The Schools of Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence): A Brief Introduction

[Translated and partly prepared by: Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Maulana Afzal Qasmi, Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi]

Meaning of Fiqhi Schools

Fiqhi School is basically the name of different trends which have been adopted to derive solution of matters from the principal Shariah sources. The concept of Fiqhi schools was not prevalent in the period of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the companions as it is today, but the basis of these trends was found and they were known in the period of the companions. These trends turned in to the form of Fiqhi schoos in the last period of the Sahaba (companions) and their successors. These trends got more accurate and new building erected at the foundation of separate rules and regulations.

Background of Fiqhi Schools

In the previous lines, it has been mentioned that at the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) sometimes two different companions used to differ in understanding the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). In these examples, there was possibility of taking different meanings since these examples were related to non-principal and partial matters. There is no place for such difference of understanding in the basic principles of religion. Therefore, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) held right two opposite meanings of a guidance. Even, in the Glorious Qur’an, at many places there was possibility of taking various meanings. This difference of understanding sometimes was based on the word having two opposite meanings. Sometimes, the word had two meanings; one real and the other metaphor.

Sometimes, the outer condition of the word gave a meaning and after contemplating the word or looking in to the context it gave another meaning. Some of the companions have adopted the first trend, so they used to stick to the outer meaning of the verses and Hadith. While some others tried to go in to the depth of the matter keeping the spirit of the Shariah and context in their view, and they used to issue orders accordingly. There is a famous account that once the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ordered a group of the companions to offer the prayer of Asr in the locality of the Banu Quraizah. The companions went out and the time of ‘Asr approached in the mid way. A group of the companions said that the Prophet meant that we reach quickly, so they offered ‘Asr prayer in the mid way. While the rest, acting upon the outer meaning of the order, first reached to Banu Quraizah and they could only offer ‘Asr prayer after Isha. When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was apprised of the incident, he objected none of the two.
When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) left for his heavenly abode, the companions faced new issues about which there were no clear orders in the Glorious Quran and Hadith. So, the companions contemplated in to those matters in the light of the Quran and Hadith. As before, this contemplation was of two kinds and their opinions differed because of the difference in trends. The Tab’een (those who followed the companions) learnt the knowledge of Islam from the companions and thus theses trends shifted to them. The new issues and matters came up in abundance and they solved them according to their trends. Basically, it was this difference of trends which was associated with some other reasons that caused the formation variant jurisprudential interpretations. These Fiqhi scholars were in different cities of the Muslim rule and each had a circle of students and followers around him. Thus, their interpretations got the shape of a Fiqhi Maslak.

Logic of the Prevalent Fiqhi Schools

In the beginning, there were many Fiqhi schools and their followers. But as the time passed by, the followers of some schools, under various reasons, got lesser and lesser. All of their Fiqhi opinions and interpretative judgments were not compiled, and they became a part of the history. Only some of their opinions are found in few books and writings of the early authors. The other Fiqhi schools succeeded to win such scholars and jurists who compiled all the opinions and findings the particular school. They set up the rules and regulations and propagated them. Later, these Fiqhi schools enjoyed such scholars of Fiqh who transferred this asset to their successors and rendered a marvelous service to safeguard this treasure. These schools survived. In Ahlus Sunnah, there are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali Fiqhi schools, while in the Shiites there are Ja’fariyah and Zaidiyah Fiqhs.


Introduction of Hanafi School of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)

Fiqh Hanafi is the oldest of all four Sunni Fiqhi schools. The Fiqhi rules and matters were first compiled in this school. This school spread the most in the Islamic world and it is followed by a majority of the Muslims. This Fiqh is attributed to Imam Abu Hanifah and therefore is called Hanafi. It came in to being at Kufa and the compilation was carried out by collective research and interpretations. This Fiqh is originally based on the opinions, fatwas, judgments and thinking methods of the outstanding Companion Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) and fourth Caliph Hadhrat Ali bin Abu Talib (radhiyallahu anhu). These opinions, fatwas, judgments and thinking methods reached Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) by the channel of Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman, Hadhrat Ibrahim Nakh’ee and Hadhrat Alqamah. (Rahimahumullah) Imam Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani (rahimahullah), the renowned disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah), recorded the thousands of mas’alas (issues or cases) in to form of a book which were derived and compiled by a panel of forty ablest students and friends of Imam Abu Hanifah. Imam Abu Yusuf Ya’qub bin Ibrahim Ansari, the other student of Imam Abu Hanifah, played a prominent role in compiling and spreading Fiqh Hanafi.

Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh)

The name of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) is Nu’man bin Sabit. Abu Hanifah is his nickname. He was born in 80 Hijri in Kufa, a city of present day Iraq. As a profession, his family was cloth merchant and he also took in the same profession. A famous scholar of Kufa, Sha’bi apprehended his sharp-mindedness and sought him to achieve education. So, he joined the prominent circle of Hadhrat Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman (rahimahullah) and remained in his company till his demise. He benefited from all the scholars of Hadith in Kufa. He traveled Hijaz many a times and learned from the scholars and other educated ones. He benefited from Imam Malik (rahimahullah) in Madinah and Imam Malik (rahimahullah) also benefited from him. He had so many teachers; among them are senior Tab’een (the successor of the companions of Prophet) from Makkah, Madinah, Iraq and Syria. He himself was a Tab’ee, since he had the honour of visiting some companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), though he did not narrate from them. After the demise of Hadhrat Hammad (rahimahullah) , all of his students agreed that Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) , the youngest of them, is ablest among them to succeed their Shaikh. So they forced him to take over his position. This circle had the grand collection of the derivation method of Hadhrat Umar Farooq (radhiyallahu anhu), traditions and fatwas of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), rulings and thoughts of Hadhrat Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and the Hadiths and traditions of scholars of Hadith in Kufa. Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) was bestowed matchless mind, power of understanding and derivation, expansion and depth in knowledge. He had good moral characters and held a high position in fearing Allah, piety, righteousness and nobility. He was prosperous, so he used to spend wealth wholeheartedly in the path of Allah. He was famous in honesty in dealings and business. Because of these virtues, his circle of teaching earned fame far and wide and prominent scholars started to attend his classes where this generous teacher encouraged them and discussed the academic matters openly. He observed the Umayyad sultanate and witnessed its decline. The Abbasid caliphate was established before his eyes. Some Alvis also made armed efforts to gain power. Realizing them as able for the position, he extended oral and financial support to them. When the Abbasid caliphate was established the Caliph Mansoor offered him the post of Qazi, most probably, in order to test his loyalty to his government. He denied it and as a punishment was whipped lashes at public place and was put in to prison. He was then about seventy years old. He continued teaching while he was in prison and the punishment of whips also continued. Ultimately, he died in prison in 150 H in the month of Rajab and was buried in the graveyard of Khaizuran.

Method & Characteristics

The Fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) bears this characteristic that it was collectively formulated. Hadhrat Umar Farooq (radhiyallahu anhu) populated the city of Kufa with keen interest and sent Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) as teacher and Qazi with this letter: “O people of Kufa! I prefer you on myself by sending Ibn Mas’ood.” So much of the companions turned to Kufa that it accommodated more than one thousand companions. Hadhrat Ali Murtaza (radhiyallahu anhu), the fourth Caliph of Islam, made it his capital. Later, this city competed the cities of Makkah and Madinah in Hadith and Islamic sciences. This city was newly built, therefore the new coverts, who were from urban background and brought with them an asset of Greek and Persian sciences and philosophy, inhabited there in a big number. The mixing of Arabs with Iranian culture created countless many new problems and issues. On the other side, there came up so many sects due to political differences and amalgamation of religions and nations. Some of them were secretly involved in anti-Islamic efforts. One of these phenomena was to forge false Hadith. Every sect forged Hadith to support its view. The cities of Hijaz; Makkah and Madinah, were secure from such kinds of special cases to an extent.

