Thursday, 1 October 2009

Schools of jurisprudence.-Imam Shafi’ee

First, Hanafi, Maleki, Hanbali and Shafeei are not "religions", they are schools of jurisprudence. What this means is that they are different interpretations of Islamic Shariah law.
Imam Shafi’ee ........

.............Nasir al Sunnah, the Defender of the Sunnah...........
He lost his father early in life and was brought up by his mother in very poor circumstances in the city of Mecca. He spent much time among the Bedouins and acquired a very great knowledge of Arabic poetry.
Tradition says that he memorized the Qur’an at the age of seven; by ten, he had memorized the Muwatta of Imam Malik; he was a mufti (given authorization to issue fatwa) at the age of fifteen.
At the age of 13 with his mother’s permission Imam Shafi’ee departed Makkah arrived in Madinah at the door of Imam Malik.
When he reached fifteen, his knowledge was so thorough, Muslim Ibn Khalid Al-Zinji, the Mufti of Makkah, told him: "O Abu Abdullah, give fatawa (religious rulings), for by Allah it is time for you to do so!"
 He recited the Qur’an every day in prayer, and twice a day in Ramadan. Some apocryphal accounts 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 Sunnah.

He loved Muhammad very 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.

Apocryphal accounts 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 Shaybani said, “If the scholars of hadith speak, it is in the language of al Shafi’i.”

............ His  Teachers :...
His uncle, Muhammed Ibn Ali Ibn Shafi’ee
Imam Malik
Imam Muhammad ibnul Hassan Shaybanee
Imam Waqee’
Imam Sufyan ibn Uyaynah
 Among his famous tutors were Imam Malik, Imam Wakee’ bin Jarrah and Imam Muhammad bin Hasan, both students of Imam Abu Haneefa. Imam Muhammad also married Imam Shafi’ee's mother, so he was a stepfather to Imam Shafi’ee.

Among those who learnt from him were Imam Ahmad bin Hambal.

Imam Shafi’ee is reported to have written over 150 books.
Imam Shafi’ee was an expert in both Hanafi and Maliki fiqh. From which came about the Shafi’ee fiqh, which was spread by his students.

He is a great role model, for both men and women. Never did he speak a lie, and his hands reached out to the poor generously.

Imam Muhammad said about him: The door of Fiqh was shut to the people, Allah opened it because of Shafi’ee.
Al-Shafi`i trod the path of the Salaf in avoiding any interpretation of the verses and narrations pertaining to the divine attributes. He practiced "relegation of the meaning" (tafwîd al-mi`na) to a higher source, as established in his saying: "I leave the meaning of the verses of the Attributes to Allah, and I leave the meaning of the hadiths of the attributes to Allah’s Messenger." At the same time, rare instances of interpretation are recorded from him. Thus al-Bayhaqi relates that al-Muzani reported from al-Shafi`i the following commentary on the verse: "To Allah belong the East and the West, and wheresoever you turn, there is Allah’s face (wajh)" (2:115): "It means – and Allah knows best – thither is the bearing (wajh) towards which Allah has directed you." Al-Hakkari (d. 486) related in his book `Aqida al-Shafi`i that the latter said: "We affirm those attributes, and we negate from them likeness between them and creation (al-tashbîh), just as He negated it from Himself when He said: ‘There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him’  (42:11)."

Al-Shafi`i’s hatred of dialectic theology (kalâm) was based on his extreme caution against errors which bear heavy consequences as they induce one into false beliefs. Among his sayings concerning this: "It is better for a scholar of knowledge to give a fatwa after which he is said to be wrong than to theologize and then be said to be a heretic (zindîq). I hate nothing more than theology and theologians." Dhahabi comments: "This indicates that Abu `Abd Allah’s position concerning error in the principles of the Religion (al-usûl) is that it is not the same as error in the course of scholarly exertion in the branches." The reason is that in belief and doctrine neither ijtihâd nor divergences are permitted. In this respect al-Shafi`i said: "It cannot be asked ‘Why?’ concerning the principles, nor ‘How?’" Yet al-Shafi`i did not completely close the door to the use of kalâm in defense of the Sunna, as shown below and in the notice on Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Yunus ibn Abi Ya`la narrated that al-Shafi`i defined the "principles" as: "The Qur’an, the Sunna, analogy (al-qiyâs), and consensus (al-ijmâ`)"; he defined the latter to mean: "The adherence of the Congregation (jamâ`a) of the Muslims to the conclusions of a given ruling pertaining to what is permitted and what is forbidden after the passing of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him."

