The Four Great Imaams - Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Born in Baghdaad in 164 H., Imaam Abu ‘Abdullah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal ibn Hilaal ibn As’ad ibn Idrees ash-Shaybaani (may Allah have mercy on him) also suffered the loss of his father a short while after his birth. He reports that he never saw his father nor grandfather and that his mother brought him up.

After acquiring basic Islamic education, he began studying hadeeth as a young adult. For sixteen years he traveled through Kufa, Basra, Makkah, Madinah, Yemen, Damascus, Morocco, Persia and Khurasan. He memorized 100,000 ahaadeeth, thirty thousand of which are recorded in his monumental and popular work, al-Musnad. He was one of the greatest students of Imaam Shaafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) and out of respect for his teacher, he would never give a legal opinion as long as Shaafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) was in ‘Iraaq. His school of thought was based mainly upon the Qur’an, hadeeth and ijmaa with little recourse to qiyaas. Among his students were two of his sons, Saalih and ‘Abdullah, and Imaam Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaari (may Allah have mercy on him). Besides his Musnad, he was the author of numerous other works.

Like other pious scholars before him, Imaam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) bore harsh torture and imprisonment rather than bowing to the desires of the corrupt leaders. He refused to give up defending the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah that the Qur’an is the uncreated, eternal word of Allah. For this, the khaleefa imprisoned him for over two years. He died at 77 years of age in 241 H. and over 600,000 people attended his Janaaza prayers. For one week such prayers were held at his grave, the last of the four great mujtahid Imaams of Islam.

[Among the scholars of the Hanaabilah are the names of Haafiz al-Muqaddasi, Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Quddaamah and Haafiz Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him).]