ABU HANIFA (Imam al-Azam)
(80/150 - 700/767)
Numan b. Thabit b. Zawta (Zuta) is an absolute mujtahid in fiqh and the Imam of Hanafi madhhab who is known as Abu Hanifa and called by the nickname Imam al-Azam (the Great Imam).
Abu Hanifa was born in Kufa in 80 H. It is definite that Numan and his family were not of Arab origin; there are various views that he was Persian or Turkish. His grandfather, Zuta, who was a freed slave of the tribe of Sons of Taym b. Tha'laba, went to Kufa from Kabil during the caliphate of Hz. Ali. Zuta's son, Thabit, was engaged in silk and woolen cloth trade in Kufa. Numan b. Thabit, who was brought up in an environment where Islam was dominant, memorized the whole Quran at a very young age. It is reported that he learned to read the Quran from Imam Asim, who was one of the seven qurras. (Ibn Hajar Haytami, Khayratul-Hisan, 265) Numan was engaged in trade when he was young but he continued his education upon the advice and support of Imam Sha'bi (20/104). He learned Arabic, literature, sarf (morphology), nahw (syntax) and poetry. In the city of Kufa, in which he was born, and the whole Iraq, there were a lot of Muslim and non-Muslim thoughts, sects of creed and heated debates on creed. Abu Hanifa, who was brought up in a religious family, probably took part in these debates of creed. Abu Hanifa narrates how Sha'bi encouraged him to study ilm as follows: "Once, I was passing by Sha'bi. He called me and said, 'Where do you attend?' I said, 'To the market.' He said, 'I do not mean it. Which scholars' lessons do you attend?' I said, 'None.' He said, 'Never ignore learning and scholars. I see that you are a clever youngster.' This word of his affected me positively. I gave up trade and started to study ilm. Sha'bi's word helped me a lot with the permission of Allah." As Abu Hanifa said, Sha'bi's advice was a turning point for him. He handed his business to his partner Hafs b. Abdurrahman; he visited his shop from time to time but he was mainly engaged in learning. Numan was twenty-two years old then. (Muhammad Abu Zahra, Abu Hanifa, Trnsl. by Osman Keskioğlu. İstanbul 1970. 43)
In the place and time Abu Hanifa lived, sects of creed increased and many heretical sects emerged. The Umayyad kings continued oppressing Ahl al-Bayt. Numan b. Thabit, whose logic was very strong, developed his ilm and started to learn the science of kalam. He often went to Basra to debate but he saw that kalam and debate was out of religion and started to study fiqh. He said, "He who says his friend is an unbeliever becomes an unbeliever himself." (Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikhu Baghdad, XIII, 333) He narrates the issue as follows: "The Companions and Tabiun understood the issues that came to us better than us. There were not heated debates and struggles among them; they encouraged people to learn fiqh with assemblies of fiqh; they issued fatwas and asked fatwa from one another. When I understood it, I gave up heated debates, struggles and kalam; I turned to the way of salaf. I saw that kalam scholars were not on the way of salaf, that the people of debate were hard-hearted, had rude spirits, did not avoid opposing nass (verses and hadiths) and were away from piety and taqwa."
It is reported that when Numan went to hajj at the age of sixteen with his father, he met Ata b. Abi Rabah and Abdullah Ibn Umar from Tabiun and listened to hadiths from them. (Ibnul Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, III, 133) He is regarded to be from Tabiun and is one of the notables of Atbaut-Tabiin. It is stated that he followed all of the movements of thought of his age when he was young and that he determined the disagreements very well. (Sha'rani, Tabaqatul-Kubra, I, 52-53). When he chose fiqh and started to follow the way of salaf, he chose a teacher for himself by following the tradition. He learned fiqh from Hammad b. Abi Sulayman (d. 120/737), the great fiqh scholar of Iraq, for eighteen years. He became Hammad's deputy. After being Hammad's student for ten years, he wanted to start his own assembly but when he saw that sixty of his fatwas were approved by Hammad and twenty of his fatwas were corrected, he gave up this idea. He remained as Hammad's deputy until he died. He learned the following four current fiqh schools of that time: Istinbat, fiqh of Hz. Umar, fiqh of Abdullah b. Mas'ud and fiqh of Abdullah b. Abbas. The first school (istinbat) was based on searching and presenting religious truths, the second one was based on maslahat (public interest), the third one on takhrij (researching and tracking hadiths) and the last one the Quranic ilm. (Muhammad Abu Zahra, İslâm'da Fıkhi Mezhepler Târihi, Trnsl. by Abdulkadir Şener, II, 132)
His teacher, Hammad b. Abi Sulayman, learned fiqh from two great scholars: Ibrahim an-Nahai and Sha'bi. He made use of the fiqh of Qadi Shurayh, Alqama b. Qays and Masruq b. al-Ajda, who had the fiqh of Abdullah b. Mas'ud and Hz. Ali. The effect of the school of Ibrahim an-Nahai is seen more on the fiqh of Abu Hanifa. Dahlawi writes: "The source of Hanafi fiqh is Ibrahim Nahai's words." (Shah Waliyyullah Dahlawi, Hujjatullahil-Baligha, 1, 146). Besides, Abu Hanifa acquired indisputable knowledge in using "istihsan (judicial preference)". His being closely connected with people's daily life as a merchant, his traveling to the centers of ilm and speaking to many scholars there made him respectable in this issue. During his hajj travels, he talked to the notables of Tabiun scholars about ilm and listened to hadiths from them. Ata b. Abi Rabah, Atiyya al-Awfi, Abdurrahman b. Hurmuz al-A'raj, Ikrima, Nafi', Qatada are some of them. (Dhahabi, Manaqibu'l-Imam Abi Hanifa wa Sahibayhi Abi Yusuf wa Muhammad b. al-Hasan, Egypt). He himself states the following: "I acquired the fiqh of Hz. Umar, Hz. Ali, Abdullah b. Mas'ud and Abdullah Ibn Abbas from their companions." (M. Abu Zahra, Abu Hanifa, 44)
While studying ilm, Abu Hanifa did not abandon trade completely. Trade enabled him to earn halal sustenance and commercial profits, to meet the needs of his students and establish an independent ilm assembly. He checked Abu Yusuf and gave him money before he said he ran out of money. He also helped his poor students marry. (Dhahabi, ibid, 39) Many people likened Abu Hanifa to Hz. Abu Bakr in trade because when he bought something he acted as if he sold it; he put the low quality goods to the top and best quality to the bottom; he never exploited a seller who was in need. Once, a woman wanted to sell him a silk dress. He asked the price and the woman asked a hundred dirhams. Abu Hanifa said it was worth more than a hundred dirhams. The woman increased the price by a hundred each time and asked four hundred dirhams in the end. When Abu Hanifa said it was worth more again, the woman said, "Are you kidding me?" Abu Hanifa said, "Definitely not. Let us call somebody and determine its price. They called somebody and he said it was worth five hundred dirhams. Abu Hanifa bought it for five hundred dirhams. This incident has been narrated for centuries among people as an example of honesty in trade.
Abu Hanifa was a solemn person. He thought a lot but spoke a little. He was a very clever mujtahid who paid great attention to Allah's limitations, who kept away from the people who gave importance to the world only, who did not like useless and empty words and who gave concise answers to questions. He formed his doctrine by putting fiqh into a systematic state, presenting the favorable and unfavorable forms of worldly affairs and producing a strong principle of creed. Abu Hanifa had thousands of students; about forty of them reached the rank of mujtahid. (al-Kardari, Manaqibul-Imam Abu Hanifa, II, 218). the most famous ones among his mujtahid students are Abu Yusuf (158), Muhammad b. Hasan ash-Shaybani (189) Dawud at-Tai, (165), Asad b. Amr (190), Hasan b. Ziyad (204), Qasım b. Maan (175), Ali b. Mushir (168) and Hibban b. Ali (171). Abu Hanifa's fiqh school consists of his lessons he gave to his students and the fatwas he issued to the people who asked for fatwa. His teaching style is similar to the lessons of dialectic academy by old philosophers. An issue is put forward; it is discussed by his students and everybody expresses their views; finally the Imam enables a decision to be made through evidence and istinbat, and dictates the decision in concise sentences by separating it from evidences. These words were later transformed into fiqh rules of the madhhab by his mujtahid students. His assembly of ilm was a consultation, a center of dialogue and a free school of thought. Abu Hanifa gained the love and respect of people because his fatwas were approved everywhere rightfully, he gave people knowledge by purifying ilm from disagreements as his salaf did, kept out of mischief and acted piously. There are important principles in his advice to his students like following the way of free thought and research in ilm and keeping away from ignorant and bigoted people: "Approach people; keep away from fasiqs. Treat people well and do not despise anybody. When somebody asks your view, repeat your view and tell him that there are also some other views mentioning them. Treat people mildly; do not get frustrated; act as if you are one of them." Abu Hanifa did not say "my view is the true one" to anybody; he even said he had a view but he would follow anybody who brought a better view. He told his students not to write everything they heard from him because it was possible for him to change his view. So, he was never in madhhab bigotry. He took part in the political movements of his period though not actively. Part of his life was under the domination of Umayyads and part under the domination of Abbasids. In both periods, he opposed the political power. His policy was determined by supporting Ahl al-Bayt. He loved Ahl al-Bayt a lot. When Abbasids came to power, they said they would look after Ahl al-Bayt. However, when he saw that Abbasids also continued oppressing Ahl al-Bayt after a while when they came to power, he opposed them too. He criticized the political power in his lessons when there was an occasion. Those in power suspected him in both periods; they offered him the post of being the judge (qadi) in order to make him support them and make use of his popularity but he refused the offers in both periods; he was tortured and imprisoned because of it. (Ibnul-Athir, al-Kamil fit-Tarikh, V, 559) Abu Hanifa gained the love of people with his taqwa, foresight, honesty in ilm and expressing his views against the administration. He never agreed and compromised with the Abbasid administration. He supported his ilm with the halal money he earned. He even paid allegiance to the Imamate of Zayd b. Ali indirectly. When the grandsons of Hz. Ali opposed one by one like him and were martyred, Abu Hanifa said the following for Imam Zayd: "This act of Zayd - his revolt against Hisham b. Abdulmalik- resembles the act of the Messenger of Allah at Badr." Abu Hanifa's togetherness with Imams of Ahl al-Bayt and his attitude toward the Umayyad and Abbasid administration is a remarkable attitude. In 145, when Hz. Hz. Ali's grandchildren, Muhammad an-Nafsuz-Zakiyya and his brother, Ibrahim, revolted against Abbasids and were martyred Abu Hanifa supported them in Iraq and Imam Malik supported them in Madinah; therefore, both of them were flogged, tortured and imprisoned. Consequently, Abu Hanifa died like a martyr at the age of seventy. It is also narrated that he was poisoned. (an-Namari, al-Intiqa, 170) He was buried in the cemetery of Hayruzan in Baghdad; thousands of people took part in his funeral.
