“Ibrahim,” he asked, “can you speak with me?” Ahmad*, 19, was a young Muslim man struggling with peer pressure at his community college to drink and engage in sexual activity. I was not the imam, nor was I a chaplain at this time, but I could see in his eyes that he was desperately seeking some good advice and someone who would listen to him. While Ahmad came from a practicing Muslim home, he did not feel comfortable speaking to them about the peer pressures he faced. He confessed to me that he had been giving in to them and knew that what he was doing was wrong. Though he had wanted to seek help for some time from his local imam, he worried that the most the imam would tell him was that what he was doing is ḥarām. Ahmad also felt the imam, who had been raised in another country, would not understand the pressures of growing up in an American society. He wanted to speak to someone who, he felt, would understand the pressures he faced and not simply offer a legal verdict.
The second most prominent student of Abū Ḥanīfa, Abū ʽAbdullah Muḥammad b. al-Ḥaṣan al-Shaybānī (132-189AH/749-804CE), simply known as Imam Muḥammad, or al-Shaybānī, was born in Wasit but grew up as a client in Kūfa. Like Abū Yūsuf, al-Shaybānī’s studies began first in hadith. Unfortunately he was only able to study briefly under Abū Ḥanīfa who passed away when al-Shaybānī was about 18 years old. His limited time of study must have included an intense regiment of hadiths for al-Shaybānī later compiled (or transmitted from the Imam) a work of hadith and transmitted sayings of earlier scholars, Kitāb al-Athār, which rivaled in size Mālik’s al-Muwaṭṭa. After Abū Ḥanīfa passed away al-Shaybānī continued his study of Ḥanafī fiqh under Abū Yūsuf. al-Shaybānī also took his fiqh from the hadith scholar al-Thawri, the scholar of Syria al-Awza’i, and traveled to Medina to study under Mālik b. Anas. al-Shaybānī is one of the main narrators of Mālik’s al-Muwaṭṭa and, by adding a commentary, he created out of one of the first books of hadith one of the earliest works of comparative fiqh.