Islamic school of legal thought (madhhab) whose origins are attributed to Ahmad ibn Hanbal in ninth-century Baghdad. The official school in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with many adherents in Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Recognizes as sources of law: the Quran, hadith, fatwas of Muhammad's Companions, sayings of a single Companion, traditions with weaker chains of transmission or lacking the name of a transmitter in the chain, and reasoning by analogy (qiyas) when absolutely necessary. Encourages the practice of independent reasoning (ijtihad) through study of the Quran and hadith. Rejects taqlid, or blind adherence to the opinions of other scholars, and advocates a literal interpretation of textual sources. Ritualistically, the Hanbali school is the most conservative of the Sunni law schools, but it is the most liberal in most commercial matters.