On the Hanbalis and how they deal with the views of Ibn Taymiyyah on what constitutes the madhhab…
Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah is an Imam and mujtahid in the madhhab. Hence, his views are quoted more in the late Hanbali books than the views of any other scholar. See Al-Iqna of Musa al-Hajjawi as a clear example of that, as well as the works of Ibn Muflih and others before him.
He is also viewed as the defender of Athari creed by the Hanbalis, as is very clear in the words of Ibn al-Qayyim, ibn Rajab, Mardawi, and Buhuti. Now, when it comes to attributing to the madhhab, it is true that the Hanbalis have not agreed with Ibn Taymiyyah on every issue, but it is also not correct to make the later Hanbalis judges over all his views, because Ibn Taymiyyah is a Hanbali mujtahid in his own right and has vast knowledge of the madhhab.
The competent Hanbali researcher will see that in some cases the choice of the later (post Ibn Muflih) Hanbalis, especially when they agree, is closer to the view of Ahmad, while in other cases what Ibn Taymiyyah attributes to Ahmad is closer. Ibn Taymiyyah is especially an expert on the views of Ahmad though, because he is more independent in his research, which give his choices that he attributes to Ahmad (not talking about his personal views here) that added strength and weight.
That’s in madhhabi Fiqh. As for his own views, then he is an Imam and the conditions of ijtihad mutlaq are fulfilled in him, and thus he is entitled to his views and a layperson is allowed to follow him in them. So that’s Fiqh. As for Aqidah, then Ibn Taymiyyah is also an Imam. His views also have more weight because not only was he so knowledgeable of the views of Ahmad on matters of creed, but also the views of the Imams of Ahl al-Hadith at Ahmad’s time (like Ishaq, Bukhari, and Tirmidhi), and their views are closest to the views of Ahmad.
Therefore, his views cannot be tested through the views of a later jurist who does not have the same expertise in Athari creed, but rather the opposite is true. Ibn Taymiyyah’s views are given that added importance due to his expertise in the field, and this is something Ibn Rajab and others have said in various places in their books. Even then that doesn’t make Ibn Taymiyyah faultless, but it makes clear that he was not just your average Hanbali scholar, but rather a leading authority.
And Allah knows best.
Written by Zyed Fateh