Shafi'iyyah was the third school of Islamic jurisprudence. According to the Shafi'i school the paramount sources of legal authority are the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Of less authority are the Ijma' of the community and thought of scholars (Ijitihad) exercised through Qiyas. The scholar must interpret the ambiguous passages of the Qur'an according to the consensus of the Muslims, and if there is no consensus, according to Qiyas.

The Shafi'iyyah school of Islamic law was named after Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (767-819). He belonged originally to the school of Medina and was also a pupil of Malik ibn Anas (d.795), the founder of Malikiyyah. However, he came to believe in the overriding authority of the traditions from the Prophet and identified them with the Sunnah.

Baghdad and Cairo were the chief centres of the Shafi'iyyah. From these two cities Shafi'i teaching spread into various parts of the Islamic world. In the tenth century Mecca and Medina came to be regarded as the school's chief centres outside of Egypt. In the centuries preceding the emergence of the Ottoman empire the Shafi'is had acquired supremacy in the central lands of Islam. It was only under the Ottoman Sultans at the beginning of the sixteenth century that the Shafi'i were replaced by the Hanafites, who were given judicial authority in Constantinople, while Central Asia passed to the Shi'a as a result of the rise of the Safawids in 1501. In spite of these developments, the people in Egypt, Syria and the Hidjaz continued to follow the Shafi'i madhhab. Today it remains predominant in Southern Arabia, Bahrain, the Malay Archipelago, East Africa and several parts of Central Asia.

The Shaf'i school is predominant in east Africa, Indonesia Malaysia, Brunei, and southeast Asia. Al Shafii’s (d. 855) thought influenced Indonesia, Southern Arabia, Lower Egypt, parts of Syria, Palestine, Eastern Africa, Pakistan, India and South Africa. The school remains predominant in Southern Arabia, Bahrain, the Malay Archipelago, East Africa and several parts of Central Asia. Shafi'i is practiced in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It is followed by approximately 15% of Muslims world-wide.

The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules. Hanafi took Shafi as his rival and vice versa. Tradition, the consensus of the Muslim community and reasoning by analogy are characteristics of this school.

Most Kurds in Iraq follow the Shafii school of Sunni Islam. A minority of Kurds, concentrated in parts of the Kifri and Klar areas of Kirkuk, follow the Hanafi school.

The Shafi'iyyah school of Islamic law was named after Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i [Shaf'i, Shaafi`ee] (767-819). The school of Imam Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Shafii of the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, brought up in Mecca. He later taught in both Baghdad and Cairo and followed a somewhat eclectic legal path, laying down the rules for analogy that were later adopted by other legal schools. He was a descendant of the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and came to Egypt in the 9th century. Saladin who founded the first madrasa, dedicated to the Shafi'i rite near the tomb of its founder, Imam al-Shafi'i. Al-Shafi`i was known for his peculiar strength in Arabic language, poetry, and philology. Imam Shafi`i was called devil and imprisoned. Prayers were said for his death. He was taken in captivity from Yemen to Baghdad, in a condition of humiliation and degradation.

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. The Shafi'i tradition is particularly accessible to English speaking Muslims due to the availability of high quality translations of the Reliance of the Traveler.

There are no figures for the number of followers of the school. It has some adherents in the following countries: Jordan, Palestine, Syria, the Lebanon and Yemen. It has a large following in the following countries: Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and among the Kurdish people.



Page last updated: Friday, November 25, 2005 22:04:51 -0500