Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idris Abbas bin Uthman bin Shafi'i bin Saa'ib bin Ubaid bin Abd Yazd bin Hashim. Imam Shafi'i was born in 150 AH in Gaza (palestine) and was descended from the Holy Prophet (Salaal Laahu Alaihi Wa Salaam) from both his mother's and father's sides. He was an orphan brought by his mother to Makkah when he was 2 years old and was raised there in extreme poverty.
He memorised the Quran at the age of seven, memorised the Muwatta of Imam Malik at the age of ten and was authorised by the age of fifteen to give legal rulings (fatwa) by his sheikh who was the Mufti of Makkah, Muslim ibn Khalid al-Zinji.
The Imam divided the night into three parts: the first of which he would write, the second pray and the third sleep. He recited the entire Quran each day at prayer and twice a day in Ramadhan. When a remark was once made about him using a walking stick, he said: "I do it to remind myself that I am on a journey out of this life." A man of intense spiritual prescence who could truly say of himself: "I have never told a lie," his students were in such awe of him that they could not take a drink of water while he was looking on. It is recorded once when he bought 10 thousand dinars outside Yemen, he pitched a tent outside Makkah and had given it all away to a passer-by before the day had ended. He once said that "Knowledge is not what is memorised, but only what benifits." Imam Rabe'a has reported that Imam Shafi'i used to recite the whole Quran once every night; in the month of Ramadhan he used to recite the Quran twice in one day.
Imam Shafi'i is regarded as one of the greatest jurists in the history of Islamic fiqh. He is the creator of the classical theoy of Islamic fiqh and is regarded as the founder of the science of usage. The Imam and his legacy are monumental.
His al-Risala (the letter) was the first work in the history of Islam to investigate the theoretical and practical basis of jurisprudence. In his Risala he identified the basis of fiqh as being the Quran, the Sunnah, Qiyas and Ijma. Indeed Ijma came to bear more and more weight in his opinion and he strongly supported it. To Shafi'i Ijma was not merely the agreement of a few scholars, but the consensus of the leading jurists of the Muslim Ummah. In fact he universalized the institution of Ijma and made it applicable for people of all ages. Thus he gave a greater scope to the concept of Ijma and gave a workable interpretation to the saying of the Holy Prophet (Salaal Laahu Alaihi Wa Salaam), "My ummah will not unite upon error." The fourth basis of Imam Shafi'i's legal ruling is Qiyas, or analogical deduction.
He was the first jurist to lay down regular rules for Qiyas. In tafseer he was the first to formulate the principles of the science of which verses abrogate others and which are abrogated (ilm al-nasikh wa al-mansukh). In the science of Hadith he paved the way for the enormous importance attached by subsequent generations of Muslims to the study of Prophetic tradition. He was also the author of Kitab ul Umm and Al-Masboot. Imam Muhammad Shaybani said of him: "If the scholars of Hadith speak it is in the language of Shafi'i," and Hasan ibn Muhammad Za'frai observed: "The scholars of Hadith were asleep and awoke when Shafi'i awoke them."
HIS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS
Some of Imam Shafi'i's teachers include:
- Muhammad bin Hasan Ash Shaybani
- Malik bin Anas
- Sufyan bin Uyayna
Some of his students that continued his works were:
- Isma'eel bin Yahya Al Muzani (791 - 876 CE)
- Ar Rabee Al Muradee (780 - 873 CE)
- Rabee bin Sulaiman Al Jazeeri
Imam Shafi'i travelled to Madina to study under Imam Malik and then to Baghdad under Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan Shaybani. It was here that the Imam developed his first school of fiqh (al madhab al-Qadeem) which was influenced by both the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought. Then he went to Cairo where within four years he changed and developed his second school of thought ( al madhab al-jadeed)
He studied and taught fiqh in Cairo until his death in 204 AH, the end of a lifetime of service to Islam and the Muslims by one of the greatest in knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah.