Ahmad ibn Hanbal[a] (Arabic: أَحْمَد بْن حَنْبَل, romanizedAḥmad ibn Ḥanbal; November 780 – 2 August 855) was a Sunni Muslim scholar, jurist, theologian, traditionist, ascetic and eponym of the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence—one of the four major orthodox legal schools of Sunni Islam.[5] The most highly influential and active scholar during his lifetime,[5] Ibn Hanbal went on to become "one of the most venerated" intellectual figures in Islamic history,[6] who has had a "profound influence affecting almost every area" of the traditionalist perspective within Sunni Islam.[7] One of the foremost classical proponents of relying on scriptural sources as the basis for Sunni Islamic law and way of life, Ibn Hanbal compiled one of the most significant Sunni hadith collections, al-Musnad,[8] which has continued to exercise considerable influence on the field of hadith studies up to the present time.[5]

Ahmad ibn Hanbal
أَحْمَد بْن حَنْبَل
Title
Personal
BornNovember 780 CE (Rabi' al-Awwal 164 AH)[1]
Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate (modern-day Iraq)[2][3]
Died2 August 855 CE (12 Rabi' al-Awwal 241 AH; aged 74–75)[1]
Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate (modern-day Iraq)[4]
ReligionIslam
Children
  • Abd Allah
  • Salih
EraIslamic Golden Age (early Abbasid)
RegionAbbasid Caliphate
DenominationSunni
JurisprudenceIndependent (eponym of the Hanbali school)
Main interest(s)
Notable idea(s)Hanbali school
Notable work(s)
  • Usul al-Sunna
  • al-Asami wa-l-Kuna
  • al-Ashriba
  • al-Radd ala al-Jahmiyya wa-l-Zanadiqa
  • al-Zuhd
  • Fada'il al-Sahaba
  • al-Musnad
  • Risala fi al-Salah li-Ahl al-Qibla
Occupation
Arabic name
Personal
(Ism)
Aḥmad
أَحْمَد
Patronymic
(Nasab)
Ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥanbal ibn Hilāl ibn Asad ibn Idrīs ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥayyān
ٱبْن مُحَمَّد بْن حَنْبَل بْن هِلَال بْن أَسَد بْن إِدْرِيس بْن عَبْد ٱللَّٰه بْن حَيَّان
Teknonymic
(Kunya)
Abū ʿAbd Allāh
أَبُو عَبْد ٱللَّٰه
Toponymic
(Nisba)
Al-Shaybānī al-Dhuhlī
ٱلشَّيْبَانيّ ٱلذُّهْلِيّ
Muslim leader
Influenced
  • All Hanbalis

Having studied jurisprudence and hadith under many teachers during his youth,[9] Ibn Hanbal became famous in his later life for the crucial role he played in the Mihna instituted by the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun toward the end of his reign, in which the ruler gave official state support to the Mu'tazili doctrine of the Quran being created, a view that contradicted the orthodox position of the Quran being the eternal, uncreated word of God.[5] Living in poverty throughout his lifetime working as a baker, and suffering physical persecution under the caliphs for his unflinching adherence to the traditional doctrine, Ibn Hanbal's fortitude in this particular event only bolstered his "resounding reputation"[5] in the annals of Sunni history.

Ibn Hanbal later came to be venerated as an exemplary figure in all traditional schools of Sunni thought,[5] both by the exoteric scholars and ascetic Sufis, with the latter often designating him as a saint in their hagiographies.[10] The 12th-century jurist and theologian Ibn al-Jawzi relates he "was the foremost in collecting the prophetic way and adhering to it."[11] He was further praised by the 14th-century historian and traditionist al-Dhahabi, who referred to Ibn Hanbal as "the true shaykh of Islam and imam of the Muslims in his time; the traditionist and proof of the religion'."[12]

In the modern era, Ibn Hanbal's name has become controversial in certain quarters of the Islamic world, as the Hanbali reform movement known as Wahhabism has cited him as a principal influence along with the 13th-century Hanbali reformer Ibn Taymiyya. However, it has been argued by certain scholars that Ibn Hanbal's own beliefs actually played "no real part in the establishment of the central doctrines of Wahhabism,"[13] as there is evidence, according to the same authors, "the older Hanbali authorities had doctrinal concerns very different from those of the Wahhabis,"[13] due to medieval Hanbali literature being rich in references to saints, grave visitation, miracles, and relics.[14] In this connection, scholars have cited Ibn Hanbal's own support for the use of relics as one of several important points on which the theologian's positions diverged from those adhering to Wahhabism.[15] Other scholars maintain he was "the distant progenitor of Wahhabism", who also immensely inspired the similar conservative reform movement of Salafism.[16]

Biography edit

Early life and family edit

 
A manuscript of Ibn Hanbal's legal writings, produced October 879

Ibn Hanbal's family was originally from Basra, and belonged to the Arab Banu Dhuhl tribe.[17] His father was an officer in the Abbasid army in Khorasan and later settled with his family in Baghdad, where he was born in November 780 CE / Rabi' al-Awwal 164 AH.[2]

Ibn Hanbal married two wives in his life and has several children, including an older son, Salih, who later became a judge in Isfahan and authored the notable work al-Sunna.[18]

His first wife, Abbasa bint al-Fadl, bore his son Salih. They were together for 20 or 30 years until her passing. Ibn Hanbal remarked about her: "In the 20 or 30 years we were together, we never had a disagreement."[19]

His second wife, Rayhana bint Umar, bore his other son Abd Allah and was noted to have one eye. Ibn Hanbal married her as he was impressed by her religious commitment. They were together for seven years.[19]

Education and work edit

Ibn Hanbal studied extensively in Baghdad, and later traveled to further his education. He started learning jurisprudence under the celebrated judge of Hanafi jurisprudence, Abu Yusuf, who was the student and companion of Abu Hanifa. After completing his studies with him, Ibn Hanbal began traveling throughout Arabia to collect narrations of Muhammad. Ibn al-Jawzi stated Ibn Hanbal had 414 traditionists whom he narrated from. With this knowledge, he became a leading authority in the field, leaving behind an immense encyclopedia of narrations, al-Musnad. After several years of travel, he returned to Baghdad to study under al-Shafi'i, with whom he formed a close bond with.[citation needed]

Ibn Hanbal became a judge in his old age. Through his students, the Hanbali school of jurisprudence was established, which is now most dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.[20][21] Unlike the other three schools—Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi'i—the Hanbali school remained largely Athari in its theology.[22]

In addition to his scholastic enterprises, Ibn Hanbal was a soldier in the war frontiers and performed pilgrimage five times in his life, twice on foot.[23]

Inquisition edit

Ibn Hanbal is known to have been called before the Mihna of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun, who wanted to assert his religious authority by pressuring scholars to adopt the Mu'tazili doctrine of the Quran being created, rather than uncreated. According to Sunni tradition, Ibn Hanbal was one of the foremost scholars in resisting the caliph's interference and his imposed doctrine. Ibn Hanbal's stance led to the Hanbali school establishing itself firmly as not only a school of jurisprudence, but theology as well.[24]

Because of Ibn Hanbal's refusal to accept the Mu'tazili doctrine, he was imprisoned in Baghdad throughout the reign of al-Ma'mun. In an incident during the rule of al-Ma'mun's successor, al-Mu'tasim, Ibn Hanbal was flogged to unconsciousness; however, this caused great upheaval in Baghdad and forced al-Mu'tasim to release him.[23][dead link] After al-Mu'tasim's death, al-Wathiq became caliph and continued his predecessors' policies of enforcing the Mu'tazili doctine and, in this pursuit, banished Ibn Hanbal from Baghdad. It was only after al-Wathiq's death and the ascent of his brother al-Mutawakkil, who was much more tolerating of the traditional Sunni beliefs, that Ibn Hanbal was welcomed back to Baghdad.[citation needed]

Death edit

Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Jurist
  • traditionist
  • theologian
  • founder of the Hanbali school
  • Defender of Orthodoxy
  • True Shaykh of Islam
  • Proof of the Religion
  • Seal of the Independent Imams
  • Reinforcer of the Religion
  • One Who Gathered the Knowledge of the First and Last[25][verification needed]
  • Guardian of the Prophet's Narrations[26]
  • Confirmer of the Relics[15][verification needed]
BornBaghdad, Abbasid Caliphate[2][3]
Venerated inSunni Islam
Major shrineAhmad ibn Hanbal Mosque, Baghdad, Iraq[27][28][29]

Ibn Hanbal died on Friday, 2 August 855 / 12 Rabi' al-Awwal, 241 AH at the age of 74–75 in Baghdad. Historians relate his funeral was attended by 800,000 men and 60,000 women, and 20,000 Christians and Jews converted to Islam on that day.[30] His grave is located in the premises of the Ahmad ibn Hanbal Mosque[31][32] in al-Rusafa District.[27][28][29]

Views and thought edit

Ibn Hanbal's principal doctrine is what later came to be known as "traditionalist thought," which emphasized the acceptance of only the Quran and hadith as the foundations of orthodox belief.[7] He did, however, believe that it was only a select few who were properly authorized to interpret the sacred texts.[7]

Theology edit

God edit

Ibn Hanbal understood the perfect definition of God to be that given in the Quran, whence he held that proper belief in God constituted believing in the description which God had given of Himself in the Islamic scripture.[5] To begin with, Ibn Hanbal asserted that God was both Unique and Absolute and absolutely incomparable to anything in the world of His creatures.[5] As for the various divine attributes, Ibn Hanbal believed that all the regular attributes of God, such as hearing, sight, speech, omnipotence, will, wisdom, the vision by the believers on the day of resurrection etc., were to be literally affirmed as "realities" (ḥaqq). As for those attributes called "ambiguous" (mutas̲h̲ābih), such as those which spoke of God's hand, face, throne, and omnipresence, vision by the believers on the day of resurrection, etc. they were to be understood in the same manner.[5] Ibn Hanbal treated those verses in the scriptures with apparently anthropomorphic descriptions as muhkamat (clear) verses; admitting to only a literal meaning.[33]

