Ahmad bin Hanbal was born in Baghdad, in the year 780 CE. Of pure Arab lineage, Ibn Hanbal belonged to the tribe of Shaybaan through both parents. He was still an infant when his father died at the age of 30. When Ibn Hanbal was fifteen, he began to study the Traditions (Ahadeeth) of the Prophet Muhammad, , . Seeking to learn from the great scholars of his day, he traveled to the cities of Koofah and Basrah in Iraq; Makkah, Hijaaz and Al-Madeenah in Arabia; and to the lands of Yemen and Syria. He made five pilgrimages to Makkah, three of which were on foot. Ibn Hanbal led a life of asceticism and humility, acquiring many students. He had eight children, of whom two were well known and closely associated with his intellectual work: Saalih (died 880 CE) and ‘Abdullaah (died 903 CE).