Allama Sha’rani writes: Imam Shaf’i happened to visit Abu Hanifa’s grave during the time of Fajr. He performed the prayer without reciting qunut (a special dua) and remarked, “How could I recite qunut in the presence of this Imam when it was his opinion not to recite it” (al-Mizan). – page 25
Fiqh al-Imam is a clarification on the concept of taqlid (following the opinion of someone without knowing the proofs) in the Hanafi fiqh, and a compilation of evidences regarding the Hanafi interpretation of the Prophetic statement “Pray and you see me pray” (Bukhari).
The book is a contemporary Hanafi response answering many misconceptions regarding the madhab. Written with great sensitivity in mind, the book answers critical issues most average readers (including myself) have struggled (or still struggle) to understand (regarding Hanafi fiqh).
About Mufti Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf
His full name is Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera. He’s studied in England, India, South Africa, and Syria. His achievements include: the memorization of the entire Qur’an, BA in Islamic studies from the University of Johannesburg, graduating from Darul Ulum in Bury England with a degree and formal authorization in Islamic science, and specialized in legal judgement at Mazahir Ulum Saharanpur India.
He studied under several ustadhs (teachers), some of which are mentioned: Shaykh Yusuf Motala and other students of the late hadith expert Shaykh Zakariyya Kandalawi at Darul Ulum Bury. Mufti Rada al-Haq in Madrasa Zakariyya in South Africa. Professor Abdur-Rahman Doi PHD at Rand Afrikaans University Johannesburg. Shaykh Abd al-Razzaq al-Halabi in Syria (who possessed a short unbroken chain of transmission to Muhammad peace be upon him regarding Qur’an recitation and memorization).
His other written works include: Reflections of Pearls, Ghazali’s The Beginning of Guidance, Imam Abu Hanifa’s Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar Explained, Salat and Salam: In Praise of Allah’s Most Beloved, Provisions for the Seekers, and Prayers for Forgiveness.
Born and raised in London, and having served as an imam in both the USA and the UK, Mufti Abdur-Rahman is educated in both Islamic and western traditions, making him especially suited to help tackle problems Muslims are facing today in the west. May Allah be pleased with the Mufti’s efforts.
History of ‘Fiqh al-Imam’
The first edition of the book was published in January 1996, while the author was in his fifth year of study at Darul Ulum Bury England. The book met great approval by many which led to its second edition to be published in September 1996. This was its first revision and included the addition of three extra chapters (though I do not remember which chapters these are). The second edition is claimed to have sold very well. After which the book was out of print for several years. In 2003, a third revised edition was published with several changes made to the text to assist the reader (these changes are mentioned in the book’s introduction). A second printing of the 2003 revised edition was published in 2004 with helpful indexes included.
The book under review is the 2004 edition of Fiqh al-Imam by Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf (published by White Thread Press).
Contents of the book
The book is about 200 pages divided into two parts.
Part one starts by clarifying certain issues regarding taqlid such as its necessity and rulings. The author lends many of his pages to the thoughts of the renowned Indian Scholar, Mufti Taqi Uthamni, regarding taqlid. After which, Mufti Abdur-Rahman provides a short introduction to the great Imam that is, Abu Hanifa, and defends his credibility as a great jurist. After all this is a book relating to the Hanafi school of fiqh. It is well known Imam Abu Hanifa developed many of his opinions based on the great companion Abdullah ibn Masud’s narrations, thus, the Mufti also provides a chapter highlighting the virtues and merits of this great Companion.
The second part of the book is a compilation of evidences and analyses regarding the Hanafi interpretation of the Prophetic statement “Pray and you see me pray” (Bukhari). This is dealt with by way of 12 chapters, each chapter devoted to a specific issue regarding salah (prayer). These chapters are listed below.
- The distance to be kept between the feet
- The position of the hands in prayer
- Reciting behind the imam
- The issue of amin – explained
- Raising the hands for ruku
- Sitting in prayer: tawarruk or iftirash?
- The sunnah prayer of Fajr
- How many rakats in Witr?
- Prayer after Asr
- Prayer during Friday sermon
- The number of rakats in Tarawih
- Combining two prayers
Each issue is dealt with carefully and explained thoroughly by the Mufti. An example is given below.
Chapter 4 The issue of amin – explained
The author begins the chapter with an introduction, within it he mentions ‘It must be realised that the difference of opinion is only concerning which method is superior, i.e. is it more virtuous to say amin aloud or silently?’ The mufti goes on to explain the various opinions on this issue (including the Hanafi opinion). After which, the author studies the Qur’an, Hadith, and the companions and the followers on this issue. These studies are followed by ‘Other Reasons for Saying Amin Silently’, followed by analyses of seemingly opposing hadiths. The Mufti then provides a general explanation of the issue and concludes that matter respectively. (p87)
My thoughts on the book
The book is very well written to serve the for the education of the general masses. It is an intellectual piece of work; however, its pages are presented in a friendly manner with its easy use of the English language, avoiding unnecessary fancy jargon, for which most readers, I believe, will be thankful for.
The Mufti is very well versed in the evidences of the conflicting opinions and answers them in a respectful and scholarly fashion. This is helpful and aids the reader to understand and respect the differences of opinions.
It is clear by reading this book, Mufti Abdur-Rahman did his best to avoid causing offence, bias, and/or contributing to polemical quarrels regarding issues of fiqh (Jurisprudence), as can be the case sometimes, unfortunately. Wherever the Mufti states several opinions on an issue, only the names of those Imams have been mentioned who agree with the Hanafis on an issue. And terms like ‘group one’ or ‘group two’ have been used when stating differing opinions. This seems a good decision on the Mufti’s part.
I can see the book is relevant to two types of people. The first type is the Muslim who is seeking a genuine clarification in the issue of taqlid amidst all the confusion. The second type is the Muslim who may or may not follow a school of thought in fiqh, but, he is seeking evidences regarding salah to learn which opinion is closest to the sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah.
It is important to remind those who want evidences from this book to “refute” others to cease such thoughts. This book is not for such purposes. To those who are genuinely curious regarding the contents of this book and want to gain the knowledge with good intentions, I recommend this read.