Friday, 2 October 2009

Ahmed bin Hambal- Schools of Fiqh (Islamic Law).

Imam A'zam Abu Hanifa, Imam Maalik, Imam Shaafi and Imam Ahmed bin Hambal (radi Allahu anhumul ajma'in)are the leaders of the four schools of Fiqh (Islamic Law).

"FIQH" is the Science of Islamic Law or Jurisprudence. It refers to the collection and compilation of Islamic laws based on the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of Sayyiduna Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). These great Muslims devoted themselves to the task of developing the science of understanding Islamic Law and its practise.

Although they differed from each other, all the four great Imams had great respect for each other. They were all teachers and pupils of each other for the common goal of enhancing their knowledge about Islam. All of them were unanimous on Aqa'ids (Islamic Beliefs). We, as Muslims, must respect the different Sunni schools of thought.
His father, Sayyiduna Mohammed (radi Allahu anhu) was a warrior (Mujaahid) and lived in Basrah, Iraq. Imam Ahmed bin Hambal (radi Allahu anhu) was a very intelligent child, keenly interested in furthering his Islamic education. At the age of 16, he began studying Hadith literature. It is said that he learnt almost a million Ahadith by heart. He became a famous Jurist.
Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (780 [164 AH] - 855 [241 AH] ) was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh. His full name was Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani.

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 Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

He was a distinguished child known for his piety, cleanliness and asceticism. Once, his uncle sent him with several documents containing information about some people to the Caliph's office. Ahmad took those papers and did not see his uncle for a long time. When his uncle eventually met him, he asked him about the documents and discovered that Ahmad – who was then a boy – did not deliver them. When asked why, Ahmad replied: "I wouldn’t hand in those reports, and I have thrown them in the sea!" To this, his uncle replied: "This little boy fears Allah so much! What then of us?" Thus, Ahmad refused to act as an informant, even on behalf of his uncle, due to the fear of Allah that had been instilled in his heart from such a young age.

Youth and Education

He started his career by learning jurisprudence (Fiqh) under the celebrated Hanafi judge, Abu Yusuf, the renowned student and companion of Imam Abu Hanifah. He then discontinued his studies with Abu Yusuf, in the pursuit of Hadith, travelling around the Islamic Khilafa, at the tender age of 16. As a student, he was held in awe by his teachers, to the same degree that they would respect their own.. Ibn al-Jawzi states that Imam Ahmad had 414 Hadith masters whom he narrated from. Imam al-Shafi’i was from the most beloved of Ahmad’s teachers, held in high esteem by him for his deep insight into jurisprudence. Al-Shafi’i equally admired Ahmad, for his expertise in jurisprudence and Hadith. He would often say to Imam Ahmad: “Tell us if you know of an authentic Hadeeth so that we may act on it.” What demonstrates Imam Ahmad’s love and admiration for al-Shafi’i is that when the latter would pass by him riding a mule, Imam Ahmad would follow al-Shafi’i on foot to enquire about various issues of jurisprudence. The great affectopm and regard between the two Imams is clearly reflected in the resemblance between the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of jurisprudence.

Imam Ahmad did not suffice himself with seeking knowledge, but he also adorned it with actions, by making Jihad, performing the guard duty at Islamic frontiers (Ribat) and making Hajj five times in his life, twice on foot.

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.

al-Mansur had Ibn Hanbal flogged. (Ya'qubi, vol.lll, p.86; Muruj al-dhahab, vol.lll, p.268-270.)

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

Imam ibn Hanbal became very well known all, and his teachings spread worldwide. His learning, piety and unswerving faithfulness to traditions gathered a lot if admirers around him.

