by M COOPERSON · Cited by 1 — Ibn Hanbal had refused assent to the doctrine of the createdness of the Qur’an, a doctrine which the previous caliph, al-Ma’mün, had declared orthodox eight years

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TWO ABBASE) TRIALS: AHMAD fflN HANBAL AND HUNAYN B. ISHÀQ1 Michael COOPERSON University of California, Los Angeles I. hi 220/835, the ‘Abbasid caMph al-Mu’tasim presided over a disputation between the hadîth-scholar Ibn Hanbal and a group of court theologians. Ibn Hanbal had refused assent to the doctrine of the createdness of the Qur’an, a doctrine which the previous caliph, al-Ma’mün, had declared orthodox eight years before. Spared execution by the death of al-Ma’mûn, Ibn Hanbal languished in prison at Baghdad until a well-meaning relative persuaded the authorities to let him defend himself. The ensuing disputation took place before the caMph al-Mu’tasim, who did not share al-Ma’mùn’s penchant for theology. In partisan accounts, each side claims to have won the debate, or at least to have exposed the incoherence of the other position. Yet the caliph does not appear to have decided the case on its intellectual merits. Rather, he merely agreed with his advisors that Ibn Hanbal’s stubbornness was tantamount to defiance of the state. Even so, he did not agree to execute him, or return him to prison. Instead, he ordered him flogged and then released. Modem scholarship has only recently called the conventional account of Ibn Hanbal’s release into question. ^ The early Hanbalî accounts claim that their imam’s fortitude won the day. ^ Realizing that Ibn Hanbal would allow himself to be beaten to death rather than capitulate, al-Mu’tasim let him go, an account which later sources supplement with elaborate hagiographie fabrications. The Arabic and Islamic traditions have with very few exceptions adopted this version of events, as have most foreign students of the inquisition. But al-Jahiz, a contemporary and hostile source, flatly states that Ibn Hanbal capitulated; and the Hanbalî accounts indeed seem conspicuously interested in dispelling precisely this impression. In recent times, the argument for capitulation has found a profoundly learned exponent in Josef van Ess, who says of Ibn Hanbal that «without a confession, they would never have let him go». “^ * I would like to thank Lital Levy and Mîkâl ‘ Abd al-Barr for their bibliographic assistance. ^ For surveys of the primary and secondary scholarship, van Ess, Théologie und Gesellschaft, 3: 446-508, and Cooperson, Classical Arabic Biography, 107-53. To the references there should be added Jâbirî, Muthaqqajun, 65-115 (I thank Ahmad Alwisha for this reference). ^ I use the term «imam» here in the Sunni sense of «leading scholar» or «exemplaD>. The Hanbalî sources customarily apply the title to Ibn Hanbal (for the justification, see Ibn Abî Ya’lâ, Tabaqàt, 1: 12ff), and I wiU occasionally use it for convenience. ^ Van Ess, Théologie und Gesellschaft, 3:465. Al-Qantara XXH, 2 (2001) 375-393

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376 M. CooPERSON Ag. XXn, 2001 The present paper examines the most detailed trial account, that by the imam’s cousin Hanbal b. Ishàq (d. 273/886), and argues that it provides a plausible explanation for release without a capitulation. This explanation hinges on the conduct of the caHph. I will argue that his behaviour (as described by Hanbal) is consistent with the customary role of the caMph in sectarian disputes, that is, with his role as arbiter in disputes between Christians. If this analogy is accepted, al-Mu’tasim’s decision to flog Ibn Hanbal and then release him, even without a capitulation, appears perfectly credible. As the Christian parallel will show, caHphs could (and did) act in cases of rehgious controversy without presuming to setde the theological question at issue. It may seem strange to argue that al-Mu’tasim decided to treat Ibn Hanbal and his opponents as he would a pack of squabbling Christians, but his response to the disputation suggests that this is more or less what he did. n. In the early ‘ Abbasid period. Christian authorities were repeatedly obliged to ask the caliph to intervene in the affairs of their communities. Like their Western counterparts, the Eastern Christian authorities could impose penance on heretics, or excommunicate them. But to scourge, imprison, or execute a contumacious dissenter, they handed him over to the MusHm authorities. Although two ‘Abbasids (al-Mahdi