The Physical Descriptions of the 4 Imams

[Adapted from the Siyar A’lam an-Nubala’ ~ The Lives of the Noble Figures]

1} Imam Malik ibn Anas:

‘Isa bin ‘Umar said:

“I never saw anything white or red that was more beautiful than the face of Malik, or any clothes whiter than Malik’s.”

And a number of people relate that he was tall, firm, serious, blond, had a white beard and hair, had a large beard, was balding, and would not shave his mustache {to the root}, as he considered this to be a form of mutilation.

It is said that he had blue eyes, and some of this was narrated by Ibn Sa’d from Mutarraf bin ‘Abdillah.


2} Imam Shafi‘i = Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i:

Ibrahim bin Buranah said: “ash-Shafi’i was serious, tall, and noble.”

{Volume 8, pg. 391}

Imam az-Za’farani said:

“Imam ash-Shafi’i visited us in Baghdad in the year 95. He stayed with us for a few months, then left. He would dye his hair with henna, and he had thin cheeks.”

Ahmad bin Sinan said:

“I saw him with a red beard and hair – i.e. he used to dye them.”

{Volume 8, pg. 415}


3} Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man bin Thabit:

Abu Yusuf said: “Abu Hanifah was well-formed, was from the best of people in appearance, the most eloquent of them in speech, the sweetest in tone, and the clearest of them in expressing what he felt.”

Hamad bin Abi Hanifah said: “My father was very handsome, dark, had good posture, would wear a lot of perfume, was tall, would not speak except in reply to what someone else had said, and he – may Allah have Mercy upon him – would not involve himself in what did not concern him.”

{Volume 6, pg. 535}


4} Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal:

Ibn Dharih al-’Ukbari said:

“I requested to see Ahmad bin Hambal. So, I greeted him, and he was an old man who dyed his hair. He was tall and extremely dark.”

Muhammad bin ‘Abbas an-Nahwi said:

“I saw Ahmad bin Hanbal with a handsome face, well-formed, and dyeing his hair with henna that was not too dark. He had black hairs in his beard, and I saw his clothes extremely white. When I saw him, he was wearing a turban and an izar.”

{Volume 9, pg. 438}

May Allah have mercy upon them.

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