Imam Ahmad’s stance on weak hadeeth

Praise be to Allah. And may His blessings be upon His Messenger and the Chosen prophet.

Imam Ahmed.

Full name: Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Ibn Hilal Ibn Asad As Shaybani,

His nickname was Abu Abdulla.

Date of birth: 780 CE/ 164 AH

Date of death: 855 CE/ 241 AH

His Fiqh teachers: Imam Shafi’i, Abu Yusuf

Why was Imam Ahmad persecuted by the caliph Ma’moon?

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was one of those prominent scholars at the time of Abbasid Caliphate. He was loved by many, special caliph Al-Mutawkkil. He admired Imam Ahmad and his opinions and judgments were highly respected by him. Unfortunately, at the time of caliph ma’moon, Muslims were unfortunately were on the philosophical belief of Mu’taliza[1], and were forced to say that “Quran is a creature”. However, Imam Ahmad and Muhammad ibn Nuh[2] refused to do so. Every scholar who refuted this was either killed or poisoned. But he bravely and publicly refuted their belief. He defended the creed of Ahl-ah sunnah by saying that Quran is the word of Allah, not a creature. The Caliph Ma’moon himself loved philosophy and debate. He loved the Muta’liza’s logical approach to all matters so much so that he even erote in his will that he bears witness that  “God is unlike anything else. He is One, the Sovereign of the universe with no partner. Everything else is a creation of His. The Quran cannot be anything other than the rest of creation, having the same qualities as everything else, while God is one with nothing like Him.’ He also urged his brother, Al-Mu’tassim, who was to succeed him, to follow his ideas “So he decided to make things difficult for Imam Ahmed and Muhammd ibn Nuh. Especially because Imam Ahmad was a very famous and loved scholar at his time. Hard physical torture was implemented on him but he never gave in. He was jailed and beaten for 2 year under reign of Ma’moon. Ali Al Madini said, “Indeed, Allah has strengthened this religion with Abu Bakr As Siddiq on the day of Riddah (when people turned to infidelity), and Allah has strengthened this religion with Ahmad Ibn Hanbal on the day of Mihnah (when people were forced to stay that the Qur’an is creature)”.

even after the death of caliph Ma’moon, Imam Ahmad was physically tortured. And he has to hide himself in Bagdhad and remained there till his death.

His book

Imam Ahmad’s famous book is Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. It is one of the greatest books of sunnah and hadith complied throughout the history.  Al-Hafiz Abu Moosa al-Madeeni wrote a book in which he highlighted the great features of the Musnad. In his book he said: “This book is an important source and trustworthy reference for the scholars of hadith, as he (Imam Ahmad) selected from the large number of hadith he came across and the plentiful reports he heard, and he put a great deal of effort into making it a prominent, leading and reliable source. When disputing an issue, it is a refuge and a source of help.”

The book is contented in order of hadith based on the list of names of narrators from the generation of the sahaba. A collection of ahadith is given for each companion separately. And it included the opinions of each sahaba accordingly. This book contains 30,000 hadith.

His stance on weak hadith

Regarding the Musnad of Imam Ahamd, Abu’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi says that some of the hadiths narrated in this Musnad are mawdoo‘(fabricated). Ibn Hanbal preferred weak hadith over one’s individual opinion and analogy (qiyaas).

Imam Ahmad was greatly concerned with collection, narration and the interpretation of hadith. He preferred weak hadith after, Quran, Sunnah, Ijma of the sahaba or individual opinions of sahaba offered no solution to a problem. Even though he allows weak hadith, he conditioned it be narrated from someone who is not a Fasiq or Kadhdhab (a liar). Also he would not relate a hadith even if it is sahih if it is narrated from a deliberate lair or a fabricator. So as not to elevate the status of liars/fabricators, as a warning for people not to take any narration from him. He did not accept the break in the chain. Even due to weakness of memory, hadith was considered daeef

In fact there is a hadith that was narrated by Imam Ahmad in the Musnad, and narrated from him by Ibn al-Jawzi, who stated that it is a lie. This is the hadith of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) according to which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “I saw ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf enter Paradise crawling.”[3]

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: This hadith is a lie and is odd. He said: ‘Amaarah [one of the narrators] narrates munkar (odd) hadiths. An-Nasaa’i said: This is a mawdoo‘ (fabricated) hadith.[4]

According to Ibn Qayyim, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal accepts a daeef hadith if nothing opposing them is found in a particular issue, preferring them to analogy. He classifies ahadith into sahih and da’if only rather into sahih, hasan and da’ if, the preference of most later traditionists.
Consequently , a daeef  hadith may stand close to sahih in the opinion of Ahmad because of the grading of the Mursal Hadith in fourth position, unlike Malik who regards mursal as equal to musnad.

Imam Ahmad’s students who are recorded to have narrated from Imam Ahmad’s fiqh.

  1. Imam Bukhari
  2. Imam Muslim
  3. Abu Dawud
  4. Abul Qasim al-Baqawi
  5. Abdulla ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal

May Allah have mercy on his soul.

Bibliography

(2013 December 16) Biography of Islamic scholar: imam Ahmad ibn hanbal retrieved from https://whatisquran.com/717-biography-of-islamic-scholar-imam-ahmad-ibn-hanbal-164-241-h.html

Adil Salahi Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal retrieved from http://muslimheritage.com/article/imam-ahmad-ibn-hanbal

Musnad imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal retrieved from http://kalamullah.com/musnad-ahmad.html

GFHaddad (2009 January 7) Validity of weak hadith retrieved from http://www.livingislam.org/n/vwh_e.html

Umm Ibraheem (2009 December 26) Dealing with weak hadith retrieved from https://ummibraheem.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/dealing-with-weak-dhaeef-hadith/

(2016 March 7) is there any mawdoo hadiths in the musnad of imam Ahmed retrieved from https://islamqa.info/en/159828

[1]It is a school of Islamic theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both now in Iraq, during the 8th to the 10th centuries.

The adherents of the Mutazili school, known as Muʿtazilites, are best known for denying the status of the Qur’an as uncreated and co-eternal with God,[2] asserting that if the Quran is the word of God, he logically “must have preceded his own speech”

[3]Al-Musnad (41/337)

[4]al-Mawdoo‘aat (2/13).

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