Notable Hanbali Scholars

The roots of the Hanbali Madhhab naturally lie in Baghdad, the home of Imam Ahmad, then it spread to other lands, but not as much as the other major madhhabs. Ibn Khaldun states about the followers of Imam Ahmed that “they are the most prolific of people in respect to preserving the Sunnah and narration of Hadith.” [Al-Muqaddima, p. 448].

What is the Hanbali school?

Hanbali school is one of the four Sunni schools of religious law in Islam which is based on the teachings of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Hanbali legal school

The Hanbali Madhhab has spread considerably in the modern age as Saudi universities and scholars (amongst others) have done considerable work in editing and publishing important Hanbali works and teaching the Hanbali madhhab. Because of this new wave of writing about and teaching the Hanbali madhhab, the present era can be considered a period of its revival. Also read- Dua for studying

Notable Hanbali Scholars
Notable Hanbali Scholars

Also see: Seven Companions/sahaba who narrated the most hadith

Who is the most famous Hanbali jurist?

The Hanbali Madhhab also had a considerable historical presence in alSham. Majd al-Din al-‘Ulaymi, in his al-Manhaj al-Ahmad, has provided a list of the most famous Hanbali scholars of Palestine from the 6th Century
until the 9th Century.

  1. Abu Dawood (d. 275 A.H.) – Famous compiler of Sunan Abu Dawood
  2. Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Barbahari (d. 329 A.H.) – An Iraqi traditionist and a jurist, author of the book Sharh al-Sunnah.
  3. Al-Khallal (d. 311) – A student of some of the closest companions and students of Imam Ahmad. He is remembered and honored for collecting the responses of Imam Ahmad from his students, who
    were scattered across the Muslim world.
  4. Al-Khiraqi (d. 334) – (who summarised Jami’ al-Khallal into a Fiqh manual, the mother of all Fiqh manuals in the Madhab)
  5. Ghulam al-Khallal (d. 363) – A servant and a devout student of al-Khallal, and author of many works in various sciences. It is reported that, days before his death, in his illness, he said to his companions: I am with you until this Friday. Upon being asked why, he said: al-Khallal informed me from Abu Bakr al-Marrudhi that Ahmad lived until he was 78 and died on Friday. Abu Bakr al-Marrudhi lived until he was 78 and died on Friday. Al-Khallal lived until he was 78 and died on Friday. On Friday, Ghulam alKhallal breathed his last when he was 78.
  6. Ibn Battah al-Ukbari (d. 387 A.H.) – An Iraqi theologian and jurisconsult, author of the book Al-Ibaanah.
  7. Ibn Hamid (d. 403) – He was a leading authority on the Hanbali school in his time, and known for his frequent performance of Hajj, such that he died on his way back from Makkah. He is regarded to be the last of the early class (Tabaqa) of the Hanbalis.
  8. Al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la (d. 458) – He was born to a Hanafi family, but became a Hanbali after studying under Ibn Hamid. He became the leading authority on the school after Ibn Hamid, who is remembered for spreading the Madhab far and wide. His Hadith assemblies were very popular and attended by thousands of Traditionists, where he would sit on the chair of ‘Abdullah b. Ahmad b. Hanbal and narrate Hadith.
  1. Abu Isma’il al-Harawi (d. 481) – A celebrated Hanbali jurist and a theologian, known for his awe-inspiring personality, and ardent enmity towards the Ash’arites. He was one of the great Sufi figures in the history, who authored Manazil al-Sa’irin – a manual in Tasawwuf – which was later expounded by Ibn al-Qayyim in
    Madarij al-Salikin.
  2. Abul-Wafa ‘Ali ibn ‘Aqil (d. 488) – One of the most intelligent jurists the Hanbalis ever had within their ranks. He was, in his youth, influenced by the Mu’tazlites and showed admiration for al-Hallaj (a pantheist who pretended to be a Muslim), but soon repented and wrote various rebuttals against the Mu’tazlites and the Ash’arites. Ibn al-Jawzi relates that Ibn ‘Aqil once said: I say with utmost certainty that the Companions died having no knowledge of the atoms (Jawhar) or accidents (‘Aradh). Hence, if you feel that you should be like them, then be! But, if you think that the way of the Doctors of Kalam is better than the way of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, then how evil is what you think! He left behind many works, amongst them voluminous al-Funun, of which only a small portion is found today.
