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Baghdad: The Birth Place of Hanbali Madhab
Baghdad, located in modern-day Iraq, was a bustling center of Islamic scholarship during the time of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him). In the 8th and 9th centuries CE, the Abbasid Caliphate was in power, and Baghdad was its capital city. The Abbasid Caliphate was known for its patronage of the arts and sciences, and it attracted scholars from all over the Islamic world.
Who Compiled Hanbali Madhab?
Imam Abdullah bin Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Imam Saleh bin Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Imam Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Hani al-Nishapuri al-Hanbali
Imam Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Hani al-Nishapuri (may Allah have mercy on him) was born on the first day of the month of Ramadan in the year 218 AH / 833 CE. He was Imam Ahmad's servant, and he began serving him at the age of nine. He compiled Imam’s Fatawa with the title al-Masail Imam Ahmad.
Imam Ishaq bin Rahwayh al-Hanzali al-Marwazi
Imam Abu Dawood Sulayman al-Sijistani
Abu Dawud Sulayman (d.275 AH / 889 CE) was a scholar of prophetic hadith and a compiler of the Sunan Abu Dawud, the third of the six "canonical" hadith collections. He was of Persian-Arab descent and was born in Sijistan and died in 889 in Basra. Abu Dawud traveled extensively to collect hadith from scholars in various regions, including Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Hijaz, Tihamah, Nishapur, and Merv. He was particularly interested in fiqh al-Hadith and his collection included 4,800 hadiths.
He was Imam Ahmad’s direct student and learned fiqh and hadith from him. He also compiled Imam Ahmad’s Fatawa (rulings) with the title al-Masail Imam Ahmad.
Imam Harb ibn Ismail al-Karmani al-Hanbali
Imam Abu Muhammad Harb ibn Isma'il ibn Khalaf al-Kermani al-Hanbali (d. 280 AH / 894 CE) was a renowned scholar of hadith and one of the teachers of Imam Bukhari. He was born in Kerman, Iran, and traveled extensively in pursuit of knowledge, studying under many eminent scholars of his time. He was known for his expertise in the field of hadith, and his collection of narrations was highly regarded by his contemporaries. He studied fiqh and hadith with Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and compiled his notes with the title al-Masail Imam Ahmad.
Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Athram al-Hanbali
Imam Abu Bakr, Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hani' al-Iskafi Al-Athram al-Ta'i one of the prominent figures, and a devoted student of Imam Ahmadibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him). He wrote a book titled al-Saunan, in which he collected certain Hadiths, Fatawa of the Prophet’s companions, and Imam Ahmad’s rulings. His reports from Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) are highly regarded by the Hanbali scholars.
He had an exceptionally strong memory even Imam Yahya bin Ma'in (may Allah have mercy on him) used to say about him, due to his strong memorization: any one of his two parents might be a jinn (ghost). Imam al-Zahabi said he died near about in the year 270 AH / 883 CE in the city of Iskaf. He was the teacher of Imam al-Nasai’, the author of al-Sunan, one of the books of Sahah Sittah.
Imam Abubakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Marwazi al-Hanbali
Imam Abu Bakr al-Khallal al-Baghdadi al-Hanbali
Abu Bakr al-Khallal (d.311 AH / 923) was a renowned medieval Muslim jurist and Hadith scholar. He was born Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Harun ibn Yazid al-Baghdadi (may Allah have mercy on him) but was more commonly known as Abu Bakr al-Khallal. He was a student of five of Ahmad ibn Hanbal's direct students, including Ibn Hanbal's son Abdullah. He also wrote a detailed book on Hanbali Aqidah with the title Kitab al-Sunnah, in three volumes.
His study and documentation of Ibn Hanbal's views eventually led to the preservation of the Hanbali School of Islamic law, and his work Al-Jamai’ reached twenty volumes. Abu Bakr al-Khallal (may Allah have mercy on him) was considered the principal Hanbalite scholar of his time, and his contributions to Islamic jurisprudence are still studied and revered today.
Imam Abu Bakr al-Khallal (may Allah have mercy on him) unified notes of his teachers who were direct students and of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal., as some of them have been introduced earlier. He tried his best to reach out to each and every student of Imam Ahmad and gathered whatever they have learned from him, focusing on legal rulings.
