Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah)
Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imaams in collecting
the Sunnah and sticking to it, so much so that he even "disliked
that a book consisting of deductions and opinions be written."
Because of this he said:
1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Maalik,
nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they
In one narration: "Do not copy your Deen from anyone of these,
but whatever comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa
sallam) and his Companions, take it; next are their Successors,
where a man has a choice."
Once he said: "Following means that a man follows what
comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) and his
Companions; after the Successors, he has a choice."
2. "The opinion of Awzaa'i, the opinion of Maalik, the opinion of
Abu Haneefah: all of it is opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes.
However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet
(sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions)."
3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of
Allaah (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) is on the brink of
20 Ibn `Aabideen in
al-Haashiyah (1/63), and in his essay Rasm al-Mufti (1/4 from
the Compilation of the Essays of Ibn `Aabideen), Shaikh Saalih
al-Fulaani in Eeqaaz al-Himam (p. 62) & others. Ibn `Aabideen
quoted from Sharh al-Hidaayah by Ibn al-Shahnah al-Kabeer,
the teacher of Ibn al-Humaam, as follows:
"When a hadeeth contrary to the Madhhab is found to be saheeh,
one should act on the hadeeth, and make that his madhhab.
Acting on the hadeeth will not invalidate the follower's being a
Hanafi, for it is authentically reported that Abu Haneefah said,
`When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my
madhhab', and this has been related by Imaam Ibn `Abdul Barr
from Abu Haneefah and from other imaams."
This is part of the completeness of
the knowledge and piety of the Imaams, for they indicated by
saying this that they were not versed in the whole
of the Sunnah, and Imaam Shaafi'i has elucidated
this thoroughly (see later). It would happen that they would
contradict a sunnah because they were unaware of it,
so they commanded us to stick to the Sunnah
and regard it as part of their Madhhab. May Allaah shower His mercy
on them all.
22 Ibn `Abdul Barr in Al-Intiqaa' fi Fadaa'il
ath-Thalaathah al- A'immah al-Fuqahaa' (p. 145), Ibn
al-Qayyim in I'laam al- Mooqi'een (2/309), Ibn `Aabideen in
his Footnotes on Al-Bahr ar-Raa'iq (6/293) and in Rasm
al-Mufti (pp. 29,32) & Sha'raani in Al-Meezaan (1/55) with the
second narration. The last narration was collected by `Abbaas
ad-Dawri in At- Taareekh by Ibn Ma'een (6/77/1) with a
saheeh sanad on the authority of Zafar, the student of Imaam
Abu Haneefah. Similar narrations exist on the authority of Abu
Haneefah's companions Zafar, Abu Yoosuf and `Aafiyah ibn
Yazeed; cf. Eeqaaz (p. 52). Ibn al-Qayyim firmly certified its
authenticity on the authority of Abu Yoosuf in I'laam
al-Mooqi'een (2/344). The addition to the second narration is
referenced by the editor of Eeqaaz (p. 65) to Ibn `Abdul Barr, Ibn
al-Qayyim and others.
If this is what they say of
someone who does not know their evidence, what would be their
knows that the evidence contradicts their
saying, but still gives
verdicts opposed to the evidence?!
Therefore, reflect on this saying, for it alone is enough
to smash blind following of opinion; that is why one of the muqallid
shaikhs, when I criticised his giving a verdict using Abu
Haneefah's words without knowing the evidence, refused to believe that
it was a saying of Abu Haneefah!
24 Ar.: fatwaa
25 i.e. Imaam Abu Haneefah's illustrious
student, Abu Yoosuf (rahimahullaah).
26 This was because the
Imaam would often base his view on Qiyaas (Analogy), after
which a more potent analogy would occur to him, or a hadeeth of
the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) would reach him, so
he would accept that and ignore his previous view. Sha'raani's
words in Al-Meezaan (1/62) are summarised as: