereafter or described the by gone days of the Sahãbah (R.A) everyone was seen brimming with tears.
Hajjãj ibn Yusuf is rightly renowned for his eloquence but Hasan Basri (R) was considered to be an equally good elocutionist (to have an art of speaking). On Hasan Basri (R) is encyclopaedic knowledge. Rabi ibn Anas (R.A) says that he had the privilege of being closely associated with Hasan Basri (R) for ten years and almost everyday he found something new not heard of earlier in the lectures of Hasan Basri (R). Describing the scholarly achievement of Hasan Basri, (R) Abu Hayyãn at-Thauhidi (R) quotes Thãbit ibn Qurrah saying, “In his-learning and piety, forbearance and restrain, frankness and large-heartedness, insight and good judgment he resembled a bright star. He was always surrounded by students seeking instruction in different branches of knowledge. He would be teaching Tafseer to one, Hadith to another, Fiqh to a third, explaining a Fatwã (Legal opinion) to someone else and imparting instruction in the principles of Fiqh yet to another while continuing his advises in the meantime for those who came to him for the purpose. His knowledge covered a wide area as vast as an ocean, or he was like a dazzling radiance of light illuminating every soul around him. What is more? His heroic efforts to enjoin the good and to forbid the wrong, his support of the righteous path before rulers and administrators could never be forgotten.” The reason why Hasan Basri’s (R) words carried weight with his audience was that he was not simply a preacher but he also possessed a noble and supreme soul, whatever he said was heart-stirring because it came from the depth of his heart, his speeches had a magnetism which no other scholar or mentor of Kufã and Basra could attempt to surpass. Thãbit ibn Qurrah, a non Muslim- philosopher of the third century (A.H), was of the opinion that the few eminent persons produced by Islãm who could rightly by envied by the followers of other faiths, one was Hasan Basri (R). He adds that Makkah had always been a centre of Islãmic piety and learning where accomplished scholars in every branch of knowledge met all of parts of the world but even Makkans were dumb founded by his scholarly achievements as they had never seen a man of his calibre.
Sermons of Hasan Basri (R)
The sermons delivered by Hasan Basri (R) are stipulating memories of the simplicity and moral courage of the Sahãbah (R.A). Comparing the moral condition of his own times with that of the Sahãbah (R.A), he observes: “Dignified in the company of their friends, praising Allah when they were left alone, content with the lawful gains, grateful when ease of means, resigned when in distress, remembering Almighty Allah among the idle and craving the grace of Allah. When among the pious, such were the companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) their associates and their friends. No matter what position they occupied in life, they were held in high esteem by their companions and when they passed away, their spirit took flight to the blessed companionship on high as the most celebrated souls. O Muslims, those were your righteous ancestors, but when you deviated from the right path, Almighty Allah too withheld his blessings from you.”
Fearlessness of Hasan Basri (R)
Hasan Basri (R) was as much distinguished for his moral courage and un-flattered pursuit of justice as he was in the field of scholarship and delivering public speeches. He opposed the then caliph, Yazid ibn Abdul Mãlik, in his presence when once someone asked Hasan Basri (R) to express his opinion about the two rebellions, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab and Ibn al-Ash’ath. Hasan Basri (R) replied, “Don’t be a party to either group”. A Syrian, springing upon his feet, repeated the question. “And not even to the Amir-ul-Mu’meneen?” Hasan Basri (R) replied angrily “Yes, not even to the Amir-ul-Mu’meneen .”
Death of Hasan Basri (R)
The immaculate sincerity, outstanding piety and moral and spiritual excellence of Hasan Basri (R) had earned the affection of everyone in Basra. When he passed away in 110 (AH), on 5th Rajjab on a Friday at the age of 89, the entire population of Basra attended his funeral which took place on Friday, so that for the first time in the history of Basra the Juma Masjid of the city remained empty at the hour of the Asr prayer.
Lineage: Sayyidinah Abu Bakr (R.A) on the father side and Sayyidinah Ali (R.A) on the mother’s side.
Date of Birth: 6th Rabiul Awwal 604 A.H.
Father’s name: Muhammad Baha’uddeen Veled. His father was given the title of Sultãnul-Ulamã (King of Scholars) as a result of solving difficult problems pertaining to law and religion. While in his adolescence, he delivered discourses everyday of the week.
Early Education: Moulãnã Rumi’s (R) father entrusted him to one of his disciples, Sayyid Burhãnuddeen who taught him for 4-5 years later after his father’s death. Burhãnuddeen guided him in secrets of Sufism (Mysticism). At the age of 22 Moulãnã Rumi (R) migrated with his father from Balkh to Konya, where his father was a teacher at a college founded by the king. After his father’s death, Moulãna Rumi (R) occupied the seat of his father. Thereafter he taught at the college and preached to the people.
