Biography of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal – by Amir Al-Athari

Abu Abdillāh Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Ḥanbal Ash-Shaybānī رحمه‌ الله.

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 Prophetic linage 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 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 were 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 direct pupil of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله تعالى and played very important role in formulation of Fiqh Hanafi.


Imam Ahmad’s family was initially settled in Marw, a town in province Basrah (Iraq). However they migrated to Baghdad, the capital of Khilafat Abbasiyyah.Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى was born in Baghdad, in 164 AH (780 CE).


Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s father Muhammad ibn Hanbal was a commander in the official army of Khilafat Abbasiyah. He was a noble man 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 initiated his education right from his home. His mother taught him basic skills of speaking, reading and writing Arabic, that was his mother tongue and native language as well. He also memorized there the whole text of the Holy Qur’an. Baghdad was a centre of knowledge, culture and professional skills. It was a norm of those days, to learn mathematics, philosophy, fine arts etc but he started learning Fiqh (Islamic Law). Fortunately his first teacher of Fiqh was Imam Qadhi Abu Yousuf رحمه الله تعالى , who was one of the foremost students of great Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله تعالى . He not only studied the Hanafi Fiqh, but its principles of jurisprudence as well. Later on at the age of fifteen, he got him engaged in learning Hadith sciences. His most prominent teacher in Hadith sciences in Baghdad, was Hushaim bin Bashir al-Wasiti (d. 187 AH) رحمه الله تعالى .


When Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى have learned all basic Hadith sciences in Baghdad, he was determined to learn the advanced Hadith sciences from the major scholars of Hadith of his time. For this purpose he had to leave Bghdad, so he traveled to well known centres of Hadith studies like Basrah, Kufah, Makkah, Madinah, Shaam, Yemen. He traveled to Hijaz (Makkah & Madinah) at least five times in his life. During these journeys he not only performed Hajj, but he stayed in Hijaz for months to collect the Hdiths. He not only learned all these Hadiths by heart, but he noted them down. This continuous and lengthy pursuit of Hadiths evolved in a great copious collection of Hadiths, that was later compiled with the title Al-Musnad. According to a well preserved report, he did learn one million Hadiths by heart, that is an exceptional achievement and a peculiar blessings from God Almighty.


As the knowledge of Hadiths increased with the passage of time, Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى also got interested in the meanings and interpretation of Hadiths. Fortunately, he kept adhered to great Imam of Fiqh Muhammad ibn Idrees Ash-Shafiyee رحمه الله تعالى for months. He learned the advanced discourse of Fiqh from Imam Ash-Shafiyee. It was Imam Ash-Shafiyee who perfected Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى in the art of Ijtihad (Deriving rulings from the Quran and Sunnah). Thus Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى became an unparalleled Imam Mujtahid of his time. He performed comparative study of the existing schools of law, namely Hanafi, Maliki and Shafiyee. Based on the common postulates of the existing schools, he codified the School of Salaf Saliheen which is also known as Atharii-Hanbali school of theology.

The Ahl-e-hadith wal Athar, literally the ‘’people of tradition and narration ’’, is not a distinct group of thinkers, but refers to the Hanbali jurists, and to Athariis who see themselves as particularly enthusiastic about the prophetic traditions (hadith reports) in Islam. Hanbali Fuqaha’ (jurists of Islamic law) is expected to master the Hadith Collections, to be experts in judging their varying levels of reliability and in using them to resolve legal issues. The different legal schools in Islam take different attitude toward the hadith reports. For some time it has lost its direct link with the Hanbalis, and has become shorthand for a commitment to tradition, where this means an attemptat returning to the rules and way of life of the salaf, the original leaders of the Ummah, the Islamic community. On the other hand, the Hanbali School does embody a particularly enthusiastic commitment to the Ahadith in its definition and justification of legal validity.

Those who emphasize the significance of tradition set themselves up as the Ahl-e-Hadith against the Ahl- Rawafiz (rejectors) ,ahl al biddah wal hawah (Muttazilla) and ahl al-ra’y (people of opinion).There were rulers who adhired to the pristine teachings of islam and ensured that the teachings of the Sunnah were followed in their domains .With the intermingling of people from different races the society got mixed .Jewish and the Christian scholars from the Egypt and Syria introduced the Greek philosophy to the Arabs, books on philosophy ,logic ,mathematics and medicine were translated into Arabic .

