The School’s Founder: Imam Shafi’i
Imam Shafi’i is himself just an inheritor of the Prophetic legacy.
Imam Shafi’i was born in Gaza in 150, the same year in which Imam Abu Hanifah passed. His mother, Fatimah, moved with her young son to Makkah so that his maternal family could raise him.
Before setting out on his first journey, to Medina, in pursuit of knowledge, Imam Shafi’i had already achieved a lot. He memorized the Qur’an at a young age, and took from Muslim b. Khalid, Sufyan b. Uyaynah, and others. He memorized Imam Malik’s Muwatta, which he borrowed from a friend, in seven nights. Upon setting out for the Holy City of Medina, his sole purpose was to take knowledge from the Imam of Ahl al-Hadith, Imam Malik b. Anas. Imam Shafi’i stayed there until Malik passed in 179.
Thereafter, Imam Shafi’i relocated to Yemen to take the position of judge there. He was in Yemen for a while until taken prisoner and extradited to Baghdad in 184. Here in Iraq, Imam Shafi’i would take the opportunity to write the books of Muhammad b. Hasan al-Shaybani, Abu Hanifah’s senior student. The duration of his stay in Iraq was probably at least a few years; as he wrote all of Muhammad’s books, debated, taught, and benefited the people there. At this point, in Imam Shafi’s first visit to Iraq, the Iraqi school formed.
After his stay in Baghdad, Imam Shafi’i returned to Makkah. There, he taught, having classes in the Haram. Then, Imam Shafi’i returned to Baghdad in 195. He again left Baghdad in 199 and relocated to Egypt. In Egypt, he established gatherings for learning and built his new School, the qawl jadid. His senior transmitters and students would be Buwayti, Muzani, Muradi, and others. They took his Madhhab and transmitted it from him after he passed away in 204.
Imam Shafi’s Direct Students: The Qadim and Jadid
The Qawl Qadim: There are Four Transmitters of the Qawl Qadim
– Ahmad b. Hanbal
– Abu Thawr
Abu Ali Hasan b. Muhammad al-Za’farani al-Baghdadi was probably one of Imam Shafi’s most pivotal transmitters in regards to the qawl qadim. Him, Ahmad b. Hanbal, and Abu Thawr where present in a gathering with Imam Shafi’i; Za’farani was given the task of reading out Imam Shafi’s Risalah. As soon as he read the work, Imam Shafi’i asked him, “From which of the Arabs are you?” To which Za’farani relied, “I am not an Arab, I am just from a village named Za’faraniyyah.” To this Imam Shafi’i remarked, “Then you are the master of that village.” He passed in 260.
Ahmad b. Hanbal أحمد بن حنبل
Imam Abu Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Baghdadi was another transmitter of the qawl qadim. Both Bukhari and Muslim narrate from him. It is quite possible that Shafi’s influence reached them via Ahmad. Bukhari is also a student of another individual who took from al-Shafi’i, Ishaq b. Rahaway. Imam Ahmad passed in 241.
Abu Thawr Ibrahim b. Khalid al-Baghdadi was another transmitter of the qawl qadim. If Ahmad b. Hanbal was asked regarding a legal issue he would sometimes say, “Ask someone else, ask Abu Thawr.” This was due to Abu Thawr’s status as a faqih. He is noted to have initially been a Hanafi, and when Imam Shafi’i entered Baghdad he departed from the Hanafi School and became a Shafi’i. He passed in 240.
Abu Ali al-Hasan b. Ali al-Karabisi al-Baghdadi was another transmitter. Similar to Abu Thawr, he was also a Hanafi, following the ways of Ahl al-Ra’yy, but when Imam Shafi’i began teaching in Baghdad he became captivated by the hadith-centered methodology; this ultimately influenced him to adopt the fiqh of Imam Shafi’i. He passed in 245.
The Qawl Jadid: The Primary Transmitters of the Qawl Jadid
– Rabi b. Sulayman al-Muradi
– Rabi al-Jizi
– Yunus b. Abd al-Ala
(Mention here is specific to the first three)
Imam Abu Yaqub Yusuf b. Yahya al-Buwayti was vested with leading the circles of learning after the demise of al-Shafi’i. Eventually he was tested by the mihnah and exiled to Baghdad, where he was imprisoned and eventually passed away in shackles. After his exile, Muzani took over the seat of teaching. Buwayti passed in 232.
Imam Abu Ibrahim Ismail b. Yahya al-Muzani wrote some famous and indispensible works like his Mukhtasar. From early on, this work gained prominence. He took over the seat of teaching after Buwayti. Eventually, he reached the level of absolute ijtihad; some of his opinions contradict the Madhhab, his ikhtiyarat. He passed in 264.
Imam Rabi b. Sulayman al-Muradi is pivotal in transmitting Imam Shafi’s books. Ibn al-Athir in his commentary on Shafi’s Musnad mentions, “Shafi’i was based in Egypt for four years. During that time, Rabi’ wrote over one-thousand and five-hundred pages: one-thousand being Kitab al-Umm and the rest were al-Sunan amongst other things. All of that in four years!” Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Abu Zur’ah, Abu Hatim, and others narrate from him. He passed in 270.
Transmission from Imam Shafi’s Students until the Two Tariqahs
The Four Muhammads: 1, 2, 3, 4
These four individuals are part of the Ashab al-Wujuh, known to have reached the stage of absolute ijtihad. Individuals that reach a stage in their learning, being capable to make ijtihad, do not make taqlid of others. In his Tabaqat, Ibn al-Subki mentioned that this did not exclude them from being from the Ashab. At times they would operate by using the Imam’s usul, their ijtihad being like-minded to the Imam’s. Ibn al-Subki mentioned that while they were from the Ashab, their ijtihad would sometimes lead them to depart from the Madhhab.
1. Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Jarir b. Yazid al-Tabari was born in 224 in Tabrastan but resided in Baghdad. He started his quest for knowledge after the year 240, and traveled extensively for knowledge until he became an authority in Islam – a master of both the Quran and the Sunnah – whose opinion and view is taken. The judiciary was offered to him at different times; however, he refused to take the position. He authored a tarikh, a comprehensive tafsir, a work under the title Tahdhib al-Athar that he did not complete, and many other writings in the subjects of fiqh and usul. Ibn Jarir spent forty years writing at the pace of forty pages daily. He took from Muradi, Yunus b. Abd al-Ala, and Za’farani. He passed away in Baghdad in the year 310.
2. Muhammad b. Khuzaymah
Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Ishaq b. Khuzaymah al-Naysaburi was born in 223. He took from both Muzani and Muradi. He was a hadith scholar par excellence, who combined fiqh and hadith. He stated, “I have not made taqlid of anyone since the age of sixteen.” He passed in 311.
3. Muhammad b. al-Mundhir
Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. al-Mundhir al-Naysaburi resided in Makkah. He authored many relied-upon works including al-Ishraf fi Marifat al-Khilaf, al-Awsat, al-Ijma, al-Iqna, and others. He took from Muradi, and passed away in the year 319.
4. Muhammad b. Nasr al-Marwazi
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad b. Nasr al-Marwazi was born in the year 202 in Baghdad, but raised in Nishapur. He spent years traveling for knowledge and thereafter took residence in Samarqand where he passed in 294. He authored many books including al-Qasamah in fiqh of which Abu Bakr al-Sayrafi remarked, “If it was his only book, he would still be the most knowledgeable of the people.” He took fiqh from Imam Shafi’s students.
The As-hab al-Awjuh
Abu al-Qasim al-Anmati
Abu al-Qasim ‘Uthman b. Sa’id al-Anmati is from the senior figures in the Shafi’i School. He studied fiqh with both Muzani and Muradi. Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi mentioned that Anmati was pivotal in spreading the books and teachings of Imam Shafi’i in Baghdad. Ibn al-Subki related a similar statement from Abu ‘Asim in which Anmati is compared as an equal to Abu Bakr b. Ishaq al-Sibghi who spread the madhhab in Nishapur.
Ibn al-Subki goes on to mentioned in respects to who spread the madhhab, then the comparison is acceptable. However, he also points out that he considers Sibghi to have surpassed Anmati. The difference between them is also found in their students. The students of Anmati far surpassed those of Ibn Ishaq and had a more profound influence on the development of the Shafi’i School. Various scholars studied fiqh with Anmati, from them are the likes of Ibn Surayj, Abu Sa’id al-Istakhari, Abu ‘Ali b. Khayran, and others.
It should be noted that Abu ‘Asim’s statement is in fact qualified by them having spread the knowledge of Imam Muzani. Perhaps the reason for this is that the knowledge of Imam Shafi’i reached these areas at an earlier date. Ibn al-Subki mentioned that Abu Sa’id Ibn Marthad al-Asbahani, a student of Sufyan b. ‘Uyaynah, was the first to bring the knowledge of al-Shafi’i to Asbahan.
As well, Ibn al-Subki mentioned that Abu Muhammad ‘Abdan b. Muhammad al-Junujirdi, a student of Muzani and Muradi, was the first to bring a copy of Mukhtasar al-Muzani into the city of Marw where he was pivotal in establishing the Shafi’i School.
Abu al-Abbas Ibn Surayj
Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Umar b. Surayj al-Baghdadi is “Shaykh al-Madhhab.” He took fiqh from Anmati, and was pivotal in spreading the Shafi’i School far and wide. Notably, he also authored a commentary on Mukhtasar al-Muzani. He passed in 306.
Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi al-Kabir
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Ahmad al-Marwazi took fiqh from Ibn Surayj and Istakhari. He became the foremost authority in the Madhhab during his era. Many who would become senior authorities benefited from him. The Madhhab spread by his teachings to all different parts of the Islamic world. He commentated on Mukhtasar al-Muzani and wrote al-Tawassut bayna al-Shafi’i wa al-Muzani. He passed away in Egypt in the year 340, and his grave is next to Imam Shafi’i.
The Iraqi and Khurasani Tariqahs, i and ii
Here, the students of Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi branch off into two channels of transmission: the Iraqi channel and the Khurasani channel.
i. The Transmission of the Iraqi Tariqah
Abu al-Qasim al-Dariki
Abu al-Qasim Abd al-Aziz b. Abd Allah al-Dariki hailed from the village Darik, a village situated in Asbahan. He studied in Nishapur for some years and then relocated to Baghdad where he took the leadership position pertaining to religious knowledge. He took fiqh from Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi, and Shaykh Abu Hamid took it from him. If he considered a hadith authentic, he would give fatwa according to it regardless as to whether or not it contradicted the views of Abu Hanifah or Imam Shafi’i. He passed in 375.