Furthermore, Ibn Hanbal "rejected the negative theology (taʿṭīl) of the Jahmiyya and their particular allegorizing exegesis (taʾwīl) of the Quran and of tradition, and no less emphatically criticized the anthropomorphism (tas̲h̲bīh) of the Mus̲h̲abbiha, amongst whom he included, in the scope of his polemics, the Jahmiyya as unconscious anthropomorphists."[5] Ibn Hanbal was also a critic of overt and unnecessary speculation in matters of theology; he believed that it was fair to worship God "without the 'mode' of the theologoumena (bilā kayf),[5] and felt it was wise to leave to God the understanding of His own mystery.[5] Thus, Ibn Hanbal became a strong proponent of the bi-lā kayfa formula. This mediating principle allowed the traditionalists to deny ta'wil (figurative interpretations) of the apparently anthropomorphic texts while concomitantly affirming the doctrine of the "incorporeal, transcendent deity". Although he argued for literalist meanings of the Qur'anic and prophetic statements about God, Ibn Hanbal was not a fideist and was willing to engage in hermeneutical exercises. The rise of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the Ashab al-Hadith, whose cause he championed, during the Mihna; would mark the stage for the empowerment and centering of corporealist ideas in the Sunnite orthodoxy.[34]

Ibn Hanbal also recognized "Divine Form (Al-Şūrah)" as a true attribute of God. He disagreed with those speculative theologians who interpreted the Divine Form as something that represents pseudo-divinities such as the sun, moon, stars, etc. For Ibn Hanbal, to deny that God truly has a Form is Kufr (disbelief). He also believed that God created Adam "according to His form".[35] Censuring those who alleged that this was referring to the form of Adam, Ibn Hanbal asserted:

"He who says that Allah created Adam according to the form of Adam, he is a Jahmi (disbeliever). Which form did Adam have before He created him?"[36]

The Quran edit

One of Ibn Hanbal's most famous contributions to Sunni thought was the considerable role he played in bolstering the orthodox doctrine of the Quran being the "uncreated Word of God" (kalām Allāh g̲h̲ayr mak̲h̲lūḳ).[5] By "Quran," Ibn Hanbal understood "not just an abstract idea but the Quran with its letters, words, expressions, and ideas—the Quran in all its living reality, whose nature in itself," according to Ibn Hanbal, eluded human comprehension.[5]

Taqlid edit

Ahmad ibn Hanbal favoured Ijtihad and rejected Taqlid; the practise of blind adherence to madhabs (legal schools).[37] Ahmad ibn Hanbal's staunch condemnation of Taqlid is reported in Hanbali Qadi 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hassan's treatise (1196-1285 A.H / 1782-1868 C.E) Fath al-Majeed. Comparing Taqlid to Shirk (polytheism), ibn Hanbal states:

"I am amazed at those people who know that a Sanad (i.e. Chain of Transmission) is authentic and yet, in spite of this, they follow the opinion of Sufyan, for Allah (Glorified be He), says: {And let those who oppose the Messenger's commandment (i.e. his Sunnah - legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements) (among the sects) beware, lest some Fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant) should befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them}. (An-Nur: 63) Do you know what that Fitnah is? That Fitnah is Shirk (polytheism). Maybe the rejection of some of his words would cause one to doubt and deviate in his heart and thereby be destroyed."[38]

Intercession edit

It is narrated by Abū Bakr al-Marwazī in his Mansak that Ibn Hanbal preferred one to make tawassul or "intercession" through Muhammad in every supplication, with the wording: "O God! I am turning to Thee with Thy Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy. O Muhammad! I am turning with you to my Lord for the fulfillment of my need."[39] This report is repeated in many later Hanbali works, in the context of personal supplication as an issue of jurisprudence.[40] Ibn Qudamah, for example, recommends it for the obtainment of need in his Wasiyya.[41] In the same way, Ibn Taymiyyah cites the Hanbali fatwa on the desirability of Muhammad's intercession in every personal supplication in his Qāida fil-Tawassul wal-Wasiīla where he attributes it to "Imām Ahmad and a group of the pious ancestors" from the Mansak of al-Marwazī as his source.[42]

Mysticism edit

As there exist historical sources indicating patently "mystical elements in his personal piety"[43] and documented evidence of his amiable interactions with numerous early Sufi saints, including Maruf Karkhi,[44] it is recognized that Ibn Hanbal's relationship with many of the Sufis was one of mutual respect and admiration. Qadi Abu Ya'la reports in his Tabaqat: "[Ibn Hanbal] used to greatly respect the Sūfīs and show them kindness and generosity. He was asked about them and was told that they sat in mosques constantly to which he replied, 'Knowledge made them sit.'"[45] Furthermore, it is in Ibn Hanbal's Musnad that we find most of the hadith reports concerning the abdal, forty major saints "whose number [according to Islamic mystical doctrine] would remain constant, one always being replaced by some other on his death" and whose key role in the traditional Sufi conception of the celestial hierarchy would be detailed by later mystics such as Hujwiri and Ibn Arabi.[10] It has been reported that Ibn Hanbal explicitly identified Maruf Karkhi as one of the abdal, saying: "He is one of the Substitute-Saints, and his supplication is answered."[46] Of the same Sufi, Ibn Hanbal later asked rhetorically: "Is religious knowledge anything else than what Maruf has achieved?"[10] Additionally, there are accounts of Ibn Hanbal extolling the early ascetic saint Bishr the Barefoot and his sister as two exceptional devotees of God,[47] and of his sending people with mystical questions to Bishr for guidance.[48] It is also recorded that Ibn Hanbal said, with regard to the early Sufis, "I do not know of any people better than them."[49] Moreover, there are accounts of Ibn Hanbal's son, Sālih, being exhorted by his father to go and study under the Sufis. According to one tradition, Sālih said: "My father would send for me whenever a self-denier or ascetic (zāhid aw mutaqashshif) visited him so I could look at him. He loved for me to become like this."[46]

