the Claim that Imam Abu Hanifa was of the Opinion that the Prophet’s Parents were Kafirs
by Dr. `Inayatullah Iblagh al-Afghanistani
"`Allama al-Kawthari noted that the word 'fitra' can be easily altered to 'kufr' in Kufic Arabic calligraphy. Therefore, it is highly probable that the copy with 'died on the innate nature' was changed to 'died on disbelief.'"
"Salafis" keep reiterating the claim that the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) parents died as kafirs and that they were destined to reside eternally in the Hell-fire. One fails to understand the significance of wasting time and energy to keep bringing such an issue to life.
Countless scholars have written on this topic in support of the parent’s survival. The following piece of writing is not intended to outline any such topic. It is only for the purpose of refuting what some "Salafis" allege about Imam Abu Hanifa. They say he was of the opinion that the parents are in Hell. They quote an adulterated version of his theological booklet al-Fiqh al-Akbar, which is an outstanding statement of Sunni doctrine the Imam wrote to clarify the Sunni `Aqida.]
[Source: Dr. `Inayatullah Iblagh al-Afghanistani, Doctorate thesis: al-Imam al-A`zam Abu Hanifa al-Mutakallim (The Greatest Imam: Abu Hanifa, The Theologian),2nd edition, with supervision of Dr. Muhammad Ali Mahjub, Minister of Awqaf and President of the Supreme Council for Religious Affairs, Cairo, 1987.
Regarding the [discrepancies in the] text (matn), we find in some of the manuscripts (nusakh) [of al-Fiqh al-Akbar] some words that differ from what is in other manuscripts. For example, we find in some of them: "… and the two parents of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) died on the innate nature" (mata `ala al-fiTra). In some others, it is: "did not die on disbelief" (ma mata `ala al-kufr). While in other ones, we find: "died on disbelief" (mata `ala al-kufr).
`Allama al-Kawthari noted that the word fitra can be easily altered to kufr in Kufic Arabic calligraphy. Therefore, it is highly probable that the copy with "died on the innate nature" was changed to "died on disbelief". This [the correct copy: i.e. "died on the innate nature"] implies as if the Greatest Imam wanted to argue with it against whoever iterates the Hadith: "My father and your father are both in the Hell-fire" (Abi wa abuka fi al-nar), reported by `Ali (ra). The way of responding to this [allegation] is that putting the woman [I think the author shifted here to talk about the Prophet’s mother] in the fire cannot be affirmed except by a definite proof (dalil qaT`i) and this is not a practical (`amali, i.e. fiqhi) matter in order for an indefinite proof (dalil Danni) to suffice for it. Consequently, what might be believed [by some], regarding the parents of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) being in the Hell-fire, is not based on a definitive proof.
Moreover, we find more evidence in what was mentioned my al-Hafiz Muhammad Murtada al-Zabidi – the commentater on the Ihya’ and the Qamus – in his booklet (risala) al-Intisar li Walidayy al-Nabi al-Mukhtar (The Support for the Parents of the Chosen Prophet). He said that when the copier (nasikh) saw the repetition in the word ‘ma mata’, he thought that one of them was extra, so he removed it. Then this incorrect copy was destined to become widespread. [He is referring to the repetition of the ‘ma’. The first ‘ma’ is a word meaning ‘did not’. The second ‘ma’ is an integral part of the word ‘mata’, meaning ‘both died’].
Another evidence to this is the way it [the words] is mentioned (siyaq al-khabar), because Abu Talib [the Prophet’s uncle] and his [the Prophet’s] parents, have they been all in one state, he [Abu Hanifa] could have combined them in one sentence, as opposed to two sentences, if there was no difference between them in that verdict. This is a good analysis from al-Hafiz al-Zabidi. Also, `Allama al-Kawthari mentioned that he saw the copy that contains ‘ma mata’ in two manuscripts in Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya. I went back to view them and found them as mentioned by al-Kawthari.
Furthermore, `Allama al-Kawthri mentioned in his editions of the letters (rasa’il) of Abu Hanifa, kept in Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya, number 24205, that "There exists manuscripts of it in Maktabat al-Fatih in the Astana [in the Ottoman Impire/present day Turkey].