بِسم الله الرحمنِ الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
Islamic Jurisprudence (الفقه الإسلامي) deals with the actions of a Muslim, be it personal hygiene, prayers, job, business, legal issues, marriage, family life or anything related to his life in this world.It is in Hadith - Prophet Moħammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, when Allah intends good for a person, He provides him the understanding (الفقه) of Deen”. (Bukhari, Muslim)In order to follow Islamic sharia, Sahabah, Aimma and Fuqaha devised certain methodologies in deducing laws and rulings from the primary sources of the Sharī‛ah, the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas.What is the difference between 'Sharia' (شريعة إسلامية) and 'the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence' (اُصول الفقه الإسلامي)?The Sharia is related to the rulings of our actions, and Usul al-Fiqh is concerned with the methodology applied to deduce rulings about those actions. Since rulings are derived based on Usul al-Fiqh, a variation in Usul al Fiqh may result in different rulings. This is the reason there exists more than one ruling in different schools of thought on certain issues.The first known written work on this subject is Risala, by Imam Shafii. Over centuries scholars produced monumental works in Islamic Jurisprudence (الفقه) like Fatħ Al-Qadir, Hashiyat Ibn Abidīn in the Hanafī School, Al-Dhakirah in the Maliki School, Al-Majmu, Al-Hawiin the Shāfi‛ī School and Al-Mughni in the Hanbali School of thought.We have described briefly the issues related to the Islamic Jurisprudence (الفقه الإسلامي) in this book .
THE PRINCIPLES OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE (اُصول الفقه الإسلامي)
The Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (اُصول الفقه الإسلامي) are those principles with which Islamic rulings are deduced from the Islamic legislative sources.
The primary Islamic legislative sources are (i) the Quran, (ii) Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Sunnah, (iii) Consensus of Sahabah (اجماع), and (iv) Analogical reasoning and deduction (Qiyas - قياس).
The knowledgeable people who provide solutions in this context are as follows.(i) The Absolute Interpreter (مجتھد مطلق) - He is a person of Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. His approach of deducing things and reasoning is unique and exclusive. Like Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafii, Imam Maliki and Imam Hanbali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہم اجمعين).(ii) The Interpreter of the School of Thought (مجھتھد فی المذہب) - He is greatly influenced by his Shaikh who is the Absolute Interpreter. At times he differs from his Shaikh in principles; though it happens rarely. In related issues, he deduces things as per his interpretations. He can find solutions to any new thing faced by the people. He considers minutely on Ahadith and if some Hadith is proved correct, he gives edicts differing with his Shaikh and leads people towards rightful deeds.(iii) The Interpreter of Preference (صاحب ترجیح) - He gives preference in the sayings of various A'imma in a specific issue. As he has less strength of distinguishing things as compared to the above interpreters, he gives preference to one saying from among the sayings of the above interpreters.(iv) The Interpreter of the Issue (مجھتہد فی المسئلہ) - He is a man of deduction of things. He cannot independently innvestigate from the Quran and Ahadith but from the integral principles of his religious school of thought he deduces solutions to the individual issues and fractional commandments.(v) The Mufti (مفتی) - Some people are Muftis who deduce things from the books of Islamic Jurisprudence. As a matter of fact, Muftis are only narrators. Their individual effort is only to an extent that they go through the books and bring out the answer in a given issue. In their view, the door to investigation and deduction (تحقیق و استنباط) has been closed. They consider every new thing as prohibited and unlawful. These type of people are there among the followers of all four schools of thought.
What is the meaning of 'the commandment of Sharia' (حُكمِ شرعي )?
The commandments of Quran and Sunnah that specifically address our actions of what to do or what not to do are known as 'the commandment of Sharia' (حُكمِ شرعي ).
The categories of commandments of Sharia are as follows:
(i) Compulsory (فرض) : If the commandment to do an action is described in absolute terms, it is known as Fard (فرض) or Wajib (واجب) One who does it, deserves reward and one who fails deserves punishment.
The majority of scholars of 'Usool al-Fiqh' consider that Fard and Wajib are synonymous. However, in Hanafi school of thought, fard is that which is proven on the basis of definitive evidence and wajib is that which is proven on the basis of ambiguous evidence.
(ii) Sunnah (سُنَّة) : Sunnah denotes the sayings, actions, approvals and attributes of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). Sunnah is the firmly established action that did not reach to the state of Fard.