and al-Ma’mün) took an intellectual interest in Christianity, the caHphs obviously had no right to pronounce on disputed matters of Christian faith. Rather, they accepted the word of the Christian authorities regarding the nature of the offense. Significantly, however, the caHphs exercised their own discretion regarding the nature of the punishment. Moreover, they were free to revoke the penalty they had imposed, and thus in effect to pardon the offender. The most detailed information about relations between the Church and the caliphate in this period comes from the annals of the Nestorian Church. Again and again, we find the ‘Abbasid caliphs intervening in ecclesiastical affairs, most notably in the election of the patriarch. The caliph al-Saffah, for example, deposed a patriarch who had gained his office by coercion. ^ Al-Mahdî settled another disputed election by interviewing the two candidates and naming the winner; and al-Mu’tasim, prompted by this Christian physician, threw an election by arresting one of the nominees. ^ The caliphs are also on record as having intervened between patriarchs and their subordinates. When the Jacobite bishop of Baghdad refused to acknowledge the authority of his patriarch, the latter asked al-Ma’mün to adjudicate the dispute. Despite his ^ Fiey, Chrétiens syriaques, 10. 6 Ibid., 33-34 and 77.

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AQ. XXII, 2001 Two ABBASID TRIALS: AMVIAD IBN HANBAL 377 earlier declaration that any community larger than ten persons could elect its own leader, the caliph agreed to depose the bishop (but forbade his excommunication). ^ As these examples indicate, the caliphs did not intervene on their own initiative, but at the behest of a party to the dispute. In many cases, the instigator was a layman Š^usually a physicianŠ who had the caHph’s ear; and the matter in dispute had Uttle or nothing to do with doctrine as such. Most questions of religious conformity seem to have been dealt with internally. ^ Yet the caMphs did have a stake in maintaining the dignity of the Church. The patriarch was the caliph’s counterpart as well as his client, and disrespect for him impHed disrespect for his patron. ^ When a caliph was asked to reinforce patriarchal authority, he took such requests seriously, even to the point of enforcing doctrines entirely foreign to Islam. This may have only happened once, and even then the sources are not entirely to be trusted. Yet the records of this one case contain plentiful information Šsome of it perhaps authentic, and some at least behevable to contemporary audiencesŠ, about caliphal responses to disputed matters of Christian doctrine. The case in question is that of Hunayn b. Ishàq (d. 260/873), the celebrated Nestorian physician and translator. The divergent accounts of his run-in with the caliph and the Church can be pouped and summarized as follows. la. An account in Ibn al-*Ibri’s Arabic chronicle stating that Hunayn found in the home of a fellow Christian a picture depicting Christ and his disciples, before which was set a votive light. «Why are you wasting oil?», asks Hunayn. «That is not the Messiah and his disciples; it’s just a picture». At the instigation of his rival al-Tayfûiî, Hunayn spits upon the picture. His rival denounces him before the caliph al-Mutawakkil and seeks the latter’s permission to carry out the appropriate punishment according to Nestorian practice. Hunayn is excommunicated and dies the same night, having allegedly poisoned himself. ^^ lb. An account in the same author’s Syriac chronicle, similar to the preceding, in which Hunayn does not spit upon the icon, and denounces al-Tayfûn as an idolater before the caHph. Nevertheless, it is again Hunayn who is excommunicated. ^^ ^ Ibid., 70. In one case, a patriarch was allegedly called in to settle the affairs of a caliph. When al-Rashid wanted to remarry his divorced wife Zubayda without observing the usual conditions, Tïmûtâwûs I devised a false conversion to circumvent Islamic law (ibid., 57-58; Putman, L’Eglise et l’Islam, 130-40). ^ See Fiey, Chrétiens syriaques, 52 and 56. ^ When the physician Sàknawayh asked al-Mu’tasim to intervene in a patriarchal election, he did so on the grounds that the other party «has not shown me the respect due me for my attendance upon you, and for the function I have exercised at your court my whole life long» {ibid., 11). ‘Olbnal-‘Ibn, ra’nÂ:/z, 145. ^’ Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, U: 197-199.