After his death, his assembly of ilm was continued by Abu Yusuf. After his death, his fatwas were written and his doctrine was systematized. Hanafi madhhab spread all over the Islamic world with its laws and principles. The one who systematized the madhhab was Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybani. He wrote al-Asl, al-Jamius-Saghir, al-Jamiul-Kabir, az-Ziyadat and as-Siyarul-Kabir. These books are mentioned as reliable narrations and are regarded as the main resources of the madhhab by the name "Zahirur-Riwaya" or "Masailul-Usul". The book "al-Fiqhul-Akbar", which was compiled by his students, definitely belongs to Abu Hanifa and it is the basic book of the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah. (Imam Fakhrul-Islam Pazdawi, Usulul-Fiqh, I, 8; Ibnun-Nadim, Kitabul-Fihrist, I, 204) Besides, the books called al-Fiqhul-Absat, Kitabul- Alim wal Mutaallim, Kitabur-Risala, al-Wasiyya, al-Qasidatun-Numaniyya, Marifatul-Madhahib, Musnadul-Imam Abi Hanifa were narrated from the Imam. Besides, other books whose copies were not found in the resources and research are also mentioned.
Abu Hanifa was engaged with the ilm of kalam and took part in some debates but he kept away from the assertive style of the people of debate. He stated the following while mentioning his ijtihads: "This is a conclusion we reached with our own view. We will not force anyone to accept our view. This is what we have been able to find; this is the best in our opinion. If anyone finds something better, he should bring it; we will accept it." (Dhahabi, ibid, 21) He warned and advised those who followed him as follows: "To issue fatwa with our view without searching the evidence and resource of our word is not halal for anybody." He knew that it was impossible for one person or madhhab to encompass Islam. Neither Abu Hanifa nor another Imam made such a claim about their ijtihad. They always advised their students and followers that sahih sunnah was essential and that when sahih sunnah contradicted their words it was necessary to act in accordance with sahih sunnah.
The first madhhab whose views and fatwas were collected in books among the four madhhabs of Ahl as-Sunnah that lived up to now was Hanafi madhhab. This madhhab, which originated in Iraq, spread to almost all over the Islamic world. Most of the judges (qadis) in the period of Abbasids were Hanafi. The madhhab of Seljukis and Khawarazm Shah Dynasty was Hanafi. During the Ottoman period, the official madhhab was Hanafi. (İzmirli İsmail Hakkı, Yeni İlm-i Kelâm, Ankara 1981, 127)
Abu Hanifa is one of the greatest mujtahids brought up by the Islamic world who spent his life of seventy years to issue fatwas, to bring up students in his assembly of ilm, travelling for ilm and worshipping. It is narrated that he went to hajj fifty-five times. (İzmirli, İ. Hakkı, ibid, 127) Accordingly, he went to hajj every year.
Abu Hanifa explains his method as follows: "We accept what comes from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as the most welcome; we choose among the ones coming from the Companions and choose one of them but we do not abandon the others as a whole. As for the decrees and ijtihads made by others, we are scholars like them."
"I take and accept what is in Allah's book. If I cannot find in it, I will act in accordance with the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that is reliable, known by scholars and famous. If I cannot find in it, I will choose among the views of the Companions that I wish. However, as for the scholars like Ibrahim, Sha'bi, al-Hasan, and Ata, I make ijtihad like them." (al-Makki, Manaqib, I, 74-78; Dhahabi, Manaqib, 20-21; M. Abu-Zahra, Tarikhul-fiqh, II, 161; A. Emin, Duha'l Islam, II, 185 ff)
Imam Muhammad states the following "There are four kinds of ilm: What is in Allah's book and what resembles it; what is definite in the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reported by a strong chain of narrators and what resembles it, the decrees that are definite by the consensus of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah and what resembles them; what is accepted as sound and nice by the majority of Islamic fiqh scholars and what resembles it." (Ibn Abdilbar, al-Jami', II, 26)
Abu Hanifa was criticized related to hadiths. It can be summarized as follows: Abu Hanifa is weak in hadith. (Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqatul-Kubra, VI, 368) He rejects sound hadiths by his view. (M. Zahidul-Kawthari, Ta'nib, 82 ff.) According to him the number of sound hadiths is about seventeen or fifty. (Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddima, 388,)
In fact, Abu Hanifa was not a specialist like famous hadith scholars in hadith but there were hafizes of hadith who helped him in "the council of ijtihad". (M. Zahidul-Kawthari, ibid, 152). In his ijtihads, he used about four thousand hadiths that he himself learned from his teachers. (Makki, Manaqib, II, 96) He rejected some hadiths because he doubted whether they belonged to the Prophet (pbuh), in other words, they were not in compliance with the conditions he put forward for the soundness of hadiths. (Ibn Taymiyya, Raf'ul-Malam, 87 ff.) Otherwise, let alone rejecting sound hadiths, Abu Hanifa aplied mursal and weak hadiths, preferring them to analogy (qiyas). (Ibn Hazm, al-Ihkam, 929)
On the other hand, those who criticize Abu Hanifa due to analogy do wrong. For, analogy was applied beginning from the Companions and the other Imams also used this method to a certain extent. Abu Hanifa: 1- systematized analogy, 2- used it frequently, 3- applied it to the cases that had not happened yet. (Ibn Abdilbar, ibid, II, 148; Ibnul-Qayyim, Ilamul-Muwaqqim, 1, 77-277, M. Abu-Zahra, Abu Hanifa, 324; A. Emin, ibid, II, 187)
The method of "istihsan" was condemned by many scholars especially by Shafii; and some people attributed it to Abu Hanifa only. In fact, when the issue is studied comparatively, it will be seen that those who reject istihsan and those who accept it define it differently.
According to Imam Shafii, istihsan means "somebody liking something and regarding it nice based on his own wish". Even a person who wants to determine the price of a slave does it by comparing this slave to a similar one. If he determines a price without taking similar ones into consideration, he will do something wrong. Allah's halals and harams are much more important than it. If a person makes a decree without basing it on a hadith or analogy, he will be a sinner. (ar-Risala, 507-508) A person who decrees with istihsan is regarded to have abandoned Allah's orders and prohibitions and acted based on his own desire. (al-Umm, VII, 267-272)
Ibn Hazm says istihsan means to decree as one's soul wishes. (al-Ihkam, 42). "This is wrong because there is no evidence for it; it means to follow one's desires; desires change from person to person." (Ibtalul-Qiyas, 5-6)
According to these Imams, istihsan is the way of drawing a conclusion and making a decree based on the desire of the soul, not on any valid evidence like the Book, the Sunnah, consensus or analogy. There is no clear expression about how Abu Hanifa understands istihsan in their books but it is definite that the method of decree and ijtihad adopted by Abu Hanifa is not in compliance with the kind of istihsan mentioned above. Besides, the definitions made by his followers based on the decrees he made in accordance with istihsan are completely different from the ones above. (Hayreddin Karaman, İslâm Hukukunda İctihad, p.137)
Istihsan has two meanings:
1- To use our view in determining the amounts that are left to our ijtihad and view, like determining the amount of nafaqah, compensation, and the animal to be sacrificed for forbidden hunting.
2- To abandon analogy in favor of stronger evidence and indication. Razi divides the second one into two and gives detailed explanations and examples; according to the outcome, the second type of istihsan consists of abandoning analogy due to nass, consensus, necessity or a stronger analogy.
In this sense, istihsan is not an invalid method of ijtihad and it is not peculiar to Abu Hanifa only. Imam Shafii used the word istihsan in the first sense. (al-Makki, Manaqib, I, 95). Imam Malik says, "Istihsan is nine-tenths of ilm." He used istihsan a lot in his ijtihads. (Amidi, al-Ihkam, 242; al-Makki, Manaqib, I, 95 ff)
Some examples from ijtihads of Abu Hanifa:
1- Awzai asks Abu Hanifa:
-Why do you not raise your hands while going to ruku' and standing up from ruku'?
-For, there is no sound narration coming from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that he did so.
-How is this narration not sound: Zuhri reported to me from Salim, who reported from his father, that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) raised his hands while starting prayer, going to ruku' and standing up from ruku'?
-Hammad reported me from Ibrahim, who reported from Alqama and al-Aswad, who reported from Abdullah b. Mas'ud: "The Messenger of Allah raised his hands while starting prayer; he did not raise after that.
-I tell you Zuhri reported it through Salim, who reported from his father, who reported from the Prophet but you tell me Hammad and Ibrahim told you.
-Hammad b. Abi Sulayman is better in fiqh than Zuhri and Ibrahim than Salim. It is a different virtue that Ibn Umar is a Companion but Alqama is not behind him in fiqh. Al-Aswad has many virtues. As for Abdullah, he is Abdullah!
Upon this answer, Awzai preferred to keep silent. (Karaman, ibid, 138-139)
In this istinbat, Abu Hanifa based his decree on hadith but he preferred one hadith to the other because he knew the narrators better since they were his teachers.
2- If somebody makes a "mudaraba contract" with a person by giving him a dress to sell with the condition of sharing the profit or a house to rent with the same condition, this contract is not valid according to Abu Hanifa. For, a person is hired with an unknown price in this contract. According to Abu Hanifa, this is not a partnership contract but a renting contract; and it is not valid since it is not in compliance with a renting contract. (Abu Yusuf, Ikhtilafu Abi Hanifa wa Ibn Abi Layla, 30; as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, XXII, 35 ff.)
The same contract is regarded as permissible by Ibn Abi Layla by being likened to "mudaraa" contract.
In this ijtihad of analogy, the two mujtahids reached two different conclusions/decrees because they based their analogy on different things.
