The Hanbali school is the fourth orthodox school of law within Sunni Islam. It derives its decrees from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, which it places above all forms of consensus, opinion or inference. The school accepts as authoritative an opi nion given by a Companion of the Prophet, providing there is no disagreement with anther Companion. In the case of such disagreement, the opinion of the Companion nearest to that of the Qur'an or the Sunnah will prevail.

The Hanbali school of law was established by Ahmad b. Hanbal (d.855). He studied law under different masters, including Imam Shafi'i (the founder of his own school). He is regarded as more learned in the traditions than in jurisprudence. His status also derives from his collection and exposition of the hadiths. His major contribution to Islamic scholarship is a collection of fifty-thousand traditions known as 'Musnadul-Imam Hanbal'.

In spite of the importance of Hanbal's work his school did not enjoy the popularity of the three preceding Sunni schools of law. Hanbal's followers were regarded as reactionary and troublesome on account of their reluctance to give personal opinion on matters of law, their rejection of analogy, their fanatic intolerance of views other than their own, and their exclusion of opponents from power and judicial office. Their unpopularity led to periodic bouts of persecution against them.

The later history of the school has been characterised by fluctuations in their fortunes. Hanbali scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328) and Ibn Qayyim al-Jouzia (d.1350), did display more tolerance to other views than their predecessors and were instrumental in making the teachings of Hanbali more generally accessible.

From time to time Hanbaliyyah became an active and numerically strong school in certain areas under the jurisdiction of the 'Abbassid Caliphate. But its importance gradually declined under the Ottoman Turks. The emergence of the Wahabi in the nineteenth century and its challenge to Ottoman authority enabled Hanbaliyyah to enjoy a period of revival. Today the school is officially recognised as authoritative in Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states.

Hanbali is one of the four schools (Maddhabs) of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is considered to be the most conservative of the four schools. The school was started by the students of Imam Ahmad, whose name was Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 855). Hanbali jurisprudence is predominant among Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula, although students of Islam throughout the world study and may choose to observe its conclusions about Islamic practise. The Hanbali school is followed by less than 5% of the world's Muslim population. It is presently the school of jurisprudence used in modern day Saudi Arabia.

Although the Hanbali school was small, it did manager to produce a number of noted scholars these include: Ibn al-Jawzi a prolific writer who wrote commentories on the Qur'an and numerous works on history and jurisprudence, ibn Taymiyyah a controversial figure due to his contentious theological veiws nontheless was a prolific writer and a noted scholar in a number of fields such as jurisprudence, ibn al-Qayyim the student of ibn Taymiyyah who wrote a number of valuable works on Islamic jurisprudence. Unlike his teacher he was less harsh towards Sufism and wrote a number of works on Sufism that remain well read amongst adherents to Sufi orders (Tarika) ibn Qudaymah a jurist of the Hanbali school, the Sufi Abudllah al-Ansari, Abdul Qadir Jilani and ibn Rajb al-Hanbali

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was kept in prison for 28 months, with a heavy chain around his feet. He was publicly humiliated, slapped and spat upon. Every evening he used to be flogged. All this was because of the controversy regarding whether the Quran was `uncreated'.

The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules.








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