By Christopher Melchert
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Extra info for Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Makers of the Muslim World)
A year after that, he made the first of five pilgrimages to Mecca (Sirah, 32). The spreading of hadith was a pious enterprise. Yahya ibn Ma‘in (died 233/848), who became an almost equally renowned hadith critic, accepted five hundred dirhams from the famous shaykh of Wasit (in Iraq), Yazid ibn Harun (died 206/821–2). Ahmad accepted nothing (Hilyah 9:177). ‘Abd al-Razzaq (died 211/827) said that while Ahmad was studying under him (he stayed there almost two years), he offered him a purse full of gold coins but Ahmad refused, insisting that he was well (Hilyah 9:174–5).
If a boy of five was unable quite to understand his notes, he could return to them later, memorize what was there, and say, near the end of his life, when he in his turn dictated hadith, that he was passing them on exactly as they had been passed to him. In Ahmad’s time, there was still doubt as to whether someone could legitimately relate what he had heard as a very young boy. At fifteen, he might be assumed to be at an age when he could begin to understand the legal implications of the hadith.
Sirah, 34) Ahmad also sometimes related hadith by category. Famous hadith transmitters did come to Baghdad. Ahmad heard the Khurasani, Qutaybah ibn Sa‘id (died 240/854–5), a major source for Bukhari and Muslim, in both Mecca and Baghdad (Jarh 1:299, 7:140). With an Arab comrade, he walked there, more than 140 kilometers, barefoot. indd 33 05/06/2006 11:32:47 34 AHMAD IBN HANBAL In Kufa, he slept with a mud brick for a pillow; another report says that he slept with a mud brick on the floor, then a sack containing his notebooks on the brick, then his head on the sack (Sirah, 31, 33; Siyar 11:186).
Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Makers of the Muslim World) by Christopher Melchert