Hanbali Ruling on a Man’s Beard

The beard is one of those issues about which the Muslim scholars differed. Some view growing it as obligatory, which is the majority position, while others consider it only recommended. Unfortunately, in some places people tend to judge others’ choices in this regard. We must remember that as long as there is a legitimate difference of opinion on an issue among the Muslim scholars, we must never make it a focus of contention in the community.

The following is what the official position of the Hanbali school of law is on the subject of a man’s facial hair.

According to Hanbalis, it is prohibited for a man to shave his beard, and it is disliked for him to take more than a fist length from his beard. And the sunnah is for him to strongly trim his mustache, such that it is not quite totally shaved, but trimmed very short to the point that the skin beneath is clearly visible.

So in other words, the relied upon position (mu’tamad) of the school when it comes to the mustache and beard is as follows:

  • Growing more than a fist length beard = Sunnah (recommended)
  • Trimming what is more than a fist length = Mubah (permissible)
  • Trimming what is less than a fist length = Makrooh (disliked)
  • Totally shaving the beard = Haram (prohibited)
  • Short trimming of mustache = Sunnah (recommended)
  • Totally shaving the mustache = Makrooh (disliked)

The above information can be found in Hanbali texts:

  1. Dalil al-Talib
  2. Nayl al-Maarib, which is an explanatory text for Dalil al-Talib
  3. Al-Rawdh al-Murbi’

There is also a discussion on this topic here.

Hanbali Ruling on Isbal (Clothes Below the Ankles)

The position of the Hanbali Madhhab (and the majority of scholars) is that it is disliked and not prohibited for men to have their garment below the ankles. If it is done out of pride, then it becomes prohibited.

This was stated by Imam Ibn Qudamah (r), Imam Ibn Muflih (r), and other Imams of the Madhhab. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (r) seemed to prefer the view that it is permissible and not disliked. But the correct opinion in the Madhhab is that it is disliked (Makruh).

[Kashaf al-Qina’ and Tashih al-Furu’]


The Hanbali Madhhab Facebook Page

Description of the Prayer According to Hanbali Fiqh


  • Stand for the prayer and make intention (uttering the intention lightly is recommended but not a condition as intention lies in the heart)
  • It should be specific, for example, “I am praying Asr prayer as an individual/follower/imam”.

First Standing

  • For the Fardh prayer, it is a pillar to stand and not standing without an excuse invalidates the prayer.
  • Say “Allahu Akbar” whilst raising your hands and leveling the tip of the fingers with the shoulders and then clasp the left hand with the right, over the wrist joint, and the place them just under the navel. Same for women.
  • Throughout the whole prayer one should look at the place of prostration except during tashahhud when one should look at the index finger with which he/she is pointing.
  • Then one says, “Subhanaka-llahumma Wa Bihamdika Wa Tabarakasmuka Wa Ta’ala Jadduka Wa Laa Ilaaha Ghairuk”, silently.
  • Then, “A’uthubillah Min-ash Shaitani-r Rajim” and “Bismillahi-r Rahmani-r Rahim”; silently. The latter is not considered part of al-Fatiha, thus, both statements are recommended and not obligatory.
  • Then one recites al-Fatihah which is mandatory. It has 11 Tashdeeds in it, therefore, not reciting the Tashdeeds means you are skipping letters and not fulfilling the obligation of reciting al-Fatihah. Reciting this is a pillar and skipping it invalidates the prayer.
  • After completing al-Fatihah one pauses slightly and then says “Amin”. The pause is there to assure that it is not considered part of al-Fatihah. In a loud prayer, the Imam and those who are praying behind him say it loudly, together. If one says it whilst emphasizing the “Meem”, i.e – “Aammmin”, it is not valid. Women do not say anything unless there are no men around.
  • It is recommended that one recites aloud during Fajr, first two units of Maghrib and ‘Isha, Friday prayer, the ‘Eid prayer, the Eclipse prayer, and during the prayer for seeking rain. It is disliked for the follower to recite behind the imam during these prayers because the follower is ordered to listen only during the loud prayers. The one praying individually has a choice and can do the loud prayers either aloud or silently and the same applies to the one who joins a loud prayer late and is making up the rest of the prayer.
  • After al-Fatihah, it is recommended that for Fajr one chooses any starting from Surah Qaf to al-Mursalat; for Maghrib any Surah starting from al-Duha to al-Nas; for the rest, any Surah starting from al-Naba to al-Layl.


  • After that one says the Takbir and raises their hands (up to their shoulders) and goes to Ruku’, all at the same time. Takbir to transfer to the next position in Hanbali fiqh are said during the movement and not before or after.
  • Whilst in Ruku’ one should fix their hands on the knees whist keeping the fingers apart. One should also try and keep their back straight.
  • In Ruku’ it is a Wajib (obligatory) to say “Subhana Rabbiya-l ‘Adhim” at least once. It is recommended that one says it three times. The Imam may go up to ten times.
  • t is also preferred that one does not say anything more than “Subhana Rabbiya-l ‘Adhim”. However, if they do add on something from that which has been reported then no problem.

Second Standing

  • After that one says “Sami’a-llahu Liman Hamidah”, rises from Ruku’, and raises their hands (up to shoulders), all at the same time. The one praying behind an imam does not say “Sami’a-llahu Liman Hamidah”.
  • If you are praying behind the Imam then you say “Rabbana Walaka-l Hamd” whilst rising from Ruku’ and not after you’ve already stood up. This means that when you’ve fully stood up from Ruku’ behind an Imam you do not say anything after “Rabbana Walaka-l Hamd”.
  • One who is praying individually or leading as an imam is recommended to say “Rabbana Laka-l Hamd Mil’a-s Sama’i Wa Mil’a-l Ardhi Wa Mil’a Ma Shi’ta Min Shay’in Ba’d” after “Rabbana Walaka-l Hamd”.
  • One who has stood up from Ruku’ they have the choice to either place their hands back to where they were (below the navel) or to hang the hands by their sides.

