Imam al-Shāfiʻī, Mālikīs and Egypt: Refuting derogatory remarks

By Mufti Zameelur Rahman

Recently, Nahiem Ajmal (Mufti Abu Layth) has put forward the claim that the great imām, Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi‘ī (raḥimahullāh), a founder of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh, developed his ideas of juristic reasoning based on an emotional detachment from his initial allegiance to the school of his great teacher, Imām Mālik, another of the founders of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh. He claims that although al-Shāfi‘ī was valued as a student of Imām Mālik during his time spent in ‘Irāq and Makkah, when he eventually settled in Egypt, he was eclipsed by Mālik’s more prominent students who had spent a longer time with him, and thus no longer held any authority as a representative of Mālik. As a result of being devalued in this way, al-Shāfi‘ī left his allegiance to Mālik, and developed his own juristic theory, in order to become independent of him and his school. Some of Abu Layth’s claims in order to support this idea are as follows:

  • When al-Shāfi‘ī arrived in Egypt, such prominent and long-time students of Mālik as Ibn al-Qāsim and Ibn Wahb were present
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī was a “little boy” when he went to study with Imām Mālik, probably “around 10 or 11”
  • To the Egyptian students of Mālik, al-Shāfi‘ī was a “nobody”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī said “Layth ibn Sa‘d is more learned than Mālik” in order to provoke the Mālikīs who had “annoyed him”
  • In Egypt, al-Shāfi‘ī didn’t have “many friends”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī “couldn’t stand Ashhab” because “Ashhab couldn’t stand him”
  • The isnād-centred theory of jurisprudence outlined by al-Shafi‘ī started with him, and he had no precedent

This idea is, of course, repulsive and derogatory, and brings down the status of the great imāms of fiqh. It creates the impression, and was probably meant to create the impression, that the imāms of fiqh developed their ideas on a whim, and not on a sincere search for truth. All of the mujtahid imāms of the salaf were seekers of truth first and foremost. They were not emotionally-driven provocateurs, but objective followers of proof. The differences amongst them were primarily a result of their different perspectives, and the weight each of them gave to different types of evidence.

Imām al-Shāfi‘ī was a mujtahid jurist of immense calibre. He showed signs of great intelligence from a very young age. The minor developments and changes that occurred throughout his life are part of a natural evolution in his thinking, and does not differ from what occurred to other imāms. From very early on, al-Shāfi‘ī acquired great aptitude in fiqh, and he had formulated his independent juristic theory before settling in Egypt in the final years of his life. In fact, he had started his own madhhab in Makkah and ‘Irāq without affiliation to Imām Mālik, which became known as his “old school” (al-madhhab al-qadīm), while the small refinements that accrued in his later life, which were recorded in his books written in Egypt, came to be known collectively as “the new school” (al-madhhab al-jadīd). As one contemporary researcher explains, the reason why the two stages are probably referred to as “old” and “new” is because of the change in location and the different groups of students that coalesced around in him in the two periods, not because of any dramatic and wholesale changes to his opinions. (al-Madkhal ilā Madhhab al-Imām al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 304-11) Hence, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr defines the “old” and “new” as being derived from his “Baghdādī writings” and his “Egyptian writings” respectively. (al-Intiqā’ fī Faḍā’il al-A’immat al-Thalāthat al-Fuqahā’, p. 164)

He had an early following before having settled in Egypt, from such figures as Abū Thawr (d. 240), Ḥusayn al-Karābīsī (d. 245) and Ḥasan al-Za‘farānī (d. 260), the latter being regarded as the most reliable transmitter of al-Shāfi‘ī’s old school. One of his prominent students in the old school was Abu l-Walīd Mūsā ibn Abi l-Jārūd (al-Intiqā’ fī Faḍā’il al-A’immat al-Thalāthat al-Fuqahā’, p. 164) who would give fatwā on al-Shāfi‘ī’s views while in Makkah. (Ṭabaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyyah al-Kubrā, 2:161)

Some important details that disprove Abu Layth’s hypothesis will be presented below, in the course of which it should become clear that not only is his hypothesis flawed, but even some of the “facts” he used to support them are false:

Studies with Imām Mālik

Imām al-Shāfi‘ī (150 – 204 H) was born in Palestine, and as a young child, was brought to Makkah. Makkah became his hometown, and from Makkah he went to study with Imām Mālik in Madīnah. From here, he relocated to Yemen but made visits to the Ḥijāz. At some point in his early thirties, he travelled to ‘Irāq where he remained for several years. He then returned to Makkah before eventually settling in Egypt, where he passed away and is buried.

There are different views on what exactly was the age of Imām al-Shāfi‘ī when he went to Madīnah to study under Imām Mālik. He was most probably thirteen years old at the time. This is found explicitly in an authentic narration from al-Shāfi‘ī himself. [1] Other estimates are of a later date. For instance, al-Dhahabī believes he was over twenty. One contemporary researcher, Lamīn al-Nājī, however, demonstrates that al-Shāfi‘ī read an earlier version of the Muwaṭṭa’ to Mālik and only came to know of differences in the later version through intermediaries – and this supports the earlier date. (al-Qadīm wa l-Jadīd fī l-Fiqh al-Shāfi‘ī; 2:28-30) ‘Allāmah al-Kawtharī also made a similar point. (al-Intiqā’, p. 118-9)

Hence, al-Shāfi‘ī was not a “little boy” in terms of age; and he was most certainly not a “little boy” in terms of intelligence. His brilliance was manifest from childhood. While attending maktab in Makkah, his teacher was happy not to take payment as al-Shāfi‘ī would sometimes cover for him. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 92) Before coming to Mālik, he memorised the Qur’ān and the Muwaṭṭa’. (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī wa Manāqibuh, p. 22; Tārīkh Baghdād, 2:401) He had also filled two big jars with bones on which he had written ḥadīths (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī wa Manāqibuh, p. 21), and he had studied with some of the scholars of Makkah, like the faqīh, Muslim ibn Khalid al-Zanjī (100 – 180 H). When he eventually came and read to Mālik, Mālik was impressed by his recitation, both because of his fluency/accuracy in recitation (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 31), and because of his recitation of it from memory. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:101) Hence, he had probably acquired his expertise in Arabic language before coming to Mālik. Al-Shāfi‘ī would also ask questions which impressed Mālik. (ibid.)

Al-Shāfi‘ī probably spent a few years with Mālik from the age of 13, before relocating to Yemen at around age 17; but he would frequently make visits to Makkah (al-Intiqā’, p. 118-9). It was probably during one of these visits that one of his early Makkan teachers, Muslim ibn Khalid al-Zanjī (100 – 180 H), gave him authorisation to issue fatwā when he was “under 20” (Tārīkh Baghdād, 2:403-4), probably eighteen years of age (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī wa Manāqibuh, p. 31).

Authorship of al-Risālah

Al-Shāfi‘ī wrote al-Risālah, his ḥadith-centred book on legal theory, not in Egypt, but in Makkah or Baghdad. He only refined it once he moved to Egypt in the last few years of his life.

It is well-documented that al-Shāfi‘ī wrote his al-Risālah at the request of the great imām of ḥadīth, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī (135 – 198 H), who was greatly pleased by its contents (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:231-2; Tārīkh Baghdād, 2:404; al-Intiqā’, p. 123). ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī passed away before al-Shāfi‘ī moved to Egypt. It is also reported that al-Shāfi‘ī presented his al-Risālah to another of the major ‘Irāqī ḥadīth-scholars of that time: Yaḥyā ibn Sa‘īd al-Qaṭṭān (120 – 198 H), who is said to have also been impressed by its contents. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:233) Al-Shāfi‘ī then revised the Risālah while in Egypt. Al-Bayhaqī writes: “Subsequently, al-Shafi‘ī, when he departed to Egypt, and compiled the Egyptian books, he repeated the compilation of Kitāb al-Risālah. In each one of these [i.e. the earlier version and the later version of al-Risālah], there is an explanation of the principles of jurisprudence which the people of learning cannot do without.” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:234)

