June 23, 2024



Ahmad bin Muhammad b. Hanbal b. Hilal b. Asad b. Idrees b. Abdullah b. Hayyan b. Abdullah b. Anas b. Auf b. Qasit b. Ma’azin b. Shayban b. Dhuhl b. Tha’alabah b. Ukabah b. Sa’ab b. Ali b. Bakr b. Wayel b. Qasit b. Hunub b. Afsa b. Da’ami b. Jadeelah b. Asad bin Rabiah b. Nizar b. Ma’add b. Adnan

Imam Ahmad joins the Prophetic lineage with Nizar bin Ma’add. So he belonged to the pure Arabic tribe Banu Bakr’s clan Banu Shayban, from that he is called Al-Shaybani. Banu Shayban were the close allies of the Prophetic clan Banu Hashim during the period of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. He is also remembered as Al-Dhuli for his forefather Dhul bin Tha’alabah. The most prominent Sahabah of Banu Dhuhl was Amr bin Yazid and Suwayd bin Qays رضى الله عنهما. Another contemporary jurist Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Shaybani رحمه الله تعالى belonged to Banu Shayban, who was a direct pupil of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله تعالى and played a very important role in the formulation of Fiqh Hanafi.


Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, also known as Imam Ahmad, was a prominent Islamic scholar and theologian. He was born in the city of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, in the year 164 AH (780 CE). His family originally hailed from Marw, a town located in the province of Basrah, which is now part of present-day Iraq.

During the time of Imam Ahmad’s birth, Baghdad was a thriving center of learning and intellectual activity. It was a multicultural city that attracted scholars, theologians, and philosophers from various parts of the Muslim world. The Abbasid Caliphate, known for its patronage of knowledge and scholarship, fostered an environment that allowed Islamic sciences to flourish.

Imam Ahmad grew up in this intellectually vibrant city, surrounded by renowned scholars of his time. He received his early education from prominent teachers who imparted knowledge in various disciplines, including hadith (Prophetic traditions), fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and tafsir (Quranic exegesis).


Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s father Muhammad ibn Hanbal was a commander in the official army of Khilafat Abbasiyah. He was a nobleman and a brave soldier.

Safiyah bint Maimoonah bint ‘Abdul Malik gave birth to Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى, while his father passed away shortly before his birth. Imam’s mother Safiyah was a noble, pious, and God-fearing lady. She brought up his son strictly in accordance with Islamic traditions.


Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى, in addition to his early education at home, embarked on a formal educational journey that shaped his scholarly pursuits. His mother, recognizing the importance of education, played a pivotal role in his early development. She imparted upon him the fundamental skills of reading, writing, and speaking Arabic, his mother tongue and the language of the Qur’an. Under her guidance, he also memorized the entire Qur’an, a remarkable achievement at a young age.

Living in Baghdad, which was renowned as a center of knowledge, culture, and professional skills, provided Imam Ahmad with a conducive environment for intellectual growth. During that era, it was customary for individuals to pursue various disciplines such as mathematics, philosophy, fine arts, and more. However, Imam Ahmad chose a different path and began his formal education by delving into the study of Fiqh, Islamic Law.

Imam Ahmad had the good fortune of being taught by one of the foremost students of the great Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله تعالى, namely Imam Qadhi Abu Yousuf رحمه الله تعالى. This association allowed him to not only study the Hanafi school of Fiqh but also gain a deep understanding of its underlying principles of jurisprudence. Imam Ahmad’s exposure to the teachings of Imam Abu Hanifah and his distinguished student further enriched his knowledge and provided a solid foundation in Fiqh.

At the age of fifteen, Imam Ahmad’s focus shifted towards the sciences of Hadith. He recognized the importance of preserving and understanding the Prophetic traditions, which form an integral part of Islamic guidance. In Baghdad, he sought the guidance of renowned scholars in the field of Hadith, and one of his most prominent teachers in this discipline was Hushaim bin Bashir al-Wasiti رحمه الله تعالى, who was known for his expertise in Hadith sciences.