First Prostration

  • Then he says “Allahu Akbar” as soon as he begins to go down for prostration. One should not say “Allahu Akbar” and then begin to prostrate nor should they say it after they’ve already gone down. They should say it as soon as they begin the movement.
  • The knee should touch the ground first, then the hands, then the forehead, and then the nose.
  • Seven parts are required to touch the ground while in this position: forehead, two hands, two knees, two feet. The nose is considered part of the forehead but is only recommended and not required to touch the ground.
  • The arms should be away from the flanks
  • The abdomen should be away from the thighs
  • The knees should not be touching
  • The feet should be also separate and not touching and should be rested on the toes whilst the toes are bent towards the Qiblah.
  • It is Wajib to say “Subhana Rabbiya-l A’la” at lease once and but is preferred that one says it three times.
  • It is disliked to cover the forehead or hands while in this position unless one has an excuse.

Sitting Between the Two Prostrations

  • After that one says “Allahu Akbar” as soon as they begin to move their head up from prostration. They sit in the Iftirash position and say “Rabbhigh-fir Li” three times; to say it once is a must.
  • One should put his hands on one’s thighs and not the knees. One should keep one’s fingers together and not separate them.

Second Prostration

  • Then one says “Allahu Akbar” again as they begin to move down for the second prostration.
  • Do the same as discussed under the first prostration.

Second Rak’ah

  • Then they say “Allahu Akbar” again as they begin to stand up from the prostration. Whilst getting up from the second prostration one should use the hands to rest their weight on the knees and not the ground. If resting the weight on the knees is difficult for them for some reason then they should use the ground.
  • They should repeat the second unit (rak’ah) exactly as the first with the exception of the following:
    a) They do not repeat the Niyyah
    b) They do not repeat the Takbiratu-l Ihram (the “Allahu Akbar” whilst initiating the prayer)
    c) They do not repeat the “Istiftaah” (Subhanaka-llauhmma…)
    d) They do not repeat the “Ta’awwudh” (A’udhubillahi….).

First Tashahhud

  • One sits for al-Tashahhud in the Ifitrash position.
  • One should place the right hand on the right thigh and the left hand on the left thigh and not the knees.
  • With regards to the right hand, one should fold the little finger and the ring finder and make a circle with the middle finger and the thumb. He should raise his index finger every time he says “Allah” or “Allahumma”
  • This is the Tashahhud one recites according to the Madhab and it is the Tashahhud of Ibn Mas’ud (there are five different wordings for al-Tashahhud and they are all valid):

    التَّحِيَّاتُ لِلَّهِ وَالصَّلَوَاتُ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ، السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكَ أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ، السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللَّهِ الصَّالِحِينَ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

  • After this one gets up whilst saying “Allahu Akbar” if it is Maghrib or if prayer made up of four Rak’ahs and prays the rest in the same manner but restricting the recitation to al-Fatihah only. Also, one does not raise his hands after the first Tashahhud in the third rak’ah.

Second Tashahhud

  • Then one sits down for the second Tashahhud in the Tawarruk position and recites “al-Tahiyyatu…” again.
  • Then he recites:

    اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ وَبَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ

    [Note: There are other wordings but this is the one that is agreed upon]

  • Then it is recommended that he makes this du’a seeking refuge from four things:

    أعُوْذُ بِاللهِ مِنْ عَذَاْبِ جَهَنَّم وَمِنْ عَذَاْبِ الْقَبَر وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاْت وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَسِيْحِ الدَّجَّاْل

  • After this one he is allowed to make du’as in Arabic that are found in the Qur’an, in the Sunnah, or from the Salaf or any du’a in Arabic related to the afterlife even if the wordings don’t match with the ones from the Qur’an, Sunnah, and Salaf. However, one cannot make du’a seeking the pleasures of this world, e.g. – asking for a beautiful wife or for a new job or such and such car etc; doing so will nullify the whole prayer; this is regardless if you do it here (before the Taslim) or in prostration. This is because it is considered unnecessary speech which is prohibited during prayer.


  • Finally, he says “Assalamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah” and turns to the right and then says the same whilst turning to the left. Saying it twice is required.
  • It does not suffice if one says “Salamun ‘Alaykum Warahmatullah (سلام عليكم و رحمة الله)” without the alif and laam in the beginning. It must be said in the form “As-Salamun ‘Alaykum Warahmatullah (السلام عليكم و رحمة الله)”.
  • It does not suffice if one says, “Assalamu ‘Alaykum” only.
  • It is preferred that one does not make the “Assalamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah” too long by stretching it out.
  • If praying behind an imam, then the follower must wait until the imam finishes boths salams before giving one’s own salams to end the prayer or getting up to make up missed portion of the prayer.
  • Moving the head to the right and left are recommended and not required.

The prayer of the man is like that of the woman except in two cases:

  • She should try and gather herself together by keeping her arms by her sides during prostration.
  • During al-Tashahhud she may sit cross-legged or in the Tawarruk position but in her case she spreads legs to the right instead of one (and the latter is better).

Source: The Hanbali Madhhab Facebook page plus my own notes.