Al-Shafi`i did not close the door on the right use of kalâm as is clear from Ibn Abi Hatim’s narration from al-Rabi` of his words: "If I wished, I could produce a book against each one of those who deviated, but dialectic theology is none of my business, and I would not like to be attributed any part in it." Similar to it is his advice to his student al-Muzani: "Take proofs from creation about the Creator, and do not burden yourself with the knowledge of what your mind did not reach." Ibn Abi Hatim himself spoke similarly when he was told of Ibn Khuzayma’s unsuccessful attempt at kalâm: "It is preferable not to meddle with what we did not learn." Note that al-Shafi`i also spoke of his wish not to have a single letter out of all his works attributed to him, regardless of topic.

Al-Shafi`i’s attitude towards tasawwuf was as strict as with kalâm, and he both praised it and denigrated its abuse at the hands of its corrupters. In criticism of the latter he said: "No-one becomes a Sufi in the morning except he ends up a dolt by noon" while on the other hand he declared in his Diwan: "Be at the same time a faqîh and a Sufi." In Mecca al-Shafi`i was the student of Fudayl ibn `Iyad. Imam al-Nawawi in his Bustan al-`Arifin fi al-Zuhd wa al-Tasawwuf ("The Garden of the Gnostics in Asceticism and Tasawwuf") narrated from al-Shafi`i the saying: "Only the sincere one (al-mukhlis) can recognize self-display (al-riyâ’)." Al-Nawawi comments: "This means that it is impossible to know the reality of self-display and see its hidden shades except for one who resolutely seeks (arâda) sincerity. Such a one strives for a long time, searching, meditating, examining at length within himself until he knows, or knows something of what self-display is. This does not happen for everyone. Indeed, this happens only with special ones (al-khawâss). But for a given individual to claim that he knows what self-diplay is, this is real ignorance on his part.
Two schools of legal thought or madhahib are actually attributed to al-Shafi`i, englobing his writings and legal opinions (fatâwa). These two schools are known in the terminology of jurists as "The Old" (al-qadîm)  and "The New" (al-jadîd), corresponding respectively to his stays in Iraq and Egypt. The most prominent transmitters of the New among al-Shafi`i’s students are al-Buwayti, al-Muzani, al-Rabi` al-Muradi, and al-Bulqini, in Kitab al-Umm  ("The Motherbook"). The most prominent transmitters of the Old are Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Karabisi, al-Za`farani, and Abu Thawr, in Kitab al-Hujja ("Book of the Proof"). What is presently known as the Shafi`i position refers to the New except in approximately twenty-two questions, in which Shafi`i scholars and muftis have retained the positions of the Old.

Al-Subki related that the Shafi`i scholars considered al-Rabi`s narration from al-Shafi`i sounder from the viewpoint of transmission, while they considered al-Muzani’s sounder from the viewpoint of fiqh, although both were established hadith masters. Al-Shafi`i said to al-Rabi`: "How I love you!" and another time: "O Rabi`! If I could feed you the Science I would feed it to you." Al-Qaffal al-Shashi in his Fatawa relates that al-Rabi` was slow in his understanding, and that al-Shafi`i once repeated an explanation forty times for him in a gathering, yet he did not understand it then got up and left in embarrassment. Later, al-Shafi`i called him in private and resumed explaining it to him until he understood. This shows the accuracy of Ibn Rahuyah’s statement: "I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Shafi`i’s discourse."

Al-Shafi`i took the verse "Or  if you have touched women" (4:43) literally, and considered that contact between the sexes, even accidental, nullified ablution. This is also the position of Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, al-Sha`bi, al-Nakha`i, al-Zuhri, and al-Awza`i, which is confirmed by Ibn `Umar’s report: "Whoever kisses or touches his wife with his hand must renew his wudû’." It is authentic and related in numerous places including Malik's Muwatta’. Al-Shafi`i said: "Something similar has reached us from Ibn Mas`ud." They all read the above verse literally, without interpreting "touch" to mean "sexual intercourse" as do the Hanafis, or "touch with pleasure" as do the Malikis.

A major contribution of al-Shafi`i in the foundations of the Law was his division of innovation (al-bid`a) into good and bad on the basis of `Umar’s words about the tarâwih or congregational supererogatory night prayers in the month of Ramadan: "What a fine innovation this is!" Harmala narrated that al-Shafi`i concluded: "Therefore, whatever innovation conforms to the Sunna is approved (mahmûd), and whatever opposes it is abominable (madhmûm)." Agreement formed in the Four Schools around his division, as illustrated by the endorsement of some major later authorities in each school. Among the Hanafis: Ibn `Abidin, al-Turkumani, and al-Tahanawi; among the Malikis: al-Turtushi, Ibn al-Hajj, and al-Shatibi; consensus among the Shafi`is; and reluctant acceptance among later Hanbalis, who altered al-Shafi`i’s terminology to read "lexical innovation" (bid`a lughawiyya) and "legal innovation" (bid`a shar`iyya), respectively û although inaccurately û matching Shafi`i’s "approved" and "abominable".