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378 M. COOPERSON AQ, XXH, 2001 le. An account given by Ibn Juljul and Ibn Abï Usaybi’a (who discounts it) stating that Hunayn humiliated his medical colleague al-Tayfûrî in the presence of the caHph. The next day, al-Tayfun asks Hunayn to spit upon a picture of the crucifiers of Christ; Hunayn refuses on the same grounds as in (la) above. Al-Tayfûrï denounces him to al-Mutawakkil, who calls in the catholicos (i.e., the patriarch) and the bishops, who in turn «pronounced seventy anathemas upon Hunayn in the presence of the congregation, and cut his zunnàr». The caliph also refuses to have anything more to do with Hunayn. The latter is said to have died the same night, either from misery or self-administered poison. ^^ 2. Hunayn’s purported autobiographical epistle, in which he explains that the Christian court physicians resented him for his knowledge of Greek and his high position at court. One of his rivals, Bakhtïshû’ b. Jibrâ’ïl, tricks him into spitting upon an icon in the presence of the caliph al-Mutawakkil. The caliph, forewarned that Hunayn is an heretic, has him imprisoned. He then consults the catholicos, who regrets that he does not have the temporal authority to punish Hunayn; all he can do is excommunicate him until he recants. The caliph orders Hunayn to be beaten and incarcerated, and confiscates his property. After some four months, Hunayn’s rivals at court succeed in persuading the caliph to execute him. The next day, however, the caliph Šwho has been unwell for some timeŠ has Hunayn brought in and asked to prescribe a treatment for his illness. In the presence of the assembled physicians, the caliph reports that Jesus came to him in a dream and asked him to pardon Hunayn. The caliph exacts a fine from Hunayn’s rivals and bestows numerous honors and properties upon him. *^ All these accounts, including the one attributed to Hunayn himself, agree that he ran afoul of his co-religionists because he desecrated an icon. ^^ The Nestorian church admits the veneration of icons, ^^ and the reasons for Hunayn’s dissident opinion (if he had one) remain a matter of debate. He may have been inflluenced by Byzantine iconoclasm, ^^ ancient Greek rationalism, ^^ or Muslim *” Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, ‘Uyun al-anbà’, 263-264. The zunnar was the characteristic sash worn by Christians. ‘3 Ibid., 264-270. ^’^ The well-known story about Hunayn’s refusal to concoct a poison and his consequent imprisonment is probably a fabrication designed to exculpate Hunayn. It may also be an attempt to clear Bakhtíshü’, whom text 2 accuses of slander. Ibn AM Usaybi’a, one of our sources for the tale, cites a descendant of Bakhtíshü’ as his source for it (Ibn Abï Usaybi’a, ‘Uyün aUanba’, 261; cf. 214). Ibid., 144-145, identifies the cahph in question as al-Mutawakkil, who also appears in the desecration stories. ‘^ Delly, «Culte»; Griffith, «Theodore Abu Qurrah’s Arabic tract», 58. ‘^ Derenbourg, «Traducteurs arabes», 118. ^^ Strohmaier, «Hunayn ibn Ishaq und die BildeD>, 531.