How to Study the Hanbali Madhab From Beginner to Advanced

The first thing to do when a student wants to study Hanbali fiqh in a serious manner is to find a teacher. There is no way getting around this condition. It does not matter how many books, commentaries, or lectures you listen to, if you are not engaging with the texts of the school directly with a teacher to guide you through them, then there is a strong possibility of making serious flaws and having numerous misunderstandings. If you do not know where to find one in your area, then reach out to groups like المدرسة الحنبلية. They offer inexpensive Hanbali classes online in Arabic and English. They will work with you to find a suitable time insha’Allah.

The following is a list of books suggested by our teacher Sh. Yusuf bin Sadiq Al-Hanbali to take the student from a beginner to an advanced level in the Hanbali school. As an added benefit, he also provides some suggestions on what supplements to study under each level. Again, it is being assumed that the person already has a teacher that he/she is studying the following books with:

Beginner Level – أخصر المختصرات

This is a beginner level text in the school. As a supplement, use the sharh كشف المخدرات شرح أخصر المختصرات. The sharh provides additional details that are not mentioned in the text of أخصر المختصرات because it was designed to be quite brief. This will give the student a good fundamental grounding in the school.

You can also view my fiqh notes on this book here. I would also suggest Sh. Bajabir’s commentary on the book which is really good and helpful for beginners.

Intermediate Level – دليل الطالب

This is an intermediate level text in the school. As a supplement, the student should depend on حاشية ابن عوض which is far better than منار السبيل and نيل المآرب. In fact, it is the best written explanation for دليل الطالب.

Intermediate-Advanced Level – الروض المربع

This is an intermediate to advanced level text in the school. It is an explanation of the book زاد المستقنع, which is taught widely in the Arabian peninsula. However, if you study الروض المربع, there is no need to return to زاد المستقنع. As a supplement at this level, the following books are suggested:

This last book is very beneficial because it delves into justifications and clarifications behind the issues.

Advanced Level – منتهى الإرادات

This last book was not commented on much by Sh. Yusuf so I am borrowing a comment on it from another article. This is most likely the last book covered by students cover to cover with a teacher in private classes. It is studied with its sharh شرح منتهى الإرادات.

However, Sh. Yusuf did point out that the teacher who teaches this book would need to review the following books before lessons on this advanced level text:

  • حاشية البهوتي على المنتهى
  • حاشية البهوتي على الإقناع
  • حاشية الخلوتي على المنتهى
  • حاشية الخلوتي على الإقناع
  • حاشية ابن قائد على المنتهى
  • حاشية ابن فيروز على الروض المربع
  • دقائق أولي النهى للبهوتي
  • معونة أولي النهى لابن النجار
  • كشاف القناع شرح الإقناع
  • حاشية ابن حميد على شرح البهوتي
  • مطالب أولي النهى شرح غاية المنتهى وحاشية الشطي
  • بغية أولي النهى شرح غاية المنتهى
  • حاشية ابن عوض على هداية الراغب شرح عمدة الطالب
  • شرح الزركشي على مختصر الخرقي
  • المبدع شرح المقنع
  • تصحيح الفروع للمرداوي

An Overview of the Hanbali School of Law

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Teachers

  • Abu Yusuf Al-Qadhi
  • Hasheem ibn Basheer
  • Al-Shafi’
    • Some said they were more like peers who benefited from each another
  • Ismail ibn ‘Aliyah
  • Wakee’
  • Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah
  • Abu Dawud al-Tiyalisi
  • Na’eem ibn Hammad
  • And many others

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Students

  • Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Abu Dawud al-Sajastani
  • Abu Bakr al-Athram
  • Harb al-Kirmani
  • Ishaq ibn Hani’
  • Hanbal ibn Ishaq
  • Abu Zur’ah al-Razi
  • Imam Bukhari
  • Imam Muslim
  • And many others

Most Famous of Ahmad’s Books

  • Al-Musnad
  • Fadhail al-Sahabah
  • Al-‘Ilal wa al-Ma’rifat al-Rijal
  • Al-Asami wa al-Kuna
  • Al-Zuhd
  • Al-Radd alaa al-Zanadiqah wa al-Jahmiyyah
  • Al-Nasikh wa al-Mansukh
  • Al-Muqaddam wa al-Mu’akhar fi al-Qur’an
  • Al-Manasik al-Kabir

Principles (Usool) of the School

  • Nass (Qur’an and Sunnah)
  • Ijmaa‘ (Consensus)
  • Fatwas of the Companions
  • Mursal and weak reports that are not contradicted by authentic reports
  • Qiyaas (Analogical reasoning)
  • Istihsaan (Juristic preference)
  • Istishaab (presumption of continuity)
  • Blocking the means – blocking the permissible acts which lead to an evil

Historical Development of the School (Hijri Dates)

Stage of Establishment (204-241)

  • Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal begins teaching after reaching 40 years of age
  • Ahmad’s students pay close attention to his statements and actions
  • Ahmad’s opinions begin to be recorded

Stage of Transmission and Development (241-403)

  • The companions and students of Imam Ahmad propagate his fiqh through lectures, books, and as judges
  • The school grows and spreads through the hands of al-Khallal, a direct student of the students of Imam Ahmad
  • Affiliations to the Hanbali school begin to appear
  • The school begins to be recorded through publications and summarized texts
  • The principles of the school and its terminologies begin to be compiled

Stage of Editing, Verification and Review (403-884)

  • Verification, editing, review, and arrangement of issues (masa’il) into fiqh chapters
  • Verification of general principles through transmitted reports of masa’il from Imam Ahmad and his companions
  • Extraction of secondary principles (furoo’) based on the fundamental principles
  • Giving preference (tarjeeh) to certain reports and possibilities over others
  • Completion of research in the principles (usool) of fiqh and giving attention to fiqhi differences
  • Appearance of various layers of researchers and editors of the school