Among al-Shafi`i’s other notable positions: Al-Muzani said: "I never saw any of the scholars make something obligatory on behalf of the Prophet as much as al-Shafi`i in his books, and this was due to his high remembrance of the Prophet. 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-Rasûl), but that he should say ‘Allah’s Messenger’ (Rasûl Allah) out of veneration (ta`zîm) for him."

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.

Al-Shafi'i traveled extensively for the sake of spreading knowledge. He went to Madinah, met Imam Malik, memorized many ahadith, and learned the Muwatta of Imam Maliki. He also visited Iraq twice. By the second time he arrived there, he was so famous for his knowledge, that many Iraqi scholars followed him and rejected the innovations and deviations they espoused before. He then left for Egypt where he stayed until he died in 204 Hijri. There he taught the jurisprudence of the Qur'an and Sunnah. He also taught linguistics, poetry and genealogy, and debated people who were fanatically following their madhahib (schools of thought). Most of them were of the Maliki school of thought. They saw in him a wise and pious man so acquainted with their madhahib but without any fanaticism.
 Through him, they were able to see their flaws, and learned to seek the truth wherever it was.
But what earned Al-Shafi'i the title of the revivalist of the second century  was that he was the one who put the fundamentals of jurisprudence (usul Al-Fiqh). Scholars before him used to gather the ahadith they heard in their countries, and when a hadith seemed in contradiction with another, they used their personal judgment to decide which one is the most acceptable.
Then at the time of Al-Shafi'i, the Prophet's ahadith were gathered from different countries, and the disagreements among the scholars increased until Al-Shafi'i wrote his famous book, Al-Risalah, which is considered the foundation of Islamic jurisprudence. In it, Al-Shafi'i relied on the literal meaning of the Qur'an, then on the authentic Sunnah. He strongly argued for the acceptance ahadith provided they were authentic. He considered following and applying the Sunnah as equally important as following the Qur'an. He supported the use of consensus and discouraged the use of one's personal judgment without relying on the Qur'an, the Sunnah, the consensus or the juristic reasoning by analogy (Qiyas).
One of the things that distinguished Al-Shafi'i from other scholars was that he himself wrote the fundamentals of his school of thought, as well as other books that are considered the body of his jurisprudence.
Baghdad in Iraq and Cairo in Egypt were the chief centres of Imam Shafiee's activities. It is from these two cities that teachings of the Shafi-ee school spread in the 9th century of the Christian era. During the time of Sultan Salahuddeen (Saladin), the Shafi-ee Madhhab was the most prominent in Egypt, and to this day the Imam of the Al-Azhar Musjid is always a Shafi-ee and the Shafi-ee Madhhab is industriously studied along with that of the other three schools of the Sunnis.

Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal used to say about Imaam Shafi’ee, “Our napes were in the hands of the Companions of Abu Hanifah (RA) when it came to hadith (ie. we were inclined to them more) until we saw Imaam Shafi’ee, he was the most knowledgeable in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that he would even suffice one who was not well informed in Hadith.
Imam Shafi-ee, according to Sayed Ameer Ali, was "a man of strong and vigorous mind, better aquatinted with the world than Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik...
He formed, from the materials furnished by Imam Jafar Sadiq, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa, an eclectic school, which found acceptance chiefly among the middle classes".
 The Shafi-ee Madhab has followers in Northern Africa, partially in Egypt, in Southern Arabia, and the Malayan Peninsula and among the Muslims of Ceylon and the Bombay State in India.

During his life Imam Shafi-ee also suffered from political intrigues. For instance, after studying under Imam Malik in Medina he was sent to fill an office in Yemen, where he was accused of political involvement which resulted in his arrest.

He was taken as prisoner to Haroun al-Rasheed. The Khalifa however found him innocent and the Imam was honourably released. .

The Imaam became very sick at the end of his life with hemmariodal pain and passed away in Egypt on Thursday night after Isha’ Prayer after performing Maghrib Prayer on the last day of Rajab. We was buried in Cairo, Egypt on Friday in the year 204 A.H. (819/820 A.D.) His Masjid in Cairo can be visited in the Imaam Al-Shafi’ee Neighborhood. May Allah be pleased with him. Ameen. Translated by Adil Khan on 11th of Shabaan, 1422 A.H.

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