A Mind Filled with Analogies

The third most famous, but hardly inferior, companion of Abu Hanifa was Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl. He was known as being someone of analogous thinking, and would easily relate analogies even in normal contexts. This is one example of his sharp intellect in this field.

Abd ar-Rahman ibn Malik ibn Mighwal narrated that a man asked Abu Hanifa: “Last night I drank fermented juice and am not sure whether I divorced my wife or not.” He replied “She is your wife until you become sure that you divorced her.” He went to Sufyan at-Thawri and asked him the same question. He replied “Go and declare that you have brought her back. If you did not divorce her, it is of no consequence.” Then he asked Sharik ibn Abd-Allah who replied “Divorce her, then bring her back.” Then he asked Zufar who said “Did you ask anyone else before me?” He said yes and named all of the above. Zufar endorsed Abu Hanifa’s reply and praised Sufyan’s but laughed at Sharik’s, then said “This is like a man who passed by water splashing, some of which reached his garment, whereupon Abu Hanifa said ‘Your garment is clean and prayer complete until you become sure about the water being dity,’ while Sufyan said ‘Wash it, and if it were clean in the first place it is only cleaner now,’ but Sharik said [in effect] ‘Go piss on it then wash it!'”

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