Shaykh Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini
Shaykh Abu Hamid Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Isfarayini is the Imam of the Iraqi tariqah. He studied fiqh with Abu al-Qasim al-Dariki. He resided in Baghdad, and occupied himself with knowledge until he became unsurpassed in his era. He authored a Ta’liqah on Mukhtasar al-Muzani, which stretched into many volumes. Countless students and scholars attended his gatherings wherein the focus was expounding and commentating on Mukhtasar al-Muzani. His Ta’liqah was central for the Iraqi tariqah and some of the Khurasanis too. He passed in 406.
Today, Asfarayin, the place to which Shaykh Abu Hamid is ascribed is situated in Iran’s providence of Northern Khurasan.
Muhammad b. Ali al-Masarjisi
Qadi Abu Husayn Muhammad b. Ali al-Masarjisi is the teacher of Qadi Abu Tayyib. He was of the most knowledgeable pertaining to the Madhhab; he took fiqh from Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi, accompanied him to Egypt, and stayed with him until he passed away. Then, he went to Baghdad and taught there for a while; and then to Khurasan. He passed in 384.
Qadi Abu Tayyib al-Tabari
Qadi Abu Tayyib Tahir b. Abd Allah al-Tabari is one of the Madhhab’s key transmitters. The Iraqi’s took knowledge from him, and transmitted through his means. In Nishapur, he met Masarjisi, with whom he stayed in the company of for four years studying fiqh. Then, he traveled to Baghdad where he met Dariki’s student Abu Muhammad al-Khawarizmi. He also attended the gatherings of Shaykh Abu Hamid. He wrote various writings and commentated on Mukhtasar al-Muzani. He passed in 450.
Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Ali al-Shirazi is the author of al-Tanbih and al-Muhadhdhab. He was born in the Persian city of Firozabad in 393. He grew up in his hometown, and then moved to Shiraz. There, he studied with two of Dariki’s students Abu Abd Allah al-Baydawi and Ibn Ramin. Then, he entered Iraq, first to Basra, and then Baghdad. He reached Baghdad in 415. There, he took fiqh from Qadi Abu Tayyib. He authored many works, and passed in 476.
Qadi Abu Ali al-Fariqi
Qadi Abu Ali Hasan b. Ibrahim al-Fariqi studied fiqh in his youth and later traveled to Baghdad where he took from Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi. He stayed with him studying the Muhadhdhab until he had memorized it. He was the most knowledgeable of his era in the Madhhab. He was the judge in Wasit and its surrounding areas, which he subsequently abandoned. He stayed in Wasit until he passed away, teaching fiqh and narrating hadith. He passed in 528.
Ibn Abi ‘Asrun
Qadi Abd Allah b. Muhammad Ibn Abi ‘Asrun first studied fiqh with the scholars of Baghdad. Then, he traveled to Wasit and studied under Qadi Abu Ali al-Fariqi staying in his company. Toward the end of his life, he moved to Damascus and took residence there. He was the leading Shafi’i jurist of his era and a prolific writer. Some of his works include Safwat al-Madhhab, which is a work on Imam al-Haramayn’s Nihayat al-Matlab, Fawa’id al-Muhadhdhab wa al-Tanbih, and Nusrat al-Madhhab which he however did not complete. He passed in 585.
ii. The Transmission of the Khurasani Tariqah
Abu Zayd al-Marwazi
Abu Zayd Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Marwazi is one of the leading transmitters of the Khurasani tariqah. A scholar who preserved the Shafi’i School, he took fiqh from Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi. He also heard Sahih al-Bukhari directly from Firabri and is thus one of its transmitters. Al-Qaffal al-Marwazi and the scholars of Marv took from him, as well as Hakim and Daraqutni. He passed in 371.
al-Qaffal al-Saghir al-Marwazi
Abu Bakr Abd Allah b. Ahmad al-Qaffal al-Saghir al-Marwazi is the Shaykh of the Khurasani tariqah. He took fiqh from Abu Zayd al-Marwazi. He passed in 417. It should be noted that from the Shafis are two Abu Bakr Qaffal’s, the one we have here is usually referred to as Qaffal al-Marwazi, he is the junior in age. There is also Qaffal al-Shashi, who is elder. Marwazi’s mention in the Shafi’s works of furu is much more frequent than al-Shashi. In fact, in Ghazzali’s Wasit, mention is not made of Shashi, not even once. Thus, ipso-facto, the Qaffal Ghazzli cites from is Qaffal al-Marwazi; in the books of the Khurasanis like Nihayat al-Matlab, Tahdhib, Ibanah, etc., the mentioned Qaffal is Qaffal al-Marwazi. In Shirazi’s Muhadhdhab, mention is made of him only once; that is in kitab al-nikah under the discussion of the grandfather’s marrying his son’s daughter with his son’s son. While in Imam Nawawi’s Rawdah, mentioned is made of him in a few instances. While, in the works of usul al-fiqh, Qaffal al-Shashi features much more frequently.
Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni
Abu Muhammad Abd Allah b. Yusuf al-Juwayni took fiqh from Qaffal. He resided in Nishapur where he taught and issued fatwas. He wrote various works. Perhaps he authored a commentary on Abu Bakr al-Farisi’s Uyun al-Masail, while Ruyani ascribes it to Qaffal. It could be that Abu Muhammad transmitted it from his teacher. Abu Muhammad is Imam al-Haramayn’s father. He passed in 438.