These scholars were patronised by royal courts , a new composite culture emerged in the muslim world . This ushered in an era of liberal thinking among the muslim intelligentsia,muslim scholars were overwhelmed by the philosophical theories of Socrates ,Plato ,Aristotle ,Galen and ancient Greek philosophers. They were so much engrossed in the philosophical and logical reasoning that their intellect had become a captive of a Greek thoughts.

They suffered from an inferiority complex and tried to test the Islamic ideologies on the logical principles ,while the other scholars defended the tenets of their religion by means of logical reasoning , rationalism( Aytizaal) and scholasticism( Ilm al Kalam) became the distinct schools of thought . But Mutazillah opened the floodgates of mental vulgarity , the stupefied minds under the spell of Greek philosophy made Islam the target of their intellectual acrobatics even Allha’s attributes were subjected to logical testing .In the ninth century (3rd century A.H.)the Abbasid leader in Baghdad directly attacked the Ahl-e-Hadith for their theory that the Qur’an was uncreated. The pro Shia Mutazila Caliph al-Ma’mun insisted that the the view that the Qur’an was created, a view than propounded by his Mu’tazila sect as well as many Shia .

During the religious inquisition or Mihna (833-850).

Many of the Ahl-e-hadith were imprisoned for refusing to agree to the doctrine of the created Qur’an. A diabolical debate concerning Quraan rocked the minds of scholars . The Mutazila propounded the theory of the Quran being a creation ,it was noting but intellectual prostitution . it had taken the entire Islamic world in its grip . The Mutaziila had their sway in the Abbasid court ,the wicked Ahmad bin abi’Du’aadh was a ,charaterless and shameless person .He wanted to humiliate the scholars who did no see eye to eye with him ,who were the inheritors of devine law Ahl sunnah -wal jammat .

Mamum Abbasi the caliph ,was under his influence ,the cursed ibn Du’aadh asked him to order all the prominent scholars of Ahl Sunnah endorsed the theory of the Mutazillah concerning the Quraan. This abuse of imperial authority wreaked havoc upon the pious theologians . Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal who was one of the greatest theologians of Islamic world was summoned to the royal court and ordered to acquiesce in what the rationalists had propounded about the Quraan .

The Mutazilla succeded in getting Imam Ahmad subjecting to physical touture and flogging ,so great was the steadfastness of Imam Ahmad that the third degree torture failed to waver his belief . He was thrown into the prison , he was firm like a rock . His only argument was , produce an authority from Quraan and the Hadith ‘ when he refused to submit to the imperial arrogance ,he was thrown into prison .Mamum Abbasi died leaving him in chains . His successors Motasim and Wasiq were even more brutal .The Imam had to go undergo more torment and torture during the rule of the Wasiq . Those mighty emperors had no compassion for the victimisation of an Innocent individual and the greatest muslim scholar of his time. The two cursed tyrant caliphs also died within a short span of time .

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was still undergoing torment in the prison. In spite of all the brutalities he had undergone ,he was unwavering physically he was shattered but his soul was as fresh and vibrant as ever with broken limbs and bleeding body ,he regularly offered his prayers . One of the nobelest sons of Islam , so unique was his sense of piety that he never cursed those whose hands he has so badly suffered .The succession of Jafar al’Mutawakil rahimahullaah to the the throne was a turing point in the annals of the dynasty. He was a righteous and a just ruler . He rejected all
the absurdities propounded by the the Mutazilla . He adhired to the pristine teachings of Quraan and Sunnah with his ascendancy the Mutaziila lost their sway in the royal court . Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was realesed from the prison . The caliph held him in extreme revrence and wanted to expatiate for the past brutalities the Imam had to suffer . But the Imam was beyond the reach of all attractions and allurements ,just as the torment and torture of Mamun and his two cursed successors had failed to waver his courage and faith , the imperial favors extended by Mutawakil also failed to fascinate him.

Resurgence of Hanabillah in Arabian Penensula .

The Salafis developed strict procedures to direct the discussion of doctrinal issues. To judge religious questions, they first search the texts of the Qur’an and the Ahadiths and define their views accordingly. If reference is not found in these texts, they look for the consensus of the “virtuous ancestors’’, particularly the companions and their successors; Ijma, however, is restricted to those who follow the Qur’an and the traditions.When it is evident that worship is due to Allah alone, then to associate anyone in that worship is shirk. Shirk is evil, no matter what the object is, it may be ‘King of Prophet, or Sufi Saint or tree or tomb. It is also shirk to seek refuge with anyone other than Allah. To call and seek help from other than Allah is defined by Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab as ‘Grave Shirk’(Shirk al-Akbar).

