Schools of Thought
for this chapter:
Al‑Saadiq and the Four Madh'habs, Asad
Manaaqib Abu Hanifa, Al‑Makki.
Manaaqib Malik, Al‑Sayooti.
Mus'nad Ahmad (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal).
No Schools of Thought
ever existed in Islam at the time of
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Neither his
exemplary practices nor his Hadith (the
Sunnah) were put in writing during his
lifetime. After the death of the Prophet
(pbuh) many of the prominent Sahaaba
(Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) adhered
to Imam Ali's explanation of the Sunnah of
the Prophet (pbuh). The number of such
luminous personalities increased
gradually, and came to be known as the
Devotees of the teachings of the Prophet
(pbuh) as passed down by Ali. They were
meaning the elite, the distinctive, or
the special. In Arabic they were
referred to as Al‑Shi'a. The rest of the
Muslims were referred to as
the general public or the common man.
When Mu'awiya became
the Khalifa (ruler), he promoted the term
(the throng of the society) to gain
support for himself among the people.
About 150 years later, the term Jama'ah
was modified (by people conforming to
Abbasi government policy) in an attempt to
fight off Ahlul Bayt's enormous influence
in the society. Later the term Jama'ah
was modified to Al‑Sunnah wal
The term of Sunnah wal Jama'ah was
prevalent during the 3rd century H. when
the Schools of Thought in Islam
were in a flux but were
more or less consolidating.
Later in the 3rd
century H. the term was modified again,
and rather than calling it Al‑Sunnah wal
Jama'ah, it was abbreviated to Ahlul
This became a general term for the four
Sunni Schools of Thought.
year 250H the four Sunni Schools of
Thought were popularized and patronized by
the Abbasi government, as well as by their
own enthusiasts, thus spreading in various
areas of the Islamic Ummah at variable
speed. The existing Schools
of Thought by this stretch of time were:
Ja'fari, as headed
by Imam Al‑Saadiq.
Hanafi, as headed
by Abu Hanifa, Al‑Na'maan.
Maaliki, as headed
by Malik Ibn Anas.
Shafi'i, as headed
by Ibn Idrees Al‑Shafi'i.
Hanbali, as headed
by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
among the vanished Schools
of Thought were:
Madh'hab of Al‑Thawri
renowned for 2 centuries and could trace
its pathway to Imam Al‑Saadiq's Institute.
Madh'hab of Ibn U'yainah,
renowned for 3 centuries, and could trace
its pathway to Imam Al‑Saadiq's Institute.
Madh'hab of Aw'zaa'i,
followed for more than one century.
Madh'hab of Dawood Ibn Ali
Al‑Dhaahiri, followed for several
WHAT IS SHI'I AND WHAT IS SUNNI?
Shi'i is a person who is a
devotee of only the Sunnah of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) as passed down by Ahlul
Ahlul Bayt are the direct family of
Muhammad (pbuh), and a Shi'i regards their
teaching of the Prophet's Sunnah as the
most authentic and accurate. In brief a
Shi'i sees himself as the Devotee of
Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and
nothing else and the Fiqh laid down by
Ahlul Bayt. A Shi'i believes in
Imamah, that the 12 Imams were Divinely
Commissioned, and they were specified by
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He also believes
in Ismah عصمه
(that the Prophets and the Designated
Imams are shielded by Allah from: a) Sin,
b) Religious Error, and c) Forgetfulness).
Sunni is a person who
follows mostly the Sunnah of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) as passed down by the
teachings of Sahaaba and Scholars after
the Prophet (pbuh). Sunnah of some
Khulafaa is said to be included in their
teachings. In brief a Sunni sees himself
as following the Sunnah as the Sahaaba
and certain scholars had specified and the
Fiqh as laid by the head of the particular
Madh'hab. A Sunni does not believe in
BEFORE THE YEAR 150H:
the first 150 years after the Prophet
(pbuh) the only evolving School of Thought
was the Shi'a school as passed down by
Imam Ali, and the chain of narration as
the Golden Chain of Narration.
At that period the Golden Chain of
Narration consisted of Ali, Al‑Hasan,
Al‑Husain, Zainul Abideen, Al‑Baaqir, and
Al‑Saadiq all of whom are the direct
lineage of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This
chain narrated Hadith and explained Islam
with each Imam referring the narration by
way of his father directly up to the
Prophet (pbuh). For instance, Imam
Al‑Saadiq used to say “My narration is the
narration of my father, and his is that of
his father and so on, all going up to Ali
who narrated directly from Prophet
Those who followed this
information (called Shi'a) would
acknowledge narrations by other sources,
as long as those narrations were confirmed
by Ahlul Bayt [be they Hadith or examples
of the Prophet (pbuh)].
political predicaments with the rulers,
and because Ahlul Bayt took the government
of the time as invalid (unlawful) from
Islamic point of view, there
developed a boiling turmoil caused by the
direct collision first with the government
then with that of
Benu Abbas. The governments were very
eager to seek and enroll the support of
Ahlul Bayt, but Ahlul Bayt adamantly
supporting them, since genuine Islamic
teachings and their consciousness of
Allah, (Taq'wa) prevented Ahlul Bayt from
playing politics with Islam. Because of
their refusal to acknowledge the
legitimacy of the Khalifa or his
government, Ahlul Bayt and their devotees
were exposed to tremendous harassment —if
not near‑persecution— at the hands of some
Khalifas and their administration.
