Fiqh Shafi’i is the third Fiqhi school of Islamic Jurisprudence attributed to Imam Shafi’i. Imam Shafi’i, on one hand, is a student of Imam Malik, he learnt the Fiqh Maliki and Hijazi thoughts from him. On the other hand, he attended Imam Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani and learnt Fiqh Hanafi and Iraqi style of Fiqh. Apart from having acquired these two Fiqhs, he directly benefited from other Fiqhi trends and the Imams. So, he benefited from Umar bin Abu Salma, a disciple of Imam Awzai whose Fiqh was prevalent in Syria. In Egypt, the Fiqh of Imam Lais bin Sa’d was followed so he benefited from his disciple Yahya bin Hassaan. Thus, the Fiqh Shafi’i accumulated all the virtues of all known Fiqhi schools and trends. Being a towering Islamic Jurist, Imam Shafi’i was a great Muahddith. He had aquired the narrations of the Muhaddith of Makka Sufyan bin Uainah and the narrations of Muhaddith of Medina Imam Malik bin Anas. The Fiqh of Imam Shafi’i was founded at Makka. Then, passing from Medina, Iraq and Baghdad it arrived in Egypt. There it reached its peaks. As the Fiqh Hanafi is greatly impressed by the views of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood and Hadhrat Ali and the Fiqh Maliki has heavily benefited from the opinions of Hadhrat Umar and Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar, the Fiqh Shafi’i has drew inspiration from the views of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas.
The name of Imam Shafi’i is Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idrees. His family tree joins that of the Prophet at his ninth great-grandfather Muttalib bin Abd Munaf. He was a member of Quraish tribe. He was born in 150 Hijra in Gaza city of Palestine. This was not his native place but his father happened to visit that place and expired there. At the age of two, his mother took him to his ancestral home at Makka. He learnt the eloquence and nuance of Arabic language in the tribe of Huzail and memorized the Holy Quran. Then, he associated himself with Muslim bin Khalid Zanji, the Sheikh and Mufti of Haram, and completed his education. Then, he came in Medina to Imam Malik to learn the Quran and Hadith. He had already memorized the Muwatta of Imam Malik. Imam Malik was very impressed by him. Imam Shafi’i was not financially well so he looked for a source of income. Eventually he was given the governorship of Najran. He went Najran and discharged his duties with much honesty and trustworthiness. Haroon-ur-Rashid was then Caliph and he was disturbed on the account of Alvis’ uprisings. Somebody complained him that Imam Sha’ee tends to the Alvis. As a result, he was summoned to Baghdad and later discharged after clarification and some recommendations. Utilizing his presence in Iraq, he joined the circle of Imam Muhammad and learnt Hanafi Fiqh. He held discussions with Imam Muhammad and studied the books of Hanafi Fiqh. Then, he returned to Hijaz and stayed there for nine more years. In this span of time, he busied himself in learning and teaching. He used to meet the selected scholars of Islamic world who visited Makka at the time of Hajj. He would narrate from them as they narrate from him. Again, he visited Baghdad. Till this time his method of derivation and interpretation had been set up. So, many scholars joined him and he dictated some of his books to them. These opinions are called ‘Old Maslak’ or Iraqi Views. After about two years, he left Baghdad and till that time there came up a team of scholars who followed his Fiqh. Thrice, he returned to Baghdad and after a few months’ stay proceeded to Egypt. Here, he reviewed his previous opinions and in many matters he retracted and adopted new opinions. In Egypt, he authored his new books and with the power of his interpretations spread his school of Islamic Jurisprudence . Previously, the Maliki School of Fiqh was prevailing in Egypt, but with the advent of Imam Shafi’i his Fiqhi School dominated there. The new books he compiled in Egypt and the new ideas which he expressed there are called ‘New Maslak’. He died in Egypt in 204 H and was buried therein.
Characteristics & Distinguishing Qualities
Imam Shafi’i was luckiest among all the Imams that he was bestowed ‘comprehensiveness’. Due to stay in Hijaz. He gathered a pile of Ahadith and traditions. Makka was his native place; he attended Imam Malik in Medina. Then, he explored Iraq and Egypt. Thus, he became a great scholar of Hadith in his age. In the field of Fiqh, he learnt the derivation style of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas in Makka and that of Hadhrat Umar and Abdullah bin Umar in Medina from Imam Malik. Then, in Iraq he learnt Hanafi Fqih from Imam Muhammad, in Syria he learnt the Fiqh of Imam Awza’ee and in Egypt the Fiqh of Imam Lais bin Sa’d. Besides, he was conferred with a tremendous power of imagination and accumulation and best of interpretative styles. So he absorbed the virtues of all the Fiqhi schools and avoided the positions that were not up to his standard. Till his age, the compilation of Hadith had begun and he himself had collected Ahadith exploring different cities. He observed that the other schools of Fiqh have applied analogy in matters about which Hadith is found so he extracted rulings according to Hadith. So, the tendency to support and defend Hadith overpowered him. The scholars of Fiqh in Iraq had conditioned that only the Ahadith will be accepted that are narrated by a number of people, and the scholars of Medina were of the opinion that only the Ahadith will be accepted that match the practice of Medina citizens. He opposed them and did not allow widening the area of analogy.
The Fiqh Shafi’i bear this characteristic that the founder of this Fiqh himself compiled a big part of his School. Thus, he recorded the rules and regulations and the derivation method of his Fiqhi School in the shape of a book. And, with his best power of interpretation he proved his methods and styles. The other distinct feature of this Fiqh is that the founder himself spread and publicized his Fiqh traveling in different cities. This was the reason that great Islamic scholars were among his followers and students. Great scholars of Hadith and compilers of Hadith books tended to this Fiqh and genius personalities of Islamic history followed it.
Imam Shafi’i himself authored the principle books of his Fiqh. His master piece of work is "Al-Umm' which he wrote in Baghdad and made some modifications while his stay in Egypt. His second famous book is 'Al-Risalah' that deals with the rules of derivation and inference. It is the first book on the subject. This book contains the complete compiled principles of Fiqh Shafi’i. There are some other books that are attributed to him but the aforementioned two books are well known. The other significant books on Fiqh Shafi’i are 'Mukhtasar' of Imam Buwaiti (student of Imam Shafi’i) and the book of Imam Muzani. Among his distinguished students are Rabi bin Sulaiman Muradi who narrated and propagated his books, Ismail bin Yahya Muzani whose books are considered base for Fiqh Shafi’i and Yusuf bin Yahya Buwaiti. The trios benefited from him in Egypt. His students in Iraq were Ibrahim bin Khalid Kalbi, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Hasan bin Muhammad bin Sabbah bin Zafrani and Ahmad bin Yahya bin Abdul Aziz Baghdadi.
Imam Shafi’i has described his derivation method in his book 'Al-Umm' in detail. Concisely, it is that first of all he looked in to the Glorious Quran and took the outer meaning unless there is a proof that the outer meaning is not intended. Then, he would turn to Hadith. In Hadith, he used to take Khabr Wahid (traditions narrated by one to one person). Then, he would opt for Ijma (consensus) and finally he would go for analogy.
Translated and partly prepared by:
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Maulana Afzal Qasmi, Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi