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The Hanbalites , Arabic الحنبلية al-hanbaliya , DMG al-ḥanbalīya , are one of the four traditional disciplines ( Madhahib ) of Sunni Islam . In the field of theology they are usually followers of the Athari School.

  • Regions where the Hanbalites are in the majority
  • Hanbalites today

    The Hanbalites are the smallest school of law in Sunni Islam, to which around five percent of Sunnis follow. In Saudi Arabia it is the state law school. Although it is not always explicitly mentioned in the legal sources, Hanbalism is strongly represented in the legal system of Saudi Arabia . The Hanbalites exert a strong influence on the entire Sunni community due to their influence in Saudi Arabia, which is home to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina , which are the destinations of Hajj every year .

    The Salafi currents, which explicitly do not follow any school of law, in most cases follow the views that agree with the Hanbali opinion.


    The school of law goes back to Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855), who was among other things a student of Muhammad ibn Idris asch-Schafiʿis (767-820) and the Hanafi Abu Yusuf , but was only institutionalized by his students. In addition to the Koran and the Sunna , Ibn Hanbal especially accorded an important position to the consensus ( Idschmāʿ ) of the Islamic community, the Umma . The Hanbalites were particularly strong on the basis of the hadith , so the position of Ashāb al- hadith was retained. Ahmad ibn Hanbal compiled several hadith works. Including the al-Musnad , a monumental collection of more than 29 thousand hadiths. Maqdisi expanded the foundations of the critique of hadith , whose literarily documented beginnings can be traced back to the 8th century. His most famous work in this field is his comprehensive biography of the narrators named in the six canonical collections of hadith in the Isnads .

    Important Hanbalites of the Islamic Middle Ages were Ibn ʿAqīl (d. 1119), Ibn al-Jschauzī (d. 1201), ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Maqdisī (d. 1203), Ibn Qudama (d. 1223), Nadschm ad-Dīn at -Tūfī (d. 1316), Ibn Taimiyya (d. 1328), Ibn Qaiyim al-Jschauzīya (d. 1350) and Ibn Rajab (d. 1393). Even Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab , founder of the Wahhabi doctrine Hanbalit was. With the implementation of his teaching in the Saudi state, the Hanbali school of law also became the basis of the legal system there. After the Saudi conquest of the Hijaz in the 1920s, Hanbalism was forcibly introduced in the Hejaz , an area in western Saudi Arabia.

    Legal finding

    In the case of the defined sources of fiqh , the conclusion by analogy ( qiyās ) and the independent doctrine ( raʾy ) according to the Hanbali tradition play almost no role. The Taqlid is also generally viewed with skepticism. A continuation of the Idschtihād is sought in the Hanbali tradition. This is primarily related to the strictly theological-dogmatic attitude of mind. The endeavor is to derive all laws from the Koran, the Sunna and the consensus ( idschmāʿ ) of the first generations ( salaf as salih ). Hanbalism is very conservative and strict , especially in dogmatic and religious questions. The law school of the Zahirites , which no longer exists, has been absorbed more and more into Hanbalism over the course of time, which means that Ibn Hazm is seen by some as a follower of the Hanbalites or at least Ahmad ibn Hanbals. The legal recognition as one of the four Sunni schools of law gradually passed from the Zahirites to the Hanbalites.

    Theological positions

    The Hanbalites are traditionally skeptical of the theological debate ( Kalām ). They were among the first opponents of the Muʿtazila , a theological current that flourished between the 9th and 11th centuries and attached great importance to the Kalām because it was influenced by Greek philosophy . An inquisition ( Mihna in Arabic ) was introduced against Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who was one of the most famous critics of the Kalam at the time . The quality of the Koran taught by the Muʿtazila theologian Abū l-Hudhail was used as a touchstone . However, this constitution was contested by the traditional scholars because they believed that the Koran was God's uncreated speech. Those who disagreed with the teachings of Abū l-Hudhail were punished with torture and imprisonment, including Ahmad ibn Hanbal. In his treatise "Mihnat al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal al-Shaibani" (محنة الامام أحمد بن حنبل الشيباني / Miḥnat al-imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal aš-Shaibānī  / 'The Inquisition against Ahmad ibn Hanbal') Maqdisī summarized the interrogation and punishment that Ahmad ibn Hanbal had suffered at the time of the Muʿtazila over the question of whether the Koran was created (chalq al-Qurʾān) and whether that Man could see God on the day of resurrection. In contrast to the Muʿtazilites, the Hanbalites saw only the statements in the Koran and Hadith as well as the traditions about the "ancestors" ( ahl as-salaf ) as authoritative. They rejected all further theological statements as inadmissible innovations ( bidʿa ).

    In the Middle Ages there was a strong Sufi movement within the Hanbali school . Famous Sufis of the Hanbali school were ʿAbd Allaah al-Ansārī and ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī . Ibn al-Jschauzī wrote with his work Ṣifat a Eigenschaft -ṣafwa ("The Quality of Selection") a story of the Sufik in which he tried to show that the true Sufis were those who followed the teachings of the great companions of the Prophets . And Ibn Taimīya wrote a commentary on a Sufi work by ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī. However, Hanbalites like Ibn al-Jschauzī and Ibn Taimīya strongly criticized those Sufis whose teachings they viewed as heretical. For example, Ibn al-Jschauzī polemicized in his treatise Talbīs Iblīs (“The seduction / falsification of the devil”) against the teachings of al-Hallādsch and ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī.


    • Ignaz Goldziher : On the history of the Hanbali movements , in: Journal of the German Oriental Society 62 (1908) 1-28.
    • Nimrod Hurvitz: The Formation of Hanbalism. Piety into Power , Routledge, London 2002.
    • George Makdisi: The Hanbali School and Sufism , in: Boletin de la Asociacion Espanola de Orientalists XV. Madrid 1979. pp. 115-126. Reprinted in George Makdisi: Religion, Law and Learning in Classical Islam Hampshire 1991.

    Individual evidence

    1. Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th-10th Centuries CE, pg. 182. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.
    2. Ignaz Goldziher (1890), pp. 141ff; 272ff; The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Brill. Suffer. Vol. 2. p. 462
    3. ^ Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. pp. 161-162. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4 .
    4. lexicorient.com
    5. ^ Carl Brockelmann (1943), p. 438
    6. Cf. W. Montgomery Watt, Michael Marmura: Der Islam II. Political developments and theological concepts. Stuttgart 1985 (= The religions of mankind . Vol. 25). Pp. 290-294.
    7. See Makdisi on this.
    8. Cf. George Makdisi: "Ibn Taimīya: a Ṣūfī of the Qādiriya order" in George Makdisi: Religion, Law and Learning in Classical Islam Hampshire 1991. p. 126.

    See also