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Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Rahmatullah Alayh)

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Abū Āsim al-Nabeel (Dahhāk ibn Makhlad) said one day (to the scholars in his gathering of knowledge):

Who do you regard (to be exemplars) in Hadith in Baghdad?”

They answered:

Yahya bin Ma’een, Ahmad bin Hanbal and Abū Kaythamah, and their likes.”

He then asked:

Who do you regard amongst us in Basrah?

They answered:

Alī bin al-Madeenī, Ibn Shādhakūnī, and others.”

He then asked:

Who do you regard in Kūfa?”

They answered:

Ibn Abī Shayba, Ibn Numayr, and others.

Then Abū Āsim said while sighing deeply:

There is not one from these who has not come to us and whom we have not seen. But I have not seen amongst the people anything like that young lad, Ahmad bin Hanbal.”

(Tabaqāt al-Hanābila)

In Manāqib Ahmad of Ibn al-Jawzi, the narrator of the account adds:

“He made this statement to us (even) before Ahmad bin Hanbal was (famously) tried with the inquisition.”

ﻗﺎﻝ ﺃﺑﻮ ﻋﺎﺻﻢ اﻟﻨﺒﻴﻞ ﻳﻮﻣﺎ ﻣﻦ ﺗﻌﺪﻭﻥ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺤﺪﻳﺚ ﺑﺒﻐﺪاﺩ ﻓﻘﺎﻟﻮا ﻳﺤﻴﻰ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻌﻴﻦ ﻭﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ ﻭﺃﺑﺎ ﺧﻴﺜﻤﺔ ﻭﻧﺤﻮﻫﻢ ﻓﻘﺎﻝ ﻣﻦ ﺗﻌﺪﻭﻥ ﺑﺎﻟﺒﺼﺮﺓ ﻋﻨﺪﻧﺎ ﻓﻘﺎﻟﻮا ﻋﻠﻲ ﺑﻦ اﻟﻤﺪﻳﻨﻲ ﻭاﺑﻦ اﻟﺸﺎﺫﻛﻮﻧﻲ ﻭﻏﻴﺮﻫﻤﺎ ﻓﻘﺎﻝ ﻣﻦ ﺗﻌﺪﻭﻥ ﺑﺎﻟﻜﻮﻓﺔ ﻗﻠﻨﺎ ﺃﻳﻦ ﺃﺑﻲ ﺷﻴﺒﺔ ﻭاﺑﻦ ﻧﻤﻴﺮ ﻭﻏﻴﺮﻫﻤﺎ ﻓﻘﺎﻝ ﺃﺑﻮ ﻋﺎﺻﻢ ﻭﺗﻨﻔﺲ ﻫﺎ، ﻫﺎ، ﻣﺎ ﺃﺣﺪ ﻣﻦ ﻫﺆﻻء ﺇﻻ ﻭﻗﺪ ﺟﺎءﻧﺎ ﻭﺭﺃﻳﻨﺎﻩ ﻓﻤﺎ ﺭﺃﻳﺖ ﻓﻲ اﻟﻘﻮﻡ ﻣﺜﻞ ﺫﻟﻚ اﻟﻔﺘﻰ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ


Abu Zur’ah said:

“Ahmad ibn Hanbal had memorized a million Hadith.”

It was asked of him:

“What made you know this?”

He replied:

“I exchanged (Hadith reports) with him, and I acquired from him chapters (of knowledge).”

(Tārīkh Baghdād)

ﺳﻤﻌﺖ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﻠﻪ ﺑﻦ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ، ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ﺳﻤﻌﺖ ﺃﺑﺎ ﺯﺭﻋﺔ اﻟﺮاﺯﻱ، ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ﻛﺎﻥ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ ﻳﺤﻔﻆ ﺃﻟﻒ ﺃﻟﻒ ﺣﺪﻳﺚ، ﻓﻘﻴﻞ ﻟﻪ: ﻭﻣﺎ ﻳﺪﺭﻳﻚ؟ ﻗﺎﻝ: ﺫاﻛﺮﺗﻪ ﻓﺄﺧﺬﺕ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻷﺑﻮاﺏ.


Ibn Manee’ narrates:

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahmatullahi alayh) passed by, having come back from Kufa, while in his hand was a satchel in which were books.

I took his hand and said:

At one time it’s Kufa, at another it’s Basra…till when (will you continue like this)? When a man has already copied thirty thousand Hadith isn’t that enough for him?”

He remained silent. So I asked:

“(How about) Sixty thousand?”

He remained silent. So I asked:

“(How about) Hundred thousand?”

He replied:

In that case he (might perhaps) know something.”

Then we looked (in his satchel), and lo and behold, we found that Ahmad had written 300,000 Hadiths from Bahz ibn Asad and Affaan alone.