3- If a person rents his land or date grove to a person in return for half or one-third or one fourth of the crops, that is, if he does a mudaraa or muamala contract, these contracts are invalid according to Abu Hanifa. For, the owner of the land rents his land in return for an unknown amount. According to the narration of Abu Yusuf, Abu Hanifa said, "If nothing is harvested from the field or grove, will the man not have worked for nothing?" Abu Yusuf and Ibn Abi Layla regarded this transaction permissible comparing it to a mudaraba contract. (Abu Yusuf, ibid, 41-42)
4- According to Abu Hanifa, it is permissible for the non-Muslims like Jews and Christians to be witnesses or inheritors to one another because "all unbelievers are like one nation." However, Ibn Abi Layla did not regard it permissible for them to be witnesses or inheritors to one another because they were two different nations following two different religions. (Abu Yusuf, ibid, 73)
The pioneering of Abu hanifa in the tadwin (collecting views and fatwas in books) of fiqh
It is an important turning point in Islamic sciences for fiqh topics to be determined regularly and to be written by being separated into books, chapters and parts. These regular texts, which were formed by the compilation of Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybani, decreed on five hundred thousand issues including decrees of revelations and the worldly-religious life with fine details. They have been indispensable resources of Islamic culture and law as written universal fiqh laws; their explanations have been made for hundreds of years. Even the accusation by Abu Hanifa's contemporaries of his extreme support of ra'y (views) did not prevent his views from being accepted under the name of different concepts by them. Another property of Abu Hanifa is that he drew half of the reports of the scholars before him, all issues from scratch from the resources of adillah (proofs) ash-Shar'iyyah. He rejected khabar al-wahid that did not comply with the principles of Islam. He preferred the view of the Companions more than many musnads. Instead of taking the view of Tabiun, he used his own view because he was of Tabiun. Abu Hanifa went to Hejaz from Iraq until the caliphate was undertaken by Abbasids in 132. He talked to the notable Imams like Imam Malik b. Anas (179) and Sufyan b. Uyayna; he contacted the scholars of various centers that came to hajj; he returned to Kufa in 136, when Abu Jafar al-Mansur of Abbasids came to power. However, he did not approve of Jafar either; he issued fatwas in favor of Ahl al-Bayt. (M. Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf, 11, 232) When he died in 150 H, he asked his relatives not to bury him anywhere that the caliph seized.
According to some narrations, Abu Hanifa was killed by being poisoned when he was tortured. According to the report of Dawud b. el-Wasiti, he was offered to be the chief judge every day in prison but he refused it each time. Finally, he was martyred with the poison added into his food. Ibn al-Bazzazi states that Abu Hanifa went out of prison and returned home but he was prevented from seeing and talking to people and that he was held under custody in his house. (al-Bazzazi, Manaqibul-Imamil-A'zam, II, 15) Fifty thousand people took part in janazah prayer of Abu Hanifa; it is stated that even the caliph, Abu Mansur, took part in the prayer.
Great Imams like Malik, Awzai, Abdullah b. Mubarak, Ibn Jurayh, Ja'far as-Sadiq and Wasil b. Ata that belonged to various schools were among the contemporaries of Abu Hanifa. The following incident between Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad Baqir is narrated: Muhammad Baqir asked Abu Hanifa, "Are you the person who changed my grandfather's way and hadiths by analogy?" Abu Hanifa said, "Sit in your place as is your right until I sit by my right. I respect you as your grandfather, Muhammad (pbuh), was respected by his Companions when he was alive. Will you tell me if a man or a woman is weaker, the share of a woman in inheritance compared to man, if prayer or fasting is better, if urine or sperm is more impure?" Imam Baqir said a man had two shares and a woman one, a woman was weaker than a man, prayer was better than fasting and urine was more impure than sperm. Abu Hanifa said to him, "If I had made analogy, I would have given a woman two shares in inheritance because she is weaker, I would have ordered ghusl for urine and wudu for sperm. I seek refuge with Allah from changing the religion of your grandfather by analogy." (Muhammad Abu Zahra, İslâm'da Fıkhi Mezhepler Târihi, II, 66-67)
Abu Hanifa imposed arbitrary fiqh decrees by supposing that problems occurred, used tradition and istihsan a lot and deduced decrees for the first time in his ijtihads in commercial contracts. One of his most important characteristics is defending personal rights and freedoms. He made a great reform in fiqh by defending the view that nobody could interfere in personal actions. He held the view that a sane girl/woman who reached the age of puberty had the right of deciding in marriage herself and did not need a guardian and said that nobody including her father could interfere in her rights in marriage. Similarly, he refuses the interdiction of insane and debauched people and debtors. In most of his views and in the issue of freedom, he opposes the majority of fiqh scholars and even Abu Yusuf. According to him, guardianship limits and harms freedom. A young girl should have free guardianship just like a young boy has. It is necessary except in public interest. Abu Hanifa connected ownership with freedom, defended a person's right of using, buying, selling, renting his property and opposed the court interfering in this freedom and limiting it. If a person's using his own property harms others, he refers to a conscious religious conscience. For, the intervention of the court in issues like that causes more enmity and conflict, weakening religious feelings and even oppression and mischief. If man's religious feeling weakens, nothing can compensate it; his heart hardens, he moves away from religion; hatred and enmity become widespread; transgression and conflict increase; good deeds disappear and bad deeds appear. Thus, while defending personal freedom against the oppression of the administrators, he put forward the civilian development style of the religion for the first time in a systematized fiqh.
Another important view of Abu Hanifa is that he regards it permissible for a Muslim who enters Dar al-Harb by permission to receive interest. For, Islamic decrees are not applied there; so it is permissible for a Muslim to take the goods of Muslims with their permission. Awzai opposed him in this issue and said interest is haram everywhere and all the time; he also drew the conclusion that the property and lives of unbelievers are haram for Muslims. Abu Yusuf, Imam Shafii and the majority of the scholars do not agree with this view of Abu Hanifa's. The main principle of Abu Hanifa is that necessity/obligation makes haram things permissible. When there is a necessity, special and exceptional states are in question. Therefore, he introduced ease in many issues. His conditions for Dar al-Islam to be transformed into Dar al-Harb are different from those of the majority of the scholars. Along with enemy invasion, he lays it as a condition for the laws of unbelief to be applied, the place to be adjacent to another Dar al-Harb, and not to have any Muslim or dhimmi living in safety there. The majority of fiqh scholars, Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad regards it enough for the laws of unbelief to be applied there.
Regarding waqf (foundation), Abu Hanifa holds the view that the owner is not restricted with any conditions in his land, that in the foundation that the owner himself does, it is not an absolute foundation for him or for his inheritors and that it is like a loan. That is, a foundation is as permissible as a loan. Its raqaba (material entity) is the property of the foundation and its income is spent for the foundation. If a person changes his mind and retracts the foundation when he is healthy, it is makruh but permissible. Abu Hanifa decreed based on the hadiths narrated from Ibn Abbas regarding the issue. He said, "When the chapter of an-Nisa was sent down and the decrees on inheritance were stated there, I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'There is no deprivation from the inheritance Allah ordains.' That is, inheritors cannot be deprived of inheritance. Hz. Umar said, "If I had not mentioned this foundation to the Prophet, I would have retracted." His third evidence is his evidence based on reasoning that imprisoning the property with foundation and preventing it from being used is against fiqh rules. The property is based on the right to use it and freedom; all kinds of deeds that prevent freedom are wrong unless there is clear evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah. If something like that becomes the possession of a person, it does not leave him without an owner.
MUHAMMAD B. IDRIS ASH-SHAFII
He is the founder of the Shafii madhhab and a mujtahid Imam.
He was born in Ghazza, Palestine in 150 H/767. His father Idris went to Ghazza, Palestine, on business and died there. He is known as Shafii due to one of his grandparents called Shafii Ibn as-Saib. His lineage combines with the lineage of the Prophet at their grandparent Abdu Manaf.
His father died when he was very young. His mother, who was poor, decided to take him to Makkah. He started to learn ilm in Makkah and memorized the whole Quran at the age of seven and al-Muwatta, the hadith book written by Imam Malik at the age of ten. He became knowledgeable enough to issue fatwas when he was fifteen.
After that, he lived in the desert for about twenty years with the tribe of Huzayl and learned fluent and correct Arabic and the poetry of Jahiliyya. Asmai stated the following about him: "I corrected the poems of Huzayl with a young man called Muhammad b. Idris from Quraysh." Thus, he became a man of literature and had a very good command in Arabic.
After that, he learned hadith from many scholars. He went to Madinah with a recommendation letter from the governor of Makkah. He read the whole Muwatta to Imam Malik by heart. Then, he started to study fiqh only. He learned the fiqh of Hejaz from Imam Malik. When Imam Malik observed the unique understanding and superior intelligence of Shafii, Imam Malik gave him the following significant advice: "Muhammad! Fear Allah and avoid sins. For, I hope that you will be a great person. Do not put out this light, which Allah put in your heart, with sins."
He learned fiqh and hadith from Imam Malik in Madinah. He narrated hadiths from Sufyan b. Uyayna, Fudayl b. Iyad and his paternal uncle, Muhammad b. Shafii.
Imam Shafii went to Yemen for a while because he had to work. Yemen Mus'ab b. Abdillah al-Qurashi, the qadi of Yemen, found an official job for him there. Meanwhile, Harun ar-Rashid, the Caliph, was afraid that the followers of Hz. Ali would do something. Some Shiites were caught in Yemen and were taken to Madinah; though Shafii was not a Shiite, he was taken there too. He was taken to the presence of the Caliph and the Caliph let him free when it was understood that he was innocent. The Caliph helped him financially. Then, he went to Baghdad in H.183 and 195. He read the books of the fiqh scholars of Iraq from Muhammad b. Hasan ash-Shaybani. He exchanged ideas with him.
Imam Shafii met and talked to Ahmad b. Hanbal (d 241/855) in Makkah in 187 H and in Baghdad in 195 H. Thus, he learned about Hanbali fiqh, its method and issues of nasikh (abrogating) and mansukh (abrogated). In Baghdad, he wrote al-Hujja, which included the principles of his old madhhab. Then, he went to Egypt, where his views would be widespread, in 200 H. He died in Egypt in 204/819, the last Friday of the month of Rajab, and was buried there. (al-Khudari, Tarikhut-Tashriil-Islami, Cairo 1358/1939, p. 254 ff.; Muhammad Abu Zahra, Usulul-Fiqh, Cairo, n.d., p.12 ff.; az-Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul Islami wa Adillatuh, Damascus 1405/1985, I, 35, 36; Hamdi Döndüren, Delilleriyle İslam Hukuku, İstanbul 1983, 9, 78 ff)
Imam Shafii's book "ar-Risala" is the first methodology (usul) book written in usul al-fiqh. In Hanafis, usul was not made a written book during the time of the imams; usul rules were determined later based on upon minor decrees and rules. Imam Shafii wrote ar-Risala at the beginning and saved the Shafii scholars that came after him from this burden. Imam Shafii's book "al-Umm" is a fiqh book that includes his madhhab views in Egypt.
