Shafi‘i school

  (Redirected from Shafi'i)

The Shafi‘i (Arabic: شَافِعِيShāfiʿī, alternative spelling Shafei) madhhab is one of the four schools of Islamic law in Sunni Islam.[1][2] It was founded by the Arab scholar Muhammad ibn Idris Al-Shafi‘i, a pupil of Malik, in the early 9th century.[3][4] The school "rejecting provincial dependence on traditional community practice" as the source of legal precedent, and "argued for the unquestioning acceptance of the Hadith" as "the major basis for legal and religious judgments".[5] The other three schools of Sunni jurisprudence are Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali.[1][2]

Like the other schools of fiqh, Shafi‘i relies predominantly on the Quran and the Hadiths for Sharia.[3][6] Where passages of Quran and Hadiths are ambiguous, the school first seeks religious law guidance from Ijma – the consensus of Islamic Scholars (according to Syafiq Hasyim).[7] If there was no consensus, the Shafi‘i school relies on qiyās (analytical reasoning) next as a source. [5].

The Shafi‘i school was widely followed in the early history of Islam, but the Ottoman Empire favored the Hanafi school when it became the dominant Sunni Muslim power.[6] One of the many differences between the Shafi‘i and Hanafi schools is that the Shafi‘i school does not consider Istihsan (judicial discretion by suitably qualified legal scholars) as an acceptable source of religious law because it amounts to "human legislation" of Islamic law.[8][not specific enough to verify]

The Shafi‘i school is now predominantly found in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, eastern Egypt, the Swahili coast, Hijaz, Yemen, Kurdish regions of the Middle East, Dagestan, Chechen and Ingush regions of the Caucasus, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Kerala and some other coastal regions in India, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines.[9]


The Shafi‘i school of thought regards five sources of jurisprudence as having binding authority. In hierarchical order, these are: the Quran, the hadiths—that is, sayings, customs and practices of Muhammad—the ijmā' (consensus of Sahabah, the community of Muhammad's companions),[10] the individual opinions of Sahaba with preference to one closest to the issue as ijtihad, and finally qiyas (analogy).[3] Although al-Shafi‘i's legal methodology rejected custom or local practice as a constitutive source of law, this did not mean that he or his followers denied any elasticity in the Shariah.[11] The Shafi‘i school also rejects two sources of Sharia that are accepted in other major schools of Islam—Istihsan (juristic preference, promoting the interest of Islam) and Istislah (public interest).[12][13] The jurisprudence principle of Istihsan and Istislah admitted religious laws that had no textual basis in either the Quran or Hadiths, but were based on the opinions of Islamic scholars as promoting the interest of Islam and its universalization goals.[14] The Shafi‘i school rejected these two principles, stating that these methods rely on subjective human opinions, and have potential for corruption and adjustment to political context and time.[12][13]

The foundational text for the Shafi‘i school is Al-Risala ("The Message") by the founder of the school, Al-Shafi‘i. It outlines the principles of Shafi‘i fiqh as well as the derived jurisprudence.[15] Al-Risala became an influential book to other Sunni Islam fiqhs as well, as the oldest surviving Arabic work on Islamic legal theory.[16][page needed]


An approximate color map showing where the Shafi‘i school (dark blue) is the most prominent

Imam ash-Shafi'i was reportedly a teacher of the Sunni Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and a student of Imam Malik ibn Anas,[17][18]:121 who was a student of the Shi'ite Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a descendant of the Islamic Nabi (Prophet) Muhammad), like Imam Abu Hanifah.[19][20][21] Thus all of the four great Imams of Sunni Fiqh are connected to Imam Ja'far from the Bayt (Household) of Muhammad, whether directly or indirectly.[22]

The Shafi‘i madhhab was spread by Al-Shafi‘i students in Cairo, Mecca and Baghdad. It became widely accepted in early history of Islam. The chief representative of the Iraqi school was Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi, whilst in Khorasan, the Shafi‘i school was spread by al-Juwayni and al-Iraqi. These two branches merged around Ibn al-Salah and his father. The Shafi‘i jurisprudence was adopted as the official law during the Great Seljuq Empire, Zengid dynasty, Ayyubid dynasty and later the Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo), where it saw its widest application. It was also adopted by the Kathiri state in Hadhramawt and most of rule of the Sharif of Mecca.[citation needed]

With the establishment and expansion of Ottoman Empire in West Asia and Turkic Sultanates in Central and South Asia, Shafi‘i school was replaced with Hanafi school, in part because Hanafites allowed Istihsan (juristic preference) that allowed the rulers flexibility in interpreting the religious law to their administrative preferences.[8] The Sultanates along the littoral regions of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula adhered to the Shafi‘i school and were the primary drivers of its maritime military expansion into many Asian and East African coastal regions of the Indian Ocean, particularly from the 12th through the 18th century.[23][not specific enough to verify][24][not specific enough to verify]


The Shafi‘i school is presently predominant in the following parts of the Muslim world:[9]

Shafi‘i school is the second largest school of Sunni madhhabs by number of adherents, states Saeed in his 2008 book.[2] However, a UNC publication considers the Maliki school as second largest, and the Hanafi madhhab the largest, with Shafi‘i as third largest.[9] The demographic data by each fiqh, for each nation, is unavailable and the relative demographic size are estimates.