Imam Abu Bakr Abd al-Aaziz ibn Ja’afar al-Hanbali
Al-Mukhtasar: The First Textbook of the Hanbali Madhab
Imam Abu al-Hasayn ibn al-Munadi al-Hanbali
Imam Abu al-Husayn ibn al-Munadi al-Hanabli, may Allah have mercy on him (256-336 AH / 870-947 CE) was a prominent student of Imam Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal. He was mostly interested in Ulum al-Quran (Quranic sciences) and his vast knowledge gained a great admiration and popularity for him. He was also interested in Hadith studies.
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi al-Hanbali (1116-1201 CE) reported from Abu Yusuf al-Qazwini that he said: “Abu al-Husayn ibn al-Munadi authored four hundred and forty books in the sciences of the Quran, and there is no stupidity in his speech. Rather, it is pure speech that combines narration and reasoning.” [Al-Muntazam, 14/66]
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi (may
Allah have mercy on him), who was himself a Hanbali scholar, praised
Imam Abu al-Husayn al-Munadi for his extensive knowledge of Quranic sciences
and encouraged people to read his works. Imam Ibn al-Jawzi quoted Imam
al-Munadi in his famous Tafsir Zad al-Musir and appreciated his opinions.
Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) also praised and quoted Imam al-Munadi repeatedly in his famous book " Majmu’ al-Fatawa". Furthermore, Ibn Taymiyyah, who is often associated with a strict literalist approach, also acknowledged the importance of reason and argued for the spherical (round) shape of the earth, a view that was supported by Imam al-Munadi. [Majmu’ al-Fatawa ibn Taymiyyah: 25/195]
Imam Hasan ibn Ali al-Barbahari al-Hanbali
The difference in Opinions Attributed to Imam Ahmad
The Scholars of Reasoning
The Final Framework of the Hanbali Madhab
It is notable that not only direct students of Imam Ahmad in Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him) were the scholars of reasoning (Ashab al-Wujuh), who have the capacity of the legal reasoning of the first level after Imam Ahmad, but some of later scholars had the same capacity. Among them, as Imam al-Mardawi mentioned, two scholars are at the top of the list, Imam Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudamah al-Madasi and Imam Madjd al-Din Abdussalam ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on all of them. Their verdicts hold the same weight as the verdicts of a Mujtahid al-Mutlaq (Absolute Jurisprudent), and their opinions are considered in matters of consensus and divergence.
A highly ranked Hanbali scholar Imam Ibn Rajab (736-795 AH/1335–1393 CE) said:
"The scholars of our time and those before them, when it comes to matters of jurisprudence, they refer to the two Shaykhs: Al-Muwaffaq and Al-Majd."
Imam al-Mardawi said:
"If the difference of opinion is mentioned literally, or it is from someone other than the relied-upon scholars who have been mentioned earlier, then the relied-upon position is what the two Shaykhs (referring to the author and Al-Majd) agreed upon, or if one of them agreed with the other in one of his choices."
Imam Al-Mardawi's al-Insaf is a commentary on Imam ibn Qudamah's text al-Muqni'. Imam al-Mardawi introduced al-Muqni' in these words:
"The book al-Muqniʿ in Islamic jurisprudence is authored by Shaykh al-Islam Muwaffaq al-Din Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi, may Allah sanctify his soul. It illuminates his mausoleum as one of the greatest and most beneficial books. It is comprehensive, clear in indication, concise in expression, moderate in size, abundant in knowledge, detailed and branching in explanation, and organized and diversified in classification. It encompasses a vast majority of the fundamental issues of the Madhab (school of thought). Whoever attains it has indeed acquired a treasure and achieved their objective."
The second personality is Imam Abu al-Barakat Majd al-Din Abd al-Salalm ibnTaymiyyah (1194 - 1255 CE), the grandfather of Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah who was well-known as Ibn Taymiyyah (the most favorite scholar of the Saudi scholars). Imam Abu al-Barakat Majd al-Din ibn Taymiyyah was a direct student of Imam ibn Qudamah al-Madasi. So their agreement is considered decisive in case of differences of opinion among the Hanbali scholars.
Main Centers of the Hanbali Madhab in History
Baghdad: A Center of the Hanbali Madhab
Jerusalem: A Center of the Hanbali Madhab
Damascus: A Center of the Hanbali Madhab