Along with his knowledge and literature, his taqwa, mature characteristics and high ethics are the issues that need to be mentioned. When he was asked about the issue of Siffin, he gave the following meaningful answer: "When Umar b. Abdulaziz was asked about those who died in Siffin, he said, ‘It is the blood that Allah saved me from smearing my hand. I do not want it to smear my tongue now.’"
His students stated the following about him: "Whenever Shafii started to interpret a verse, he talked with great knowledge as if he saw that verse was being sent down."
Imam Shafii was an independent absolute mujtahid. He collected the fiqh of the people of Hejaz and Iraq in him. Ahmad b. Hanbal stated the following about him: "He was the best fiqh scholar regarding the book of Allah and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah." "There is nobody who writes with a pen and ink that does not owe hima debt of gratitude." Taşköprülüzade writes the following for him in his book called Miftah as-Saada: "Scholars of fiqh, usul, hadith, language and syntax agreed unanimously on his trustworthiness, justice, asceticism, piety, taqwa, generosity and high value. It is difficult to describe him as it is necessary." (az-Zuhayli, ibid, I, 26)
The method of Shafii madhhab is based on the Book, Sunnah, consensus and analogy.
He gave up acting upon istihsan (juristic preference), which Hanafis and Malikis accepted and proposed the following view: "Anyone who does istihsan imposes a shari'ah himself." Imam Shafii wrote a booklet called "Ibtalul-Istihsan" in order to refute and criticize istihsan.
Imam Shafii holds the view that it is necessary to act in accordance with ahad hadith if its narrator is reliable and has a good memory, and if the hadith is uninterrupted. He does not seek for conditions that are regarded necessary by Iraqi school like the narrator being good at fiqh and his deed being in accordance with the ahad hadith. (Abu Zahra, ibid, p.12 ff) There are various types of evidence that he bases his view on about ahad hadith being evidence. He narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following in one of them: "May Allah gladden a man who hears a hadith from us, memorizes it until he conveys it to someone else. Perhaps he carries fiqh to one who is more understanding than him, and perhaps the one who carries the fiqh is not a faqih." (Abu Dawud, Ilm, 10; Tirmidhi, Ilm, 7; Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 18). After quoting this hadith, Imam Shafii explains his view as follows: "Since Hz. Prophet invited people to listen to, memorize and convey his words to others, a person who does so, whether he is one person or a group, is regarded to have accepted his invitation. Even if only one person narrates it from the Prophet, his narration is accepted if he is a reliable and just person."
On the other hand, Imam Shafii rejects istihsan and Malikis’ evidence of masalih al- mursala (public interest), but he uses a logical evidence he calls "istidlal".
In Shafiis, fatwas in various issues are based on Imam Shafii's new madhhab. Imam Shafii abandoned al-Hujja, which represented his old madhhab and said, "I will not forgive a person who narrates it from me." However, fatwas were given based on his old madhhab in about seventeen issues. For instance, if his old view is supported by a hadith that is not objected, fatwa is given based on it. He is reported to have stated the following: "When a hadith is sound, it is my view. Discard my word that contradicts with such a hadith."
Imam Shafii educated various students in Hejaz, Iraq, Egypt and other Islamic regions. His five Egyptian students who took his new madhhab from Shafii are as follows:
1) Abu Ya'qub Yusuf b. Yahya al-Buwaydi (D. H. 231). He was imprisoned in Baghdad because of the mischief of "Khalqul-Qur'an" introduced by the Caliph Ma'mun. Shafii appointed him as his deputy in his learning circle. He compiled a famous summary from Shafii’s words.
2) Abu Ibrahim Ismail b. Yahya al-Muzani (D. H. 266): He has various views written in accordance with Shafii madhhab. "Al-Mukhtasarul-Kabir" and "al-Mukhtasarus-Saghir" called Mabsut are among them. Many students of ilm from Iraq, Damascus and Khorasan benefited from him.
3) Abu Muhammad ar-Rabi' b. Sulayman b. Abdiljabbar al-Muradi (D. H. 270): He is the narrator Imam Shafii's books. He was a muezzin in Amr b. al-As Mosque (Fustat Mosque). Shafii's books ar-Risala, al-Umm and his other books reached us through al-Muradi.
4) Harmala b. Yahya b. Harmala (Ö.H. 266): He narrated the books of Imam Shafii that ar-Rabi did not narrate. Kitabush-Shurut, Kitabus-Sunan, Kitabun-Nikah and Kitabul-Ibil wal-Ghanam wa Sifatuha wa Asnanuha are among them.
5) Muhammad b. Abdillah b. Abdilhakam (D. H. 268): He was also a student of Imam Malik. The people of Egypt regarded him superior to the other fiqh scholars. Afterwards, he abandoned Shafii's views and started to act in accordance with Imam Malik's ijtihads.
Shafii's madhhab spread to places like Egypt, South Arabia, East Africa, East Anatolia, Ceylon, Java, Philippines, Malaya, Mawaraun-Nahr and Khorasan. (az-Zuhayli, ibid, I, 37 ff; Hamdi Döndüren, ibid, f. 78 ff)
The Methodology of Imam Shafii in Ijtihad:
He explained his method in deducing decrees from evidence and in ijtihad in various places of his books "Ikhtilaful-Hadith", "Jimaul-Ilm" and "ar-Risala". He states the following in summary: "Decrees are made based on the Book and mutawatir Sunnah that is not objected. For this kind of decrees, we say, "We decreed with the truth apparently and really." Decrees are also made based on Sunnah that is not agreed on and that comes through ahad way. For this kind of decrees, we say, "We decreed with the truth apparently." However, we cannot say really because the person who narrated it may have made a mistake. Then, we decree based on consensus (ijma) and after that analogy (qiyas). This is weaker than that but it can be used where there is a necessity. For, it is not legitimate to use analogy where there is a hadith. As a matter of fact, tayammum ensures cleanliness while travelling when there is no water but tayammum is invalidated when water is found. (ash-Shafii, ar-Risala, p. 512, 599, 600)
In order to interpret the parts of the Book and the Sunnah that need interpretation, Shafii lays it as a condition for Arabic to be suitable for the interpretation that is made and the resources of the Book, the Sunnah and consensus to have some evidence that supports this meaning. He makes his interpretation in this aspect. In order to decree in accordance with the Sunnah, he lays it as a condition for the narrator of a hadith that is not mutawatir to be trustworthy, honest, to know what he says and the words that can change the meaning of the hadith, and if he does not know the meaning of the hadith fully, to narrate it with its original words, to have memorized the narration, to have kept its writing, to be away from opposing trustworthy narrators and to have been narrated by narrators that have the same conditions up to its first source.
Refusing istihsan because he understands it as baseless, arbitrary decree, Imam Shafii accepts, ra’y (view) ijtihad consisting of analogy only and accepts analogy among the types of divine statement through indication. If the reason (illah) for the issue about which nass exists is the same as the issue about which nass does not exist, no difference can be in analogy. However, if the illah of the same issue and the secondary issue are not the same but similar, difference can exist in this analogy and different decrees can be made.
An example of his ijtihad:
After narrating the hadith "It is wajib to make ghusl on Friday”, Shafii states the following: "The word "wajib" mentioned in the hadith may mean "not permissible to others, morally necessary, should be preferred in order to eliminate bad smell." Since the Quran attributes wudu to people without wudu and ghusl to junub people, the last meaning is the most appropriate. Shafii used interpretation and ijtihad of understanding here.
After quoting verse 233 of the chapter of al-Baqara stating that the mother should give suck to the offspring, that the father should provide food and clothing, and that he should pay for the wet nurse if a wet nurse is hired, and the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) telling Hind she can take from the wealth of Abu Sufyan that will be enough for her and her child, Imam Shafii decrees that the sucking and feeding expenses of the child belong to the father because the child is from the father. Then, making an analogy based on this decree, he decrees that the child has to look after his father.
Using ijtihad in the same sense as analogy, Imam Shafii also uses the evidence of public interest as he does it in the following ijtihad: when the lie of the people who bore false witness claiming that a person divorced his wife with three talaqs and who caused the judge to divorce a married couple, he decreed that the wronged person would have to pay mahr mithl.
Imam Shafii, who had a poetry book including aphorisms and poets, is regarded as a unique personality in terms of literature. The following stanza belongs to him:
"I complained to my teacher Waki about my bad memory.
He advised me to give up sins.
He told me that ilm was a luminous light.
This light of Allah’s is not given to rebels."
Mehmed Emin AY
MALIK B. ANAS
Malik b. Anas b. Malik b. Abi Amir al-Asbahi. He is the imam of Maliki Madhhab, a hadith scholar and an absolute mujtahid.
Imam Malik was born in Madinah. There are various narrations about his year of birth from H 90 to 98. However, the year that is widely accepted as his year of birth is H 93 (711-712). (Umar Riza Kahhala, Mu'jamul-Muallifin, Beirut (n.d.), VIII, 168; see also Suyuti, Razyinul-Mamalik, 7)
Imam Malik's family was from Yemen; his grandfather, Malik b. Abu Amir al-Asbahi of the tribe Dhu Asbah, migrated to Madinah due to the oppression inflicted upon him by the governor of Yemen. His mother is Aliya binti Shurayk al-Azdi form the Yemeni tribe of Azd.
After settling in Madinah, Imam Malik's grandfather established kinship with the tribe of Banu Taym b. Murra of Quraysh; he became friends with them and received help from them when it was necessary.
Imam Malik's family started to be engaged in ilm after they settled in Madinah; they gave great importance to especially collecting hadiths and learning the fatwas of the Companions. His grandfather, Malik b. Abu Amir, is one of the notables of Tabiun and narrated hadiths from Hz. Umar, Uthman, Talha and Aisha.
Imam Malik narrated only one hadith from his father. This shows that his father was not engaged in hadiths very much. However, his paternal uncle, Suhayl was a hadith scholar and the teacher of Ismail b. Jafar. Az-Zuhri also took lessons from him. His brother, Nadr, also learned hadith. When Imam Malik started to study hadith, he was called Nadr's brother, because of his fame. Afterwards, Imam Malik became better than him in hadith and then his brother was called Malik’s brother.