As for the Sufis' reception of Ibn Hanbal, it is evident that he was "held in high regard" by all the major Sufis of the classical and medieval periods,[50] and later Sufi chroniclers often designated the jurist as a saint in their hagiographies, praising him both for his legal work and for his appreciation of Sufi doctrine.[50] Hujwiri, for example, wrote of him: "He was distinguished by devoutness and piety ... Sufis of all orders regard him as blessed. He associated with great Shaykhs, such as Dhul-Nun of Egypt, Bishr al-Hafi, Sari al-Saqati, Maruf Karkhi, and others. His miracles were manifest and his intelligence sound ... He had a firm belief in the principles of religion, and his creed was approved by all the [theologians]."[51] Both non-Hanbali and Hanbali Sufi hagiographers such as Hujwiri and Ibn al-Jawzi, respectively, also alluded to Ibn Hanbal's own gifts as a miracle worker[52] and of the blessedness of his grave.[53] For example, Ibn Hanbal's own body was traditionally held to have been blessed with the miracle of incorruptibility, with Ibn al-Jawzi relating: "When the Prophet's descendant Abū Ja'far ibn Abī Mūsā was buried next to him, Ahmad ibn Hanbal's tomb was exposed. His corpse had not putrified and the shroud was still whole and undecayed."[54]

Although there is a perception that Ibn Hanbal or his school were somehow adverse to Sufism, scholars such as Eric Geoffrey have asserted that this opinion is more partial than objective, for there is no proof that the Hanbali school "[attacked] Sufism in itself any more than any other school,"[55] and it is evident that "during the first centuries some major Sufis [such as Ibn Ata Allah, Hallaj, and Abdullah Ansari] ... followed the Hanbalite school of law."[55] By the twelfth-century, the relationship between Hanbalism and Sufism was so close that one of the most prominent Hanbali jurists, Abdul Qadir Jilani, was also simultaneously the most famous Sufi of his era, and the Tariqa that he founded, the Qadiriyya, has continued to remain one of the most widespread Sufi orders up until the present day.[55] Even later Hanbali authors who were famous for criticizing some of the "deviances" of certain heterodox Sufi orders of their day, such as Ibn Qudamah, Ibn al-Jawzi, and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, all belonged to Abdul Qadir Jilani's order themselves, and never condemned Sufism outright.[55]

Relics edit

As has been noted by scholars, it is evident that Ibn Hanbal "believed in the power of relics,"[10] and supported the seeking of blessing through them in religious veneration. Indeed, several accounts of Ibn Hanbal's life relate that he often carried "a purse ... in his sleeve containing ... hairs from the Prophet."[10] Furthermore, Ibn al-Jawzi relates a tradition narrated by Ibn Hanbal's son, Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who recalled his father's devotion towards relics thus: "I saw my father take one of the Prophet's hairs, place it over his mouth, and kiss it. I may have seen him place it over his eyes, and dip it in water and then drink the water for a cure."[56] In the same way, Ibn Hanbal also drunk from Muhammad's bowl (technically a "second-class" relic) in order to seek blessings from it,[56] and considered touching and kissing the sacred minbar of Muhammad for blessings a permissible and pious act.[57] Ibn Hanbal later ordered that he be buried with Muhammad's hairs he possessed, "one on each eye and a third on his tongue."[10]

Sufi scholar Gibril Haddad reports from al-Dhahabi that Ibn Hanbal "used to seek blessings from the relics of the Prophet."[15] Citing the aforementioned report of Ibn Hanbal's devotion towards Muhammad's hair, al-Dhahabī then goes onto staunchly criticize whoever finds fault with the practices of tabarruk or seeking blessings from holy relics, saying: "Where is the quibbling critic of Imām Ahmad now? It is also authentically established that Abd Allāh [Ibn Hanbal's son] asked his father about those who touch the pommel of Muhammad's pulpit and touch the wall of his room, and he said: 'I do not see any harm in it.' May God protect us and you from the opinion of the dissenters and from innovations!"[58]

When asked by his son Abdullah about the legitimacy of touching and kissing Muhammad's grave in Medina, Ibn Hanbal is said to have approved of both these acts as being permissible according to sacred law.[59][60]

Jurisprudence edit

According to Hanbali scholar Najm al-Din Tufi (d. 716 A.H/ 1316 C.E), Ahmad ibn Hanbal did not formulate a legal theory; since "his entire concern was with hadith and its collection". More than a century after Ahmad's death, Hanbali legalism would emerge as a distinct school; due to the efforts of jurists like Abu Bakr al-Athram (d. 261 A.H/ 874 C.E), Harb al-Kirmani (d. 280 A.H/ 893 C.E), 'Abd Allah ibn Ahmad (d. 290 A.H/903 C.E), Abu Bakr al-Khallal (d. 311 A.H/ 923 C.E) etc., who compiled Ahmad's various legal verdicts.[61]

