Ah.mad ibn Salmân ibn al-H.asan, Abû Bakr al-Baghdâdî al-H.anbalî al-Najjâd (d. 348), eulogized by al-Dhahabî as “the imâm, the h.adîth scholar, the h.adîth Master, the jurisprudent, the mufti, the shaykh of Iraq.” The shaykh of al-Dâraqut.nî, al-H.âkim, al-Khattâbî, Ibn Mandah, al-Khiraqî, and others, he narrated from `Abd Allâh ibn Ah.mad ibn H.anbal and was the last to narrate from Abû Dâwûd. He was reported to relate narrations which were not consigned in his own records, perhaps due to the loss of his sight. Abû `Alî ibn al-Sawwaf said: “Ah.mad ibn Salmân al-Najjâd used to come with us to the h.adîth scholars such as Bishr ibn Mûsâ and others, holding his shoes in his hands because, he said, `I love to walk barefoot in pursuit of the h.adîth of the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him.’” Ibn Abî Ya`la comments: “He may have done so to conform with the Prophet’s (saws) saying: `Shall I not inform you of the one who will carry the lightest burden on the Day of Judgment in front of Allâh? It is the one who races towards good deeds, walking barefoot. Gibrîl told me: `Allâh looks kindly upon a servant of His who walks barefoot in the pursuit of good.’”(*)

Al-Najjâd 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 Jumu`a he would give away his loaf as charity, and eat the mouthfuls he had put aside.

Al-Najjâd relates:

One time I found myself in difficulty so I went to visit Ibrâhîm al-H.arbî. 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: `Look among your books, see what you don’t need, and sell it!’ After I prayed `isha I sat in the lobby of my house (al-dihlîz) to write, whereupon someone knocked at the door. I asked who it was and he said: `Let me speak to you.’ I opened the door. He said to me: `Put 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: `We 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: `Use 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.arbî, 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: `Keep 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 Ya`lâ, T.abaqât al-H.anâbila 2:7-8; al-Dhahabî, Siyar 12:137 #3132; Mîzân 1:101.

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