When the government of
Benu Umayya became weak, Al‑Saadiq saw a
golden opportunity, and he was the first
to be able to freely pass down the
teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as
his family had taught him. Thus the basis
of the Ja'fari (Shi'i) School of Thought
Head of Ja'fari
the sixth descendant in the lineage of the
Prophet (pbuh), was a charismatic leader of
the highest integrity, whose piousness was
acknowledged by both friends and enemies.
The knowledge‑seekers rushed in large numbers
to Medina to learn at his hands. They left
family, homes, businesses, went through the
hazards of travel, to live in Medina for
variable periods of time as needed, just for
the sake of learning firsthand in the Islamic
Ahlul Bayt headed by Al‑Saadiq. Some stayed
for two years such as Abu Hanifa, others
stayed much longer, while others moved to
of various levels flocked to him, more so
during Ramadhan or Haj times. He was the
repository of Islamic knowledge (I'lm)
one sought after by people for Hadith
narration, by the Fiqh specialists, the
forerunners of intellectuals, as well as by
the ordinary seekers of knowledge.
spellbound by the depth of Imam Al‑Saadiq's
thinking, and mesmerized by the way he
analyzed Fiqh inquiries. He uttered numerous
Hadiths, in the thousands, quoting the
Prophet (pbuh) very often and in every facet
of life. He talked much about Islamic ethics
and mannerism, integrity, goodness of
character, and acts of worship, among other
things. He contested and argued with
Mu'tazila, Jabriah, Qadariyah, and the
Zandeeqs (see glossary of this chapter).
During Al‑Saadiq's time
the Institute of learning by Ahlul Bayt grew
very large as did the number of its
students. It was similar to a university,
but the dean, professor, the religions head,
and the tutor were one, and that was Imam
Al‑Saadiq. He held the discussions at his
home, where the students were not only his
apprentices but also his guests. Al‑Saadiq's
house was perpetually busy with discussions
and consultations, and the household was
trained to give the best treatment to its
Discussions were also held
in the Grand Mosque of Medina and during Haj
time the discussions were conducted near the
Ka'ba in Mecca, when seekers of knowledge
flocked to him in large numbers for
discussions, questioning, and clarification
of Islamic inquiries, concepts and beliefs.
The scholars who attended
Al‑Saadiq's school wrote books, taught
others, and traveled to distant Islamic
territories to spread the Hadiths and other
Islamic matters; quoting Al-Saadiq
years as many as 4,000 scholars graduated at
his hand, these were the scholars recorded by
name who had quoted him.
There were a multitude of others who attended
but did not quote him.
To hear at
his hands about 1,000 student scholars hailed
from Iraq (Kufa and Basrah). A good many
hailed from Khurasan of Persia, also
attending the Institute, despite the
thousands of miles between the two areas.
The same was also true of Egypt and Yemen.
Even Syria, saw 10 scholars graduate at the
hand of the Institute.
As the Institute grew it
branched out in other areas such as Kufa,
Basrah, Mecca, and
Al‑Saadiq formed groups
for training in the art of argument. Many of
his brilliant students became famous, well
known for the convincing way they presented
their point of view. Prominent among these
Mu'min Al‑Taaq to
name a few.
consisted of some of the following:
Sciences of the Quran and
علـوم القـران والتـفــسـيـر
foremost on the agenda, and so were Fiqh and
Jurisprudence since there were numerous
queries and questions that needed Fiqh
of the Prophet (pbuh),
Al‑Saadiq added a great deal
of detail about the Prophet's Sunnah and the
manner the Prophet lived, and was always
ready to answer any questions in that regard.
thousands of Hadiths were
quoted and categorized and put into writing.
The Hadiths were quoted 1‑2 centuries later
in the Books of Sihaah Al‑Sittah as these
was dealt with long before
anyone knew about the Greek philosophy.
started by Imam Ali, the art
of theological logic was vastly expanded by
Sciences of Biology
began to gain importance and
though they were in the embryonic stage, they
had their beginning at this time‑period.
and literary works had their share of studies
at this stage too. Added to this was the
scholarly discussion of Arabic literature
encouraged his students to write and
author books for the benefit of others.
