How to Study the Hanbali Madhab

14 Jun


What follows is a curriculum for training in the Hanbali madhab based on my own experience and consultation with scholars in Arabia. Whilst there are a number of books to choose from, the following provides the best overview of the madhab, in my view.

Dalil al-Talib by Mar’i b. Yusuf (d.1033)

This text is still taught in mosques in Saudi Arabia, and students refer to Manar al-Sabil for evidences alongside Irwa’ al-Ghalil for takhrij by al-Albani. It is very clear and has quite a bit of detail not found in other books of a similar size. There is an easy audio commentary available online by Muhammad Ba-Jabir. This should be one’s starting place.

Zad al-Mustaqni’ by al-Hijjawi (d.968)

This splendid text is still widely taught here in Saudi Arabia and is based on al-Muqni’ by Ibn Qudamah. There is an easy audio commentary available online by Muhammad Ba-Jabir. Zad al-Mustaqni’ should be studied with al-Rawdh al-Murbi’ by Imam Mansur al-Bahuti (d.1051) whilst referring to the relatively recent (but excellent) hashiyat Ibn al-Qasim. Ibn ‘Uthaymin also has a brief hashiyah on it too. Recent commentaries have been written based on recorded audio classes conducted in Saudi Arabia by Ibn ‘Uthaymin and Muhammad Mukhtar al-Shanqiti, which are excellent, but do not reach the level of learning of al-Bahuti – the undisputed Imam of the Hanbalis of his time and a shaykh at al-Azhar in its golden age.

Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat by al-Bahuti (d.1051)

This is most likely the last book covered by students cover to cover with a teacher in private classes. It is a clear commentary on Ibn al-Najjar’s Muntaha al-Iradat, which clarifies the mu’tamad in the madhab, and has an ample amount of what a student needs. Traditionally, it was a reference for fatawa and one still finds it referenced in contemporary rulings.

al-Mughni by Ibn Qudama (d.620)

Al-Mughni is not really covered with a teacher anymore and is more of a personal reference. I have listed it as the last book here to cover for the standing that it has and the great benefit that studying it brings. Al-Mughni is Ibn Qudamah’s commentary on Mukhtasar al-Khiraqi, which is itself based upon the work of al-Khallal, the most active second generation Hanbali. Al-Khallal collected Imam Ahmad’s responses to legal questions from his immediate students in one book. This was then abridged by al-Khiraqi and commented upon by Ibn Qudamah in the suitably named al-Mughni (the Enricher). It was the final book in a curriculum designed by Ibn Qudamah to take one from beginner to master jurist, and has proved to be very popular among scholars of other madhabs, particularly the Shafi’is, of whom Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, al-Dhahabi, and al-Nawawi among others, held in in high regard. This book is not the final word in the madhab, but it does train one in fiqh in a way that other books do not.


There are a number of reference works which any Hanbali should have, however the following are perhaps the most essential.

Kashf al-Qina’ by al-Bahuti (d.1051) is the go to place for finding the mu’tamad position in the madhab.

al-Furu’ wa al-Tashih by Ibn Muflih (d.763) is a refreshing and influential approach to determining the soundest views.

al-Adab al-Shari’ah also by Ibn al-Muflih is an excellent book on contextualising fiqh

al-Insaf fi Ma’rifat al-Rajih min al-Ikhtilaf by al-Mardawi (d.885) is the encyclopedia of internal Hanbali differences, with the strongest view being highlighted.


Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Books, Fiqh


6 responses to “How to Study the Hanbali Madhab

  1. eltamim

    June 23, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Jazak Allah Khairan. Any chance you could fit in Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat, and Umdat al-Fiqh?
    I was really waiting for this post. Can you make it a little bit more comprehensive like adding best shuruh and side by side usul studies? 🙂

    • Al-Asiri

      June 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Wa jazakum. Akhsar and Umdat, whilst great books, are very basic. Dalil al-Talib, in the view of many, is better and more comprehensive whilst still being easy and rather basic. It packs a lot for its size. It’s two commentaries are also better than those on Akhsar and Umdat. That’s why it is usually the first book studied in public classes in mosques here in Saudi Arabia.

      Al-Bahuti is considered to be The Sharih of the madhab, and his three Shuruh which are mentioned above should be acquired by all serious students. Those, alongside Ibn Qudamah’s Sharh on Mukhtasar Al-Khiraqi, are the major shuruh of the madhab and should suffice in all but the very rarest of cases.

      We do already have a post on Hanbali usul al-fiqh, but perhaps it should be consolidated here.

      Al-salamu alaykum and may Allah bless you.

      • eltamim

        June 23, 2015 at 5:47 pm

        Wa ‘Alaikum Assalam. May Allah bless you, too.

  2. Ibn Saeed

    November 7, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah

    Can you advice on other audio/video commentaries on the books of Hanbali Madhab for a beginner in addition to Shiekh Ba Jabir ?

  3. shabazhus

    March 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    what about Bidayat ul Aabid. Is that a good beginners work in the Hanbali Madhab


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