Hanbali School (Hanbaliyyah)
The Hanbali School is the fourth orthodox school of law within Sunni Islam. It derives its decrees from the Qur"an and the Sunnah, which it places above all forms of consensus, opinion or inference. The school accepts as authoritative an opinion given by a Companion of the Prophet, providing there is no disagreement with anther Companion. In the case of such disagreement, the opinion of the Companion nearest to that of the Qur"an or the Sunnah will prevail.
The Hanbali School of law was established by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.855). He studied law under different masters, including Imam Shafi"i (the founder of his own school). He is regarded as more learned in the traditions than in jurisprudence. His status also derives from his collection and exposition of the hadiths. His major contribution to Islamic scholarship is a collection of fifty-thousand traditions known as "Musnadul-Imam Hanbal".
In spite of the importance of Hanbal"s work his school did not enjoy the popularity of the three preceding Sunni schools of law. Hanbal"s followers were regarded as reactionary and troublesome on account of their reluctance to give personal opinion on matters of law, their rejection of analogy, their fanatic intolerance of views other than their own, and their exclusion of opponents from power and judicial office. Their unpopularity led to periodic bouts of persecution against them.
The later history of the school has been characterized by fluctuations in their fortunes. Hanbali scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328) and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzia (d.1350), did display more tolerance to other views than their predecessors and were instrumental in making the teachings of Hanbali more generally accessible.
From time to time Hanbaliyyah became an active and numerically strong school in certain areas under the jurisdiction of the "Abbassid Caliphate. But its importance gradually declined under the Ottoman Turks. The emergence of the Wahabi in the nineteenth century and its challenge to Ottoman authority enabled Hanbaliyyah to enjoy a period of revival. Today the school is officially recognised as authoritative in Saudi Arabia and areas within the Persian Gulf.
Symbols: Hanbaliyyah does not possess a distinctive symbol system.
Adherents: There are no official figures identifying the number of people associated with the school.
Headquarters/Main Centre: The school has no headquarters or main centre.
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