Hadhrat Umar Farooq (radhiyallahu anhu) had a special relation with Iraq. He himself sent Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) to Kufa. Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) was given the title of Muhaddith from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) i.e. ‘his tongue and heart spoke according to the revelation‘. There were several verses in the Glorious Quran which were revealed according to his opinion. Hadhrat Umar Farooq (radhiyallahu anhu) prevented the companions to go out of Madinah in his time of caliphate. He formed two groups among the companions. He used to consult smaller group of the elder companions in special cases. And, whenever there happened to occur any important matter he used to assemble all of the companions for consultations. His style of derivation was that he used to deliberate in the depth of the Qur’an and Hadith, used to keep the objectives of Shariah and the interest of the Muslims before his eyes, observed the circumstances and used to reach a conclusion by collective decision. His interpretative judgments and Awwaliyaat (pioneering judgments) are well known, and they not only played a key role to enliven the Islamic Shariah in the wide Islamic caliphate but also provided a firm basis for his successors. This style of derivation was circulated in Kufa by Hadhrat Ali and Abdullah bin Mas’ood (rashiyallahu anhum). Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu)and his disciples, Alqamah and Ibrahim Nakh’ee (rahimahumullah), on one hand applied strict laws in accepting narrations so that no false Hadith is accepted. On the other hand, they avoided attributing Hadith directly to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and liked to narrate attributing to companions and Tab’eens lest an incorrect meaning is associated to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Thirdly, they applied their reasons and issued fatwas. These were the characteristics and styles that Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) inherited.

Collective Compilation of Fiqh

When Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) formed his penal to compile Fiqh he selected forty people from among his students. They were experts of Qur’anic exegesis, Hadith, Asma ur Rijal (complete record of the narrators), language, literature, logic, philosophy, analogy, history, mathematics and several other sciences. He himself had the experience of trade and marketing. He started this noble mission of compiling Fiqh. It was thus that a matter was presented before the panel and each member used to express his view, and he himself put his opinion. Sometimes, the discussion continued till a month on a single matter. When a decision was reached on he ordered to record it down. The matter was discussed in the light of Quran and Hadith. If they did not find any evidence in any of them, they turned to the sayings of the companions. Having failed they used to apply analogy. All the members also sometimes discussed analogy and some times discrete in legal matters. The conclusions of the discussion were written down in registers. Thus, the Mas’alas of Fiqh were compiled in a new order. This order was known as Fiqhi order; starting from chapter of prayers, dealings and ending at inheritance. It is said that thus 500,000 matters were compiled and 38000 matters of them were related to prayers.

Method of Derivation

Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) himself describes his method of derivation: “First of all I look in to the Noble Quran, then search the matter in the Hadith of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and take the narrations of the Faqeeh (jurist) narrators. If the matter is not found in the Quran and Hadith, then I turn to the sayings of the companions. If their opinions differ then I prefer any of them. If the opinions of the companions contradict the opinions of others I never go against the opinions of the companions. And, when it come to the opinions of Ibrahim Nakh’ee, Hasan Basari, Ibn Seereen, Saeed bin Musayyib and others then I also apply mind and interpret as they do.

Principle Books

After the collective compilation of the Fiqh matters, some companions of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) wrote books. There is no book recorded on Fiqh by Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) . But, the books of his disciple Imam Muhammad Shaibani (rahimahullah) are considered to the first and foremost source of Hanafi Fiqh. In Fiqh Hanafi there are three types of books:

(1) Books of ‘Zahir Al-Riwayah’
(2) Books of ‘Nawadir’
(3) Fatawa and Waqiaat.

The contents of Zahir Al-Riwayah are most trusted ones. Zahir Al-Riwayah is a collection of six books written by Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah).

1. Al-Jami’ Al-Sageer: Eesa bin Aban and Muhammad bin Sama’ah narrated this book from Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah). In this book, Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) through Imam Abu Yusuf (rahimahullah) . But, this book does not contain proofs.

2. Al-Jami’ Al-Kabeer: This book is like the previous one, but it deals with the subjects in details.

3. Ziyadaat: This is the complementary of Al-Jame’ Al-Kabeer.

4. Al-Mabsoot: This is also known as ‘Al-Asl’. In this book, Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) has collected the thousands of Mas’alas that were derived by Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) . This book deals with Ahadith that is followed by Mas’alas and the variant opinions of the contemporary Ulama.

5. Al-Siyar Al-Sageer: This book deals with the subject of Jihad and international laws.

6. Al-Siyar Al-Kabeer: This is his last Fiqhi book that was narrated by Abu Sulaiman Jauzjani.

Muhammad bin Ahmad Marwazi, known as Hakim Shahid, amassed all of Imam Muhammad’s (rahimahullah) books with the name of ‘Al-Kafi’ after the deletion of repeated matters.
Imam Sarkhasi has written its detailed commentary named as ‘Al-Mabsoot’.

Nawadir comprises the matters that are found in books other than the books of Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) or in the books of Imam Abu Yusuf (rahimahullah) or Imam Hasan bin Ziyad (rahimahullah) . The collection of Nawadir consists of:

1. Harooniyaat: Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) dictated it in the reign of Caliph Haroon Al-Rashid, this book is attributed to the Caliph.

2. Kisaniyaat: The narrations of his student Shoaib bin Sulaiman Kisani.

3. Ruqyaat: These are the matters that he expressed while he was Qazi in Ruqa area.

4. Kitabul Mujarrad: It is written by Hasan bin Ziyad.

5. Kitabul Amali: It is attributed to Imam Abu Yusuf (rahimahullah).

Nawazil were the Mas’alas about which there was no mention in the aforementioned books and the succeeding scholars of Fiqh derived solutions keeping these books before them. Kitab Al-Nawazil of Abul Lais Samarqandi, Majmoo’un Nawazil wal Waqi’aat of Natifi and Al-Waqi’aat of Sadr Shahid are well known among scholars.

                     MALIKI FIQH

Introduction of Maliki School of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)

Fiqh Maliki came in to being after the Fiqh Hanafi in historical order. This was a good mixture of Hadith and reason. It was founded in the city of the Prophet Madinah and was called Maliki after the name of Imam Malik bin Anas (rahimahullah) . Madinah was the holy city where each and every house was enlightened with the rays of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). The citizens of Madinah had the honour to accompany the Prophet for a long time and they were directly addressed in the revelations and the matters of Shariah. When the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) left for his heavenly abode, there were a many companions who stayed at Madinah. Specially, the environment of Madinah was resounding with the traditions, narrations and fatawa of Hadhrat Umar, Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar, Hadhrat Aaishah, Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit, Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhum) and so on. The Fiqh Maliki is based on the traditions and opinions of these companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

Imam Malik (rahimahullah)

Imam Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abu Aamir Asbahi (rahimahullah) was born in Madinah in 93 Hijra. His father, uncle and grandfather were great scholars of Hadith. His great grandfather Abu Aamir (radhiyallahu anhu) was a companion of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) who embraced Islam in second year of Hijra and participated all the battles with the Messenger except Badr. The environment of Madinah was resonating with the voices of Hadith when Imam Malik (rahimahullah) was born. The elder Tab’een and their students were busy in teaching and learning Hadith. Imam Malik (rahimahullah) obtained the knowledge of Hadith from senior Tab’een and their successors. First of all, he attended Abdur Rahman bin Hurmuz and benefited from him for a long period. From among his prominent teachers is Hadhrat Nafe’ (rahimahullah) , (the freed slave of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar and his academic heir), Muhammad bin Shihab Zuhri, Imam Jaffar bin Sadiq, Muhammad bin Yahya Ansari (rahimahumullah) etc. He gained the knowledge of Fiqh exclusively by Rabi’ah bin Abdur Rahman (rahimahullah) who is known as Rabi’atur Rai. Apart from these scholars of Hijaz, selected Ulama, Scholars of Hadith and sheikhs would come from every nook and corner of the Islamic world to Madinah at the time of Hajj and there would hold circles and classes of learning and narration. Imam Malik (rahimahullah) benefited greatly from these occasions and attended the circles of great scholars. When he reached the scholarly position that, according to Sufyan bin Uyainah (rahimahullah) , the foretelling of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) befitted him that ‘people will travel the world for knowledge and they will not find any scholar greater than that of Madinah’ and seventy other sheikhs certified that he became able to start his own circle, then he started his circle in the Mosque of the Prophet with a elegance that his circle was an ideal of staidness and sedateness. He would take bath and put on best of dresses, apply perfume and then would go to class. Scented woods and perfumes also were incensed occasionally. He used to give lectures with such an elegance that no noise was heard when the pages were turned. He would not tolerate even a petty improper movement or noise. When anyone posed him a question he used to answer him. Generally, his students used to read out and he would rectify the mistakes. His lectures were attended by many of his significant teachers as well.

