- Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i
Infobox_Muslim scholars | notability = Muslim jurist| era =
Islamic golden age| color = #cef2e0 |
| image_caption = |
| name = Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i| title=Imam al-Shafi'i| birth = 767| death = 820 [Ira Lapidus, "A History of Islamic Societies." pg. 86. Cambridge University Press 2002.] | Maddhab =
Sunni Shafi'i| school tradition= | Ethnicity =
Region = | notable idea=
Fiqh| influences = Imam Malik [The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal, by Yasin Dutton, pg. 16] | influenced = | works = |
jurist(150 AH/767 AD - 204 AH/820 AD). He was active in juridical matters and his teaching eventually led to the Shafi'ischool of " fiqh" (or Madh'hab) named after him. Hence he is often called Imam al-Shafi'i.
His full name was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shafi'i ( _ar. ابو عبد الله محمد بن إدريس الشافعي).
The biography of al-Shafi'i is difficult to trace. The oldest surviving biography goes back to Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi (died 327H/939) and is no more than a collection of anecdotes, some of them fantastic. The first real biography is by
Ahmad Bayhaqi(died 458H/1066) and is filled with pious legends. The following is what seems to be a sensible reading.
Al-Shafi'i belonged to the
Qurayshi clan Banu Muttalibwhich was the sister clan of the Banu Hashimto which Muhammadand the Abbasid caliphs belonged. Hence he had connections in the highest social circles, but he grew up in poverty.
767 – 786: Al-Mansur to Al-Hadi's era
Early life, Imam Malik
He was born in
Gazaand moved to Meccawhen he was about ten. He is reported to have studied with the "School of Mecca" (which might not even have existed, although some scholars are reported to have been active there). Then he moved to Madinahand became a disciple of Malik ibn Anas.
786 – 809: Harun al-Rashid's era
After Malik's death in 796 he went into government service. This attempt at a career ended badly in 803 CE (187 Ah).
After that he lived in Mecca,
Baghdadand finally Egypt.
Among his teachers were
Malik ibn Anasand Muhammad ibn al Hasan al Shaybani, whom he studied under in Madinahand Baghdad.
At the time of
Harun ar-Rashid, he had an appointment in Yemen, as a judge in Najran. Sunnis portray that his devotion to justice, even when it meant criticizing the governor, caused him some problems, and he was taken before the Caliph, falsely accused of aiding the Alawisin a revolt. At this time, al Shaybaniwas the chief justice, and his defense of ash-Shafi'i, coupled with ash-Shafi'i’s own eloquent defense, convinced Harun ar-Rashid to dismiss the charge, and to direct al Shaybani to take ash-Shafi'i to Baghdad.He was also a staunch critic of Al-Waqidi's writings on Sirah.
In Baghdad, he developed his first
madhab, influenced by the teachings of both Imam Abu Hanifaand Imam Malik. Thus, his work there is known as “al Madhab al Qadim lil Imam as Shafi’i,” or the Old School of ash-Shafi'i.
809 – 813: Al-Amin's era
813 – 820: Al-Ma'mun's era
It appears that all of his surviving writings were done in retirement in Egypt during the last five years of his life.
Al-Shafi'i was controversial in his own time but, as history has shown, he won his point. Starting from the
Malikiposition of reliance (largely) upon tradition in legal matters he came into contact with and opposed the Hanafiposition of reliance (largely) upon common sense. He reached the conclusion that tradition was indeed the proper basis for legal decisions, but only if that tradition was based upon the prophet and no one else.
The Hanafis, of course, were not willing to exchange all their common sense for hadiths and the Maliki's were not willing to give up traditions just because they had no prophetic hadiths supporting them. As time went by, however, both the Hanafis and Malikis have grown to conform to Shafi'i's idea that only prophetic hadiths matter. The fourth school of fiqh came later.
Shafi'i probably did not expect what happened next. There was an explosion of prophetic
hadiths and an entire science had to be invented to handle them.
He died at the age of 54 on the 30th of
Rajabin the Hijri year 204 (or, 820 AD). He was buried in al-Fustat, Egypt.
It is stated in "Rawdah al-Manazir fi al-Awai'l wa al-'Awakhir" that [Rawdah-al-Manazir fi al-Awai'l wa al 'Awakhir Volume 11 page 133] :
This view of Imam Shafi'i has also been attributed to him by his student Abu al-Fida [Tarikh Abul Fida Volume 1 under the chapter addressing the events of 45 Hijri [http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/muawiya/al_bashar.jpg] ]
Saladinbuilt a madrassaon the site of his death. Saladin's brother Afdal built a mausoleumfor him in 1211 after the defeat of the Fatamids. It remains a site where people petition for justice.Fact|date=August 2008
Shafi'i developed the science of
fiqhunifying 'revealed sources' - the Koranand hadith- with human reasoning to provide a basis in law. With this systemization of shari'a he provided a legacy of unity for all Muslims and forestalled the development of independent, regionally based legal systems. The four Sunni legals schools or madhhabs- keep their traditions within the framework that Shafi'i established.
