(one of the Saviors of Islamic Sprite)
Primary, basic Islamic teachings were acquired during his childhood. During his childhood his father had passed away. Subsequently, he supported the family business and became rich silk merchant.
Kufa at the time of the Imam's birth was a great center of knowledge and learning, with many of the Holy Messenger’s (peace be upon him and mercy of Allah) Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were residing there. Due to the presence of these venerable people who had engendered so much interest in Hadith and Riwayat that practically every house in Kufa had become a center of these disciples and their disciplines.
At first, Imam Abu Hanifah was not a student of knowledge. However, by coincidence, while one day passing by the house of Sha'bi (an acclaimed "Great Scholar among the Successors), Abu Hanifah was called in by the Shaykh who mistook him for a student, "Where are you going young man?" asked Sha'bi.? Abu Hanifah named the merchant he was going to see." I meant to ask," asked Sha'bi, "Whose classes you attend?" "Nobody's," replied the Imam regretfully. "I see signs of intelligence in you," began Sha'bi, "You should sit in the company of learned men."
It was after this encounter that the young Naumanbegan his quest for knowledge. Imam Abu Hanifah acquired knowledge from over four thousand people. His teachers included many prestigious men of the time whose sanad went back to a number of Companions. He himself was blessed with the meeting of the Companions: Anas ibn Malik, Abdullah ibn Afwa and Sahl ibn Sa'ad (may Allah be pleased with them), thus gaining him the rank of being a Tabi'i (Successor to the Companions).
Amongst Imam Abu Hanifah's Shayukh was Hammad ibn Sulayman, he joined his circle at the age of 22, having already become a well-known debater and studied with this Shaykh until the latter's death, whereupon he took over his majlis (circle) at the age of forty. Shu'ba, a leading muhaddith who knew-by-heart two thousand traditions was also a teacher of ImamAbu Hanifah. Shu'ba was greatly attached to Imam Abu Hanifah saying: "Just as I know that the sun is bright, I know that learning and Abu Hanifah are doubles of each other."
The Imam's quest for knowledge inevitably took him to the Holy Sanctuaries (Haramain al Sharifain), at a time when Makkah was a busy center for learning. A number of acknowledged masters of Hadith, who had had access to the Holy Messenger’s Companions had established their own schools there. Of these was `Ata bin Rabah's (may Allah be pleased with him) school. `Ata was a famous Tabi'i who had associated with most of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and acquired from this association a status of authority. He himself claimed to have met two hundred men who had associated with the Holy Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and mercy of Allah). The leading Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) all acknowledged his learning. Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), son of the Caliph `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) often used to say:"Why do people come to me when `Ata ibn Abi Rabah is there for them to go to?" Of the other Muhaddithin of Makkah whose classes the Imam attended was `Ikrimah. He was the slave and pupil of Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), who educated him with great care and attention, making him so proficient that he, during his own lifetime gave Imam Abu Hanifah the authority to exercise personal judgment and rulings.