Imam al-Haramayn is Abd al-Malik b. Abd Allah b. Yusuf al-Juwayni. He was the leading authority of the Shafi’is in Nishapur. He first studied with his father. When his father passed, he took over his place, teaching and issuing fatwa. He was twenty years old at the time. He went to Madrasat al-Bayhaqi and studied Usul al-Fiqh and Usul al-Din under the tutelage of Abu al-Qasim al-Isfarayini. During a period of strife, he migrated to Hejaz where he stayed for four years. During that time, he taught, gave fatwa, and wrote. Then, he returned to Nishapur and taught at the Nizamiyyah. He remained in that position for thirty years. Attending his lessons were about three hundred scholars daily. He authored an important commentary on Mukhtasar al-Muzani under the title Nihayat al-Matlab fi Dirayat al-Madhhab, a work he complied in the Hejaz and refined in Nishapur. He passed in 478.
Abu al-Hasan Imad al-Din Ali b. Muhammad al-Tabari took fiqh in his hometown and then traveled to Nishapur to take fiqh from Imam al-Haramayn. He reached a high stage in his knowledge, being one of Imam al-Haramayn’s most distinguished pupils. In the first volume of Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, under the discussion of vessels and containers, Imam Nawawi cites from him is a work under the title Zawiya al-Masail. This He passed in 504.
Abu Hamid Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Ghazzali is the author of very significant works in Shafi’i fiqh: the Basit, the Wasit, the Wajiz, and the Khulasah. He also authored the famous work Ihya Ulum al-Din. He took fiqh from Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni, and passed in 505.
Abu al-Qasim Ibn al-Bizri
Jamal al-Islam Umar b. Muhammad Abu al-Qasim Ibn al-Bizri took fiqh from Ghazzali and Ilkiya al-Harrasi. He wrote a work on Ghazzali’s Wasit. No one preserved the Madhhab more than him during his time. Many benefited from him. He passed in 560.
The Two Tariqahs Begin to Merge
Salah al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Uthman
Ibn al-Salah’s father Salah al-Din Abu al-Qasim Abd al-Rahman b. Uthman b. Musa al-Kurdi took fiqh from both Ibn Abi ‘Asrun and Bizri, lived in Aleppo, and taught fiqh in al-Madrasat al-Asadiyyah. He passed in 618.
Abu Amr Uthman b. Abd al-Rahman b. Uthman b. Musa al-Kurdi al-Shahrazuri is Ibn al-Salah. He was a leading authority in both Shafi’i fiqh and as well hadith. He first studied fiqh under his father in Shahrazur; thereafter, his father and he relocated to the Northern Iraqi city of Mawsil. He studied the entirety of Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi’s Muhadhdhab at a young age. He studied hadith in Khurasan, where stayed for a while, before moving to the Levant where he remained there for a short period in order to teach. Thereafter, he relocated to Damascus, as soon as the building of Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyyah in Damascus completed, the lecturer post was his appointment. Many significant authorities in the Shafi’i Madhhab would hold this post after Ibn al-Salah, like Abu Shamah al-Maqdisi, Imam Nawawi, Hafiz Mizzi, Taqi al-Din al-Subki, and others. Ibn al-Salah wrote his Muqaddimah in hadith sciences, Adab al-Mufti wa al-Mustafti, a commentary on Ghazzali’s Wasit, and a collection of fatawa. He passed in 643.
Shaykhayn: Imams Nawawi and Rafi’i
At this stage, the Madhhab had developed for around half a millennium. The amount of different writings and opinions contributed was significant. Two authorities undertook the task of tarjih, or assessing and weighing opinions to determine what is relied-upon. They are Imams Rafi’i and Nawawi, referred to collectively as “Shaykhayn.”
Imam Abu al-Qasim Abd al-Karim b. Muhammad al-Rafi’i took fiqh from his father. He is authoritative pertaining to tarjih in the Shafi’i School, along with Imam Nawawi. Imam Rafi’i studied under his father Muhammad. He wrote al-Sharh al-Kabir, which is a commentary on Ghazzali,’s Wajiz, al-Sharh al-Saghir, Muharrar, and other works. He passed in 623.
Abu Zakariyya Muhy al-Din Yahya b. Sharaf al-Nawawi was born in the Syrian village of Nawa in the year 631. He memorized the Quran when small, and traveled with his father to Damascus when he was nineteen years old. He studied at al-Madrasat al-Rawahiyyah for two years and during that time, his side did not lie on the ground even once. He memorized the Tanbih and Muhadhdhab. Imam Nawawi studied thirteen lessons daily in his student career, always occupied with knowledge. He performed Hajj with his father and visited Medina. When Abu Shamah passed away, he took charge of Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyyah. He remained in that position until he passed in 677. Imam Nawawi’s works are relied-upon for fatwa in the Shafi’i School. He wrote al-Tahqiq, Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, al-Tanqih Sharh Wasit al-Ghazzali, Rawdat al-Talibin, Minhaj al-Talibin, Sharh Sahih Muslim, Tashih al-Tanbih, a Fatawa, and other works.
