Mufti Waseem khan and his staff! in the first time how do you do? in the second time it’s a question 1. what are the criteria which included the shiya narrators in sunna texts? 2. can provide you with a big detailed article and the trial of different madhhab, it will be a heavy task I ask of you?
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
The criteria which included Shi’a narrators in Sunni texts were that of truthfulness and sound memory. Along with this, the authentic chain required them to be will-connected with their previous and later transmitters. Another condition is that the trustworthy transmitter should never be contradicted by other reliable transmitters. The great traditionist, Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani (852 A.H) introduces the Sahih traditions as follows:-
‘The single report (khabar al Wahid) which is transmitted by an honest transmitter of sound memory, and the chain of which is rightly connected, with no contradiction of other reliable transmitters, is Sahih (sound). (Al Asqalani).
The Sunni traditionists do not lower the status of the transmitters by reason of their having held some different beliefs, but they stress the inherent truthfulness and trustworthiness of the transmitters and their being well-connected with the previous and later transmitters. An Nawawi states, ‘in the Sahih of Al Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim and other compilations of the scholars of Hadith, there is acceptance of many transmitters who did not have orthodox beliefs but who exercised missionary zeal for their personal beliefs. All the early and later traditionists agreed to argue from such transmitters, to hear from them, and to transmit them. There was no rejection of any of them’. (Sharh Sahih Muslim- An Nawawi)
Imam Al Bukhari, inspite of having fundamental differences with the Khawarij, transmits from Imran bin Hittan al Dawai, a staunch Khawarij, but he does not accept a single report in his Sahih from a Rafidi (staunch Shi’a). The reason for this is that the former regard the liar as a kafir (unbeliever), whereas the latter permit mistaking (and concealing) the facts according to their belief in Taqqiyah. The Khawarij, on account of their belief that a liar is a kafir will not lie/fabricate in the matter of transmitting traditions. The Shia’s, on account of their allowance and compromise in the concept of Taqiyyah (concealing the truth) accommodate lying and do not consider it as being sinful.
The point of Imam Al Bukhari is to stand for the truth and to avoid those who are suspected for telling lies. The distinction which Imam Al Bukhari makes shows that he does not attach much importance to the sectarian views of the transmitters, but he does look carefully to ensure their truthfulness. If there is any suspicion regarding any transmitter, he does not present him as an independent transmitter, but as a support to the other transmitters whose reliability is beyond any suspicion. (In the narration taken from Imran bin Hittan, this was presented as a support to the previous chain and does not transmit from him as independent reporter).
A brief explaination of the different Madhab and their founders are given hereunder. An introduction to the Mazahib has also been given.:
The Four Schools of Fiqh and their Leaders
The Shari’ah as we know is derived from a high divine source, embodying the Creator’s (‘khäliq) will and Justice. The main task of the Prophet was to correctly interpret the Divine Will and spread justice (‘Ad ), and to establish peace between man and man, and man and his Creator. The Qur’ãn and the Sunnah were put into practice by the Prophet and his companions, who in turn studied the life-giving principles contained in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet. This is the reason why Imam al-Shafii has ranked the study of Shar’ah which is based on these sources as higher than supererogatorv prayers (NawafiI). The famous Muslim thinker and the poet of the East Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, after producing voluminous books of poetry on mainly Islamic themes wished in the last years of his life that it would have been better if he has spent all his energy in the service of Fiqh al Islam. It is to fulfil the unfulfilled desire of his life that he contacted, the Ulama to join hands with him to work on Fiqh. His famous book, the Reconstruction of Islamic Thought was the beginning of the shaping of his future deliberations. Shari’ah undoubtedly is the backbone of the religion of Islam. The ‘Ulama took to this study right from the time of the Sahabah.
The Difference of Opinions.
Imãms, Abu- Hanifah. Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad bin Hanbal, the leaders of four Sunni schools of law, have rendered a great service to the cause of Islamic Jurisprudence. Neither did they want to alter the spirit of the Qur’an, nor the Sunnah of the Prophet as is harped by some non- Muslims as well as brain-washed scholars of Islam. If one closely examines the fiqh of the four schools, one will never come across any difference of opinions as far as the basic principles of Islam are concerned. The differences mainly centre around the furuat (tiny branches) of theology rather than the Usul (the fundamental principles) of belief. It is through these differences, that Muslims of today have inherited such comprehensive corpus juris which provides guidance in every walk of life. Imãm Abu Hanifah (80-150 A.H.) and Imãm Malik Ibn Anas (93-179 A. H.) were the jurists who really speaking, inherited the legacy of the special ‘knowledge’ of the Tabiin with all its ‘bearings’ – agreements and controversies. They adopted the similar attitudes of their predecessors in relying on the Quran, the Sunnah and the opinions of the companions especially the cause of Ijmah as the main source of Islamic Law, followed by their Ijtihad although Imam Malik placed more reliance on the opinions of teachers than Abu Hanifah. But in cases where there was an irreconcilable conflict of or difference of opinion among the Sahabah, the Iraqi Jurists and Hijazi Jurists followed what was narrated, opined or practised by their predecessors.
The two leaders as well as their disciples came closer after the travels made by Imãm Abu Hanifah and his illustrious companions Imam Abu Yusuf and Imãm Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaibâni to Makka and Medina where Imãm Abu Hanifah met Imam Malik and the companions of Abdullah bin’Abbãs. Abu Yusuf and Muhammad Ibn al Hasan also studied the Muw’atta of Imãm Mälik with the author himself.
The famous Jurist and scholar of Egypt, Laith bin Sad (d. 175), and many other scholars elsewhere were engaged in jurisprudential discussions and because of the good of the Ummah at heart, he sent a brotherly message to Imam Malik objecting with strong arguments to the insistence of Imam Malik on the Ama1 Ahl-al-Madina or the practice of the people of Medina as the main criteria to be followed. Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaibni, the disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah, wrote a book on jurisprudence dealing with these matters. Imam Shafi’i(150-204 A.H.) bridged the gap by visiting Iraq and acquainting himself with the difference between the Hijazis and Iraqis wrote ‘al Risalah’ pointing out the defect and the weaknesses in the legal thinking of contemporary jurists and emphasizing the importance of adhering to the Qur’ãn, the Sunnah, the conclusive Ijmah of the Muslim jurists, and the appropriate Qiyas – as the main sources of Law – excluding arbitrary judgements (i.e. Istihsãn), local and partial agreements, unauthentic narration and unfounded practices (e.g. Practice of the people of Medina). The Risàlah of Shãfii (by taking the jurists from the area details (Furüat to the area of fundamentals gave a timely to the birth science of ‘Usul at Fiqh’ – jurisprudence upon which the Shariah safely and systematically developed. Thus it was the joint efforts of the three Imams which brought about a healthy development.
