The Mainstay Concerning Jurisprudence (Al-Umda fi l-Fiqh - Handbook of Hanbali Fiqh)
Shaikh al-Islam Imam al-Muwaffaq ibn Qudama (A.H. 541-620) was one of the luminaries of his day and age. Born in the town of Jamma'il in Nablus in Palestine, he emigrated to Damascus with his family at the age of eight, after the Crusaders had seized control of his country. Studying at first under the tutelage of his father, Shaikh Abu 'l-'Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudama, he learned the rudiments of the religious sciences, and the texts of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, including the Mukhtasar [Compendium] of al-Kharaqi. At the next stage he studied under various of the Shaikhs of Damascus and continued to make progress in learning, until he reached the age of twenty. Then, between the years A.H.560 and 561 he embarked on an educational expedition to Baghdad. At the outset of his career, al-Muwaffaq spent a brief period in the presence of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. Under the Shaikh, then in the ninetieth year his life, he studied the Mukhtasar [Compendium] of al-Kharaqi at the level of understanding and meticulous scrutiny. Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir completed his earthly life shortly after that, so al-Muwaffaq turned to the Shaikh of the Hanbalis and the leading jurist of 'Iraq, Nasih al-Islam Abu 'l-Fath Nasr ibn Fityan ibn Matar an-Nahrawani, well-known as Ibn al-Muna (A.H. 477-564). Under him he studied the jurisprudence of the school of Imam Ahmad [ibn Hanbal]. After four years in Baghdad he returned to Damascus and there he preoccupied himself with the composition of his great commentary (al-Mughni) on al-Kharaqi's Mukhtasar.