From Tradition to Institution: Sunna in the Early Ḥanbalī School

Harith Bin Ramli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While he is considered the founder of the Hanbalï school of law, Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (d. 241/855)is not known to have authored any works on jurisprudence, his primary literary legacy being various types of collections of traditions. Nevertheless, many, if not all, his leading disciples transmitted his legal opinions in collections containing his responses to various questions, not only about Islamic law, but also on ethics, theology, and, occasionally, legal hermeneutics. It took almost a full century and a half before Ḥanbalīs began to articulate a comprehensive system of jurisprudence, deriving rather general principles (uṣūl) from his different statements.
This chapter explores this process by looking at the concept of "Sunna" in Ḥanbalī law and how it developed through significant efforts to compile and harmonize the different Masā’il, the key development in this processlargely taking place under the Ḥanbalī qāḍī of Baghdad, Abū Ya’lā Ibn al-Farrā’ (d. 458/1066), who composed the school’s first proper work in jurisprudence (uṣūl al-fiqh).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law
Subtitle of host publication The Search for a Sound Hadith
EditorsAdis Duderija
Place of PublicationBasingstoke, United Kingdom
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9781137369925
ISBN (Print)9781349578313
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePalgrave Series in Islamic Theology, Law


  • Islam
  • Law
  • Religion
  • Islamic Law


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