by Sh. G. F. Haddad

Ah.mad ibn Salmān ibn al-H.asan, Abū Bakr al-Baghdādī al-H.anbalī al-Najjād (d. 348), eulogized by al-Dhahabī as "the imām, the h.adīth scholar, the h.adīth Master, the jurisprudent, the mufti, the shaykh of Iraq." The shaykh of al-Dāraqut.nī, al-H.ākim, al-Khattābī, Ibn Mandah, al-Khiraqī, and others, he narrated from ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ah.mad ibn H.anbal and was the last to narrate from Abū Dāwūd. He was reported to relate narrations which were not consigned in his own records, perhaps due to the loss of his sight. Abū ʿAlī ibn al-Sawwaf said: "Ah.mad ibn Salmān al-Najjād used to come with us to the h.adīth scholars such as Bishr ibn Mūsā and others, holding his shoes in his hands because, he said, ʿI love to walk barefoot in pursuit of the h.adīth of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him.'" Ibn Abī Yaʿla comments: "He may have done so to conform with the Prophet's ﷺ saying: 'Shall I not inform you of the one who will carry the lightest burden on the Day of Judgment in front of Allāh? It is the one who races towards good deeds, walking barefoot. Gibrīl told me: 'Allāh looks kindly upon a servant of His who walks barefoot in the pursuit of good.'"(*)

Al-Najjād used to fast every day of the year, and he would break his fast every night with a loaf of bread of which he left aside one mouthful. On the night of Jumuʿa he would give away his loaf as charity, and eat the mouthfuls he had put aside.

Al-Najjād relates:

One time I found myself in difficulty so I went to visit Ibrāhīm al-H.arbī. I told him of my condition and he said: "You should know that I too found myself in difficulty, until I only had small change left in my possession. My wife said to me: ʿLook among your books, see what you don't need, and sell it!' After I prayed ʿisha I sat in the lobby of my house (al-dihlīz) to write, whereupon someone knocked at the door. I asked who it was and he said: ʿLet me speak to you.' I opened the door. He said to me: ʿPut out the light,' so I put it out. He came into the lobby and put down a food-basket (karra). Then he said to me: ʿWe have prepared food for the children, and we wanted you and your children to have your share of it. This is something else together with it,' and he placed something next to the basket, adding: ʿUse it as you wish.' I did not know who that man was. Then he left. I called my wife and told her to light the candles. She lit them and came to see. The basket was wrapped in an expensive scarf and contained fifty different kinds of food. Next to it was a purse containing a thousand dinars." I got up and took my leave of al-H.arbī, after which I went to Ah.mad [ibn H.anbal]'s grave to visit him. Then I went on my way. As I was walking on the side of the road, an old woman, one of our neighbors, met me and said: "O Ah.mad, why do you look so downcast?" I told her of my predicament. She said: "Do you know that your mother gave me three hundred dirhams before she died, and said to me: ʿKeep them, and if you see my son in difficulty or downcast one day, give them to him.' Come with me so I can give them to you." I went with her and she gave me the sum."

Main sources: Ibn Abi Yaʿlā, T.abaqāt al-H.anābila 2:7-8; al-Dhahabī, Siyar 12:137 #3132; Mīzān 1:101.

(*) Al-Munāwī cited similar narrations in Fayd. al-Qadīr: "If you race with each other towards good, walk barefoot, because Allāh multiplies the reward of those who walk barefoot over those who wear shoes." Al-Munāwī said: "Narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās by al-T.abarānī in al-Awsat., al-Khat.īb in Tārīkh Baghdād, and al-H.ākim in his Tārīkh Naysabūr. Its chain contains ʿIsā ibn Nujayh who, al-Dhahabī said, forged narrations. Hence Ibn al-Jawzi included it among his Mawdūʿāt (1:217). It is somewhat strengthened by al-T.abarānī's other report whereby ʿWhoever walks barefoot in Allāh's obedience, Allāh will not ask him to account for His orders on the Day of Judgment.' However, even the latter report was said to be a fabrication." Ibn al-Jawzī's verdict was confirmed by al-Suyūt.ī in al-La'āli' (1983 ed. 1:194), Ibn ʿArrāq in Tanzīh al-Sharīʿa (1:251), al-Ghumārī in al-Mughīr (p. 14) and al-Ah.dal in Zawā'id Tārīkh Baghdād (8:199-200 #1745). Of note here is Shuʿba ibn al-H.ajjāj's saying: "Those who go in pursuit of the h.adīth on horse-back (ʿalā al-dawābb) cannot succeed." Narrated by Abū Nuʿaym in the H.ilya (7:179 #10117).

Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.

GF Haddad

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