Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal رحمه الله
Full Name: Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥanbal
‘Abdul-Malik ibn ‘Abdil-Ḥamīd رحمه الله says that I do not remember seeing anyone with cleaner clothes, nor anyone more particular in his [trimming his] moustache, the hair on his head and body, nor anyone with purer clothes, nor anyone with whiter clothes, than Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal.
‘Allāmah Ibn-Al-Jawzī رحمه الله writes that the signs of nobility in Imām Aḥmad رحمه الله started to become apparent from his childhood. He would memorise a lot of ‘ilm, and he also possessed a lot of it. That is why even his teachers would revere him. Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Ulayyah رحمه الله would usher him forward to lead them at ṣalāh times. Once, his students laughed in his presence, upon which he reprimanded them saying, “Do you laugh when Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal is in my prescence?!”
A great muḥaddith, Ibn Al-Mahdī رحمه الله said, “I would not look at him except that I would remember Sufyān Ath-Thawrī; it was as if this child had become an Imām since he was in his mother’s womb.”
It is narrated from Ibrāhīm ibn Shammās رحمه الله that he used to know Imām Aḥmad ibn Hanbal رحمه الله to perform Tahajjud whilst he was still a child.
Imām ‘Abdur-Razzāq رحمه الله said, “I have not seen anyone with more understanding and piety than Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal.”
Imām Abū Dāwūd رحمه الله said, “Aḥmad ibn Hanbal رحمه الله would not delve into any worldly issues which the people would talk about; yes if they mentioned knowledge, he would talk.” He also said, “I did not hear him talk about any worldly matter, ever.”
He lived a life of hardships and toil and bore great patience through them, relying solely on Allāh جل جلاله. He was heard saying once, “The happiest days of my life are the ones in which I wake up and have nothing.”
His son ‘Abdullāh says, “My father would perform 300 rak‘āt nafl every day. When he was taken ill due to being lashed, he halved it, and would perform 150 every day. This was at a time when he had reached nearly 80 years of age. He would recite a seventh of the Qur’ān each night, and would complete the Qur’ān every seventh day in Tahajjud only. After performing ‘Ishā ṣalāh, he would sleep lightly and then awaken, performing ṣalāh and making du‘ā until Fajr.
“My father performed ḥajj five times, three of which he performed on foot, and two mounted. In one ḥajj he spent merely twenty dirhams.”
He would show a dislike to anyone walking behind him outdoors.
Imām Aḥmad رحمه الله fell ill on Tuesday night, on the 3rd of Rabī‘-Al-Awwal 241AH, and remained ill for 9 days. The news of his illness spread and people began to arrive for to visit him, waiting outside his door. He would permit them to enter and they would come in waves, greeting him to which he would reply gesturing with his hand.
On the day of Jumu‘ah, people had gathered in such large numbers that all the roads and streets had become full. Imām Aḥmad رحمه الله passed away in the morning, and the sound of weeping rose until it seemed as if the whole world was trembling.
It is estimated that approximately 860,000 – 1 million people attended his Janāzah ṣalāh.
May Allāh have mercy on him and reward him on our behalf for all his efforts, and may he guide us to follow in his footsteps. Āmīn
Ṣifat-Aṣ-Ṣafwah, Imām Abul-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzī رحمه الله
Siyar-A‘lām-An-Nubalā, Imām Adh-Dhahabī رحمه الله