Under the tutelage of Hushaim bin Bashir al-Wasiti, Imam Ahmad immersed himself in the study of Hadith, delving into the intricacies of its chains of narrators, textual analysis, and the principles of authentication. He meticulously acquired knowledge, scrutinized narrations, and developed a robust methodology for evaluating the authenticity and reliability of Hadith.

Imam Ahmad’s dedication to Hadith studies and his meticulous approach earned him a reputation for being a master of the science of Hadith. His profound knowledge, coupled with his integrity and adherence to authenticity, allowed him to become one of the foremost authorities in the field.

Imam Ahmad’s education journey, from his early upbringing at home to his formal studies in Fiqh and Hadith, laid the groundwork for his future scholarly endeavors. His comprehensive understanding of Islamic law and his expertise in the science of Hadith played a pivotal role in shaping his later contributions to the development of Islamic jurisprudence and his defense of the orthodox teachings of Islam.


After acquiring a solid foundation in Hadith sciences in Baghdad, Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى was determined to further his knowledge by learning from the major scholars of Hadith of his time. To accomplish this, he embarked on extensive journeys to renowned centers of Hadith studies across the Muslim world.

Imam Ahmad’s quest for advanced Hadith knowledge took him to various cities, including Basrah, Kufah, Makkah, Madinah, Shaam (Greater Syria), and Yemen. These regions were known for housing prominent scholars and possessing rich traditions of Hadith scholarship. By traveling to these centers, Imam Ahmad sought to benefit from the expertise and teachings of renowned scholars and to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the Prophetic traditions.

Imam Ahmad’s journeys to the Hijaz, encompassing Makkah and Madinah, were particularly significant. He undertook these trips at least five times in his lifetime, and they held immense importance in his pursuit of Hadith knowledge. During his stays in the Hijaz, Imam Ahmad not only performed the Hajj pilgrimage but also devoted extensive periods to collecting and studying Hadiths.

Imam Ahmad’s dedication to the preservation of Hadiths was exceptional. Not only did he memorize the Hadiths he encountered during his travels, but he also meticulously recorded them. This continuous and laborious effort eventually resulted in the compilation of his monumental work, Al-Musnad.

Al-Musnad is a vast collection of Hadiths organized in a coherent and systematic manner. It contains an extensive number of narrations, providing a valuable resource for scholars and researchers. According to a well-preserved report, Imam Ahmad had memorized an astonishing one million Hadiths, a remarkable feat that demonstrates his exceptional memory and the divine blessings he received.

Imam Ahmad’s copious collection of Hadiths in Al-Musnad not only became a treasure trove of Prophetic traditions but also served as a testament to his dedication and lifelong commitment to the preservation and dissemination of authentic Islamic knowledge. His exceptional achievements in memorizing and recording Hadiths have earned him a revered position in the field of Hadith studies, and his work continues to be studied and referenced by scholars and students of knowledge to this day.


As Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى deepened his knowledge of Hadiths, his interest also grew in understanding their meanings and interpretations. In his pursuit of this understanding, he had the privilege of spending an extended period of time with the great Imam of Fiqh, Muhammad ibn Idrees Ash-Shafiyee رحمه الله تعالى. During these months of companionship, Imam Ahmad had the opportunity to learn from Imam Ash-Shafiyee and benefit from his profound knowledge of Fiqh.

Imam Ash-Shafiyee played a significant role in refining Imam Ahmad’s understanding of Fiqh and its intricate discourse. It was under the guidance of Imam Ash-Shafiyee that Imam Ahmad honed his skills in the art of Ijtihad, which involves deriving legal rulings from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Through this mentorship, Imam Ahmad attained a level of expertise and competence that made him an unparalleled Imam Mujtahid of his time.

