Imam Hanbal

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(Redirected from Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)

Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (780 - 855) was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh. His full name was Ahmed bin Muhammad Hanbal.

Imam Hanbal was born in Central Asia to Arab parents in 780. After the death of his father, he would move to Iraq and study extensively in Baghdad, and later used his travels to further his education. He was chiefly interested in acquiring knowledge of the hadith and travelled extensively through Iraq, Syria, and Arabia studying religion and collecting traditions of Muhammad.

His travels lasted several years. Upon returning home, he studied under Imam Shafi on Islamic law. Imam Hanbal was very devoted to traditional views and was opposed to innovations in Islamic law.

The strength of his views was tested under the caliphs al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim. During their reign an 'inquisition court' was created to deal with people who would not profess certain doctrines that the Abbasid caliphs thought were correct. These doctrines were from the Mutazilite school of thought, and held that the Qur'an was created and not eternal. Imam ibn Hanbal was arrested and brought in chains before the court, and suffered a great deal. But he patiently submitted to corporal punishment and imprisonment, and resolutely refused to deviate from his beliefs.

Under the rule of Al-Mutawakkil however, the policy of the government changed and Imam ibn Hanbal's trials came to an end. From then onwards the Imam was accorded honor befitting his great knowledge and on several occasions he was invited to the court and granted a generous pension.

Among the works of Imam ibn Hanbal is the great encyclopaedia of Traditions called Musnad, compiled by his son from his lectures and amplified by supplements - containing over twenty-eight thousand traditions. His other works include Kitab-us-Salaat, on the Discipline of Prayer and Kitab-us-Sunnah, on the Traditions of the Prophet.

Imam ibn Hanbal's fame spread far and wide. His learning, piety and unswerving faithfulness to traditions gathered a host of disciples and admirers around him. His teachings plus his books would lead his disciples to form the Hanbali school of jurisprudence.

He would die in Baghdad in the year 855; over 800,000 people would attend his funeral.

Notable Hanbali Scholars

From the notable Hanbali scholars throughout Islamic history – apart from the students of the Imam, we may mention the following:

  • Al-Khallal (who gathered all the narrations from Imam Ahmad from around the world and compiled them in a collection called Jami' al-Khallal)
  • al-Khiraqi (who summarised Jami' al-Khallal into a Fiqh manual, the mother of all Fiqh manuals in the Madhab)
  • Ghulam al-Khallal
  • Ibn Hamid – who is the last of the first Tabaqah of Hanbalis
  • al-Qadhi Abu Ya'la al-Kabir (a Hanafi who became a Hanbali, also regarded to be the victor of Ahmad's Madhab)
  • al-Shaheed Abu Ya'la al-Sagheer (the grandson of the al-Qadhi Abu Ya'la al-Kabeer, and the author of Tabaqat)
  • Abu al-Khattab
  • Abu Isma'il al-Harawi (the author of Manazil al-Sa'irin – a manual in Suluk – which was later on expounded on by Ibn al-Qayyim in Madarij al-Salikin. He is the one known for saying the line of poetry: Ana Hanbaliyun Mahayiytu wa in amut – Fa wasiyati li al-Nasi an yatahanbalu; meaning: I am a Hanbali as long as I live, and when I die – my will to the people is to become Hanbalis)
  • Abul-Wafa 'Ali ibn 'Aqil (he was influenced by the Mu'tazilas but he later on repented. He was nevertheless a genius and a great Hanbali scholar without doubt)
  • Muhammad ibn Abi Ya'la
  • The famous 'Abdul-Qadir al-Jailani
  • Ibn al-Jawzi
  • The famous Imam and Mujahid Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (who is the author of four classical books in Fiqh i) al-'Umdah for the beginners, ii) al-Muqni' for intermediate students, iii) al-Kafi for those who finish al-Muqni' and iv) al-Mughni for advanced students)
  • Ahmad ibn 'Abdil-Hadi
  • Najm al-Din al-Tufi (who is the author of some beneficial works, such as his summarisation of Rawdat al-Nadhir by Ibn Qudama, which is also known as al-Bulbul in Usul al-Fiqh. Unfortunately, in spite of being a Hanbali in Fiqh, he used to describe himself as an Ash'ari as well as a Rafidhi, and quite a few times he was admonished for his evil and wicked statements with regards to Umar. It is reported that he repented; however, Ibn Rajab claims that his repentance was never sincere)
  • Muhammad ibn Muflih
  • Ahmad ibn Qadhi al-Jabal (He is regarded to be Sheikh al-Hanabilah in poetry. He would often recite the poem: Nabiyi Ahmad wa Kadha Imami – wa Sheikhi Ahmad Ka al-Bahri Tami * wa ismi Ahmad Li Dhaka Arju Shafa'ata Ashrafi al-Rusul al-Kirami; which means: My Prophet is Ahmad, and so is my Imam – and my Sheikh Ahmad is overflowing with knowledge like an ocean * And my name is Ahmad and therefore I hope for – the intercession of the most noble of the Messengers)
  • Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (who is famous for numerous beneficial works in service of Islam and the Madhab)
  • Al-Mardawi, (the Sheikh al-Hanabilah in his time and the author of Insaf in which he mentions nearly all of the narrations of the Imam, as well as the opinions of Hanbalis, while clarifying the Madhab and that which does not constitute it, as he explains al-Muqni of Ibn Qudamah.)
  • Al-Hajjawi, (the author of the abridgement of al-Muqni', known as Zad al-Mustaqni', a much-referred-to manual of Hanbali Fiqh in the Arabian Peninsula.)
  • Al-Buhuti (the Sheikh al-Hanabila in his time and author of many beneficial works, including the Rawd al-Murbi', Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat and the masterpiece Kashaf al-Qina')
  • Al-Saffarini al-Hanbali
  • 'Abd al-Rahman al-Ba'li
  • Hamad ibn 'Atiq
  • 'Abdullah Aba Butain
  • Muhammad Jamil al-Shatti
  • 'Abdul-Qadir ibn Badran (used to be a Shafi'i who later on became a Hanbali and drowned in the Hanbali Madhab until he knew the Madhab inside-out. He then authored his famous introduction to the Hanbali Madhab known as, al-Madkhal Ila Madhab al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal)
  • Ibn Duwaiyan (the author of Manar al-Sabeel)
  • Nasir ibn al-Sa'di
  • Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Aal al-Sheikh
  • 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Qasim (the compiler of historical works including Majmu' Fatawa ibn Taimiyah, Durar al-Saniyah, footnotes on al-Rawdh al-Murbi', Ibn Ibrahim's Sharh on Adab al-Mashi Ila al-Salah and many others)
  • 'Abdul-'Aziz Ibn Baz
  • Salih Ibn Uthaimeen
  • Bakr ibn 'Abdullah Abu Zaid
  • 'Abdullah ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn 'Aqil (who is regarded to be Sheikh al-Hanabilah of this age – may Allah preserve him)de:Ibn Hanbal
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