Imam Abu Hanifa is referred as “The Imam” by Abu Dawood, and as “The Imam, one of those who have reached the sky” by Ibn Hajar. He is acclaimed in the Islamic world as “The Greatest Imam” (Al-imam Al-Azam).
Imam Abu Hanifa was the pioneer in Islamic history to organize the writing of Fiqh under sub-headings embracing the whole of the Law, beginning with purity (Tahara) followed by prayer (Salah), an order which was retained by all subsequent scholars such as Malik, Shafi`i, Abu Dawood, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, and others. All these and their followers are indebted to this great being and duly credit him a share of their reward because he was the first to open that road for them. According to the hadith of the Prophet PBUH:
“He who initiates something good in Islam has its reward and the reward of those who practice it until the Day of Judgment, without lessening in the least the reward of those who practice it. The one who initiates something bad in Islam will incur its punishment and the punishment of all those who practice it until the Day of Judgment without lessening their punishment in the least.” However, it was not only the knowledge of Imam Abu Hanifa that made him such a great man: but it was also his constant worship and Taqwa (fear of ALLAH); his endeavor to purify himself from all worldly matters; his asceticism and his forbearance at the times of difficulties. That is what made Imam Abu Hanifa Imam Al Azam.
Now, would it not be incredible to get enlightened about one of the most revered scholars in the Islamic history became to be known ABU HANIFA from his original name; Numan bin Thabit? Off course it will be a pleasure considering Abu Hanifa being an unusual name because of its meaning, ‘the father of Hanifa.’ Hanifa was Imam’s daughter. The following unveils the reasoning.
Imam Abu Hanifa once was put forth a question that, for the first time in his worth remembering career, he was unable to answer. The query seemed to be simple but wasn’t so. The question was: Why the wife is forbidden to take more than one husband? To this, Abu Haifa’s daughter claimed that she knew the answer and would be glad to reply to this question with ease but on a condition her father would promise that if she succeeded in solving this question, he would then assure her a place in history. Abu Hanifa agreed.
Hanifa formed an assembly of women and gave each of them a cup. She then brought in a large bowl of milk and asked each of them to dip their cups in the milk and to fill their cups to the brim. The women did so. She then asked them to pour back the milk into the bowl. They did this too. She then asked them to re-fill their cups taking back only their own milk that they had poured into the bowl.
This, obviously, was impossible to them to do. Hanifa had clearly demonstrated the kind of dilemma that would be posed if a woman had several husbands. If she becomes pregnant, and she had more than one husband she would find it extremely difficult in determining who the actual father is? Identifying parentage and lineage would then be insurmountable for the offspring. Imam Abu Hanifa was so pleased with the wit of his daughter that he took the name ‘Abu Hanifa’, ‘the father of Hanifa’ thereby glorifying and ensuring his daughter a place in history.