  3. Abu al-Khattab (d. 510) – A devout student of al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la, and author of many works in the Madhab, the most important of them: al-Intisar authored as a defense to various Hanbali juristic opinions in comparison to other schools. His students included many prominent Hanbali figures, such as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jailani.
  1. Awn ad-Din ibn Hubayra (d. 560 A.H.)
  2. ‘Abdul-Qadir al-Jailani (d. 561) A Hanbali theologian, great preacher and, perhaps the most influential Sufi figure who founded the Qadiriyah way (Tariqa). Although, his life is regarded as a chain of miracles, so much has been claimed about his ‘sainthood’ by his passionate Sufi followers that very little of his biographical accounts can be verified. The only book one can attribute to al-Jailani with a level of surety is al-Ghunya, in which he spells out his strict adherence to the Hanbali dogma and Law.
  3. Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597) A famous jurist, exegete, critic, preacher and a prolific author, with works on all subjects. He began his preaching career at a very young age and gained popularity amongst the masses. Although he never met Ibn ‘Aqil, he did receive a fair amount of tutelage from his books, which left him perplexed about the orthodox doctrine of the Hanbali school; as reflected in his theological opinions that are often contradictory, and at times leaning towards allegorical exegesis (ta’wil) conflicting with the mainstream Hanbali position. His works in
    theology, thereafter, were criticised by the mainstream theologians of the Madhab, such as Ibn Qudama.
  4. Hammad al-Harrani (d. 598A.H.) – A jurist, critic, and preacher who lived in Alexandria under the reign of Salahuddin.
  5. Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi (d. 600 A.H.) – A prominent hadith master from Damascus and the nephew of Ibn Qudamah.
  6. Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (d. 620) One of the major Hanbali authorities and the author of the profound and voluminous book on Law, al-Mughni, which became popular amongst researchersfrom all juristic backgrounds. He was also an authority on Hanbali doctrine and a passionate opponent of the Ash’arites, but that did not prevent him from joining the military campaign of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, who was an Ash’ari, against the Crusaders in Palestine.
  1. Diya al-Din al-Maqdisi (d. 643 A.H.)
  2. Majd al-Din Ibn Taymiyah (d. 653) A great jurist, traditionist, grammarian and exegete of Harran. He was the grandfather of the celebrated Sheikh al-Islam Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyah. The wellknown grammarian and the author of Alfiya, Ibn Malik would hold al-Majd in high regard. He also enjoyed an esteemed position in the Hanbali school, as the term ‘The Two Sheikhs’ (Sheikhan) would only refer to him and Ibn Qudama.
  3. Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728) – A legendary figure in the Islamic history, known by his friends and foes for his expertise in all Islamic sciences. Aside from being a celebrated scholar, he also gained much prominence due to his fearlessness, zealous activism, political and military campaigns in Damascus against the invading Tatar. Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi in his book al-Radd al-Wafir mentions 87 scholars from all schools who referred to
