84 years after his death, the pioneers of the Grand Imam College in Baghdad did not forget the role of Sheikh Numan Al-Azami in reviving and re-establishing the Abu Hanifa School - Al-Adhamiya College now - after he convinced the Ottomans - at the time - to rebuild and build it after neglect and ruin.
Al-Azami, a sheikh and a religious scholar who gained fame at the beginning of the twentieth century, was born and raised in Mahalat al-Shuyukh in the city of Al-Adhamiya in Baghdad in the year 1874. Al-Azami was passionate about science and literature, and was scientifically sanctioned by Sheikh Muhammad Saeed Al Naqshbandi and Hussein Al-Khanbouri.
The Great Imam Mosque in the 1960s (communication sites)
Professor of Islamic Sciences at the Iraqi University Haitham Abd al-Salam says that al-Azami was appointed as a teacher at the Imam Abi Hanifa School in 1899, and at the same time he was continuing his studies at the hands of Sheikh Abd al-Razzaq al-Azami until he obtained an academic degree from him in 1908. Abd al-Salam adds during his speech to Al-Jazeera Net Al-Azhami was then appointed as a teacher in Rushdiya al-Karkh and became famous among the people.
In 1910, Al-Azami, with the cooperation of Sheikh Abd al-Hadi al-Adhami and Hajj Hamdi al-Azami, published a magazine called “Enlightenment of Ideas”.
Abd al-Salam says that al-Azami wrote in the magazine an article whose content is written in an expression by Imam Abu Hanifa al-Nu'man, as if he were speaking about it, and he also put a seal to it in the name of the imam.
He points out that Al-Azami addressed through the article the Ottoman Sultan - at the time - Muhammad Rashad bin Abdul Majid I, and asked him to pay attention to the Imam Abu Hanifa school after it was taken over by Sheikh Al-Azami and it was ruined and neglected.
Abdul Salam adds that the Ottoman Empire responded to Al-Azami's message and sent him money and allocated 80,000 piasters to its students annually, and Sultan Muhammad Rashad agreed to rebuild and restore the school.
With this, Al-Azami revived the Imam Abi Hanifa School, and returned to its scientific position and became attractive to students, and about that, Abd al-Salam points out that the school started after its restoration with 100 science students, and each student was allocated 60 piasters per month with the provision of his food and drink.
Historians consider that Al-Azami played the largest role in the quest to establish and build the Abi Hanifa School, and the College of the Great Imam is currently considered one of the achievements of the Grand Sheikh and the most prominent of his achievements, and within the largest scientific and religious edifices in Iraq.
His political activities
During the First World War, he was commissioned by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 to meet Prince Abdulaziz Al Saud and persuade him to stand by the Ottoman state, and according to Abd al-Salam, Al-Azami went with a delegation that included Sheikh Mahmoud Shukr Al-Alusi, Sheikh Ali Ala Al-Din Al-Alusi, and the officer Bakr Effendi.
It is noteworthy that the delegation negotiated with the House of Saud to stand with the Ottoman Empire during that war, but they did not succeed in convincing them.
And the Islamic academic continues, "After the delegation returned to the Levant, Al-Azami went with Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Shahbandar and Abdul-Karim Qasim Al-Khalil to Jerusalem to meet the governor, Jamal Pasha, at his request," noting that the greatest reputation had spread throughout the Islamic Arab countries in those years.
Abd al-Salam added that one of the Ottoman military leaders called Nur al-Din summoned al-Azami to the Kut combat front when fighting broke out between the Ottoman army and the British army in southern Iraq, to exhort the soldiers, guide them, raise their enthusiasm, and urge them to jihad and fight.
His arrest and his exile
In 1917, the British stormed the Abu Hanifa school in the capital, Baghdad, and arrested Al-Aazami. Abd al-Salam says that Al-Azami was imprisoned in Baghdad for two months, and in Basra, in southern Iraq, for another two months.
He adds that the British took Al-Aazami to the island of India, where the opponents were being held at the time, and he spent more than two and a half years there.
In this context, the historical researcher Khalid Jasim Al-Obaidi indicates that Al-Azami was inside his prison camp in India, preaching the prisoners and teaching them Arabic, and studying science students from them, pointing out that he taught 30 students from Tatars, Afghans and Indians.