Hence, his isnād/ḥadīth-centred legal theory had nothing to do with an emotional reaction to the Egyptian Mālikī ‘ulamā’. It is far more likely al-Shāfi‘ī found precedent for this way of thinking from some of his forerunners like ‘Abdullāh ibn al-Mubārak, Yaḥyā ibn Sa‘īd al-Qaṭṭān, Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāḥ and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī, who showed tendencies to this approach to fiqh. Al-Khaṭīb, for example, narrates with an authentic chain to Yaḥyā ibn Sa‘īd al-Qaṭṭān that he said: “Do not look at ḥadīth but look at isnād; if the isnād is ṣaḥīḥ [then well and good], and if not, do not be deluded by the ḥadīth when the isnād is not ṣaḥīḥ.” (al-Jāmi‘ li Akhlāq al-Rāwī, 2:140)

In a detailed study on al-Shāfi‘ī’s “old” and “new” schools, Lamīn al-Nājī says: “The principles on which al-Shāfi‘ī based his old Fiqh are the very same ones on which he based his new Fiqh; the new [Fiqh] is only an extension of the old, included in its framework and proceeding on its principles…The books characterised as ‘new’ are only books compiled in the Ḥijāz or ‘Irāq but were given a second look while in Egypt.” He goes on to refute the popular notion that al-Shāfi‘ī made a wholesale revision of his madhhab based on the so-called new “environment” he encountered in Egypt. He explains that the reason for the revisions in his jurisprudential opinions was his objective examination of the evidence, his further study and discussion, as a result of which his perspectives changed; and the main cause of his different views is the conflicting textual evidences. (al-Qadīm wa l-Jadīd fī l-Fiqh al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:350-1) He even shows several cases where Imām al-Shāfi‘ī’s later opinion agreed with the madhhab of Imām Mālik, while his earlier opinion was contrary to him. (ibid. 2:285-6) Imām al-Nawawī, one of the most authoritative representatives of the madhhab of Imām al-Shāfi‘ī, declares:

اعلم أن القول القديم ليس بلازم ان يكون كمذهب مالك، بل هو قول مجتهد، قد يوافق مالكا وقد يخالفه

“Know that the Old View is not necessarily the view of Mālik. In fact, it is the view of a mujtahid: at times agreeing with Mālik and at times disagreeing with him.” (al-Majmū‘ Sharḥ al-Muhadhdhab, 1:282)

Although Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ, following Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdillāh ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam (182 – 268 H), argued al-Shafi‘ī was an affiliate of Mālik’s madhhab in the early period, rather than a completely independent mujtahid [2], the evidence supports al-Nawawī’s opinion, since al-Shafi‘ī had already rejected some of Mālik’s major principles in his “old school” before coming to Egypt. (al-Qadīm wa l-Jadīd fī l-Fiqh al-Shāfi‘ī, 2:283-5)

Al-Shāfi‘ī’s Relationship with the Students of Mālik in Egypt

There is no reliable evidence of any general hostility between the major students of Mālik in Egypt and al-Shāfi‘ī, nor that they eclipsed al-Shāfi‘ī and undermined his authority.

Contrary to Abu Layth’s claims, al-Shāfi‘ī arrived at Egypt after the death of Imām Mālik’s two most prominent Egyptian students: ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn al-Qāsim (132 – 191 H) and ‘Abdullāh ibn Wahb (125 – 197 H). He arrived in Egypt either in the year 198 H as stated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (al-Intiqā’, p. 177) or a year or two later.