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Ag. XXII, 2001 Two ABBASED TRIALS: AHVIAD IBN HANBAL 379 aniconism. ^^ In every account that mentions the desecration of an icon, we are told that the caliph acknowledged the gravity of the offense and consulted the Nestorian patriarch about how to proceed. It may seem odd that Hunayn’s rivals did not go to the patriarch first. But Hunayn was the caliph’s protégé, and could not be challenged without appearing to insult the sovereign. For our purposes, in any case, the most important element here is the behaviour of the caliph. Text 2 provides the most detail on this point. It has also many inconsistencies that cast serious doubt on its reliability. ^^ Even so, Strohmaier concludes that the only purpose it could have served is to clear Hunayn of charges of blasphemy, and must therefore have been composed soon after his death by one of his disciples. As such, it «provides relatively reliable information on the outward course of the main events as well as on the crucial words spoken by Hunayn himself». ^^ As for the words ascribed to the caliph, there is no reason to believe them literally. But if we accept that the caliph intervened at all, we are safe in supposing that he must have acted more or less as described in the story; or, at the very least, that the words ascribed to him were credible to ‘Abbasid readers. The caliph first appears in the story when Hunayn’s rival Bakhtíshü’ kisses an icon in his presence. The following dialogue ensues: «Why are you kissing it?», asked al-Mutawakkil. «If I do not kiss the image of the Mistress of the Universe, Master, then whose image should I kiss?» «Do all the Christians do this?», asked al-Mutawakkil. «Yes, Master», replied Bakhtíshü*, «and more properly than I do now, because I am restraining myself in Your presence. But in spite of the preferential treatment granted the Christians, I know of one Christian in your service who enjoys your bounty and your favors and who has no regard for this image and spits on it. He is an heretic and an atheist who believes neither in the oneness of God nor the afterlife. He hides behind a mask of Christianity, but in fact he denies God’s attributes and repudiates the prophets». «Who is this person you’re describing?» «Hunayn the translator», said Bakhtïshû’. Said al-Mutawakkil, «I’ll have him sent for, and if what you say tums out to be true, I’ll make an example of him, I’ll drop him in a dungeon and throw away ^^ Griffith, «Theodore Abu Qurrah’s Arabic tract», esp. 58; cf. Pelikan, Spirit, 105-6. *^ Rosenthal, Arabische autobiographie, 15-19; Strohmaier, «Hunayn ibn Ishàq und die BildeD>, 530; Cooperson, «Purported Autobiography», ^^ Strohmaier, «Hunayn ibn Ishiq und die BildeD>, 530.

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380 M. CooPERSON AQ. XXII, 2001 the key; but not before I’ve made his life miserable and ordered him tortured over and over until he repents». ^* In attempting to discredit Hunayn, his rival does not confine himself to accusations of iconoclasm, which might seem commendable to a Muslim. Rather, he calls Hunayn an atheist and a denier of prophecy. He also hints that the caliph’s reputation is suffering because of his client’s abominable heresy. When Hunayn arrives at the palace, the caliph tests him. (In one of the story’s telltale slipups, he does not investigate Hunayn’s alleged atheism, only his iconoclasm). «Hunayn, isn’t this a wonderful picture?» «Just as you say, Master». «What do you think of it? Isn’t it the image of your god and his mother?». «God forbid. Master! Is God Almighty an image, or can he be depicted? This is just a picture like any other». «So this image has no power at all, either to help or to harm?». «That’s right. Master». «If it’s as you say, spit on it». I spat on it, and he immediately ordered me thrown into prison. ^^ The caHph then consults the patriarch, who confirms the icon is sacred. The caliph then asks how one should punish a Christian of sound mind who desecrates it. The patriarch says that he «can do nothing, having no authority to punish with whip or rod, nor a deep dungeon to imprison him in». All he can do is excommunicate and anathematize him until he repents, fasts, and disburses alms. Hunayn’s first person account continues as follows: After the catholicos had left, the caliph sat awhile marveling at him and his love and adoration for his god. «This is truly an amazing thing», said the caliph, then ordered me brought in. He called for the ropes and the whip, and had me stripped and spread before him. I was struck a hundred lashes. The caliph then ordered that I be confined and tortured, and that all my furnishings, riding animals, books, and the like be carried off. My houses were demolished and the wreckage was dumped in the river. ^^ ^* Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, ‘IJyün al-anbâ\ 266-67. ^ Ibid., 261.’ 23 Ibid, 268.