Knowing human nature, Imam Al‑Saadiq was
afraid the enrollees of the Institute would
soon forget, misquote, add to or subtract
from what he said, therefore he encouraged
them to put things in writing right away. He
himself did not have time to write, but his
students turned into fluent and prolific
books written by the graduates of the
Institute were numerous, 400 of them stand
out, later they were called the 400 Usool.
These books were categorized about numerous
subjects of Ah'kaam, basic beliefs, and
manner of worship, among other subjects.
They existed for many centuries and were
quoted by many scholars of various
generations. In addition to the above, books
in Hadith, Islamic philosophy, science of
Al‑Kalaam, Tafseer, Literature, Ethics, etc.
were also written by the graduates of
Al-Saadiq’s Institute and were sought after
and often referred to by later scholars.
Two of the
founders of other schools of Fiqh, i.e., the
Maaliki, had the
privilege of directly acquiring knowledge
from Imam Al‑Saadiq. They were proud of
their affiliation. The heads of the other
two Madh'habs (Shafi'i,
and Hanbali) were equally grateful for their
affiliation with Al‑Saadiq by way of his
students; for they were born after Al‑Saadiq
Finally, Malik Ibn Anas
(the head of the Maaliki Madh'hab) described
Al‑Saadiq as follows:
“I used to attend
discourses given by Ja'far Al‑Saadiq, who
most of the time had a cheerful look and
serene countenance, but whenever the
Prophet's name was mentioned Al‑Saadiq's
color would immediately become pale [out of
I frequently attended his
discourses over a long period of time and
often saw him either praying, fasting, or
reading the Holy Quran. I never saw him
talking about Allah's Messenger (pbuh)
without him being in a state of Wudu.”
THE YEARS 150H‑200H:
The Sunni Schools
Al‑Hanafi was the product of the Fiqh rules
and regulations as taught by Abu Hanifa. As
in other Islamic Schools of Thought Abu
Hanifa's Fiqh deals with tawhid,
elements of faith, elements of
worship (pillars of Islam), the halal
and haram, ethics, dealing
with other people (Mu'aamalat).
FEATURES of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanafi
School of Thought tends to put more emphasis
(Analogy) and Raa'y
opinion) than an emphasis on Hadith choices,
and the deductions there from. It does not
acknowledge the Imamah of Ahlul Bayt. The
Hanafi School of Thought began its popularity
in the last quarter of the second century
ابو حنيفه النعمان ابن ثابت
was born in 80H, grew up to be brilliant and
inquisitive; he was a good business man, in
charge of an enterprise dealing in the silk
industry. He was the employer of many men,
managing his enterprise in Kufa well. Abu
Hanifa's keen interest in researching Islamic
sciences led him to Basrah many times.
At first both Al‑Hasan Al‑Basri and Abu
Hanifa were associated with Murji'ah
philosophy but later on Abu Hanifa
dissociated himself from the movement.
During his youth Abu Hanifa visited Hijaz to
have a dialog with Imam
Muhammad Al‑Baaqir (the father of Al‑Saadiq).
of Al‑Baaqir, Zaid Ibn Ali, was revered for
his Islamic learning. Zaid Ibn Ali revolted
against the oppression of Benu Umayya
government in 121H, and Abu Hanifa encouraged
people to join and support Zaid’s revolt.
Once the revolt was put down, the 41 year old
Abu Hanifa was put in jail because of his
support of Zaid. Shortly after, Abu Hanifa
escaped from jail and left for Medina to join
Al‑Saadiq's discourses and teachings at the
Institute of Ahlul Bayt.
Abu Hanifa's experience
was unique at the Institute, whereby his
tutoring took two years. He referred to
those years saying:
it not for the two years, Abu Hanifa would
have gone astray,”
for such was the
Institute's influence on his views, Fiqh,
analogy, and the manner of thinking.
Abu Hanifa was a lover of
Ahlul Bayt, and he supported the revolts lead
by their devotees. Besides his support of
the revolt by Zaid Ibn Ali against Benu
Umayya (when as a result Abu Hanifa was put
in jail), Abu Hanifa also supported the
revolt lead by Muhammad Dhul
and his brother Ibrahim, against Benu Abbas
during the Khilaafah of Al‑Mansoor. Abu
Hanifa urged people to join and participate
in the revolt saying, “He who is killed
fighting on the side of Muhammad Dhul Nafs
Al‑Zakiya will be parallel to the one who has
fought in Badr Battle against the infidels.”
When his writings were later discovered Abu
Hanifa became a suspect in the eyes of
At a later
time, and in a move to discredit Al‑Saadiq,
Khalifa Al‑Mansoor asked Abu Hanifa to quiz
Al‑Saadiq with forty Fiqh most complex
queries. Though obliging to Al‑Mansoor's
dictates, Abu Hanifa became mesmerized by
Imam Al‑Saadiq's answers to the queries and
he acknowledged the uniqueness of the Imam in
knowledge. Consequently, Al‑Mansoor’s move
to discredit Al‑Saadiq misfired, discrediting
Abu Hanifa had tutored 36
students to become scholars in Islam.