    Ibn Taymiya as ‘Sheikh al-Islam’, a prestigious title given only to jurists and traditionists whose verdicts reached a high level of fame and acceptance. His fame also earned him many envious enemies who continued to conspire against him, until he was imprisoned in the citadel of Damascus and died therein. His funeral was attended by a mammoth number of inhabitants of Damascus, while the funeral prayer in absentia was prayed over him throughout the Islamic world. He is remembered for his invaluable contributions, not only to the Hanbali school of jurisprudence and theology but also to the rich Islamic heritage. He also produced many students of high caliber. Names such as Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Dhahabi, and Ibn Kathir are but some of his virtues.
  1. Najm al-Din al-Tufi (d. 716) – The author of several important works, such as the summarization of Rawdat al-Nadhir by Ibn Qudama, also known as al-Bulbul, widely taught until today. In spite of being a Hanbali in Fiqh, he would often refer to himself as an Ash’arite and extreme Shi’ite. He was chastised in public and imprisoned several times for his unorthodox views. Although, his repentance is reported; however, Ibn Rajab doubted the sincerity of his repentance.
  2. Ahmad ibn ‘Abdul-Hadi (d. 744) – A devout and close student of Ibn Taymiyah and an expert traditionist. He wrote at length the legendary accounts of his beloved teacher Ibn Taymiyah. He is also the author of al-Sarim al-Munki fi al-Radd ‘Ala al-Subki, a violent rebuttal of al-Subki’s attempt to justify taking long journeys for the visitation of the Prophet’s grave. Unfortunately, he died before completing this book at the age of forty.
  3. Shams al-Din b. Muflih (d. 763) – One of the leading authorities in Hanbali Law who received his tutelage amongst several prominent Hanbali figures, including Ibn Taymiyah. He gave particular attention to the juristic preferences of Ibn Taymiyah, and included them in his voluminous and renowned masterpiece on Hanbali jurisprudence known as al-Furu’.
  1. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya (d. 751) – The closest companion and a student of Ibn Taymiyah who shared with him the moments of ease and hardship, until the latter’s death in the citadel. His works in various Islamic sciences earned him much acceptance and fame. Some of his important works include Zaad al-Ma’ad in Seerah and Fiqh, I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in in Usul al-Fiqh, and al-Kafiyah filIntisar Lil-Firqat al-Najiyah, an ode rhyming in the letter Nun on Hanbali theology, which is taught and studied in Hanbali schools until today.
  2. Ahmad b. Qadhi al-Jabal (d. 771) – A chief judge and a devout student of Ibn Taymiyah. He is regarded to be the leading Hanbali poet of his time.
  3. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795) – A prominent jurist, traditionist, ascetic and preacher, who authored several important works, largely commenting upon famous collections of traditions, such as al-Tirmidhi, al-Bukhari and the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi. His teachers include Ibn al-Qayyim, under whom he learned his famous Hanbali ode al-Kafiyah.
  4. Ala al-Din Al-Mardawi (d. 885) – A chief judge and one of the foremost specialists in the Madhab amongst the latter Hanbali generations. He is the author of al-Insaf, a rich commentary on alMuqni’ of Ibn Qudama, where he lists the variance of opinion, then declares the correct position in the school.
  5. Sharaf al-Din Al-Hajjawi (d. 968) A distinguished figure amongst the latter Damascan Hanbali scholars, and the author of two important manuals that were to remain the basis for verdicts amongst the Hanbalis until today: Zad al-Mustaqni’, a summarization of al-Muqni’; and al-Iqna’.
  1. Ibn al-Najjar al-Futuhi (d. 980) – A notable Egyptian Hanbali authority and the author of Muntaha al-Iradat, which were to become another widely accepted manual amongst the latter Hanbalis, along with al-Iqna’.
  2. Mar’i b. Yusuf al-Karmi (d. 1033) – A Palestinian born scholar who resided in Egypt and wrote extensively on various sciences. He is particularly remembered for making two important contributions to Hanbali Fiqh: i) Ghayat al-Muntaha, which came as a merger between the two relied-upon manuals, al-Iqna’ and Muntaha al-Iradat; and ii) Dalil al-Talib, a summarization of Muntaha al-Iradat. This manual received various commentaries, the most famous of which is Manar al-Sabil, by Ibn Dhuwayan.