Drawing from his extensive knowledge of Hadiths and his mastery of Fiqh, Imam Ahmad embarked on a comprehensive study of the existing schools of Islamic law, namely the Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafiyee schools. He carefully examined their principles, methodologies, and legal conclusions. By analyzing and comparing these schools, he identified common postulates and foundational principles upon which they were built.

Building upon the shared foundations of the existing schools, Imam Ahmad developed his own independent school of law, known as the Hanbali School. This school of thought was characterized by its strict adherence to the Qur’an and Sunnah, giving them primary authority and precedence over all other sources of knowledge. Imam Ahmad not only formulated legal postulates based on the Qur’an and Sunnah but also implemented them rigorously in practice.

Imam Ahmad’s Hanbali School of Law gained recognition for its unwavering commitment to the authentic teachings of Islam, particularly in matters of jurisprudence. His profound understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, coupled with his rigorous methodology in interpreting and applying Islamic law, solidified his position as a distinguished scholar and jurist.

Imam Ahmad’s commitment to the primacy of the Qur’an and Sunnah, along with his dedication to preserving the pristine teachings of Islam, made the Hanbali School distinct and influential in the realm of Islamic jurisprudence. His contributions continue to shape the understanding and practice of Islamic law, and his school of thought remains an integral part of the broader landscape of Islamic legal scholarship.


Imam Ahmad dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge and the preservation of Islamic teachings. He became one of the leading authorities in hadith and played a crucial role in the development of Islamic jurisprudence. His methodology in studying and verifying hadith became widely recognized and influenced subsequent generations of scholars.

Despite his scholarly contributions, Imam Ahmad faced significant challenges during his lifetime. He lived during a period marked by political turmoil and theological controversies. The Abbasid Caliphate witnessed various ideological and doctrinal disputes, particularly regarding the nature of the Quran and the attributes of Allah.

Imam Ahmad firmly upheld orthodox Islamic beliefs and strongly defended the Sunnah (the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) against innovation and deviation. He faced persecution and imprisonment due to his refusal to conform to the views of certain rulers who sought to impose their own theological interpretations.

Imam Ahmad’s steadfastness, courage, and unwavering commitment to the preservation of authentic Islamic knowledge earned him great respect and admiration among scholars and the general populace. His teachings and legal opinions, compiled in his renowned work called “Musnad Ahmad,” continue to be widely studied and referenced by scholars today.

Imam Ahmad’s legacy as a scholar, theologian, and defender of orthodox Islamic beliefs remains an integral part of Islamic intellectual history. His contributions to hadith studies and his principled stand against theological deviations have left an indelible mark on the development of Islamic jurisprudence and theology.

Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى held a balanced and nuanced perspective regarding the role of reasoning and logic in understanding the Divine and the universe. He acknowledged the significance of reasoning and logic in the empirical sciences, recognizing their usefulness in exploring the natural world. However, he firmly rejected the notion that human reasoning alone can fully comprehend the true reality of God Almighty without Divine guidance.

Imam Ahmad’s primary focus and effort revolved around preserving the integrity of the Divine Text, the Qur’an, and its meanings. He emphasized the importance of safeguarding the teachings of the Qur’an from any distortion or misinterpretation stemming from human fallibility. Human knowledge, he believed, is derived from sources that are variable and limited, while the Divine Text is stable and transcends any boundaries or limitations.

One of the issues Imam Ahmad strongly condemned was the twisting of the meanings of Qur’anic verses. Various deviant movements and ideologies attempted to impose their own understanding of the universe onto the Qur’an, often seeking to confine the attributes and essence of God Almighty within a limited human framework. For example, some argued that God can be comprehended through Euclidean models of geometry, which are based on a global scenario and the constraints of time and space. In doing so, they stripped the Divine attributes of their true meanings and attempted to nullify them.