From the biographical notice on Imam Ahmad in the Reliance of the Traveler:

"Out of piety, Imam Ahmad never gave a formal legal opinion (fatwa) while Imam Shafi`i was in Iraq, and when he later formulated his school of jurisprudence, he mainly drew on clear texts from the holy [Qur’an], Hadith, and scholarly agreement, with relatively little expansion from analogical reasoning (qiyâs). He was probably the most learned in the sciences of Hadith of the four great Imams of Sacred Law; Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Al Shafi`i`, Imam Malik, and him Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

His students included many of the foremost scholars of Hadith. Abu Dawud said of him: ‘Ahmad’s gatherings were gatherings of the afterlife: nothing of this world was mentioned. Never once did I hear him mention this-worldly things.’

... Imam Ahmad never once missed praying in the night, and used to recite the entire [Qur’an] daily. Imam Ahmad was imprisoned and subjected to various forms of torture for twenty-eight months under the Abbasid caliph al-Mu`tasim in an effort to force him to publicly support the [Mu`tazila] position that the Holy [Qur’an] was created, but the Imam refused to give up the belief that the [Qur’an] is the uncreated word of Allah, after which Allah delivered and vindicated him.

… When Imam Ahmad died in 241/855, he was accompanied to his resting place by a funeral procession of eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women, marking the departure of the last of the four great mujtahid Imams of Islam."

Al-Dhahabi describes him saying:

"The true Sheikh of Islam and leader of the Muslims at his time, the Hadith master and proof of the Religion. He took Hadith from Hushaym, Ibrahim ibn Sa`d, Sufyan ibn `Uyayna, `Abbad ibn `Abbad, Yahya Ibn Abi Za’ida, and their layer. From him narrated al-Bukhari [two Hadiths in the Sahih], Muslim [22], Abu Dawud [254], Abu Zur`a, Mutayyan, `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad, Abu al-Qasim al-Baghawi, and a huge array of scholars. His father was a soldier one of those who called to Islam and he died young."- Al-Dhahabi continues.

Ibn al-Jawzi relates in al-Manaaqib (p. 192):

"Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imams in collecting the Sunnah and sticking to it."

`Abd Allah ibn Ahmad said:

"I heard Abu Zur`a [al-Razi] say: ‘Your father had memorized a million Hadiths, which I rehearsed with him according to topic.’"

Hanbal said:

"I heard Abu `Abd Allah say: ‘I memorized everything which I heard from Hushaym when he was alive.’"

Ibrahim al-Harbi said:

"I held Ahmad as one for whom Allah had gathered up the combined knowledge of the first and the last."

Imam al-Shafi`i said:

"You (addressing Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal) are more knowledgeable about Hadith than I, so when a hadith is sahih (correct), inform me of it, whether it is from Kufah, Basrah or Syria, so that I may take the view of the hadith, as long as it is sahih.

Related by Ibn Abi Haatim in Aadaab ash-Shaafi'i (pp. 94-5),

Harmala said:

"I heard Imaam al-Shafi`i say: ‘I left Baghdad and did not leave behind me anyone more virtuous (afdal), more learned (a`lam), more knowledgeable (afqah) than Ahmad ibn Hanbal.’"

`Ali ibn al-Madini said about Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal:

"Truly, Allah reinforced this Religion with Abu Bakr al-Siddiq the day of the Great Apostasy (al-Ridda), and He reinforced it with Ahmad ibn Hanbal the day of the Inquisition (al-Mihna)."

Abu `Ubayd said:

"The Science at its peak is in the custody of four men, of whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal is the most knowledgeable."

Ibn Ma`in said, as related by `Abbas [al-Duri]:

"They meant for me to be like Ahmad, but by Allah! I shall never in my life compare to him."

A lot of great scholars who followed the approach (Madhab) of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.

Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says in his book Imam Bukhari, Imaam Muslim and Imaam Abu Dawood were strong followers of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal. Among other great Imams who followed the teachings of Imam Ahmad include Shaikh-ul-Islam Taqi ad-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah, Abdul Qadir Jillaani, Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Al-Haafidh Zaynud-Deen Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Imam Muhammed Bin Abdul Wahab and Imam Ibn ul Jawzi.

Ibn al-Jawzi narrates from Bilal al-Khawass that the latter met al-Khidr and asked him: "What do you think of al-Shafi`i?" He said: "One of the Pillar-Saints (Awtâd)." " What about Ahmad Ibn Hanbal?" "He is a Siddiq."

