Early Muslim Traditionalism: A Critical Study of the Works and Political Theology of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
Al Sarhan, Saud Saleh
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To allow publication of the research
The political theology of AÎmad Ibn Íanbal (d. 241/855( is analysed through comprehensive examination of the authenticity of theological and juridical books attributed to him. The eponym of the ÍanbalÐ school (madhhab) of law and theology, AÎmad’s importance lies in his teaching as a jurisprudent and his practices as a zÁhid (renunciant), which attracted many students to his circle. However, he is best known for his reputation as a defender of correct belief, and for firmly resisting the doctrine of three ÝAbbÁsid caliphs that the QurÞÁn was created, although he was imprisoned and beaten during the Inquisition known as al-MiÎnah (between 218/833 and c. 232/847). As a result of AÎmad’s importance, a variety of different opinions and epistles were ascribed to him. Theologically, the most important among these are the Six Creeds and al-Radd ÝalÁ al-ZanÁdiqah wa-al-JahmÐyah which is a polemical epistle. In jurisprudence there were response collections from AÎmad’s students called al-MasÁÞil, eight of which are still extant, either partly or completely. These works are examined in this thesis. AÎmad’s theo-political ideas are critical to understanding the political thought of Sunnism in general, and the study analyses his doctrines on the importance of the JamÁÝah (Community), ÓÁÝah (Obedience) and al-Amr bi-al-maÝrÙf wa-al-nahy Ýan al-munkar (commanding right and forbidding wrong). AÎmad was a quietist thinker, but the main purpose of his quietism was in fact to save the unity of the Muslim community from internal fighting and protect the common people who always lacked security and suffered from threats of looting of their shops and houses. Though a quietist, AÎmad was not in favour of the rulers and avoided all kinds of connections to them, including not accepting their gifts or working with them. He became angry with his family when they accepted the caliph’s money.
Doctor of Philosophy in Arab and Islamic Studies