  3. Mansur b. Yunus al-Buhuti (d. 1051) An Egyptian jurist of great stature, held in much respect for his invaluable contribution to the Hanbali school. His works mostly comprise of commentaries on various manuals, such as al-Rawdh al-Murbi’, a commentary on Zad; Kashaf al-Qina’, a commentary on al-Iqna’; and a commentary on Muntaha al-Iradat. He became the center of learning for the Hanbalis from Jerusalem, the Greater Syria and Najd.
  4. ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Hanbali al-Ba’li (d.1071) – A jurist and a traditionist who received his tutelage from al-Azhar. He assumed the position of Ifta for the Hanbalis in Jerusalem, and dedicated his life to learning and teaching various sciences.
  5. Ibn al-‘Imad (d. 1089) – A Syrian-Hanbali scholar and the author of a large biographical history, known as Shadharat al-dhahab fi Akhbar man dhahab, covering the Hijra years one to 1000.
  1. Abu al-Mawahib al-Hanbali (d. 1126) – A Damascan Hanbali traditionist and a leading reciter of the Quran, who wrote extensively on various topics. Due to his known piety, he would often be asked to lead the prayer for rain (Salat al-Istisqa’), as occurred in the year 1108 when Damascus was hit by a drought. Abu al-Mawahib then led the masses in prayer, beseeching Allah for rain, and his prayer was instantly answered.
  2. Muhammad Al-Saffarini (d. 1188) – A traditionist and jurist and a profound writer on various issues. He is most commonly famous for his poetic treatise on Hanbali theology called: al-Durrah alMudhiyah fi ‘Aqd al-Firqat al-Mardhiyah, which generally falls in line with the mainstream Hanbali dogma, bar few instances. However, in his commentary, known as Lawami’ al-Anwar alBahiyah, he often tends to contradict his poem, in agreement with
    the mainstream Hanbali doctrine. His poem, nevertheless, still remains popular amongst Hanbali students. Fatima bint Muhammad al-Hanbaliyah (d. 1247) – A famous female scholar of traditions, Fiqh, an ascetic and a popular preacher. She died in Makkah and was buried in al-Mu’lla graveyard.
  3. Abdullah Aba Butain (d. 1282) – The Grand Mufti of the 13th Islamic century Najd, and an undisputable Hanbali authority on Fiqh, traditions, and theology. He was also a great admirer and defender of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab.
  4. ‘Uthman b. Bishr al-Najdi (d. 1290) – A Najdi historian and a follower of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, known for his work on history: Unwan al-Majd fi Tarikh Najd.
  5. Muhammad b. Humaid al-Najdi (d. 1295) – A Hanbali jurist, traditionist, historian, and an ardent enemy of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s followers, in spite of being a student of Aba Butain and a great admirer of Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn al-Qayyim. He is the author of al-Suhub al-Wabila ‘ala Dhara’ih al-Hanabilah, which is a continuation of Dhail Tabaqat al-Hanabila of Ibn Rajab.
  1. Hamad b. ‘Atiq (d. 1301) – A jurist and a judge in al-Kharaj, and then al-Aflaj, and an author of several works in theology and Fiqh.
  2. Ahmad b. ‘Isa al-Najdi (d. 1329) – A jurist, traditionist, theologian, a student of Aba Butain and a passionate follower and a propagandist of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s revivalist movement. He would travel to Makkah, the center of the Islamic world, and would often discuss theology with various scholars of the Muslim world. He managed to earn great respect from the Sharif of Makkah, who, at his encouragement, demolished all the domedtombs in al-Mu’alla graveyard. His invaluable contributions include his two-volume commentary on al-Nuniyah of Ibn alQayyim in theology.
  3. Abd al-Qadir b. Badran (d. 1346) – A Damascan scholar in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, theology, grammar, and a great enthusiast for Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s movement. He was initially a Shafi’i, and later, after much research and investigation decided to be a Hanbali. His invaluable contributions to the Madhab include: al-Madkhal ila Madhab al-Imam Ahmad, an all-round introduction to the Madhab; a commentary on Ibn al-Qayyim’s al-Nuniyah; a commentary on a Hanbali manual on Usul, Rawdhat al-Nadhir by Ibn Qudama, and many other works.
