Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
Arabic: ahmadu bni muhammdi bni hanbal
The theological technique of Ibn Hanbal, from which the Hanbali schools is based, was not based upon a codified law, fiqh, something which Ibn Hanbal opposed. Rather, he allowed for finding the solutions of legal issues in certain cases, but only derived from the Koran and the hadiths. In order to facilitate this technique, he collected more than 28,000 traditions in his work, the Musnad. In order to facilitate laws according to this system, even some doubtful traditions were included.
Central to Ibn Hanbal's technique was also a total rejection of bid¢a, invention, defining this as heresy. From this evolved a strict rejection of anything deviating from the core of Islam, often expressed so that bystanders have interpreted it as intolerance.
The lack of a fiqh with Ibn Hanbal have made some Muslim theoreticians, like at-Tabari, to not consider him a law maker. This is rejected by Ibn Habal's followers, claiming that the answers he gave his pupils had a character of legal pronouncements.
Over the years of his education he had traveled extensively, and came in contact with scholars in Kufa, Basra, Mecca, Madina and Yemen. Upon returning home to Baghdad, he began studying fiqh under Abu Abdullah ash-Shafi'i (founder of the Shafi'i school), but deviated from his technique of human speculation for establishing law.
The theological concept which caused most personal problems for Ibn Hanbal was his idea of an uncreated, eternal Koran. Being caught in the Mihna inquisition, Ibn Hanbal was severely punished for this view. As with his theology of no theoretical compromise, he likewise did not compromise in his life. Facing flogging and hard conditions in prison, he didn't modify any view. As the Mihna came to an end, maing the party of which Ibn Hanbal belonged victors, this gained him much respect and popularity with fellow Muslims, especially since many other prominent Muslim leaders had modified their views when under pressure.
As the very pious and ascetic man he was, Ibn Hanbal made 5 pilgrimages to Mecca, 3 times on foot.
Ibn Hanbal has come to play a central role in the development of Islam, more than what is associated with his school alone. Ibn Taymiya of the 13th and 14th centuries and the Wahhabis of the 18th century are seen of his ideological followers, linking Ibn Hanbal directly to modern-day Islamism, even to Al-Qa'ida.
Ibn Hanbal had 8 children, two of which would also become important theologians.