Islamic commands established by Sunnah carry great deal of rewards for those who practice and plenty of loss for those who abandon.(iii) Prohibited (حرام) : If the commandment to refrain from an action is absolute, it is known as 'Prohibited' (حرام). The one who refrains from it will get reward and one who indulges in it will be punished.(iv) Recommended (نفلة) : If the instruction to do an action is not firm, then it is considered 'recommended' (مستحب), The one who performs it, is praised and rewarded; the one who abstains from it, is neither blamed nor punished.(v) Disliked (مكروه) : If the instruction of refraining from an action is not absolute, rather disliked, it is considered Makruh.There are two types of Makruh, (a) Disliked, known as Makrooh-e-Tanzeehi, and (b) Strongly disliked, known as Makrooh-e-Tahreemi. The one who abstained from Makrooh is praised and rewarded. The one who acts upon is is disliked, but not punished.(vi) Permissible (مُباح) : If the choice to do or not to do an action is left at the discretion of the person, then this action is known as Mubah. One will neither be rewarded nor punished for an action falling under this category..
Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) covers two main areas, (i) Rules in relation to actions (Amaliyya) and (ii) Rules in relation to circumstances surrounding the actions (Wadia’).
Rules in relation to actions (Amaliyya) covers the categories of commandments Fard, Wajib, Sunnah, etc., mentioned above.
Rules in relation to circumstances (Wadia) consist of (i) Condition (Shart), (ii) Cause (Sabab), (iii) Preventor (Ma'ni), (iv) (a) Permission with relaxation (Rukhsah), (b) Enforcement (Azeemah) (v) (a) Valid (Sahih), (b) Corrupt (Faasid), (c) Invalid (Batil), and (vi) (a) Performance in time (Adaa), (b) Delayed Performance (Al-Qadha), (c) Repeat (I'ada).
The important fields of Islamic Jurisprudence are (i) Islamic economical jurisprudence, (ii) Islamic political jurisprudence, (iii) Islamic marital jurisprudence, (iv) Islamic criminal jurisprudence, (v) Islamic etiquette jurisprudence, (vi) Islamic theological jurisprudence, (vii) Islamic hygiene jurisprudence, and (viii) Islamic military jurisprudence.
There are different approaches used in Fiqh to derive Sharia from the Islamic sources. These approaches are known as Islamic Schools of Thought.
THE SCHOOLS OF THOUGHTS IN FIQH
There are 4 schools of thought in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh); (i) Hanafi, (ii) Maliki, (iii) Shafi’i, and (iv) Hanbali. These schools represent clearly spelled out methodologies for interpreting the Shari'a. It is a consensus opinion that a Muslim should choose a single School of Thought and follow it in all matters. However, rulings from other Schools of thoughts can be sought as relaxation (Rukhsa) in exceptional issues on the advise of a Mufti.
The modern day Khawaarij, Salafis, Wahhabis, Ahle Hadith and their like minded groups claim that following of Imams of Fiqh is their personal emulations (تقلید شخصی). This notion is absolutely incorrect. These are four schools and very one’s way of deducing the rulings is different. Investigations are carried out at different intervals. Some of the pupils of the Imams have differed in certain principles from their teachers after their own investigations because at that time the circumstances were different. In implementation of the rules also there have been notable differences in individual actions. In the later times, some knowledgeable people, after extensive research, have differed with the Imam and have given edicts (in view of the requirements of their times). All these research materials are gathered at one place and are printed in books and are regarded as Islamic edicts (فتاوىَ). In all school of thoughts, the practice is similar. In these edicts, the research material and the researchers’ details are all mentioned. This is individual way of doing things but everyone’s heart is bowed in front of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and everyone is steadfast in his pursuit of holding on to the divine rope. To create conflicts and brawls in the issues of difference of opinions is not the work of the literate people.
It is in Quran - وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ [Everyone has a direction in which he turns. You strive and be quick is doing good deeds.] (Al-Baqara - 148)
Picking up of a thing from one Imam and another from another Imam is the work of selfish person who is the slave of his desires. The work of this type of person in the opinion of all the Imams is spurious (refutable). The refutation is because of his actions which are contrary to all Imams' interpretation as he is not following any one of them. The man who is trying to follow all the Imams is an illiterate and selfish person. He is enslaved by his own wishes and talks about Imams for namesake only.
The basic Islamic law (Sharia) does not change but Fiqh rulings can change as per requirements of time. For instance, when tobacco appeared in the market it was declared 'disliked' because of its smell. When it was known that smoking was injurious to health, that ruling was changed by Ulema to 'forbidden' (Haram).
A school of thought is not a religious sect because Sect means ‘a group of people sharing a particular religious, philosophical or political opinion, who have broken away from the main body’.