During the Era of Khulafa ar-Rashidun, Madinah was a center where the notable scholars of the Companions were together and learning ilm reached the peak. During the Era of Umayyads, Madinah became a shelter for some scholars that escaped from mischief and the oppression of the administrators. Besides, most of the Tabiun lived in Madinah and conveyed the narrations and fiqh of the Companions to the students who were very keen on seeking knowledge and who gathered around them.
Imam Malik was brought up in a family environment that devoted themselves to ilm and in Madinah, where a very active movement of ilm was observed. Living in such an environment enabled him to learn from the scholars who were the best ones of the age.
Imam Malik memorized the Quran first. Then, he started to memorize hadiths and joined the ilm circle of Rabia b. Abdurrahman, one of the greatest and most famous scholars in Madinah, with the encouragement and orientation of his mother. (Muhammad Abu Zahra, Imam Malik, Trnsl. by Osman Keskioğlu, Ankara 1984, 30)
After that, he started to go to all of the scholars that he could learn from and learned about hadiths, fatwas of the Companions and fiqh
Abdurrahman ibn Hurmuz, Rabia, Shihab az-Zuhri, Abu Zinad, Yahya b. Sa'id al-Ansari and Hz. Umar’s freed slave, Nafi, contributed a lot to the formation of the thought and knowledge basis of Imam Malik, who learned from nearly one hundred scholars.
Ibn Hurmuz was a scholar who had a very good command in hadith and religious sciences, who followed all of the intellectual and political developments of his age and who had a very vast culture that penetrated their inner realities. He taught Imam Malik many things but allowed him to explain very few of them because he did not find it appropriate for the public interest. Ibn Hurmuz was afraid of responsibility; therefore, he asked Malik not to mention his name in the sanad (chain of narrators) of the hadiths.
Imam Malik learned the fiqh and fatwas of Hz. Umar and Abdullah b. Umar from Nafi. Abu Dawud regards the narration of Malik from Ibn Umar through Nafi as the soundest in terms of sanad. After becoming educated and mature,Imam Malik started to criticize some views of Rabia, who was his teacher in fiqh. After that, he left the lessons of Rabia and started to attend the hadith lessons of Zuhri. However, Rabia had a great effect on his fiqh views.
After that, he stayed at home except for Zuhri's lessons and started to compile what he had written on paper up to that time.
Besides, Imam Malik never missed Jafar as-Sadiq’s lessons. He admired Jafar’s knowledge, asceticism and taqwa. Imam Malik stated the following about him: "He never narrated a hadith without wudu. Whenever the name of the Prophet was mentioned, his face went pale."
He did not started to teach until he was convinced that he learned the ilm of Madinah fully. After the majority of the scholars in Madinah stated that he was good enough to teach, he felt obliged to teach people the hadiths that he took from reliable narrators, to answer the people who asked fatwas from him and to give lessons to the students that gathered around him. Imam Malik stated the following regarding the issue: "Not everybody can give lessons in the mosque. I avoided giving lessons and fatwas until seventy scholars found me competent enough." Imam Malik started to give lessons after he asked his teachers Zuhri and Rabia whether he could do so and received a positive answer from them.
Imam Malik started to give lessons in Masjid an-Nabawi. However, when he got prostate cancer, he could not go to the mosque and started to give lessons at home. When he gave lessons in Masjid an-Nabawi, he used to sit where Hz. Umar sat when he gave lessons. It was the place where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sat in the mosque. Besides, he lived in the house where Abdullah b. Masud lived in Madinah, trying to keep their memories alive and to feel the spiritual atmosphere that the Companions experienced.
Imam Malik's lessons included hadiths and his fatwas to fiqh issues. He gave fatwas for the incidents that took place and evaluated them. He never expressed his views on the hypothetical incidents, which did not take place.
In the first phases of his illness, he would go to mosque for prayer and returned home after that. After a while, he became too sick to go to mosque for prayers. Afterwards, he could not go to mosque even for Friday prayers. He did not tell people about his illness when they asked him until he was in his deathbed.
After Imam Malik became competent in ilm and started to give lessons, he continued meeting scholars in order to deepen his knowledge and to understand different fiqh views with their subtleties. He would meet the scholars that came from hajj and exchanged knowledge with them. He also talked to Abu Hanifa, the great fiqh scholar, and negotiated with him. Their negotiations took place in a decent way and they praised the superiority of each other in fiqh. He also talked to the distinguished scholars of the age like Kays, Awza'i, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad b. Hasan and Hammad. Whenever he had the opportunity to meet them, he would never skip this chance. In the period when Imam Malik lived, Madinah was a center of ilm, studies and research. The reason for this was the fact that the tomb of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was there and hence fiqh scholars of different schools from all over the Islamic world flooded Madinah in each hajj season.
In addition, Imam Malik used the method of correspondence in order to renew his ilm and learn the views of the other fiqh scholars. He wrote letters to the scholars who lived in distant cities where he could not go, asked them their views about various issues and informed them about his own evaluations.
Imam Malik had a sharp wit and good memory. This enabled him to memorize easily the hadiths that he listened and to penetrate fiqh issues. Although he memorized the hadiths from sound narrators perfectly, he did not narrate hadiths when there was not a necessity. The responsibility of reporting hadiths put him into difficulty; he would state the following after each hadith that he narrated: "I would have rather been beaten by a whip for each hadith than to have narrated it."
He learned knowledge only for Allah’s sake; he did not leave taqwa throughout his life. According to him, ilm is luminous light and it settles only in a heart that has awe and taqwa. When he gave a fatwa, he would act slowly, think well; he would send the person who asked for a fatwa away, examine and determine the issue and then gave an answer. He held the view that nothing was easy related to taqwa and said that every issue about halal and haram was difficult. He would not enter into a discussion with anybody about religion and regarded it as a bad deed since it would cause discord among people.
Imam Malik had an imposing look due to his body. His ilm and taqwa added a spiritual aspect to his imposing look. Everybody was affected from his looks; the administrators and governors who looked down on people would feel shy in his presence and show respect to him.
Imam Malik's father made arrows. However, there is no information showing that Imam Malik also made arrows. His brother studied hadiths and was engaged in trade. Some capital of Imam Malik was run by his brother. However, it is understood that he had some financial difficulties when he was a student.
The age when Imam Malik lived was a period when intellectual and political mischief reached a peak. He lived in the periods of both Umayyads and Abbasids. He appreciated Umar b. Abdulaziz and regarded him as a caliph that tried to carry out the affairs of the ummah in a just way. Imam Malik supported neither the kings who wanted to protect their thrones nor the rebels who wanted to form a legitimate basis for their rebellion. He always tried to spread the truth but he did not approve the rebellions thinking that anarchy would destroy Muslim masses and spread mischief and discord. However, he did not approve the administrators that came to power illegitimately. Therefore, he was once prosecuted and was tortured by Madinah governor of Abu Jafar al-Mansur, who was the second caliph of Abbasids. The reason for this prosecution is shown to be the fatwa he gave about the invalidity of the allegiance paid by force. (Abu Zahra, ibid, 77) During these tortures, he was whipped and wounded because his arm was pulled.
After that, however, Mansur said he was not aware of this incidence and apologized stating that he punished the governor who did it. Then, Imam Malik forgave him. (Ibnul-Imad al-Hanbali, Shazaratudh-Dhahab, Beirut n.d., I, 290)
When the caliph and the administrators came to Madinah for hajj, he advised them to take care of the interests and safety of the public and to act in accordance with justice; he sent letters to those whom he could not meet face to face and tried to improve them. However, he always kept away from administrators and kings. Nevertheless, he accepted the administrators that he found sincere to his lessons. Harun ar-Rashid was one of them. When Harun ar-Rashid tried to act like a sultan in the lessons in his house, Imam Malik told him that ilm was superior to all kinds of worldly positions and that one could be elevated only by showing respect to ilm; thereupon, Harun ar-Rashid descended from his throne and sat with the common people and continued to listen to his lessons. (Ibnu'l-Imad al-Hanbali, ibid, I, 291)
When Imam Malik's illness got worse and he understood that he would die, he explained his illness to his friends and why he concealed it as follows: "Were it not for my last days, I would not have told you about it. My illness is being unable to hold my urine. I did not want to enter the mosque of the Prophet without having proper wudu. I did not tell anybody about my illness so that it would not sound as if I was complaining about my Lord." (Abu Zahra, ibid, 286). Imam Malik died on Rabiulawwal the fourteenth, in the year of H. 179. There are also narrations stating that he died in the month of Safar. He was buried in the cemetery of Jannatul-Baqi. (Umar Riza Kahhala, Mu'jamul-Muallifin, Beirut n.d., VIII, 168)
He was both a hadith and fiqh scholar. The mischiefs about politics and creed that emerged in the period when he lived started to threaten the creed of people. In such an environment, Imam Malik clung firmly to the line of the Sunnah and worked very hard to save people from going astray. According to him, to practice Islam is possible by following the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah and the practices of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, who followed him. To him, the deeds of the people of Madinah is worth following more than ahad news. For, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) lived in Madinah and the people of Madinah lived in accordance with his lifestyle. Therefore, the lifestyle of the people of Madinah is the narration of the Sunnah in the form of deeds. This is clearly seen in his methodology of fiqh. He regards the deeds of the people of Madinah as evidence after the Book and the Sunnah.
Imam Malik said belief consisted of approval by the heart, expression by the tongue and deeds. He based this on the Quran and hadiths. He said belief could increase because there was a verse about it but he kept silent about its decreasing. He held the same views as the sound scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah regarding qadar, major sins, whether the Quran was created (makhluq) and ru’yatullah (seeing Allah). Although he accepted the superiority of the virtues of Hz. Abu Bakr, Hz. Umar and Hz. Uthman, he opposed the other scholars and did not accept Hz. Ali among Khulafa ar-Rashidun. His reason for this view was that a person who wanted to be the caliph could not be the same as the one who did not want to be the caliph.
Imam Malik's fiqh was learned by his students and spread to Egypt, North Africa and Andalusia by his students when he was still alive.
Imam Shafii, who sat before Imam Malik and learned from him, stated the following about the greatness of Imam Malik in ilm: "Malik is a person Allah sent to His slaves as hujja (evidence) after Tabiun." (Subhi as-Salih, Hadis İlimleri ve Hadis Istılahları, Trnsl. by Yaşar Kandemir, Ankara 1981, 330)
Imam Malik, who did not go anywhere outside Madinah throughout his life, did not ride a horse even once in Madinah due to his respect to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh.
