It was the habit of Imam Ahmad, out of his great caution, to avoid frequent use of explicit expressions like halal and haram. Therefore, Imam Ahmad would typically resort to use of certain expressions which indicate the view that he inclines to. Sometimes, there is disagreement as to what his intent is behind these expressions. Some such expressions are the following:
- I like it (yu’jibuni)
- Good (hasan)
- It is befitting (yanbaghi)
- It is not befitting (la yanbaghi)
- I dislike it (akrahu)
- I fear (akhaafu, akhshaa)
- I hope (arju)
- There is no harm in it (la ba’sa bihi)
- I hope there is no harm in it (arju an la ba’sa bihi)
- I am not so brave (ajbanu ‘anhu)
- I am not so bold as to speak about that (la ajtari’u ‘alayh)
- Leave it (da’hu)
- Leave this issue (da’ hadhihi ‘l-mas’ala)
Sh. Bakr Abu Zayd has listed seventy such expressions, cf. al-Madkhal al-Mufassal, vol. 1 pp. 167-170. He goes on to explain them in vol. 1, pp. 243-264.
Imam al-Hasan ibn Hamid (403 H), the teacher of al-Qadi Abu Ya’la, has written a work devoted to the explanation of such expressions used by Ahmad in his answers to question. It is entitled Tahdhib al-Ajwiba. It was studied and edited by Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Qayidi as his doctoral thesis, and published by Maktaba al-‘Ulum wal-Hikam.