False Attribution to Abū Ḥanīfa | Shaykh Muḥammad Zāhid b. Ḥasan al-Kawtharī ؒ

False Attribution to Abū Ḥanīfa | Shaykh Muḥammad Zāhid b. Ḥasan al-Kawtharī ؒ

The honourable professor, Shaykh Ḥāmid Muḥaysin al-Azharī, has a strange passion for presenting to his readers unprecedented opinions that, no matter how much demand is made, there is no reason to presenting them. The professor is free to hold in his written work whatever views he wishes, and the readers too are free to challenge him or document them as his views. If the matter goes beyond this, however, and the professor begins to attribute to a great imām of dīn – with no sound evidence to substantiate it – the exact opposite of what has been authentically transmitted from him, then there is a need to demand the professor to rectify his writing, as not every attribution is bona fide.

We have come across an article of the Shaykh in the Azhar magazine[1] titled Obscurities Facing the Reader. In it, he says:

“The great Imām Abū Ḥanīfa holds the opinion that reason (naẓar) is incumbent upon every human being, even if the Prophets’ call did not reach him. He does not stipulate the conditions that we do. Rather, he maintains that the mere existence of the human being, as well as the presence of the heavens, the earth, his self and other signs indicating to the Intelligent Designer (al-Ṣāniʿ al-Ḥakīm) suffices in reason being incumbent. However, in addition to him necessitating reason upon every human, the Imām goes as far to say that if one’s reason led him to conclude the non-existence of the Creator (al-Ṣāniʿ), he will not be held accountable – as long as he executed what was incumbent upon him. And it is his exertion (ijtihād) that led him to an incorrect belief.”

These are the professor’s words. He then summarised it by saying:

“He will not be accountable if his exertion led him to not believe in Lordship (al-Rubūbiyya).”

What the professor attributed to Abū Ḥanīfa is more atrocious than that attributed to al-ʿAnbarī and al-Jāḥiẓ in the books of uṣūl. The reality is that Abū Ḥanīfa says:

“There is no excuse for any individual in not recognising his Creator, because of the creation of the heavens, the earth, his self and the rest of his Lord’s creation. Regarding the Sharʿī details, however, he is excused [from believing in them] until they are proven to him.”[2]

It is also narrated from Abū Ḥanīfa that he said:

“Had Allāh not sent a messenger, it would [still] be incumbent upon the creation to recognise Him through their intellect.”

The detailed books of uṣūl al-dīn and uṣūl al-fiqh contain numerous texts of such nature, which show that Abū Ḥanīfa’s position was this – not what the professor had mentioned. Those books are available at the hands of every scholar, so there is no need to list the texts.

Perhaps the professor had misread a word in the source and thus misquoted it, as appears to be the case. This is because Abū Ḥanīfa did not consider reason alone to be incumbent; rather, he considered it necessary upon every sane individual to, in whichever way (muṭlaqan), recognise Allāh’s existence, oneness, knowledge, power and other attributes, as has been detailed in the books of ʿaqīda.

There is a well-known discussion between the imāms regarding the one whom the Prophets’ call did not reach specifically: Is he excused for his ignorance of Allāh? Abū Ḥanīfa and those with him do not excuse him, as opposed to others. Hence, whoever does not exert his reason, or does so but fails to recognise his Creator, he is categorically not excused according to Abū Ḥanīfa. Therefore, that the Imām actually said what the author of the article attributed to him is unimaginable.

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ أَن يُشۡرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُۚ

“Surely, Allāh does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him, and He forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills.”[3][4]


[1] Edition 6/337, year 1359. (Al-Kawtharī)

[2] As is recorded by al-Marwazī, better known as al-Ḥākim al-Shahīd (d. 334 AH), in his Muntaqā, on the authority of Abū Yūsuf. (Al-Kawtharī)

[3] [Al-Nisāʾ: 4/48].

[4] Al-Kawtharī, Muḥammad Zāhid, Maqālat al-Kawtharī, Dār al-Salām (1430/2009), Cairo, pp. 272-273.

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