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Thabaqat hanabilah 2/425

Manaqib ms 224
The Letter of Imaam Ahmad to Musaddad ibn Musarhad
By Imaam Ahmad, Compiled by the Dar al-Kitab wal-Hikmah Editorial Staf
يحم ر
لا ن
لا ه م للا م

Qaadhi Abu Ya'la Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Khalf al-
Farraa' narrates in at-Tabaqaat [1] and Abu al-Faraj Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Ali
ibn al-Jawzi al-Hanbali in his book Manaaqib al-Imaam Ahmad [2] and al-
Qaadhi Burhan ad-Deen Ibraaheem ibn Mufih mentioned in his book Al-
Maqsad al-Arshad that Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Burda'i at-Tameemi
[3] said: When the afair of the Fitnah (trial or tribulation) became difcult for
Musaddad ibn Musarhad – that is, concerning the view of the creation of the
Qur'aan and what the people fell into of diference concerning al-Qadr , ar-
Rafdh [4], al-I'tizaal [5], the creation of the Qur'aan, and al-Irjaa' [6] – he wrote
to Ahmad ibn Hanbal to write for him the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah,
sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,. So when the book reached Ahmad ibn Hanbal, he
wept and said, “To Allaah we belong and to Him we shall return. This Basri
claims that he has spent a large amount of wealth in [seeking] knowledge and
he is not guided to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (ملس و هيلع هللا ىلص)
so he wrote to him:
يحم ر
لا ن
لا ه م للا م
All praise is due to Allaah who has placed in each age remnants from the people
of knowledge who call the one misguided to guidance, and prevent him from
destruction, and who give life through the Book of Allaah to the dead and
through the Sunnah of Allaah's Messenger to the people of ignorance and
destruction. So how many of those killed by Iblees have they revived, and how
many lost misguided ones have they guided, so how excellent have been their
efects on the people, they expel from the religion of Allaah (Azza wa Jall) the
distortions of those who go beyond bounds, and the forgery of the falsifers, and
the false interpretations of the misguided; those who raised up the fags of
innovations, and loosened the bridle of ftnah, opposing the Book; they speak
about Allaah and concerning Allaah – Exalted is Allaah above what they say
with great ascendancy ( Uluwwan Kabeeran ) – in His Book without knowledge.
[7] So we seek refuge in Allaah from every misguiding trial, and may Allaah
make salaah and send peace upon Muhammad, the Prophet, and upon his
As to what follows: May Allaah guide us and you to all of that in which there is
His Pleasure and His Obedience, and turn us and you away from all of that in
which there is His anger, and may he use us and you for the work of those who
humble themselves to him and are knowledgeable of him and fearful of him for
He is the one who asked for all of this.
And I advise you and myself to have Taqwa of Allaah, the Great, and to stick to
the Sunnah and the Jamaa'ah, for you know what has befallen those who
opposed it, and what has been reported concerning those who follow it, for it
has reached us that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “Verily
Allaah will enter a slave into Paradise by the Sunnah due to his holding fast to
it.” [8]
And I order you not to prefer anything over the Qur'aan, for it is the Speech of
Allaah, and whatever Allaah has spoken with, then it is not created, and what
he has reported on the past generations, then it is not created, and what is in
the Preserved Tablet and is in the Mushaf and the recitation of the people and
however it may be described, then it is [all] the Speech of Allaah, uncreated. So
whoever says, created, then he is a disbeliever in Allaah, the Great, and whoever
does not regard him as a disbeliever, then he is a disbeliever. Then after the
Book of Allaah is the Sunnah of His Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and
the Hadeeths from him, and from the guided ones from the Companions of the
Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,, and the Followers after them, and belief
in what the Messengers brought, and following of the Sunnah is salvation, and
it is what the people of knowledge have reported, one great scholar from
And beware the view of Jahm, for he is a person of Ra'i [9] and Kalaam [10] and
As for the Jahmiyyah , then those whom we have met from the people of
knowledge are in consensus in saying: The Jahmiyyah are divided into three
sects, so a party of them says, “The Qur'aan is the Speech of Allaah and it is
created,” and a party said, “The Qur'aan is the Speech of Allaah,” and then
remained silent, and they are the pausing, cursed group [11] , and a party of
the said, “Our words with the Qur'aan are created,” [12] all of these groups are
Jahmiyyah , disbelievers, and their repentance should be sought, so either they
repent or are killed.