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382 M. CooPERSON AQ. XXH, 2001 absolve him of his crime, for God has forgiven him». The caHph is then made to say: «I awoke unable to stop thinking about what Hunayn had suffered at my hands, and marvehng at the power of his intercessor. Now it is my duty to restore to him what was his». Again, al-Mutawakkil is untroubled by the doctrinal imphcations of his decision. If Hunayn needs to be forgiven, he must have done something wrong; so spitting on an icon is blasphemy, and icons are holy. Of course, the caMph does not say so, and (if we accept any of this as having happened, even in outline) it is hard to imagine that he thought about it at all. Rather, he decided that he needed his client, and so he overrode the Church and restored him to favor, even if doing so meant upholding (albeit unwittingly) the sanctity of the icon. in. In 219/833, the ‘Abbàsid caHph al-Ma’mün promulgated the creed that the revealed text of Islam had been created in historical time by God. To claim otherwise was to lapse into Christianity, whose adherents profess the co-etemahty of the Lx)gos. ^^ To ensure that no representatives of the state held this pernicious doctrine, al-Ma’mün ordered the pohce prefect of Baghdad to interrogate the judges and witnesses in his jurisdiction and induce them to pronounce the phrase «the Qur’án is created». ^”^ When the first round of interrogations in Baghad encountered unexpected resistance, the caliph ordered the inquisition (mihna) ^^ extended to jurists and teachers of hadîth. Among the scholars brought in for questioning was Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855), a pious and ascetic transmitter of hadîth. He refused to say that the Qur’ân was created, prompting the caliph to denounce him as an ignoramus and threaten him and his fellow dissenters with death. When Ibn Hanbal would not relent, the Baghdad authorities dispatched him and a feUow dissenter, Muhammad b. Nüh, to the Byzantine front, where the caMph was on campaign. Before the dissenters could reach him, al-Ma’mün suddenly died. On his deathbed, he exhorted his successor, al-Mu*tasim, to continue the inquisition. But the new caHph evidently had other things on his mind. Rather than try the dissenters immediately, he had them sent back to Baghdad. During the return joumey, Ibn Nüh fell ill and died, leaving Ibn Hanbal alone in his defiance of the authorities. Again, however al-Mu’tasim was content to ignore him. Rather than interrogate him, he let him languish in the commoner’s prison of Baghdad for over two years. ^^ 26 On the Christian parallels, see Pelikan, Spirit, 232ff. 27 al-Tabari, Ta’ñkh, 8: 631-644. 2^ Significantly, Ibn Hanbal’s trial resembled a disputation (van Ess aptly uses the term disputatio) rather than an inquisition. I will nevertheless use the conventional translation here in Hght of the overall context (that is, al-Ma’miin’s purpose in interrogating the scholars, and his treatment of them during his reign). 29 Hanbal, Dhikr, 33ff.