  4. Abu Bakr Khuqir (d. 1349) – A prominent Hanbali scholar of Makkah, and a student of Ahmad b. ‘Isa. He was an outspoken propagandist of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s movement, due to which he was imprisoned along with his sons, while the eldest of them died in prison. He was eventually released upon ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Su’ud’s conquest of Makkah, where he was, thereafter, appointed as a Mufti for Hanbalis. His contributions mainly comprised of works and rebuttals on theological issues.
  1. Ibrahim al-Duwaiyan (d. 1353) – A jurist, traditionist, genealogist and a judge in Qasim, most notably known for his commentary on Dalil al-Talib, called Manar al-Sabil.
  2. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Nasir al-Saadi (d. 1376) – A prominent jurist, exegete, grammarian with a great interest in poetry. He contributed many works in different subjects, the most of celebrated of them: Taysir al-Karim al-Mannan in exegesis; Manhaj al-Salikin a primer in Fiqh. His students include Muhammad b. Salih al-‘Uthaimin and ‘Abdullah b. ‘Aqil.
  3. Muhammad b. Ibrahim (d. 1389) – The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and a prominent Hanbali jurist. He played a leading role in the development of some important legal and educational institutes. His students include: Ibn Baz, Muhammad b. Abd alRahman al-Qasim and ‘Abd Allah b. Jibrin.
  4. Abd al-Rahman b. Qasim (d. 1392) A prominent jurist, traditionist and a theologian, who is particularly esteemed for the most valued contribution to the Islamic heritage in this age, a 35- volume Majmu’ al-Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyah. His seven-volume commentary on al-Rawdh al-Murbi’ has also become considerably
    popular amongst the latter Hanbalis.
  5. Abd al-‘Aziz b. Baz (d. 1420) – The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia after his teacher, Muhammad b. Ibrahim, and a leading figure in the Islamic Da’wah. He was a Mujtahid in Hanbali Madhab and was referred to by some as the leading authority on orthodox Islam (Imam Ahl al-Sunnah).
  1. Muhammad b. Salih al-Uthaimin (d. 1421) – A leading jurist, grammarian, linguist, and a popular preacher. A close and devout student of ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Saadi, and a commentator on Zad al-Mustaqni’; his commentary is known as al-Sharh al-Mumti’. His students include Ahmad al-Qadhi, Khalid al-Muslih, Khalid al-Mushayqih, and many others.
  2. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Aqil – A jurist and formerly chief justice in SaudiArabia. One of the closest students of ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Saadi,who is known today as Sheikh al-Hanabilah. His close studentsinclude: Dr. al-Shibl, Haitham al-Haddad, and Anas b. ‘Aqil, hisgrandson.
  1. Bakr b. ‘Abd Allah Abu Zaid – A jurist, traditionist, linguistand a profound author of many works. His important
    contributions to the Hanbali Madhab include al-Madkhal alMufassal ila Fiqh al-Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, a two volume indepth introduction to the Madhab, which serves today as one of the main reference work on the school.
  2. Abdullah Ibn Jibreen – A leading scholar of Saudi Arabia and was a former member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa in Saudi Arabia.
  3. Saleh Al-Fawzan – A well-known scholar in Saudi Arabia and prolific author. He is currently a member of the Permanent Committee.
  4. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais – The leading imam and khateeb of the Grand mosque chief of the presidency of Haramain Committee, Saudi Arabia.
  5. Saud Al-Shuraim – The Imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque Mecca and a professor of Islamic law at Umm al-Qura University.

Excerpt taken from: A RoadMap for Studying Fiqh (amazon link)

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