Stage of Stability (884-onward)

  • Stability of the school based on what was previously recorded
  • Scholars’ diligence in summarizing large volumes and commenting, annotating and adding to the material
  • Appearance of some researchers diligently reviewing and giving preference (tarjeeh) between the various transmitted reports from Imam Ahmad
  • Academic efforts by research centers and Islamic universities in investigating (tahqiq) the written tradition of the school. The school’s spread and the study of its principles and methodologies of its affiliated scholars

Most Important Books in the School

Books of the Early Period Scholars

  • Masa’il Ishaq al-Kawsaj
  • Masa’il Salih ibn Ahmad
  • Masa’il Ishaq ibn Hani’
  • Masa’il Abi Dawud
  • Masa’il Harb al-Kirmani
  • Masa’il Abdullah ibn Ahmad
  • Al-Jami’ li’uloom al-Imam Ahmad
  • Mukhtasar al-Khiraqi

Books of the Middle Period Scholars

  • Umdah al-Fiqh
  • Al-Muqni’
  • Al-Kafi
  • Al-Mughni fi Sharh al-Kharqi
  • Al-Muharrar
  • Al-Furoo’
  • Al-Mubdi’ fi Sharh al-Muqni’

Books of the Later Period Scholars

  • Al-Insaaf
  • Al-Iqnaa’
  • Muntaha al-Iradaat
  • Ghaya al-Muntaha
  • Dalil al-Taalib
  • Zaad al-Mustaqni’
  • Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat

Source: The Four Madhhabs

Invalidators of Wudu in Hanbali Fiqh

There is a difference of opinion among Muslims scholars as to what exactly breaks one’s wudu. The evidences behind the rulings are discussed in more advanced classes. In the Hanbali school, the following eight things are considered to invalidate one’s wudu:

  1. Anything that comes out of the two private parts
    • It does not matter if it’s something impure like urine or pure like a stone, as long as it comes out of one of the two private parts, it will invalidate the wudu.
  2. Any impurity that comes out of the rest of the body
    • If it is urine or stool, then it will invalidate the wudu even if it is in small amounts. If it is any other type of impurity (blood, vomit, pus, etc.), then it will only invalidate it if it comes out in large amounts. The amount is based on each person’s individual estimation of large vs small amount.
  3. Any loss of consciousness
    • This includes things like fainting or deep sleep when you cannot hear or understand anything around you. If it is slight sleep, such as, one who is asleep while standing or sitting without a support, then it does not invalidate the wudu.
  4. Washing the deceased
    • Regardless of whether the deceased is young or old, male or female, Muslim or not.
  5. Eating camel meat even if raw
    • Liver, spleen, milk, tongue, brain, kidneys, heart, stomach, fat, head, teeth, shins, its broth, etc. are not included because they are not considered meat. The meat is generally what is attached to the bones.
  6. Touching the penis, vagina, or anus of a human with the hand skin on skin without a barrier
    • Children under 7 years of age are not included
    • Includes touching one’s own private parts
  7. Touching the opposite gender with desire skin on skin without a barrier
    • Even if the one touched is deceased, old, or a mahram.
    • It will not invalidate the wudu of the one who is touched
    • The following are excluded from the touch, thus, will not invalidate the wudu when touched with desire: hair, teeth, and nails
  8. Apostasy from Islam
    • In fact, anything that necessitates ritual bathing (ghusl), such as, menses, postpartum bleeding, major spiritual impurity (janabah), etc., necessitates wudu as well, except for death which necessitates ghusl only. Since converting back into Islam would require him/her to make ghusl, it would also necessitate wudu.

The following are prohibited for the one who is in a state of minor ritual impurity (i.e. does not have wudu) in Hanbali law:

  1. Touch the Arabic Qur’an (mushaf) without a barrier
  2. Salah
  3. Tawaf around the Ka’bah

Introduction to Hanbali Fiqh – The Thinking Muslim

Notes from Abu Zahra’s ‘The Four Imams: Their Lives, Works, and Their Schools of Thought’

Overview of Imam Ahmad’s Life

  • Imam Ahmad did not write a book on fiqh (jurisprudence)
  • In the beginning of his career, he refused anything to be recorded from him on the
    subject of fiqh. He didn’t consider it proper
    • He would even forbid transmitting books from other jurists
    • He would even forbid his students to write down his own fatwas and opinions
  • Later in life his students convinced him and he allowed them to transmit his fatwas and
  • He learned from Shafi’ the method of how to derive laws from the Qur’an and Sunnah
  • His Musnad
    • Started to collect them at age 16 (180 AH). It was the beginning of his quest for knowledge
    • He didn’t organize them based on chapter headings or anything
    • He continued to collect them until almost end of his life and then dictated them to
      his sons and elite students
      • To his sons and people of his house, he had transmitted the whole
        collection but to his students only what they asked about
    • Ahmad died before being able to review or edit it
      • His son Abdullah supplemented it and added to it what he had heard
    • His son Abdullah is Musnad’s greatest transmitter
      • He is also the main person to disseminate his father’s knowledge among
        the people
      • It is Abdullah who put the Musnad in its current order. He arranged it based on the name of the transmitters
    • Because he was mainly a hadith scholar and his fiqh heavily relies on hadiths, some
      scholars like Tabari and Ibn Qutaybah did not consider him a Faqih (jurist), however, when you
      look into his fatwas, it seems he was indeed a Faqih

