The Responsa of Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal and the Formation of Ḥanbalism


in Islamic Law and Society
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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.


Sections

References

9

Cf. Susan Spectorsky, Chapters on Marriage and Divorce: Responses of Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Rahwayh (1st ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993), 4.

13

Al-Kawsaj, Masāʾil, 865.

14

Al-Kawsaj, Masāʾil, 915.

15

Al-Kawsaj, Masāʾil, 3223–24.

16

Al-Kawsaj, Masāʾil, 1366.

17

Al-Kawsaj, Masāʾil, 1934.

21

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:316–19.

25

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:273.

30

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:173–74.

34

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:166–72.

36

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:165.

37

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:166.

38

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:167.

45

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:384.

47

Al-Athram, “Sunan,” 239.

48

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istidhkār, 2:240–41.

49

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istidhkār, 10:309–10.

56

For more details, see al-Sarhan, “Early Muslim Traditionalism,” 207–11.

58

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:462–63.

59

Ṣāliḥ, Masāʾil, 327, 185–88, 290.

60

Ṣāliḥ, Masāʾil, 136, 144–45.

61

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:111.

70

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 104.

71

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 42.

72

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 102, 120, 173, 267, 305.

73

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 231, 235, 245, 268, 295.

74

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 369.

75

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 368–69.

76

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 151–70, 181–82, 196–201, 211–12, 283.

77

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 9, 218–19, 324.

79

Abū Dāwūd, Masāʾil, 259, 357–63.

81

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:252, 285.

85

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:28, 103, 113; 2:4, 155; 1:102; 2:234; 1:114; 2:153; 1:57, 233; 2:155, 179.

86

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:156.

87

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:22.

88

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:107–108; 2:162–63.

90

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:132.

91

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:138.

92

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:183–84.

93

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:205.

94

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:61; 2:195–97.

95

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:133, 138, 153, 176–78, 180, 184–85.

97

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:12, 56, 112, 120, 153, 173, 201, 204; 2:25, 31, 64, 87, 95, 106, 129, 174.

98

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:166.

99

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:168.

100

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:166.

101

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:165.

104

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:388–89.

105

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:389.

106

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:389.

107

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 1:389.

111

Ḥarb, Masāʾil, 458.

112

Ḥarb, Masāʾil, 492.

113

Ḥarb, Masāʾil, 423, 426. This response is also contained in Abū Dāwūd’s Masāʾil, 363–64.

114

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.

137

Al-ʿUqaylī, al-Ḍuʿafāʾ, 3:962.

139

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 2:351.

140

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 2:371.

142

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 2:102. For another example, see 2:178.

143

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 2:545–47.

144

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 2:102; 3:300, 372.

145

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 1:461–62.

146

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 1:469.

147

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 1:462.

148

ʿAbd Allāh, al-ʿIlal, 1:469.

152

Nimrod Hurvitz, The Formation of Hanbalism: Piety into Power (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002), 54.

155

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.

156

Christopher Melchert, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006), 69.

160

See Ṣāliḥ, Masāʾil, 21; ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 104, 432.

161

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 14:297; Melchert, Formation,143.

163

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 11:331.

164

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:225.

167

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 14:298; al-ʿArabī, Abū Bakr al-Khallāl, 1:86.

169

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 14:298; Cook, Commanding, 88; Ziauddin Ahmed, introduction to al-Khallāl, al-Musnad, 6–9.

170

Laoust, “Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal,” in EI2; Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, 5 vols. (2nd ed., Leiden: Brill, 1973–79), 1:311; Sezgin, Geshichte des arabischen Schrifttums, 9 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1967–84), 1:512.

171

Al-Khallāl, al-Sunna, 1:59.

173

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 14:298. Translated in Melchert, Formation, 143.

177

Abū Zayd, al-Madkhal, 2:670.

178

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.

187

Al-ʿArabī, Abū Bakr al-Khallāl, 1:200.

189

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).

190

Ibn Abī Yaʿlā, Ṭabaqāt, 3:216–17.

191

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 146–47, 149–50, 186, 82.

192

Ibn Taymiyya, Majmūʿ fatāwā, 4:450.

193

Ṣāliḥ, Masāʾil, 53–54.

194

Ṣāliḥ, Masāʾil, 162–63.

196

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:115.

197

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:220, 231.

198

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 1:19, 21, 25, 27, 28, 58, 115, 142, 146, 151, 185; 2:71, 106.

199

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:106.

201

Ibn Hāniʾ, Masāʾil, 2:165.

202

ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 442.

203

ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 450.

204

ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 450–55.

205

ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 438.

206

ʿAbd Allāh, Masāʾil, 438–39.

208

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.

209

Abū Zayd, al-Madkhal al-mufaṣṣal, 1:17, 227–28.

210

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 19–28.

211

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 36–40.

212

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 198, 200.

213

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 210–13.

214

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 102–107.

215

Ibn Ḥāmid, Tahdhīb, 60–62.

216

Melchert, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 59; Susan Spectorsky, “Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal’s Fiqh,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 102:3 (1982): 461–65; Hallaq, Authority, 40.

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