More On Al-Ahsa: Virtues and the Hanafi Madhab

Salam. Please find some more information on the area of al-Ahsa that we may not have mentioned thus far on this blog.  Inshallah we hope to compile into one article in the near future the various posts on the topic.  This article is based on Dr Abd al-Ilah al-Mulla’s introduction to Shaykh Abd al-Latif al-Mulla’s fiqh work ‘Wasilah al-Zafar’, Wassalam.


It is relevant that we begin this brief article with a clarification regarding the names previously used for the al-Ahsa region located in the Eastern province of present day Saudia Arabia.  Al-Ahsa was previously known by the names of ‘al-Bahrain’ and ‘Hajr’.  This detail is an important point, as many people consider the name of ‘al-Bahrain’ found in the hadith literature to refer to the small island that today bears this name.

Early Entry Into Islam

Its inhabitants possessed a number of virtues, the first of which was their early entry into Muslim faith.  The ‘Banu Abd al-Qais’ tribe which inhabited the area accepted Islam out of their own free choice and without any pressure nor compulsion.  In the two Sahih’s from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) is the following narration:

…When the delegation of the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) he asked them, “Who are the people (i.e. you)? (Or) who are the delegates?” They replied, “We are from the tribe of Rabi’a.” He said to them: Welcome! O people (or O delegation of ‘Abdul Qais)! Neither will you have disgrace nor will you regret. [1]

Closest In Resemblance to the Ansar

Likewise from the virtues of the its people is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) prayed/supplicated for them, his informing them that they were the best of the people of the East,  and that they were the closest of people in resemblance to the Ansar, as in the hadith reported by Imam Ahmad regarding the delegation of ‘Abd al-Qais’ which contains:

He turned to the Ansar when the delegation of Abd al-Qais came and said:  O people of the Ansar, honour your brothers, for they are the closest in resemblance to you in Islam.[2]

The Prophet (Allah Bless Him And Give Him Peace) Was Given The Choice To Migrate to Al-Ahsa

Likewise from its virtues is that Allah (Most High) gave His Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) the choice of migrating towards it, as in the hadith reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

I have been given revelation, meaning these three have been revealed and they are the places of your migration: Madinah or Bahrain or Qansarayn[3][4]

The Second Jumah of Islam

Likewise the first Jumah prayer established after the Jumah in the masjid of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was in the Masjid of Abd al-Qais in Jawatha, as mentioned by in al-Bukhari from the hadith of Ibn Abbas.[5]

Firmness During Early Tribulations

When all the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula apostated from Islam during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (Allah be pleased with him) the tribe of Banu Abd al-Qais remained firm to the Muslim faith and fought alongside the Muslims in the conquest of neighbouring area’s.[6]

The Hanafi Madhab in al-Ahsa

Al-Ahsa has been a land of knowledge and scholars from the earliest times of Muslim history.  Over the centuries many students travelled to it in order to study in its numerous schools, and due to the presence of the four legal schools (madhahib) in it.

Perhaps the earliest of the madhabs to enter al-Ahsa is the Hanafi school[7] which reached it from Iraq where the Abbasid dynasty ruled as indicated to in historical sources.  Evidence for this is found in a lengthy letter sent by Abu al-Bahlul al-Awam bin Muhammad al-Zujaj from the Abd al-Qais tribe to Abu Mansur Yusuf, a member of the Abbasid court in the year 447 Hijri.  In it he describes the condition of the Banu Abd al-Qais in al-Ahsa and those under the rule of the Qaramitah that they:

…Know of obedience to the Abbasid state and the blessed Hashimi instructions (kalimah) for the length of their lives and till the end of their lifespan. Their way is that of obedience, their madhab is that of the sunnah and jamah, and the madhab of Imam Abu Hanifah, by this they are known, and upon this they live and die…[8]

This school continued to exist in al-Ahsa alongside other schools following from the ruling authorities adopting them in their legal code.  Every ruler would pay special attention to the madhab that he followed.  When the Ottomans conquered al-Ahsa in the middle of the tenth Islamic century the Hanafi madhab gained strength and entered what could be termed its ‘golden age’ as the Turks practised the Hanafi school as their legal code according to the edict (farman) of Sultan Suleiman the 1st announcing that the Hanafi madhab is the legal school of the state in all judicial rulings and religious edicts, this was applied across the entire Ottoman empire.[9]

Likewise the presence of the al-Mulla family helped in the establishment of the Hanafi madhab in the al-Ahsa and the surrounding areas[10] where they have been actively involved the service of the madhab for over five centuries, this includes teaching, writing, preaching, guiding people and leading prayers in masjids.

[1] Al-Bukhari, Book of Faith (53)

[2] Ahmad in his Musnad (3/432) al-Haithami said in Majma al-Zawaid (8/178) that its narrators were trustworthy.

[3] Qansarayn:  It is a place in Syria close to Halab, it was conquered by Khalid bin al-Walid in the year 18 Hijri and it contains the grave of the Prophet Salih (Upon him be peace).  See Mujam al-Buldan (7/169).

[4] Al-Tirmidhi (13/378) and by al-Hakim (3/2,3) via another chain who commented that this hadith has a Sahih chain but they both did not narrate it.

[5] Al-Bukhari in the Book of Jumah (892) Hafidh ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari (1/216): This is evidence that they preceded other villages to Islam.

[6] Refer to al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah (6/369)

[7] Some researchers including Dr Abd al-Hamid Aal-Shaykh Mubarak are of the view that the earliest madhab to enter al-Ahsa was the Maliki school.  They argue this on the basis that this was the madhab followed by the al-Uyuniyyah dynasty which ruled the area after the fall of the Qaramitah rule.  However the evidence we will cite precedes the coming to power of the al-Uyuniyyah dynasty, which is clear proof the legal school followed by Banu Abd al-Qais before the al-Uyuniyyah rule was Hanafi.  Refer to the introduction of the ‘al-Tasheel‘ of Shaykh Mubarak bin Ali al-Ahsai al-Maliki edited by Dr Abd al-Hamid Aal-Shaykh al-Mubarak.

[8] Majallah al-Arabiyah, Shaykh Hamd al-Jasir, Ramadan and Shawal edition 1401 Hijri, p.169

[9] Refer to ‘al-Awdah al-Tashriyyah fi al-Dawl al-Arabiyyah’ p.178

[10] Most of the people of al-Kharaj were followers of the Hanafi madhab, amongst them being Shaykh Rashid bin Khanin al-Hanafi who passed away in 1209 Hijri in Qatar.  Refer to ‘Injaz al-Wad’ p.32 of Shaykh Muhammad Ismaeel

One comment

  1. Assalaamu Alaikum

    I was wondering if there is a Hanafi institute/madrasa in al Ahsa where one can go to study, or do you just go and study with individual shuyookh over there?

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