The only two prominent Egyptian students of Imām Mālik he witnessed were the younger: Ashhab ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz (140 – 204 H) and ‘Abdullāh ibn Abd al-Ḥakam (155 – 214 H), both great jurists of the madhhab of Mālik. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr states: “In Egypt, al-Shāfi‘ī encountered only Ashhab and Ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam from the disciples of Mālik.” (al-Intiqā’, p. 97) Al-Āburri narrates with an authentic chain, as quoted in Manāqib Shāfi‘ī of al-Bayhaqi (2:263), that ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam said of Shafi‘ī: “I’ve not seen the like of this man.” It is also reported from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam that he said of al-Shāfi‘ī: “I’ve not seen one better at taking out [rulings from Qur’an] than him.” (ibid.) It is also reported that he told his son, Muḥammad: “Stick to this shaykh, for I’ve not seen one with more insight in the foundations of knowledge than him.” (al-Intiqā’, p. 124) Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr describes Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam as a “friend” of al-Shāfi‘ī. (al-Intiqā’, p. 175)

Regarding the one other prominent Egyptian student of Mālik that al-Shāfi‘ī encountered, Ashhab, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr included him amongst those who learnt from al-Shāfi‘ī, saying: “He would speak of al-Shāfi‘ī, give him preference, and often incline to his view. His and al-Shāfi‘ī’s age were very close. They would keep each other’s company when al-Shāfi‘ī arrived at Egypt and they would discuss fiqh. He is Ashhab ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Dāwūd…He was a noble jurist with excellent judgement. He was amongst the Mālikīs…” (al-Intiqā’, p. 174-5) He further quotes al-Shāfi‘ī’s statement: “I entered Egypt and did not see anyone greater in fiqh than Ashhab ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz.” (ibid. p. 175) It is established that when al-Shafi‘ī arrived in Egypt, he took books from Ashhab (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 53), which supports the view that there was a good relationship between them. It is authentically transmitted from al-Shāfi‘ī that he said: “Egypt has not produced anyone with greater fiqh than Ashhab; if only he did not have some weak-mindedness in him.” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:534)

There are different views on Ashhab’s year of birth: the most likely being the report of Ya‘qūb ibn Sufyān, Ibn Yūnus and others that he was born in 140 H (al-Ma‘rifa wa l-Tārīkh, 1:195; Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 3:298); al-Shīrāzī reports that he was born in 150 H (Ṭabaqāt al-Fuqahā’, p. 150), which is probably an error. Either way, Ashhab was not much older than al-Shāfi‘ī. Moreover, he was born, brought up and spent most of his life in Egypt, and acquired most of his knowledge from the scholars of Egypt. It is unlikely therefore that he spent a significantly longer amount of time with Mālik than al-Shāfi‘ī or could make a greater claim to Mālik than al-Shāfi‘ī.

Nonetheless, it is probably true that towards the end their lives, Ashhab showed some resentment towards al-Shāfi‘ī. Al-Bayhaqī narrates with an acceptable chain that Ashhab made du‘ā’ in his ṣalāh for Allāh to take the life of al-Shāfi‘ī because he feared the legacy of Mālik would otherwise be lost. When this reached al-Shāfi‘ī, he smiled, and recited some lines of poetry: “Men wish that I die, and if I die that is a path in which I am not alone; so say to the one that seeks [something] different to what has been decided: ‘Get ready for another like it, for [it is so soon that] it seems as though it has already [happened].’ They surely know, if knowledge is of benefit to them: If I died, the one making supplication against me will not live forever.” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 2:74) Thus, both Ashhab and al-Shāfi‘ī expressed hopes of the other’s early passing, Allāh forgive them both and elevate their statuses. And as it happened, Allāh granted both of them their wishes, and not soon after, both Ashhab and al-Shāfi‘ī passed away with only a short space of time between each other. What this incident shows, if anything, is not Ashhab devaluing or undermining al-Shāfi‘ī, but to the contrary: his concern that the legacy of Mālik in Egypt would be destroyed if al-Shāfi‘ī were to live much longer, so great was his influence!

