Let us see what Molvi Zafar Iqbal wrote in his translation of the book “Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal”

IS MASNAD A BOOK WRITTEN BY IMAM AHMAD OR HIS SON?

Since the attribution of Musnad to imam Ahmad is so famous like that of light to sun, so some reader may find this very strange, but when We take the overview of this book, We find that there are certain signs which prove that it is a book of Ahmad bin Hanbal, and certain proofs which show that it is by his son. Some times one feels as if Ahmad bin Hanbal directed his son to pay attention to it, that is why we find so much interventions in it; and under this presumption are even scholars like Dhabi who made this opinion in his famous book Sair ul Aalam Nabala, vol 13, page 552, that this is neither the book of imam Ahmad nor he gave order of its arrangement, rather, He would narrated different Ahadeeth in front of his son, and tell him to place it in so and so Musnad and in so and so Musnad; so he terms it a book of his son Abdullah.

[Musnad imam Ahmad, urdu translation, vol 1, page 20]

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