The effort made by Shafi’i for systematic jurisprudence was paralleled by another type of specialized research namely, the collection of all the traditions from their different provinces, sifting them out, the acceptable narrations from the unacceptable ones. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, the fourth leader and jurist (164-241) wrote the Musnad, the most comprehensive book on Sunnah, through his special research and relied mostly on the Quran, the Sunnah, whatever be the number of the narrators, the opinions of the companions and the successors – irrespective of their home towns, and the process of Ijtihad.
The love and respect of these jurists was so great to each other that they visited and sat in the study-circles of each other. They disagreed on certain matters but remained brothers and friends. Imãm Abu Hanifah, thirteen years older than Imãm Mãlik sat in the lessons of Imam Mãlik who respectfully welcomed him and made himself next to him.
Imãm Muhammad bin al-Hasan, the famous student of Im’àm Abu Hanifah, went to Medina and learnt al-Muwatta from Imãm Malik for three years after the death of his teacher, Abü Hanifah. Imãm Malik and lmãm Abu Hanifah, both learnt Hadith from Imam Muhammad bin Shihab al-Zuhri, and Zuhri, the teacher did not feel it was below his dignity to learn from Imãm Malik, his pupil. Imam Jafar Sadiq (d. 198 A.H.) was the teacher of both Imam Abu Hanifah as well as Imam Mãlik. Likewise, both the Imãms also learnt from a famous Täbii scholar Muhammad bin al-Munkadir al-Madina (d. 131 A.H.). The great Imãms, had such love and respect towards each other that even Imam Abu Hanifah, a senior contemporary of Imãm Malik, would attend the lectures of Imam Malik, particularly when he was dictating Ahadith. Imam Shafi’ also became a student of Hadith under the guidance of Imãm Malik. When some one asked Imãm Shàfii about lmãm Malik, he said, “If Imam Malik and Sufyan bin’ Uyaynah were not there, there would not have existed the science of Hadith in Hijaz”. About al-Muwattä of Imàm Mälik, Imãm Shãfi’i says: “There has never appeared on earth a book that is closest to the Qur’ãn than the Book of Malik”.
Imam Shafii says about a Hanafi Imam that when Imãm Muhammad bin al-Hasan, the student of Abü Hanifah, used to discuss any juristic point, it seemed as if a revelation was descending. He used to write down his lectures. Imãm Muhammad also paid a great respect to Imãm al-Shafii. Once he was going to the court of Hãrün al-Rashid and met lmäm al-Shãfi on the way. Imaam Muhammad got down from his horse and asked his servant to go and inform the caliph that he would not be in a position to remain present at the court that day. Imam Shafii insisted that he should go to the court and that he would see him another day to which Imam Muhammad replied that it was not essential for him to go to the Caliph’s court. Imàm Shafii and Imam Muhammad used to have debates, and used to agree and disagree on many points, a sign of healthy academic discussion, which was a common practice in those days.
Likewise, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal learnt Ahadith from Yahya bin Said al-Qattan, the famous students of Imãm Abu Hanifah. It is said that while asking questions, Imãm Ahmad would stand up out of respect for the teacher from the time of Asr prayer to the Maghrib (sunset) prayer. Imam Ahmad used to say about his teacher that he had not seen one like him. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal also used to say about Abdullah bin al Mubãrak, another pupil of Imãm Abu Hanifah, that during the period of this scholar, nobody has ever tried to exert so much effort in acquiring the knowledge of Ahadith as Abdullah bin al-Mubärak. Khatib al-Baghdádi, the famous historian, narrates the statement of Imãm Ahmad bin Hanbal who said that when he first wanted to learn the science Hadith, he first went to Imäm Abu- Yüsuf, another student of Imãm Abü Hanifah. He has narrated many Ahãdith from Abu- Yusuf.
The above examples show that all the Imãms were teachers and pupils of each other, all working for a common goal that is to serve the posterity in enhancing their knowledge about the Shari’ah. The treasures of knowledge that they have left behind guides the Ummah even today and in all time to come.
The Four Imams of Fiqh
Imam Abu Hanifah
The school of Fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifah was the first to be founded by Numãn bin Thãbit bin Zuta bin Mah, an ‘Ajami or non-Arab scholar who is well known by his Kunyah Imãm Abu Hanifah (d. 150 A.H.) in Kufah in Iraq. Kufah during this period had become well known as a seat of learning. The legacy of ‘Abdullah bin Masud (d. 32 A.H.), the Sahabi and a great scholar of the Qur’an and the Sunnan had flourished in Kufah as it was there that he taught from the time that he was sent by caliph Umar as a Qädi and a scholar-teacher.
His Early Life: –
Imam Numãn bin Thabit Abu Hanifah belonged to that pious period of the Tabiin, the successors of the Sahabah (the companions of the Prophet). The famous historian Khatib of Baghdad says that Hanifah was born in the year 80 A.H. His father Thãbit called upon the Caliph Ali to pray for him and his family. Khatib says: “I believe that his prayer bore fruit.(Tareekh Baghdad Khateeb). Abu Hanifah was a Tãbi’ since he had the good fortune of witnessing the period in which some Sahâbah still lived till his early youth. It is authentically reported that he met the following Sahabahs:- Anas bin Málik (d. 93 A.H.), the personal attendant of the Holy Prophet, Sahl bin Sa’d (d. 91 A.H.), and Abu Tu’fail’ Amir bin Wãthilah (d. 100 A.H.). Aini, the commentator of Hidayah says that Abü Hanifah even heard Hadith from the Sahabah.
Abu Hanifah was first brought up as a trader like his ancestors; but he soon started taking deep interest in education. During this period Islamic learning was being spread by great Tabi’ee scholars and Imãms like Auza’i in Syria, Hammad in Basrah, Sufyãn al-Thauri in Küfah, Malik bin Anas in Medina, and Laith in Egypt.(Ibn Jazlah, Mukhtasar Tarikh khateeeb Baghdadi).
One day, when Abu Hanifah was passing by the house of Imãm Sha’bi, a learned scholar of Kufah, Sha’bi mistook him as a student, and asked: “Where are you going, Youngman?” Abu Hanifah named a merchant whom he was going to see. “I meant to ask”, said Sha’bi, “whose classes you attend”, “Nobody’s Sir”. Sha’bi said: “I see signs of intelligence in you. You ought to sit in the company of learned men”. As if it sparked a new light in Abü Hanifah’s heart, he embarked on studies, and became a great Imãm in the field of Fiqh and Hadith.
He attended lectures of Hammad in Fiqh and then began his study of Hadith. Abul Mahsin al-Shafi’i gives a list of Hadith teachers of Abü Hanifah, ninety-three of whom belonged to Küfah who were Tãbiin.( Manaqib An Numan- Abdul Qasim bin Kas).