He wrote many books, the most important of which is Muwatta. Imam Malik worked very carefully to include the hadiths of the soundest narrators of Hejaz in this book. He also included the words of the Companions and the fatwas of Tabiun in it.
The first book that was written among hadith collections is Muwatta. Although there were exceptions, up to that time, the writing of hadiths was not approved for several reasons. Hadith were kept in the memory of the people who memorized hadiths. However, after a while, some people started to fabricate hadiths for their worldly interests, to prove that their group was right and for other reasons. Therefore, it became necessary to write and determine sound hadiths. Shihab az-Zuhri clarifies the issue with his following statement: "If the hadiths that we had not heard before had not started to come from the east, I would have never written a hadith or allowed a hadith to be written."
Umar b. Abdulaziz probably consulted the scholars and ordered his governors officially to ensure hadiths to be written. He was worried that ilm and hadiths would be lost when the scholars died. The first person to start this task and to fulfill the order of the caliph was Shihab az-Zuhri, who was Imam Malik's teacher. However, Umar b. Abdulaziz died before he saw the result of the hadiths being written.
When Mansur became the caliph, he also wanted the scholars to write hadiths in order to protect them. However, he did not consider the ilm in all of the provinces to be collected and to be written like his predecessor Umar b. Abdulaziz; he only wanted the hadiths and fiqh views in Madinah to be written. The reason why Mansur attempted something like that was his worry that ilm could be lost when the scholars died. His thought was based on administrative purposes only; he wanted to unite the courts and jurisdiction all over the country and realize the unity of jurisdiction. When Imam Malik fulfilled his wish of writing the ilm of Madinah, his work Muwatta emerged. However, Imam Malik severely opposed Mansur's wish to make people all over the Islamic world act in accordance with Muwatta. This shows that Mansur’s wish was not the only reason why he wrote Muwatta. He wanted to collect the sound hadiths, words of the Companions and fatwas of Tabiun that he preferred in Madinah and to prevent them from being forgotten, and to ensure their transfer to the following generations in a healthy way. Mansur's wish may have played an encouraging role in this issue. For, he also rejected similar wishes of the caliphs Mahdi and Harun ar-Rashid, who came after Mansur.
Imam Malik addressed them as follows:
"The Companions disagreed about some secondary issues and they went to different parts of the world with these disagreements. Everybody is right from his own point of view. The disagreement of the scholars is a kind of mercy for the ummah. Everyone acts in accordance with what is sahih (sound) in his opinion. They are all in the right path and want Allah’s consent only." (Abu Zahra, ibid, 218)
Imam Malik narrated hadiths after he examined them very seriously. He always searched the hadiths that he narrated; if he found a mistake in the narrator or if the hadith turned out to be shazz (defective), he would abandon it. When Malik wrote Muwatta first, he narrated about ten thousand hadiths but when he examined them every year, he removed some hadiths and Muwatta got smaller. Some of his students stated the following about this issue: "Everybody’s ilm is increasing but Malik's ilm is decreasing." (ibid, 221) This shows how meticulously he worked when he reported ilm.
As it is seen, the hadiths in Muwatta were chosen among many hadiths. Therefore, hadith critics accept all of the hadiths in it as sound with a few exceptions.
According to those who regard Muwatta as the sixth book of Kutub as-Sitta, it comes after Bukhari and Muslim in rank.
However, saying that there are a lot of mursal hadiths, fatwas of Tabiun and fiqh views in it, some hadith scholars state that Muwatta is a fiqh book rather than a hadith book. (Subhi as-Salih, ibid, 99)
The number of the narrations Imam Malik made from the Prophet (pbuh), Companions and Tabiun is about one thousand, seven hundred and twenty. Ibn Hajar regards Muwatta as sahih (sound). Ibn Hazm states that five hundred hadiths in Muwatta are musnad, three hundred hadiths are mursal and there are about seventy hadiths that Malik stopped acting in accordance with and that were regarded as weak by some hadith scholars. (Abu Zahra, ibid, 227).
Although there are various views about the degree of soundness of the hadiths in Muwatta, Malikis regard that the whole Muwatta as sound. For, they made efforts to connect the mursal, mu'dal and munqati' hadith in Muwatta to muttasil (adjacent) sanads; they determined the hadiths whose sanads were not muttasil in Malik's narration with other trustworthy narrators as muttasil. The number of the hadiths that they were not able to find muttasil sanads was only four. This state shows that the hadiths that were reported as mursal, mu'dal and munqati' by Imam Malik were reported as musnad through other ways; thus, it is shown that Muwatta is one of the sound hadith books.
Imam Malik narrated hadiths from five hundred and ninety people in Muwatta. He narrated from two hundred and eight Companions, one hundred and eighty five of them being men and twenty-three of them being women, and he narrated from forty-eight people among Tabiun.
Those who narrated Muwatta are Imam Malik's students; Qadi Iyad determined that they were sixty people. (ibid, 229)
One of the Muwatta copies that exists today was printed based on the narration of Imam Muhammad, who is one of the students of Abu Hanifa, and the other was printed based on the narration of Yahya b. Laysi al-Barbari of Andalusia, one of the students of Malik.
Muwatta is the basic resource of Maliki fiqh; the methodology that Imam Malik followed in fiqh is clearly understood from its arrangement and order. In Muwatta, Imam Malik takes a hadith that is related to a fiqh issue; then, he mentions the practices of the people of Madinah about it; after that, he mentions the views of Tabiun and other fiqh scholars on it. If he cannot find an explanation in them, he makes ijtihad based on his own view under the light of the sound hadiths that he knows and other fatwas; then, he settles the issue. Imam Malik is also the first person to search the narrators of hadiths, to examine their states in terms of justice, memory and preservation and to criticize them. (ibid, 219)
AHMAD B. HANBAL
Abu Abdullah Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal b. ash-Shaybani al-Marwazi is the imam of Hanbali madhhab, a hadith scholar and absolute mujtahid.
Ahmad was born in 164/780 in Baghdad. His father, Muhammad b. Hanbal dies at the age of thirty and he was brought up by his mother Safiyya binti Maymuna. He is an Arab belonging to the tribe of Shayban; his lineage unites with that of the Prophet (pbuh) at the tribe of Nidhar. Ahmad's grandfather Hanbal was the governor of Sarakhs in the period of Umayyads.
After receiving his first education in Baghdad, which was a center of ilm and culture and the capital city of Abbasids, Ahmad tended toward religious sciences and wanted to practice Islam in all aspects. This desire led him to the pursuit of dealing with the hadiths of the Prophet (pbuh). He had memorized the Quran when he was a child. After studying the other religious sciences and improving his Arabic and grammar, he allocated all of his time to hadiths. He also knew Persian. When collecting, memorizing and writing hadiths became a passion for him, he traveled to the centers of ilm such as Basra, Hejaz, Kufa and Yemen many times; he met and talked to scholars and hadith scholars in those places, found the narrators and took hadiths from them. (Ibnul Jawzi, Manaqibul Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, p. 183, ff) It is stated that he went to hajj five times, three of which were on foot due to lack of money, that he met Imam Shafii for the first time in Hejaz, that he had great difficulties in his journeys because he was poor and that he worked as a porter when he ran out of money on the way to Yemen, where he traveled in order to take hadiths from Abdurrazzaq b. Hammam (d. 211), the hadith scholar. (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya, X, 329) Along with hadiths, he got all of the narrations that came to the narrators about the Companions and Tabiun. He strengthened his knowledge of fiqh and methodology of fiqh with the lessons he took from Abu Yusuf and Imam Shafii; he made the hadiths and fatwas of the Companions that he collected as a basis for his fiqh. After the age of forty, he gave lessons to about five thousand students that he gathered.
It was seen in history that many mujtahids were oppressed. Imam Ahmad is among this group. During the time of Abbasids the ideology of "Khalqul-Quran (the Quran was created)" spread and the Caliph, Ma'mun (813-833) wanted the scholars to accept it by force; when the oppression that started with the mischief of Yuhanna ad-Dimashqi(John of Damascus), the Christian scholar, and the agitation of Mutazila aimed to force the scholars by the support and tyranny of the state, most of the scholars said they accepted this view (H. 218). However, some scholars like Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Qawariri, Muhammad b. Nuh and Sujada did not accept the view "the Quran was created"; consequently, they were chained, imprisoned and tortured. Meanwhile, Qawariri and Sujada said they accepted the official view and they were freed. Ma'mun, the Caliph wanted to talk to Hanbal and Muhammad b. Nuh. However, when the caliph died and Muhammad b. Nuh died on the way, Ahmad b. Hanbal was imprisoned in Baghdad again. During the caliphate of Mu'tasim (833-842), he was tortured due to the encouragement and effect of Qadi Ibn Abu Duad. Ahmad b. Hanbal was released after being imprisoned for twenty-eight months. He continued to oppose the official view during the era of the new caliph al-Wathiq (d. 232/847), he was always on probation. He could not give hadith lessons for five years. Finally, during the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil (d. 247/861), the will of Ma'mun that there must not be left anybody who says "the Quran was not created" and the harsh policy were abandoned; thus, he started to teach hadith again. Al-Mutawakkil, the Caliph, wanted to give Ahmad b. Hanbal some presents and monthly salary in order to please him but he refused it. He even resented his children, who accepted the help of the caliph; he never received any help or money from anybody.
When Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal died in 241/855 in Baghdad, tens of thousands of people joined his funeral; his janazah prayer was performed on Friday. His tomb was dragged away by flood when the Tigris flooded in the 7th century (H).
Imam Ahmad spent his life in poverty - except for a rental income left from his father. He had two children, Salih and Abdullah, from his two marriages, and three sons and a daughter from his female slave. Imam ibn Hanbal was loved by people due to his attitude during the time of mihnah (inquisition) and he became famous for his taqwa and adherence to the Sunnah. He did not work as an official for the government though he was poor; he led a life in accordance with the Sunnah without needing anybody. The following was stated about him: "If he had emerged among Jews, he would have been a prophet." Nobody was heard saying anything against him.
His creed and knowledge
When the madhhab of Mutazila put forward the idea that the Quran was created later, stating “Only Allah is pre-eternal” and when the state started to force the imams to make everybody accept this view, Ahmad b. Hanbal regarded it as a bid’ah. Nobody discussed the issue in the Era of Bliss. Besides, the attitude must be in accordance with the attitude developed in the Sunnah in the light of the knowledge "The Quran is the word of Allah." Ahmad b. Hanbal decrees that a person who says the Quran was created is a Jahmi and a person who says the Quran was not created is a person of bid’ah. He states that this issue does not exist in the Sunnah and that it was claimed by the mind. For, such a discussion does not exist in the Sunnah and the Quran was described as "Allah's word" and the decrees He sent down. Besides, such discussions do not take place in the methodology of the Sunnah; discussions lead to conflicts, and conflicts lead to fights and mischief.
