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 have decided to release my notes because I feel there is not enough good material in the English language for Hanbali fiqh. I want to help popularize and familiarize people in the English speaking world to the school. 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 Shaykh Yusuf’s busy schedule, I am now studying the rest of the book with Sh. Muhammad Gamal Aly from the Institute of Linguists, therefore, I am releasing the notes in stages. Ever time we finish a section of the book, I will release its notes as well. I revise the notes at least seven times each before releasing and I utilize other commentaries as supplements when needed in addition to what I am learning from my teacher. I would specifically like to commend Sh. Muhammad Bajabir’s commentary of the book which is well done.
You will find that there are various words bolded in the notes. These are my personal “trigger words” which help me remember the rulings. I’ve 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 the Hanbali school should find a teacher.
I’d like to say a few words. When you study fiqh texts, you will come across rulings which today are seen highly controversial. It is important to understand that when the 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 action.
For example, we will come across rulings which talk about the LEGALITY of marrying someone below the age of puberty (boy or girl) and you will see 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 they try to be comprehensive on the legal discussions surrounding issues as much as possible. If they’re not specifically saying something is RECOMMENDED or OBLIGATORY, then they’re just giving you the LEGAL point of view on it. Much of which generally falls under the category of PERMISSIBLE (MUBAH) can be adjusted with time, place, and customs.
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’s just a discussion on LAW. Nothing more. Nothing less. For example, in some state laws in the United States, you may find discussions in their legal works discussing the allowance of underage marriage with conditions, however, this does not mean it is wise for a person to take the youngest age to be one’s wife.
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.