Al-Obaidi points out that the British released Al-Azami from families in 1919, and he was re-appointed as a teacher at the Al-Imam Al-Azam College, to be appointed as dean of the Al-Adhamiya College in 1924.
Al-Azami (standing standing) while attending the Jerusalem Conference in 1931 (communication sites)
His scientific standing
And in 1916 - during the era of the Ottoman Empire - al-Azami was appointed as a general preacher for Iraq and began to tour the cities and countryside of the country, to offer preaching and guidance, and about that, the professor of Islamic sciences Abd al-Salam says that the sheikh was famous and known among the people and won the love of many of them because of his knowledge, utterance and wide culture.
He adds that the Sheikh has many contributions to associations, as he is one of the founders of the Society for the Protection of Children in Iraq, the Islamic Guidance Society in Baghdad, the Muslim Youth Society in Baghdad as well, and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.
It is noteworthy that the Muslim Youth Association in Basra held a party in honor of Al-Azmy when he visited Medina during the blessed month of Ramadan in 1932.
Abd al-Salam continues that during the celebration, poet Muhammad Salih Bahr al-Uloom recited a poem consisting of 20 verses that are welcome in its words and proud of al-Azami and his visit to Basra, and among the most prominent of its verses:
Whoever preaches when he is a boy ... where pure minds seek him,
and (Nauman) in the country has hands ... preserved by the eminent culture
Researcher Al-Obaidi, for his part, adds that Al-Azami used to roam a lot in Iraqi cities, preaching to people and inviting them to unity and to adhere to the etiquette of Islam, solidarity and the meeting of the word.
He points out that he used to order students in the College of the Great Imam to travel to the cities of Iraq, and to offer preaching and Islamic lessons to educate, guide and enlighten people, and he used to contact scholars and urge them to facilitate and overcome obstacles facing students and their hospitality and prepare their affairs to preach and educate the residents of those regions.
Regarding his relations and contact with the scholars of the Islamic nation, Al-Azami met with a number of scholars during the Hajj season in 1341 AH / 1923 CE, the most prominent of whom were Sheikh Shuaib al-Yamani, Sheikh Muhammad al-Shanqeeti, Sheikh Ibrahim bin Jasser and others.
Regarding this, the researcher Al-Obaidi indicates that Al-Azami has close scientific relations and links with sheikhs and scholars from various Islamic countries, such as Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalaf Al-Kuwaiti, Sheikh Muhammad Bahjat Al-Bitar and Sheikh Jamal Al-Din Al-Qasimi, as well as Abdul Qadir Al-Maghribi and Mufti of Palestine Hajj Amin Al-Husseini.
It is noteworthy that the scholars were impressed with his knowledge, literature, intelligence, good articulation, good views in Islamic jurisprudence, and his interest in the affairs of the Islamic nation, in addition to his political awareness.
Al-Obaidi added that Al-Azami participated in a number of conferences in Islamic countries, the most famous of which was the Islamic conference held in Jerusalem in 1930, and he had a prominent presence in the conference with the rest of the ummah’s scholars.
Regarding Al-Azami's books, Abd al-Salam mentions that the most famous of them are the Book of Guidance for Young People, the Book of General History, the Book of Authentic Religious Sermons, the Book of the Anemones in the Sermons of Ramadan, and the Book of Agarid Al-Hazar in Songs and Poems.
He also wrote many books and articles on the subjects of interpretation, history and sociology, and they were published in Iraqi newspapers and magazines at the time, and he had an interesting style of public speaking and writing, according to Abd al-Salam.
The Grand Imam College in Baghdad is currently (communication sites)
Sheikh Numan Al-Azami passed away on Monday, 15 Jumada Al-Akhira 1355 AH, corresponding to September 2, 1936.
The news of his death spread in religious circles, so the people of Baghdad heard, and they fled to his funeral, where a large and majestic funeral procession was held for him, attended by state officials, notables, scholars, sheikhs, judges, and a large crowd of people, and he was buried in the Al-Bamboo cemetery in the city of Adhamiya, according to historians.