Independent reasoning by muftis edit

Ibn Hanbal also had a strict criterion for ijtihad or independent reasoning in matters of law by muftis and the ulema.[62] One story narrates that Ibn Hanbal was asked by Zakariyyā ibn Yaḥyā al-Ḍarīr about "how many memorized ḥadīths are sufficient for someone to be a mufti [meaning a mujtahid jurist or one capable of issuing independently-reasoned fatwas]."[62] According to the narrative, Zakariyyā asked: "Are one-hundred thousand sufficient?" to which Ibn Hanbal responded in the negative, with Zakariyyā asking if two-hundred thousand were, to which he received the same response from the jurist. Thus, Zakariyyā kept increasing the number until, at five-hundred thousand, Ibn Hanbal said: "I hope that that should be sufficient."[62] As a result, it has been argued that Ibn Hanbal disapproved of independent reasoning by those muftis who were not absolute masters in law and jurisprudence.[62]

Misusing ahadith edit

Ibn Hanbal narrated from Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā al-Qaṭṭān that the latter said: "If someone were to follow every rukhṣa [dispensation] that is in the ḥadīth, he would become a transgressor (fāsiq)."[63] It is believed that he quoted this on account of the vast number of forged traditions of Muhammad.[62]

Private interpretation edit

Ibn Hanbal appears to have been a formidable opponent of "private interpretation," and actually held that it was only the religious scholars who were qualified to properly interpret the holy texts.[7] One of the creeds attributed to Ibn Hanbal opens with: "Praise be to God, who in every age and interval between prophets (fatra) elevated learned men possessing excellent qualities, who call upon him who goes astray (to return) to the right way."[7] It has been pointed out that this particular creed "explicitly opposes the use of personal judgement (raʾy) ... [as basis] of jurisprudence."[7]

Ethics edit

Differences of opinion edit

Ibn Hanbal was praised both in his own life and afterwards for his "serene acceptance of juridicial divergences among the various schools of Islamic law".[64] According to later notable scholars of the Hanbali school like Ibn Aqil and Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Hanbal "considered every madhhab correct and abhorred that a jurist insist people follow his even if he considered them wrong and even if the truth is one in any given matter."[65] As such, when Ibn Hanbal's student Ishāq ibn Bahlūl al-Anbārī had "compiled a book on juridicial differences ... which he had named The Core of Divergence (Lubāb al-Ikhtilāf)," Ibn Hanbal advised him to name the work The Book of Leeway (Kitāb al-Sa'a) instead.[66]

Works edit

The following books are found in Ibn al-Nadim's Fihrist:

  • Usool as-Sunnah: "Foundations of the Prophetic Tradition (in Belief)"
  • as-Sunnah: "The Prophet Tradition (in Belief)"
  • Kitab al-`Ilal wa Ma‘rifat al-Rijal: "The Book of Narrations Containing Hidden Flaws and of Knowledge of the Men (of Hadeeth)" Riyad: Al-Maktabah al-Islamiyyah
  • Kitab al-Manasik: "The Book of the Rites of Hajj"
  • Kitab al-Zuhd: "The Book of Abstinence" ed. Muhammad Zaghlul, Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, 1994
  • Kitab al-Iman: "The Book of Faith"
  • Kitab al-Masa'il: "Issues in Fiqh"
  • Kitab al-Ashribah: "The Book of Drinks"
  • Kitab al-Fada'il Sahaba: "Virtues of the Companions"
  • Kitab Tha'ah al-Rasul : "The Book of Obedience to the Messenger"
  • Kitab Mansukh: "The Book of Abrogation"
  • Kitab al-Fara'id: "The Book of Obligatory Duties"
  • Kitab al-Radd `ala al-Zanadiqa wa'l-Jahmiyya: "Refutations of the Heretics and the Jahmites" (Cairo: 1973)
  • Tafsir: "Exegesis"
  • Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Historical views edit

Ibn Hanbal has been extensively praised for both his work in the field of prophetic tradition (hadith), jurisprudence, and his defense of orthodox Sunni theology. Abdul-Qadir Gilani stated that a Muslim could not truly be a wali of Allah except that they were upon Ibn Hanbal's creed[citation needed]; despite praise from his contemporaries as well, Yahya ibn Ma'in noted that Ibn Hanbal never boasted about his achievements.[18]

Jurisprudence edit

There have some alleged views that his juristic views were not always accepted. Qur'anic exegete Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, who at one time had sought to study under Ibn Hanbal, later stated that he did not consider Ibn Hanbal a jurist and gave his views in the field no weight, describing him as an expert in prophetic tradition only.[67] However this must be seen in context of its time, as Ibn Hanbal's school was still at its infancy and not followed by so many people yet compared to the other schools and the students had conflict with Al-Tabari's school.[68] Consider how the Masa'il of Imam Ahmad, i.e. the first written compilation of Ibn Hanbal's question and answers, was written by Abu Bakr al-Khallal who lived around the same time as Al-Tabari, and the first written compilation of Ibn Hanbal's fiqh was Al-Khiraqi who also lived around that same time. The more systematic teaching of Ibn Hanbal's jurisprudence in education facilities only occurred after that point.[69]

Likewise, some consider how the Andalusian scholar Ibn 'Abd al-Barr did not include Ibn Hanbal or his views in his book The Hand-Picked Excellent Merits of the Three Great Jurisprudent Imâms about the main representatives of Sunni jurisprudence.[70] However, Ibn 'Abd al-Barr actually has praised Ibn Hanbal's jurisprudence by saying "He is very powerful in the fiqh of the madhab of the ahl al-hadith and he is the Imam of the 'ulama of ahl al-hadith."[71]