Particularly famous among them were Ibn Al‑Hudhayl,
Abu Yusuf, Muhammad
Al‑Sheybani, and Al‑Lu'lu'i.
years older than Al‑Saadiq, Abu Hanifa died
in 150H two years after Al‑Saadiq's death.
Abu Hanifa is claimed to have died in prison
or soon after he was released, because of
poisoning by Khalifa Al-Mansoor. It is
thought that Khalifa Al‑Mansoor had put the
aging Abu Hanifa in jail because of either
not agreeing with Al‑Mansoor's dictates, or
that Al‑Mansoor discovered the support Abu
Hanifa gave to the revolt by Muhammad Dhul
Nafs Al‑Zakiya who was devotee of Ahlul
Bayt. If this was true then Abu Hanifa died
in support of the cause of Ahlul Bayt against
HIGHLIGHTS of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanafi
Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanafi took
off after Abu Hanifa died in 150H. Of his
close followers some stand out in spreading
the Fiqh. The main ones are Abu Yusuf,
Muhammad Sheybani, and Al‑Lu'lu'i.
was the Chief Justice appointed during the
times of Khalifa Al‑Mahdi, then Khalifa
Al‑Haadi, then Khalifa Al‑Rasheed. The last
was grateful to Abu Yusuf for he was the main
influence in favor of the Al‑Rasheed for the
Khilaafah; therefore Abu Yusuf was elevated
to be the Supreme Justice. Meanwhile Abu
Yusuf, with full support of the powers of the
government, appointed to the Justice
Department only those who acknowledged the
Hanafi Fiqh—all others had either to change
their Madh'hab or lose their job. Abu Yusuf
had his own interpretation of the Hanafi
Fiqh, and he wrote some books about the
Madh'hab. His close student was Al‑Sheybani,
who had not reached his twenties when Abu
was a good writer, and he
wrote a good many books about the teachings
of Abu Hanifa, thus making the biggest
contribution to the Hanafi Madh'hab. Like
Abu Yusuf, Al‑Sheybani had his personal views
and Fiqh points, and he expressed them when
he wrote the Hanafi Fiqh. Al‑Sheybani also
studied under Malik Ibn Anas for 3 years and
was affected by his methodology, thus he
introduced Malik's method of Hadith selection
in the emerging Hanafi Madh'hab.
The promotion of the
Hanafi Fiqh by the government powers over an
extended period of time popularized the
Madh'hab; thus the Hanafi Madh’hab slowly
became mainstream. Unlike the Ja'fari Fiqh
(which was adamantly independent of the
government), the Maaliki and by now the
Hanafi Madh'habs were eagerly embraced and
espoused by the government in a move as a
counterweight to the Ja'fari Fiqh, (that of
Ahlul Bayt), because these two conformed to
the policies and practices of the government.
Al‑Maaliki was the product of the Fiqh (rules
and regulations) as taught by Malik Ibn
Anas. As in other Islamic Schools of Thought
Maalik's Fiqh deals with tawhid,
elements of faith, elements of
worship (pillars of Islam), the halal
and haram, ethics, dealing
with other people (Mu'aamalat).
FEATURES of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Maaliki
The Maaliki School of Thought tends to
emphasize the authenticity of the Hadith
, the care in its selection, and the
deductions there from. It also used some
degree of Qiyas (Analogy) and Raa'y (Personal
opinion). It does not acknowledge the Imamah
of Ahlul Bayt. Malik Ibn Anas was supporter
and a proponent of Ahlul Hadith. The Maaliki
School of Thought began its popularity in the
last quarter of the second century H.
مالك بن انـس
Born in 93H
Malik Ibn Anas
grew up at a time when the Fiqh of the
Shari'ah was flourishing and Ahlul Bayt had a
greater leeway to explain its detail since
Benu Umayya's grip on power was waning.
Malik Ibn Anas attended many of the
discussion assemblies Imam Al‑Saadiq was
giving. Malik Ibn Anas was 10 years younger
than Al‑Saadiq, and lived to the ripe age of
86, when he died in 179H. Like Imam
Al‑Saadiq, Malik spent all his time in
claimed that Malik Ibn Anas was a firm
supporter of Ahlul Bayt and their cause.
Malik gave full support to Muhammad Dhul Nafs
Al‑Zakiya when he revolted against the
oppression of Benu Abbas in 144H. In 146H,
because of that support (or because of some
disagreement with the government) Malik Ibn
Anas was arrested by the governor of Medina
and lashed 50 times. That resulted in
damaging his left arm which remained crippled
the rest of his life.
Malik Ibn Anas lived at a
time when forgeries of the Hadith were
widespread. Therefore he took great care in
selecting authentic Hadiths, as a result his
popularity began to increase. Many people
started to quote him and study at his hand.
