It is reported that ‘Abdullāh b. Ahmad b. Hanbal – Allāh have mercy on him – said:
I asked my father, “Who are the [real] people?” He replied, “The [real] people are none but those who say haddathanā and akhbaranā (those who report hadīth).”
Abū Bakr Al-Daynūrī, Al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir Al-’Ilm article 3438.
It is reported that Imām Ahmad b. Hanbal – Allâh have mercy on him – said:
Al-Shâfi’î saw me sitting in his circle, and there was some ink on my shirt I was trying to hide. He said, “Young man, why are you hiding it? Having ink on ones clothes is a sign of lofty conduct: to the sight it is black, but to the insight it is white (with the light of knowledge).”
It is reported that ‘Abdullâh b. Al-Mubârak – Allâh have mercy on him – said:
Ink on the clothes is the perfume of the scholars.
- Some put this in verse (from Arabic):
The ink-pot’s ink is the perfume of men
As saffron is the perfume of women
So the former befits the garments of those men
As the latter the garments of wives
It is reported that Imâm Ahmad said, seeing the students of hadîth approaching with their ink-pots:
These are the lanterns of Islâm.
Al-Khatîb Al-Baghdâdî, Al-Jâmi’ li-Akhlâq Al-Râwî, articles 508, 509, 512 .
‘Alî b. Abî Khâlid – Allâh have mercy on him – reports:
I once said to Ahmad, “This shaykh – referring to an older man who was with us – is my neighbor. I told him not to keep the company of a certain person, and he would like to hear what you have to say about him: I am referring to Hârith Al-Qasîr (Al-Hârith Al-Muhâsibî). Many years ago, you saw me with him and told me not to sit with him nor speak with him. I have not spoken to him since that time. This shaykh, however, does sit with him. So what do you say?”
I saw Ahmad go red with anger, his eyes bulging; I had never before seen him like this. He started to say, “Him! May Allâh do such-and-such to him! Only those well-informed of him know what he really is, only those who really know him know what he is. Al-Mughâzilî, Ya’qûb and so-and-so sat with him, and he caused them to adopt the views of Jahm (Ibn Safwân, leader of the Jahmites). They were destroyed because of him.”
The old man said, “But Abû ‘Abdillâh, he reports hadîth, and he is mild and humble; he has done such-and-such [good works].” Abû ‘Abdillâh (Imâm Ahmad) became angry and began repeating, “Let not his humility and softness deceive you”. He also said, “Do not be fooled by his bowed head, he is an evil man; only those well-informed of him through experience know him. Do not speak to him – with all disrespect to him. Are you going to sit with everyone who narrates from Allâh’s Messenger – may the praise and peace of Allâh be upon him – though he be a heretic (mubtadi’)? No, with all disrespect.”
Tabaqât Al-Hanâbilah, article 325.
It is reported that Abû Bakr Al-Matû’î said:
I sat in the circle of Abû ‘Abdillâh Ahmad b. Hanbal for twelve years while he read the Musnad to his children, and I never wrote a single hadîth, I only looked at his behavior, character and etiquette.
Ibn Al-Jawzî, Manâqib Ahmad, article 210.
It is reported that Al-Hasan b. Ismâ’îl said, ‘I heard my father say:
There would gather in the circle of Ahmad five thousand people or more; less than five hundred would write, the rest would learn from him good manners and behavior.’
It is reported that Sufyân Al-Thawrî said:
A man who wanted to write hadîth would [learn] manners and worship for twenty years before starting.
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ`, 6:361.
It is reported that the wife of Imâm Sa’îd b. Al-Musayyib – Allâh have mercy on him – said:
We only ever used to speak to our husbands like you address your commanders and leaders: [we would supplicate for them when talking to them] “May Allâh keep you right!”, “May Allâh keep you well!”
Abû Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyâ` 5:198.
After the death of his wife Umm Sâlih, Imâm Ahmad – Allâh have mercy on them, used to praise her. He once said:
In the thirty years she was with me, we never had a single word of disagreement.
Al-Khatîb Al-Baghdâdî, Târîkh Baghdâd 16:626.