Be that as it may, the vast majority of other scholars do recognize Ibn Hanbal's prowess as a master jurist worthy of one whose methodology became foundation for its own school of jurisprudence. Imam Shafi'i said, among many other praises, "Ahmad is an Imam in eight fields: he is an imam in hadith, jurisprudence, Al-Qur'an, Al-Lughah, Al-Sunnah, Al-Zuhd, Al-Warak, and Al-Faqr".[72] Al-Dhahabi, one of the most major Islamic biographers, notes in his masterpiece Siyar A'lam Nubala that Ibn Hanbal's status in jurisprudence is alike Al-Layth ibn Sa'd, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Shafi'i, and Abu Yusuf.[73] Muhammad Abu Zahra, a contemporary Hanafi scholar, wrote a book titled Ibn Hanbal: Hayatuhu wa `Asruhu Ara'uhu wa Fiqhuh, and there he mentioned the heavy praises of various other classical scholars towards Ibn Hanbal and his school of jurisprudence.

Hadith edit

It is reported that Ibn Hanbal has reached the title of al Hafidh of Hadith according to Jamal al-Din al-Mizzi classification, as the title bestowment were approved by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani that Ibn Hanbal has memorized at least 750,000 hadith during his life, more than Muhammad al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj who each memorized 300,000 hadith, and Abu Dawud al-Sijistani who memorized 500,000 hadith.[74][unreliable source?] Abu Zur'ah mentions that Ibn Hanbal has memorized 1000,000 hadith, 700,000 among them are related to jurisprudence.[72]

While according to the classification from Marfu' Hadith of Ibn Abbas which recorded by Al-Tabarani, Ibn Hanbal has reached the rank of Amir al-Mu'minin al-Hadith, a rank that only reached by very few Hadith scholars in history such as Malik ibn Anas, Yahya ibn Ma'in, Hammad ibn Salamah, Ibn al-Mubarak, and Al-Suyuti.[74][unreliable source?] Ibn Hanbal's Musnad is not, however, ranked among the Kutub al-Sittah, the six big collections of hadith.

In popular culture edit

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Full name Abū ʿAbd Allāh Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥanbal ibn Hilāl ibn Asad ibn Idrīs ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥayyān al-Shaybānī al-Dhuhlī (Arabic: أَبُو عَبْد ٱللَّٰه أَحْمَد بْن مُحَمَّد بْن حَنْبَل بْن هِلَال بْن أَسَد بْن إِدْرِيس بْن عَبْد ٱللَّٰه بْن حَيَّان ٱلشَّيْبَانيّ ٱلذُّهْلِيّ); he is known by the title Shaykh al-Islam.

