The Name of the Imam
He is the Shaikh, the Imam, the `Alim, the Zahid, the Hafidh, Taqi ud-Din Abu Muhammad `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul-Wahid ibn `Ali ibn Surur Al-Hanbali Al-Maqdisi.
He was a renowned theologian and one of the greatest Hanbali scholars of his age. He was also a direct descent of `Umar Al-Faruq, the second khalifah of the Muslims.
Imam `Abdul Ghani Al-Maqdisi was born in the city of Jama`il (in today’s Palestine) in the year 541 AH (1146 AD), on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
As a young boy, the Imam was constantly in the presence of scholars, jurists, Sufis, theologians and masters of Arabic language, most of whom were from his own family, such as his brother Imam Ibrahim Al-Jama`ili.
The most outstanding contemporaries in the time of `Abdul Ghani Al-Maqdisi included Shaikha Shuhda Al-Hanbaliyyah  and Imam Baha’ ud-Din Al-Maqdisi.  There was also Imam Ibn Al-Manni, who was the Shaikh ul-Islam of his age and the judge of the city of Baghdad.
In his adolescence, `Abdul Ghani memorised the Qur’an, thousands of ahadith and the commentaries of the shaikhs Al-Khiraqi, Ibn `Aqil, Mahfudh Al-Kalwadhani  and `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani  in Hanbali fiqh.
As he began to master the sciences of Islam, many scholars favoured him. Although shy to give fatwa, his teachers prevailed upon him to do so until he finally felt the confidence of his competence. Although an accomplished scholar in the realm of fiqh, his main love was theology.
He wrote some three different books in the subject matter of intermediate and advanced theology, making him a living legend in the sight of the people of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.
The Scholar and His Students
Scholars from the four corners of the Earth flocked to see him, hanging on his every word and taking copious notes in the lectures that he gave some three times a week.
His students include many, but perhaps the most important of them was Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, who transmitted many of his documents as well as chains of transmission in the six hadith collections.
Later Life and Death
Thus in addition to being a towering figure in Hanbali fiqh, beginning to advanced theology, Imam `Abdul Ghani was an accomplished master and commentator on ahadith and their sub-sciences.
He would later die in the year 600 AH (AD 1203), having lived a rich and beneficial life that produced books and students that today the entire Ummah of the Muslims still benefits from in manifold ways. May Allah bless this Imam and give him admittance into the highest palisades of the Paradise.
His Written Legacy:
Al-Iqtisad Fil-I`tiqad. This is a book on advanced theology that itemises creed into a series of themes.
Al-`Itiqad. A short text that outlines the foundational creed as opposed to that of the cults. This was written in refutation to the rise of esoteric trends that existed in the lifetime of the author.
Ahadith ul-Masih id-Dajjal. A two volume work that collected together the available Ahadith on the False Messiah in put them under bullet pointed chapters. This was taken by Imam Ibn Kathir (d. 774 AH), may Allah have mercy upon him, and popularised.
As-Sifat. A text explaining the theology regarding the Names and Attributes of Allah.
I`tiqad ul-Imam ish-Shafi`ii. The author shows the complete agreement between all the Imams on foundational theology and particularly the Imam’s dislike for speculative theology.
`Umdat ul-Ahkam. This is a collection of the 500+ main Ahadith that are used for rulings in the books of fiqh. This has had dozens of commentaries and inspired Imam Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalani, may Allah have mercy upon him, to write his text, Bulugh ul-Maram.
`Umdat ul-Ahkam il-Kubra. This is a larger and more expanded presentation than the text above. In this book, the author adds more Ahadith to the topic to enable the memoriser to put together valuable pieces of information with regard to rulings.
Al-Misbah fi `Uyun il-Ahadith is-Sihah. A text composed of 48 subsections discussing salient points around the Ahadith in the collections of Imams Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, An-Nasa’ii.
Al-Kamal fi Ma`rifat ir-Rijal. This particular book covers the names, dates of birth and death as well as reliability of the men that narrate hadith in the collections of Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’ii and Ibn Majah.
Sharh ul-Hidayah. This was a commentary on the fiqh text, Al-Hidayah, which was written by Imam Abul Khattab Mahfuz Al-Kalwadhani. It is in one large volume.
Tuhfat ut-Talibin fil Jihadi wal-Mujahidin. A book on warfare and particular battles of interest, particularly regarding the author’s struggles.
Mihnat ul-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. A history of the trials and tribulations the Imam underwent during the Inquisition.
Mukhtasar Sirat in-Nabi. This is the text that is on our list to complete.