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AQ. XXn, 2001 Two ABBASED TRIALS: AHMAD IBN HANBAL 383 When Ibn Hanbal did eventually come to trial, it was not because al-Mu’tasim suddenly remembered to take care of unfinished business. Rather, it was because the prisoner’s uncle, Ishaq b. Hanbal, had intervened with the police prefect to secure his relative’s release. Claiming that Ibn Hanbal’s dissent involved a matter of minor importance, Ishaq urged the prefect to «convene the scholars» to debate with the prisoner. He then visited Ibn Hanbal and pleaded with him to soften his stance. When the prefect did «convene the scholars», the imam’s family suffered an unpleasant shock. The scholars were not jurists but «men of disputation and dissent», that is, philosopher-theologians armed with logic rather than hadiih. Their discussions with Ibn Hanbal ended with his calling one of them an unbeliever. At that point, the police prefect had no choice but to remand the prisoner for a formal inquisition before the caliph. The confrontation that al-Mu’tasim had been avoiding for over two years was now inevitable. ^^ To understand al-Mu’tasim’s reluctance to prosecute the case, it will be necessary to glance at the origins of the mihna. ^^ In setting the inquisition in motion, his predecessor al-Ma’mün had acted out of a firmly held conviction that the doctrine of co-eternity was heresy. More specifically, it was a heresy professed by leaders of a popular movement of opposition to the ‘Abbasid caliphate in general and to him, al-Ma’mùn, in particular. This movement, which claimed the title of ahl al-sunna wa l-jama ‘a, regarded the ‘ Abbàsids as usurpers of the line of succession that had begun with the first caliph and ended with the Umayyad dynasty (overthrown by the ‘Abbasids in 132/749). The self-proclaimed ahl al-sunna also deplored al-Ma’mün’s association with scholars, particularly Mu*tazilis, who advocated allegorical interpretation of the Qur’an and rehed on logic rather than hadîth. What made this movement dangerous was its ability to channel popular resentment against the ‘Abbasids. Apart from their ideas about the Qur’an, the people of Baghdad hated al-Ma’mùn because of his conduct during the civil war between him and his predecessor al-Amîn. During the war, al-Ma’mûn’s forces had besieged Baghdad and starved and bombarded the city into submission. Afterwards, al-Ma’mùn continued to reign from Khurasan, leaving the former capital to the depredations of the mob. To make matters worse, he nominated as his successor ‘All al-Rida b. Mùsâ al-Kâzim, a member of the house of ‘All, and 30 Ibid., 43ff. 3* The following account is based on Nagel, Rechtleitung, 116-154, 430-446; Jad’an, Mihna, 189-263; van Ess, Théologie und Gesellschaft, 446-481; Jàbirî, Muthaqqajun, 65-115; Cooperson, Classical Arabic Biography, Ch. 2.

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384 M. CooPERSON AQ, XXH, 2001 a recognized leader of the Imâmï Shî’a. Appalled, the caliph’s ‘ Abbâsid relatives set up a counter-caHphate in Baghdad. In response, al-Ma’mûn’s partisans renewed their assault on the city. The ensuing chaos sparked collective action on the part of the citizens, who rallied to the slogan of «enjoing good and forbidding evil», in defiance of the caliphate if necessary. Al-Ma’mün’s return to the capital (204/819) brought a restoration of order, but the sources make it clear that the citizens thoroughly despised him. Decimated and impoverished by years of war and mob rule, they rallied eagerly around the pious scholars of hadîth who taught them, in so many words, that al-Ma’mün was an usurper and a heretic. Inspired, for his part, by Ardashïr’s exhortation to suppress spontaneous rehgious movements among the people, al-Ma’mùn had chosen to call his opponents’ bluff. ^^ Much scholarly debate has revolved around his reasons for choosing the createdness of the Qur’án (khalq al-Qur’àn) as his shibboleth, but the most obvious justification is that it was the one point he stood a chance of winning. As both sides knew, the question could not be established by simple recourse to a proof text. Rather, it was a matter for theological argument. Given al-Ma’mün’s view that he, as caliph, had the duty to determine right belief on behalf of the community, he was within his rights to demand that all believers acquiesce in the results of his deliberations on the createdness of the Qur’an. ^^ Some modem studies have seen his adoption of the khalq al-Qur’àn as a purely political move designed to discredit