At the same
time however, Khalifa Al‑Mansoor was ever
anxious to build forces to counteract the
profound influence of the school of Ahlul
Bayt. In 153H Al‑Mansoor approached the 60
year old Malik Ibn Anas offering him a
position to be Supreme Justice over Medina
and Hijaz, but with a request for Malik to
write a book in Fiqh, so that Al‑Mansoor
would enforce it over the whole
Ummah. Al‑Mansoor had one more request,
however, that the book not mention even once
the name of Imam Ali.
Malik Ibn Anas agreed,
sensing that his book, as supported by the
government, would have immediate success.
However, the down‑side to this was not
mentioning Ali, but that would be the price
to be paid against the advantage of spreading
his Islamic knowledge.
The result was the book
Al‑Mu'watta'. The Fiqh in Mu'watta' was
later known as Fiqh of Malik Ibn Anas. It
was spread and patronized by many rulers of
Benu Abbas, and especially in Andalusia
(Spain), North Africa, and some parts of
Middle East. Malik Ibn Anas became the
official high powered Supreme Judge for a
long time. He was sponsored and patronized
Al-Mansoor, then Khalifa
Al-Mahdi, then Khalifa
Al-Haadi, then (and especially
so) by Khalifa
Al‑Rasheed. This support was
done not due to what this Fiqh deserved but
mainly as a counterweight against Ahlul Bayt
and their enormous influence in the society.
Many Books were published
as commentaries about Al‑Mu'watta' and the
school of Maaliki became one of the survivors
of the many Islamic Schools of Thought at the
time. What was crucial to its survival
(besides its dynamism) was the official
support and encouragement of the Abbasi
government to spread it as far as possible.
during this period there were many Schools of
Thought of greater depth than the
Maaliki, which even continued for a century
or two but eventually died out because they
insisted to be independent of government
influence, therefore the government did not
support them, thus leading to their demise.
Al‑Shafi'i was the product of the Fiqh (rules
and regulations) as taught by Ibn Idrees
Al‑Shafi'i. As in other Islamic Schools of
Thought Al‑Shafi'i's Fiqh deals with
tawhid, elements of faith,
elements of worship (pillars of
Islam), halal and haram,
ethics, dealing with other people
FEATURES of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Shafi'i
School of Thought stands in‑between the
Maaliki and Hanafi Madh'habs in that it uses
some of the ways of Al‑Maaliki Madh'hab and
some of the Hanafi, i.e. less in the way of
Qiyas (Analogy) and Raa'y (personal
opinion). It excels in the technique of
(deductive reasoning) for reaching a Fiqh
verdict. Like other Sunni Madh'habs, Al‑Shafi'i's
do not acknowledge the Imamah of Ahlul Bayt,
though all of them were supportive of Ahlul
Bayt. The Al‑Shafi'i School of Thought began
its popularity around 190H and picked up
steam in the century that followed.
Head of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Shafi'i:
Al‑Shafi'i was born in
150H, the same year in which Abu Hanifa
died. He was from Quraish, a bright student
with a dazzling personality. An orphan,
Al‑Shafi'i was cared for by his mother who
brought him to Mecca when 10 years old. He
joined Hudhayl tribe for 17 years (in the
desert) to learn the flawless command of
Arabic, literary or expression. In his late
twenties by now, Al‑Shafi'i settled in Mecca
where Al‑Shafi'i was enticed by friends to
study Fiqh. Thus he joined Al‑Zinji,
learning at his and other scholars' hands.
In his thirties Al‑Shafi'i left for Medina to
study at the hands of the aging Malik Ibn
Anas, where he became very close to him.
Malik even took care of the living expenses
of Al‑Shafi'i for 4 years until Malik died.
Al‑Shafi'i also studied at the hands of
several of Imam Al‑Saadiq's disciples such as
a) Ibn U'yainah, 2) Abu Ishaaq Al‑Madani, 3)
Al‑Zuhri, and 4) Ibn Al‑Silt Al‑Basri.
died, Al‑Shafi'i had to work in Yemen to
support himself financially. He was vocal
against the harsh rule of the governor of
Yemen. It is said that in a move to get rid
of him, the governor wrote mischievous
accusation about Al‑Shafi'i to Khalifa
Al‑Rasheed. As a result, in 184H and along
with 8 other people, Al‑Shafi'i was taken to
Baghdad chained and bound in fetters. He was
closely questioned by the enraged Al‑Rasheed,
but Al‑Shafi'i's eloquence and convincing
manners were such that Al‑Rasheed forgave him
and set him free. The other 8 were not so
lucky, for they could not defend their
innocence that well, and were decapitated as
per orders of the irrational Khalifa. (The
Shafi'i was accused of loving Ahlul Bayt,
since loving Ahlul Bayt was in opposition to
the Khalifa policy or other Abbasi rulers,
who posed as enemy No. 1 to Ahlul Bayt.)
