Physical Descriptions of the Four Great Imams of Fiqh

By Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Dhahabi (rah)



1. Imam Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man bin Thabit (rah):

Abu Yusuf said: “Abu Hanifah was well-formed, was from the best of people in appearance, the most eloquent of them in speech, the sweetest in tone, and the clearest of them in expressing what he felt.”

Hamad bin Abi Hanifah said: “My father was very handsome, dark, had good posture, would wear a lot of perfume, was tall, would not speak except in reply to what someone else had said, and he – may Allah have Mercy upon him – would not involve himself in what did not concern him.”


2. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i (rah):

Ibrahim bin Buranah said: “ash-Shafi’i was serious, tall, and noble.”


az-Za’farani said: “ash-Shafi’i visited us in Baghdad in the year 95. He stayed with us for a few months, then left. He would dye his hair with henna, and he had thin cheeks.”

Ahmad bin Sinan said: “I saw him with a red beard and hair – i.e. he used to dye them.”


3. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Hambal (rah):

Ibn Dharih al-’Ukbari said: “I requested to see Ahmad bin Hambal. So, I greeted him, and he was an old man who dyed his hair. He was tall and extremely dark.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abbas an-Nahwi said: “I saw Ahmad bin Hambal with a handsome face, well-formed, and dyeing his hair with henna that was not too dark. He had black hairs in his beard, and I saw his clothes extremely white. When I saw him, he was wearing a turban and an izar.”


‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymuni said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.”


One man said: “In Khurasan, they did not think that Ahmad resembled a human being. They thought that he resembled the Angels.”


al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the winter, and he was wearing two shirts with a colored vest between them, and maybe he was wearing a shirt with a heavy sweater. And I saw him with a turban over a hood and heavy outer garment. So, I heard Aba ‘Imran al-Warkani saying to him: “O Aba ‘Abdillah! All of these clothes?” So, he laughed and said: “I cannot stand the cold,” and he would also wear the hood without a turban.”

al-Fadl bin Ziyad said: “I saw Abi ‘Abdillah in the summer wearing a shirt, trousers, and robe.”


4. Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Malik bin Anas (rah):

‘Isa bin ‘Umar said: “I never saw anything white or red that was more beautiful than the face of Malik, or any clothes whiter than Malik’s.”

And a number of people relate that he was tall, firm, serious, blond, had a white beard and hair, had a large beard, was balding, and would not shave his moustache, as he considered this to be a form of mutilation.

It is said that he had blue eyes, and some of this was narrated by Ibn Sa’d from Mutarraf bin ‘Abdillah.

Muhammad bin ad-Dahhak al-Hizami said: “Malik’s clothes were clean and soft, and he would constantly wear different clothes.”

al-Walid bin Muslim said: “Malik would wear white clothes, and I saw he and al-Awza’i wearing black and green caps.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it hanging between his shoulders.”

Khalid bin Khidash said: “I saw Malik wearing a cap, and I saw him wearing woven clothes.”

Ashhab said: “If Malik would wear kohl for a necessity, he would remain in his house.”

Mus’ab said: “Malik would wear ‘Adani clothes, and he would wear perfume.”

Abu ‘Asim said: “I never saw a Muhaddith with a more handsome face than Malik’s.”

It is said: “He was so light colored that he was blond. He had wide eyes, a raised, pointed nose, and he would let his moustache grow long based on ‘Umar’s curling of his moustache.”

Ibn Wahb said: “I saw Malik dying his hair with henna once.”

Abu Mus’ab said: “Malik had the most handsome face of the people, the widest of eyes, the whitest skin, and was the greatest of them in height – all in the strongest body.”

al-Waqidi said: “He was well-formed, would not dye his hair, and would not enter the public baths.”

Bishr bin al-Harith said: “I entered upon Malik and saw him wearing a cap that was worth about 500 dirhams.”

Ashhab said: “When Malik would wear a turban, he would wrap part of it under his chin and would leave the ends of it behind his back, and he would scent himself with musk and other scents.”


Collected from Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā

The Day of `Arafah: The 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah and the Takbirs of Eid

-Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

The 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah is known as ‘the Day of `Arafah,’ because the pilgrims at Hajj gather at `Arafah in worship, which is one of the three central integrals of the Hajj rituals. Its importance is such that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Hajj is `Arafah.” [Reported in most major hadith works]

The Day of `Arafah is important for those not at Hajj, as well.

