Recovering stolen goods.
One night a gang of thieves broke into a man’s house and stole his household goods. They also forced the owner to take an oath to the effect that if he identified the thieves he would be irrevocably divorced from his wife. The next morning the owner saw the thieves selling his goods but he could say nothing because of the oath he had taken. He came and related the incident to Imam Abu Hanifa. The Imam requested him to gather the Imam, Muazzin and other influential people. When they all arrived Imam Abu Hanifa asked them: “Would you all like to see the goods of this man returned to him?” They replied: “Yes, we do.” He then said: “Gather all the evil people you know of amongst you in a house or Masjid. Then let them come out one at a time and ask the owner if he is the thief. If he is not the thief he should say so. If he is the thief then the man should remain silent. When he remains silent you should arrest the thief.” They did as Imam Abu Hanifa had advised them and all the stolen good were recovered. (Al-Azkiya)
Refreshing the memory.
A man came to Imam Abu Hanifa and explained that he had buried some wealth in a place but he had forgotten where it was. Imam Abu Hanifa said to him: “This is not a question of fiqh (jurisprudence) that I can give you guidance on. However, go home and perform Salaah the entire night. Insha-Allah you will soon remember.” The man did as he was told. Not even a quarter of the night had passed when the man remembered where he had buried his wealth. He came back to Imam Abu Hanifa and told him what had happened. The Imam explained: “I knew that Shaytaan would not allow you to perform Salaah the entire night and he would make you remember the place. Why did you not spend the remainder of the night in Salaah in gratitude to Allah?” (Al-Azkiya)
Who should speak first – Husband or wife?
A man once came to Imam Abu Hanifa and said: “I have taken an oath that I will not speak to my wife until she speaks to me. She in turn also took an oath that if she speaks to me before I speak to her, all her possessions would be given out in charity. What should I do? The jurists have been dumbfounded with the question. Sufyan Thawri says that whoever of us speaks will be breaking their oath.” Imam Abu Hanifa replied: “Go and speak to your wife. None of you will be guilty of breaking your oaths.” The man then went and mentioned to Sufyan Thawri what Imam Abu Hanifa had said. In a fit of anger Sufyan Thawri came and confronted Imam Abu Hanifa: “Have you made lawful the forbidden relationship?” Imam Abu Hanifa asked what he meant. Sufyan Thawri asked the man to repeat the incident. After hearing the incident Imam Abu Hanifa replied: “My verdict remains the same.” Sufyan Thawri asked: “How can you say that?” Imam Abu Hanifa explained: “By her taking an oath after his oath, she had spoken. In other words, by speaking she had fulfilled his oath. If he speaks to her now none of their oaths will be broken.” When Sufyan Thawri heard the explanation he submitted: “Knowledge of which we were negligent of has certainly been exposed to you.” (Tafseer Razi, Tabaqaatus Siniyyah fi Taraajimil Hanafiyyah, Uqoodul Jumaan)