Imam Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu
Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu (780 [164 AH] - 855 [241 AH] ) was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh. His full name was Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani.
Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu was born in Central Asia to Arab parents in 780. After the death of his father, he would move to Iraq and study extensively in Baghdad, and later used his travels to further his education. He was chiefly interested in acquiring knowledge of the hadith and travelled extensively through Iraq, Syria, and Arabia studying religion and collecting traditions of Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
His travels lasted several years. Upon returning home, he studied under Imam Shafi RadhiAllahu Anhu on Islamic law. Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu was very devoted to traditional views and was opposed to innovations in Islamic law.
The strength of his views was tested under the caliphs al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim. During their reign an "inquisition court" was created to deal with people who would not profess certain doctrines that the Abbasid caliphs thought were correct. These doctrines were from the Mutazilite school of thought, and held that the Qur'an was created and not eternal. Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu was arrested and brought in chains before the court, and suffered a great deal. But he patiently submitted to corporal punishment and imprisonment, and resolutely refused to abjure his beliefs.
Caliph al-Mansur reportedly had Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu flogged.
Under the rule of Al-Mutawakkil however, the policy of the government changed and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu ’s trials came to an end. From then onwards he was accorded honor befitting his great knowledge and on several occasions he was invited to the court and granted a generous pension.
Among the works of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu is the great encyclopaedia of Traditions called Musnad, compiled by his son from his lectures and amplified by supplements - containing over twenty-eight thousand traditions. His other works include Kitab-us-Salaat, on the Discipline of Prayer and Kitab-us-Sunnah, on the Traditions of the Prophet.
Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal RadhiAllahu Anhu ’s fame spread far and wide. His learning, piety and unswerving faithfulness to traditions gathered a host of disciples and admirers around him. His teachings plus his books would lead his disciples to form the Hanbali school of jurisprudence.
He passed away in Baghdad in the year 855 over 800,000 people attended his funeral.