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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 Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855) but was institutionalized by his students. Hanbali jurisprudence is considered very strict and conservative, especially regarding questions of theology. The Hanbali school of jurisprudence is followed predominantly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as minority communities in Syria and Iraq. The majority of the Salafist movement, though not all adherents, tend to follow the Hanbali school.
Ibn Hanbal never composed an actual systematic legal theory on his own; the establishment of a systemic method was laid down by his followers after his death, however. Much of the work of preserving the school based on Ibn Hanbal's method was laid by Abu Bakr al-Khallal, a student of five of Ibn Hanbal's students; his documentation on the founder's views eventually reached twenty volumes. The original copy of the work, which was contained in the House of Wisdom, was burned along with many other works of literature during the Mongol Siege of Baghdad. The book was only preserved in a summarized form by the Hanbali jurist al-Khiraqi, who had access to written copies of al-Khallal's book before the siege.
Relations with the Abbasid Caliphate were rocky for the Hanbalites. Led by the Hanbalite scholar Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari, the school often formed mobs of followers in 10th-century Baghdad who would engage in violence against fellow Sunnis suspected of committing sins and all Shi'a. During al-Barbahari's leadership of the school in Baghdad, shops were looted, female entertainers were attacked in the streets, popular grievances among the lower classes were agitated as a source of mobilization, and public chaos in general ensued. Their efforts would be their own undoing in 935, when a series of home invasions and mob violence on the part of al-Barbahari's followers in addition to perceived deviant views let to the Caliph Ar-Radi publicly condemning the school in its entirety and ending its official patronage by state religious bodies.
Sources of law
Like all other schools of Sunni Islam, the Hanbali school holds that the two primary sources of Islamic law are the Qur'an and the prophetic tradition; the Hanbali school is known for its strong emphasis on verifying and utilizing the latter on equal ground with the former, whereas other schools granted the tradition a secondary role.
Ibn Hanbal rejected the possibility of Ijma or religiously binding consensus impossible to verify once later generations of Muslims spread throughout the world, going as far as declaring anyone who claimed as such to be a liar. Ibn Hanbal did, however, accept the possibility and validity of the consensus of the first generation of Muslims. Later followers of the school, however, expanded upon the types of consensus accepted as valid, and the prominent Hanbalite Ibn Taymiyyah expanded legal consensus to later generations while at the same time restricting it only to the religiously learned. Qiyas, or analogical reasoning, was likewise rejected as a valid source of law by Ibn Hanbal himself, with a near-unanimous majority of later Hanbalite jurists not only accepting analogical reasoning as valid but also borrowing from the works of Shafi'ite jurists on the subject.
Ibn Hanbal's strict standards of acceptance regarding the sources of Islamic law were likely due to his suspicion regarding the field of Usul al-Fiqh, or the foundations of Muslim jurisprudence, which he equated with Kalam. In the modern era, Hanbalites have branched out and even delved into matters regarding the upholding of public interest and even juristic preference, anathema to the earlier Habalites, as valid methods of determining religious law.
Ibn Hanbal taught that the Qur'an is uncreated due to Muslim belief that it is the word of God, and the word of God is not created. The Mu'tazilites taught that the Qur'an, which is readable and touchable, is created like other creatures and created objects. Ibn Hanbal viewed this as heresy, replying that there are things which are not touchable but are created, such as the Throne of God.
- 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.
- In the absence of a valid excuse, it is obligatory (at least for adult men) to pray in congregation rather than individually.
- The majority of the Hanbali school considers admission in a court of law to be indivisible; that is, a plaintiff may not accept some parts of a defendant's testimony while rejecting other parts. This position is also held by the Zahiri school, though it is opposed by the Hanafi and Maliki schools.
The Hanbali school is now accepted as the fourth of the mainstream Sunni schools of law. It has traditionally enjoyed a smaller following than the other schools. In the earlier period, Sunni jurisprudence was based on four other schools: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Zahiri; later on, the Hanbali school supplanted the Zahiri school's spot as the fourth mainstream school.
Historically, the school's legitimacy was not always accepted. Muslim exegete Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, founder of the now extinct Jariri school of law, was noted for ignoring the Hanbali school entirely when weighing the views of jurists; this was due to his view that the founder, Ibn Hanbal, was merely a scholar of prophetic tradition and was not a jurist at all. The Hanbalites, led by al-Barbahari, reacted by stoning Tabari's home several times, inciting riots so violent that Abbasid authorities had to subdue them by force. Upon Tabari's death, the Hanbalites formed a violent mob large enough that Abbasid officials buried him in secret for fear of further riots were Tabari buried publicly in a Muslim graveyard. Similarly, the Andalusian theologian Ibn 'Abd al-Barr made a point to exclude Ibn Hanbal's views from the books on Sunni Muslim jurisprudence.
List of Hanbali scholars
- Abu Bakr al-Khallal Jurist responsible for the school's early codification.
- Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari (d. 329A.H.)
- Ibn Aqil (d. 488A.H.)
- Awn ad-Din ibn Hubayra (d. 560A.H.)
- Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561A.H.) - A Hanbali jurist and Sufi based in Baghdad, patronym of the Qadiriyya order.
- 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 Salahudin.
- Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi (d. 600A.H.) A prominent hadith master from Damascus and the nephew 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. One of two individuals referred to as Shaykh al-Islām within the Hanbali school.
- 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. The second of two people referred to as "Shaykh al-Islām" within the school.
- Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751A.H.) – The closest companion and a student of Ibn Taymiyah, also a respected jurist in his own right.
- 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, patronym of the Wahhabi movement.
- Ibn Humaid (d. 1295A.H.) – A Hanbali jurist, traditionist, historian.
- Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz (d. 1999) - Former Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
- Ibn al-Uthaymeen (d. 1421A.H.) – A leading jurist, grammarian, linguist, and a popular preacher.
- Abdullah Ibn Jibreen - A leading Scholar of 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.
- Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais - The Imam of the Grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
- Saud Al-Shuraim - The Imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque Mecca and a professor of Islamic law at Umm al-Qura University.
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- Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th-10th Centuries C.E., pg. 185. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.
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- Imam Muwaffaq ibn Qudama. The Mainstay Concerning Jurisprudence (Al Umda fi 'l Fiqh).
- Shaikh Tuwaijiri. pp.18-19.
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- Al-Mughni (1/524).
- "Salat According to Five Islamic Schools of Law" from Al-Islam.org
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- Abd al-Halim al-Jundi, Ahmad bin Hanbal Imam Ahl al-Sunnah, published in Cairo by Dar al-Ma'arif
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