Al‑Shafi'i stayed in
Baghdad where he joined the circle discussion
headed by Al‑Sheybani (who was a student of
Abu Yusuf and Abu Hanifa). Al‑Shafi'i
contested and debated with Al‑Sheybani in his
circle discussions, then began his own
discussion assembly, giving If'taa' (Fiqh
edicts). Both he and Al‑Sheybani were active
in writing books at the same time, though the
Maaliki scholars at the time paid little
attention to either of them. It is said that
Al‑Shafi'i studied under a total of 19
Al‑Shafi'i became quite
popular in Baghdad, but he visited Egypt,
which was the Maaliki strong hold at the
time. In 198H, the 48 year old Al‑Shafi'i
left Baghdad again, for good, with an
endorsement from the Khalifa. He was
accompanied by the new governor to Egypt, and
stayed as a guest with an eminent family in
Egypt, whereby he started his own circle
discussion and gave If'taa'. This time he
stayed in Egypt for about 6 years.
said to have written several books, and the
book of Al‑Umm in 6 volumes is contributed to
him, though after probing and research it was
claimed to have been written by his disciples
(Al‑Bu'waiti and Al‑Rabii).
As Al‑Shafi'i became popular in Egypt, his
discussion assembly attracted more and more
students. He differed with Al‑Maaliki and
Hanafi in many points, and his teachings
began to have a distinct flavor. Just as his
popularity was on the increase, he was beset
with a long illness. At the age of 54, there
came about hotly discussed difference between
him and Maaliki adherents, especially after
he criticized some Maaliki doctrines or
beliefs. The matter was taken to the
governor. Because of that, Al‑Shafi'i was
brutally attacked by the discontented Maaliki
adherents, and he was hit on the head with a
big iron rod (iron‑key). Al‑Shafi'i lost
consciousness as a consequence, probably from
fractured skull, and he died shortly after.
Al‑Shafi'i had a charming
personality, a very attractive way of
expression in pure Arabic, good poetry, and
deep knowledge of the techniques of the
various schools of thought at the time. He
excelled in the criteria he put forth about
Istin'baat (deductive reasoning) in reaching
verdicts. Al‑Shafi'i was a devotee of Ahlul
Bayt to a great extent notwithstanding the
government jaundiced eyes about anyone who
declared any faith in them. The government
took Ahlul Bayt as the enemy No. 1 solely
because Ahlul Bayt rejected acknowledging the
legitimacy of the rulers (Khalifa) as
representing Islam. Ahlul Bayt never
conformed to the policies of the rulers or
their rule, thus the enmity and the
HIGHLIGHTS of Shafi'i Madh'hab
The popularity of
Al‑Shafi'i Madh'hab was mainly due to the
consistent and hard work of the students of
Al‑Shafi'i, famous among them were Al‑Bu'waiti
, and Ibn
. As Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Shafi'i
took roots, it gradually replaced the Maaliki
Madh'hab in Egypt, then spread in Palestine
and Syria, completely replacing that of
Aw'zaa'i. It also spread in Iran and
neighboring areas at the time. This Madh'hab
was also endorsed by the governments of the
time, especially that of Ayyubi.
DURING THE YEARS 200H‑250H:
Al‑Hanbali was the product of the Fiqh (rules
and regulations) as taught by Ahmad Ibn
Hanbal. As in other Islamic Schools of
Thought Ahmad Ibn Hanbal's Fiqh deals with
tawhid, elements of faith,
elements of worship (pillars of
Islam), halal and haram,
ethics, dealing with other people
FEATURES of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanbali
Unlike other Sunni Madh'habs,
Al‑Hanbali's School of Thought has almost no
use for Qiyas (Analogy) or Raa'y (personal
opinion), to such an extent that they even
prefer narration of weak Hadith over Qiyas or
Raa'y. It emphasizes taking the Hadith
literally (blindly) to such an extent that
they were called
Ahlul Hadith were
known long time before, but As'haab Al‑Hadith
was the result of its evolution.