And those that we met from the people of knowledge were in agreement that
whoever holds this view and does not repent, he should not be given in
marriage, nor is his becoming a judge permissible, nor is meat slaughtered by
him to be eaten.
And Imaan is statement and action, it increases and decreases, its increase is
when you do good, and its decrease is when you do evil.
And a man comes out of Imaan to Islaam , so if he repents, he returns to Imaan
, but nothing takes him out of Islaam except associating partners with Allaah,
the Great or rejecting an obligation from the obligations of Allaah, denying it,
but if he abandons it out of laziness or neglect, he is under the will of Allaah, if
He wills, He punishes him, and if He wills, He pardons him.
And as for the Mu'tazilah : then those whom we have met from the people of
knowledge have agreed that they make takfeer [13] based on sins, and whoever
from amongst them as well, for they claim that Aadam was a disbeliever and
that the brothers of Yoosuf, when they lied to their father, upon him be peace,
they were disbelievers.
And the Mu'tazilah are in agreement that whoever steals a grain, then he is a
disbeliever, and some say in the fre, his wife is to be separated from him, and
he must repeat his Hajj if he has performed Hajj. So these ones who hold this
view are disbelievers, and their ruling is that they not be spoken too nor given
in marriage, nor their slaughterings be eaten, nor should their testimony be
accepted until they repent.
And as for the Raafdhah : then those whom we have met from the people of
knowledge are in agreement that they say: Ali ibn Abu Taalib is more virtuous
than Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, and that the (conversion to) Islaam of Ali was older
than the (conversion to) Islaam of Abu Bakr, so whoever claims that Ali ibn Abu
Taalib is more virtuous than Abu Bakr, then he has rejected the Book and the
Sunnah. Allaah, the Most High, states: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah
and those who are with him…” al-ayah [14]
So Allaah gave precedence to Abu Bakr after the Prophet, not Ali, and the
Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “If I was going to take a khaleel , I
would have taken Abu Bakr as a khaleel , however, Allaah has taken your
companion as a khaleel - that is, himself- and there is no prophet after me.”
And whoever claims that the Islaam of Ali was before the Islaam of Abu Bakr,
then he is mistaken for Abu Bakr converted and he was at that time thirty-fve
years of age, while Ali was at that time seven years of age, and the commands
and punishments and obligations did not yet apply to him.
And we believe in al-Qadhaa and al-Qadr [16] , the good and the bad of it, And
the sweet and the bitter of it are from Allaah, and that Allaah created Paradise
before creating the Creation, and he created for it people, and its bounties are
everlasting, so whoever claims that anything from Jannah shall come to an end,
then he is a disbeliever, and he created the Fire before creating the Creation,
and he created for it people, and its punishment is everlasting, and that Allaah
will bring groups out of the fre through the intercession of the Prophet
Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam.
And that the people of Paradise shall see their lord without any obstacle.
And that Allaah spoke to Moosaa with speech, and He took Ibraaheem as a
khaleel .
And the Meezaan [17] is true, and the Siraat [18] is true, and the Prophets are
true, and Eesaa son of Maryam is the Slave of Allaah and His Messenger and
His Word.
And belief in the Haudh [19] and the Intercession, and belief in the Arsh and
the Kursi , and belief in the Angel of Death, and that he seizes the souls then
they are returned to the bodies in the graves and are asked concerning al-
Eemaan and Tawheed and the Messengers.
