His name is Muhammad bin Idris bin Abbas bin Uthman bin Syafi’. His lineage connects with Rasulullah’s from Abdu Manaf bin Qusayy. He was born in Gaza, Palestine, in 150 Hijri, which is the year Imam Abu Hanifah passed away.
His father passed away when he was still an infant, and his mother brought him to Hijaz (Mecca) when he was two years old. He learnt from the ulama’ (scholars) of Mecca and memorized the whole Quran by the age of seven. Besides learning the Quran and Hadith, he also gained mastery in the Arabic language and literature.
His Teachers & Travels
From his travels, Imam Syafie’ has teachers from various places, notably:
- Muslim bin Khalid Az-Zanji, the mufti of Mecca then
– He acknowledged and gave approval for Imam Syafie’ to issue fatwa (judicial decisions) when he was 15 years old.
- Imam Malik bin Anas, in Madinah
– He memorised Imam Malik’s Muwatta in nine days.
– He remained in Madinah until Imam Malik’s passing in 179 Hijri.
- Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Syaibani, a prominent student of Imam Abu Hanifah
– Following persecution in Yemen, Imam Syafie’ encountered Muhammad bin Hasan and studied with him in Baghdad. It was here that he developed his mazhab, also known as al-qaul al-qadim (old opinion), influenced by the Hanafi methodology and Imam Malik’s teachings.
- Sayyidah Nafisah binti Hasan
– After travelling between Mecca and Baghdad several times, Imam Syafie’ went to Egypt, where he revised his mazhab, known as al-qaul al-jadid (new opinion).
– Sayyidah Nafisah hosted a lot of scholars as they attended her gatherings. Imam Syafie’ consistently frequents her mosque to listen to her lectures, and would lead the Terawih prayers there in Ramadan.
The Syafie’ mazhab derive rulings from these sources (in order): the Quran and Sunnah, then Ijma’ (consensus), then Qiyas (analogy).
Imam Syafie’ authored an extensive array of books, with the most notable being:
- Ar-Risalah: A book on Usul Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence), which he wrote in Iraq but later on revised in Egypt.
- Al-Umm: The main book on Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) according to his mazhab.
He has several prominent students through his halaqahs; some notable ones are:
- Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, when he was in Iraq
- Abu Ya’qub Al-Buwaity
– Following Imam Syafie’s passing, Abu Ya’qub took over Imam Syafie’s halaqah sessions in teaching and issuing fatwa.
- Ismail bin Yahya Al-Muzani
– He wrote several books according to the Syafie’ mazhab, such as Al-Mukhtasar As-Soghir, Al-Jami’ Al-Kabir, an abridgment of Imam Syafie’s Al-Umm, and many more.
The writings of his students have paved the spread of his mazhab for centuries to come.
Imam Syafie’ remained in the company of scholars in his last days, even as he got very sick. He passed away in Fustat, Egypt, in 204 Hijri, at the age of 54.
Today, the Syafie mazhab is generally practised by Muslims in Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa, Yemen and more.