The Muhaqqiqun’s Era
Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Muhammad Ibn al-Rif’ah al-Misri was born in 645, known as “al-Faqih.” He wrote two important works Kifayat al-Nabih, which is a commentary on Shirazi’s Tanbih, and Matlab al-Ali, which is a commentary on Ghazzali’s Wasit. Taqi al-Din al-Subki took fiqh from him. His vast knowledge of the Madhhab and ability to bring out opinions and transmissions from Imam Shafi’i and the Ashab al-Wujuh was unparalleled. Ibn Taymiyyah remarked regarding him that, “He had the nuqul [reports, opinions, transmissions] of the Shafi’yyah dripping from his beard.” He passed in 710.
Abu al-Hasan Ala al-Din Ali b. Ibrahim Ibn al-Attar was born in 654. His father was Jewish and a perfume merchant by trade. The agnomen, “al-Attar”, is retained from his father’s profession. He travelled extensively to seek knowledge. During his travels, he took knowledge from over two hundred teachers. He was appointed as chief lecturer at Dar al-Hadith al-Nuriyyah in 674; he remained studiously occupied there until his death. He was Imam Nawawi’s most senior student, and the appellation given to him, namely, “Mukhtasar al-Nawawi,” confirms this. He authored a biography of his teacher under the title Tuhfat al-Talibin. This was most probably the first biographical work on Nawawi. In 701, his health began to suffer because of a hemiplegic condition. Although he was carried on a stretcher due to the severity of his condition, he never gave up his teaching career. He taught at the Nuriyyah up until his passing in 724.
Taqi al-Din al-Subki
Abu al-Hasan Taqi al-Din Ali b. Abd al-Kafi al-Subki was born in 683. He studied under his father and Ibn al-Rif’ah. When Qadi Jalal al-Din al-Qazwini passed on in Damascus, Subki took his place. He executed the affairs of the judiciary in a most excellent and just manner. He lectured in the Umayyad Mosque and took the seat of teaching at Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyyah. He began to write a completion of Imam Nawawi’s Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, but passed before finishing it, he also authored Ibtihaj a commentary on Minhaj al-Talibin, he wrote fatawa which have be compiled. He passed away in 756.
Taj al-Din al-Subki
Taj al-Din Abd al-Wahhab b. Ali b. Abd al-Kafi al-Subki al-Misri is the son of Taqi al-Din al-Subki i.e. “Ibn al-Subki.” He was born in Cairo in 720. He studied with his father, Mizzi, Dhahabi, Ibn al-Naqib, and others. He wrote Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyyah al-Kubra and many other works. He passed in 770.
Jamal al-Din al-Isnawi
Jamal al-Din Abu Muhammad Abd al-Rahim b. Hasan al-Isnawi, according to Imam Suyuti he is al-Asnawi, was born in 704. He wrote many works including his Muhimmat which he finished writing in the year 760, al-Ashbah wa al-Nazair, Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyyah, a commentary on Nawawi’s Minhaj, and others. He passed in 772.
Shihab al-Din al-Adhra’i
Shihab al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Hamdan al-Adhra’i was born in 708. He studied with Imams Dhahabi and Mizzi. He studied much in Damascus, studied with Ibn al-Naqib, and stayed in the company of al-Fakhr al-Misri. He wrote a commentary on Minhaj al-Talibin under the title al-Qut and al-Tawassut wa al-Fath bayna al-Rawdah wa al-Sharh. Zarkashi took fiqh from him. He passed in 783.
Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini
Qadi Siraj al-Din Muhammad b. Umar b. Ruslan al-Bulqini was born in 757. He moved to Damascus with his father while an adolescent and took fiqh from the scholars there. He took fiqh from his father, Jamal al-Din al-Isnawi, and others. His father handed down the position of the military court’s judge to him. He passed in 791.
Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi
Abu Abd Allah Badr al-Din Muhammad b. Bahadir al-Zarkashi took fiqh from Isnawi, Siraj al-Bulqini, and Adhra’i. He wrote many works, completing Isnawi’s commentary on Minhaj, he wrote Khadim al-Sharh wa al-Rawdah which is written on the arrangement of Adhra’i’s Tawassut, and other works. He passed in 794.
Siraj al-Din Abu Hafs Umar b. Ali is Ibn al-Nahwi or Ibn al-Mulaqqin, and was both born and passed away in Cairo. His father moved to Cairo from Andulus and passed away only a year after his son was born in 723. Ibn al-Nahwi took fiqh from Taqi al-Din al-Subki. He wrote over three hundred books. From amongst them are: al-Badr al-Munir which is an extensive takhrij on Rafi’is al-Sharh al-Kabir, he wrote takhrijs on Muhadhdhab and Wasit, two commentaries on Minhaj, a commentary on Tanbih, a commentary on al-Hawi al-Saghir, and other works. He passed in 804.
Zayn al-Din al-Iraqi
Abu al-Fadl Zayn al-Din Abd al-Rahim b. Husayn al-Iraqi was born in 725. He memorized the Tanbih and remained busy with fiqh. He traveled extensively for knowledge. In fiqh, he took from Isnawi who named him “Hafiz al-Asr.” Both his son Wali al-Din and Hafiz Ibn Hajar took from him. He wrote [istidrak] on Isnawi’s Muhimmat and a takhrij on Ghazzali’s Ihya. He passed in 806.