Notable Shafi‘isEdit

Contemporary Shafi‘i scholarsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Hallaq 2009, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b c Abdullah Saeed (2008), The Qur'an: An Introduction, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415421256, p. 17
  3. ^ a b c Ramadan, Hisham M. (2006). Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary. Rowman Altamira. pp. 27–77. ISBN 978-0-7591-0991-9.
  4. ^ Hashim Kamali 2008, p. 77.
  5. ^ a b "Shāfiʿī ISLAMIC LAW". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b Shafi‘iyyah Bulend Shanay, Lancaster University
  7. ^ Syafiq Hasyim (2005), Understanding Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective, Equinox, ISBN 978-9793780191, pp. 75-77
  8. ^ a b Wael B. Hallaq (2009), Sharī'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521861472, pp. 58-71
  9. ^ a b c Jurisprudence and Law - Islam Reorienting the Veil, University of North Carolina (2009)
  10. ^ Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi (1393), Al-Bahr Al-Muhit, Vol 6, pp. 209
  11. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 39. ISBN 978-1780744209.
  12. ^ a b Istislah The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press
  13. ^ a b Istihsan The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press
  14. ^ Lloyd Ridgeon (2003), Major World Religions: From Their Origins to the Present, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415297967, pp. 259–262
  15. ^ Majid Khadduri (1961), Islamic Jurisprudence: Shafi‘i's Risala, Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 14–22
  16. ^ Joseph Lowry (translator), Al-Shafi‘i: The Epistle on Legal Theory, Risalah fi usul al-fiqh, New York University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0814769980
  17. ^ Dutton, Yasin, The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal, p. 16
  18. ^ Haddad, Gibril F. (2007). The Four Imams and Their Schools. London, the U.K.: Muslim Academic Trust. pp. 121–194.
  19. ^ "Nafisa at-Tahira".
  20. ^ Zayn Kassam; Bridget Blomfield (2015), "Remembering Fatima and Zaynab: Gender in Perspective", in Farhad Daftory (ed.), The Shi'i World, I.B Tauris Press
  21. ^ Aliyah, Zainab (2 February 2015). "Great Women in Islamic History: A Forgotten Legacy". Young Muslim Digest. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Imam Ja'afar as Sadiq". History of Islam. Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
  23. ^ Randall L. Pouwels (2002), Horn and Crescent: Cultural Change and Traditional Islam, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521523097, pp 88-159
  24. ^ MN Pearson (2000), The Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, in The History of Islam in Africa (Ed: Nehemia Levtzion, Randall Pouwels), Ohio University Press, ISBN 978-0821412978, Chapter 2
  25. ^ UNION OF THE COMOROS 2013 INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT U.S. State Department (2014), Quote: "The law provides sanctions for any religious practice other than the Sunni Shafi‘i doctrine of Islam and for prosecution of converts from Islam, and bans proselytizing for any religion except Islam."
  26. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-78074-420-9.
  27. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. p. 303. ISBN 978-1-78074-420-9.


  • Hallaq, Wael B. (2009). An Introduction to Islamic Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521678735.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hashim Kamali, Mohammad (2008). Shari'ah Law: An Introduction. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1851685653.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Yahia, Mohyddin (2009). Shafi‘i et les deux sources de la loi islamique, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, ISBN 978-2-503-53181-6
  • Rippin, Andrew (2005). Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (3rd ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 90–93. ISBN 0-415-34888-9.
  • Calder, Norman, Jawid Mojaddedi, and Andrew Rippin (2003). Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature. London: Routledge. Section 7.1.
  • Schacht, Joseph (1950). The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford: Oxford University. pp. 16.
  • Khadduri, Majid (1987). Islamic Jurisprudence: Shafi‘i's Risala. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. pp. 286.
  • Abd Majid, Mahmood (2007). Tajdid Fiqh Al-Imam Al-Syafi'i. Seminar pemikiran Tajdid Imam As Shafie 2007.
  • al-Shafi‘i, Muhammad b. Idris, "The Book of the Amalgamation of Knowledge" translated by A.Y. Musa in Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008

Further readingEdit

  • Joseph Lowry (translator), Al-Shafi‘i: The Epistle on Legal Theory (Risalah fi usul al-fiqh), New York University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0814769980.
  • Cilardo, Agostino, "Shafi‘i Fiqh", in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 1610691776.

External linksEdit