And belief in Munkar and Nakeer and the punishment of the grave, and belief in
the blowing of the Soor , and it is a horn that Israafeel will blow.
And that the grave that is in Madeenah is the grave of the Prophet, sallallaahu
alayhi wa sallam,, with him Abu Bakr and Umar. And the hearts of the slaves
are between two of the Fingers of ar-Rahmaan, Azza wa Jall, and ad-Dajjaal
shall appear in this Ummah, without a doubt. And Eesaa son of Maryam shall
descend to the Earth and kill him at the Gate of Ludd. And that which the
Scholars of Ahl us Sunnah rejected out of doubt, then that is evil.
And beware of all innovations, and no eye has seen after the Prophet,
sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, more virtuous than Abu Bakr, nor has any eye
has seen after Abu Bakr more virtuous than Umar, nor has any eye seen after
Umar better than Uthmaan, nor has any eye seen after Uthmaan ibn Afaan
better than Ali ibn Abu Taalib.
Ahmad said: We used to say: Abu Bakr and Umar and Uthman and remain
silent concerning Ali until the authenticy of the hadeeth of Ibn Umar
concerning his virtue became clear to us.
Ahmad said: They are, by Allaah, the Rightly-Guided Khaleefas.
And that we bear witness concerning the ten that they are in Paradise: Abu
Bakr, and Umar, and Uthmaan, and Ali, and Talhah, and az-Zubayr, and Sa'd,
and Sa'eed [20] , And Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Awf, and Abu Ubaydah ibn al-
Jarraah, so whoever the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, bore witness
that he is in Paradise, we bear witness for him as well.
And raising the hands in prayer is an increase in good deeds, and proclaiming
the Aameen out loud at the saying of the Imaam, “ Wa laa adh-dhaalleen” And
praying upon whoever dies of the people of this qiblah and their reckoning is
upon Allaah Azza wa Jall, and going out with every leader who goes out in a
battle or Hajj, and praying behind every righteous and wicked person the prayer
of Jumu'ah and the two ‘Eeds, and making supplication for the leaders of the
Muslims for rectifcation, and we do not revolt against them with the sword, and
we do not fght in ftnah [21] , and we do not consider it for anyone from the
Muslims to say: So-and-so is in Paradise, so-and-so is in the Fire, except for the
Ten that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, testifed to Paradise for
And remaining silent about the shortcomings of the Companions of Allaah's
Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,, speak concerning their virtues and
remain silent concerning the disputes that took place between them.
And do not consult the people of innovations concerning your religion, and do
not accompany any of them in your travels, and describe Allaah with that with
which He described Himself, and negate from Allaah that which He negated
from Himself, and avoid debate with the people of desires.
And there is no marriage except with a guardian and a proposer and to two
trustworthy witnesses, and al-Mut'ah [22] is prohibited until the Day of
Judgment. And the takbeers for the funeral prayer are four. And if the Imaam
pronounces takbeer fve times, then make takbeer with him as did Ali ibn Abu
Taalib. Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood said, “Pronounce takbeer as many times as your
imaam pronounces takbeer.” Ahmad said: ash-Shaaf'ee disagreed with me
saying, if he increases upon four takbeers, the prayer is repeated, using as proof
against me the hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,: “That he
prayed upon a funeral and pronounced takbeer four times.” And in one
narration, “He prayed upon an-Najaashi pronouncing takbeer four times.” [23]
And wiping on the khufs for the traveler is for three days and nights, and for
the resident one day and night, and prayer of the night and the day is two, two,
[24] and there is no prayer before ‘Eed, and when you enter the masjid, do not
sit until you pray two rak'ahs as tahiyyah al-masjid , and witr is a rak'ah, and
the Iqaamah is indivual [phrases], [25] and love the People of the Sunnah [ Ahl
as-Sunnah ] for what has come forth from them.
And may Allah cause us and you to die on Islaam and the Sunnah, and may He
grant knowledge to us and to you, and guide us to that which He loves and is
pleased with.