Transmission of Ahmad’s Fiqh

  • Ahmad would not resort to opinion except in dire necessity
  • He would not give fatwas on cases until they had actually arisen
    • He didn’t like hypothetical fiqh to derive new secondary rulings
  • Because he did not allow his opinions to be recorded, there are a lot of contradictory rulings attributed to him
    • Some of his students used to do it secretly
  • He became very famous after the inquisition and people sought fatwas from him all the time about everything
  • Transmitters of Ahmad’s Fiqh
    • There were some who transmitted a lot from him while others transmitted little. The list below is of those who transmitted the most from him:
      • Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
        • Eldest son of Imam Ahmad
        • Ascetic like his father
        • Learned fiqh and hadiths from his father and other contemporaries
        • Was more interested in fiqh than hadith so was a means of disseminating fiqh of his father
      • Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal
        • He was more concerned with hadith than fiqh
        • Learned from his father as well
      • Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hani’ al-Athram
        • He was interested in fiqh, deduction and legal disagreements
        • Started studying with him when he was mature
        • Related questions of fiqh from Ahmad as well as many hadiths
      • Abdu’l Malik ibn Abdi’l Hamid Mahran al-Maymuni
        • Khallal often relied on him for his transmission of Ahmad’s fiqh
        • Wrote down rulings of Ahmad
          • Because of his knowledge Ahmad was too shy to forbid him to record his rulings
        • He kept company with Ahmad for more than 20 years
        • He asked him a great deal of questions
        • Ahmad honored him and behaved with him in a way he did not behave with others
        • He had rulings from Ahmad in a collection of about twenty sections and two large sections taking up 100 pages
      • Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hajjaj al-Marwazi
        • Closest of Ahmad’s companions
        • He washed Ahmad when he died
        • He transmitted Book of Scrupulousness from him
        • Ahmad trusted him a lot
        • Related many rulings from Ahmad
      • Harb ibn Isma’il al-Hanzali al-Kirmani
        • He began as a Sufi
        • Met Ahmad late in life
        • He was friends with al-Marwazi
        • He also transmitted a lot from Ahmad but did not hear directly all that he transmitted
      • Ibrahim ibn Ishaq al-Harbi
        • Imam in knowledge and a leader in zuhd
        • Transmitted fiqh and hadiths of Ahmad
        • He wrote many books as well
        • Had knowledge of fiqh and insight into rulings and memory of hadiths
      • Ahmad ibn Muhammad Abu Bakr al-Khallal
        • Main person to collect all his fatwas from Ahmad’s students
        • Considered the great compiler and transmitter of Hanbali fiqh
        • Kept company with al-Marwazi until the latter’s death
        • Put all his energy into transmitting Ahmad’s fiqh
          • He traveled extensively to search for it
            • Sometimes traveling in remote parts of the world for it
        • After collecting, he taught them to his students at the Mahdi mosque in Baghdad
          • From here the Hanbali school spread out
          • He transmitted it as a legal collection in about twenty volumes
            • It is the basis of all Hanbali fiqh
        • Fuqaha agree that he compiled all the various legal rulings ascribed to Ahmad
        • He also wrote books on other subjects
        • He died in 311 AH

Description of Hanbali Fiqh

  • Avoid hypothetical rulings to questions which have not happened or will most likely not happen
  • Heavily reliant on hadiths, fatwas of companions (athaar), or reports from the salaf
    • Ahmad had extensive knowledge of such traditions on almost every issue
      • This is why he only resorted to opinion when necessary
  • Basic principle is all mu’amalaat (worldly affairs) are lawful unless there is evidence to state otherwise
    • This is why Hanbali school is most permissive regarding freedom of contract and the preconditions which can be stipulated in a contract
  • Ahmad would give fatwas on the basis of maslaha (public benefit) in absence of relevant texts because general good is the basic intention behind most legal judgments
    • But doesn’t force it as much as Malik did
  • Has principle of ‘blocking the means’ because school looks at the motives and ends
  • School judges actions and statements according to clear intentions and actual results

Sources of Hanbali Fiqh

  • The Qur’an

    • All agree on its foundation for law and the first source
    • Ahmad puts the Qur’anic texts above Sunnah texts in clarification of rulings
      • But he generally put Qur’an on same level as the Sunnah [in deriving law] because the latter clarifies and explains the former
        • But no scholar considers the Sunnah to have exactly the same status as the Qur’an
      • Ahmad did not believe that there could be any conflict between the literal text of the Qur’an and the Sunnah because the latter made its evidence specific by clarifying and explaining
    • Ibn Qayyim’s division of Sunnah in relation to the Qur’an
      • Those that agree with every aspect of the Qur’an [in meaning]
      • Those that clarify and explain what the Qur’an means
      • Those that provide a ruling of halal or haram over something which the Qur’an is silent about
    • Hanbali madhab holds that the apparent text of the Qur’an can only be explained by the Sunna
      • Ahmad may have adopted this from Shafi’ while listening to him in Mecca because it is his position also
  • The Sunnah