Also like other Sunni
Madh'habs, Al‑Hanbalis do not acknowledge the
Imamah of Ahlul Bayt, though Ibn Hanbal was
very supportive of Ahlul Bayt. Al‑Hanbali
School of Thought began its ascendancy with
the full patronage of Khalifa Al‑Mutawak'kil
around 235H, but it never became widely
Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanbali: 164H‑241H
Ibn Hanbal was born in
164H in Baghdad at the height of expansion of
the Islamic sciences and the glory of its
culture. He was an astute and highly
intellectual person with distinguished
reputation. Ibn Hanbal grew up as an orphan,
began his quest for Islamic learning at the
age of 15, he learned at the hands of Abu
Yusuf for a while, then Al‑Shafi'i. In 186H
the 22 year old Ibn Hanbal traveled to Hijaz,
Basrah, Kufa, and Yemen in quest of learning
though he was in poor financial straits. He
learned at the hands of, a) Ibn U'yainah, b)
Al‑Zuhri, and c) Jarir Ibn Abdul Hamid among
other outstanding scholar students of Imam
By the age of 50 Ibn
Hanbal witnessed severe crushing measures by
the Mu'tazila toward those who did not agree
with their views that the Quran was
piecemeal by Allah) according to the need of
the time. As'haab Al‑Hadith believed the
opposite, that the Quran was whole and part
and parcel of Allah. As a result,
suppression by the Mu'tazila fully supported
by the Khalifas (Al‑Ma’Moon, Al‑Mu'tasim, and
Al‑Waathiq) continued for about 20 years. It
was a brutal suppression of any intellectual
who did not agree with their view, and
As'haab Al‑Hadith became the culprit for
In 218H along with many
others, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was arrested and was
to be executed by Khalifa
Al‑Ma'Moon because he stuck to
his own conviction and did not agree with the
Mu'tazila point of view. It so happened that
Al‑Ma’Moon died on an expedition just before
he was to give the verdict for the execution
of Ibn Hanbal. The following Khalifa, Al-Mu'tasim,
had Ibn Hanbal in jail, interrogated him
about his conviction, lashed him 38 times,
but somehow he released him later from jail.
The Khalifa became lenient with Ibn Hanbal
since it is said that Ibn Hanbal was able to
circumvent direct confrontation (though
others say he was adamant in his views).
As a result
Ibn Hanbal's reputation skyrocketed with
As'haab Al‑Hadith who shared his views. He
became famous later on when Khalifa
Al‑Mutawak'kil around 234H took up the cause
of As'haab Al‑Hadith against the Mu'tazila,
in a move to lure the general public to his
Ibn Hanbal became the symbol of As'haab
Al‑Hadith resistance to Mu'tazila orthodoxy.
Khalifa Al‑Mutawak'kil was the nemesis of
Mu'tazila, he included the devotees of Ahlul
Bayt as archenemy too. A period of
unparalleled persecution and killing began to
take place, as a result of which the
Mu'tazila intellectuals all but vanished.
With the cooperation of As'haab Al‑Hadith a
new phase of bloodshed began to take shape
against any members or sympathizers of Ahlul
Bayt too. Al‑Mutawak'kil took them as a
grave threat to his rulership, and he
unleashed brutal and very harsh measures to
anyone suspected of being loyal to Ahlul
Bayt. These measures were to such an extent,
that against the Shi'a there unfolded the
(people who earned their living by making
perverted stories and pernicious poems in
denouncing and damning the Shi'a). Despite
this, Ibn Hanbal was brave and outspoken in
support of Ahlul Bayt. He was fearless and
undaunted by the attitude of the Khalifa or
the people around.
He even narrated more Hadiths of the Prophet
(pbuh) on behalf of Ahlul Bayt than most of
the Sihaah Al‑Sittah, for such were his
courage, virtue and nobility. And despite
the fact that Al‑Mutawak'kil was supporting
him with 4,000 dirham every month and the
auspicious attention he was giving him, Ibn
Hanbal was uncomfortable of the association
with the Khalifa, to the extent that he
evaded and refrained from the bond.
Ibn Hanbal would accept the gifts from the
Khalifa but would distribute them secretly to
was a highly learned scholar in Hadith. He
wrote the books of Manasik, (the major and
the minor), but his distinction goes more
toward the Mus'nad of Ibn Hanbal
This book was not quite finished when Ibn
Hanbal died at the age of 77, and the task of
editing, reviewing, and completing it fell in
the hands of his son Abdullah. Mus'nad Ibn
Hanbal contained 40,000 Hadiths, of which
10,000 were repetitions, and a good many
others were weak. It also contained many
fabricated Hadiths that Ibn Hanbal did not
Ibn Hanbal claimed that he selected the
Hadiths from among 750,000 circulating
Hadiths at his time, the overwhelming
majority of which were fake.
As'haab Al‑Hadith took any
Hadith literally [blindly] without giving due
regard to the circumstances in which it was
said nor its inner meaning. Unfortunately
As'haab Al‑Hadith abused much of the power at
their hands and the destruction of life or
property caused by them was instrumental in
enraging the general public for a long time,
becoming one of the reasons of the limited
spread of this school of thought.
HIGHLIGHTS of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Hanbali
Under Ibn Hanbal many
students learned his Fiqh and became famous
later on. Chiefly they were Al‑Athram, Al‑Maroozi,
Al‑Harbi, Abdullah Ibn Hanbal, and Salih Ibn
Hanbal. They were very active in teaching
the Hanbali Madh'hab afterwards though this
school of thought never spread extensively.
(FOUNDATION) OF FIQH
Elements of each Fiqh depended in
descending order of importance on the
reasoning or perception of the Ja'fari
(consensus of the religious scholars, not
to be exclusive of the Imams' teachings).