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) was bestowed with special privileges. On one hand, he was a great Muhaddith and has a high and authentic chain of narration. Those who narrated from him were Rabi’atur Rai, Yahya bin Sa’eed and Musa bin Uqbah (from among his teachers), Imam Abu Hanifah, Sufyan Sauri, Lais bin Sa’d, Awza’ee, Imam Abu Yusuf etc (from among his coetaneous). Among his prominent students are Imam Shafi’i, Abdullah bin Mubarak, Imam Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani (rahimahumullah) and so on. His second characteristic was that he was a great scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence and Mujtahid (authority to interpret in Islamic matters). Outstanding Ulama and Imams of Fiqh have benefited from his Fiqhi views. The Caliphs Haroon Al-Rasheed, Abu Jaffar Mansoor and Mahdi and Mamoon also attended his lectures. In the beginning of Abbasid period he also had to pass through troubled conditions. In the reign of Caliph Mansoor, when Nafs Zakiyyah raised the claim of caliphate, Imam Malik supported him. Mansoor disliked it and tried to look for a pretext to catch him. Imam Malik (rahimahullah) was of the opinion that forced Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) conditioned with divorce is unacceptable. The Governor of Mansoor in Madinah asked him to avoid issuing such fatwas. When he did not stop he was so lashed at his naked arms that it was disjointed.

He stayed throughout of his life in Madinah. He was so conscious about the honour of Prophet’s city that he did not even like to ride at places where the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) set his steps. He died in Madinah in 179 Hijra and was buried in Jannat-ul Baqee, the famous graveyard of Madinah.

Characteristics & Salient Features

Fiqh Maliki has acquired this prominence that it is a beautiful composite of narration and reason. Imam Malik (rahimahullah) , on one hand, was a great Muhaddith and has absorbed the Ahadith of the companions of Madinah. He himself compiled the pioneering Hadith book named ‘Muwatta’. While, on the other hand, he is a torchbearer of Fiqh. He has recorded his Fiqhi views with the views and opinions of the companions and their successors. He derived Mas’alas keeping the commonweal and objective of Shariah in view. He gave commonwealth so importance that it is counted one of the characteristics of Fiqh Maliki.

The Style of Derivation

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) obtained knowledge staying in Madinah and there he started teaching. He benefited fully from the Ahadith and fatwas of companions in Madinah and get enlightenment from them. He was well aware of the Ahadith of the companions of Madinah and he used to trust them more. So this impression seems to overshadow Fiqh Maliki. The people of Medina witnessed the life of Prophet very closely and were directly trained by the Prophet. Hence, a general practice of people of Madinah was very important to him and he used to consider their practice as Ijma (consensus). He gave it such importance that if Khabr-e-Wahid (narration of single person) contradicted their practice he would not trust the Hadith of the single narrator.

The style of his derivation was that first of all he looked in to the Qur’an, then in the traditions of the Prophet. In traditions he used to rely more on the scholars of Hadith from Hijaz and practice of Madinite citizens. He preferred the fatwas and rulings of Hadhrat Umar and Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), then the fatwas of the other companions of Madinah and then those of the seven Scholars of Fiqh in Madinah. When he did not find any proof in Hadith he would turn to analogy. Also, he tried his level best to shut the door of evil sources. Instead of looking in the incident he would look in to the cause of the matter and prevent the causes that may lead to Haram or evil.

Fundamental Books

The first and foremost of Fiqh Maliki books is Muwatta of Imam Malik (rahimahullah) in which he collected Hadith with Fiqhi views. The second book is ‘Al-Mudawwnatul Kubra’ that contains matters that were answered by Imam Malik (rahimahullah) . First, his pupil Asad bin Furat (rahimahullah) recorded it from Abdur Rahman bin Qasim (rahimahullah) . But, Abdus Salam Saeed Sahnoon (rahimahullah) prepared a copy of it and presented it to bin Qasim (rahimahullah) who made corrections. This manuscript was known as Mudawwanah. Among the early books of Fiqh Maliki are ‘Al-Waziha’ of Abdul Malik bin Habib, ‘Utaibah’ of Muhammad bin Abu Bakr and ‘Muwaziyah’ of Muhammad bin Muwazi Misri. Among his promninent pupils are Abdullah bin Wahab, Abdur Rahman bin Qasim, Ashhab bin Abdul Aziz and Abdul Malik bin Majishoon.