References edit

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  2. ^ a b c Roy Jackson, "Fifty key figures in Islam", Taylor & Francis, 2006. p 44: "Abu Abdallah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal ibn Hilal al-Shaybani was born in Baghdad in Iraq in 780"
  3. ^ a b The History of Persia by John Malcolm – Page 245
  4. ^ a b c A Literary History of Persia from the Earliest Times Until Firdawsh by Edward Granville Browne – Page 295
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  6. ^ Mohammed M. I. Ghaly, "Writings on Disability in Islam: The 16th Century Polemic on Ibn Fahd's "al-Nukat al-Ziraf"," The Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 13/14, No. 2/1 (Fall 2005/Spring 2006), p. 26, note 98
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  8. ^ 1st ed., Cairo 1311; new edition by Aḥmad S̲h̲ākir in publ. since 1368/1948
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  12. ^ Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 301
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  20. ^ Daryl Champion (2002), The Paradoxical Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Momentum of Reform, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-12814-8, p. 23 footnote 7
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  25. ^ See Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 307
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  28. ^ a b دليل الجوامع والمساجد التراثية والأثرية (in Arabic), Sunni Endowment Office, p. 69
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  30. ^ Adamec, Ludwig W. (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, Scarecrow Press, pp. 136–137, ISBN 978-0-8108-6161-9
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  33. ^ Williams, Wesley (August 2002). "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad IBN Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic Discourse". International Journal of Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. 34 (3): 441–463. doi:10.1017/S0020743802003021. JSTOR 3879671. S2CID 162455371. Archived from the original on 7 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via JSTOR. He chose to treat the anthropomorphic descriptions of God found in the scriptures as muhkamat, admitting to only a literal meaning,..
  34. ^ Williams, Wesley (August 2002). "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad IBN Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic Discourse". International Journal of Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. 34 (3): 441–463. doi:10.1017/S0020743802003021. JSTOR 3879671. S2CID 162455371. Archived from the original on 7 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via JSTOR. Scholars are almost unanimous in attributing to Ibn Hanbal the use of the ancient balkafa formula. Goldziher, Wensinck, Halkin, Laoust, Makdisi, Abrahamov, and Watt all find in the Imam an advocate of this mediating principle (balkafa), which reportedly allowed the traditionalists to deny the Mu'tazilite ta'wil or figurative interpretation of the Qur'anic anthropomorphisms while concomitantly affirming the doctrine of the "incorporeal, transcendent deity"... although he argued for the acceptance of the literal meaning of the Qur'anic and prophetic statements about God, he was no fideist.' The imam was quite willing to engage in hermeneutical exercise.. The rise of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal during the Mihna resulted in the empowering and centering of corporealist ideas within the Sunni movement. When his ideas became the criterion of traditionalist orthodoxy..
  35. ^ Williams, Wesley (August 2002). "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad IBN Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic Discourse". International Journal of Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. 34 (3): 441–463. doi:10.1017/S0020743802003021. JSTOR 3879671. S2CID 162455371. Archived from the original on 7 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via JSTOR. Speculative theologians (mutakalliman) from among the Sunni fold, finding this theomorphism objectionable yet unwilling to impugn the authenticity of the report, preferred to interpret the "form" as belonging to something other than God, such as the pseudodivinities (macbadat)-that is, the sun, moon, and stars. Ibn Hanbal disagreed... It is likely that Ibn Hanbal recognized this sura as a true attribute of God.. He states in his Aqida V: "God created Adam with His hand and in His image/form
  36. ^ Williams, Wesley (August 2002). "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad IBN Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic Discourse". International Journal of Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. 34 (3): 443. doi:10.1017/S0020743802003021. JSTOR 3879671. S2CID 162455371. Archived from the original on 7 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via JSTOR.
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  38. ^ Ibn Hasan Aal-Sheikh, 'Abdur-Rahman (2002). "38: Taking Scholars or Rulers as Partners Besides Allah". Fath al-Majeed: Sharh Kitab al-Tawhid [Divine Triumph: Explanatory Notes on the Book of Tawheed]. Translated by Al-Halawani, 'Ali As-Sayed. El Mansoura, Egypt: Dar al Manarah. p. 366. ISBN 977-6005-18-7.
  39. ^ Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 389 [trans slightly revised].
  40. ^ Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 389.
  41. ^ Ibn Quduma, Wasiyya al-Muwaffaq Ibn Quduma al-Maqdisi, p. 93; see Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 389
  42. ^ See Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 389.
  43. ^ Holtzman, Livnat, “Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson; cf. Ibn al-Jawzī, Manāqib al-imām Aḥmad, ed. ʿĀdil Nuwayhiḍ, Beirut 1393/1973 and Christopher Melchert, The Ḥanābila and the Early Sufis, Arabica, T. 48, Fasc. 3 (Brill, 2001), pp. 355-56
  44. ^ H. Laoust, "Ahmad b. Hanbal," in Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. I, pp. 272-7; Christopher Melchert, The Ḥanābila and the Early Sufis, Arabica, T. 48, Fasc. 3 (Brill, 2001), p. 356
  45. ^ Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 387; see ; see Ibn Abī Ya'lā, Tabaqāt al-Hanābila, II.279
  46. ^ a b Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 387
  47. ^ John Renard, Friends of God: Islamic Images of Piety, Commitment, and Servanthood (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), p. 158
  48. ^ Hujwiri, Kashf al-Majhub, trans. R. A. Nicholson (Leiden: Brill, 1911), p. 117
  49. ^ al-Ghiza al-Albab, I, p. 120
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  51. ^ Hujwiri, Kashf al-Majhub, trans. R. A. Nicholson (Leiden: Brill, 1911), pp. 117-118
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Further reading edit

Primary edit

  • Al-Ājurrī, Kitāb al-Sharīʿa, Beirut 2000[1]
  • Al-Dhahabī, Siyar aʿlām al-nubalāʾ, ed. Shuʿayb al-Arnaʾūṭ and Ḥusayn al-Asad, 25 vols., Beirut 1401–9/1981–8
  • Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābila, ed. Muḥammad Ḥāmid al-Fiqī, 2 vols., Cairo 1952
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, al-Masāʾil wa-l-rasāʾil al-marwiyya ʿan al-imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, ed. ʿAbdallāh b. Salmān b. Sālim al-Aḥmadī, 2 vols., Riyadh 1991
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, al-ʿIlal wa-maʿrifat al-rijāl, ed. Waṣiyyallāh b. Muḥammad ʿAbbās, Bombay 1408/1988
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Kitāb al-ṣalāh (with a supplement comprising Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's al-Ṣalāh wa-aḥkām tārikīhā), ed. Zakariyyā ʿAlī Yusūf, Cairo 1971
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Kitāb al-zuhd, ed. Muḥammad Jalāl Sharaf, Beirut 1981
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, al-Musnad lil-imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, ed. Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir, 20 vols., Cairo 1416/1995
  • Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, al-Radd ʿalā l-zanādiqa wa-l-Jahmiyya, in ʿAlī Sāmī al-Nashshār and ʿAmmār Jumʿī al-Ṭālibī (eds.), ʿAqāʾid al-salaf (Alexandria 1971), 51–103
  • Ṣāliḥ b. Ḥanbal, Sīrat al-imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, ed. Fuʾād ʿAbd al-Munʿim Aḥmad, 2 vols. in one, Alexandria 1401/1981
  • Ibn al-Jawzī, Manāqib al-imām Aḥmad, ed. ʿĀdil Nuwayhiḍ, Beirut 1393/19732
  • Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa-l-nihāya, 16 vols., Cairo 1418/1998
  • Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ijtimāʿ al-juyūsh al-islāmiyya, ed. ʿAwwād ʿAbdallāh al-Muʿtaq, Riyadh 1419/1999
  • Ibn Taymiyya, Darʾ taʿāruḍ al-ʿaql wa-l-naql, ed. Muḥammad Rashād Sālim, 11 vols., Riyadh 1979–81
  • Abū Nuʿaym al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ wa-ṭabaqāt al-aṣfiyāʾ, 10 vols., Beirut 1409/1988
  • Marʿī b. Yūsuf al-Karmī, al-Shahāda al-zakiyya fī thanāʾ al-aʾimma ʿalā Ibn Taymiyya, ed. Najm ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Khalaf, Beirut 1404/1984
  • Abū Bakr al-Khallāl, al-Sunna, ed. ʿAṭiyya al-Zahrānī, 7 vols., Riyadh 1410/1989
  • Abū Bakr Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥajjāj al-Marwazī, Kitāb al-waraʿ, ed. Samīr b. Amīn al-Zuhayrī, Riyadh 1418/1997.

