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Imam Hanbal

Imam ibn Hanbal (780 - 855) was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh. His full name was Ahmed bin Muhammad Hanbal.

Imam Hambal was born in Baghdad in 780. He would study extensively in his home city, and later used his travels to further his education. He was chiefly interested in acquiring knowledge of the hadith and travelled extensively through Iraq, Syria, and Arabia studying religion and collecting traditions of Muhammad.

His travels lasted several years. Upon returning home, he studied under Imam Shafi on Islamlic law. Imam Hambal was very devoted to traditional views and was opposed to innovations in Islamic law.

The strength of his views was tested when under the caliphs al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim. During their reign an 'inquisition court' was created to deal with people, who would not profess certain doctrines that the Abbassid caliphs thought were correct. Imam ibn Hanbal, suffered as a result when he was arrested and brought in chains before the court. But he patiently submitted to corporal punishment and imprisonment and resolutely refused to deviate from his beliefs.

Under the rule of Al-Mutawakkil however, the policy of the government changed and Imam ibn Hanbal's trials came to an end. From then onwards the Imam was accorded honor befitting his great knowledge and on several occasions he was invited to the court and granted a generous pension.

Among the works of Imam ibn Hanbal is the great encyclopaedia of Traditions called Musnad, compiled by his son from his lectures and amplified by supplements - containing over twenty eight thousand traditions. His other works include Kitab-us-Salaat, on the Discipline of Prayer and Kitab-us-Sunnah, on the Traditions of the Prophet.

Imam ibn Hanbal's fame spread far and wide. His learning, piety and unswerving faithfulness to traditions gathered a host of disciples and admirers around him. His teachings plus his books would lead his disciples to form the Hanbali school of jurisprudence.

He would die in Baghdad in the year 855.