Mistaken Identity An Investigation into Abū Ḥanīfa’s al-Fiqh al-akbar

Main Article Content

Ramon Harvey



Since the writings of Shiblī Nuʿmānī and A. J. Wensinck in the early twentieth century, scholarship has often questioned the ascription of the creed al-Fiqh al-akbar II to the well-known theologian and jurist Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 150/767). But there has hitherto been little attempt to determine how and when this text entered the Hanafi theological tradition and who its true author was. In this article I show that until the early eighth/fourteenth century, theological and biographical works referring to al-Fiqh al-akbar consistently mean the text written by Abū Muṭīʿ al-Balkhī (d. 199/814), which was later renamed al-Fiqh al-absaṭ. I then trace the entry of al-Fiqh al-akbar II into the mainstream tradition, showing that the key figure in its popularization was the legal theorist ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Bukhārī (d. 730/1329), who extensively quotes from the creed and attributes it to Abū Ḥanīfa. Finally, I propose that clues in the reception history and content of al-Fiqh al-akbar II corroborate the claim recorded in some texts that it was instead likely written by an obscure late fourth/tenth-century Hanafi scholar named Abū Ḥanīfa Muḥammad b. Yūsuf al-Bukhārī.

Abstract 519 | PDF Downloads 28