Further Education: In 630 A.H Moulana Rumi (R) went to Syria for further education. He studied at Madrasah Halawiyah which is the Haleb (Aleppo) and received his education from Kãmaluddin-al-Adim. Thereafter he proceeded to Damascus and studied in Madrasah Maqdaysah. Amongst other teachers, he also studied by Shaykh Mohinuddin ibn Arabi and Shaykh Uthmãn Rumi. Either in 634 or 635 Moulãna Rumi (R) returned to Konya and resumed teaching, because of the oppression and destruction by the Mongols. A number of great scholars moved towards Konya to seek the company of Moulãna Rumi (R). He was head of the scholars and he had 400 students under him.
Moulãna Rumi (R) returns to Mysticism: Moulãna Rumi’s (R) meeting with Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Mãlik Dãd commonly known as Shams Tabrez completely transformed his life and turned him from Jalãluddin Konwi to Moulãna-i-Rum. It was in the year 642 A.H. It is related about Shams Tabrez that in his youth, he remained so immersed in the love for Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that he did not feel the pangs of hunger for as many as 30 to 40 days. Moulãna Rumi (R) became so attached to Shams Tabrez, that it is reported that both remained in holy communion for 6 months, in a room where none dared to enter except Shaykh Salahuddin. The company of Shams Tabrez opened new inroads into the hidden, and now Moulãna Rumi (R) felt a great urge to grasp the mysteries of earth and heaven through spiritual illumination. Moulãna Rumi (R) says in a couplet:
“Shams Tabez was it, who led me to the path of reality, for the earth I have is simply his bounty.”
Departure of Shams Tabrez: Moulãna Rumi (R) had given up teaching and delivering lectures due to his learning from his spiritual mentor Shams Tabrez. This was intensely resented by his followers, disciples and friends. Shams Tabrez, realising that the blame was being put on him, discreetly left Konya, on the 21st Shawwãl 643 A.H, after a stay of about 16 months.
Moulãna Rumi (R) now promoted Shaykh Salãhuddin as his confidant and chief assistance. After the death of Salãhuddin, Chelebi Hishãmuddin Turk was his spiritual vicegerent, who was his successor for 11 years.
Character, Simplicity, Prayers, Humility and Generosity:
Whenever he went out, a large number of students, theologians and even nobles accompanied him on foot. The Kings and chiefs of state received him with the highest honour, he continued to teach and give juristic opinions. He was of simple and frugal habits. He never had a pillow nor a bedding nor did he ever lie down for taking a rest. Whenever he felt drowsy, he took a nap wherever he was sitting. Whenever presents were received, he often passed it on to Salãhuddin or Hishãmuddin. He used to be very pleased when there was no provisions in his own house.
Whenever the time of Salãt came, Moulãna Rumi (R) was a completely changed man, his face turning pale and he would soon be lost in Salãt. It is related that it was often that Moulãna Rumi (R) spent the whole night in 2 rakãts of Salãt. Once Moulãna Rumi (R) was performing Salãt on a cold, bitter winter night, when his tears trickled down his face onto his beard, turning into ice due to the intense cold, withstanding this he remained occupied in Salãt unaware of this. No beggar was turned away without being given something. He never buttoned his gown or shirt so that it might be easier for him to take it off, in case anybody asked him for it.
Compilation of the Mathnawi:
Moulãna Rumi (R) was endowed with a love so fervent that he could not do without a close companion with whom he could share the mysteries of Tasawwuf, as experienced by him. First he selected Shams Tabrez, whose place was taken by Salãhuddin than Hishãmuddin. There had been a gap of two years in the compilation of the Mathnawi. However after that Moulãna Rumi (R) took up the task continuing it for the next 15 years till his death. The “Mathnawi” is itself a proof of Moulãna Rumi,s (R) yearning for love, as Moulãna Rumi (R) had been endowed with a tremendous spiritual enthusiasm and a fervour of love which was lying dormant. And this very fervour compelled him to compile the Mathnawi as he says:
“Flow of speech from the heart is a sign of intimate friendship, obstruction of speech arises from lack of intimacy.”
The Mathnawi is a collection of heart – rendering lyrics. It unveils the inner most feeling of its author. The Mathnawi affords a glimpse of Moulãna Rumi's (R) ardent love and fervour of spiritual yearnings, certitude of knowledge and strong faith. Moulãna Rumi (R) revived the spirit of “Divine Love” during the 7th century, when the people had forgotten Divine Love (i.e. love of Allah). As he says on page 300 of his Mathnawi (Vol. IV);
“By the Love bitter things become sweet; by love pieces of copper turn into Gold;
By Love dregs (residue) become clear; by love pains become healing.
By Love prisons become a garden; Sans (without) love the garden becomes desolate;
By Love stone turns into liquid; devoid of it wax gets hard as metal;
By Love illness contributes health; and the scourge (pain) becomes a blessing;
By Love the dead is made Living; by love the King is made a slave.”
In another couplet he says:
“Love is the only melody welcomed by its sufferer, who never desires to recover from it. All the sick hope to be cured, but this sick one sobs, crying “Increase my Sickness”
It is related that Konya was continuously rocked by earthquakes for 40 days before his death. He passed away at the age of 68 years and 3 months, on the 5th of Jamãdiul Ãkhir 672 A.H. It is said that the number of people who flocked to join the funeral procession was so great that the bier taken out at early morning reached the burial place by sunset. He was laid to rest next to the Saints of Islãm.