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Imam Ahmad began his quest for the knowledge of hadith at the age of 16. He set
out for kufah in the year : 183 a.h. and to basrah in 186 a.h. and to Sufyaan bin
'uyaynah in makkah in :187 a.h. and he went to Imam Abdur Razzaq in San'aa –
together with Imam Yahya bin Ma'een- in the year : 197 a.h. [pg. 53]

He is quite renowned due to his celebrated work known as: "Musnad Imam

Ibnul Jawzi {r.a.} states: “Imam Ahmad traveled the world twice and thereafter he
compiled his Musnad" [pg. 54]

Imaam Ahmad {R.A.} says:

" I traveled in the search of knowledge and hadith to : Shaam, Morocco, Aljazaair,
Makkah, Madinah, Yemen, 'Iraaq, Persia and Khurasaan and then returned to
Baghdaad. And when I went to Kufah, I was once at a stage when I only had a
brick as my pillow"! [ibid]

Yahya ibn Ma'een narrates a few outstanding incidents that occurred in his journey
with Imaam Ahmad to San'aa in Yemen for the sake of benefiting from Imaam
Abdur Razzaq.

He says:

“When we set out for Imaam Abdur Razzaq to Yemen, we first went for Haj. One
day whilst I was in tawaaf, I spotted Imaam Abdur Razzaq. So I greeted him and
said to him: “Here is your brother Imaam Ahmad ibn Hambal !" He replied: " May
Allah keep him alive and steadfast for verily I have heard every good about him".
Then I said to Imaam Ahmad: "Allah has shortened our distance, granted us
abundance of wealth and he has saved us from a month long journey". Imaam
Ahmad said : "In Baghdaad I had intended to hear { hadith } from Abdur Razzaq
in San'aa, by Allah I shall never change my Intention".

Yahya says:

"When we went to Sa'aa, Imaam Ahmad's wealth became exhausted so Imaam

Abdur Razzaq offered him a large sum of money but he refused to accept it. Then
he asked him to take it as a loan, but he still refused. He also refused our wealth
that we had offered him. When we checked on him we found that he use to sell
belts and eat of it's profit".
Imaam ibnul Jawzi {r.a.} states in his book:

Manaaqibul Imaam Ahmad" that once Imaam Abdur Razzaq mentioned Imaam
Ahmad and tears came to his eyes. He then said: "He came to us and stayed for
approximately 2 years. I once came to know that his money finished so I took him
by his hand behind the door and when we were alone I said to him:

"Verily I do not accumulate a lot of wealth. When we sell the crops the money
gets used up in something or the other yet I have found 10 dinaars by the women
folk of the house, so take it and I hope that before you spend it we would have
acquired more. He replied:

“Oh Abdur Razzaq! If I ever accepted anything from people I would have
accepted from you" [pg. 235-236]

Ibnul Jawzi then narrated from Imaam Ishaaq ibn Raahuyah {1} He said:" When
Imaam Ahmad went to Abdur Razzaq and his expenditure became exhausted, his
compatriots offered to assist him he refused and instead he had hired himself out
as a porter until he reached San'aa."

Ahmad bin Sinaan Al-Waasity says:

“I have heard that Imaam Ahmad on one occasion pawned his shoes by a baker in
lieu of food that he had taken from him"!!

Haafiz Ibn Katheer {R.A.} while discussing the hardships that Imaam Ahmad
undertook in his student days mentions: “And his clothes were stolen while he was
in Yemen so he stayed in his room. When his companions became aware of this
they offered him gold coins but he refused. Infact he only took 1 Dinaar with the
condition that he will become their scribe! {He took it as a payment for his effort}

{The lesson to learn from this aspect of the life of such a great Imaam is that he
had remained independent from everyone besides Allaah Ta'ala.

Let us also follow his footsteps in that if we are poverty stricken we would rather
earn our money through our own effort instead of accepting handouts from people.

After all, in this way he became "Imaam ul Muslimeen" {the words of Yahya ibn
Ma'een in the previous story…}