Role of Aal Sa’ud and Aal Sheikh.

Since the Aal Sa’ūd succeeded in bringing most of the Arabian peninsula under their control since 1724 A.D. the Hanbali school of theology has benefited from the sponsorship of the Saudi state. Theology students from all over the world are educated in Saudi Arabia following the Atharii school of theology and the Dawah succeeded in attracting people all over the world. Since the beginning of the 20th-century, the school has gained more follower’s throughout the Islamic world.

The Akhwan were the soldiers for Islam. The clerics of the Ikhwan ( Aal-Sheikh) were dedicated to their idea of the purification and the unification of Islam on the principal of Quraan and Sunnah upon the Manhaj of Salaf Saliheen.

The Akhwan followed the Hanbali school of Jurisprudence, and it was actually they who united most of Arabia and resulted in the formation of Sa’ūdi Arabia. The Akhwan “pressed for strict adherence to Islāmic norms” such as forbidding smoking tobacco , banning music ,dance , enforcement of Hijab and stopped the worshiping at shrines.

The Akhwan “pressed for strict adherence to Islāmic norms” such as forbidding smoking tobacco , banning music ,dance , enforcement of Hijab and stopped the worshiping at shrines. In the year 1929 Imam Ibn Sa’ūd diluted the Akhwan and reorganized them as Sa’ūdi National Gaurd.

Some classical Hanbali ‘Ulama.

– Imam Salih Ibn Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 266)

– Imam ‘Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d.~290)

– Imam Abu Bakr al Athram (d. 260)
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Abu Bakr al Marrūdhī (d. 275)
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Ibrahim Ibn Ishāq al Harbī
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Harb Ibn Ismā’īl al Kirmānī (d. 280)
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Abu Bakr al Marwazī (d. 292)
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Muhanna’ Ibn Yahya al Shami
(Student of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Isma’il al Bukhari (d.256)
(Student of Imam Ahmad, compiler of Sahih al Bukhari)

– Imam Muslim Ibn Hajjaj (d. 261)
(Student of Imam Ahmad, compiler of Sahih Muslim)

– Imam Abu Dawud al Sijistani (d. 275)
(Student of Imam Ahmad, compiler of Sunan Abu Dawud)

– Imam Abu Hatim Muhammad ibn Idris al Razi (d. 277)

– Imam Abu Zur’ah al Razi (d. 264)
(Al Hafiz, memorised atleast 700.000 ahadith, student of Imam Ahmad, Yahya Ibn Ma’īn, Abu Nu’aym, nd Abu Hatim)

– Imam Abu Bakr al Khallāl (d. 311)
(Student of the direct students of Imam Ahmad, compiler of al Jami’ al Riwayat, fatawa of Imam Ahmad)

– Imam Abu Hafs al ‘Ukbari

– Imam Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad al Bashshār (d. 313)

– Imam Abu Muhammad al Barbahārī (d. 319)
(The Hanbali authority of his time, author of Sharh al Sunnah)

– Imam Abul Qāsim al Khiraqī (d. 334)
(Author of Mukhtasar al Khiraqi, the first Hanbali fiqh text)

– ‘Abdurrahman Ibn Abi Hatim al Razi (d. 337)

– Imam Ghulām al Khallāl (d. 363)

– Imam Ahmad al Barmakī

– Imam Abu ‘Ali al Najjad

– Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Ibn Battah al ‘Ukbari (d. 387)
(author of al Ibanah al Kubra/Sughra)

– Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn Manda (d. 395)
(Hadith scholar)

– Imam Abu ‘Ali al Khiraqī (d. 399)

– Imam Abu Hafs ‘Umar al Barmakī
(a compiler)

– Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al Hasan Ibn Hamid (d. 403)
(Author of many large-scale compilations)

– Imam Abul Qasim al Mazrafi
(author of some compilations)

– Imam Al Sharīf al Qadi Abu ‘Ali Ibn Abi Musa Al Hāshimi (d. 428)

– Imam Al Qadi Abu Ali bin Abi Musa Al Hashimi (d. 428H)

– al Imām Qadi Abu Ya’la Muhammad Ibn al Farra’ al Baghdādī (d. 458)
(The head of the scholars, Shaykhul Hanabilah, the Hanbali authority, the Mujaddid)

