How to Study the Hanafi Madhab
What follows are my own suggestions for studying the furu’ of the Hanafi school, based on my own experiences and consulting with scholars. These works are studied after mastering the basics of ‘ibada through works such as Nur al-Idah by al-Shurunbulali (d.994) with its commentary, Maraqi al-Falah, by the same author.
Mukhtasar al-Quduri by al-Quduri (d.428)
This blessed text is usually the first one studied that covers the full spectrum of fiqh. In al-Sham, it is almost always studied alongside its commentary, al-Lubab, by Abd-al-Ghani al-Maydani, a student of Ibn Abidin. The benefit of this commentary is that it is late (post-Ibn ‘Abidin) and thus incorporates much of the refinement and tarjih of the later period. It is also very clear and easy to read, even without a teacher.
al-Mukhtar by al-Mawsuli (d.683)
This text is invariably studied with its commentary, al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, by the same author. The commentary was the high school text for Hanafis at al-Azhar schools during the 20th Century. It mentions the differences between Abu Hanifah and his three major disciples Abu Yusuf, Muhammad al-Shaybani, and al-Zufar, as well as Imam al-Shafi’i. It also mentions the reasoning and evidence behind the chosen position. Some consider it to be somewhat of an abridgement of al-Hidayah.
Multaqa al-Abhur by Ibrahim al-Halabi (d.956)
This very useful text combines the masa’il (legal issues) of the four most reliable texts according to the later scholars: Mukhtasar al-Quduri, al-Mukhtar by al-Mawsuli, Kanz al-Daqa’iq by al-Nasafi (d.710), and al-Wiqayah by Burhan al-Shari’ah (d.673). As such, it suffices instead of separately studying the later two, even with their respected commentaries. It also uses very clear language and points to the relied-upon position, and thus is usually studied without commentary, though teachers and students may want to refer to the commentaries of al-Haskafi and Shaykh Zada. Multaqa al-Abhur was extrememly popular in Ottoman times and is the most numerous fiqh text (of all the schools) in manuscript.
al-Hidayah by al-Marghinani (d.593)
This is perhaps the most famous Hanafi text, and for good reason. It mentions evidences and differences with others, especially the Shafi’is. It must be studied with Fath al-Qadir, the commentary of Ibn al-Humam (d.861). One should also be careful to source-reference the hadiths with the takhrij works of Ibn Hajar and al-Zayla’i. One should also be careful with the transmissions from al-Shafi’i, as sometimes these are inaccurate. Nevertheless, both text and commentary train one in becoming a faqih in a way in which most texts are incapable.
Radd al-Muhtar by Ibn ‘Abidin (d. 1252)
Popularly known as Hashiyat Ibn ‘Abidin among Arabs and Shami in India, this gloss on al-Haskafi’s al-Durr al-Mukhtar (itself a commentary on Tanwir al-Absar) is still taught cover to cover in Syria (or at least was when I was last there in 2007). It is an encycloaedia of Hanafi fiqh, of which no Hanafi can do without.
Bada’i al-Sana’i by al-Kasani (d.587)
This is a wonderful text that is very clear, with evidences and differences, and has less quyud than many later texts. It is often referenced by non-Hanafis, who hold it in high regard.
I’la al-Sunan by Dhafar Ahmad al-Uthmani al-Thanawi
This monumental contemporary work is a commentary on just over 6,000 narrations which form the basis of Hanafi fiqh. It also includes the Hanafi approach to ‘ulum al-hadith and usul al-fiqh.