The Muslims Sects should not be confused and overlapped with the School of thoughts of Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh). When we talk of different sects of Muslims, it means that these groups have broken away from the ‘Correct Islamic Faith’, though they claim themselves to be truthful Muslims.
The Islamic schools of thoughts were developed as a natural evolution in Islamic History. When Judges were sent by the Federal Government to the newly acquired territories. These Qadhis faced totally new environment and new issues to deal with in these new territories. They tried to base their decisions on Quran and act according to Sunnah. When they could not relate a clear evidence about a specific case in both these resources, they had to judge cases as per their Jurisprudential abilities. This usually included considerations of what was customary in that area. This practice was later known as ‘Opinion or Analogical Reasoning’ (Ra’y and Qiyas).
The recognition of Ra'y or Qiyas, as an approved source of law, was based on the instructions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and Khulafa-e-Rashideen given to the officials who were sent to administer justice in newly acquired territories.
The Hanafi school came from Kufa, Iraq. Hazrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) had transferred Islamic Capital to Kufa during his Caliphate which resulted in migration of many Sahabah to Kufa. The Hanafi school developed under the patronage of Hazrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and other Sahabah who settled in Kufa.
The Maliki school came from the people of Madina who were inclined in favor of the Islamic practice (Sunnah) of the local community of Medina.
Both these schools, especially the Hanafi, were countered by a movement which was known as Traditionists (Ahl-e-Hadith) movement. The Traditionists opposed the inclusion of Ra'y in Islamic Jurisprudence. They relied only on Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Ahadith they were collecting at that time.
The “Traditionists’ movement is the most important single event in the history of Islamic jurisprudence in the second century Hijra. They opposed the practice of earlier schools alleging them to be based heavily on Ra’y (opinion). According to them, fiqh had to be based exclusively on Ahadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). Traditionists existed in all great centers of Islam where they formed groups in opposition to, but nevertheless in contact with, the local schools of law, and the polemics (theological disputes) between them and the ancient schools occupied most of the second century Hijra.
The adherents of old schools, Hanafi and Maliki found it difficult to contain the rising tide of Traditionists. They defended their schools by explaining that their schools of thoughts were not personal emulations, rather their alleged analogical reasoning were as per the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) traditions. This may be the reason that the main contents of the Kitab Al-Athar of Imam Abu Yusuf and the Kitab Al-Athar of Imam Shaybani explained in detail that the Hanafi traditions have been derived from Imam Abu Hanifa, and from Hammad Ibn Abi Sulayman (d. 736), and from Ibrahim Al-Naka'i and further backwards from Hazrat Ibn Mas'ud (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہم) and others.
The Shafi'i school - Imam Shafi'i belonged to the school of Madina, but he accepted the contentions of Traditionists, defended them in vigorous polemics (theological debates) with the followers of the earlier schools, and composed in his Risala (booklet) the first treatise on the method of Islamic Jurisprudence reasoning.
Thus, he became the founder of the science of ‘the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Usul-e-fiqh) in a written format. Imam Shafi'i was not a Traditionist to the core, rather he deplored their faulty reasoning, and himself relied on traditions from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) by systematic legal thought of exceptional quality, excluding Ra'y and Istihsan (compassion) and insistence on strict Qiyas (Analogical reasoning).
It happened, however, that some of his disciples, particularly, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, emphasized the traditionist element in Imam Shafii’s ‘principles of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Usul-e-Fiqh) and derived their legal teaching exclusively from traditions of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), avoiding human reasoning as far as possible.
The avoidance of drawing conclusions on the basis of Qiyas and Ra'y was put up as a 'principle of Jurisprudence' by Dawud Ibn Khalaf (d.884) who was known as Az-Zahiri (literalist) because he relied exclusively in the literal meaning (zahiri ma’ana ) of Qur'an and Ahadith and rejected not only ra'y (opinion) and Istihsan (compassion) but reasoning as well.
Notwithstanding their divergent roots, the orthodox schools of law share a common legal theory which asserted itself in the 9th century, and which accepted Shafi'i and the Traidtionists' principle of overriding authority of the traditions of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) as the only evidence of Sunna but subordinated its practical application to the consensus of the scholars.
All four Islamic schools of thought, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafe’i and Hanbali, are respected as valid legal schools of Islam that have arrived through their analysis of the Qur'an and Sunnah. In fact the differences between the schools are considered a blessing in disguise as it gives freedom of choice to the people as per their personal inclination.
By tenth century the primary law-making activity was not considered necessary and activity of the jurists remained limited to interpretation and explanation of the existing 4 schools, bringing it up-to-date with life as the conditions changed. The scholars used to put their own doctrines under guidance the of their Imams.