Shihab al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Imad al-Aqfahsi is Ibn al-Imad. He studied under Isnawi, Bulqini, and others. He read the Muhimmat with Isnawi himself and wrote a commentary on Minhaj, al-Ta’aqqubat ala al-Muhimmat, Tashil al-Maqasid li Zawar al-Masajid, al-Ma’fwuat, and other works. He passed in 808.
Wali al-Din al-Iraqi
Abu Zur’ah Wali al-Din Ahmad b. Hafiz Zayn al-Din al-Iraqi was born in 762. He took from his father, Isnawi, and Ibn al-Naqib. He wrote al-Nukat ala al-Mukhtasarat al-Thalathah, therein he gathered between Ibn al-Subki’s Tawshih, Ibn al-Nahwi’s Tashih al-Hawi, and added to them from Bulqini’s commentary on Rawdah and from Isnawi’s Muhimmat. He also summarized Isnawi’s Muhimmat. He passed in 826.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani
Hafiz Abu al-Fadl Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Ali Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani was born in Egypt in 773 and his father passed in his infancy. He took fiqh from Bulqini and Ibn al-Nahwi. He authored a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari under the title Fath al-Bari and other works. He passed away in 852.
The Era of the Commentators on Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj
Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari
Shaykh al-Islam Zayn al-Din Zakariyya b. Muhammad al-Ansari was born in 823. He took from Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. Ibn Hajar, Ramli, and Khatib took from him. He authored many works including Asna al-Matalib, a commentary on the Bahjah, Manhaj al-Tullab a summarization of Minhaj, and a commentary on it under the title Fath al-Wahhab, a fatawa, and others. He is “Shaykh al-Islam.” He passed in 926.
Shihab al-Din al-Ramli
Shihab al-Din Ahmad b. Hamzah al-Ramli is the father of Shams al-Din al-Ramli. He took fiqh from Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya. He authored a commentary on Ibn al-Imad’s al-Ma’fwuat, a commentary on Sharh al-Rawd, a commentary on Safwat al-Zubad, and a fatawa, which Khatib and al-Shams al-Ramli compiled and transmitted. He was also the sole individual who Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya would allow to rectify errors in his works, both before and after his passing. Shihab mended a significant amount of places in Shaykh al-Islam’s commentary on the Bahjah and his commentary on Rawd al-Talib. He became the primary reference for legal queries in Egypt. During his era, it was rare that students would take fiqh besides from him. Ibn Hajar, Ramli, and Khatib took from him. He passed in Cairo in 957.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami
Shihab al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ali b. Hajar al-Haytami was born in the year 909 in Egypt. He memorized the Qur’an when he was small; thereafter he memorized al-Imam Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj. He took from Shaykh al-Islam and Shihab Ramli. The depth and profundity that Ibn Hajar obtained in the subject of jurisprudence rendered him a specialist in the field, ceaselessly occupied with the subject. He performed Hajj several times, and took residence in Makkah. There, he authored many beneficial works, taught jurisprudence in the Haram, and gave fatwa. His status increased until his verdicts became preponderant pertaining to the Shafi’is of the Hejaz, Yemen, and other areas as well. Along with his colleague, Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ramli, Ibn Hajar’s views are relied-upon for fatawa in the Shafi’i School. He authored a commentary on Nawawi’s Minhaj under the title Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, a commentary on Muzajjad’s Ubab under the title I’ab, a commentary on Ibn al-Muqri’s Irshad under the title Imdad and under the title Fath al-Jawwad, a commentary on BaFadl’s Muqaddimah Hadramiyyah under the title al-Minhaj al-Qawim, and fatawas. He passed in the Makkah in 974.
Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Khatib al-Shirbini is the author of the work which we are here setting out to study, Mughni al-Muhtaj. Biographical source material does not mention Khatib’s date of birth; thus, it is unknown.
Khatib received his education at al-Azhar University, where he also taught. Among his teachers are Shihab al-Din al-Ramli, Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari, and others.
Khatib is renowned for commenting on Shirazi’s Tanbih, Nawawi’s Minhaj al-Talibin, and Abu Shuja’s al-Ghayat wa al-Taqrib.
Khatib first authored his commentary on Tanbih, and then after, his commentary on Minhaj. Khatib refers to material that he brought forth in the commentary on Tanbih in Mughni al-Muhtaj. Additionally, in the introduction to Mughni al-Muhtaj, Khatib mentioned that he completed his commentary on Tanbih and that some of his colleagues requested him to write something similar on Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj.
In 963, Khatib completed Mughni al-Muhtaj.
His commentary on al-Ghayat wa al-Taqrib, al-Iqna’, was completed after Mughni, he finished it in the year 972.
Therefore, Khatib’s works chronologically feature with his commentary on Tanbih first, then Mughni al-Muhtaj, and then al-Iqna.
Khatib passed away in 977.
Shams al-Din al-Ramli
Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ramli was born in 919. He is “al-Shafi’i al-Saghir.” He studied under his father. He took from Shaykh al-Islam, and that would have been when he was very young, thus it was likely by way of ijazah – and Allah knows best. He authored a commentary on Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj under the title Nihayat al-Muhtaj that is one of the reference works for fatwa in the Shafi’i School. He passed in 1004.
