An Overview of the Hanbali School of Law

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Teachers

  • Abu Yusuf Al-Qadhi
  • Hasheem ibn Basheer
  • Al-Shafi’
    • Some said they were more like peers who benefited from each another
  • Ismail ibn ‘Aliyah
  • Wakee’
  • Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah
  • Abu Dawud al-Tiyalisi
  • Na’eem ibn Hammad
  • And many others

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Students

  • Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Abu Dawud al-Sajastani
  • Abu Bakr al-Athram
  • Harb al-Kirmani
  • Ishaq ibn Hani’
  • Hanbal ibn Ishaq
  • Abu Zur’ah al-Razi
  • Imam Bukhari
  • Imam Muslim
  • And many others

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Books

  • Al-Musnad
  • Fadhail al-Sahabah
  • Al-‘Ilal wa al-Ma’rifat al-Rijal
  • Al-Asami wa al-Kuna
  • Al-Zuhd
  • Al-Radd alaa al-Zanadiqah wa al-Jahmiyyah
  • Al-Nasikh wa al-Mansukh
  • Al-Muqaddam wa al-Mu’akhar fi al-Qur’an
  • Al-Manasik al-Kabir

Principles (Usool) of the School

  • Nass (Qur’an and Sunnah)
  • Ijmaa‘ (Consensus)
  • Fatwas of the Companions
  • Mursal and weak reports that are not contradicted by authentic reports
  • Qiyaas (Analogical reasoning)
  • Istihsaan (Juristic preference)
  • Istishaab (presumption of continuity)
  • Blocking the means – blocking the permissible acts which lead to an evil

Historical Development of the School (Hijri Dates)

Stage of Establishment (204-241)

  • Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal begins teaching after reaching 40 years of age
  • Ahmad’s students pay close attention to his statements and actions
  • Ahmad’s opinions begin to be recorded

Stage of Transmission and Development (241-403)

  • The companions and students of Imam Ahmad propagate his fiqh through lectures, books, and as judges
  • The school grows and spreads through the hands of al-Khallal, a direct student of the students of Imam Ahmad
  • Affiliations to the Hanbali school begin to appear
  • The school begins to be recorded through publications and summarized texts
  • The principles of the school and its terminologies begin to be compiled

Stage of Editing, Verification and Review (403-884)

  • Verification, editing, review, and arrangement of issues (masa’il) into fiqh chapters
  • Verification of general principles through transmitted reports of masa’il from Imam Ahmad and his companions
  • Extraction of secondary principles (furoo’) based on the fundamental principles
  • Giving preference (tarjeeh) to certain reports and possibilities over others
  • Completion of research in the principles (usool) of fiqh and giving attention to fiqhi differences
  • Appearance of various layers of researchers and editors of the school

Stage of Stability (884-onward)

  • Stability of the school based on what was previously recorded
  • Scholars’ diligence in summarizing large volumes and commenting, annotating and adding to the material
  • Appearance of some researchers diligently reviewing and giving preference (tarjeeh) between the various transmitted reports from Imam Ahmad
  • Academic efforts by research centers and Islamic universities in investigating (tahqiq) the written tradition of the school. The school’s spread and the study of its principles and methodologies of its affiliated scholars

Most Important Books in the School

Books of the Early Period Scholars

  • Masa’il Ishaq al-Kawsaj
  • Masa’il Salih ibn Ahmad
  • Masa’il Ishaq ibn Hani’
  • Masa’il Abi Dawud
  • Masa’il Harb al-Kirmani
  • Masa’il Abdullah ibn Ahmad
  • Al-Jami’ li’uloom al-Imam Ahmad
  • Mukhtasar al-Khiraqi

Books of the Middle Period Scholars

  • Umdah al-Fiqh
  • Al-Muqni’
  • Al-Kafi
  • Al-Mughni fi Sharh al-Kharqi
  • Al-Muharrar
  • Al-Furoo’
  • Al-Mubdi’ fi Sharh al-Muqni’

Books of the Later Period Scholars

  • Al-Insaaf
  • Al-Iqnaa’
  • Muntaha al-Iradaat
  • Ghaya al-Muntaha
  • Dalil al-Taalib
  • Zaad al-Mustaqni’
  • Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat

Source: The Four Madhhabs

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