The Life of Ibn Hanbal

The Life of Ibn Hanbal

Library of Arabic Literature

by Ibn al-Jawzi

Translated by Michael Cooperson

Foreword by Garth Fowden

Published by: NYU Press

480 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781479805303
  • Published: October 2016



The Life of Ibn Hanbal is a translation of the biography of Ibn Hanbal by the Baghdad preacher, scholar, and storyteller Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1200), newly abridged for a paperback readership by translator Michael Cooperson.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855), renowned for his profound knowledge of hadiths—the reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds—is a major figure in the history of Islam. He was famous for living according to his own strict interpretation of the Prophetic model and for denying himself the most basic comforts, even though his family was prominent and his city, Baghdad, was then one of the wealthiest in the world. Ibn Hanbal’s piety and austerity made him a folk hero, especially after he resisted the attempts of two caliphs to force him to accept rationalist doctrine. His subsequent imprisonment and flogging is one of the most dramatic episodes of medieval Islamic history, and his principled resistance influenced the course of Islamic law, the rise of Sunnism, and the legislative authority of the caliphate.

Set against the background of fierce debates over the role of reason and the basis of legitimate government, The Life of Ibn Hanbal tells the formidable life tale of one of the most influential Muslims in history.

An English-only edition.