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In this pioneering biography, Christopher Melchert examines the forefather of the fourth of the four principal Sunni schools of jurisprudence, the Hanbali. Upholding the view that the Qur’an was uncreated and the direct word of God, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855) thought that the holy text should be read literally, rejecting any possibility for metaphorical or revisionist interpretation. Showing that even in his own lifetime, ibn Hanbal’s followers were revising his doctrines in favour of a more commodious Islam, Melchert assesses the importance of ibn Hanbal’s teachings and analyses their relevance in modern Sunni Islam.

Dr Christopher Melchert is a lecturer in Arabic and Islam at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. He has written numerous published articles on Islam and specifically Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

More books in this series: Makers of the Muslim World