Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
The Imam With One Follower
What is the position of the Hanbali madhab when it comes to standing slightly behind the Imam when only two people are praying? Is there evidence to support this?
wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
When the imam has one male follower, the follower stands one the imam's right, because of what is related that Ibn `Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) said: "I spent the night at Maymunah's--my maternal aunt--(may Allah be pleased with her). The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) rose to make the night prayer, so I got up and stood on his left. He took me by my braids [dhuwabati] and pulled me around to his right" (Bukhari & Muslim). The prayer is not valid if the follower stands to the left of the imam or stands on his own behind the row.
The evidence and ruling here is as given in Al-`Uddah Sharh Al-`Umdah (123). This ruling matches what is in Nail Al-Ma'arib, only there the primary text is explicit in the follower being parallel to the imam.
And Allah knows best.
In the future it is better to query what the evidence is instead of query about existence. It is rude to imply that Imam Ahmad or any other Imam or scholar (Allah be pleased with them all) just pulled things out of thin air or followed their whims and caprice. Not only did these people have evidence for their fiqh, they also had evidence for the strength of their evidence.
wa al-salamu `alaykum