Ahmad b. Hanbal does not follow any way other than the Sunnah in creed, deeds and ethics. He avoids debates and disputes, and decreeing only by his view (ra’y); he follows the way of the Companions and Tabiun. He is a patient, humble, serious, mild, contented, pious and sincere mujtahid. His creed originates from nass of fiqh; more precisely, while making decrees by taking the original evidence of the shari’ah, which is the Book and the Sunnah, he takes the nass as they are and applies the explanation of the Sunnah exactly rather than use them. Belief means approval by the heart, expression by the tongue and application by the organs; belief can increase and decrease. A person who commits a major sin does not exit religion. Allah's attributes are as they are in the nass; they cannot be interpreted. It is better to keep silent rather than interpret mutashabih verses. If a caliph is just or cruel, he is obeyed; rebellion is not the way out; rebellion is rioting. Ahmad b. Hanbal had a teacher who educated him: Hushaym b. Bashir b. Abu Hazim (104/722-183/799). In addition, he learned from Umayr b. Abdullah b Khalid Abdurrahman b. Mahdi, Abu Uyayna, Imam Shafii, Abu Yusuf, Abdurrazzaq b. Humam, Ismail b. Aliyya, -without seeing him- Abubakir b. Ayash and Yahya b. Said. The most important fiqh scholars that narrated hadiths from Ahmad b. Hanbal are Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ali b. al-Madini.
The only book that Ahmad b. Hanbal himself wrote is "al-Musnad". The other books attributed to him were written by Hanbali imams. They are as-Sunna, Zuhd, Salat, War'a wal-Iman; Raddi alal Jahmiyya wa'z-Zanadiqa; Ashriba; Masail; Juz fi Usulis-Sunna; Fadailu's-Sahaba; Ar-Raddu ala man iddaat-Tanaqudha fil-Qur'an; at-Tafsir; an-Nasikh wal Mansukh; Tarikh; al-Muqaddam wal Muakhkhar fil Qur'an; Wujubatul Qur'an; Manasikul Kabir wa's Saghir; al-Jarhu wat Ta'dil; al-Ilal wa Marifatur-Rijal.
Ahmad b. Hanbal is an imam of hadith and fiqh. Each faqih has an aspect that he is specialized in; nobody can be very good at all ilms. In other words, in the fiqh of an imam, the effect of some of his previous ilms are seen. Ra’y (view) overweighs in Abu Hanifa’s fiqh; similarly, hadith overweighs in Ahmad b. Hanbal's fiqh. From this point of view, Ibn Jarir at-Tabari and Ibn Qutayba say he is only a hadith scholar. In the beginning, Ahmad b. Hanbal told his students to write only hadiths from him. For, he knew that dealing with legal texts in the broad sense would cause hadiths to be forgotten and that dealing with the disputes and disagreements of fiqh would confuse people. He was worried that the Quran and the Sunnah would remain in the background due to dealing with secondary issues. However, his students wrote his fatwas and views. Afterwards, he approved their writing. He wrote “Musnad”. This book consists of about thirty thousand hadiths, which he chose from one hundred and fifty thousand hadiths. The Imam wrote this book so that people would refer to it when they disagreed about hadiths. He wrote Musnad on various pieces of paper but he died before putting them together. His son, Abdullah (213-290), wrote Musnad again by adding his own narrations. Musnad was not arranged based on topics, but on sanads; it includes most of the hasan and ghraib hadiths. The Islamic historian, Imaduddin Abu'l-Fida Ismail b. Umar b. Kathir (Hafiz of Damascus), added Kutub as-Sittah, Mu’jam of Tabarani and the Musnads of Bazzar and Abu Ya'la to Musnad but he died before completing it. (M. Abu Zahra, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Trnsl. by Keskioğlu, Ankara 1984, p. 195) Musnad is an academic book in terms of its composition and it is difficult to use. Only people who are good at hadith will not have difficulty in referring to this composition and order, which starts with the hadiths of ashara al-mubashshara, continues with the hadiths of the Companions and Tabiun and based on sanads and date of narrators. When Ahmad b. Hanbal wrote Musnad, he always corrected the hadiths and removed the ones that he found appropriate. Thus, his book became a sound, reliable book. He used the known Sunnah while removing weak hadiths and he included sound (sahih), hasan and gharib hadiths in his book. He even collected weak hadiths. There are also fabricated hadiths in Musnad and they were probably added after Imam Ahmad. The narrators were arranged in the following order in Musnad: Ashara al-Mubashshara, Ahl al-Bayt, Abbas, Fadl b. Abbas, Abdullah b. Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, Abdullah b. Umar, Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As, Abu Rimsa Rifaa b. Yathribi, Abu Hurayra, Anas b. Malik, Abu Said al-Hudri, Jabir b. Abdullah al-Ansari, Makkans, people of Madinah, people of Kufa, people of Basra, people of Damascus, Ansar, Hz. Aisha and the other Companions.
Ahmad b. Hanbal's methodology is peculiar to him. A faqih who makes ijtihad can abandon an ijtihad and make a different ijtihad. Therefore, Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal did not write a book on fiqh. He was an independent mujtahid; therefore, his students narrated his ijtihads and fatwas; the books that were attributed to him were written by his students after his death. When Ahmad b. Hanbal was asked about an issue, he would answer it according to the Quran and the Sunnah; he would say, “I do not know” in many cases and keep silent. As a matter of fact, the existence of contradictory narrations justifies his prohibition of his different ijtihads from being written. Since he used analogy in case of a necessity, he decreed by quoting the fatwas of the Companions and Tabiun in his method of giving fatwas. This was his peculiar methodology of fiqh. He became famous when he was tortured and imprisoned in the incident of "Khalqul-Quran"; this enabled him to be known as the most important scholar and mujtahid of his age. Among those who narrated his fiqh are the following scholars: Salih b. Hanbal (209/824-896) Abdullah b. Hanbal, (213-290/828-903) Abdullah b. Muhammad b. Hani Abu Bakr Asram, (273/886) Abdulmalik b. Abdulhamid Mihran Maymuni, (d. 274/887-888) Harb b. Ismail Hanzali Kirmani, (280/893) Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hajja Abu Bakr (d. 275/890-891) Ibrahim b. Ishaq Harbi (d. 311/923-), Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hasan Abu Bakr Hallal (d. 285-898). Abu Bakr Hallal collected Imam Ahmad's fatwas in his book called Jamiul-Kabir. Umar b. Husayn Kharaqi (334/945-946) wrote "al-Mukhtasar"; and this book became the most widely used book of Hanbali madhhab.
Among the different views and narrations of Ahmad b. Hanbal, the one with the stronger sanad is preferred. If it is possible, two views are combined; if not, the one with the nearer date is preferred. In Ibn Hanbal's terminology, "karih" means "haram". “I do not like” means makruh; what is meant by it is haram. In his another view, he means nadb and karahah in such words of his, which he did not say haram before. His students do not discriminate between his words; his deeds indicate his madhhab. The meaning that the hadith indicates means his madhhab. Therefore, "Musnad" is the most important resource of Hanbalis. Imam Ahmad reported the Sunnah rather than decree with his view. He reports the controversial narrations of the Companions as they are and does not prefer among them. For, he regards all of them as "udul". He does not have fiqh views related to the incidents that did not take place, that are probable and works of imagination. Therefore, he did not tend to be interested in hypothetical fiqh. As it is seen in the history of fiqh, the imitators that came after mujtahid imams included thousands of secondary issues that did not exist in Islamic fiqh and transformed them into fiqh rules; this justifies Imam Ahmad's attitude of not including hypothetical fiqh in his thought system. He even regarded some fiqh rules as bid’ah and said they existed in Islamic fiqh. On the other hand, with his view, "what is essential in things is being permissible", Ibn Hanbal leaves his madhhab free in an interesting way regarding permissible issues. This is disagreement that is mercy and opens a vast area of freedom to people. It also means ease, rukhsah and azimah, and the freedom to look at changing times through multiple viewpoints. Ahmad b. Hanbal is the first mujtahid that regards qiyas (analogy) as weak evidence. He states that the Quran and the Sunnah are the only two resources that impose decrees; and he does not use “reasoning” to connect deeds with religious field regarding the issues that are not indicated by nass. If it is considered that qiyas and ra’y are religious evidence and binding resources of decree, it is seen that Ahmad b. Hanbal's fiqh remains within the context of the Quran and the Sunnah fully and keeps fiqh high in terms of “jihad” too. Accordingly, it is clear that the view claiming that he is not a fiqh scholar (faqih) and reducing him to the degree of a hadith scholar (muhaddith) is inconsistent. If people understand a mujtahid that writes a book on fiqh when the word faqih is used, Abu Hanifa did not do so. Abu Hanifa did not write a fiqh book; the booklets attributed to him were compiled by his students after his death. Besides, Ibn Hanbal used the Quran and the Sunnah as a basis but he also used sad adh-dharayi' (blocking the means to evil), masalih mursala (public interest) and istishab (validation of something in the present because it was applied in the past and not opposed) as evidence. His methodology of fiqh uses nass if it exists, fatwas of the Companions after that and mursal weak hadiths to reach a decree. His view on consensus (ijma) is meaningful. He accepts the consensus of the Companions and says, “We do not know anything opposing them” for the consensus in the following periods. (Abu Zahra, İslam'da Fıkhi Mezhepler Tarihi, III, 246) Imam Ahmad says the consensus of the Companions is evidence; he decrees that the consensus of the people coming after them is invalid if there is a view opposing it. He says the latter consensus is not among the definite rules of the religion and Allah’s orders that are necessary to be obeyed. In fact, it is unnecessary to say that nobody can oppose fards. Thus, with this view on consensus, Ahmad b. Hanbal leaves a vast area as it is mentioned above for secondary issues. He accepts that the ummah will not unite on misguidance and says that nobody can oppose when the Islamic scholars unanimously agree on something. According to him, however, the people who think there is consensus on many issues may be mistaken. Nevertheless, a mujtahid who is not right receives a reward too; this kind of disagreement is mercy. It is not appropriate to decree without knowing whether there is anybody opposing it. (Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa, I, 406) The decree about which they say there is consensus may be only one word. Imam Shafii said there was disagreement in every century and every country. It is not appropriate to force consensus in secondary issues acting upon the fact that there is consensus in the basic principles of the religion. Imam Ahmad claims that the claim of consensus can be wrong, that it is possible to make a mistake by saying there is consensus without searching, that the opposition about the issue might not be known, and that nass can be annulled when a consensus whose opposition is not known goes ahead of nass. Not every consensus can be consensus. Every scholar can be presented with an issue and this scholar can quote the issue from the previous scholars; however, if there is a hadith contrary to their view, it becomes wajib to act in accordance with that hadith and to reject the issue about which consensus was thought to exist; for a hadith is basically binding. A mujtahid should act cautiously and say, “I do not know anything opposing it.” As it is seen, Ibn Hanbal does not reject consensus altogether; he acts cautiously due to the problem of “knowledge/information”.