 The name of Jerusalem in Arabic is ‘Bait ul-Maqdis,’ which means, the ‘Holy House.’ Those who lived in that city or the smaller hamlets surrounding it took the last name Al-Maqdisi, symbolising their relation to the city. This was primarily the practice of the Hanbalī scholars, who made this name popular amongst themselves as a sign of the prestige at being born in one of the three most important cities of Islam.
 `Imad ud-Din Ibrahim ibn `Abdul Wahid, 543-614 AH (AD 1148-1217). As one of the major commentators on the collections of Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud, he specialised in hadīth codification and the history of the narrators of ahadith. He left behind some ten books in various subjects.
 Diya’ ud-Din Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahid, 569-643 AH (AD 1174-1245). He was a famous author, grader, verifier and codifier of ahadith, writing a commentary on the collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, a text which many authorities in his time consider better than the commentary that Al-Hakim wrote in his Al-Mustadrak.
 Shams ud-Din Ahmad ibn `Abdul Wahid, 564-623 AH (AD 1169-1226). He traveled to the lands of Sham, Al-Bukhara and Naisabur, studying with the `ulama’ of these areas and receiving ijazahs to teach what he had learned. He and his brother, Diya’ ud-Din were both sons of Sayyidah Al-Jama`iliyyah, the older sister of Shaikh ul-Islam and the decorated war soldier of his age, Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, which again showed the high rank that both branches of this Palestinian family possessed and the fact that Islam was their top priority.
 Abu `Uthman `Abdullah ibn `Abdul `Aziz al-Yunaini 535-617 AH (AD 1141-1220). Although perhaps the most accomplished scholar of Tasawwuf in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, he additionally became a celebrated figure for his worship, fighting on the battlefield against the Christian invasions of the Middle East and a donor to numerous charities. He was the first to witness the Christian invasion of the Muslim world from his home city of Ba`labak (in today’s Lebanon), where he became a conscripted soldier in the Islamic army. He left behind numerous texts on devotional prayers, cultivating a more deep and meaningful relationship with Allah and how to survive the temptations of the worldly life.
 Shuhdah bint Abi Nasr Ahmad ibn Al-Faraj ad-Dinuri, 480-574 AH (1087-1178 AD). She was a master of hadith, fiqh, theology, as well as one of the graders of ahadith and commentatress on doctrines such as salvation, the angels and the Attributes of Allah. Although perhaps one of the most famous scholars of the city of Baghdad, she was reputed to be down to earth, accessible to all and full of compassion for the poor.
 Abu Muhammad `Abdur-Rahman ibn Ibrahim Al-Maqdisi, 556-624 AH (AD 1161-1227). The Imam was a general in the Islamic army that would recover Jerusalem from Christian invaders, but is renowned for his teaching and preaching doctrine and writing one of the smallest and most concise commentaries in his madhhab in history. Until now, his grave in Palestine is a popular place of visitation while he is revered among the people.
 Abul Fath Nasr ibn Fatyan ibn Matr an-Nahrawani, 504-583 AH (AD 1111-1187). The scholar known universally by the scholars of his time as, ‘The Advocate of Islam, the Shaikh of the Hanbalis and the faqih of Iraq,’ he was accepted wholly by the scholars of his time as perhaps the greatest male scholar of his time in Iraq without dispute. Every science that he touched made him shine and any book he wrote on every science became a best seller amongst his people. The vast majority of his books remain unpublished manuscripts in museums across the world. His most famous students were the scholars Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, his two older brothers and his two older sisters.
 Abul Khattab Mahfudh ibn Ahmad Al-Kalwadhani, 432-510 AH (AD 1041-1116). The Imam was perhaps the greatest teacher of `Abdul Qadir ibn Musa Al-Jilani and stood shoulder to shoulder with the greatest scholars of the madhhab in his time. The khalifa of his time made him the chief Qadi for the Islamic world and often when scholars saw him, they would comment, ‘Here comes the law,’ referring to his penchant for enforcing justice. Imām al-Kalwadhāni saw no difference between prosecution for the rich or the poor. But he was even handed, believing no one to be above the law. He left behind some 10 or more books in various sciences.
 `Abdul Qadir ibn Musa Al-Jilani, 471-561 AH (AD 1079-1166). He was known more for his spiritual and devotional books, although he was a highly accomplished scholar in all 18 sciences of the Revealed Law. Imam Al-Jilani wrote books in every single science of Islam, most of them being brief manuals to help the novice gain a stronger footing in the faith as well as day-to-day matters in jurisprudence.