    • Second half of the first principle (deducing from the Qur’an)
    • Whoever ignores fiqh from the Sunnah loses nine-tenths of Islamic fiqh or more
    • Fuqaha divide haidths into four categories
      • Mutawatir
      • Mashoor – those which the second or third generation accepted and which are famous among them, even if they are ahaad hadiths
      • Ahaad – these do not constitute definite evidence. Have only one transmitter somewhere in the chain
        • Ahmad and Shafi’ accepted these
        • Malikis and Hanafis rejected them if they disagreed with the Qur’an. Hanafis did this more often than the Malikis.
      • Mursal
        • Two types
          • Those hadiths whole isnad stops at a follower (tab’i) without mentioning the companion
          • Any hadith in which the isnad does not connect directly and continuously to the Prophet
        • Malik and Abu Hanifa accepted them to the extent which they thought correct
          • They considered them the same rank as Ahaad hadiths
        • Shafi’ accepted them but imposed certain conditions on them
        • Ahmad considered them to be evidence but put them below the fatwas of the companions, placing them on par with weak hadiths. So he slightly disagreed with Shafi’
          • He considered their fatwas part of the Sunnah
          • When there was nothing else, he would accept mursal hadiths as he accepted weak hadiths because he preferred them over analogy and opinion, which he applied only as a last resort
    • Ahmad did not make it a precondition for the acceptance of the Sunnah that it should agree with any set of precepts or be measured against them
      • He did not reject any of it, because he would only report from reliable people of known integrity, except when there was a sunnah which conflicted with one which was stronger and more reliable than it
      • He related from the God-fearing and accepted their hadiths even if they were not completely accurate but if he found someone more reliable, he took their version
      • He told his son that he preferred a weak hadith unless there is something definite to refute it
        • He placed them before analogy
    • Ahmad would also avoid having to use his own opinion by accepting the fatwas of some earlier fuqaha who were known for following tradition rather than innovation, such as Malik, Shafi’, Thawri, etc. who had great knowledge of traditions
  • Fatwas of the companions

    • Ahmad collected a large collection of legal rulings from them from which he extrapolated rulings
    • Those who gave most fatwas were: Umar, Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, Ibn Abbas, Zayd bin Thabit, and Aisha
    • Others: Abu Bakr, Uthman, Mu’adh, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas, Talha, Zubayr, Abdullah ibn ‘Amr bin Al-’As, Salman Al-Farsi, Jabir, and Umm Salama
    • He used their fatwas as a guiding light
    • He gave their fatwas a higher status than weak hadiths and mursal hadiths
    • Ahmad would not do ijtihad on issues on which the companions (even if only one) had given a fatwa
    • Ahmad put them into two categories
      • Those issues about which there was no known disagreement
        • He would accept it but didn’t call it a consensus
      • Those issues about which the companions disagreed
        • He would make a note of them and considered them all to be his own so that he would have two or three statements according to the various positions
        • According to Ibn Qayyim in such a situation Ahmad would choose from them the position which was closest to the Book and the Sunnah and wouldn’t depart from their statements
          • Some reports suggest that he would first prefer the position of the rightly guided caliphs
            • Abu Bakr and Umar’s position takes precedence over others
    • Ibn Qayyim also makes the case that the companions heard and witnessed a lot more than they related, thus, their fatwas could be due to things they witnessed, understood, heard, etc. that we do not have access to
  • Fatwas of the Tabi’un

    • Reports differ on whether Ahmad accepted their fatwas or not
      • It seems he would accept it if there was nothing from the texts, fatwas of companions, nor mursal hadiths if the fatwa among the tabi’un was not disputed
        • He would also take fatwas of scholars of tradition like Malik, Thawri, Ibn ‘Uyayna, al-Awza’i, etc. if there was nothing else because he disliked to give his own opinion
  • Consensus

    • Ibn Qayyim did not consider it to be one of the principles of Hanbali fiqh
      • He denied its existence outside of the companions
    • Most likely Ahmad found this to be unlikely outside the well-known matters of the deen
    • Ibn Qayyim: Ahmad would not allow it to be put before a sound hadith
    • He would never say ‘consensus’ but would use words like ‘I do not know of anyone who opposes it’
    • It could be said that Ahmad divided it into two categories
      • Consensus of the companions
        • Related to principle obligations of the deen and questions on which they reached a specific view on (Abu Bakr being the caliph, etc.)
      • Well-known opinions no one is known to oppose
        • He graded this above analogy but less than sound hadith
        • This is the one that is commonly known as Ijma
          • But he wouldn’t refer to it as ijma
  • Analogy (Qiyas)

    • Connecting a matter without a text giving a ruling for it to another matter with a text which does give a ruling, on the basis that they both have the same cause
    • Ahmad took a middle course between rejection and adopting it excessively
      • But used it only in case of necessity
    • Hanbalis accord it more weight than Ahmad himself did
    • It is usually new events that necessitate it
  • Istishaab (presumption of continuity)

    • All four imams use it but differ on the amount
      • Hanafis use it the least while Hanbalis the most
    • Def: a matter remains as it is as long as nothing comes about to change it
      • Or definite evidence to the contrary
    • Types Hanbalis affirm
      • Continuity of what a contract or the law affirms
        • Ex: a loan is presumed to continue unless there is evidence to the contrary, marriage is presumed to continue to exist unless there is evidence of divorce
      • Presumption that a state of affairs does not exist unless there is definite evidence that it does
        • Ex: innocent until proven otherwise
      • Continuity of original attributes
        • Ex: pure water is presumed to remain pure unless the contrary is definitely established, a missing person is presumed to be alive unless proven otherwise
      • Presumption of the continuity of consensus about general rules and principles of the law
  • Masalih (Public Interest)

    • It is used by the Hanbalis
      • Some Hanbali scholars used it more than others
    • Ibn Qayyim, however, did not include this as one of the principles that Ahmad used
    • He used it in a general way
      • Why wouldn’t he since he followed the fatwas of the companions who would use it for the public good
  • Principles of adh-dhara’i’ (Blocking the Means)

