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20 I SPECIAL FEATURE Passion Islam I July 2008
The Life and works of
Imam Abu Yusuf (RA)
A testing beginning
of a Prestigious Life
Imam Abu Yusuf’s rahmatullahi alaihi up his studies and started living with his his Tarikh. Imam Ahmed rahmatullahi
humble beginnings in the path of father. A few days passed and Imam Abu alaihi also had this to say about Imam
knowledge mirror what many young Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi noticed the Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi and the
Muslims suffer today from parental absence of his bright young student from Tarafayn (Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi
displeasure at occupying oneself in his circle: ‘Why is it that Ya’qub no longer alaihi and Imam Muhammad rahmatullahi
acquiring the sacred knowledge of Islam, comes?’ he asked the other students. alaihi):
at the detriment of one’s secular studies Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi says: ‘Whenever the opinions of three men
or in pursuing a career. Imam Abu Yusuf ‘When I discovered Imam Abu Hanifah agree upon an issue, the disagreement of
rahmatullahi alaihi had a great passion rahmatullahi alaihi was asking about me I anyone else will not even be entertained.’
for studying at a young age, however his went to him and told him the whole story, When asked who these three men were,
father wanted his son to occupy himself the Imam then surreptitiously handed me he replied: ‘Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and
in mastering some trade in order to make a small bag. When I got home, I looked Muhammad Ibn Al Hasan. The reason
ends meet. The Imam followed his father’s inside and found a thousand Dirhams. being, Abu Hanifah with his insight of
wishes, but as soon as he was free of his The Imam had also said to me: ‘When it Qiyaas takes precedence above all, and
days work he would scurry along to the finishes let me know’. However with the Imam Abu Yusuf is ahead of all others in
circles of learning of the scholars. At first, grace of Allah I never had to ask him, Ahadith and Athar and Muhammad is the
as the Imam puts it: he would give me according to his own Imam of the Arabic language.’
‘I would go to the scholar Ibn Abi Layla estimation regularly.’
rahmatullahi alaihi, who recognised my Glimpses form his unparalleled zeal of
potential, however when some issue A master of many sciences: learning:
would arise he would get it solved by From then on Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi Such accolades being heaped upon
Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi. alaihi became a regular student from the one man is not down to his having read
Because of this, deep down in my heart I horde of students that sat at the feet of the a few books or spending a few years in
wanted to study with the Imam and benefit great Imam. The knowledge of Imam Abu studying Fiqh, rather, it is the result of his
from him, but hurting the feelings of Ibn Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi mainly acquired immense sacrifice and devotion to sacred
Abi Layla rahmatullahi alaihi prevented from Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi knowledge. Seldom has the world seen a
me. Eventually, I did start to frequent the alaihi was that of Fiqh. However it should person more dedicated to the acquisition
circles of Abu Hanifah rahmatullahi alaihi; be noted that he was also highly talented of knowledge. To give our readers a
Once when I was present in his circle, in the field of Hadith and Aathar as well glimpse into how deeply absorbed the
my father appeared and forcibly escorted as such auxiliary sciences as history and Imam was in knowledge, we present the
me back home with him. At home he literature. following two examples from his life:
explained, ‘Son! Allah has made Abu The historian Ibn Khaldun rahmatullahi It has been recorded that Imam Abu Yusuf
Hanifah rahmatullahi alaih content about alaihi tells us that Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi was so engrossed
his livelihood, he is wealthy and rich - you rahmatullahi alaihi had memorised a vast in his studies that the frail student was
are poor and needy, why do you wish to be array of histories, from the Maghazi to the oblivious to partaking of his meals. Often
like him? You should worry about gaining Ayyamul Arab. It is also well known that a whole day or two would go by with the
a livelihood.’’ in Hadith he was an authority in his own Imam untiringly discussing Fiqhi issues
right, so much so that when the other with his fellow students from morning till
Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) assesses the great Imam-Ahmed rahmatullahi alaihi - late at night, his counterparts remarking:
value of this gem: began his quest for Ahadith, his first stop ‘Yet by the end of the day he seemed as
Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi says was Imam Abu Yusuf rahmatullahi alaihi alert and fresh as he was in the morning!’
after this bitter episode he reluctantly gave as is recorded by Khatib Al Baghdadi in The second incident may seem a bit
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