This essay provides an analytical description of the sources and collectors of the legal responsa (masāʾil) of Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal (d. 241/855). It outlines the contents and characteristics of the various Masāʾil works, the backgrounds and approaches of their authors, and their current status (manuscripts and editions). The essay also describes efforts by Aḥmad’s students and followers to address contradictions and discrepancies among his statements and to identify general principles within them in order to make possible the articulation of the legal doctrine of the Ḥanbalī madhhab.
See al-Sarhan, “The Creeds of Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal,” in Books and bibliophiles: Studies in honour of Paul Auchterlonie on the bio-bibliography of the Muslim world, ed. Robert Gleave (Cambridge: Gibb Memorial Trust, 2014), 34–37.
Hurvitz, Formation, 4. In addition to the Masāʾil collectors named here, there is a compilation of Aḥmad’s opinions on the transmitters of traditions that contains the works of al-Marrūdhī and al-Maymūnī (in addition to that of Ṣāliḥ, who was mentioned above). See al-Marrūdhīet al., al-ʿIlal wa-maʿrifat al-rijāl.
Melchert, Formation, 137; Patricia Crone, “Human Reasoning or Sacred Text?” [review of The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law, 9th–10th Centuries ce, by Christopher Melchert], Times Literary Supplement, March 31, 2000, 10; Wael Hallaq, Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 39–42.
Melchert, Formation, 149–50. According to Ibn Ḥāmid, who was a student of Ghulām al-Khallāl, there were 17 juridical questions over whose answers Ghulām al-Khallāl disagreed with al-Khiraqī (Tahdhīb, 210). Ibn Abī Yaʿlā claims that he identified 60 such questions in an autograph of Ghulām al-Khallāl. However, Ibn Abī Yaʿlā lists 98 juridical questions over whose solutions Ghulām al-Khallāl and al-Khiraqī disagreed (Ṭabaqāt, 3:149–209).
Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:309. The Ḥanbalīs divide the history of their school into three stages: (1) The earliest (al-mutaqaddimūn): from Aḥmad until Ibn Ḥāmid’s death in 403/1012; (2) the middle (al-mutawassiṭūn): from 404/1013 until Burhān al-Dīn Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh Ibn Mufliḥ’s death in 884/1479; and (3) the latest (al-mutaʾakhkhirūn): from 885/1480 until the present. See Abū Zayd, al-Madkhal al-mufaṣṣal, 1:455–75.