                    SHAFI’I FIQH

Introduction of Shafi’i School of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence)

Fiqh Shafi’i is the third Fiqhi school of Islamic Jurisprudence attributed to Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah). Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah), on one hand, is a student of Imam Malik (rahimahullah) , he learnt the Fiqh Maliki and Hijazi thoughts from him. On the other hand, he attended Imam Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani (rahimahullah) 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 (rahimahullah) , a disciple of Imam Awzai (rahimahullah) whose Fiqh was prevalent in Syria. In Egypt, the Fiqh of Imam Lais bin Sa’d (rahimahullah) was followed so he benefited from his disciple Yahya bin Hassaan (rahimahullah). Thus, the Fiqh Shafi’i accumulated all the virtues of all known Fiqhi schools and trends. Being a towering Islamic Jurist, Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) was a great Muahaddith. He had aquired the narrations of the Muhaddith of Makkah Sufyan bin Unainah (rahimahullah) and the narrations of Muhaddith of Madinah, Imam Malik bin Anas (rahimahullah). The Fiqh of Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) was founded at Makkah. Then, passing from Madinah, 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 (radhiyallah anhum)and the Fiqh Maliki has heavily benefited from the opinions of Hadhrat Umar and Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (radhiyallahu anhum), the Fiqh Shafi’i has drew inspiration from the views of Hadhrat Abdullah bin Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu).

Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah)

The name of Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) 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 Makkah. He learnt the eloquence and nuance of Arabic language in the tribe of Huzail and memorized the Holy Qur’an. Then, he associated himself with Muslim bin Khalid Zanji (rahimahullah), the Sheikh and Mufti of Haram, and completed his education. Then, he came in Madinah to Imam Malik (rahimahullah) to learn the Qur’an and Hadith. He had already memorized the Muwatta of Imam Malik. Imam Malik (rahimahullah) was very impressed by him. Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) was not financially well so he looked for a source of income. Eventually he was given the governorship of Najran. He went to Najran and discharged his duties with much honesty and trustworthiness. Haroon Al Rashid was then Caliph and he was disturbed on the account of Alvis’ uprisings. Somebody complained him that Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah)  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 (rahimahullah) and learnt Hanafi Fiqh. He held discussions with Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) 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 Makkah 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 (rahimahullah) 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 Hijri and was buried therein.

Characteristics & Distinguishing Qualities

Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) was luckiest among all the Imams that he was bestowed ‘comprehensiveness’. Due to stay in Hijaz. He gathered a pile of Ahadith and traditions. Makkah was his native place; he attended Imam Malik (rahimahullah) in Madinah. 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 (radhiyallahu anhu) in Makkah and that of Hadhrat Umar and Abdullah bin Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) in Madinah from Imam Malik (rahimahullah) . Then, in Iraq he learnt Hanafi Fiqh from Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) , in Syria he learnt the Fiqh of Imam Awza’ee (rahimahullah) and in Egypt the Fiqh of Imam Lais bin Sa’d (rahimahullah) . 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 Madinah were of the opinion that only the Ahadith will be accepted that match the practice of Madinite 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.

Principle Books

Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) 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 (rahimahullah) . Among his distinguished students are Rabi bin Sulaiman Muradi (rahimahullah) who narrated and propagated his books, Ismail bin Yahya Muzani (rahimahullah) whose books are considered base for Fiqh Shafi’i and Yusuf bin Yahya Buwaiti (rahimahullah) . The trio 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 (rahimahumullah).

Derivation Method

Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) 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 Qur’an 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.

