The Hanbali Madhab

Hanbali jurisprudence

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The Hanbali (Arabic: حنبلي‎) school (madhhab) is one the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. The jurisprudence school traces back to Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855) but was institutionalized by his students. Hanbali jurisprudence is considered very strict and conservative, especially regarding questions of creed and Aqeedah.

It is mainly prevalent in Saudi Arabia though it is heavily influenced by the Zahiri school. Currently it is being revived in western countries, with new books and classes being taught for English-speaking people. It is also the main madh’hab of the important Islamic pilgrimage sites of Mecca and Medina.

Principles

God’s attributes

Hanbal refuted and rejected the Jahmites’ and the Mu’tazilites’ views of God. For Hanbal, both the Jahmites and the Mu’tazilites erred in conceiving of God without eternal attributes. Hanbal believed that God has many attributes and names as mentioned in the Quran and the Prophetic Traditions and that God is One.

Hanbal asserted that God’s Oneness was not understood by the Jahmites and the Mu’tazilites. Hanbal stated that the ahl al-sunnah wa-al-jama’ah, or Sunnis, believe that God is eternal with His power and light and that He speaks, knows, and creates eternally.

Annihilation of the eternals

Hanbal disagreed with the Jahmites’ and the Mu’tazilites’ view that no other eternals exist except God because the eternal is God and God is One. Hanbal believed that Hell and Paradise are eternal because God made them eternal.

The beatific vision

Hanbal believed that the people or the inhabitants of Paradise are able to see God and that God will make them see Him as their highest reward. He did not allow a beatific vision in this world – only in the Hereafter will this vision be bestowed upon the beloved of God. The Mu’tazilites and the Jahmites totally reject the beatific vision of God even in Paradise.

God’s word

Hanbal believed that God’s word is eternal, that God Himself spoke to Moses the prophet and Moses heard His words, and that God did not create His words when He communicated with Moses. Since the speech of God is an Attribute, and God is eternal, all of God’s Attributes are eternal as well. The Jahmites and the Mu’tazilites believe that God created His words to make Moses able to understand His words.

The Qur’an

Hanbal believed that the Qur’an is uncreated because the Koran is the word of God and the word of God is not created, and thus the Koran is God’s word or speech and His revelation. The Mu’taziltes and the Jahmites believe that the Koran, which is readable and touchable, is created like other created creatures and beings. Ibn Hanbal maintained that the Koran is indeed a thing, but that it is not created like other created things.

Hanbal refused to include the Koran in the category of the created creatures of God like the earth and the heavens. There are other existing things not mentioned by God that they are created by God. Among those things are the Chair, the Throne and the Guarded Tablet (Lawh-i-Mahfuz). They are not among the created creatures like the earth and the heavens. Hence Hanbal asserted that the Koran is uncreated.

Notable rulings

Wudu – One of the seven things which nullifies the minor purification includes, touching a woman for the purpose of carnal desire. This ruling is similar to the Maliki opinion, however the Shafi’i opinion is that merely touching a woman will break the wudu, while the Hanafi opinion is that merely touching a woman doesn’t break the wudu.

Al-Qayyam:

The hands are positioned above the navel or on the chest while standing in prayer, not similar to the Hanafis, though others state a person has a choice i.e. either above the navel or near the chest

Ruku:

The hands are to be raised (Rafa al-Yadayn) before going to ruku, and standing up from ruku, similar to the Shafi’i school. While standing up after ruku, a person has a choice to place their hands back to the position as they were before. Other madh’habs state the hands should be left on their sides.

Tashahhud:

The finger should be pointed and not moved, upon mentioning the name of Allah.

Tasleem:

Is considered obligatory by the Madh’hab.

Salat-ul-Witr:

Hanbalis pray Two Rak’ats consecutively then perform Tasleem, and then One Rak’at is performed separately. Dua Qunoot is recited after the Ruku’ during Witr, and Hands are raised during the Dua.

List of Hanbali scholars

  • Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Barbahari (d. 329A.H.)
  • Ibn Aqil (d. 488A.H.) – One of the most intelligent jurists the Hanbalis ever had within their ranks.
  • Abu-al-Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi (d. 597A.H.) A famous jurist, exegete, critic, preacher and a prolific author, with works on nearly all subjects.
  • Hammad al-Harrani (d. 598A.H.) A jurist, critic and preacher who lived in Alexandria under the reign of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi.
  • Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi (d. 600A.H.) A prominent hadith master from Damascus and a cousin of Ibn Qudamah
  • Ibn Qudamah (d. 620A.H.) One of the major Hanbali authorities and the author of the profound and voluminous book on Law, al-Mughni, which became popular amongst researchers from all juristic backgrounds.
  • Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728A.H.) – A well-known figure in the Islamic history, known by his friends and foes for his expertise in all Islamic sciences.
  • Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751A.H.) – The closest companion and a student of Ibn Taymiyah who shared with him the moments of ease and hardship, until the latter’s death in the citadel.
  • Ibn Rajab (d. 795A.H.) – A prominent jurist, traditionist, ascetic and preacher, who authored several important works, largely commenting upon famous collections of traditions.
  • Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab – A leading Hanbali jurist and traditionist
  • Ibn Humaid (d. 1295A.H.) – A Hanbali jurist, traditionist, historian.
  • Ibn al-Uthaymeen (d. 1421A.H.) – A leading jurist, grammarian, linguist, and a popular preacher.
  • Sheikh Ibn Al-Feasy Al-Hanbali (d. 1407A.H.) – A Semitic linguist, jurist, preacher and one of major Hanbali authorities in Syariah and Islamic sciences.
  • Abdullah Ibn Jibreen – A leading Scholar 0f Saudi Arabia and was a former member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa in Saudi Arabia.
  • Saleh Al-Fawzan – A well known scholar in Saudi Arabia and prolific author. He is currently a member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa. He is also the Imam, khateeb and teacher, of Prince Mitaeb Mosque in al-Malzar in Riyadh. He is also a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, and member of the Fiqh Committee in Makkah (part of ar-Raabitah), and a member of the Committee for Supervision of the Callers (du’aat) in Hajj.
  • Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais – The Imam of the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • Saud Al-Shuraim – The Imams and khateeb of the Grand Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) in Makkah and is a Professor of Sharia and Islamic studies at the Umm al-Qura University in Makkah, and was recently appointed as a Dean and “Specialist Professor in Fiqh” at the University.