    • Ahmad considered it one of the principles of fatwa
    • Def: whatever is forbidden then everything that leads to it is also forbidden; whatever is commanded then everything that leads to it is also commanded
    • Does not consider personal intentions and objectives but aims for general benefits or the general removal of harm
      • It examines simply the end

Things Considered Impure (Najas) in Hanbali Fiqh

There is a difference of opinion among Muslims scholars as to what type of things are considered impure (najas). The evidences behind their conclusions are discussed in more advanced classes. In the Hanbali school, the following things are considered impure (najas):

  1. Any intoxicating liquid
    • This includes any hashisha that intoxicates
  2. Any bird or animal that is not allowed to be eaten and is larger than a cat
    • Examples: lions, wolves, dogs, pigs, eagles, elephants, vultures, etc.
    • Anything originating from such animals is also considered impure, such as, their saliva, snot, meat, milk, sperm, urine, feces, etc.
  3. Any carcass that has flowing blood is impure after its death even if it is smaller than a cat
    • Examples: mice, snakes, frogs, geckos, etc. are impure after their death even though they are pure while alive
    • The following are exceptions, thus, considered pure before and after death: human beings, fish, locusts and any animal or bird that is permissible to eat. For the last category (animals or birds permissible to eat), it is considered pure after death only if it was slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines, otherwise, it will be considered impure
    • This also means anything that does not have flowing blood is considered pure whether its alive or dead, such as, spiders, roaches, bugs, flies, mosquito, bees, worms, ants, lice, fleas, etc. If such things contain small amount of blood, then that is tolerated but it must not be flowing blood.
      • However, if such insects originate from something impure, then they become impure as well whether they’re alive or dead. For example, if an insect left its eggs in feces and then these eggs hatched.
  4. The following from a human being are considered impure: blood, pus, urine, feces, pre-ejaculatory fluid (madhi) and vomit

What does it mean in Hanbali law when we say such things are impure? It simply means that we cannot eat them and if their saliva, snot, feces, urine, etc. get on our body, clothes, or floor, then we must wash it out with water. For example, if a dog licks our hand, then we must wash the hand out with water to remove the impurity, otherwise, we cannot pray with that unwashed hand even if the hand dried after a while. It does not mean that we treat the above animals with disrespect or abuse.

There are more details involved to the above general list, but they are discussed in more advanced level books.

Conditions for a Valid Contract in Hanbali Fiqh

There is a difference of opinion among Muslim scholars as to what constitutes a valid contract. The evidences behind their conclusions are discussed in more advanced classes. In the Hanbali school, the following seven conditions must be met for a contract to be considered valid:

  1. Both parties willingly agree to the contract
    • If forced, then it is invalid
      • Exception: if a ruler intercedes on behalf of the buyer because the latter’s rights were violated in some way, then in this case the ruler can force the seller to sell based on the original agreement between the two
  2. Both parties be among those for whom it is permissible to conduct the contract
    • Related to qualification and competence. Meaning they should be:
      • Free
        • Because slaves do not generally own anything and it is invalid to sell something one does not own
        • (Note: Even though the institution of slavery is abolished in our times, however, rules related to slaves are still studied today because it helps understand the rulings and their connections to various Qur’anic verses and hadiths)
      • Pubescent and sane (mukallaf)
      • Rasheed – those who are mature enough to understand it
        • They need to be able to understand the sale and be able to make a decision on it
          • A small child or a senile cannot understand the sale
            • It is valid for children to deal with small priced items but not complicated or high value contracts that they cannot grasp
  3. There is some sort of commodity in place for exchange that has value
    • The commodity is whatever contains permissible benefit
      • So it is invalid to sell or buy impermissible things
  4. The commodity should be owned by the seller or the seller has authorization from the owner to sell the commodity on his behalf
    • It is invalid to sell something one does not own
  5. The seller must have the ability to deliver it
    • So he cannot sell something that is not in his possession
      • Ex: a seller says, “I will sell you a fish from the sea.” This would make the contract invalid because the particular fish must already be in his possession
    • This condition is there to safeguard the rights of the buyer so that he is not deceived or loses money because the seller could not deliver on his promise
  6. They should both know the commodity by either one of two ways:
    • Seeing it (if both have access to it)
      • So that they can see what they are buying or selling
      • If the commodity changes with time, then you need to view it every time before purchase
        • Ex: an animal, fruit, etc.
    • There is a sufficient description of the commodity that will be delivered at a later date (if both do not have access to it)
      • Meaning the description is clear and precise enough so that they both understand what they are buying or selling, when it will be delivered, where it will be delivered, etc.
        • Ex: the product is in a warehouse and there is an accurate description of the product online or in a sale flyer
  7. The exact price of the commodity must be known
    • It must be clear how much a particular commodity will cost before the deal is finalized, if it is not, then the transaction is invalid
      • There should be no hidden fees. The exact amount that the buyer will pay must be clear
      • This is to safeguard the buyer from being cheated or deceived
    • Examples
      • It is invalid if a seller says, “I will sell you such and such item for whatever the amount for it is in my store.”
        • Because the price is unknown

Rulings on Interest (al-Ribaa) in Hanbali Fiqh

The following are my notes from the chapter on al-Ribaa (interest) from the Hanbali text Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat. The source of the notes are my teacher Sh. Muhammad Gamal Aly with whom I am studying the text and Sh. Bajabir’s commentary on the book.