The Scholars from whom he learnt in Küfah were Sha’bi, Salamah bin Kuhail, Manarib bin Dithar, Abu Ishãq Sabi, ‘Aun bin’ Abdalláh, Amr bin Murrah, A’mash, Adib bin Thabit al-Ansari, Samak bin Harb and many others. These were known to be from among the greatest scholars of Hadith and Fiqh at their times. In Basrah, he learnt from Qatãdah and Shu’bah, famous Tabii scholars who had studied Hadith under the Sahâbah of the Prophet. Sufyán al-Thauri calls Shu’bah “Amir al-Mu’minin fil Hadith”, the leader of the believers in Hadith. Shu’bah was so much impressed by, and attached to Abu Hanifah that once he said of him: “just as I know that the sun is bright, I know for certain that learning and Abu Hanifah are doubles of each other”.(Manaqib Al Imam Al Azam- Muhammad Kamil (Qazi of Baghdad) ). Shu’bah had permitted Imãm Abu Hanifah to teach Hadith and narration. Someone asked Yahya bin Mu’in, one of the teachers of Imãm al-Bukhãri about Abu Hanifah. He replied: “It is enough for me to know that Shu’bah had permitted him to teach Hadith and narration. Shu’bah after all, was Shu’bah. (Uqudal Juman fi Manaqib Al Numan- Al Damishqi).
After completing his education in Kufah and Basrah, Imam Abu Hanifah went to Makka and Medina, the fountain heads of religious learning, and enrolled as a student of the famous scholar ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah. Abdallah bin’Umar, the son of Caliph ‘Umar, recognising merits the of ‘Ata bin Abi Rabãh said. “why do people come to me when Atã bin Abi Rabãh is there for them to go to? (Ibid) During the Hajj period, there used to be a government proclamation prohibiting anybody but ‘Atã bin Abi Rabãh from giving Fatawa (Juristic decision)(Sirah Al Numan- Shibli Numan) . The great scholars like ‘Auzai, Zuhri andUmar bin Dinãr were alumni of his school(Ibid). Atá bin Rabãh interviewed him about his beliefs while enrolling him in his class. Abu Hanifah replied: “Sir, I do not speak ill of the Asláf (people of earlier generations), do not call sinner Káfirs and believe in Qada and Qadar (Predestination and Freewill)”. ‘Atä was pleased on hearing this and permitted him to be his student (Ibid). Until Atã’s death in 115 A.H., Abü Hanifah always visited him when-ever he visited Makka and respectfully sat in his study circles. While in Makka, he also attended the classes of Ikramah, a disciple of the famous scholar Abdullah bin ‘Abbâs. He had the good fortune of learning Hadith and points of Fiqh from Sayyidnã Ali, Abu Hurairah, Abdullah bin Umar, Aqabah bin Umar, Safwan, Jãbir and Abü Qatãdah apart from his masterAbda1láh bin’ Abbas. It is said of Ikramah that he taught at least seventy Tabiin. Sa’id bin Zubair’ was once asked: Did he know of someone more learned than him among his contemporaries? He replied that it was Ikramah. Ikramah taught Imâm Abu- Hanifah with great care and personal attention, making him so very proficient that he gave Abu- Hanifah to exercise personal judgement and rulings in his life-time.( Muktasar Tarikh Khatib Baghdadi- Ibn Jazlah).
His Encounter with Imam Baqjr
Imãm Abü Hanifah’s fame as a great scholar, and his intellectual gifts and originality had spread far and wide. But along with his fame, also increased the adverse remarks of some superficial observers of his being a Qayyas, one who made analogical deductions. On his second visit to Medina, he met Imãm Bãqir, when he was introduced to Imam Baqir, the latter addressed him in these words:
“So it is you who contradicts the traditions of my grandfather on the basis of Qiyâs. Abu- Hañifah said: “May Allah forbid. Who dare contradict the Hadith? After you sit down, Sir, I shall explain my position”. The following conversation that took place between the two great men, explains how much attached Imam Abu, Hanifah was to the fundamental principles of Islam:
Abu Hanifah: “Who is the weaker, man or woman?”
Imam Baqir: “Woman”
Abu Hanifah: “Which of them is entitled to the larger share in the inheritance?”
Imam Baqir: “The man”
Abu Hanifah: “Now, if I had been making more deductions through analogy, I should have said that the woman should get the larger share, because on the face of it, the weaker one is entitled to more consideration. But I have not said so”.
“To take up another subject, which do you think is the higher duty, prayer (Salaat) or fasting (Sawn)?”
Imam Baqir: “Prayer (Salaat)’.
Abu Hanifah: “That being the case, it should be permissible for a woman during the period of her Haid (menstruation) to postpone her prayers and not her fasts (which is lower than prayers). But the ruling I give is that she must postpone her fasting and not her prayers (following the foot steps of the Messenger of Allah)”.
Imãm Bãqir was so much impressed by this dialogue and the firmness of Imãm Abu Hanifah’s faith and his love for the Prophet, that immediately got up and kissed Imam Abu Hanifah’s forehead.(Siran Al Numan- Shibli Numani)
Imãm Abu Hanifah later learnt for some time from Imam Baqir and Imam Ja’far al-Sãdiq. Imam Abu Hanifah as a keen scholar never felt below his dignity to learn from anyone. Imam Malik was thirteen years his junior, but he often attended his lectures and learned Ahadith from him. Imam Malik used to receive him with a great respect and used to make him sit beside him. Imam Abu Hanifah is particularly famous for having had innumerable teachers. Abu Hafs says that Abu Hanifah learnt Ahadith from at least four thousand scholars. One main reason why Imäm Hanifah attached himself to so many teachers and attended so many schools was that he wanted to gather all the traditions and teachings of the Prophet (SA) through the Sahabahs and Tabieen (Uqud al Juman). Although his merit was recognised by his teacher Hammäd, and had become a real Mujtahid, due to his sincere regard, he refrained from establishing a school of his own even though he was forty years of age. As long as Hammãd lived, he never stretched his feet towards his house out of respect for his teacher. When Hammad died in 120A.H, he was offered his chair though reluctantly. He saw a dream at this juncture in which he saw that he was digging up the Prophet’s grave. He was very much frightened and wanted to give up the chair. Ibn Sirin comforted him and interpreted the dream as an indication that he was the dead branches of learning in Islam. It was then that Abu-Hanifah settled down to teach. He became so very famous that everywhere he traveled, people gathered round him for interviews, discussions and debates with him His students came from all over the Muslim World. He was visited by a large number of people to listen to his religious discourses so much that he began to be suspected of complicity in every upheaval that took place in that country.