the Sunni opposition. But there is no need to separate the doctrinal from the poUtical: for al-Ma’mûn, wrong belief and defiance of caliphal authority amounted to one and the same thing. Al-Ma’mûn’s successor al-Mu’tasim was a man of a different stamp. An enterprising warrior, he displayed no interest in science and philosophy; one account goes so far as to call him illiterate. Unlike al-Ma’mùn, he seems to have had a common touch: one source shows him helping an old man haul his donkey out of the mud. ^”^ Whatever the truth of such stories, it is clear that he al-Mu’tasim continued the mihna because his brother had asked him to, not because of any reasoned personal conviction. Brought before him, Ibn Hanbal allegedly shamed him into silence by asking whether the court had anything to add to the principles of Islam as explained by the Prophet. But the caHph’s advisors Šthe court theologians ^^ whom the new cahph had inherited from al-Ma’mûnŠ insisted ^^ Steppat, «From ‘Ahd Ardashîr to al-Ma’mûn». ^^ Nagel, Rechtleitung, 140-144; Crone and Hinds, God’s Caliph, passim. ^^ al-Mas’ûdî, Murüj, 4: 51. ^^ The Hanbalî sources, and much of the modem literature, refer to the inquisitors as Mu’tazilîs. But the doctrine of the created Qur’an was the characteristic position of the Jahmis, not the Mu’tazilîs; and Ibn Hanbal’s opponents displayed a very un-Mu’tazilî ability to argue hadîth

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AQ. XXn, 2001 Two ABBASID TRIALS: AHMAD IBN HANBAL 385 that Ibn Hanbal was a heretic {dàll mudill mubtadV), and so the inquisition resumed. ^^ The text that provides the most persuasive account of subsequent events is that of Hanbal b. Ishaq b. Hanbal, the imam’s cousin. ^^ Hanbal’s father Ishàq was a close associate of the imam, and it was he who intervened with the police prefect to let Ibn Hanbal defend himself. Hanbal’s Dhikr consists of first person accounts attributed to Ishàq and to the imam himself; the critical events are narrated almost exclusively in Ibn Hanbal’s own voice. Oddly, however, Hanbal’s account is only rarely referred to in later Hanbalî sources. Van Ess speculates that the problem Hes with Ishàq, whose disastrous intervention may have discredited him and, by extension, his son’s collection of reports. Moreover, Hanbal’s account contains Üiree unes which the modem editor has suppressed because «they contradict the known opinions of Ibn Hanbal». ^^ Given their placement, these lines would not seem to contain a statement of capitulation. ^^ But their contents, whatever they are, along with an admission that the interrogators were at one point able to refute Ibn Hanbal on a point of hadîth, may have made the whole account too problematic to gain popularity. Instead, Hanbalis relied on the account by the imam’s son ‘All, which provides less detail on the critical events. For our purposes, the obscurity of Hanbal’s Dhikr is reassuring. Were it fabricated to exculpate the imam, it might have enjoyed better success. It is difficult to disagree with van Ess that both of the family reports make a martyr of Ibn Hanbal while playing up to the caliph. But if this is hagiography, it is exceedingly restrained. Another early pro-Ibn Hanbal account, that of Abu al-‘Arab, has Ibn Hanbal deliver a sermon as the whips split his entrails open; another, that of al-Sizji, has the caliph free the imam after receiving an angelic scroll in a dream; and a third (that of Ibn al-Faraj), tells us that the imam was freed when his shredded trousers were miraculously restored during the flogging. ^^ By (van Ess, Théologie und Gesellschaft, 3:463-64). Regarding the mibna in general, Jad’an has convincingly dispellled the impression that the Mu’tazila as such exerted a decisive influence on al-Ma’mun (Mihna, 47-109). 36 Hanbal, Dhikr, 46ff. ^’^ The one published edition is that of Muhammad Naghsh (1397/1977). It is based on a complete but poorly preserved manuscript from the Egyptian Dar al-kutub (MS 2000) and a partial one from al-Zàhirîya in Damascus. Despite my gratitude to Naghsh for making Üiis source available, I do wish he had not suppressed (by his own admission) three Unes of the text. On this see note 39 below. 38 Van Ess, Théologie und Gesellschaft, 3: 463; Hanbal, Dhikr, 60 n.° 2. 3^ The missing lines are presented as having been spoken before the flogging took place. I have not yet been able to view the original MSS. ^al-Tamïmî,M//2â«, 438-444; al-Isfahânî, M/ja, 9:204-5; Ibn AbïYa’lâ, Tabaqàt, 1:162-167.

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