When Imam Ahmad accepts the witnessing of a slave, he bases it on the fatwa of the Companions. For, their fatwa is superior and there is no view in their presence. When there is disagreement among the words of the Companions, he chooses the one that is closest to the Quran and the Sunnah or reports all of them without preferring any of them; thus, he allows the possibility of applying different views. He acts in accordance with mursal and weak hadiths before analogy. Imam Malik, Abu Hanifa, Sufyan ath-Thawri and Awzai also acted in accordance with mursal hadiths. Shafii regarded it weak and accepted it sound with some conditions. Mursal hadiths form about half of all hadiths; therefore, they take an important place as evidence. We see here that hadith scholars regard mursal hadith as weak and that Imam Ahmad accepts it as evidence after the fatwas of the Companions. Imam Ahmad states the following: "A person who rejects the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is on the brink of destruction." (Ibnul Jawzi, Manaqibul Imam Ahmad, p. 182) He also has a view that is valid for all times: "I do not know any period when people need learning hadiths more. A lot of bid’ahs emerged. A person who does not know hadith will fall into bid’ahs." (Ibnul Jawzi, ibid, p. 183) As for his acting in accordance with weak hadiths, it lays it as a condition that the hadith must not be very weak and non-existence of any hadiths except that one. He says hadith is superior to ra’y even if it is weak. Abu Hanifa, Malik, Abu Davud, an-Nasai and Ibn Ebi Hatim accept weak hadith as evidence too. (Ibn Hazm, al-Muhalla, I, 68) It cannot be said that he holds the view that anyone who finds a hadith must act in accordance with it immediately. He states that such a person needs to ask a scholar about it. For, to follow fiqh scholars is the salvation of the religion. (For this statement of Sufyan b. Uyayna, see al-Qurashi, al-Jawahirul-Mudia, I, p. 64, 166) The decrees of mujtahids are not different from Shari’ah and they do not have to know the evidence of awam. Here, awam means a person who has knowledge and makes research but has not reached the level of a mujtahid yet. While negotiating about an issue, somebody said to Ahmad b. Hanbal, "O Abdullah! There is no sound hadith regarding the issue." Imam Ahmad said, "If there is no sound hadith regarding the issue, there is a view of Shafii. His evidence is the soundest evidence regarding the issue." (as Subki Ma'na Kawlil Imamil Muttalibi, p. 99) That a hadith is weak does not mean that the decree that is based on it is weak; in general, the hadith is supported by other evidence.
While founding fiqh, Ahmad b. Hanbal took nass as salaf did and tried to understand nass as they did. In his fiqh, the Sunnah may seem to be a secondary evidence in terms of methodology but it is identical with the Quran in terms of putting the Sunnah into practice. It is not possible for the Sunnah to contradict the apparent meaning of the Quran. The Sunnah interprets and explains the Quran, and determines its meaning and indication. It also imposes decrees. It is dominant over the Quran in terms of statement. The school of ra’y does not accept khabar wahid if it is contrary to nass but Imam Ahmad holds the view that to reject hadiths with the reasoning that it is contrary to the apparent meaning of the Quran means to make many sunnahs inactive. In the period when Imam Ahmad lived, hadiths were not classified and evaluated in terms of sanad, text and narrators. According to him, a hadith is either sound or not sound. The distinguishing of a hadith as hasan was made after Ibn Hanbal. If a narrator is called a liar and if nobody proves this property of the narrator strongly, the weak hadith needs to be accepted. Accepting the hadith with caution is better than rejecting it because it is a hadith anyway. For, it is definitely not fabricated and it might be sound. As an example, the following weak hadith exists in his "Musnad": In the hadith reported from Abu Davud Tayalisi' in the chapter of Hz. Umar, the following is stated: Abu Awana reported the following from Davud Awadi, from Abdurrahman Misali by listening from Ash'as b. Qays: "I went to see Hz. Umar. Umar beat his wife and said to me, 'O Ash'as! Learn three things from me. I heard them from the Prophet (pbuh): -Do not ask a man why he beat his wife. Sleep near your arrow. I forgot the third one."
According to hadith scholars, this hadith is regarded as weak because Dawud b. Yazid is not strong. Ibn Hanbal included this hadith because it was not contrary to nass, was not very weak and was not contrary to creed. Imam Ahmad uses his preference among the views of the Companions based their closeness to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). His preference regarding controversial views starts with Hz. Abu Bakr and goes on with the other Companions in order. In case of being contrary to nass, he accepts the other Companions’ words. For instance, Hz. Umar decrees nafaqa for the women who are divorced by looking at the verses as a whole but Imam Ahmad does not regard nafaqah permissible acting upon the statement of the hadith reported by Fatima bint Qays. Fatima's word is more appropriate for the statement of the Sunnah. That is, he holds the view that her statement "...it is hoped that Allah will cause this state after that" is more appropriate for the Sunnah.
As for the evidence of qiyas, Imam Ahmad says nobody can avoid qiyas. However, he regards qiyas weak as religious evidence. He resorts to qiyas when it is compulsory. He regards it with caution for qiyas to be binding evidence in religion; instead, he gives importance to public interest. He supports the imposition of the best rules for a just society based on a system that eliminates harm. For instance, it has the widest view among all madhhabs related to contracts. What is essential in conditions is permissibility because needs cannot be prevented without religious evidence; the religion imposed ease; this is the way of the Messenger of Allah and salaf.
Ahmad b. Hanbal is a scholar and mujtahid that has taqwa. His students and followers that came after him wrote his madhhab and some of them caused it to be misunderstood. The reason why people understand a hard, strict and harsh madhhab that is prone to violence and narrow-minded when Hanbali madhhab is mentioned is the fact that Hanbalis poured alcoholic drinks, attacked brothels, broke musical instruments, beat artists, and attacked Shafiis and Shiites in Baghdad in H 323/ 934 AD and caused people to alienate from them.
However, Imam Ahmad never supported violence and rebellion; he described rebels as rioters.
Imam Ahmad's views on najasah (impurity) and taharah (cleanliness) were used by Hanbali extremists in a wrong way against others. They took the views that Ibn Hanbal preferred justifiably to the level of bigotry; this tendency is also seen in other madhhabs like regarding washing hands as fard after getting up from sleep. The majority regards it as mustahab but some regard it an obligatory deed. Imam Ahmad is the mujtahid that has the fewest followers among four madhhabs. However, the reason for this is not the view of being the madhhab that is the most distant from ijtihad (Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddima, p. 44); on the contrary, it is because of some historical, political and social reasons. When people choose the madhhab that they will imitate, they do not look at their evidence and reaching conclusions. (M. Abu Zahra, Ahmad b. Hanbal, 357) For instance the reason why the people of Egypt are Shafii or Turks are Hanafi is not knowing those imams but historical reasons. Ijtihads are not evaluated based being few or many, being before or after in terms of time. Besides, it is seen that the madhhab that allows liberty in contracts the most is Hanbali. This originates from the fact that the people who do not know their madhhabs properly are inclined to have wrong ideas about other madhhabs and people and countries are affected politically and socially. As individuals, people follow the madhhab that exists around them historically in the place where they live.
On the other hand, Hanbali madhhab is a Sunni madhab that did not resort to the issue of "hila ash-shar’iyyah (religious trick/solution)" at all. It is an issue that needs to be searched how madhhabs were affected when they were combined with social-economic systems. Imam Ahmad came after the other three madhhab imams chronologically and found a fiqh that was written. While he was writing his own fiqh, the other three madhhabs had spread to the Islamic land. His name was mentioned with mercy due to the oppression inflicted upon him for fourteen years during the incidents of "Mihnatul Quran", and his madhhab spread. Besides, it is seen that those who closed the door of ijtihad were imitators of Hanafi and Shafii madhhabs (Abu Zahra, ibid, 362) and those who opened the door of ijtihad again and widened fiqh were Hanbalis. In a sense, Hanbali madhhab is the madhhab in which bigotry is seen the least in terms of imitating the madhhab imam. (Abu Zahra, ibid, 383) Hanbali imams did not compromise with the political power and did not accept the duty of being a qadi (judge). Ahmad b. Hanbal resented his son, who accepted the duty of being a qadi. During the age of mischief in the fourth century H, almost nobody was able to keep away from mischief. (Ibn Qutayba, Ikhtilaf fil Lafz, p. 60 ff.) Due to the extreme acts of bigots, people kept away from Hanbali madhhab and because the state prosecuted the madhhab, it became accepted late. Hanbali madhhab did not have state support in history. The madhhabs that received state support became widespread and they tended to exclude the other madhhabs – though all of them were valid in the eye of the scholars, it is like this socially - ; therefore, it is seen that Hanbali madhhab spread among scholars more. The rich resources of the madhhab prevented it from being forgotten wholly like Awzai madhhab. It spread in Baghdad in the 4th and 5th centuries H and emerged in Egypt in the 6th century; its scholars lived in Damascus. Today, it is common among the people of Hejaz, Najd and Palestine.
Main fiqh books of the madhhab are as follows: Najmaddin Tufi, Qawaid al-Kubrai ibn Rajab, Qawaid, Alaaddin Ali b. Abbas al-Ba'li, Qawaid; Abdulkadir al-Jili, al-Ghunya li-Talibit-Tariqil-Haqq Mujirud-Din, Kitabul ins al-Jalil; Abdulaziz b. Jafar, al-Muqni'; Ibnul Qayyim al-Jawziyya, I'lamul Muwaqqiin, Ibn Taymiyya, Fatawa, Minhaju's-Sunna; Abdulqadir b. Umar al Dimashqi, Naylul Ma'arib; Abul Farja Abdurrahman b. Rajab, Tabaqatul Hanabila...