The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu’maan Bin Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept the hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imaams which contradict it:
“When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then it is my madhab” (1)
“It is not permitted for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them” (2)
In one narration, “It is prohibited for someone who does not know my evidences to give verdicts on the basis of my words”
Another narration adds, “…for we are mortals: we say one thing one day, and take it back the next day”
In another narration, “Woe to you Oh Ya’qub!(3) Do not write down everything you hear from me,for it happens that I hold one opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow” (4)
“When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah or what is narrated from the messenger ‘alayhi salaatu wasalaam, then ignore my saying” (5)
1. Ibn ‘Aabideen in Al-Haashiyah (1/63) and in his essay Rasm Al-Mufti (1/4 from the compilation of the essays of Ibn ‘Aabideen). Shaykh Saalih Al-Fulaani in Eeqaaz Al-Hikam (p. 62) and others. Ibn ‘Aabideen quoted from Sharh Al-Hidaayah by Ibn Al-Shahnah Al-Kabeer, the teacher of Ibn Al-Humaam as follows:
“When a hadeeth contrary to the madhab is found to be saheeh, one should act on the hadeeth, and make that his madhab. Acting on the hadeeth will not invalidate the follower’s being a Hanafi, for it is authentically reported that Abu Haneefah said, ‘When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhab’, and this has been related by Imaam Ibn ‘Abdul Barr from Abu Haneefah and from other imaams”
2. Ibn ‘Abdul Barr in Al-Intiqaa’ fi Fadaa’il Ath-Thalaathah Al-A’immah Al-Fuqahaa’ (p. 145), Ibn Al-Qayyim in I’laam Al-Mooqi’een (2/309), Ibn ‘Aabideen in his footnotes on Al-Bahr Ar-Raa’iq (6/293) and in Rasm AL-Mufti (pp. 29,32) and Sha’raani in Al-Meezaan (1/550) with the second narration. The last narration was collected by ‘Abbaas Ad-Dawri in At-Taareekh by Ibn Ma’een (6/77/1) with a saheeh sanad on the authority of Zafar the student of Imaam Abu Haneefah. Similar narrations exist on the authority of Abu Haneefah’s companions Zafar, Abu Yoosuf and ‘Aafiyah Ibn Yazeed; cf. Eeqaaz (p. 52) Ibn Al-Qayim firmly certified its authenticity on the authority of Abu Yoosuf in I’laam Al-Mooqi’een (2/344). The addition to the second narration is referenced by the editor of Eeqaaz (p. 65) to Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Ibn Al-Qayim and others.
3. i.e Imaam Abu Haneefah’s illustrious student, Abu Yoosuf rahimahullaah
4. This was because the imaam would often base his views on qiyaas (analogy), after which a more potent analogy would occur to him, or a hadeeth of the prophet ‘alayhi salaatu wasalaam would reach him, so he would accept that and ignore his previous view. Sha’raani’s words in Al-Meezaan (1/62) are summarised as:
“Our belief, as well as that of every researcher into Imaam Abu Haneefah rahimahullaah, is that, had he lived until the recording of the sharee’ah, and the journeys of the Preservers of Hadeeth to the various cities and frontiers in order to collect and acquire it, he would have accepted it and ignored all the analogies he had employed. The amount of qiyaas in his madhab would have been just as little as that in other madhaahib, but since the evidences of the sharee’ah had been scattered with the Successors and their Successors, and had not been collected in his lifetime, it was necessary that there be a lot of qiyaas in his madhab compared to that of other imaams. The later scholars then made their journeys to find and collect ahaadeeth from the various cities and towns and wrote them down; hence, some ahaadeeth of the sharee’ah explained others. This is the reason behind the large amount of qiyaas in his madhab, whereas there was little of it in other madhaahib”
Abul-Hasanaat Al-Lucknowi quoted his words in full in An-Naafi’ Al-Kabeer (p. 135), endorsing and expanding on it in his footnotes, so whoever wishes to consult it should do so there.
5. Al-Fulaani in Eqaaz Al-Himam (p. 50), tracing it to Imaam Muhammad and then saying, “this does not apply to the mujtahid (one who is qualified to pass judgments using ijtihaad i.e the process of arising at a reasoned decision by a scholar on an issue), for he is not bound to their views anyway, but it applies to the muqallid (one who practices taqleed i.e to follow someone’s opinion/to follow a madhab)”.