His Excellence, Virtues and Achievements
[Recorded by Ibn Katheer in al-BidÃ¢yah Wa an-NihÃ¢yah]
He was Ahmad bn Muhammad bn Hanbal bn HilÃ¢l bn Asad Abu AbdillÃ¢h
Ash-ShaybÃ¢ni. His father brought him from Merv while he was still inside his
mother's womb. His mother gave birth to him at Baghdad in the month of RabÃ®ul-Awwal
in year 164 Hijrah. His father died while he was thirty years old thus he came
under the care of his mother.
Abu AbdillÃ¢h Ahmad bn Hanbal died on Friday 12th day of the month of RabÃ®ul-Awwal
in year 241 when he was seventy-seven years old. May AllÃ¢h bestow mercy upon
In his tender age, he used to attend the sittings of Al-QÃ¢di Abu YÃ»suf
(pupil of ImÃ¢m Abu Hanifah). Then he stopped from that after which he began to
hear hadith narrations.
Ahmad bn Hanbal travelled round the cities and regions; he heard
narrations from the scholars of his time who used to honor and hold him in high
esteem as he learnt from them.
Our Shaykh (Al-MizzÃ®) mentioned the names of his teachers two times in
his TahdhÃ®b in an alphabetical order; so also he mentioned those who
narrated from him.
Al-Haafidh Abu Bakr Al-BayhaqÃ® said: Ahmad bn Hanbal mentioned in the
Musnad and other books narration from Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã®.
I say: The number of narrations ImÃ¢m Ahmad narrated from Abu AbdillÃ¢h
Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã® had been found out to be about twenty hadith. And the best of what we
have narrated from ImÃ¢m Ahmad from ImÃ¢m Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã® from MÃ¢lik bn Anas from
Az-ZuhrÃ® from AbdurRahman bn Ka'b bn MÃ¢lik from his father who said: The
Messenger of AllÃ¢h â€“ SallallÃ¢hu alayhi wa sallam â€“ said:
'The soul of a believer will become a bird that attaches itself to the
Tree of Jannah until it will return to his body on the Day He will cause it to
[Al-ImÃ¢m Ahmad (3/455) (number 15351); and At-TirmidhÃ® (number 1641);
Ibn MÃ¢jah (number 1449). Ash-Shaykh Al-AlbÃ¢ni declared the chain of Al-ImÃ¢m
Ahmad to be authentic in As-SahÃ®hah (2/730)]
Then Al-BayhaqÃ® brought a statement of ImÃ¢m Ahmad as regard Al-ÃŽmÃ¢n
(Faith); that it is made up of speech and action, it increases and decreases.
So also his statement with regard to Al-Qur'Ã¢n â€“ that it is Speech of AllÃ¢h
uncreated. So also his disavowal of whoever says: 'My voice when I recite the
Qur'Ã¢n is created;' that is, with regard to the Qur'Ã¢n.
Al-BayhaqÃ® said: On that, Abu AmmÃ¢rah and Abu Ja'far said our teacher,
Ahmad As-SirÃ¢j, narrated from Ahmad bn Hanbal that he said: 'My voice when I
recite the Qur'Ã¢n is created' is an heretical statement. He cited proof in AllÃ¢h's
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"Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher
by him ready (to record it)."
He said: 'Voices are human speeches.'
Other than the two men have narrated from Ahmad that he said: 'How the
Qur'Ã¢n is rendered (by humans) is not created but our actions are created.'
I say: Al-BukhÃ¢ri established this meaning (that voice rendering the
Qur'Ã¢n is created); he said that in Af'Ã¢lul-IbÃ¢d ('Actions of Slaves').
He also mentioned it in his SahÃ®h; he cited as a proof the statement of the
Messenger of AllÃ¢h:
'Beautify the Qur'Ã¢n with your voices.'
[Abu DÃ¢wud (number 1468), An-NasÃ¢'Ã® (number 1016); Ibn MÃ¢jah (number
1342); Ahmad (4/283, 18024); Ad-DÃ¢rimÃ® (number 3500). Authenticated by Al-ImÃ¢m
Al-AlbÃ¢ni in As-SahÃ®hah: 2/414]
This is why more than one scholars of Sunnah have said: 'The Speech
is the Speech of the Creator while the voice is the voice of the reciter.'
That is what Al-BayhaqÃ® established too.
Al-BayhaqÃ® mentioned a statement of ImÃ¢m Ahmad establishing the fact
that AllÃ¢h would be seen in the Hereafter; and he cited as the proof the hadith
of Suhayb regarding seeing (AllÃ¢h on the Day of Resurrection). [Muslim (number
181), At-TirmidhÃ® (2552), Ibn MÃ¢jah (187) and Ahmad (4/332, 18356).]
That the believers will see AllÃ¢h on the Day of Resurrection 'is an
additional favour to them.'
So also is the statement of ImÃ¢m Ahmad regarding negation of likening AllÃ¢h
with His creation and refraining from engaging in argumentation (over issues
like that); so also is clinging unto what has come in the Book and Sunnah in
terms of the reports from the Prophet â€“ SallallÃ¢hu alayhi wa sallam â€“ and his
Companions â€“ may AllÃ¢h be pleased with them all.