  • Definition
    • Ribaa means an increase in a particular item. The word is derived from a root meaning increase or growth
      • It is prohibited according to the Qur’an, Sunnah, and consensus of the scholars
      • It is one of the seven major destructive sins
      • It does not refer to any and every type of growth in a sale but only particular types of growth
        • Typically occurs in items sold in measurements or weights
          • This means any exchange transaction that is not done based on measurement/weight cannot be usurious
          • Ex: gold, silver, salt, dates, barley, wheat, copper, meat, iron, etc.
            • Because all such items are either typically sold in measurement (dates, barley, wheat) or weight (gold, silver, iron, copper, meat)
  • There are two types of interest (ribaa) that are prohibited in Islam: Surplus and deferred payment
    • Surplus (fadhl) – ربا الفضل
      • Def: When you exchange the same type of goods based on measurement/weight but with a surplus and the exchange is done immediately
        • Even if the measurement/weight is small and insignificant in size, it is not allowed
        • Same type examples: gold for gold, silver for silver, dates for dates, etc.
          • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 15 grams of gold to be exchanged immediately, you sell a saa’ of dates for a mudd of dates to be exchanged immediately, etc.
            • Saa’ is a full two handfuls of something and mudd is four full two handfuls of something
      • Conditions for it to be considered the prohibited ribaa al-fadhl:
        • Both exchanges are of same type
          • So if the exchange is for different types, for example, selling gold for silver, then it would be permissible if there is a surplus because they are of different types
        • One receives a surplus in return
          • So if the exchange is in equal amount of measurement/weight for the same type, then it would be permissible
        • Exchange happens immediately
          • Meaning the buyer and seller both take possession of their commodities immediately
          • If the exchange does not take place immediately, then it would be the second type of ribaa discussed below
      • Based on the above, the exchange is valid and you can avoid ribaa al-fadhl if:
        • The commodities are equal in measurement/weight when of same type
          • Ex: 20 grams of gold for 20 grams of gold, a saa’ of dates for a saa’ of dates, etc.
          • If they are of different types, then they are not required to be equal
            • Ex: 20 grams of gold for 30 grams of silver, a saa’ of dates for a mudd of barley, etc.
        • The exchange must happen before they separate regardless of whether the commodities being exchanged are of the same type or not
          • Meaning the buyer and seller both take possession of their commodities immediately
          • Exception: it is permissible to delay the payment if someone wishes to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver) with gold/silver/cash
            • Ex: someone purchases iron in weight and wishes to pay for it in gold/silver/cash after a month 
            • Cash is considered a type of gold/silver
      • It is neither permitted nor valid to exchange commodities of same type calculated originally in measurements through weights and vice versa
        • Weights and measurements are considered separate types of calculations
        • Ex 1: selling a saa’ of dates for a kilo of dates
          • Saa’ is a measurement and kilo is a weight. Dates are originally calculated in measurements and not weights
          • Because there is a possibility that they may not be equal in measurement
        • Ex 2: selling 2 grams of silver for 2 saa’ of silver
          • Grams is a weight and saa’ is a measurement. Silver is originally calculated in weights and not measurements
          • Because there is a possibility that they may not be equal in weight
        • Exception: if it is known that they both are equal in their original standard calculation
          • Ex: if someone sells a saa’ of dates for a kilo of dates and the latter was measured to assure that it was also a saa’ because dates are originally calculated through measurement
    • Deferred payment (nasee’ah) – ربا النسيئة
      • Relates to delay in timing
        • Meaning the possession of goods is delayed and is not done immediately
      • Def: When you exchange goods based on weights/measures but it is delayed
        • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 10 grams of gold to be paid after a month
          • Notice that even if there is no surplus between the same types, it would still be considered ribaa al-nasee’ah
        • Even if the goods are of different types but calculated under the same category, it would still be considered ribaa al-nasee’ah
          • Ex: you sell 10 grams of gold for 15 grams of silver to be paid after a month
            • Gold and silver both belong under the same category of weights
        • Exception: it is valid to delay the payment if someone wishes to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver/cash) with gold/silver/cash
          • Ex: someone purchases meat in weight and wishes to pay for it in gold/silver/cash after a month
      • The following are valid:
        • To exchange a commodity sold in measurement for a commodity sold in weight and vice versa
          • Ex: to sell 5 mudd of dates for 3 grams of gold
            • Mudd is a measurement and gold is a weight
          • In this case, it is allowed to be exchanged either immediately or through a delay
            • It also is not required to be equal
            • The same goes for exchanging something measured/weighed for anything else that is not sold in measurements/weights
              • Ex: selling a saa’ of dates for a t-shirt
        • To exchange gold for silver and vice versa is valid but:
          • If the two parties separate before complete possession takes place, then whatever was not exchanged becomes invalid
            • Ex: a seller exchanges 10 grams of gold for 20 grams of silver. The seller receives the 20 grams of silver but only pays 5 grams of gold and says that he will give the rest next month
              • This will invalidate the 5 grams that he owes because the exchange must happen immediately
  • To sum up the rules:
    • We first look to see if the two exchanges are of usurious types
      • Meaning we find out if it is something sold based on measurement/weight
    • If both are of the same category, then it is required that they be exchanged immediately
      • Ex: weights for weights (gold for silver) or measurements for measurements (dates for barley)
      • Exception: to purchase a weighed/measured commodity (other than gold/silver/cash) with gold/silver/cash
        • In such a case, it is allowed to be delayed
    • If both are of the same category and type, then it is required that they be exchanged immediately and be equal in amount
      • Ex: gold for gold, dates for dates, etc.
    • If both are from different categories, then it is not required that they be exchanged immediately nor that they be equal in amount
      • Ex: weights for measurements (copper for dates), non-usurious types of exchanges (t-shirts for shoes), weights/measurements for non-usurious types (copper/dates for clothes)