I started studying Hanbali fiqh with Sh. Yusuf bin Sadiq al-Hanbali and we covered the text Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat authored by Ibn Balban, a beginner level text on Hanbali fiqh, until we reached the end of fiqh of worship. I wanted to do this because I feel there is not enough good material in the English language for Hanbali fiqh based on its official (mu’tamad) positions. In addition, I want to give Hanbali students of knowledge a supplement to their own study of the school. I hope you all find them beneficial!
Due to Sh. Yusuf’s busy schedule, I began studying the remainder of the book with Sh. Muhammad Gamal Aly from the Institute of Linguists. I revised the notes at least seven times before releasing and I utilized other commentaries as supplements, when needed, in addition to what I learned from my teachers. I would specifically like to commend Sh. Muhammad Bajabir’s commentary of the book which is very well done. I borrowed heavily from his explanation starting with the Book of Transactions until the end of the book except for the Book of Inheritance Law for which I heavily relied on Sh. Ahmad al-Qu’aymi’s explanation of Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat.
You will find that there are various words bolded in the notes. These are my personal “trigger words” which help me draw a clear image of the rulings. I have left them bolded in case anyone else finds them beneficial as well.
The notes are catered towards those who have some background in studying fiqh, therefore, those who have never studied fiqh in the past may find them confusing or difficult at times. Those seriously considering studying Hanbali fiqh should find a suitable teacher.
When we study classical fiqh texts, sometimes we come across certain rulings which today may be considered highly controversial. It is important to understand that when Muslim jurists (fuqaha) write fiqh texts, they are having a purely legal discussion and unless something is specifically mentioned to be recommended or obligatory, it is to be taken as just a legal discussion on the matter. Just because something is legally permissible from an Islamic law perspective does not necessitate that it is recommended or even wise to put into practice.
For example, we will come across rulings which talk about the legality of marrying someone below the age of puberty (boy or girl) and we will realize that it is a purely legal discussion. Just because something is legally discussed should not make us think that these very Muslim jurists are suggesting to go out and marry those below the age of puberty. Anyone that goes through the fiqh texts will realize that the jurists’ objective is to be comprehensive on the legal discussions surrounding various issues as much as possible. If they are not specifically saying something is recommended or obligatory, then they are just giving us a purely legal point of view on it. Much of which generally falls under the category of ‘permissible’ can be restricted with conditions based on time, place, and circumstances.
I thought to mention the above specific points because some people become very disturbed to hear such things mentioned in fiqh texts and misunderstand their function in the texts. It is just a discussion on law. Nothing more, nothing less.
Finally, in addition to the notes on the text, I have also attached my personal notes on the introduction to Hanbali fiqh based on my reading of Abu Zahra’s The Four Imams: Their Lives, Works and Their Schools of Thought.
Note: I have only included in the list below access to chapters which are pertinent to the masses and left out chapters which I feel only suit serious students of knowledge and mainly target Muslim judges in court. The chapters below suffice the average Muslims wanting to study and implement Hanbali fiqh in their daily lives.