Al-Shāfi‘ī’s Prominence in Egypt

Al-Shafi‘ī was in Egypt for the last four years of his life (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 53; Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:240). While in Egypt, he went out to Yaḥya ibn Ḥassān, a student of al-Layth ibn Sa‘d (94 – 175 H), and wrote the latter’s books. (Ādāb al-Shāfi‘ī, p. 53) Thus, he became intimately acquainted with the knowledge of al-Layth while in Egypt. It was probably because of this newly-acquired acquaintance that he said: “Layth had greater fiqh than Mālik” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:524; Tārīkh Dimashq, 50:358), a statement probably further expounded on by another of al-Shāfi‘ī’s statements: “Layth was more adherent to ḥadīth than Mālik.” (Hilyat al-Awliyā’, 7:319; 9:109) Allāh forbid that such a statement was said to provoke, rather than to instruct! Such lowly qualities are unbefitting of imāms of the calibre of al-Shāfi‘ī. In fact, al-Shāfi‘ī’s Egyptian contemporary, Yaḥyā ibn ‘Abdillāh ibn Bukayr (154 – 231 H), a long-time student of both Mālik and Layth, also said: “Al-Layth had greater fiqh than Mālik,” as recorded by Ibn Abī Ḥātim (al-Jarḥ wa l-Ta‘dīl, 7:180).

Some of the prominent Egyptian students of ‘Abdullāh ibn Wahb (125 – 197 H) (who along with Ibn al-Qāsim were the most senior of Imām Mālik’s students in Egypt) became attached to al-Shāfi‘ī, becoming his close disciples, like: Yūnus ibn ‘Abd al-A‘lā (170 – 264 H), Ḥarmala ibn Yaḥyā (166 – 243 H) – regarded by some as the most learned about Ibn Wahb –, al-Rabī‘ ibn Sulaymān (174 – 270 H) and Yūsuf ibn Yaḥyā al-Buwayṭī (d. 231 H); while others amongst them studied with al-Shāfi‘ī and admired him, including Ibn Wahb’s nephew, Aḥmad ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Wahb (174 – 264 H), Hārūn ibn Sa‘īd al-Aylī (170 – 253 H) and Baḥr ibn Naṣr al-Khawlānī (174 – 267 H). It may even be argued based on this phenomenon that there was a shift from the inner-circle of Ibn Wahb in Egypt towards al-Shāfi‘ī – so great was his influence and magnetism. This trend would also make sense since Ibn Wahb was more ḥadīth-inclined than other students of Mālik (Tartīb al-Madārik, 3:387), and al-Shāfi‘ī was a champion of the ḥadīth/isnād-centred approach to fiqh, arguing that ‘amal (the inherited practice of the jurists) itself is derived from ḥadīth, so ḥadīth should have primacy over ‘amal.

Some of the above-named were also students of Ashhab. Perhaps one of the reasons Ashhab feared al-Shāfi‘ī’s influence was because he attracted such great figures towards him. Thus, in fact, the truth is the complete reverse of what Abu Layth suggests: al-Shāfi‘ī was drawing away the Mālikī core in Egypt towards himself, and it wasn’t that they pushed him away!


There are many, many virtues of al-Shāfi‘ī: his kindness and compassion, worship and piety, generosity and magnanimity, humbleness and modesty etc., all apart from his piercing intellect and wit, and his mastery in the various sciences of Sharī‘ah, which can be read about in works dedicated to the subject on “Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī” (the merits of al-Shāfi‘ī); and can be gleaned from his many writings compiled in al-Umm, his Ikhtilāf al-Ḥadīth, al-Risālah, Jimā‘ al-‘Ilm and other works. May Allāh give us an appreciation of the lofty stature of al-Shāfi‘ī and all the great imāms from the early period. [3]

[1] Al-Bayhaqī and al-Khaṭīb report with independent chains leading up to: ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Mughīrah (d. 272 H), known as ‘Allān al-Miṣrī, that he heard Ḥarmalah ibn Yaḥyā (166 – 243 H) say: I heard al-Shāfi‘ī say: “I came to Mālik ibn Anas when I was thirteen years old. A cousin of mine was governor of Madīnah so he spoke to Mālik for me and then I came to him to read to him. He told me, ‘find someone to read for you,’ so I said, ‘I will read [to you myself].’ Thus, I read to him, and he would sometimes say to me on something that had passed: ‘Repeat such-and-such ḥadīth,’ so I would repeat it from memory, and it seemed to impress him. Then I asked him a question, and he answered me, and then another; upon which he said: ‘You must become a qāḍī!’” (Mas’alat al-Iḥtijāj bi l-Shāfi‘ī, Shirkat al-Ṭabā‘at al-‘Arabiyyah, p. 80; Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:101)

