Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Makers of the Muslim World) by Christopher Melchert

By Christopher Melchert

Christopher Melchert examines the forefather of the fourth of the 4 significant Sunni faculties of jurisprudence, the Hanbali. Upholding the view that the Qur'an was once uncreated and the direct notice of God, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855) inspiration that the holy textual content could be learn actually, rejecting any danger for metaphorical or revisionist interpretation. Melchert assesses the significance of ibn Hanbal's teachings and analyses their relevance in sleek Sunni Islam.

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For them, faceto-face communication ensured accuracy, not written notes. ) but discarded his notebooks because he had not memorized the hadith they contained (Muhaddith, 601). Early Arabic script was fairly crude, often missing diacritical marks and almost always missing signs for short vowels. Early note-taking necessarily depended on some degree of memorization to work at all. Moreover, to people for whom writing was fairly new, there may have been a richness to recalling somebody’s voice conspicuously lacking from the bare record of words on papyrus.

THE AGE FOR COLLECTING HADITH Ahmad began his life’s work of seeking hadith in 179/795–6, when he was fifteen years old. This seems to have been a fairly usual age for starting; an age when a boy had memorized the Qur’an and mastered reading and arithmetic (particularly the calculation of inheritance shares). Ahmad’s younger contemporaries Bukhari (died 256/870) and Muslim (died 261/875) first heard hadith at eleven and fourteen respectively. During the ninth and tenth centuries the trend was towards collecting hadith at an earlier and earlier age; by the eleventh century, it was normal to hear hadith when just five or six years old.

This seems to have been a fairly usual age for starting; an age when a boy had memorized the Qur’an and mastered reading and arithmetic (particularly the calculation of inheritance shares). Ahmad’s younger contemporaries Bukhari (died 256/870) and Muslim (died 261/875) first heard hadith at eleven and fourteen respectively. During the ninth and tenth centuries the trend was towards collecting hadith at an earlier and earlier age; by the eleventh century, it was normal to hear hadith when just five or six years old.

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