He was born in the city of Kufa, Iraq in 699 AD and lived in the city of Baghdad. He was described by his students as very pious, remaining silent and absorbed in his thoughts most of the time. He didn’t speak unless he had to, answering questions only if he knew the answers to them. He shunned the company of the worldly-minded people and people who had worldly power. He avoided gossip and slander and only spoke well about people even if there wasn’t anything good to talk good about that particular person. This was the description of Imam Abu Hanifa by his students.
‘Who was there before God, which direction is God facing right now, and what is God doing right now?’.
No one in the crowd could answer these three questions.
Abu Hanifa at that time was only about 10-12 years old , but knew how to respond.
He said asked the Roman to count backwards from 10. The Roman counted until he reached zero.
Abu Hanifa asked him ‘what’s before zero?’ the Roman replied ‘nothing’.
Abu Hanifa then said
`So how can the Lord and creator of all the world’s not be the beginning of everything if common sense dictates that there is nothing before zero.
Abu Hanifa continued onto the second question, (‘Which direction is God facing right now?’) and asked the Roman “If you light up a candle, what do you see?”
The Roman answered:
Abu Hanifa responded, ‘In which direction is the candlelight facing?’ The Roman replied ‘It’s not facing in any particular direction’. So Abu Hanifa asked, ‘Then what do you say about Allah who is the light of lights’.
Abu Hanifa moved onto the third question.
‘What is God doing right now?’
He told the Roman to trade places with him so Abu Hanifa can speak in the same high location as the Roman did. The Roman thought that this was fair. So they traded places.
Abu Hanifa finally answered the last question,
‘You asked me what Allah is doing right now… right now he is making the one who is on falsehood come down from the pulpit and the one full of success to answer and prove you wrong’.
This is how intelligent Imam Abu Hanifa was.