Both ‘Allān al-Miṣrī and Ḥarmalah are reliable. Abu Nu‘aym narrates in his Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’ with a different chain to Muḥammad ibn Khālid from al-Rabī‘ that al-Shāfi‘ī said he was “twelve” (Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’, 9:69), although according to ‘Allāmah al-Kawtharī, the Ḥilyah has “thirteen” in this report (al-Intiqā’, p. 118), which suggests the printed version may be a mistake.

[2] Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdillāh ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam said: “Al-Shāfi‘ī would remain on the view of Mālik, not differing from him except as those affiliated with him differed; until Fityān [ibn Abi al-Samḥ] exceeded in impermissible words from behind him, which propelled him to put down a refuation against Mālik.” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:508, Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī li l-Āburrī) Fityān ibn Abi l-Samḥ was an Egyptian student of Imām Mālik, but not one of prominence like Ibn al-Qāsim, Ibn Wahb, Ashhab or Ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥakam. [Exaggerated tales came about of the dissent between al-Shāfi‘ī and Fityān, much of which is baseless. See: Maqālāt al-Kawtharī, p. 405-8]

After quoting this narration, al-Bayhaqī first points out that Zakariyyā ibn Yaḥyā al-Sājī (ca. 215 – 307), a prominent student of some of al-Shāfi‘ī’s Egyptian discipes, narrates from the Egyptians that al-Shāfi‘ī authored his book criticising the opinions of Mālik when he noticed some fanaticism amongst the Andalusians towards him. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:508)

Al-Bayhaqī then presents a third transmission from al-Rabī‘ ibn Sulaymān stating that when al-Shāfi‘ī came to Egypt, he re-examined the opinions of Mālik, and in his understanding, found some major deficiencies; and it was as a result of this that he authored his work against the opinions of Mālik. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:509) Al-Bayhaqī then explains that what al-Rabī‘ mentioned – that is, al-Shāfi‘ī’s refutation of Mālik was due to an objective reexamination of Mālik’s madhhab – is the true “basis for putting down a refutation against him.” (ibid.) He then quotes directly from al-Shāfi‘ī’s refutation of Mālik, a work in fact transmitted from al-Shāfi‘ī by al-Rabī‘ himself, to show that this was indeed the case.

Moreover, an important point to note here is that al-Shāfi‘ī’s praise of Mālik was not limited to his time before Egypt. In fact, he made his famous statement, “When it comes to ḥadīth, Mālik is a star,” in Egypt directly to one of his famous Egyptian students: Yūnus ibn ‘Abd al-A‘lā. (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:519) Yūnus also heard al-Shāfi‘ī say: “Mālik and Ibn ‘Uyaynah are the twin-pairs [i.e. in their preservation of ḥadīth-knowledge].” (ibid.) It is also authentic from Yūnus that he heard al-Shāfi‘ī say: “I don’t know of a book on knowledge [i.e. ḥadīth] more accurate than the book of Mālik (i.e. the Muwaṭṭa’).” (Manāqib al-Shāfi‘ī, 1:507)

[3] Fakhr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Maḥmūd (d. ca. 570 H), Ḥanafī mufti of Sijistān, said: “Rigidity (ṣalābah) in one’s madhhab is wājib, and fanaticism (ta‘aṣṣub) is impermissible. Rigidity is to act on what is [the of view] one’s madhhab while believing it to be true and correct. Fanaticism is impudence and rudeness with respect to the founder of another madhhab, stemming from denigration of him. This is not permissible, because the imāms of the Muslims are in search of what is right and they are on the truth.” (Jawāhir al-Fatāwā, p. 309)

This article first appeared here and has been republished as is.

Rahman, Z. (2017). Abu Layth’s Derogatory Remarks about Imām al-Shāfi‘ī. Available: Last accessed 13 June 2018.


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