Was Imam Ahmad from the best 3 generations? Or was he from the 4th generation?
Generally some of the scholars mentioned only two from the four imams, Imam Abu Haneefah and Imam Maalik ,who were considered to be from the three best generations. They differed if Imaam Shaafi’ was from the fourth generation or the fifth generation or other than that being the reason the scholars have differed on what is the actual exact time period of a generation in the hadeeth:
The best of people is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them (i.e. the first three generations of Muslims).”
[Reported by Bukhari and Muslim. Narrated ‘Aisha (radhiAllahu ‘anha), Shaykh Al Albaani declares it Hasan in Sahih Al Jaami’ no. 3288]
Is it seventy years or fifty years or even some (scholars) incline to it being one hundred, such as what has been noticed from ash-Shaykh Albany on this audio here:
As for Imam Ahmad, then he is not from the the three generations. However, that still doesn’t degrade his virtues and his great status to the people of sunnah being the reason that he was from the foremost of people upon what the three best generations were upon of righteousness and piety.
~ Abu Fajr AbdulFattaah bin Uthman