– Imam Abu Ja’far ‘Abdul Khaliq Ibn ‘Isa al Hashimi (d. 470)
(Student of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abu ‘Ali Ibn al Banna (d. 471)
(student of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abu Isma’il al Harawi (d. 481)
(Shaykhul Islam, author of “Manazil al-Sa’irin”)

– Imam Abul Faraj al Shirāzī (d. 486)
(Student of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al Rādhānī (d. 494) (sudent of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abu ‘Ali al Baradani (d. 498)
(student of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abu Mansur al Anbarī (d. 507)
(student of Qadi Abu Ya’la)

– Imam Abul Wafa’ ‘Alī Ibn ‘Aqīl al Baghdādī (d. 513)
(author of Wadih fi usul al fiqh)

– Imam Abul Khattāb Mahfūż al Kalwadhānī (d. 520)
(Al Imam, a Mujtahid in the 4 madhahib, student of Qadi Abu Ya’la, teacher of Sayyid al Jilani)

– Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad al Dinawari (d. 532)
(student of Abul Khattab al Kalwadhi)

– Imam Abul Fadl Muhammad Ibn Nāsir (d. 550)

– Imam ‘Awnuddin Ibn Hubayra (d. 560)

– Shaykhul Islam Sayyidina ‘Abdul Qadir al Jilani (d. 561)

– Shaykhul Islam Abul Faraj ‘Abdurrahman Ibn al Jawzī (d. 597)
(Hafizul hadith, al Imam, al Qadiri, and author of many works)

– Imam Abu ‘Umar al Maqdisi

– Shaykhul Islam Muwaffaq al Din Ibn Qudamah al Maqdisi (d. 620)

– Imam Taqi ad Din ‘Abdul Ghani al Maqdisi (d. 600)
(Author of ‘Umdatul Ahkam)

– Imam Hammad al Harrani (d. 598)

– Imam Nasrruddin Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Samiri (d. 616)
(Shaykhul Hanabilah, author of al Mustawab)

– Imam Diya al Din al Maqdisi (d. 643)
(great hadith scholar)

– Shaykhul Islam Abul Barakat Majd al Din Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 653)
(Al Imam, Shaykhul Hanabilah, author of al Muharrar, Alfiyyah)

– Imam Yahyā al Sarsarī (d. 656)
(The Khalifah of Imam al Jilani, Al Zahid, author of Zawaidul Kafi)

– Imam ‘Izz al Din Abu Muhammed al Rasani al Hanbali (d. 661)

– Imam Nasruddin al Samiri (d. 661)
(Shaykhul Hanabilah)

– Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Ibn Hamdan al Harrani (d. 695)
(Al Imam, author of Nihayah al Mubtadi’in)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Abil Fath al Ba’li (d. 709)

– Imam Taqi al Din Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728)
(Shaykhul Islam)

– Jamaluddin Ibn ‘Abdul Hadi (d. 744)
(Writr a primer on the Qadiri Tariqah, and a work called Manaqibul A’imattul Arba’ah)

– Imam Shams al Din Ibn Muflih al Maqdisī (d. 763)
(leading faqih, author of Adab al Shar’iyyah, Kitab Usul al fiqh, Kitab al Furu)

– Imam Zaynuddin Ibn Rajab al Hanbali (d. 795)
(Al Imam, Hafizul hadith, author of al Jami, Fath al Bari, Lata’if al-Ma’arif)

– Imam Burhan ad Din Ibn Muflih (d. 884)
(author of al Mubdi fi sharh Mughni)

– Imam ‘Alā al Din al Mardāwī (d. 885)
(Al Imam, author of ‘al Tahrir’ in usul, ‘Al Tahbir Sharh al Tahrir’)

– Imam Ibn al Mabrid (d. 909)

– Imam Mujir al Din al Ulaymi (d. 927)
(Author of a Tafsir)

– Imam Shihābuddin Ibn al Najjār (d. 949)

– Imam Sharaf al Din Mūsā al Hajjāwī (d. 968)
(Al Imam, author of ‘Zad al Mustaqni’, Al Iqna’)

– Imam Ibn al Najjar al Futuhi (d. 980)
(Al Imam, author of the great Muntahal Iradat)

– Imam Shamsuddin al Rujayhi (d. 1002)
(Al Imam, Qadi, chief student of Imam Musa al Hajjawi)

– Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad al Shuwaiki (d. 1007)
(He took fiqh and hadith from Musa al Hajjawi)