In contrast, Imam Ahmad stressed the affirmation of the Divine attributes as they are narrated in the Qur’an and authentic Hadiths, without assigning any resemblance to the created beings or distorting their meanings. He emphasized that the true reality of these attributes is beyond human comprehension, and believers are required to accept them as they appear in the Divine Text, without altering their meanings.

Imam Ahmad’s stance on theology was rooted in affirming the Divine attributes while acknowledging that humans cannot fully comprehend the essence of God. He rejected the notion that God is a physical entity or bears any resemblance to His creation. Instead, he firmly believed in God’s attributes as described in the Qur’an and Hadiths: He is Alive, All-Knowing, All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Doing as He intends, and All-Speaking whenever He wishes.

It is important to note that Imam Ahmad’s theological perspective was not one of anthropomorphism or literalism. Rather, it emphasized the affirmation of Divine attributes while acknowledging their incomprehensibility to human beings. He encouraged believers to hold steadfast to the teachings of the Qur’an and authentic Hadiths, preserving their original meanings and avoiding any attempts to confine the Divine within human limitations.


In his old age, Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى faced severe persecution that tested his faith, resilience, and steadfastness. This persecution came as a result of his unwavering commitment to upholding the orthodox beliefs of Islam and his refusal to conform to the theological views of the ruling authorities.

During this period, the Abbasid Caliphate was under the influence of the Mutazilite sect, which held controversial beliefs regarding the nature of the Qur’an and the attributes of God. Imam Ahmad, being a staunch defender of the traditional beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah (the people of the Sunnah and the community), openly opposed the Mutazilite doctrines and their imposition on the Muslim community.

Imam Ahmad’s steadfastness in adhering to his principles and defending orthodox beliefs led to his imprisonment and torture. The ruling authorities, seeking to suppress his influence and force him to renounce his stance, subjected him to severe physical and psychological torment. He was subjected to beatings, lashings, and harsh interrogations.

Throughout this period of persecution, Imam Ahmad remained resolute, refusing to compromise his principles or abandon the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. He steadfastly held onto his beliefs and courageously defended the traditional Islamic creed, even in the face of immense adversity.

Imam Ahmad’s unwavering commitment to the orthodox teachings of Islam resonated with the Muslim community, who recognized his sacrifices and admired his courage. Scholars, students, and ordinary Muslims rallied around him, offering their support and solidarity.

Ultimately, the tides began to turn, and the Mutazilite influence waned. The subsequent caliphs recognized the steadfastness and piety of Imam Ahmad and sought to rectify the injustice he had faced. They reversed his persecution, restored his honor, and sought his counsel on matters of theology and Islamic jurisprudence.

Imam Ahmad’s ordeal and the subsequent recognition of his righteousness serve as a testament to his unwavering faith and resilience. His steadfastness in the face of persecution, his refusal to compromise his beliefs, and his commitment to preserving the authentic teachings of Islam inspire generations of Muslims to uphold their principles, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Imam Ahmad’s life and struggles continue to be an example of courage, steadfastness, and dedication to the truth. His enduring legacy serves as a source of inspiration and guidance for Muslims, reminding them of the importance of remaining steadfast in the face of adversity and upholding the principles of their faith, regardless of the challenges they may encounter.


In the later years of his life, Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى experienced declining health. At the age of 77, his illness grew more severe, causing great concern among his followers and admirers. As time passed, his condition worsened, and eventually, on a fateful Friday, the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal in the year 241 AH, Imam Ahmad breathed his last breath.

The news of Imam Ahmad’s passing spread rapidly throughout the land, capturing the attention and hearts of people far and wide. The sorrow and grief felt by his devoted followers were immeasurable. The word of his departure traveled swiftly, prompting a massive outpouring of love and respect from the Muslim community.

In a remarkable display of reverence, more than one million individuals from all walks of life, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, gathered to bid farewell to the great Imam. This extraordinary gathering of mourners, which included 200 members of the royal family, was a testament to the profound impact and influence Imam Ahmad had on society. The immense attendance at his funeral was unprecedented in the history of Baghdad and served as a poignant reminder of the love and admiration that the Muslim community held for him.