(Manaaqib Ahmad)

ﻗﺎﻝ اﺑﻦ ﻣﻨﻴﻊ: ﺳﻤﻌﺖ ﺟﺪﻱ ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ﻣﺮ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ اﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ ﺟﺎﺋﻴﺎ ﻣﻦ اﻟﻜﻮﻓﺔ، ﻭﺑﻴﺪﻩ ﺧﺮﻳﻄﺔ ﻓﻴﻬﺎ ﻛﺘﺐ، ﻓﺄﺧﺬﺕ ﺑﻴﺪﻩ، ﻓﻘﻠﺖ: ﻣﺮﺓ ﺇﻟﻰ اﻟﻜﻮﻓﺔ، ﻭﻣﺮﺓ ﺇﻟﻰ اﻟﺒﺼﺮﺓ، ﺇﻟﻰ ﻣﺘﻰ؟ ﺇﺫا ﻛﺘﺐ اﻟﺮﺟﻞ ﺛﻼﺛﻴﻦ ﺃﻟﻒ ﺣﺪﻳﺚ ﻟﻢ ﻳﻜﻔﻪ؟ ﻓﺴﻜﺖ، ﺛﻢ ﻗﻠﺖ: ﺳﺘﻴﻦ ﺃﻟﻔﺎ؟ ﻓﺴﻜﺖ، ﻓﻘﻠﺖ: ﻣﺌﺔ ﺃﻟﻒ؟ ﻓﻘﺎﻝ: ﺣﻴﻨﺌﺬ ﻳﻌﺮﻑ ﺷﻴﺌﺎ. ﻗﺎﻝ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﻣﻨﻴﻊ: ﻓﻨﻈﺮﻧﺎ، ﻓﺈﺫا ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﻛﺘﺐ ﺛﻼﺙ ﻣﺌﺔ ﺃﻟﻒ ﻋﻦ ﺑﻬﺰ ﺑﻦ ﺃﺳﺪ (ﺗ 197 ﻫـ) ، ﻭﻋﻔﺎﻥ (ﺗ 220 ﻫـ) ، ﻭﺃﻇﻨﻪ ﻗﺎﻝ: ﻭﺭﻭﺡ ﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺎﺩﺓ
(ﺗ 205 ﻫـ)


Saalih (son of Ahmad ibn Hanbal) narrates:

My father resolved to set out for Makkah to complete the Islamic Hajj. He accompanied Yahya ibn Ma’een and said to him:

“We shall depart, insha-Allah, and complete our Hajj, then we shall proceed to Abdur Razzaaq in San’aa (more than a 1000 miles by foot) to listen (Hadith) from him.”

My father narrates:

We entered Makkah and started out with the Tawaaf of arrival. It turned out that Abdur Razzaaq was performing Tawaaf (too). Yahya bin Maeen had seen him and recognised him.

Abdur Razzaaq then came out after completing the Tawaaf and prayed two rak’ats behind the Maqaam. Then he sat down. We also completed our Tawaaf, came out, and prayed two rak’ats behind the Maqaam.

Then Yahya bin Ma’een stood up, went to Abdur Razzaaq, gave him Salaam and said to him:

This is your brother, Ahmad ibn Hanbal.”

He (Abdur Razzaaq) responded:

May Allah preserve him and make him firm in his resolve (for the Deen), for everything good has reached me about him.”

Yahya said:

“We shall come to you tomorrow, insha-Allah, so that we can listen and write (Hadiths from you).”

(After) Abdur Razzaaq stood up then and left, my father asked Yahya ibn Ma’een:

Why did you arrange a time with the Shaykh?”

Yahya replied:

So that we listen to him and (by which) Allah will allow you to profit from this journey of a month, along with the return journey of a month, along with (all) the expenses.”

My father replied:

How would Allah view me that I had already made my Niyyah (intention to journey to San’aa for knowledge) and then I ruined it with what you suggested. I shall depart (from Makkah) and then listen to him.”

Thus he departed until he heard (Hadiths) from him at San’aa.

(Ibn al-Jawzi’s Manaaqib Ahmad)


Abdullah (the son of Ahmad ibn Hanbal) narrates:

My father went all the way to Tartoos (approx. 600 miles away) walking, and he left for Yemen walking (1000+ miles), and he went for Hajj five times, three of which by walking. No one can say that they saw my father in these (distant) lands for a day (i.e. Friday) except that he went for Jumuah (even though Jumuah is not mandatory for even a traveller of only 48 miles.)”

(Hilyat ul-Auliyah)

ﺣﺪﺛﻨﺎ ﺃﺑﻲ، ﺛﻨﺎ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ، ﺛﻨﺎ ﻋﺒﺪ اﻟﻠﻪ ﺑﻦ ﺃﺣﻤﺪ ﺑﻦ ﺣﻨﺒﻞ، ﻗﺎﻝ: «ﺧﺮﺝ ﺃﺑﻲ ﺇﻟﻰ ﻃﺮﺳﻮﺱ ﻣﺎﺷﻴﺎ، ﻭﺧﺮﺝ ﺇﻟﻰ اﻟﻴﻤﻦ ﻣﺎﺷﻴﺎ، ﻭﺣﺞ ﺧﻤﺲ ﺣﺠﺞ؛ ﺛﻼﺛﺔ ﻣﻨﻬﺎ ﻣﺎﺷﻴﺎ، ﻭﻻ ﻳﻤﻜﻦ ﻷﺣﺪ ﺃﻥ ﻳﻘﻮﻝ ﺭﺃﻯ ﺃﺑﻲ ﻓﻲ ﻫﺬﻩ اﻟﻨﻮاﺣﻲ ﻳﻮﻣﺎ ﺇﻻ ﺇﺫا ﺧﺮﺝ ﺇﻟﻰ اﻟﺠﻤﻌﺔ

To be continued….

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