Imãm Abu Hanifah’s Rejection _of Qadis Post:
In 132 A.H, Umayyads’ dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids. The first Abbãsid Caliph died only after his rule for four years, and was succeeded by his brother Mansür. Apart from the extermination of Umayyads, Mansur starting pouring out his hatred against the Ahl al Bait. In 145 A. H. the followers of Muhammad Nafs Zakiyyah took up arms against Mansür. The latter died fighting against Mansur’s forces, and his brother Ibrahim continued the fight after him. Imam Abu Hanifah had supported Ibrahim because of his just cause. Later, when Ibrahim was overpowered in 146 A.H. by the Caliph, he began to arrest the supporters of Ibràhim, one of whom was Imãm Abü Hanifah. But when he was brought to the court, his courtiers recognised and respectfully presented him to the Caliph, saying: “This man is the greatest living Alim (learned man)”. When Mansur listened to the Imam and realised how learned he was, he offered him the post of Qãdi (Judge). Imãm Abü Hanifah declined the offer, saying: “He was not fit for the post”. Mansur became angry and shouted: “You are a liar.” He immediately retorted: “If I am a liar, then my statement that I am not fit for the post of a Qãdi is true since a liar cannot be appointed as a Judge.”
Mansür, in anger, took a vow that he would make Abü Hañifah accept the post, but the Imam too, boldly vowed not to accept it. The Caliph ordered that he should be imprisoned. But his reputation as a scholar and teacher made the Caliph to allow him to teach even in the prison. Imam Muhammad bin al-Hasan, the famous students of Imãm Abu Hanifah was tutored while in prison. When more and more people visited the prison to listen to the Imãm, Mansur saw another danger to his authority, and decided to poison the Imam.
In the month of Rajab 150 A. H., the great Imam died due to the effect of poison while he was saying his prayers. The Janãzah prayer was performed six times, and each time fifty thousand people took part in the prayers. Even after his burial, people kept on coming from different places saying funeral prayers for about twenty days.
In 459 A. H., a mausoleum was built on his tomb by the Seljuqi ruler Alp Arsalán, and he also built a large Madrasah nearby.
Disciples of Imãm Abu Hanifah:
Imãm Abü Hanifah left a large number of students behind him. Abul Mahãsin Shafi’i has listed the names of nine hundred and eighteen students. But the most well known of them are the following:
Qadi Abü Yusuf: He was born 113 A. H. and was a son of a poor labourer. lmãm Abü Hanifah helped financially to relieve his problems. After Imãm Abu Hanifah’s death, he was appointed Qadi in the year 166 A.H. Harun al-Rashid appointed him Qadi al-Qudat, the Grand Qadi or Chief Justice. As a versatile scholar: Apart from his masters over Fiqh, he was very well versed in Hadith. He has written many books which are quoted by Ibn al-Nadim in his famous work Kitâba al Fihrist, but the most well known is his Kitàb al-Kharàj which is a collection of Justice views on Khari’j (tribute), Jizyah Tax, classification of lands according to its productivity, etc. etc. He has also fearlessly admonished the Caliph in this book. He died in 182 A.H.
2. Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaibãni:
Imãm Muhammad was born in 135 A.H. near Damascus. He came to Küfah for his studies. He learnt from Imam Abu Hanifah while he was in prison, and after his death, he completed his education under Imãm Abu Yusuf and went to Medina, where he learnt Hadith from Imam Malik. Imam Shafi’i is one of his eminent pupils. Imam Shafi’i have said: “Whenever Imãm Muhammad expounds a point of law, it seemed as if the revealing angel had descended upon him. According to al-Nawawi, the famous Muhaddith, Imam Shafi’i once said: “I learnt a camel load of learning from Imãm Muhammad”. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was once asked as to where from he had learnt all the subtle points of law, he replied: “From the books of Muhammad bin al-Hasan”. His famous works are the Mabsut, originally written by Abu Yüsuf, but revised and edited by him. The other works are Jami ‘al-Saghir, Jami al-Kabir, Ziyãdat, Kitab al-Hujaj and Siyar Saghir wa Kabir. He died in 189 A.H.
3. Imam Zufar: –
He was born in 110 A.H., and was a great scholar of Hadith and very well versed in Qiyas. Imãm Abu Hanifah used to call him the greatest of his companions in the field of analogical deductions. He died in 158 A. H.
The followers of the Hanafi school have spread throughout the world Particularly in Asia and Middle East.
2. Imam Mâlik Bin Anas
The period of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet) had just come to an end when Imãm Malik bin Anas was born. Medina, the city of the Prophet (Madinah al-Rasul) and the city par-excellence, was the centre of Islamic learning during that period since the disciples or pupils of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet), known as the Tabiun, were the recognised masters of Islamic learning who attracted scholars from different parts of the Muslim world to Medina.
His Early Life. –
Imam Mãlik was born in the year 93 A.H. as mentioned by Samani in his famous work on genealogy Kitab al-Ansab and Dhahabi in his Tadhkirah al-Huffaz
There is little difference of opinion about this date as some scholars like Ibn Khallikan have recorded that the Imãm was born in 95 A. H. and Yafi’i has said that he was born in 94 A.H. (Tabaqat Al Fuqaha).
The Imãm belonged to a royal Arab family of Humair from Yemen which had settled in Medina after the advent of Islam. Just as the family of Imam Malik was famous for their hospitality and other qualities before Islam, they became equally well known after they had accepted Islam but in a different way altogether. Their services to the cause of Islam will be remembered in Islamic history for all time to come. The genealogy of the Imãm runs as Malik, the son of Anas, the son of Abü Amir, the son of Umar, the son of Harith, the son of Ghiman, the son of Habthil, the son of Umru, the son of Harith who was also well known as Dhil-Subh. It was Abu Amir who accepted Islam in the family. Imam Malik’s nickname (Kuniyyah) was Abdullah but when he became very famous as a great scholar in Medina, people referred to him as Imam Dar al-Hijrah, ‘the Leader of the House of Migration’ meaning the leader of thought in Medina. –
The period of Imam Malik’s birth was the period of rule of the Umayyad Caliphate and the reign of Caliph Walid bin Abd al-Malik, the third ruler of Umayyad dynasty, whose territories had expanded up to Spain in Europe, the Maghrib in Africa and India in Asia. Although the Umayyads had shifted their capital from Medina to Damascus in Syria, the importance of the city of the Prophet had continued as every Muslim worth his name would take pride in visiting the Holy City even if he had to travel a long distance to fulfil his life-long desire. Since Medina was no longer the political capital of Islam, it continued its spiritual and educational role as was the case in the life time of the Prophet. But Islam had spread far and wide, and enthusiastic Muslim scholars, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, came and lived in Medina to sit at the feet of the famous scholars like Imam Malik bin Anas.
