Imam Abu Hanifa an-Nu’man ibn Thabit (d. 767), the master-scholar of Iraq, was one of the four great Mujtahid Imams, after whom were named the four Madhhabs to which Sunni Muslims belong. A pupil of Imam Malik, he was celebrated for his intelligence, and his school is famous for its high opinion of the Divine gift of reason.
In this the Imam was a faithful follower of the first generation of Muslims. According to many historians, he had the honour to meet several of the Companions of the Holy Prophet. His emphasis on rational approaches in law and theology, which went beyond even the method of Imam al-Shafi’i, did much to trigger systematic jurisprudence and theology in the Islamic world. Partly for this reason, a majority of Muslims in the world today are followers of his school.