                  HANBALI FIQH

Introduction of Hanbali School of Fiqh

This is fourth Fiqhi school of Ahlus Sunnah attributed to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) . Fiqh Hanbali falls in the last in historical order. The personality of Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) is more Muhaddith than Faqeeh, therefore this aspect seems to dominate his Fiqh. Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) who accumulated all the Fiqhi trends and interpretations, was his main teacher. He paid most of his attention to Hadith. So he became a genius Muahaddith and compiled the great encyclopedia of Hadith ‘Al-Musnad‘. Despite the fact that he was enjoying the virtues of Fiqh and Ijtehad, he did not like to compile his opinions and interpretations. But, it was destined that his Fiqhi School not only survived but also developed in the Islamic world as one of the dominant Fiqhi schools of Ahlus Sunnah. The Hanbali Fiqh was evolved and passed through all the stages of development in Iraq.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah)

His name is Ahmad bin Hanbal bin Hilal Zuhli Shaibani (rahimahullah). He was born in 164 Hijri in Baghdad and grew up in orphan-hood. His father was a prominent soldier, but he died in Imam Ahmad’s (rahimahullah) childhood. He was not financially strong, so he inherited hard work, determination and firmness against troubles. To begin with, he memorized the Glorious Qur’an. Then, he busied himself in learning in Baghdad and paid special attention to Hadith. He attended the famous Muhaddith of Baghdad Hushaim bin Bashir (rahimahullah). Then, he started traveling from place to place in search of Hadith. He journeyed five times to Basra and five times to Hijaz. He learnt from Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) in Baghdad and acquired the knowledge of Fiqh and Hadith. When Imam Shafi’i was leaving Baghdad he said that Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) has a leading position in seven things: Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Linguistics, asceticism, dispense with the world and piety. Similarly, he learnt from Sufyan bn Uyainah, Abu Bakr bin Ayyash, Waki bin Jarrah, Abdur Rahman bin Mahdi and Saeed bin Qattan (rahimahumullah) .The historic incident of his life is the matter of ‘Khalq-e-Quran‘ which he faced with determination and courage. The Caliph, Mamoon asked him to believe that Qur’an is a creation of Allah’ with so strictness that the most valorous people were shaken. But, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) demanded proof from the Qur’an and Hadith. He was given severest of punishments and put in trouble for a long period, but he stood firm. This incident was written with golden ink in the History of safeguarding the beliefs and faith of Muslims.

Characteristics & Important Features

Fiqh Hanbali owns some characteristics as other Fiqhi schools have special qualities. Though, Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) was expert of Hadith and Fiqh, but Hadith was his favourite subject. Therefore, instead of compiling his Fiqhi views and fatwas he took interest in compiling Hadith. From his early age, he started compiling Hadith. His ‘Musnad‘ consists of more than forty thousand traditions. His interest in Sunnah was so established that it dominated his school of Fiqh. So, he regarded the Holy Qur’an and Hadith as basic source and benefited from the fatwas of the companions. Then, he would refer to Weak and Mursal Ahadith (that were not directly narrated by the Prophet). Finally, he resorted to analogy.

The main characteristic of Fiqh Hanbali is that they, unlike other Fiqhi Schools, have regarded wisdom (Hikmat) more important than reason (Illat). They have utilized the rule of ‘Isteshab‘ which means that the already proved matter will be maintained until there happens something contradictory. Then, they have the principles of ‘public interest’ and ‘shutting down the door of evils’.

Principle Books

As mentioned above, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) did not like to compile his Fiqhi opinions and interpretative judgments. But, his able students, among whom are his two sons as well; Salih bin Ahmad and Abdullah bin Ahmad (rahimahumullah) , who recoded it. The most brilliant among his students are Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hani, Ahmad bin Hajjaj Marwazi and Ishaq bin Ibrahim known as Ibn Rahwaih (rahimahumullah) . The trio have authored ‘Kitabus Sunan‘ in Fiqh. But, the credit of recording and compiling all the fatwas and views of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal goes to Abu Bak Khallal who compiled his fatwas in two hundred parts. This was later summarized by Abul Qasim Kahrqi and Abdul Aziz bin Jaffar Ghulam Khallal. The summary of Kharqi earned so popularity that three hundred commentaries were written on it, among which the ‘Al-Mughni‘ of Ibn Qudamah (rahimahullah) stands out as most distinguished one.

Style of Derivation

Imam Ahmad’s (rahimahullah) style of derivation was so that he used to put the Qur’an and Hadith foremost. Thereafter, he preferred the fatwas of the companions. Then, he would turn to Weak and Mursal Ahadith (that were not directly narrated by the Prophet). At last, he resorted to analogy. To him analogy was the last option in unavoidable circumstances. He used to state: I like Weak Hadith in comparison to applying reason.



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