Abd al-Rahman al-Awza'i

Abu Amr Abd al-Rahman ibn Amr al-Awzai (Arabic: أبو عمرو عبدُ الرحمٰن بن عمرو الأوزاعي) (707–774) was an Islamic scholar, traditionalist and the chief representative and eponym of the Awza'i school of Islamic jurisprudence. Awzai was referred to by his tribe "Awza" (الأوزاع), part of Banu Hamdan.[2]

أبو عمرو عبدُ الرحمٰن بن عمرو الأوزاعي
تخطيط اسم الأوزاعي.png
Born707 CE
Baalbek, Lebanon
Died774 CE (aged 66–67)
Beirut, Lebanon
EraIslamic golden age
Main interest(s)Hadith, Fiqh
Notable idea(s)Awza'i madhhab


Apparently born in Baalbek (in modern-day Lebanon) in 707, but the biographer and historian dh-Dhahabi reports that al-Auza'i was originally from Sindh (province of Pakistan). Very little of al-Awzai's writings survive, but his style of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) is preserved in Abu Yusuf's book Al-radd ala siyar al-Awzai, in particular his reliance on the "living tradition," or the uninterrupted practice of Muslims handed down from preceding generations. For Awzai, this is the true Sunnah of Muhammad. Awzai's school flourished in Syria, the Maghreb, and Al Andalus but was eventually overcome and replaced by the Maliki school of Islamic law in the 9th century. He died in 774 and was buried near Beirut, Lebanon, where his tomb is still visited.[3]

Debate with Abu HanifaEdit

It has been recorded by Sufyan ibn ʽUyaynah that Awza'i engaged in a debate with Abu Hanifa about the raising of the hands during Salah.[4] It is known in Arabic as Raf al-yadayn.

Awza'i and Abu Hanifa once met with each other whilst in a market in Makkah. It was here Awza'i questioned Abu Hanifa as to why he did not perform the raising of the hands during the prayer to which Abu Hanifa responded that there was no authentic Hadith to support this action. Awza'i then rebutted this by questioning Abu Hanifa as to why he believed that there was no authentic narration to prove the raising the hands, he then stated that he had an authentic narration which is also narrated similarly in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim which was: "Imam Zuhri told me, who was told by Salim, who was told by Ibn Umar that the Prophet Muhammed practiced the raising of the hands before and after the ruku.

Abu Hanifa then countered this hadith with a hadith of his own which is found similarly in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah,[5] Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq,[6] Sunan at-Tirmidhi and Sunan an-Nasa'i which was: "Hamad told me, who was told by Ibrahim, who was told by Ikrama, who was told by Aswad who was told by Abdullah ibn Masud that the Prophet Muhammed only practiced the raising of the hands at the beginning of performing his salat and not afterwards".

Due to the fact that the chain of narration of Awza'i consisted only of 3 individuals whereas the chain of narration of Abu Hanifa's hadith contained 5 individuals, Awza'i assumed an upper hand stating that due to his shorter Isnad, the hadith that he had presented was more reliable. Abu Hanifa repudiated this belief stating that the strength of a hadith must be measured through the reliability of the people in the chain of narration and their knowledge of the hadith sciences and not through the number of intermediaries in the sanad. Abu Hanifa then stated that in this regard, the authorities in his chain of narration were much greater than those in the chain of transmission of the hadith of Awza'i.

In order to prove this point, Abu Hanifa said that the first two narrators in his chain were more knowledgable in hadith than the two first narrators in the chain of Awza'i. As a result, Abu Hanifa argued that his teacher, Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, was more learned in respect to hadith than Imam Zuhri, the teacher of Malik ibn Anas, Sufyan ibn ʽUyaynah,[7] Ma'mar ibn Rashid[8] and Ibn Ishaq.[9] He then declared that Ikrama, a man in the chain of transmission of Abu Hanifa, was a "great scholar" and the direct source of the hadith, Ibn Masud, who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammed,: 115  was distinguished. After this, Awza'i became silent.


Theologically, he was known as a persecutor of the Qadaris, but also one of the main historical witnesses of them. He alleged that the Qadaris merely appropriated heretical doctrines from the Christians. Awzāʿī had met their founder Maʿbad.[10]

al-Awzai differed with all the other schools of fiqh in holding that apostates from Islam ought not to be executed unless their apostasy is part of a 'plot to take over the State', i.e. treason.[11]


  1. ^ Krawietz, Tamer, Birgit, Georges; Holtzman, Livnatz (2013). "Debating the Doctrine of jabr (Compulsion): Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya Reads Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī". Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law: Debating Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya. Berlin, Germany: Walter De Gruyter. p. 63. ISBN 978-3-11-028534-5. The prominent traditionalists, such as Abū ʿAmr al-Awzāʿī (d.157/774) and Ahmad b. Ḥanbal (d.241/855)..
  2. ^ "سير أعلام النبلاء". shamela (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  3. ^ John Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2003
  4. ^ Musnad Imam Abu Hanifa, chapter on ‘Raf’ al-Yadayn
  5. ^ Chapter on Raf’ al-Yadayn
  6. ^ Chapter on Raf’ al-Yadayn
  7. ^ =":3"
  8. ^ =":3"
  9. ^ Anthony 2015, p. xxiv.
  10. ^ Steven C. Judd, "The Early Qadariyya" in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology, ed. Sabine Schmidtke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 47-48.
  11. ^ Wood, Asmi (2012). "8. Apostasy in Islam and the Freedom of Religion in International Law". In Paul Babie; Neville Rochow (eds.). Freedom of Religion under Bills of Rights. University of Adelaide Press. p. 169. Retrieved 9 January 2021.

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