(consensus of the religious scholars),
of decision), through the following steps:
(consensus of the religious scholars)
(analogy), through the following steps:
Consensus of Medina U'lamaa,
Massaa'lih Mursala (public interest),
(consensus of the religious scholars)
weak Hadith over Qiyas (analogy),
(analogy of decision), through the
Massaa'lih Mursala (public interest),
|Abu Yusuf Al‑Qadhi
||Student of Abu Hanifa, later appointed as Supreme Justice by Khalifas Mahdi, Haadi, and Al‑Rasheed. He appointed only Justices subscribing to the emerging Hanafi school of thought.
||Fatima and the designated twelve Imams from Ali to Al‑Mahdi, who safeguarded the teaching of Islam and conferred it to the Ummah as Muhammad (pbuh) had taught it.
||Those who emphasized the importance of Hadith selection and the Seerah in their jurisprudence; usually Malik's school, and probably Ahlul Bayt's.
||General term used to refer to the common people or the general public.
||The detailed rules and regulations of the Shari'ah, according to the Ij'tihaad of the Jurist.
||The term used for the Shi'a to mean: The Special, The Distinct, or The Elite; generally referred to the devotees of Ahlul Bayt.
||The second ruler (Khalifa) of Benu Abbas and the effective establisher of their rule.
||A great leader who revolted against the oppressive rule of Khalifa Al‑Mansoor. Abu Hanifa supported his and his brother's revolts and probably for this support Abu Hanifa was imprisoned by Al‑Mansoor, and died in prison or shortly after leaving prison of poisoning.
|Al‑Qiyas (The analogy):
||Methodology of thought more often referred to by Hanafi school of thought.
|Al‑Raa'y (The Opinionated):
||Methodology of thought often referred to by Hanafi and other schools of thought.
||Like Abu Yusuf, Al‑Sheybani was instrumental in establishing the Hanafi school of thought.
||Those who took the Hadith blindly, then identified themselves with Ibn Hanbal's Fiqh.
||The town built by Al‑Mansoor to be the capital for the Abbasi regime.
||A town in Iraq used to be an intellectual center for 2‑3 centuries.
||Descendants of Ibn Abbas (who was a highly scholarly person tutored by Imam Ali). Benu Abbas established their rule after toppling Benu Umayya.
||A clan in Mecca who were the adversaries of Muhammad (pbuh), then accepted Islam. Afterwards they became the rulers of the Islamic nation. They consisted of Benu Sufyan and Benu Marwan.
|Books of Usool:
||The famous 400 basic books written by the alumni of the Institute of Ahlul Bayt and were used as references afterwards.
||The famous person who collected the Hadiths after a high degree of scrutiny. His book is one of Al‑Sihaah Al‑Sittah. He died in the year 256H.
||Rules and regulations of Islam.
||The exaggerationists who falsely attributed un‑Islamic attributes to some Imams.
|Golden Chain of Narration:
||The narration of Hadith and other Islamic matters by the persons of Ahlul Bayt.
||What is ritually permissible in Islam.
||What is Islamicly unlawful and not allowed, and is punishable.
||The province including Medina and Mecca, was an intellectual center for about two centuries.
||Knowledge of the ways of Muhammad (pbuh), Sunnah, Hadith, Tafseer of the Holy Quran, Fiqh as well as the Prophet's Traditions.
||A fundamental component of faith in Islam according to the Imamiyah‑Shi'a.
||Means that Allah has safeguarded all the Prophets and the Specified Imams who followed Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from, a) religious error, b) sin, and c) forgetfulness.
||Believers in absolute predestination.
||The head of Islamdom who during Benu Umayya and Benu Abbas were usurpers of power in the form of monarchs.
||Outsiders, a movement detrimental to Islam, which lasted for 4‑5 centuries.
||Rulership of the Islamic Ummah, supposed to be representing Muhammad (pbuh) after him. However, with the advent of Benu Umayya the Khilaafah became as a mundane rulership no longer based on Taq'wa.
||Kufa was the new capital of the Islamic Ummah during the times of Imam Ali, and it became an intellectual center for 2‑3 centuries.
||Fiqh School of Thought in Islam.
||See Ismah, a person whom Allah safeguards from religious error, sin, and forgetfulness.
||An ideology encouraged by Benu Umayya since it held to the notion that Benu Umayya's rule was legitimate from Shari'ah viewpoint.
||Believers in unlimited free will.
||Seat of learning in Persia, an intellectual center.
||Islamic Constitution in the Quran.
||Believers in the teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) as passed down by Ahlul Bayt, and that Imamah is an indispensable part of the Islamic faith.
||Absolute consciousness of the creator, the perfection of execution of the Islamic injunction.
|Zaid Ibn Ali:
||A highly respected person who revolted against the tyranny of Benu Umayya. He was the brother of Imam Al‑Baaqir. He was supported by Abu Hanifa.
||Agnostic or atheist.