His Education: –
The family of Imam Malik, during his early childhood, had already become well known as scholars and teachers in Islamic learning. Imam, grandfather, who also bore the same name as the Imam, was a famous scholar of Hadith and is considered to be one of the authentic narrators of Ahadith, was alive until Imam Mãlik reached the age of ten years. By that time, Imam Malik had started his schooling. Although as a child he could not directly benefit from his deep learning, the-everlasting impressions and the encouraging words of counsel and love played an important role in building the character and zeal for learning for the Imam. Imãm’s uncle Abu- Suhail Nãfi’ was a recognised scholar of Hadith and has the fame of being the teacher of Imãm Zuhri, a very famous contemporary of Imam Malik. Imam Malik learnt Ahãdith from his uncle. Imãm’s father Anas and his uncle Ràbi’ were also scholars of Hadith as they have narrated ahãdith from their father Malik (Imam Mãlik’s grandfather). Imam Malik was such a keen scholar right from the childhood that once his teacher was lecturing to his students and a snake fell into his lap from the ceilings. All his students ran away while he kept sitting undisturbed as if nothing had happened at all. He was so much engrossed in his studies, that even a snake did not move him.
1. Abü Radim Nafi bin Abd al-Rahman:
In the field of Qur’ãnic studies, Imam learnt how to read and recite the Holy Qur’an according to the established principle, of Tajwid from the very famous scholar Abu Radim Nafi bin’ Abd al Rahmãn who is well known in this field throughout the Muslim world even today. Abu Radim died in the year 169 A.H.
2. Nãfi’ was a great scholar of Hadith during the early years of Imam Malik’s life. He learnt this science from his famous master Abdullah bin Umar, since Náfi was his freed slave who served him for 30 years of his life. Those who knew the place of Abdullah bin Umar in Hadith literature would realise what a great opportunity it was for Nafi to learn from such a great scholar who was always surrounded by pupils. Abdullah bin Umar was the son of’ Umar bin al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, and one of the closest companions of the Prophet (SAW.)
Apart from learning Ahadith from Abdu1lah bin’ Umar, Nafi’ had also the good fortune of serving the other companions and servants in the field of Hadith Aishah, Umm-Salmah, Abu Hurairah, the famous narrator of Ahadith, and Abü Said al-Khudri and many others. His pupils include not only Imam Malik but other luminaries of that period whose names are famous in Islamic learning like Ibn Juraij, Imäm Zuhri, Imam Auzai and Ayyüb Sakhtiyani. Imãm Malik was in a habit of asking juristic opinions of his great teacher adding: What did Ibn Umar say about these issues:?” who could be a greater authority on the juristic decisions and opinions of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar than his closest student like Nafi. The Imam also loved his teacher for his devotion, integrity and honesty that he often used to say that once he heard an opinion on Hadith narrated by Ibn Umar from his teacher Nafi he does not need any further proof on the issue.
This is the reason why Muwatta is full of various Ahadith which are narrated by Imam Malik on the authority of Nafi’ who heard them from ‘Abdullah Ibn Umar.
The pious caliph ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul’ Aziz, who himself was a great scholar, chose Nafi’ as a teacher of Egyptians and sent him there. It is only in Islam that a slave, through his piety, devotion and scholarship, could be raised to such a high authority that Ahadith narrated by him were considered to be authentic and he was respected as a great scholar by the ruling caliphs. He died in 117 A.H.
3. Jafar al-Sadiq:
Imãm Ja’far al-Sãdiq was also one of the teachers of Imam Malik. Apart from being a great scholar, he belonged to the family of the Prophet. He was a great grand son of Imam Hussain, the grand son of the Prophet. His father, Imam Bãqir, was also a great scholar. The chain of his narration of Ahadith goes back to his father Imãm Muhammad Baqir, Urwah bin Zubair, Muhammad bin Munkadir and ‘Ata. Apart from Imam Malik, his pupils included Sufyän al Thawri, Shubah, Abü Asim Yahya Ansri, Imãm Abu Hanifah and Sufyán bin ‘Uyaina. Imãm Jafar al-Sadiq died in 198 A.H.
4. Muhammad bin Yahya al- Ansari:
Muhammad bin Yahyã was another teacher of Imam Malik. He was also a Tabi’i. He used to teach in Masjid al-Nabawi, the Prophetic Mosque in Medina. Muhammad bin Yahya died in 121 A.H. at the age of 74 years.
5. Abu Hazim Salmah bin Dinar:
Abu Hazim was another Tabi’i scholar and a teacher of Imam Malik. He also used to teach in the Prophet’s Mosque, and died in 140 A. H.
6. Yahya bin Said:
Yahyã bin Said was also a Tabi’i scholar and pupil of Imàm Ali bin Zain al Abidin bin Husain and’ Adi bin Thabit and Anas bin Malik. Apart from Imãm Malik, Hammàd, Shubah, Sufyan al-Thauri were his illustrious pupils. He died in 143 A.H.
7. Hisham bin Urwah:
Hisham bin’ Urwah a venerable and well known Tabi’i, was also a teacher of Imam Malik. He heard traditions from many companions and was the teacher of several other great scholars of Hadith, like Sufyãn al-Thawri and Sufyan bin Uyaina. Later, he went to Kufah in the period of Khalifah Abu Ja’afar Mansur, the ‘Abbasid, and people flocked round him to listen to his lessons on Tafseer and Hadith. Caliph Mansur greatly respected him and led the funeral prayers when Hisham died. According to Ibn Sa’d, he was reliable in the science of Hadith and knew large number of Ahadith. Abu Hatim has described him as the Imam in the science of Hadith.
The Famous Pupils of Imam Malik and the Authentic Copyist of The Muwatta:
Imãm Malik’s fame spread far and wide, and the contemporary scholars from different parts of the Muslim world of that period considered it to be a great privilege to sit in the circle of the great Imãm and listen to his lessons on Hadith and exhortations on various juristic and legal issues. Many of them took down full notes and copied the text of the Muwatta, the famous collection of Hadith by their teacher. This activity helped a great deal since these scholars returned to their respective countries with an authentic copy of the Muwatta on which they based their teachings of Ahadith and jurisprudence of Imam Malik. Their number reaches to about 1300 scholars who came to learn from him.
Imãm Malik as a Teacher
According to Dhahabi in his famous work Tadhkirah al-Huffaz, even Imam Abu Hanifah used to sit in the presence of Imam Malik with such respect as one sits in the presence of one’s teacher. Although it reflects great humility on the part of the older scholar Abu Hanifah, it never the less shows the great respect with which Imam Abu Hanifah, held Imam Malik bin Anas.
Imam Malik’s method of teaching his pupils was also unique in his time, and it is the same system which is followed in many traditional Quranic schools and in the mosque-teachings and preachings till today. Imãm Malik liked his pupils to read aloud while he himself listened.
Imam Malik, the teacher would sit on a high seat with the book of Allah and his collection of Hadith by his side and the students will sit around the teacher, and they would jot down notes of the lectures of the Imãm. If the numbers of pupils grow very large, one of the brightest pupils with strong memory would stand up and repeat the teacher’s words without altering the theme and substance of the master’s words. The person chosen by Imam Malik to do this job was Ibn Ulliyyah and Imam’s contemporary scholar, Ibn Shu’ba, had chosen Adam bin Abi Ayas for the same function.
Imãm Mãlik’s contemporaries were luminaries in the field of Islamic scholarship and particularly Islamic jurisprudence. The scholars who were alive at that time were Imäm Auzai in Syria, Hammad at Basrah, Imãm Abü Hanifah and Sufyãn al-Thawri at Kufah, Laith in Egypt.
Imàm Malik as a Muhaddith and a Jurist
As a great Muhaddith, that is, a scholar and authority in the science of Hadith, he scrutinized all kinds of narrations, sermons of the Prophet, explaination on Quranic and other incidents, sayings about excellences and the biographical narrations by the Sahâba of the Prophet, the explanations of Qur’ãn and Hadith by the ‘Sahäba and their way of life. He then compiled about a thousand ahãdith after careful consideration in his famous Muwatta. –
All his legal theories and its codification is based on the Hadith and Sunnah of the Prophet. Weakness in quoting the traditions and giving a legal judgement based on them would always create problems for the later generation. This is the reason why Auzãi, a recognised Mujtahid and a great scholar and contemporary of Imam Malik in Syria, could not influence people to accept him as a master and founder of a school of jurisprudence as is acclaimed by Imãm Malik. This is further confirmed when someone asked Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal his opinion of Auzai. He replied: “He is weak in Hadith and weak in judgement.”
Although Imãm Mãlik was a famous Muhaddith (Traditionist) his legal theories and decisions required the use of Ijtihãd. Ibn Qutaibah (d. 276 A.H.) the famous traditionist, therefore has enumerated him as one of the Ahl al-Ray in a chapter of the same name in his Kitab al-Ma’arif.
During the period of Imam Malik, the famous scholars of Hadith were of two categories although both of them were engaged in rendering their best services to the science of Hadith with utmost respect to the Prophet and his companions. One group concerned themselves with collecting Ahadith and Riwayat (narrations). The collection of Hadith was also a marathon task, and it required travelling from place to place even to record one Hadith and establish the chain of its narrators. The other group of pious scholars collected and examined the Ahadith with a view of deducing from them commandments and juristic decisions.
Imãm Malik was so very careful in selecting the Hadith while compiling his famous work Al-Muwatta that he even did not include the narrations made by his father Anas and his uncle Rabi on the authority of his grandfather.
As a jurist, he fearlessly gave his fatawa (juristic decisions) even if the ruling Caliphs disliked it. Once he was asked to give fatawa about a divorce given under durress. Other Imams said that it will be considered as a divorce even if given forcibly, but Imam Malik said that there would be no divorce. Ja’far bin Sulaiman, the governor of Medina and a Cousin brother of Caliph Mansur ordered Imam Malik not to give such Fatwa, but the Imãm publicly gave his opinion and was flogged because of this.
Imam Malik used to refrain from giving Fatwa if they were asked from distant places. Once a man came after travelling for about six months and sought Imam’s legal opinion, the Imam replied: “Please tell your people that Imam Malik has said that he cannot give answer to that question.” Ibn Abi Uways has said that once Imam Malik told him that sometimes such questions are posed to him that out of anxiety he cannot eat or drink. If someone corrected him in any juristic opinion, the Imam used to accept it immediately.
Imam Malik has not narrated any Hadith or opinion from the great scholars of Iraq. Shu’aib bin Harab once asked Imam Malik: “Why have you not narrated anything from the people of Iraq? Imam replied: “Our elders (aslaf) have not narrated anything from them, hence our youngers have also not narrated anything from their youngers.” In reality, he had nothing against the Ulamah of Basrah, Baghdad and Kufah. One of his Shuyukh (teachers) was Ayyub Sakhtiyani, a well known Tabi’i who came from Basrah, and he respected his contemporary scholars from Iraq whenever they visited him and sat in his lessons. Many of his renowned pupils also came from Iraq.
The Medinan Figh:
The greatest contribution that Imam Malik made was the codification of the Medinan Fiqh. Medina was the centre where all branches of Islamic learning were taught by great scholars and dedicated persons who had learnt the science of the Quran, the Hadith and the principles of jurisprudence from the Prophet and his companions. The companions having all departed one after another, the famous Tabi’i scholars were still living in Medina in the time of Imam Malik. There were seven outstanding Tabi’in who have become central figures in Fiqh and Hadith, and all questions of law were generally referred to them. Two such names are Sulaimãn and Salim bin Abdullah. Sulaiman was a slave of Maimunah, the mother of Muslims and wife of the Prophet and Salim was the grandson of Umar and was taught by his father’ Abdullah bin Umar. These Tàbi’in constituted a consultative body to which all Shari’ah questions were referred. The Medinan Fiqh that Imam Malik codified was the outcome of the exercise of these pious Tabi’in based on the authority of the opinions of the Sahabah and the Prophet.
Imãm M’àlik died on 11th Rabi’al-Awwal, in the year of 179 A.H. at the age of 86 years, and was buried in Jannat al-Baqi in Medina.
3 Imam Muhammad Shafi’i
Abu Muhammad Abdur Rahman bin Abi Hatim al-Razi who died in 327 AH/938AD is the earliest and most accurate biographer of Imam Al- Shafi’i who says that Muhammad Idris Al-Shafi’i was born at Gaza, a small town in the Meditterean Sea. Some other biographers say that he was born in Asqalan (Askelon) which is not far from Gaza in the year 150AH/ 767AD. He belonged to the tribe of Quraish, and thus, was a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (SA). After his father‘s death, his mother took him to Palestine and lived with a Yemeni tribe to which her ancestors belonged. Later, she travelled to Mecca with Al-Shafi’i when he was ten years old. From his early childhood, he displayed a sharp intelligence and was excellent in memorizing things. He was eloquent in speech and was very good in poetry and Arabic language apart from his legal studies.
As a child, Shafi’i was a very intelligent and a bright boy, always very keen to learn the traditional Islamic sciences. Like every Muslim child in those days, he began his studies with the learning of the Quran and memorized it at the early age of seven years. During that time, Imam Malik’s famous work Al-Muwatta was a very well known book on Hadith and Fiqh in Hijaz and other parts of the Muslim world. We are told that Al-Shafii memorized the complete Al-Muwatta at the age of fifteen. He studied Islamic jurisprudence under the well known scholar Muslim bin Khalid al-Zanji, the Mufti of Mecca (died in 180 AH/ 796 AD) and Sufaan bin Uyaina (died 198 AH/813 AD).
