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The Shafi’i madhhab is one of the four schools of Islamic law in Sunni Islam. It was founded by the Arab scholar Al-Shafi‘i, a pupil of Malik, in the early 9th century. The other three schools of Sunni jurisprudence are Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali.

The Shafi school predominantly relies on the Quran and the Hadiths for Sharia. Where passages of Quran and Hadiths are ambiguous, the school first seeks religious law guidance from Ijma – the consensus of Sahabah (Muhammad’s companions). If there was no consensus, the Shafi’i school relies on individual opinion (Ijtihad) of the companions of Muhammad, followed by analogy.

The Shafi’i school was, in the early history of Islam, the most followed ideology for Sharia.[citation needed] However, with the Ottoman Empire’s expansion and patronage, it was replaced with the Hanafi school in many parts of the Muslim world. One of the many differences between the Shafi’i and Hanafi schools is that the Shafi’i school does not consider Istihsan (the personal preference of Islamic legal scholars) as an acceptable source of religious law because it amounts to “human legislation” of Islamic law.

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

The Shafi’i school of thought stipulates authority to five sources of jurisprudence. In hierarchical order, the school relies upon the following sources for Islamic law: the Quran, the hadiths – that is, sayings, customs and practices of Muhammad, the ijmā’ (consensus of Sahabah, the community of Muhammad’s companions), the individual opinions of Sahaba with preference to one closest to the issue as Ijtihad, and finally qiyas (analogy). 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. 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). 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. 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.

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. Al-Risala became an influential book to other Sunni Islam fiqhs as well, as the oldest surviving Arabic work on Islamic legal theory.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/shafii/

  • writerPosted On: July 26, 2017
  • livePublished articles: 768

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