Shafi'i gives his name to one of these legal schools Shafi'i fiqh - the
Shafi'ischool - which is followed in many different places in the Islamic world: Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Somalia, Yemenand southern parts of India.
Today, many English speaking Muslims are introduced to the
madhabof Imam Shafi’i through the translated works "Umdat as Salik" (" Reliance of the Traveller") and " al Maqasid", both done by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller.
Among the followers of Imam Shafi’i’s school were:
Muslim ibn al-HajjajFact|date=January 2007
Abu Da'udFact|date=January 2007
Izz bin Abdul Salaam
Ibn MajahFact|date=January 2007
al HakimFact|date=January 2007
ibn HibbanFact|date=January 2007
He authored more than 100 books.
*Al-Risala — The best known book by al-Shafi'i in which he examined
usul al-fiqh(sources of jurisprudence): the Qur'an, the Sunnah, qiyas(analogy), and ijma'(scholarly consensus). There is a good modern translation.
Kitab al-Umm- his main surviving text on Shafi'i fiqh
*Musnad Ash-Shafi'i (on
hadith) - it is available with arrangement, Arabic 'Tartib', by Ahmad ibn Abd-Ar-Rahman al-Banna
Many stories are told about the childhood and life of ash-Shafi'i, and it is difficult to separate
Tradition says that he memorized the
Qur’anat the age of seven; by ten, he had memorized the Muwattaof Imam Malik; he was a mufti(given authorization to issue fatwa) at the age of fifteen. He recited the Qur’an every day in prayer, and twice a day in Ramadan. Some apocryphalaccounts claim he was very handsome, that his beard did not exceed the length of his fist, and that it was very black. He wore a ring that was inscribed with the words, “Allah suffices Muhammad ibn Idris as a reliance.” He was also known to be very generous.
He was also an accomplished archer, a poet, and some accounts call him the most eloquent of his time. Some accounts claim that there were a group of Bedouin who would come and sit to listen to him, not for the sake of learning, but just to listen to his eloquent use of the language. Even in latter eras, his speeches and works were used by Arabic grammarians. He was given the title of Nasir al Sunnah, the Defender of the
Muhammadvery deeply. Al Muzani said of him, “He said in the Old School: ‘Supplication ends with the invocation of blessings on the Prophet, and its end is but by means of it.’” Al-Karabisi said: “I heard al-Shafi’i say that he disliked for someone to say ‘the Messenger’ (al-Rasul), but that he should say ‘Allah’s Messenger’ (Rasul Allah) out of veneration for him.” He divided his night into three parts: one for writing, one for praying, and one for sleeping. Apocryphalaccounts claim that Imam Ahmad said of ash-Shafi'i, “I never saw anyone adhere more to hadith than al-Shafi’i. No one preceded him in writing down the hadith in a book.” Imam Ahmad is also claimed to have said, “Not one of the scholars of hadith touched an inkwell nor a pen except he owed a huge debt to al-Shafi’i.” Imam al Shaybanisaid, “If the scholars of hadith speak, it is in the language of al Shafi’i.”
PresentScholar|Shah Waliullah|18th|Sunni stated [
Izalat al-Khafap. 77 part 7] :
According to many accounts he was said to have a photographic memory. One anecdote states that he would always cover one side of a book while reading because a casual glance at the other page would commit it to memory.
Ruthven Malise, "Islam in the World". 3rd edition Granta Books London 2006 ch. 4
Also:"al-Shafi'i's Risala: Treatise on the Foundation of Islamic Jurisprudence" Majid Khadduri. Original 1961, reprinted 1997. ISBN 0-946621-15-2.
al-Shafi'i,Muhammad b. Idris,"The Book of the Amalgamation of Knowledge" translated by Aisha Y. Musa in Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008
* [http://www.sunnah.org/publication/khulafa_rashideen/shafii.htm Detailed Biography of Imam Shafi'i]
* [http://www.haqislam.org/biographies/imam-shafiee.htm Short Biography of Imam Shafi'i]
* [http://www.al-inaam.com/library/shaafiee.htm Concise Summary of Imam Shafi'i]
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