A Section on His Asceticism, Renunciation, Humility â€“ may Allah be
pleased with him
Al-BayhaqÃ® narrated in the route of A-MuzzannÃ® from Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã® that he
said to Ar-RashÃ®d : 'Indeed Yemen is in need of a (good) judge.'
Ar-RashÃ®d said: 'Get a man (for us) and we shall appoint him over the
city (as its judge).'
Then Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã® hesitatingly talked to Ahmad bn Hanbal about it who
vehemently refused and rather told Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã®: 'I have only taken time to come
to you because of knowledge which has become scarce in the world; will you now
command me to become a judge? If not for (your) knowledge, I will refrain from
talking to you from today.'
Then Ash-ShÃ¢fi'Ã® became shy from him.
It was reported from Ahmad that he would not pray behind his uncle,
Is'hÃ¢q bn Hanbal, nor behind the person's son, and he would not talk to them,
because they accepted offer of wealth from the SultÃ¢n.
Abdullah, the son of ImÃ¢m Ahmad, said: 'My father stayed (in the
military) camp with the Caliph for about sixteen days without eating any food except
a quarter of sawÃ®q (a mixture
of wheat and barley); he would break his fast every three night upon a safah
(another type of food) from him until he returned to his house; and when he did
so he was not himself for about a month; his two eyes had gone into their
Al-BayhaqÃ® said: 'The Caliph would hold a lavish banquet while Ahmad
would be there (upon an invitation) but he would not eat anything from it.'
Abu DÃ¢wud said: 'The sittings of Ahmad were mainly about mention of the
events of the Hereafter; nothing among the matters of the world would be
mentioned. I have never seen Ahmad mentioned the world.'
Al-BayhaqÃ® reported that Ahmad was asked as to the meaning of Tawakkul
(reliance on AllÃ¢h), he then said: 'It is cutting all forms of hope from people
while in a state of desperation.' Then he was asked as to the proof for that.
He replied by saying that Prophet IbrÃ¢hÃ®m (alayhi salaam) was such that
when he was thrown into fire inside a vault, JibrÃ®l came to him and asked him
whether he could meet his need, IbrÃ¢hÃ®m (alayhi salaam) replied by
saying JibrÃ®l did not have the power to do that. JibrÃ®l then told him to ask
Whom he rested his need. IbrÃ¢hÃ®m (alayhi salaam) then said: 'The more
beloved of the two matters to me is the one more beloved to Him.'
On the authority of Abu Ja'far Muhammad bn Ya'qÃ»b As-SaffÃ¢r who said: 'We
were with Ahmad in Samara then we said: 'Supplicate to AllÃ¢h for us.''
Then he (ImÃ¢m Ahmad) said: 'O AllÃ¢h verily You know that we know that
You are indeed for us more than we love so make us always upon what You love.'
Then he kept quiet.
We said: 'We need more (of the supplication).'
He said: 'O AllÃ¢h, we ask You with the Ability with which You said to
the heavens and earth: "Come to Us willingly or unwillingly. They said:
We come willingly;" O AllÃ¢h make us meet Your Pleasure; O AllÃ¢h we
seek refuge in You from neediness to other than You; we also seek refuge in You
from servitude to other than You; O AllÃ¢h, do not make the favour too much for
us lest we transgress and do not withhold it grossly from us lest we forget.
Bestow Your mercy and wide provision as plentiful for us in our life; and
richness from Your bounty.'
IsmÃ¢'Ã®l bn Is'hÃ¢q As-SirÃ¢j said: 'Ahmad bn Hanbal said to me: 'Can you
show Al-HÃ¢rith Al-MuhÃ¢sibÃ® to me when he comes to your house?'
I replied: 'Yes I can; and I was happy for that.' Then I went to Al-HÃ¢rith
and told him that I would love him to come to my house that night with his
comrades. Al-HÃ¢rith replied that they were many but said I should get dates and
food ready for them.
When it was after Maghrib they arrived. ImÃ¢m Ahmad had preceded them to
the place and had gone to sit in a room where he would be able to see them and
hear their talks but they would not be able to see him.
Thus when they observed the Ishaa Prayer, they did not observe any
prayer after it but all came and sat before Al-HÃ¢rith in all quietness and
their heads hanged down as if birds were upon their heads.
It was about middle of the night when a man among them asked Al-HÃ¢rith
about a matter thus he began to talk over the matter and what related to it in
terms of taking little of this life, avoiding doubtful things and exhortation.
Then some began to sob, groan and convulse.
Then I climbed to ImÃ¢m Ahmad in the room (where he was sitting) and I
found him crying too until he nearly collapsed. The people cried till daybreak.
When they wanted to take their leave, I asked Abu AbdillÃ¢h his opinion
of them but he replied: 'I have not seen anybody talked about taking little from the world
like this man and I have not seen people like his comrades but despite that I
counsel you that you should not join them!'
Al-BayhaqÃ® said: 'What that means is that he detested his taking them
as companions because Al-HÃ¢rith bn Asad, even though he was an ascetic, he had
some knowledge of the scholastic theology with him which Ahmad detested; or
that Ahmad hated that the man should join them because he might not be able to
cope with what they were upon in terms of asceticism and avoiding doubtful
Translated by Ishaaq bn AbdirRaheem, Aboo Aamir
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