The diverse crowd that assembled to pay their respects at Imam Ahmad’s funeral represented the unity and solidarity of the Muslim ummah. It transcended boundaries of ethnicity, social status, and geographical location, as people from various backgrounds came together to honor a man who had dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge and the preservation of the Islamic tradition.

Notably, the presence of Christians and Jews at his funeral further exemplified the widespread admiration and respect Imam Ahmad commanded. His influence extended beyond the boundaries of religion, reaching individuals who recognized and valued his contributions to knowledge and scholarship.

Imam Ahmad’s funeral was not just a somber occasion marking his passing; it was a testament to the deep affection and esteem with which he was held by the Muslim community. His legacy as a scholar, jurist, and defender of the authentic teachings of Islam continued to resonate long after his departure, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of knowing him.

Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى left behind a legacy that extended beyond his lifetime, with his teachings and works continue to inspire and guide generations of scholars and seekers of knowledge. His devotion, piety, and unwavering commitment to upholding the true teachings of Islam have cemented his place as one of the most revered figures in Islamic history. The immense gathering at his funeral served as a poignant reminder of his profound impact on the Muslim community, both during his life and after his passing.


He left behind two sons, namely Abdullah and Salih, who played a central role in preserving his rulings and thoughts.


Imam Ahmad’s madhab is known as the Hanbali School of Law. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى likes his predecessors based his School of Law on four major sources of Islamic Law, that have been considered sources, in the first three blessed generations of believers, unanimously. These sources are as follows:


The Holy Qur’an is the foremost and the supreme source of Islamic Law. The Qur’an is the holy scripture that was revealed to His Last Messenger Muhammad صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم, through arc angel Jibreel. The Prophet صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم dictated the whole Qur’an to his beloved companions and they preserved it in the form of a codex. In addition to this codex, hundreds of the Companions رضی اللہ عنہم memorized the whole Qur’an and transmitted its correct pronunciation verbally. So the authenticity of the Qur’an is out of question and nothing else shares this level of unequivocal authenticity with the Qur’an. Being the most authentic book in the world and the direct Speech of Allah Almighty, Qur’an has the utmost authority over all other sources of law. Everything that contradicts the Qur’an, has no worth in Islam, specifically in the Hanbali school of law. No other source of law can surpass the Qur’an, neither in terms of authenticity nor in terms of commanding status. Even the Prophetic commands have no authority to abrogate the Words of Allah Almighty (Qur’anic narratives).

2. SUNNAH OF THE PROPHET صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم

Sunnah of the Prophet صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم is the second source of law after the Holy Qur’an. Sunnah means the actions, sayings, and silent approvals of the Prophet Muhammad صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم. Sunnah has been transmitted through the reliable chains of transmitters, that were originally transmitted verbally, however, many early scholars, including the Companions of the Prophet صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم, collected the reports about Sunnah in the form of compendiums. These reports of Sunnah are also known as Hadiths. Depending on the character of transmitters and their ability to memorize the Sunnah, Hadiths vary in authenticity. So only the reliable Hadiths are considered for the jurisprudence. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى collected these reliable Hadiths in a colossal compendium known as Al-Musnad, which is the largest existing compendium of Hadiths. Many other reliable Hadith compendiums were compiled by eminent scholars like Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushairi, Imam Abu Dawood, Imam Abu Eisa at-Tirmidhi, Imam Ahmad ibn Ali an-Nasai, and Imam ibn Majah al-Qazwini. Besides Qur’an, no other source of law can surpass an established Sunnah.