Secondary edit

  • Binyamin Abrahamov, Islamic theology. Traditionalism and rationalism, Edinburgh 1998
  • Binyamin Abrahamov, "The bi-lā kayfa doctrine and its foundations in Islamic theology," Arabica 42/1–3 (1995), 365–79
  • Muḥammad Abū Zahra, Ibn Ḥanbal. Ḥayātuhu wa-ʿaṣruhu wa-fiqhuhu, Cairo 1947
  • Michael Cooperson, "Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal and Bishr al-Ḥāfī. A case study in biographical traditions," SI 86 (1997/2), 71–101
  • Michael Cooperson, Classical Arabic biography. The heirs of the prophets in the age of al-Maʾmūn, Cambridge 2000
  • Daniel Gimaret, "Theories de l'acte humain dans l'école ḥanbalite," BEO 29 (1977), 157–78
  • Ignáz Goldziher, "Aḥmed b. Muḥammad b. Ḥanbal," EI1
  • Ignáz Goldziher, Vorlesungen über den Islam, Heidelberg 1910
  • Gibril F. Haddad, The four imams and their schools, London 2007
  • Wael B. Hallaq, "Was al-Shafiʿi the master architect of Islamic jurisprudence?," IJMES, 25 (1993), 590
  • Livnat Holtzman, "Human choice, divine guidance and the fiṭra tradition. The use of ḥadīth in theological treatises by Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya," in Yossef Rapoport and Shahab Ahmed (eds.), Ibn Taymiyya and his times, Karachi 2009
  • Livnat Holtzman, Predestination (al-qaḍāʾ wa-l-qadar) and free will (al-ikhtiyār) as reflected in the works of the Neo-Ḥanbalites of the fourteenth century, Ph.D. diss., Bar-Ilan University 2003 (in Hebrew)
  • Nimrod Hurvitz, The formation of Ḥanbalism. Piety into power, London 2002
  • Nimrod Hurvitz, "From scholarly circles to mass movements. The formation of legal communities in Islamic societies," American Historical Review 108/4 (2003), 985–1008
  • Henri Laoust, "Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal," EI2
  • Henri Laoust, La profession de foi d'Ibn Baṭṭa, Damascus 1958
  • Henri Laoust, "Les premières professions de foi ḥanbalites," in Mélanges Louis Massignon (Damascus 1956–7), 3:7–35
  • Wilferd Madelung, "The origins of the controversy concerning the creation of the Koran," in J. M. Barral (ed.), Orientalia hispanica (Leiden 1974), 1:504–25
  • George Makdisi, "Ḥanbalite Islam," in Merlin L. Swartz (ed.), Studies on Islam (Oxford 1981), 216–64
  • Christopher Melchert, "The adversaries of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal," Arabica 44 (1997), 234–53
  • Christopher Melchert, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Oxford 2006
  • Christopher Melchert, The formation of the Sunni schools of law, 9th–10th centuries C.E., Leiden 1997
  • Christopher Melchert, "The Ḥanābila and the early Ṣūfīs," Arabica 48/3 (2001), 352–67
  • Christopher Melchert, "The Musnad of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal," Der Islam 82 (2005), 32–51
  • Christopher Melchert, "The piety of the Hadith folk," IJMES 34 (2002), 425–39
  • John A. Nawas, "A reexamination of three current explanations for al-Maʾmūn's introduction of the miḥna," IJMES 26 (1994), 615–29
  • Walter M. Patton, Aḥmed ibn Ḥanbal and the miḥna, Leiden 1897
  • Muḥammad Z. Siddiqi, Ḥadīth literature, ed. and revised by Abdal Hakim Murad, Cambridge 1993
  • Morris S. Seale, Muslim theology. A study of origins with reference to the Church Fathers, London 1964
  • Susan Spectorsky, "Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal's fiqh," JAOS 102/3 (1982), 461–5
  • Susan Spectorsky, Chapters on marriage and divorce. Responses of Ibn Ḥanbal and Ibn Rāhwayh, Austin 1993
  • W. Montgomey Watt, The formative period of Islamic thought, Edinburgh 1973
  • W. Montgomey Watt, Islamic creeds, Edinburgh 1994
  • Wesley Williams, "Aspects of the creed of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. A study of anthropomorphism in early Islamic discourse," IJMES 34 (2002), 441–63.
  1. ^ Entire bibliography is taken from Holtzman, Livnat, “Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson