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The Hanafi school (Arabic: حَنَفِية, romanized: Ḥanafiyah; also called Hanafite in English), Hanafism, or the Hanafi fiqh is the oldest and one of the four traditional major Sunni schools (Fiqh) of Islamic Law (madhhab). It is named after the 8th century Kufan scholar, Abu Hanifa, a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Imam Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani. It is considered one of the most widely accepted maddhab amongst Sunni Muslim community and is called the Madhhab of Jurists (maddhab ahl al-ray). A plurality of Hanafi Muslims follow and have followed the Maturidi school of theology (Aqidah, Arabic: عقيدة).
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The importance of this madhhab lies in the fact that it is not just a collection of rulings or sayings of Imam Abu Hanifa alone, but rather the rulings and sayings of the council of judges he established belong to it. Abu Hanifa was the first to formally solve cases and organize them into chapters. He was followed by Imam Malik ibn Anas in arranging Al-Muwatta. Since the Sahaba and the successors of the Sahaba did not put attention in establishing the science of Sharia or codifying it in chapters or organized books, but rather relied on the strength of their memorization for transmitting knowledge, Abu Hanifa feared that the next generation of the Muslim community would not understand Sharia laws well. His book consisted of Taharah (purification), Salat (prayer), other acts of Ibadah (worship), Muwamalah (public treatment), then Mawarith (inheritance).
Under the patronage of the Abbasids, the Hanafi school flourished in Iraq and spread throughout the Islamic world, firmly establishing itself in Muslim Spain, Greater Khorasan and Transoxiana by the 9th-century, where it acquired the support of rulers including Delhi Sultanate, Khwarazmian Empire, Kazakh Sultanate and the local Samanid rulers. Turkic expansion introduced the school to the Indian subcontinent and Anatolia, and it was adopted as the chief legal school of the Ottoman and Mughal Empire. In the modern Republic of Turkey, the Hanafi jurisprudence is enshrined in Diyanet, the directorate for religious affairs, through the constitution (art. 136).
The Hanafi school is the largest of the four traditional Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, followed by approximately 30% of Sunni Muslims worldwide. It is mostly followed in the Balkans, Turkey, Egypt, the Levant, Central Asia and South Asia in addition to parts of Russia and China. The other primary Sunni schools are the Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali schools.