Imam-e-A’zam’s way of trade

Brief introduction

Name of the leader of millions of Hanafis, Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ , is ‘Nu’man’, his father’s name is Saabit and his Kunyah is ‘Abu Hanifah’. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was born in 70 Hijri in the famous city of Iraq, Kufa and passed away at the age of 80 on 2nd Sha’ban-ul-Mu’azzam 150 Hijri. (Nuzhat-ul-Qaari, vol. 1, pp. 169, 219) His blessed shrine is situated in the area called A’zamiyah in Baghdad.

Source of income

Imam Abu Yusuf رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ states: My beloved teacher, Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ used to trade in silk textile. One day, somebody wanted to buy cloth from him. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said to his son, Hammad, ‘Show him the cloth.’ Hammad took out the cloth and placed it in front of the customer. Then he recited, ‘صَلَّی اللہُعَلٰی مُحَمَّد. Imam-e-A’zam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said to his son, ‘Now, do not sell this cloth because you have praised it (by reciting Durood upon the Beloved Nabi صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ )’. The customer left. He searched through the whole market but could not find that kind of cloth anywhere. He came again to the shop but Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ refused to sell him the cloth. (Manaqib Imam-ul-A’zam Abi Hanifah lil-Muwaffaq, Juz: 1, pp. 198)

Extreme caution from a Shar’i perspective in regards to the matters of trade

Sayyiduna Sufyan Bin Ziyad Baghdadi رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ states: Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ was extremely pious and would observe extreme caution in the matters of buying and selling. Once, a person came from Madinah to Kufa in order to get the goods he needed. He required a specific type of cloth. He was told that such kind of cloth can only be found with Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ Moreover, people told him that when you go to the shop of Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ , then buy the cloth at whatever price he gives you because you will not need to bargain with him.

That person reached his shop and met a student of Imam-e-A’zam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ . He thought that perhaps he is Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ . He asked for the cloth. The student placed the cloth in front of him. He asked for the price. The student told him the price to be one thousand dirham. That person paid him one thousand dirham and returned to Madinah Munawwarah after fulfilling his needs.

Few days later, Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ asked for the same cloth. Upon this, the student said, ‘I have sold it.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ asked, ‘How much did you sell it for?’ He replied, ‘For one thousand dirham.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said to the student, ‘You cheat people in my shop while being with me!’ Therefore, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ excluded him from his shop and went to Madinah Munawwarah himself by taking one thousand dirham with him. When he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ searched for that person, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ found him offering Salah wearing the chador [shawl] of the same cloth. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ also started offering Nawafil. When he finished his Salah, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said to him, ‘The cloth you are wearing is mine’. He replied, ‘How come? I bought this for one thousand dirham from the shop of Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَةُ اللّٰهِ تَعَالٰی عَلَيْه in Kufa.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ asked, ‘If you see Abu Hanifah, would you recognise him?’ He said, ‘Why not!’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘I am Abu Hanifah. Did you buy this cloth from me?’ He said, ‘No.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘Take your money back and return my cloth to me.’ Thereafter, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ relayed the whole account to him. He said, ‘I have worn this cloth many times and I don’t feel appropriate to return this cloth back to you. If you want, you may take more money from me.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said to him, ‘I do not want to take more money. Value of this cloth is four hundred dirhams. If you want, you may take back six hundred dirhams and this cloth would remain yours. Or you may take your thousand back and return me the cloth. And in terms of you wearing it, you were allowed to do so.’ However, the person refused to give back the cloth and said, ‘I am happy for buying this cloth for one thousand dirham.’ But now, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ refused. Finally, the person said, ‘If it is so, then please return me 600 dirhams.’ Therefore, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ gave him 600 dirhams and came back to Kufa by leaving that cloth with him. (Manaqib Imam-ul-A’zam Abi Hanifah lil-Muwaffaq, Juz: 1, pp. 198)

Views of the business partner

His business partner, Sayyiduna Hafs Bin ‘Abdur Rahman رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ who stayed in his company for 30 years, states: I spent a long time in the company of Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ . I used to socialise with him. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would be same in seclusion as he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would be in front of everyone. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would refrain from even those affairs that would be risk free (from Shar’i perspective) in the same way as he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would refrain from the matters involving risk. If he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would have any doubt in any wealth of his, then he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ would let go of it (by giving it in Sadaqah) even if all the wealth was to be given away. (Manaqib Imam-ul-A’zam Abi Hanifah lil-Muwaffaq, Juz: 1, pp. 201)

Donated the entire profit upon a doubt being created in the heart

One of the slaves of Imam-e-A’zam used to do trade for him. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ had given him a lot of goods for trade. Once, he had a profit of thirty thousand dirham. Therefore, the slave separated the profit and brought it in the court of Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ . He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ asked him about all the details of how he carried out the trade. He mentioned different ways of trade. During the conversation, he mentioned a way that he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ did not like. It created a doubt in his heart. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ scolded him severely and became extremely upset with him. He inquired from him that ‘why did you do so? And have you mixed its profit along with the other profit?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘You have made all of the profit wasted.’ Then, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ called poor people and distributed the entire profit of 30,000 among them and kept nothing from it for himself.’ (Manaqib Imam-ul-A’zam Abi Hanifah lil-Muwaffaq, Juz: 1, pp. 202)

Share of the needy in the profit of trade

Once, a person came in the court of Imam-e-A’zam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ and humbly said, ‘Huzoor! I am in need of a beautiful garment. Please do me a favour. I want to adorn myself through these clothes and go to my in-laws.’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘Wait for two weeks.’ He came back after two weeks. He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘Come tomorrow.’ When he came the next day, then he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ gave him a precious dress which was worth even more than twenty dinars (i.e. 20 gold coins). Along with this, he رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ also handed him one dinar. He asked, ‘Huzoor! Why this?’ He رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ said, ‘I sent some goods to Baghdad with your intention. Therefore, those goods were sold and I bought this dress for you from its profit. But when I got hold of the actual amount, it contained one extra dinar (i.e. that extra one dinar was also included in the profit. Hence, that is also yours). If you accept it, then it’s ok. Otherwise, I will sell this dress and donate its money along with this one dinar on your behalf as Sadaqah.’ When he heard this from Imam-e-A’zam رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ , then he kept that dinar too. (Manaqib Imam-ul-A’zam Abi Hanifah lil-Muwaffaq, Juz: 1, pp. 262)

We pray to Allah Almighty to enable us to adopt piety and honesty like Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ in trade and may we follow the Islamic principles of trade. Moreover, may Allah Almighty enable us to help the needy and bless us with the privilege of serving Aimmah (Imams of Masajid), Islamic scholars and Mashaaikh.

اٰمِيۡن بِجَاهِ النَّبِيِّ الۡاَمِيۡن صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ

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