A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Abu ʿAbdillah Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥanbal Ash-Shaybani (أَبُو عَبْدِ ٱلله أَحْمَد ابْن مُحَمَّد ابْن حَنۢبَل ٱلشَّيْبَانِي‎) (780-855). Commemoration of the death of the Arab Muslim jurist who was born and studied in Baghdad but had family from Basra. He was an Imam, theologian, ascetic, hadith (history) traditionist and founder of the Hanbali school of Sunni jurisprudence, one of the four major orthodox legal schools of Sunni Islam. Travelling widely as a highly-influential and active scholar during his lifetime, Ibn Hanbal went on to become one of the most venerated intellectual figures in Islamic history and has had a profound influence on almost every area of traditionalist, literalism-oriented Sunni Islam. One of the foremost classical proponents of relying on scriptural sources as the basis for the Sunni Islamic law and way of life, Ibn Hanbal compiled one of the most important Sunni hadith collections, the Musnad that has continued to exercise considerable influence in the field of hadith studies up to the present day. He was a Defender of Orthodoxy, True Shaykh (Elder) of Islam, Proof of the Faith, Seal of the Mujtahid expert Imams, Reinforcer of the Religion and Guardian of the Prophet’s Traditions. Ibn Hanbal understood the Qur’an’s perfect definition of God and that proper belief in God constituted believing in the description which God had given of Himself in Islamic scripture, as both Unique and Absolute, absolutely incomparable to anything in the world of His creatures. Ibn Hanbal felt it was wise to leave to God the understanding of His own mystery. In the modern era, Ibn Hanbal’s name has become controversial in certain parts of the Islamic world because the disputed history of the conservative Wahhabism reform movement. Ibn Hanbal died in Baghdad and his funeral was attended by 800,000 men and 60,000 women, with 20,000 Christians and Jews being converted to Islam that day. He believed in the power of relics and supported the seeking of blessing through them in religious veneration and he ordered that he be buried with the hairs of the Prophet he possessed. Ibn Hanbal was highly regarded by Sufis, who made him a saint. Venerated in traditional Sunni Islam, honoured by pious Salafi Traditionalists. Image: pinterest.com.

St Joseph of Arimathea with St Nicodemus (Secret Disciple of Jesus, Defender of Christ, Νικόδημος). Western Christianity commemoration of the man who took responsibility for Jesus’ burial after His crucifixion and Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine-rite Catholic Churches Feast Day for the man who assisted him to prepare the body for burial. Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a Disciple of Jesus. Nicodemus was a wealthy Judean Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, like Joseph an important First-Century Jew. Nicodemus went in secret to Jesus at night to better understand His teachings about the kingdom and spoke up for Jesus at the time of His arrest. Their actions after the Crucifixion showed the charismatic power of Jesus and His teachings, and the risks of following him. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus’ body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and, with the help of Nicodemus, buried it. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 100 Roman pounds (33 kg), despite embalming being generally against Jewish custom with the exceptions of Jacob and Joseph. This quantity of the balm was extraordinary and exceeded all normal proportions but this was a royal burial. Great courage was shown by the two men, Joseph asking Pilate for Jesus’ body when Jesus had been a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed, and both Joseph and Nicodemus were endangering their lives by their actions. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act. Nicodemus was stripped of his office, beaten by the Jews and driven from Jerusalem for his kinsman rabbi Gamaliel to shelter him in his country house until Nicodemus’s death in his native Judea and honourable burial in Jerusalem near the body of St Stephen the protomartyr (first martyr of Christianity). Nicodemus is venerated in the Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Church and Lutheran Churches. His Feast Day is 3 August in Western Christianity, Third Sunday of Holy Pascha Eastern Orthodox Church and Byzantine-rite Catholic Churches, 31 August Roman-rite Catholic Church. He is patron of curiosity. Joseph is the patron saint of funeral directors, pallbearers and undertakers. Image: youtube.com.

Santa Maria degli Angeli (Our Lady of the Angels, Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles). The Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula is celebrated where the Franciscan movement started in the 1209 Porziuncola (small portion of land, Portiuncula) Chapel outside Assisi. Hermits had brought relics from the grave of the Blessed Virgin in the Fourth Century and the original chapel passed to St Benedict of Nursia (San Benedetto da Norcia) in 516. It was always known as Our Lady of the Angels for the singing of angels frequently heard there. The chapel was mentioned in writing in 1045 and in 1212 St Francis restored its ruins and with St Clare of Assisi founded the Second Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) and built the first Franciscan convent nearby. In 1226, he died there and the 5.5 by 3.2 m Chapel was passed to the faithful for the protection and care of his brethren. Los Angeles in California is the City of Angels and was originally a pioneer town known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the little Portion), from the 1781 Franciscan mission established there by the Spanish settlers. Image: amazon.co.uk.

Prayer O Virgin of the Angels, from your throne of mercy at the Portiuncula hear the prayer of your children who trust in you. Obtain for us, through the intercession of blessed Francis, pardon for our sins and help to keep us from indifference, so that we shall be worthy of calling you our Mother for evermore. Bless our homes, our toil and our rest. Help those who are in need and hungry. Bless all humanity so that all God’s children will find through love real Peace. Amen