This is the last of what reached us from that which the Imaam wrote to
Musaddad, may Allaah have mercy on both of them.
[1] At-Tabaqaat : 1/342.
[2] Al-Manaaqib p. 217.
[3] Some have challenged the authenticity of attributing this treatise to Imaam
Ahmad on the grounds that Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Burda'i at-Tameemi is
unknown. However Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah has lifted any doubt
surrounding its reliability:
“As for the Letter of Ahmad ibn Hanbal to Musaddad ibn Musarhad, it is well
known to the People of Hadeeth and Sunnah from amongst the companions of
Ahmad and other than them, they took it with acceptance. And Abu Abdullaah
ibn Battah mentioned it in his book al-Ibaanah and more than one has relied
upon it such as al-Qaadhi Abu Ya'laa and he wrote it by his own hand.”
Majmoo' al-Fatawaa , vol. 5, p. 396. For the full discussion surrounding this
letter, see Majmoo' al-Fataawaa, vol. 5, pp. 375-377, 380-396.
[4] The madh-hab of the Shee'ah.
[5] The madh-hab of the Mu'tazilah.
[6] The madh-hab of the Murji'ah.
[7] That is, they speak about Allaah's Attributes which He has mentioned in His
Book without knowledge.
[8] See Kanz al Ummaal 1/183, ad-Daaraqutni reported in Al-Afraad from
Aa'ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, “Whoever holds fast to the Sunnah
has entered Paradise.”
[9] Ra'i - opinion, in this context it indicates following of baseless opinions and
neglecting the guidance of Allaah that has come in the Qur'aan and the
[10] Theological Rhetoric.
[11] That is they remain silent and do not explicitly state their view that Allaah's
Speech is created.
[12] That is, they say that our recitation of the Qur'aan is created, desiring
thereby to promote their idea that the Qur'aan is created.
[13] To declare someone to be a disbeliever or to have gone outside the fold of
[14] The rest of the verse states, “… are severe with the disbelievers, merciful
amongst themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating, seeking bounty
from Allaah and His Pleasure. Their mark (of their faith) is in their Faces from
the traces of prostration. This is their description in the Torah, and their
description in the Gospel is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then
makes it strong, and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem,
delighting the sowers, that he may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allaah
has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds
forgiveness and a great reward.” [al-Fath (48):29] It was a common practice in
the works of classical scholars to simply quote part of a verse and then simply
state “al-ayah” to indicate the rest of the ayah as it was understood that the
reading audience would generally be acquainted with the rest of the verse.
[15] Muslim reported it (no. 2383) – in Virtues of the Companions – from the
hadeeth of ibn Mas'ood with the wording, “If I was going to take a khaleel , I
would have taken Abu Bakr as a khaleel , but he is my brother and my
companion, and Allaah, Azza wa Jall, has taken your companion as a khaleel .”
And concerning the topic there is a narration from Jundub ibn Abdullaah (no.
532) and from Ibn Abbaas with Bukhaari (7/15) and from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri
with Bukhaari (7/10-11) and Muslim (2382) and at-Tirmidhi (3661).
[16] That is, predestination.
[17] Scales.
[18] A bridge over Hell.
[19] A water basin or pond. The Prophet (S) said, “The measure of my Haudh is
like the distance between Aylah and San'aa in Yaman, and it has jugs like
similar in number to the stars in the sky.” [al-Bukhaari]
[20] Sa'eed ibn Zayd.
[21] Civil War between the Muslims.
[22] Temporary Marriage. A practice from the days of Jaahiliyyah still in
practice amongst the Shee'ah.
[23] Reported by Maalik (1/266), Bukhaari (3/163), and Muslim (no. 951) from
the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah.
[24] That is, voluntary prayer is to be ofered in sets of two rak'ahs.
[25] As opposed to saying them double in the manner of the Aadhaan.