Abu Qatada (Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Fasting the Day of `Arafah [9thof Dhu’l Hijjah] expiates for two years, one prior and one forthcoming.” [Reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah]

As such, the scholars concur that it is highly recommended (mustahabb) to fast the Day of `Arafah [9th of Dhu’l Hijjah], even for the one on Hajj in the Hanafi school, if it does not weaken the pilgrim from spending the day busy in worship. [Haskafi, Durr; Kasani, Bada’i`]

The Day of `Arafah is one of the days when supplications (du`a) are more likely to be accepted. [Ibn al-Haajj,al-Madhkhal; Saffarini, Ghidha’ al-Albab]

This is based on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, “The best of supplications are those on the Day of `Arafah.” [Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Malik, and others] Imam al-Baji explained this as meaning, ‘Having most baraka, the greatest reward, and the quickest in being answered.’ [Baji,al-Muntaqa Sharh al-Muwatta]

The Takbirs of Eid Start on This Day: The Fiqh

Allah Most High commanded us to, “Remember Allah through the appointed days.” [Qur’an, 2.203]

Hakim recorded in his Mustadrak, from both Ali and Ammar that they said, “The Messenger of Allah used to… make thetakbirs from the Fajr prayer of the Day of `Arafah and would stop them after the Asr prayer of the final day of the Days of Tashriq [13th of Dhu’l Hijjah].” There is, however, weakness in the chain of narrators, as Imam Bayhaqi mentioned. There are numerous hadiths that have been mentioned on this, as Imam Jamal al-Din al-Zayla`i expounded in his Nasb al-Raya [2.266-269]

This has been established by consensus of the Companions of the Beloved of Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). [Mawaffaq Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni 2.126 #1431]

Legal status:

It is necessary (wajib) for every Muslim (male or female, whether praying in congregation or alone) to make the following takbir (declaration of the greatness of Allah) immediately after each obligatory (fard) prayer.


From: the Fajr Prayer on the 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah (the Day of `Arafah)

To: the Asr Prayer on the 13th of Dhu’l Hijjah.

Thus, these takbirs last 5 days, and 23 prayers.

The takbirs:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Llahu.

Wa Llahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahi Lhamd .

( اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُوَاَللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُ )

(Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no god but Allah.

And Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.)

Rulings related to this:

1. The wajib is to recite this takbir once. If done more than this, it is good. [Haskafi, Durr, quoting `Ayni]

2. The position related above that it is obligatory for 23 prayers, whether in congregation or alone, for every Muslim, is the position of Abu Hanifa’s students, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, and it is the position acted upon and chosen for fatwa, because of the strength of their evidence and the inherited practice being on it, and because it is more cautious. [Durrand Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, quoting al-Zahidi] Abu Hanifa’s position, that it lasts only 8 prayers, is supported by evidence, too, though, including the practice of some major Companions such as Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him), and was taken by some major Hanafi imams, though a minority, such as Ibn al-Humam in hisFath al-Qadir.

3. It is not wrong (rather, it is recommended) to also perform it after the Eid prayer itself because the Muslims have performed it generation after generation, so it is proper to follow their inherited practice (that has been accepted by generation after generation of scholars). [Durr and Radd al-Muhtar]

4. The followers must perform it, even if the imam leaves it. [Durr]

5. Latecomers [those who missed one or more rakat of the congregational prayer] must perform it, but after completing their prayer.

6. It is necessary for the congregation to perform it out loud. [Ibn Abidin,Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Quhustani]

7. It is necessary to make the takbirs immediately after the salams. If one talks, loses one’s wudu, or performs other actions completely foreign to the prayer, one has missed the wajib. [al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya;Durr]

And Allah alone gives success.

Marriage ceremonies

The marriage ceremony is a means to share the happiness of a marriage with friends and relatives. It also serves as a way to carry out the requirement of publicizing a marriage. In addition, it is also a fine thing to turn such an important institution into an opportunity for joy and entertainment, which are part of our nature.

However, we should remember that ceremonies that are too extravagant, which reach the point of financially devastating the families involved, are never approved by Islam. Islam is a religion that urges moderation even in taking water from a river when performing ablution. It encourages its followers to be frugal. Therefore even if the parties are rich, they should act in consideration of the poor and needy of their community. Turning marriage ceremonies into theatres of ostentation, like many of today’s rich families do, is a manifestation of madness and a proof that Islam is not properly internalized.

Marriage ceremonies should properly be performed with Islamic grace and refinement. They should stay away from every kind of lavishness. People should have modest ceremonies appropriate to their financial situations. But using the event as an opportunity to show off one’s financial status contradicts the object and the spirit of a marriage ceremony.

In particular, to launch such a blessed institution with unlawful acts and customs, such as drinking alcohol, leads people to error and ignorance. Only those marriage gatherings which observe the laws of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) are blessed places where prayers are accepted. Some types of entertainment are harmless, so long as the men and the women are not mixed. Women can entertain each other and men can do the same among themselves without committing any forbidden act.

Another significant issue is the importance of inviting poor, needy and homeless people to the walima, the marriage feast. This is expressed in the following hadith:

“The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited. And he who refuses an invitation (to a banquet) disobeys Allah and His Apostle.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 72; Muslim, Nikah, 107. See also Ibn Maja, Nikah, 25)

It should be remembered that the Muslim community receives divine assistance because of the prayers of the weak. Therefore destitute and needy people particularly need to be invited to the walima. On one occasion Moses (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed to Allah the Almighty and asked, “Dear Lord! Where should I look for You?”