He left Mecca for Medina to study at the feet of Imãm Malik bin Anas, a well known scholar and jurist in Medina during that time. Imãm Al-Shafi’i was then twenty years of age, and continued his study with Imám Malik until the latter’s death-in the year 179 AH/796 AD. By the time of Imãm Malik’s death, Al-Shafi’i had already gained reputation as a famous jurist in Hijaz and other places.
Al-Shafi in Iraq
When the governor of Yemen visited Medina, he was so much impressed by the great learning of Al-Shafii that he persuaded him to take up a government position as an administrator which al-Shafii accepted for a short while. We are told that Al-Shafi’i’s frankness brought him in conflict with the government officials and was deported to Iraq in heavy chains in 187 AH/803 AD. Various unfounded allegations including that of conspiracy were levelled against him. This happened during the Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid of the ‘Abbasid dynasty.
Al-Shafi’i was presented to the Caliph along with other conspirators, but he was pardoned by the Caliph when the eloquent Al Shafi’i successfully defended himself. In the court of Harun al-Rashid, it is said, he discussed with the Caliph every conceivable branch of knowledge including Greek medicine and philosophies in their original languages. Fortunately for him Imam Muhammad bin Al-Hasan al-Shaybãni (died 189 AH/ 805 AD) the famous Hanafi jurist, was present in the court of Harun. He helped him by saying that Al-Shafi’i was a famous scholar of Fiqh and his life must be spared. Al-Shafi’i’s discussion with Harun so much delighted the Caliph that he became his patron. Al-Shafi’i found peace of mind and heart in Baghdad and devoted his time to serious studies with Imam Muhammad.
With his bitter experience of the past government service, he vowed not to take up any government job again, although he was patronised by the Caliph.
Al-Shafi’i who had so far studied in depth under Imam Malik, had made him an expert on the Maliki school of thought, but now, in Baghdad, he had a new opportunity to go deep into the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. He lived with the Hanafi jurists and discussed with them on various legal issues defending the position of his master Imam Malik. and became reputed as an upholder of Ahadith. Thus, Al- Shafi’i had the privilege of studying in depth, both the Maliki and Hanafi Fiqh.
His Study of Hanafi and Maliki Schools
Al-Shafi’i then moved to Egypt in the year 188 A H/804 AD via Hariran, Syria and Mecca. Because of his earlier stay in Mecca, as well a his growing fame as an eminent jurist, he was well received in Mecca where he delivered lectures in Haram al Sharif. During the course of his lectures, Al-Shafii who was an expert on both Maliki and Hanafi schools of thought, expressed various differences of opinions with and departures from the legal position of Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik. Many of his supporters, who followed the Maliki system, were disappointed on listening to his discourses, but he still made impact on some scholars, one of whom was Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, who was then studying in Mecca. In spite of his difference of opinion with Imam Malik, Imam Al-Shafi’i respected the Muwatta of Imam Malik so much so that he says: “there has never appeared on earth a book that is closer to the Qur’an than the book of Malik. In yet, another narration, he has said that Muwatta is the most useful book after the Quran.(Tareekh Al Baghdadi)
Later, he returned to Baghdad to spend a short period of three or four years in 194 AH/810 AD. While he was in Baghdad. Caliph Mamun Al- Rashid (died 218 AH/833 AD) invited him to occupy the position of Al Qadi (judge), but Al-Shafi’i refused to accept the position. In the meantime, he was invited to come to Egypt by Abdullah bin Musa. He left Baghdad finally in the year 198 AH/814 AD at the age of 50 years. Some of his biographers say that since Al-Shafi vehemently opposed the Mutazilite doctrine, which the Ruling Caliph also supported, he decided to leave Baghdad as quickly as possible.
Al-Shafi’i in Egypt
Al-Shãfi’i found himself in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere in Egypt. It was here that most of his mature works were written. He was always surrounded by large numbers of scholars from different parts of the world who came to learn Fiqh and Usul al Fiqh from him. His leading disciples like Rabi bin Sulaimãn al-Marali (died 270 AH/880 AD) Abu Yakub al-Ruwayti (died 231 AH/845 AD) and Abu Ibrahim bin Yahya al-Muzani (died 274 AH/877 AD) and many others keenly heard his discourses and every word that the great master uttered was recorded by them. It was the practice of Imãm al-Shafi’i that whatever was written down by his disciples was read aloud to him and he would go on correcting the text. This is the reason why the most accurate discourse of Imãm al-Shafi’i has come down to us. The famous works of Al-Shafi’i like Kitab al-Umm and Risalah are the most famous contributions in the field of Islamic legal system.
Imam Shãfi’i was a man of impressive personality and was well- known for his straight forwardness and taqwah (piety). He lived his life with meagre resources. Still he was very generous to the poor and the needy. His biographer Al-Rãzi says that he was in a habit of giving away to the poor everything that he could lay his hands on.
Imam Shafi eventually passed away on the last day of Rajab in the year 204 AH/20th January 820 AD in the old Cairo, in Egypt. He was buried near Mount al-Muqattam. About four centuries after his death a big domed Mausoleum was built at his grave by the Ayyubid Sultan, Malik al-Kamil in the year 608 AH/1212 AD.
4. Imãm Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal
Imam Abu Abdullah Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal was born in Marw on 20th of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 164 AH. His father, Muhammad was reputed as a warrior (Mujahid) who lived in Basrah in Iraq. It is said that when his father went to Marw as a ghazi, Imãm Ahmad was born during his sojourn in Marw. While still an infant, he was brought to Baghdad where his father died at a very early age of thirty. The entire responsibility of bringing him up was thus thrown on his mother Safiyah bint Maimunah bint Malik Al-Shaibani.
His Early Life
Imam Ahmad was a very inquisitive and intelligent child, keenly interested in furthering his education. He began his early study of Hadith literature in the year 179 AH, when he was only sixteen years old. It is said that he became such a great scholar of Hadith that he remembered almost a million Ahadith. He based, therefore, his juristic opinions solely on ahadith and became an eminent jurist in his time as well as all the time to come.
Imam Ahmad’s Teachers
The following scholars were the teachers of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. Imam Muhammad al-Shafi’i, Bishr bin al-Mufaddal, Ismail bin Ulayyah, Jarir bin ‘Abdul Hamid, Yahya bin Sa’id bin al-Qattan, Abu Da’ud. ‘Abdullah bin Namir, Waki bin al-Jarrãh. Some of his teachers have narrated Ahadith from this illustrious pupil. They are Abu Daud, Aswal bin Amir, Imam al-Shafi’i, Yahyã bin Adam: Imam Bukhãri, Imãm Muslim and Yazid bin Harün.
His illustrious pupils include Abu- Bakr al-Alhram. Hanbal bin Isaq, Abul Qãsim al-Baghwi and many others.
