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The Debate of Imam Al-Sadiq (a) With Abū Ḥanīfah

Question: How has the debate of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) with Abū Ḥanīfah been narrated in the sources of the Ahl al-Sunnah?

Abū Ḥanīfah, ‘Abdullah ibn Abī Shubrumah, and Ibn Abī Laylā all went to meet with Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a). Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to Ibn Abī Laylā: Who is this that has come with you? Ibn Abī Laylā said: He is a man who possesses insight and influence in religion. The Imam (‘a) said: Perhaps he applies his own opinions in matters of religion and give verdicts based on Qiyās (analogical inference)? Ibn Abī Laylā replied: Yes. The Imam (‘a) then said to Abū Ḥanīfah: What is your name? He replied: Nu‘mān. The Imam (‘a) asked: I do not see much understanding in you.

The Imam (‘a) then began to ask some questions from Abū Ḥanīfah. Abū Ḥanīfah was unable to answer anything that he was asked. The Imam (‘a) then said to him: Oh Nu‘mān, my father has narrated from my grandfather that the Prophet (ṣ) said: The first person who used Qiyās in the matters of religion was Satan. God told him to prostrate before Adam. Satan responded: “I am better than him, for you have created me of fire, while he is created of clay”. So whoever applies Qiyās (analogical inference), God will place him in the same place as Satan, for he has followed him in the issue of Qiyās.[1]

Ibn Shubrumah narrates: Then the Imam (‘a) asked Abū Ḥanīfah a question: Which of these two is a greater sin- the killing of a human being or fornication? Abū Ḥanīfah said: The killing of a human being! The Imam (‘a) said: Then why has God made two witnesses sufficient as proof in the killing of a person, but he has required four witnesses in the case of fornication? He then asked another question: Which of these two is more important: prayers or fasting? Abū Ḥanīfah said: Prayers! The Imam (‘a) said to him: Then why must a menstruating woman make up her fast but it is not necessary for her to make up her prayers? Woe upon you! Look how Qiyās rules (on these questions). Fear God and do not make rulings in matters of religion based on Qiyās.[2],[3]



[1] Surah al-A‘rāf, verse 12:

)أَنَا خَیْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِی مِنْ نار وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِین)

[2] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, Sha‘rānī, vol. 1, p. 28; Ḥilyah al-Awlīyā’, vol. 3, p. 193.

[3] Ahl Bayt Az Dīdgāh Aḥl Sunnat, ‘Alī Aṣghar Riḍwānī, p. 99.

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