Ahmad on Sunnah: Do not blindly follow me, follow Sunnah

Ibn Abdul Barr reported: Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Al-Awza’i had opinions, Malik had opinions, Sufyan al-Thawri had opinions. Each of them had opinions, and it is all the same to me. Indeed, the proof is only in the narrations.”

In another narration, Ahmad said, “Do not uncritically follow me, nor Malik, nor Al-Thawri, nor Al-Awza’i. Rather, take from where they took.”

Source: Jāmiʻ Bayān al-ʻIlm wa Faḍlihi 1299

عن ابن عبد البر قال أحمد بن حنبل رحمه الله رَأْيُ الأَوْزَاعِيِّ وَرَأْيُ مَالِكٍ وَرَأْيُ سُفْيَانَ كُلُّهُ رَأَيٌ وَهُوَ عِنْدِي سَوَاءٌ وَإِنَّمَا الْحُجَّةُ فِي الآثَارِ

وفي رواية أخرى قال لَا تُقَلِّدْنِي وَلَا تُقَلِّدْ مَالِكًا وَلَا الثَّوْرِيَّ وَلَا الْأَوْزَاعِيَّ وَخُذْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَخَذُوا

1299 جامع بيان العلم وفضله لابن عبد البر