Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was born in the city of Baghdad during the month of Rabi-ul Awwal 164 A.H. His father passed away either before he was born or shortly afterwards, and it was his mother who diligently brought up the Imam.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s Education
He acquired his childhood education through the Maktab but even there his piety and scholarly character were recognised. Abu Afeef (r.a) has reported, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (r.a) was within our learning group at the Maktab. At that time he was very young, and we, as students were aware of his piety. Having completed his basic education at the age of 16, the Imam went on to study ahadith by attending the study circles of Qazi Imam Abu Yusuf (r.a).
Having acquired knowledge from the scholars of Baghdad, his zeal for learning took him to different parts of the world including Kufa, Basra, Yemen, Makkah, Madinah and Syria, to benefit from their great scholars. Sometimes, during long and difficult journies to acquire ahadith, the Imam had to resort to manual work in order to cover his expenses.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s Teachers
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal had many teachers, amongst the most prominent was Imam Shafiee (r.a) whom he met on several separate occasions and each time he took full benefit of the opportunity. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal commented, ‘Only after sitting in the Majlis of Imam Shafiee (r.a) did I understand and comprehend nasikh and mansukh hadith.’ One should remember, the Imam was an accomplished scholar even before he met Imam Shafiee.
It was only at the age of forty, in 204 A.H., the Imam began formally teaching hadith. Whilst his teachers were still alive he refused to teach and narrate hadith out of humility and respect for them. Imam Ahmad was acknowledged by the Ulama of his time as the Imam ul Hadith.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s books
Amongst his publications, the more famous are Kitab ul Musnad (based upon 30,000 ahadith), Kitab ul Tafseer, Kitab us Salaah, Kitab us Sunnah, Kitab un Nasikh and Mansukh and others.
The Imam dressed very simply and disliked clothes which created a false awe. He wore a turban, white clothes and a shawl. He never accepted gifts offered by rulers and the affluent out of caution.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal died on the blessed day of Friday in Rabi ul Awwal 241 A.H at the age 77, after a period of illness which lasted nine days. The news of the Imams death soon spread and after Jumuah more than 850,000 people performed his janazah prayer with the rows formed in the city, streets, bazaars and even on boats on the river Tigris. Even the non-Muslims mourned the passing away of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
There are many ahadeeth narrating the benefits and virtues of Durood, below are a selected few shared to encourage the believers to send abundant durood upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Definition: Durood – the uttering of specific phrases to compliment the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings upon him) when his name is mentioned or read in a text. It is usually to praise and honour him with great love and compassion.
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ وَمَلـٰئِكَتَهُ يُصَلّونَ عَلَى النَّبِىِّ ۚ يـٰأَيُّهَا الَّذينَ ءامَنوا صَلّوا عَلَيهِ وَسَلِّموا تَسليمًا ﴿٥٦﴾
Surely Allah Ta’ala and his angels send Durood (blessings) upon Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), O you who believe! You also send Durood and Salaams upon Hazrat Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in abundance.
In the above mentioned verse, Allah Ta’ala commands the believers to send Durood and Salaams upon Hazrat Nabi-e-kareem (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ala says I myself and my pure creation; the Malaaikah continuously send Durood (blessings) upon Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Hence, you should also send Durood and Salaams upon my beloved Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).
Virtues of Durood
Muslim narrated in his Sahih from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said ‘he who invokes blessings on me once, Allah sends ten blessings upon him.’
Al-Nasa’i narrated in ‘Invocations of the day and night’, from ‘Umar bin Dinar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said ‘he of my community who invokes blessings upon me sincerely, Allah will bless him ten fold and raise him ten degrees, and he will have written for him ten good deeds, and erased from his record ten bad deeds.’
Tirmidhi narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said ‘Verily, supplications are stalled between the heavens and the earth, and are not lifted up until the supplicant invokes blessings upon the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace).’
Tirmidhi related from Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said ‘the closest people to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who invoked the most blessings upon me.’
Tirmidhi narrated from ‘Amir bin Rani’ah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said ‘he who invokes blessings upon me, the Angels send blessings upon him equal to that which he invoked, so let the worshipper invoke some, or increase upon that.’
Extract of a talk (Call to the Ummah) delivered by Shaykh Ahmad Ali on the subject of charity and being generous in Islam.
Mufti Hussain Kamani delivers a talk on the subject of the Masjid and its focal role for the Muslim community and how we should attach our hearts to the Masjid.
Source: As-Sabiqoon Monthly Magazine Issue 9 Sept 2006
Before you is a concise step-by-step guide about surviving at Uni! All I write is based upon my very own experience which has advice in dealing with it life at Uni. It’s worth noting that (as I write) I am a first year and in no way have I experienced all the problems, and due to the nature of the problems mentioned, my advice is not the only advice available. I recommend you to stick to the advice of the scholars and students of knowledge; in other words, it’s just an introduction into surviving the first year! It’s split into two main sections: general advice (which includes advice on handling the workload itself) and Islamic advice, which highlights the main problems faced by every Muslim what to do should in these positions.
Step1: know your role!
The first step is to actually understand why you are at Uni and what you want to get out of it. Whether you want to go to Uni or you’re being forced to go, make sure you have aims and objectives and actually work towards it. Have an idea of what field (roughly) you wish to go into. Carefully study the course description and individual module description so that you know what to expect and what you should achieve at the end. If you don’t like it, it’s not too late to switch courses or individual modules. Many students switch within the first semester (term) and the Universities expect this.
Step two: your surroundings!