Ijma’a means consensus of the Muslim scholars of a particular generation, on a specific affair. When scholars of a particular generation agree on a specific ruling, no one is allowed to go against this consensus. The first and foremost Ijma’a is considered the Consensus of Sahabah (Prophet’s Companions), which was more likely easy to be established and reported as well. Al-Hamdulillah, all fundamentals of Islam are agreed upon and a Consensus of Sahabah has been established on them like the authenticity of the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma’a, the obligation of five prayers, Zakat, Siyam in Ramadhan, Hajj of Baitullah, good manners, prohibition of interest on loans, drinking wine, killing a Muslim or non-Muslim in the presence of peace treaty, fornication, etc.


Qiyas means applying analogical deduction, to rule out a verdict regarding a specific case that has not been assumed in the aforementioned three sources of law. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى did not negate the need for Qiyas, but he restricted its use only in case of necessity. Relying on a great collection of Fatawa Sahabah made him independent of Qiyas. He did not like to judge the Hadiths on the scale of Qiyas, which shows his strong affiliation with the Sunnah of the Prophet صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم. Even he preferred a Mursal Hadith or Fatwa of Sahabi (Companion’s ruling) over Qiyas. When he exhausted himself in finding a ruling in the aforementioned three sources (Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma’a) he tried his best to search for the Fatawa Sahabah, particularly because he liked most the Ftaawa of the Righteous Caliphs. After untiring efforts, if he failed to find Fatawa Sahabah in that particular case, he would apply Qiyas with the utmost care, due to necessity.

Imam Ahmad also applied certain other rules to issue a verdict, when he could not find it in the aforementioned sources. These rules are as follows:

Masalih Mursalah (Desired Benefits / Public Interest)

Istis’hab-ul Hal (Status Quo Ante)

Saddudh  Dharai’e (Blocking the means of evils)

Urf (Social Convention)

Sharai’e ma Qabl (Laws of past Prophets)


Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى learned the Islamic sciences from a number of teachers that range up to one hundred approximately, but some of them shone like bright stars in the sky of Islamic history. His top ten eminent teachers who hold the outstanding position among the scholars are the following:

1. Imam Sufyan ibn Uyainah (d. 198 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

2. Waki’e ibn Jarrah (d. 197 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

3. Imam Abu Bakr ibn Ayyash (d. 193 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

4. Imam Ubbad ibn Awwam al-Wasiti (d. 181 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

5. Imam Yahya ibn Sayeed al-Quttan (d. 198 AH ) رحمه الله تعالى

6. Imam Ibrahim ibn Sa’ad al-Madani (d, 183 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

7. Imam Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shafiyee (d. 204 AH ) رحمه الله تعالى

8. Imam Hushaim ibn Bashir al-Baghdadi (d, 183 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

9. Imam Mu’atamir ibn Sulayman at-Taymi (d. 187 AH) رحمه الله تعالى

10. Imam Abdur Razzaq ibn Hammam as-Sana’ani (d. 211 AH) رحمه الله تعالى


Imam Ahmad was granted outstanding intellectual pupils, who transmitted his knowledge to the next generations. The top ten pupils can be listed as follows:

1. Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari رحمه الله تعالى

2. Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushairi رحمه الله تعالى

3. Imam Abu Dawood ibn al-Ash’ath as-Sajitani رحمه الله تعالى

4. Imam Hisham ibn Abdul Malik at-Tayalasi رحمه الله تعالى

5. Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in رحمه الله تعالى

6. Imam Abdullah ibn Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى

7. Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Athram رحمه الله تعالى

8. Imam Abdul Malik ibn Abdul Hameed al-Maimoni رحمه الله تعالى

9. Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Marwadhi رحمه الله تعالى

10. Imam Harb ibn Ismail al-Kirmani رحمه الله تعالى


Imam Ahmad left a few compendiums and treatises on particular subjects. The list goes below:

1. Al-Musnad

2. Az-Zuhd

3. Al-Tafseer

4. Radd ala al-Jahmiyah

5. Al-Ashribah

6. An-Nawadir

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