– Imam Abu Bakr Ibn Zaitun al Hanbali (d. 1012).
(He was one of the heads of the Salihiyyah school after the death of Imam Musa Al-Hajjawi)

– Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad al Ushaiqiri (d. 1012)
(One of the most dedicated foreign students of Imam al Hajjawi, and stayed with him for more than four years)

– Imam Nuruddin al Humaidi (d. 1030).
(The marji’ of Damascus and Mufti, he was a teacher of hadith and fiqh)

– Imam Mar’ī Ibn Yusuf al Karmī (d. 1033)
(Al Imam, author of ‘Ghayatul Muntaha’, ‘Dalil al Talib’)

– Imam Mansur Ibn Yunus al Buhutī (d. 1051)
(Al Imam, author of Rawdul Murbi, Sharhul Muntaha, Hāshiyah Al Iqna’)

– Imam ‘Abdul Baqī Ibn Ibrāhīm

– Imam Zaynuddin ‘Abdul Qādir

– Imam ‘Abdul Bāqī al Ba’lī

– Imam ‘Abdul Bāqī al Mawāhibī (d. 1071)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Badruddin al Balbānī (d. 1083)
(Al Imam, author of Akhsar al Mukhtasarat, Mukhtasar al Ilfadat)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al Buhutī al Khalwatī (d. 1088)
(Al Imam, author of Bughiyah al Nasik fee Ahkamul Manasik)

– al Qadi Mahmūd Ibn ‘Abdul Hāmid al Humaidī
(The grandson of Musa al Hajjawi)

– Imam Shihāb al Din Ahmad al Wafa’i al Muflihi

– Imam ‘Abdul Qadir al Danushī

– Imam Yusuf al Futuhī
(Grandson of Ibn al Najjar al Futuhi)

– Imam Ibn al ‘Imād (d. 1089)
(Faqih, author of Shadharat al dhahab fi akhbar man dhahab)

– Imam Ibn Qa’id al Najdī (d. 1097)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al Saffārīnī (d. 1118)
(The Great Hanbali authority, author of Lawani’ul Anwar, Ghidha al Albab)

– Imam Abdul Qadir Ibn ‘Umar al Taghlabī (d. 1133)
(Al Imam, student of ‘Abdul Baqi al Hanbali)

– Imam ‘Isā al Qaddūmī (d. 1188)
(Al Imam, Hanbali authority)

– Imam Ahmad al Ba’lī (d. 1189)

– Imam Muhammad Ibn Mustafa Ibn al Lubadī al Nābulsī (d. 1191)

– Imam Abdullha bin Ibrahim Aal Sayf

– Imam Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab

– Imam ‘Abdullha bin Muḥammad bin Abd al Wahhab Aal Sheikh.

– Imam Ali bin Muḥammad Aal Sheikh

– Imam Hassan bin Muḥammad Aal Sheikh

– Imam Hussain bin Muḥammad Aal Sheikh.

– Imam Ibn Humayd al Najdi (d. 1295)
(Author of Suhubul Wabilah)

– Imam Hamad bin Naasir Aal Muamar.

– Imam Abdurrahman bin Hassan Aal Sheikh .

– Imam Muḥammad Aal Sa’ūd.

– Imam ‘Abdullha Aal Sa’ūd.

– Imam Abdullha bin Abdurrahman Aba Butayn .

– Imam Aḥmad bin Saali Al Baghdadi .

– Imam Abd al Haq Hashimi Makkhi .

– Imam Sulayman bin Abdullah Aal Sheikh.

– Imam Abd al Aziz bin Sulaiman Aal Sheikh.

– Imam Abdullha bin Muḥammad Humaydh.

– Imam Muḥammad bin Abdullah bin Maani Najdi .

– Imam ‘Hamad bin Attiq.

-Imam Saad bin Hamad bin Attiq.

– Imam Ibrahim bin Abd al Latif Aal Sheikh.

Imam Salih bin Abdullah Bassam .

Sheikh Abdullah Mirdaadh .

Sheikh Muhammad Murad Shatti .

Imam Muḥammad bin Abd Al Aziz Aal Sheikh.

Imam Salih bin Abd Al Aziz Aal Sheikh.

Imam Ishaq bin Abd Al Rehman Aal Sheikh .

Imam Abd Al Latif bin Ibrahim Aal Sheikh .

Imam Abd al Aziz bin Muḥammad bin Ibrahim Aal Sheikh.

Imam Ibn utaymeen .

Imam Ibn Baaz.


Leave a Reply