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Hanafi (Arabic حنفي): (sometimes known in English as Hanafites or Hanifites)-- (cf Malikite, Shafiite, Hanbalite for the other schools of thought)--.is one of the four schools of thought (Madhabs) or jurisprudence (Fiqh) within Sunni Islam. Founded by Abu Hanifa, An-Númān ibn Thābit (Arabic: النعمان بن ثابت) (699 - 767), it is considered to be the school most open to modern ideas and has been judged by scholars to be the only School that is well-known for its extreme laxity in many ritualistic issues, thus being the most lenient. As such, it was and remained the most attractive school of Sunni Islamic rite to new converts, far from Middle Eastern heartland, such as Central Asia and China, South Asia and India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia, as well as nearly all Turkic peoples–from Siberia and the Volga regions to Turkey and the Balkans. Among the four established Schools of Legal thoughts in Islam, Hanafism easily musters the most followers of about 60% of the total Sunnis living in the world today.
An 8th century Somali theologian named Shaykh Uthman bin Ali al-Zeylai wrote the only authoritative text on the Hanafi school of Islam. His book is called the Tabayin al-Haqa’iq li Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq. Its four volumes are still in print.
To the purists, the methodology of this School is usually questionable and its authority is less favoured. The other three schools of thought are Shafi (where the huge arrays of scholars and development of Islamic knowledge revolved around this School), Maliki, and Hanbali.
The most prominent propagators of Hanafi thought in history were probably the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire, and as such the areas which they encompassed are predominantly Hanafite.
Today, the Hanafi school is predominant among:
- Sunni Muslims in South Asia: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
- In the Middle East, certain minor parts of Lebanon
- Regions of the Caucasus: Ingushetia, Chechnya and Daghestan are almost entirely Hanafi.
- Other areas with sizeable Hanafi adherents include:
- Muslim communities of the Balkans:
- Central Asian countries: (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan)
- China, Russia (Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan), and Ukraine.
- Most Tatars and Turks are also Hanafi adherents.
- Sizable communities in Abkhazia, Ajaria, and other parts of Georgia and Southern Russia.
- Afghanistan with an estimated 99% Muslim population of which 84% are Sunni of the Hanafi School, the remainder 16% being Twelver Shi'a or Ismaili Shi'a.
The Constitution of Afghanistan allows Afghan judges to use Hanafi jurisprudence in situations where the Constitution lacks provisions.
The Hanafi school is considered to be the most liberal. For example, under Hanafi jurisprudence, blasphemy is not punishable by the state, despite being considered a civil crime by some other schools.
There is little or no animosity between the four schools of religious law within Sunni Islam. Instead there is a cross-pollination of ideas and debate that serves to refine each school's understanding of Islam. It is not uncommon, or disallowed, for an individual to follow one school but take the point of view of another school for a certain issue (for example the Egyptian Sheikh Shihab al-Din Qarafi was an Imam in both the Maliki and Shafi schools). However, for the layman, it is generally not recommended to take rulings from another school except in the case of necessity, for it could lead to one following his desires (and taking the easiest, most lenient opinion).
 External links
 Islamic jurisprudence
- ShariahBoard.org (Browse Q&A according to Hanafi fiqh - For Urdu Speakers (Deobandi)
- Online Urdu Audio on Various Subjects (Ahle Hadith)
- Sunniforum (Neutral)
- NoorOnline.com (Neutral)
- Hanafi Fiqh Forum (Yahoo! group)(Neutral)
- al-zawiya (Yahoo! group)(Neutral_
-  (Barelwi)
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