As soon as you start Uni, it’s important that you have a good circle of pious Muslim friends- also maybe non-Muslim friends whom you can give Da’wah to. SubhanAllah, this is so important as you’ll find within a few weeks the majority of non-muslim students heading to the pubs and clubs drinking a few pints and then heading off to the library to do some work. Alhamdulillah many Unis have an ISOC and a dedicated prayer room where you’re more then welcome! In fact, ISOCs have a dedicated group to bring people to the prayer rooms and also start off their talks and Jumua’h Khutbah with short and sweet Naseeha (advice) regarding surviving Uni. The prayer room should be your refuge without distracting you from your purpose to work; so make sure you have good friends, be a regular prayer room user and have a separate place to study.
Step three: do your work!
It’s really easy to be distracted from doing your work. Many students suffer from the whole Uni-cliche lifestyle of going out, partying, having ‘fun’ and plenty of brothers and sisters organise events or invite you to eat with them at restaurants. It’s very easy to just give up and leave your work for later and join them, though quite frankly, if you don’t do your work, you will fail! Uni is very independent and it’s up to YOU to commit yourself. I found that dedicating the day for work and evening for maybe extra/remaining work and going out worked best; make a schedule try stick to it!
Step four: Do your best
Be sincere in what you do; do it to help Muslims climb the society ladder so that we can have an impact on the world again. Be the best (or one of the best thereafter) in your class so that you have good prospects and also so that you can use your position to give Da’wah. And it’s not that hard! A few words here and a few there, people will automatically flock to you to ask for help. Just do your best and remember the results is with Allah (swt):
‘Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you, and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.’
(Imam Tirmizi, Imam An Nawawi’s 40 Ahadith)
Step 5: make the most of it
If you have any problems with your work, go to your lecturers and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask during or after the lectures and don’t pretend to understand! If something is explained to you and you still don’t get it, tell them – pound them till you finally get it. If it’s the lecturer you can’t understand then find a PhD student or someone in the same or year above and ask- there’s plenty of them in the Prayer Room.
Use the library, Internet, lab sessions, revision classes, etc. Find a few brothers and sisters who have been through the course who can help and sell you their books for proper discount prices. I bought a 40 pounds book off a brother for just 10 pounds…bargain!
Uni is literally buzzing with Fitnah, from the people who go there to some of the buildings and books in the library. It’s used as an excuse to propagate false ideas and brainwash the masses…so there must be a few things to beware of:
1. The prayer room
Although (generally) the ISOC is not the problem, the prayer room is always buzzing with people with twisted views and next ideologies. You meet Muslims from many different countries and backgrounds which have influenced the way they think and many of these sects and named-groups operate in the prayer room. Some even call to their beliefs and love to argue and will spark the argument with everyone and anyone. Despite this, you meet the most amazing and sincere people you’ll ever meet who really help you in everyway possible. Not everyone who has a slight difference in mentality to yourself is your enemy and Uni is a good platform to verify all the slander you hear about these groups. If you really want to know what they’re upon… just ask them!
2. The debates
Just as we’ve mentioned, there are those who really love debating, whether it’s about Islam or worldly things. Some named-groups and sects even debate over things that are not only out of their own capabilities of understanding as a layman, but also in matters that a Muslim must not go into whether a layman or the greatest scholar. Therefore, it becomes necessary for you to learn your Deen from trusted sources and be sincere in gaining that knowledge. Learn with evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah as this not only increases your general understanding of Islam but also creates certainty and it certainly eradicates doubt.
Also, beware of speaking without knowledge. It’s easy to fall into Shaytan’s trap of disagreeing with someone based upon the fact that they belong to one of these groups or sects and not because you yourself know that. You might be arguing on an issue in which they are correct about and you are wrong.
Seeing as everyone in Uni (especially Muslims, sociology, history and philosophy students) begin to act like philosophers they will be more open to ideas. Alhamdulillah this is a great platform to give Da’wah especially collectively, like writing for the student magazines or entering writing competitions and relating it to Islam, its merits and Muslims and their positive impact upon the world. Many Muslims do this and win essay competitions and have their articles publicised; it really does work!
3. The Pubs, etc
Don’t be fooled by the fact that some Muslims hang-out in the pubs staying away from drinking alcohol only playing pool, snooker, table-football and other such activities. Stay away from the pubs and clubs otherwise there’s no doubt that eventually you will either start to ‘loosen up’ in established matters of Islam or maybe even reject it and commit Kufr (disbelief).
4. The library
The more philosophical the subjects are at your Uni are, the more ‘random’ the library materials are. Recently I found the whole set of Salman Rushdie’s books including ‘Satanic Whispers’ and even more recently I found a shockingly western-biased account on Islamic Spain. Much of the books and History are anti-Islamic although we are now seeing a slow emergence of Muslim writers being recognized in the west and having their works published and put into the bookshelves of Universities. Know your religion with certainty; make sure you are grounded in Islam if you bother with such books.
I hope that this advice helps but again I recommend you to the advice of the people of knowledge and the Islamic Societies. They know how to help and go out of their way to do so. You can also go Uni for the lectures and do your work at home. Make the most of all that’s available to you and enjoy your time there. It really does open up your mind and isn’t as bad as some people say.
May Allah (swt) raise your rank and bless you in this world and the next and may He (swt) change our condition for the better and allow us to be the forerunners in this blissful task, Ameen!
On one Friday, Rasulullah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “O Muslims! Allah Ta’ala has made this day a day of eid . So have a bath on this day, whoever has perfume should apply it, and use the miswaak. ” (Ibn Majah)