By the middle of the 9th century the schools of law had transformed themselves into Islamic schools. The bulk of the first school of Kufa transformed itself into the school of the Hanafis. Another group of scholars went into the school of Sufyan at-Thauri. The ancient school of Madina became the school of the Malikis. And the ancient school of Syria became Awza'i School.
Although Imam Shafi'i had disclaimed any intention of founding a school, his disciples, being neither mere Traditionists nor members of another school, became his personal followers, and the movement started by him became Shafi'i school.
The school of Islamic Jurisprudence originated by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, too, became known as the school of Hanbalis. This school was a little different from its 'parent Traditionists movement' as it did not absorb the movement as a whole.
It is the consensus of Islamic Ummah that the 4 schools of thought are alternative and equally valid interpretations of the religious laws of Islam. Notwithstanding their divergent views, they share a common legal theory which asserted itself in the 9th century, and which accepted Shafi'is (and the Traidtionists') principle of the overriding authority of the traditions from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) as the only evidence of Sunna but subordinated its practical application to the consensus of the scholars.
From the middle of the 9th century, the idea began to gain ground that only the great scholars of the past had the depth to independent reasoning in law (Ijtihad). During tenth century a consensus gradually established itself in orthodox Islam to the effect that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation, application and interpretation of the 4 Schools of thought. This implied that the people should follow these existing schools.
The above continued till 1300 AD. Towards the end of 13th century, Ibn Taymiyyah rejected all these schools alleging them to be personal emulation (Taqleed) of 4 Imams and became the founder of neo Kharijiate movement which was later called Salafism. After his death, the Salafi doctrine was adopted by a very few people for the following 500 hundred years, until the birth of Ibn Abdul Wahhab in early 18th Century who propagated Wahhabism/Salafism on the back of military conquests of Sauds, the tribal ruler of Najd in Arabian peninsula. By early 20th Century Wahhabism/Salafism became the official religion of newly formed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On the back of oil wealth and the occupation of Islamic important places, Salafism thrived in the world during the last century.
In the same way, religious doctrines of the Kharijis ('Ibadis of Oman), and of the Shi'a (Ja'faari) which split from the Muslim majority on political grounds differed on the question of the leadership of the community Usul al Fiqh.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES OF IMAMS OF FIQH
(1) Imam Abu Hanifah (699 – 767 AD) – (81-151 AH)
Imam Abu Hanifah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is the first of the 4 Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence. He is regarded as Imam-e-Azam. His name was Nu’man Ibn Thabit. He is famous by the name of one of his daughters named Hanifah. He was born in Kufa in 81 H (699 AD) to a businessman's family who had migrated to Iraq from Iran.
Hanafi school of thought is generally considered as compassionate towards people. It is known for its open heart religious orientation that elevates True Islamic Faith and is tolerant for differences within Muslim communities. Some people believe that this school of thought appeals more to reason. This kind of allegations were made even during the life time of Imam Abu Hanifa. When we look at his life history, these allegations prove to be totally false. Sometimes it happens that the Imam deduced a ruling from Quran and Sunnah but people are incapable of comprehending it because of their inability to scan minute things and consider it to be based on his personal opinion.
Hanafi Jurisprudence views were preserved primarily by two most important disciples of Imam Abu Haniifa; namely, Imam Abu Yusuf and Mohammad Al-Shayban. The latter's works, known collectively as Zahir Ar-Riwaya, remained authoritative for later Hanafis.
A unique feature of the Hanafi school is the method in which the law was codified. Imam Abu Hanifa would convene and preside over a board of Jurists (consisting of about 40-50 of his students) and each would give his opinion on a particular legal issue. Imam Abu Hanifa would then decide which is the opinion that is to be selected by corroborating it or sometimes would offer his own unique opinion. The sources from which the law is derived by Hanafis, in order of importance and preference are, (i) the Qur'an, (ii) the authentic narrations of the Prophet ﷺ (Hadith), (iii) Consensus (Ijma) and (iv) Analogical reasoning (Qiyas). Analogical reasoning was applied when a decision could not be arrived at an issue directly from Qur'an or Hadith.
The Hanafi School had based many of its rulings on Prophetic narrations (Hadith) transmitted by his companions residing in Iraq. Thus it came to be known as the Kufan or Iraqi school. The fourth rightful Caliph, Hazrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) had transferred the Islamic capital to Kufa, Iraq and many of the companions of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had settled there. Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) formed much of the base of this school. In addition, Imam Abu Hanifa studied under many Imams of Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) household. His teachers, among others, included Imam Mohammad Al-Baqir (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ), Imam Zayd Ibn Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and Hammad Ibn Sulayman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).