From Them to the Later Era: How it Reached Today i, ii, iii
i. How it Reached Today
Ibn Hajar, Ramli, and Khatib
Nur al-Din Ali b. Yahya al-Zayyadi
Nur al-Din Ali b. Yahya al-Zayyadi was born in Cairo. He authored a commentary on Imam Rafi’i’s Muharrar and Shaykh al-Islam’s Fath al-Wahhab. He passed in 1024.
Nur al-Din Ali b. Ibrahim al-Halabi
Abu al-Faraj Nur al-Din ‘Ali b. Ibrahim b. Ahmad al-Halabi al-Qahiri was born in 975. He commented on Fath al-Wahhab and on Mahalli’s Sharh al-Waraqat. He passed in 1044.
Sultan b. Ahmad al-Mazzahi was born in 985. He authored a commentary on Fath al-Wahhab and passed in the year 1075.
Ahmad b. Abd al-Latif al-Bishbishi
Ahmad b. Abd al-Latif al-Bashbishi was born in 1041. He studied under Sultan al-Mazzahi and spent time with him, taking fiqh and hadith from him over a duration of fifteen years. He passed in 1096.
Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Khalifi took from Inani and Bishbishi. He passed in 1127.
Muhammad b. Salim al-Hifni
Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Salim al-Hafni or al-Hafnawi was born in 1101. He wrote a hashiyah on Suyuti’s al-Jami’ al-Saghir and Bulaq printed it in two volumes in 1290. In addition, he wrote a hashiyah on Ibn Hajar’s Sharh al-Hamziyyah, which was printed in the margins of al-Minah al-Makkiyyah. He studied at al-Azhar University and eventually became Shaykh al-Azhar. He passed in 1181.
Abd Allah b. Hijazi al-Sharqawi
Abd Allah b. Hijazi al-Sharqawi al-Azhari was born in 1150. He memorized the Quran in his hometown before he set off to study at al-Azhar University. He became Shaykh al-Azhar in the year 1208. He wrote al-Tuhfat al-Bahiyyah fi Tabaqat al-Shafiyyah, a commentary on Sharh al-Tahrir, and Tuhfat al-Nazirin fi man Walla Misr min al-Wulat wa al-Salatin. He passed away in 1227.
Uthman b. Hasan al-Dimyati
Uthman b. Hasan al-Dimyat was born in the city of Dimyat in the year 1196. He stayed in Dimyat for twelve years studying with the local ulama. Then, he traveled to Cairo where he took from many senior ulama including Abd Allah b. Hijazi al-Sharqawi. He remained in Egypt until the year 1248 when he relocated to Makkah where he stayed until he passed away in the year 1265.
Ahmad b. Zayni Dahhlan
Ahmad b. Zayni Dahhlan was born in Makkah to a house of scholarship and piety in the year 1232. He grew up in Makkah and took from Uthman b. Hasan al-Dimyati, Kazbari, Muhammad b. Husayn al-Alawi, and others. He persisted in the pursuit of knowledge until he became the mufti of the Shafi’is in Makkah during his era. It was in his time that the first printer was established in Makkah, so his articles and works became published and circulated thereby. He was the Shafi’i mufti of Makkah during his time. He passed away in Medina in 1304.
Abu Bakr b. Muhammad Shata
Abu Bakr Uthman b. Muhammad Shata al-Bakri al-Dimyati was born in the year 1266. He resided in Makkah and authored I’anat al-Talibin ala Hill Alfaz Fath al-Mu’in and al-Durar al-Bahiyyah amongst other works. He passed in 1310.
The name Shata, often features with a doubling of the letter ta’; thus Shatta. Shata is from the suburbs of the Egyptian city of Dimyat, it sits just outside Dimyat on the road to Port Said. During the French occupation of Egypt there was a castle built in this specific area. The French word for castle is ch-a-tu. Or something like that, I am not at all French speaking. The local Egyptians assimilated this word into their spoken Arabic. Thus, Shata finds its origins in the French. In the local Arabic the word is most frequently pronounced without a doubling of the ta’.
Muhammad Mahfuz al-Tarmasi
Muhammad Mahfuz b. Abd Allah al-Tarmasi was born in the Central Javanese city of Tarmas in 1275, during this time his father was away in Makkah. Thus, his mother and maternal uncles raised him. He studied fiqh and memorized the Quran in the local madrasah; then in the year 1291, his father sent for him to come to Makkah. He stayed in Makkah with his father studying books, and then returned to Java with his father. Thereafter, he returned to Makkah, studying under the senior ulama, including Abu Bakr b. Muhammad Shata. He also studied Muhammad Said BaBusayl. He authored a large commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Haytami’s al-Minhaj al-Qawim under the title Mawhibat Dhi al-Fadl fi Hashiyat Sharh Muqaddimat BaFadl and other works. He passed in Makkah in 1338.
Umar b. Abi Bakr BaJunayd was born in Hadramawt, Yemen in 1263. He memorized the Quran at a young age, and traveled with his father to Makkah where he would reside. He taught in the Haram and was the Shafi’i mufti of Makkah during his time. He took from Ahmad Zayni Dahhlan, from Sh. Said BaBusayl, and Ahmad b. Alawi al-Saqqaf. He passed away in 1354.