Allah the Almighty responded, “Look for Me by the broken hearts.” (Abu Nu`aym, Hilya, II, 364)

The prayers of those who are destitute and have broken hearts are acceptable in the presence of Allah. This is why all Muslims should take care to merit their prayers, especially during those times when we begin an important undertaking like marriage.



The Imam of millions of followers of the Hanafi School, Shaykh Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifah (radi Allahu ‘anhu) makes an entreaty for help in the court of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, in ‘Al-Qasidah al-Nau’maniyah fi Madhi Khayr al-Bariyyah’:

يـا أكـرم الثقليـن يـا كنـز الغنـى
O the one! Who is better than all humans and jinns and who is the treasure of Allah

جـد لـي بجـودك و ارضنـي برضـاكـا
Please give me from what Allah has bestowed on you and make me happy like Allah has pleased you

أنـا طامـع بالجـود منـك و لـم يكـن
I am a candidate for your shower of generosity

لأبـي حنيفـة فـي الأنـام سـواكـا
There is no one for Abu Hanifah in the entire creation except you.

How should families take care of disciplining children?

First of all, we should be very clear that children are divine trusts to us and sprout from our own essence. For sensitive souls, the melodies of happiness at home begin with the soothing music of happy children.

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As it is expressed in the traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), children are “flowers of Paradise,” “fruit of hearts,” and “divine blessings.” Children are the best blessings of our Lord. How can anyone forget the joy at the birth of a first child? Children’s smiles are like gifts from Paradise. For a mother to discipline, raise and contribute fine children to society is therefore the most honorable of occupations. A mother’s heart is the first school of a child: here the child receives its basic training. In addition, righteous generations raised with great care will be protective shields between their parents and Hellfire. One of the most important duties of parents is to equip their children with Islamic virtues and good character. Yet it is not merely the central duty of parents to raise faithful and upright children: it also is a guarantee of receiving continuous rewards until the end of time.

Children are exceptional fruits of family happiness and a strong connection between the mother and the father. They are the most valuable trusts of Allah to the parents. People’s responsibilities are expressed in the following saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):

All of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges: … a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for his charge; and a woman is guardian of the household of her husband and is responsible for her charge … (Bukhari, Wasaya, 9; Muslim, Imara, 20)

The Qur’an says:

O you who believe! Save yourselves and your fam- ilies from a fire whose fuel is men and stones … (66:6)

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) explains this verse, saying:

Keep them away from committing the things prohibited by Allah the Almighty and encourage them to perform good deeds. That is the way to save them from Hellfire. (Alusi, XXVIII, 156)

Discipline of children should begin with the training of parents; such an important job can only be successfully performed with the benefit of proper training. How can inadequate parents discipline their children? As the poet says,

He, himself, is a dodderer in need of help

How is he supposed to help others?

Thus if child discipline begins starts parent discipline, it will yield more effective results. Again, as it is expressed by the poet Seyri:

Father, pillar of the family, must be upright and strong

Mother, heart of the family, must be a rose, sweet and warm

What kinds of good news have been given by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about righteous women?

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says:

After mindfulness of Allah, a believer gains nothing better for himself than a pious wife who obeys him when he commands her and pleases him when he looks at her. When he asks her to carry out a task, she is true to him and when he is away she protects her chastity as well as her husband’s property.” (Ibn Maja, Nikah, 5/1857)

A good wife is the one who obeys her husband and is compassionate to her children.

“The whole world is providence and the best provision of the world is a pious woman.” (Muslim, Kitab al- Rada, 64; See also: Nasa`i, Nikah, 15; Ibn Maja, Nikah, 5)

Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

When the verse “…and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement” (9:34) was revealed, we were with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on an expedition. Some of the Companions said that now that we knew the ruling about gold and silver [we would no longer hoard them, but give them in charity]. We wished we knew what is good for us, so that we could accumulate that instead. Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The most valuable possessions are a tongue that mentions the names of Allah, a thankful heart and a wife who strengthens the faith of her husband.” (Tirmi- dhi, Tafsir, 9/9)


A Distant Kashmiri’s Prayer

A Distant Kashmiri’s Prayer
I offer you my prayers
I bow down to you alone
I ask from you in my dua,
For the world’s people and my own.

Listen to me, Almighty,
Listen to me, O Rab!
Let my wishes cross the skies,
And reach you straight above.

My heaven is turning into hell,
My Valley is torn, it bleeds.
My faith overcomes the evil around
Only You could pay some heed.

I see li’l kids afraid of going out,
Or one, praying for her missing friend,
And a mother dying by her son’s corpse,
Or a husband whose tears don’t see an end.

It’s a request, Almighty
I plead to you O Rab
Help the people of my Valley, before
They themselves reach you, above.

Source: A Distant Kashmiri’s Prayer