Hanafi methodology involved the logical process of examining Quran and all available knowledge of the Sunna and then finding an example in them that analogous to the particular case under review. It thus entails the use of reason in the examination of Quran and Sunna so as to come to the logical conclusion necessary for the implementation of Islamic jurisprudence in that case. This made it an ideal legal tool for the central Governance of widely varied Muslim populations.
The Hanafi school is predominant in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and the Caucasus. This school is also followed by major chunks of populations in other parts of Muslim world.
(2) Imam Malik Ibn Anas (711-795 AD) - (93 – 179 H)
Imam Malik (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was the second Imam of Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh). His full name was Abu Abdullah Malik Ibn Anas Ibn Malik Ibn Abi Amir Ibn Amr Ibnul-Harith Ibn Ghaiman Ibn Khuthail Ibn Amr Ibnul-Haarith. He was son of Anas Ibn Malik (not the Sahabi) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk Al-Azdiyya. He was born in Medina. His family belonged to Al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather Abu Amir relocated to Madina after converting to Islam in 623 AD.
After an extensive study during his 20s and 30s, the Imam became a famous teacher in Madina. He started teaching in the Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) mosque. It is reported that he used to sit on the pulpit of the mosque with Quran in one hand and his collection of Ahadith in another hand and he used to give fiqh rulings based on these sources. He considered that after Quran and Sunnah, the practices of the people of Madina during the first century AH (his life time) should be seen as an important third source for Islamic fiqh.
Imam Malik is also one of the greatest scholars of prophetic traditions. His book titled 'Muatta' (الموطأ) is the pioneering work in Sahih Hadith collection.
Imam Shafi'i, who was one of Malik's student for nine years and a scholarly giant in his own right, stated, ‘when scholars are mentioned, Malik is like the star among them’. Imam Malik's school is based on the Madina consensus of opinion and uses Hadith as a guide. It appeals to the idea of common good of people. Imam Malik did not record the fundamental principles in a written format on which Maliki school of thought is based. In this respect, he resembled his contemporary, Imam Abu Hanifa.
Imam Malik developed his ideas in Madina, where he knew some of the last surviving companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) or their immediate descendants. His doctrine is recorded in Muwatta (the book of Hadith written by him) which has been adopted by most Muslims of Africa. Maliki school of thought is popular in North Africa, Egypt and in some parts of Yemen, Syria and other places.
(3) Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris Al-Shafi'i (767-820) – (150-204 H)
Imam Al-Shfi'i (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is the third of the 4 Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence. His full name was Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Idris Al-Shafi’i. He was born in Gaza, Palestine. His family moved to Makka when he was ten years old. He is reported to have studied with the School of Makka and then moved to Madina. Afterwards he lived in Makka, Baghdad and finally in Egypt. His prominent teachers include Imam Malik Ibn Anas and Mohammad Ibn Al Hasan Al Shaybani. He died at the age of 54 on the 30th of Rajab, 204 H (820 AD). He was buried in al-Fustat, Egypt.
He developed the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence in a written format. The sources of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul-e-Fiqh), in order of priority in Shafi’i school are (i) Quran, (ii) Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) based on Hadith narrated by companions of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), (iii) Consensus of the Muslim community (Ijma), and (iv) Reasoning (Ra’y).
Reasoning is divided into two areas; (a) Analogical reasoning (Qiyas), and (b) Compassion (Istihsan). His principles became the basis of Islamic Jurisprudence which were subsequently used by all Jurisprudence schools.
Muslims in Indonesia, Lower Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, Somalia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, India, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Yemen and Kurds in the Kurdish regions follow Shafi’i school.
Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal ( 780 – 855 AD ) - ( 164 -241 H )
Imam Hanbal (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) was born in Central Asia to Arab parents. His full name was Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu Abdullah Al-Shaybani. After the death of his father, he moved to Iraq where he completed his religious studies. He was a student of Imam Shafi’i. Despite persecution, he held to his belief that the Qur'an was not a creation of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). His school of law is followed primarily in some Arab countries. He is the last of the 4 Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence. Hanbali School of thought is the smallest of all the four schools. It derives its decrees from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, which it places above all forms of consensus, opinion or inference. The school accepts as authoritative an opinion given by a Sahabi provided there is no disagreement with another Sahabah. In the case of such disagreement, the opinion of the Sahabi nearest to that of the Qur'an or the Sunnah is taken into consideration.