What Do You Know About Ibn Hanbal Ahmad, The Originator Of The Hanbali School Of Law?


The Hanbali school of Law was established by the disciples of ibn Hanbal.

In this write-up, we would discuss briefly about his life, not the school of Law.

Ibn Hanbal was born 3 generations after the Prophet (S.A.W), after Imam Malik had died.

He started his pursuit of knowledge at age 15 with his mother as an inspiration. His mother was also a scholar and extremely wise, that she invested in his pursuit of knowledge. Such is the effect and importance of a morally upright woman on the upbringing and personality of her children.

It is interesting to note that Ibn Hanbal studied under the great legal theoretitician, Shafi’i, in Baghdad. He was also a compiler of a collection of hadith known as the Musnad.

It is believed that Ibn Hanbal was a staunch upholder of the dogma even in the face of persecution. Although other theologians and judges backed down in the face of threat of physical punishment, due to their belief, he maintained his beliefs for which he was imprisoned and scourged.

However, due to his steadfastness when faced with persecution, he gained a great reputation and was therefore restored to favor by the Caliph al-Mutawakkil, who put an end to the inquisition of belief.

Ahmad was rated by many scholars on having the clearest, sharpest and most reliable memory of all his contemporaries but still referred to notes he took while studying, to answer questions because he feared distorting information. He encouraged the art of taking notes than relying on one’s memory only.

He was known for his honesty, forgiveness, and discipline that gave him the appearance of strictness or rigidity.

Despite being poor and having challenges, he would take no gift from anyone, even the Caliph because of the character he wanted to create ( of purity) for himself and only intense discipline (hence rigidity) can make a man stick to his goal despite the many challenges. This decline from taking gifts was something he imposed on himself but not what he asked others to do as when his son asked if he (his son) could use the gifts given to go on pilgrimage, he didn’t object to that as he said the money was earned from pure means but said he himself wouldn’t but his son could since he is not imposing his goals on him.

Ahmad thus therefore spent from only that which he earned such that despite being an Imam, he would work as a luggage carrier or engage in any halal means of earning to get money during his journey to pursue knowledge.

There are many more interesting accounts of the morally upright Imam Hanbal that we can not exhaust here. You can follow the links in the reference for more and get an indepth understanding.



The concise encyclopedia of Islam by Cyril Glasse

Lives of the 4 Imams (Part I) by IISNA, YouTube video

Muslim heritage : http://muslimheritage.com/article/imam-ahmad-ibn-hanbal

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