Ibn al-Jawzi also narrates that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said:

"Whoever rejects a statement of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is on the brink of destruction." and was the foremost in sticking to the Sunna and sahih hadith.

mam Ahmad’s doctrine could be summarised as follows:

1) He would believe in the description that Allah gave to himself in the Quran, or inspired the Prophet with, and affirm them at their face value (Dhahir), while generally negating any resemblance between the Creator and the creation.

2) He would vigorously reject negative theology (Ta’til), as well as allegorical exegesis (Ta’wil), with respect to belief in Allah, which was heavily employed by the Jahmites, Mu’tazilites and the Kullabites (later to be known as the Ash’arites) to justify their philosophical approach to God.

3) He believed that Allah Speaks with letters and sound, for he believed every word and letter of the Quran to be the word of Allah, contrary to the Kullabites, who, in their opposition to the Mu’tazilites, affirmed eternal Speech for Allah, yet still agreed with them in that they believed that the Quran, which is composed of letters, was created.

4) He believed that Allah literally Hears and Sees; that He has two Hands with which He created Adam; that Allah has a Face

5) He believed that Allah literally Rose over the Throne after Creating the heavens and the Earth in six days.

6) He believed that Allah is High above and distinct from His creation

7) He believed that Allah is all Knowing, All Wise, All Power and All Able, and that Allah has His own Will, He Does what He likes out of His Wisdom. Whatever Allah has Written and Decreed upon His creation, must come to pass. Nothing leaves His knowledge, or happens without His Permission or Will.

8) He believed that Allah becomes Pleased when obeyed and Displeased when disobeyed.

9) He would regard the Jahmiyah (followers of al-Jahm ibn Safwan), and the Rafidha (the Imami Shias) who curse the Companions, to be disbelievers (Kuffar).

10) He held that the sinners amongst the Muslims are under the threat of Allah's punishment; that if He wishes He may Punish them or Forgive them; Contrary to the Khawarij. He would not declare a Muslim to be a disbeliever (Kafir) on account of his sins, nor would he exclude actions from Iman unlike the Murjia. Once he was asked about those who declare their belief in the five pillars of Islam, yet refuse to perform them; he said, in reply, they are disbelievers (Kuffar).

11) He believed in the miracles that occurred at the hands of the Awliya (pious Muslims) as a favour from Allah.

12) He believed that Abu Bakr is the best of the Companions, followed by Umar, then the six companions chosen by the latter as Ashab al-Shura (members of Shura council): Uthman, Ali, al-Zubair, Talha, ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Awf and Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas; followed by the fighters of Badr from the Emigrants (Muhajirin) and then the Helpers (Ansar).

13) He prohibited discussions on the differences between the Companions or dislike of any of them; for the honour of Companionship with the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – is sufficient a virtue to rank them higher than the entire Muslim Ummah until the end of time.

Among Imam ibn Hanbal’s works is the great encyclopedia of Traditions called Musnad, collected by his son from his lectures and amplified by supplements - containing over twenty eight thousand traditions. Other works include Kitab-us-Salat, on the Discipline of Prayer and Kitab-us-Sunnah, on the Traditions of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

After Imam Ahmad turned 77, he was struck with severe illness and fever, and became very weak, yet never complaining about his infirmity and pain until he died. In spite of his debilitation, he would urge his son, Salih b. Ahmad, to help him stand up for prayer. When he was unable to stand, he would pray sitting, or sometimes lying on his side. After hearing of his illness, the masses flocked to his door. The ruling family also showed the desire to pay him a visit, and to this end sought his permission. However, due to his desire to remain independent of any influence from the authority, Ahmad denied them access.