Relationship Between Imam Ahmad and Imam Shafi’i
The famous scholar Abu-Bakr al-Baihaqi has mentioned Shafi’i as the most important teacher of Imãm Ahmad. It is true that Imam Ahmad had special attachment with Imam Shafi’i as seen through most of his narrations in his famous book Musnad Ahmad which are derived from Imãm Shafi’i. Imãm Shãfi’i also had a great respect for Imãm Ahmad because of his sincerity of purpose and outstanding scholarship. Once, when Imam Shafi’i met Imãm Ahmad in Baghdad in 199 AH, the former asked Imãm Ahmad to acquaint him with any ahadith that he had traced as correct either from Hijãz, Syria or Iraq which he would like to put into practice. He further added that he was not like the theologians of Hijaz who would not like to accept their hadith which has spread in other parts of Muslim world branding as untrue or about which the Hijaz Ulama say. “We do not consider them true nor untrue”. but as far as I am concerned I act on the true hadith no matter from where I find it. Imam Shafi’i, in spite of’ his being the most learned in his time, used to refer to Imam Ahmad whenever he had any difficulty about ahadith. Imam Shafi’i has described Imam Ahmad as the “Most learned in the affairs of ahadith.”
Imam Ahmad’s Taqwah.
Imam Ahmad was a very pious scholar who devoted all his life in the service of ahadith and Fiqh. Once, when Abbasid Caliph Harun al- Rashid told lmãm Shafi’i that he needed a Qadi to be sent to Yemen. Imam Shafi’i spoke to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal who was then thirty years of age and a student in the study circle of Imãm Shafi’i. Imam Ahmad refused blunty saying. “I came to your place in search of knowledge and not that you thrust upon me a delicate position of a Qadi.” Imam then kept quiet. Imam Ahmad was so very pious that even he did not like to pray behind his son or his uncle nor went to their houses to eat because both of them had accepted government positions under the Caliph. It is said that once he was very hungry for three days, and he did not have anything in the house. His wife borrowed a little flour from a neighbour and wanted to make bread as quickly as possible. She rushed to her son’s house to bake the bread. Imam Ahmad did not like it and from that day onwards asked that the door leading to his son’s house be closed. He did so because his son was an employe of the Caliph.
Once Caliph Ma’mun al-Rashid distributed some gold as Sadaqah among the scholars of Ahadith. While all the traditionists accepted it. Imam Ahmad refused to accept. When Imam Ahmad was in Yemen, his financial condition was very weak. His teacher, Shaikh Abdur Razaq, the famous Muhadith and author of Musannaf, came to know about it, and took a handful of dinar and presented it to Imãm Ahmad. Imam Ahmad replied. “I do not need them.” His condition at that time was such that his clothes had almost worn out, and he had no other dress to put on. He tried to hide himself in his house and closed the doors. People came in search of him and came to know the reason for his hide out. They tried to offer a little money, but Imam only accepted one dinar out of it, on a condition that he would repay by rendering some service by writing or copying a book.
The famous Muhadith Abu Daud says about Imam Ahmad that to sit in his company was a matter of gaining great reward in the next world (al Akhirah) He never quarrelled with any one in all his life. The scholar Baihaqi has reported from Imam Ahmad that when someone asked him definition of a Mutw’akkil (one who relies on Allah). Imam Ahmad said ‘one who does not pin any hope on-any one but Allah’.
Imãm Ahmad bin Hanbal in the later years of his life challenged even the Caliph and his religious authority. As a result, he was imprisoned for a long time and was treated very harshly by the rulers. But as a man of conscience, he never surrendered to the wrong-headed views of the authorities. There exists a lot of material on his inquisition. The suffering of Imãm Ahmad really started when he came into conflict with the mutazilites and their philosophical ideologies. The mutazilites were the free thinkers and were patronized unfortunately by Caliph Ma’mun al-Rashid, Mutasim Billãh and Al-Wãthiq who had accepted the Mutazilites view-point and made it an official creed and had imposed it as a duty on all Muslims to follow it. Imam Ahmad and other traditionists flatly refused mutazilites doctrines and condemned the mischief of the creation of the Qur’ãn which was supported by the ruling Abbasid Caliphs. It was for this reason that he was brought before the inquisition from Baghdad to Tarsus in very heavy chains. Particularly, it was during the reign of Caliph Mu’tasim Billãh, that he patiently suffered corporal punishment and secluded imprisonment.
The Caliph recognising the learning and piety of Imam Ahmad went to him from time to time to request him to accept the creed of the Mutazilites in which case the Caliph himself would free him from all the chains and would become his follower and he would become the most favourite courtier. But Imãm Ahmad refused to surrender to the confused Mutazilites ideology. In anger, Caliph Mu’tasim ordered his servants to trample him under their feet and many of his joints were dislocated as a result of this cruelty.
The Imãm was kept in heavy chains. He was thrown in a prison in Baghdad where he spent nearly thirty months. There was no light in the cell, and he was not given a lamp at night. When the Imãm insisted on his traditional belief and did not agree with the mutazilites doctrines put forward by Abdur Rahman al-Mutazili and Ishãq bin Ibrahim al Mu’tazili, a large group of executioners were brought, his hands were tied and he was whipped until unconscious. But in spite of all the atrocities, and blood flowing due to flogging, Imãm Ahmad kept on saying that the Qur’ãn is uncreated, it is the knowledge of Allah (Ilm Allah) and one who said that the knowledge of Allah is created has committed the sin of disbelief (Kufr). Mu’tasim, the Caliph was scared of his future in this world and the next, and ordered the punishment to be stopped and chains to be removed on 25th Ramadhan in the year 221 A.H. The wounds began to heal and Mutasim made sure that his deputies came and enquired of the health of the Imam. He repented for his actions. Imãm Ahmad forgave all except those who had committed a great sin against the Book of Allah. Imãm Bukhâri says that when news of imam’s suffering reached Basrah, Abul Walid Tayalsi said: “If Imãm Ahmad had been born among the Israelites, perhaps he would have been a Prophet of Allah.”
And Allah knows best,
Mufti Waseem Khan
Tarikh Baghdad- Khateeb
Muktasar Tarikh Khatib Baghdadi-Ibn Jazlah
Manaqib Al Nu’man- Abdul Qasim bin kas
Manaqib Al Imam A’zam- Muhammad Kamil (Qazi of Baghdad).
Uqud Al Juman Fi Manaqib Al Numan- Al Damishqi
Sirat Al Numan –Shibli Nu’mani
Kitab Al Fihrist- Ibn Al Nadim
Tadhkirah Al Huffaz- Dhahabi
Tabaqal Al Fuqaha- Yafii
Wafayat Al Ayan
Manaqib Malik- Az Zawadi
Dhal Mudhail- Al Tabari
Al Intiqa- Ibn Abdul Barr
Tawali Al Tasibi Ma’ali Ibn Idris- Ibn Hajar
Al Shafi- Abu Zahra
Shariah the Islamic Law- Abdur Rahman Doi