Abu al-Fayd Muhammad Yasin b. Muhammad Isa al-Fadani was born in Makkah in the year 1335. He first studied under his father and his uncle Mahmud al-Fadani. Thereafter, he enrolled in al-Madrasat al-Sawlutiyyah. He studied in Dar al-Ulum al-Diniyyah, beginning his studies there in the year it was founded. There, he completed his studies, and would soon be the institute’s principal; a position that he held until his passing. He is this era’s Musnid, having over four-hundred different teachers. He took Shafi’i fiqh from the Shafi’i mufti of Makkah, Umar BaJunayd. Umar BaJunayd took directly from Ahmad Zayni Dahhlan. Sh. Yasin also took from many of Muhammad Mahfuz al-Tarmasi’s students, as mentioned in his edition to Tarmasi’s thabat, Kifayat al-Mustafid. His students are numerous. He passed away in Makkah in the year 1410.
ii. How it Reached Today
Ahmad b. Zayni Dahhlan
Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahman al-Ahdal
Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahman al-Ahdal was a student of Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abd al-Bari al-Ahdal of whose collection of fatawa he abridged into a work under the title Umdat al-Mufti wa al-Mustafti. Muhammad b. Yahya took from him as well as his own son Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Ahdal, from whom Abd Allah b. Said al-Lahji took. He passed in 1352.
Muhammad b. Yahya al-Ahdal
Muhammad b. Yahya al-Ahdal was born in 1321. His parents raised him, and then he moved to the region in Yemen of Marawi’ah, the Ahdal clan’s center. He studied a vast array of subjects and took from the eminent scholars of his era, including Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahman. Ismail Zayn, Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, and others took from him. He passed away in 1402.
Ismail Uthman al-Zayn
Ismail Uthman al-Zayn was born in the year 1352 in Yemen. The ascription “al-Zayn” is to al-Zayn b. Ismail b. Muhammad al-Hadrami. During his early years, he only slept for about thirty minuets daily. He moved to Makkah in the year 1380 where he taught in the Haram, al-Madrasat al-Sawlutiyyah, al-Madrasat al-Tawhidiyyah, and from home too. At times, he would teach from forty books daily in different subjects. He was the Shafi’i mufti of Makkah during his time. Students from all over the world took knowledge from him. From his works are a fatawa and a thabat. He passed away in Makkah in the year 1414.
iii. How it Reached Today
Abd Allah b. Salim b. Abd Allah al-Basri
Abd Allah b. Salim b. Abd Allah al-Basri was born in 1048. He was born in Makkah where he also passed away and raised in Basrah. He wrote a three-volume commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari and has a thabat under the title al-Imdad. In this work, he mentioned that he took from his father < Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Babili < Zayyadi < Yusuf b. Abd Allah < Suyuti < Salih b. Umar al-Bulqini < Siraj Bulqini < Mizzi < Imam Nawawi. In addition, he mentioned that he took from his father < Babili < Ali b. Ibrahim al-Halabi < Shams al-Din al-Ramli < Shaykh al-Islam. He passed in 1134.
Eid b. Ali al-Numrusi
Eid b. Ali al-Numrusi was an Azhari scholar who took from Abd Allah b. Salim al-Basri and others. Muhammad b. Salim al-Hifni took from him. Towards the end of his life, he moved to Medina where he taught in the Prophet’s Mosque. He passed in 1140.
Muhammad Said Sunbul
Muhammad Said b. Muhammad Sunbul taught Shafi’i fiqh and gave fatwa in the Hejaz. He relates from Abu Tahir al-Kurani, Eid b. Ali al-Numrusi, Ahmad al-Nakhli, and others He passed away in 1175.
Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kurdi
Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kurdi was born in Damascus in 1127 but raised in Medina. He was the mufti of the Shafi’is in Medina in his time. He authored three commentaries on Ibn Hajar al-Haytami’s al-Minhaj al-Qawim a large commentary under the title al-Mawahib al-Madaniyyah, a medium commentary under the title al-Hawashy al-Madaniyyah, and a small commentary under the title al-Maslak al-Adl. He also has a fatawa and a work that discusses in detail the giving of fatwa in the Shafi’i School under the title al-Fawaid al-Madaniyyah. Muhammad b. Sulayman narrated from both Muhammad Said Sunbul and from Abu Tahir al-Kurdi al-Kurani. Abu Tahir narrated from his father Ibrahim b. Hasan who has a thabat under the title al-Umam li Iqaz al-Himam and therein he relates many of the works of the School with his asanid. Muhammad b. Sulayman passed in 1194.
i.v. How it Reached Today
BaJunayd, Abu Bakr Shata, Sahib Bughyat al-Mustarshidin Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad, and Others
Sayyid Abd Allah b. Umar al-Shatiri
Shaykh al-Islam Sayyid Abd Allah b. Umar al-Shatiri is a senior figure in an Islamic institute located in Hadramawt, Yemen, namely, Ribat Tarim. He was born in the year 1290. He studied extensively in Hadramawt and other areas of Yemen. Then, he traveled to Makkah in the pursuit of knowledge. There, he took from Abu Bakr Shata, BaBusayl, BaJunayd, and others. In Makkah, he was very diligent as a student, only sleeping two hours out of each day, the rest of his time was engaging the 13 classes that he was taking daily. He returned to Tarim in 1314. He then occupied all of his effort and time to the teaching effort at Ribat Tarim. Countless numbers of scholars benefited from him. He passed away to his Lord’s mercy and grace in the year 1361.
Source: Shafiifiqh site.