Once during his illness, an old man entered upon Imam Ahmad and reminded him of his account before Allah, to which Imam Ahmad began to weep profusely. On another occasion, a man who partook in the beatings inflicted on Imam Ahmad, came to Salih b. Ahmad, the son of the Imam, and begged him to seek permission from his father to allow him to enter, for he felt the guilt of his involvement in the suffering of the Imam. When he was finally given permission, he entered upon the Imam and wept, begging for his forgiveness. Imam Ahmad forgave him on the condition that he would never repeat his actions. The man left the Imam, and all those present, in tears.

‘Abdullah b. Ahmad b. Hanbal narrates, that while Imam Ahmad was on his death bed, he kept drifting in and out of consciousness, and gesturing with his hands saying: ‘No… No… No…’ When enquired about it, Ahmad replied: ‘The Devil was standing near me, trying his hardest to mislead me, saying: ‘Come on, Ahmad!’, and I was replying back: ‘No… No…’

On Friday, the 12 of Rabi' al-Awwal 241 AH, the legendary Imam breathed his last. The news of his death quickly spread far and wide in the city and the people flooded the streets to attend Ahmad’s funeral. One of the rulers, upon hearing the news, sent burial shrouds along with perfumes to be used for Ahmad’s funeral. However, respecting the Ahmad’s wishes, his sons refused the offering and instead used a burial shroud prepared by his female servant. Moreover, his sons took care not to use water from their homes to wash Imam Ahmad as he had refused to utilise any of their resources, for accepting the offerings of the ruler.

After preparing his funeral, his sons prayed over him, along with around 200 members of the ruling family, while the streets were teeming with both men and women, awaiting the funeral procession. Imam Ahmad’s funeral was then brought out and the multitudes continued to pray over him in the desert, before and after his burial at his grave.

During the trial of Imam Ahmad, he would often say: “Say to the heretics, the decisive factor between us and you is the day of funerals”; meaning, the adherents to the orthodox doctrine always have a good end, for they earn the love of Allah, as well as the affection of the multitudes, and their death has a great impact on people’s lives. This is exactly what took place in this instance, for it is estimated that about 1 300 000 people attended his funeral. One of the scholars said in relation to this that such a massive attendance at a funeral has never been equalled in the history of the Arabs, neither in the pre-Islamic era (Jahiliyah) nor in Islam. The masses were engulfed in the genuine popular emotion, while the scene of his grave became overwhelmed by such sentiments that the graveyard had to be guarded by the civil authorities.

Another scholar relates that when he attended the funeral of Ahmad, he wanted pray over him at his grave. But the crowds were so awe-inspiring that he didn’t reach the grave until after a week. The funerals of the famous opponents of Imam Ahmad, however, were in stark contrast, which where not attended by more than a handful. The funeral procession of the Ahmad ibn Abi Du’ad – the chief instigator of the inquisition – went largely unnoticed, with none willing to carry his funeral to the graveyard, except a few from the ruling family. Such was also the case with al-Harith al-Muhasibi – a theologian and an ascetic – who, despite being a bitter enemy of the Mu’tazilites, was still discredited by Imam Ahmad for his interests in Kalam (speculative theology). Only three or four people prayed over al-Muhasibi, and a similar fate met Bishr al-Mirrisi.

In the Islamic history, Ahmad’s funeral is noted as the day when the Mu’tazilite doctrine was brought to a decisive and a humiliating end, whilst the Sunni Islam and the Prophetic guidance were the order of the day. Ahmad’s death had proven the ineffectiveness of the Caliph’s role in defining Islam, and further unquestionably acknowledged that it were the scholars, rather than the Caliphs, who were the true ‘inheritors of the Prophets’. Ahmad’s funeral was marked by the multitudes flocking, and openly cursing al-Karabisi and al-Marrisi, the chief heretics. This became a frequent practise amongst the subsequent Hanbali funerals throughout Islamic history, where the masses would rally behind prominent Hanbali funerals proclaiming: This day is for Sunnis and Hanbalis! Not Jahmis, Mu’tazilis or Ash’aris!

1 comment:

Al Sunna said...

Assalam walakum,

This blog is a very nice blog, I have found it very beneficial to know more about Islam. Thanks for sharing the information.