LET US CORRECT OUR ISLAMIC FAITH

دعونا نصحّح العقيدة الاسلامية


 

 
 
 
 
 
 

AN OVERVIEW OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE

 

Written   By

 
Shaikh Mir Asedullah Quadri 

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بِسم الله الرحمنِ الرحيم  

 الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين

 

THE QURAN

The work on compilation of the Quran was started in Hazrat Abu Bakr's (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) Caliphate.  The Quran was compiled by Sahabah on the instructions by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).     

The first compiled Quran in the handwriting of Hazrat Osman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is preserved even today and is available for public viewing in Hast Imam locality, Old Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Central Asia.  

Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) used to depute Quran teachers for various places in the Islamic territory to teach reading and writing of Quran to people. This way Quran was taught and published during the time of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). There were hundreds of Quran Memorizers (Huffaz) who had memorized Quran during Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) time. Thus, the narration of Quran from Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) time till today is authentically and uninterruptedly established beyond doubt. The people of 7 recitals and 10 recitals from the time of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) are still existing and this chain of continuous narration will In sha Allah continue till Qiyamah.

It is in Quran -  إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ   [ We (Allah) have descended Quran and We only will preserve it.] (Al-Hijr - 9). 

 

TAFSEER-E-ASEDI 

A comprehensive Tafseer of Quran titled 'Tafseer-e-Asedi' has been written by me in English. This can be read online.

 

BOOKS OF AHADITH

There are two main sources of Islamic Sharia, Quran and Sunnah. Quran is the word of God, while the Hadith is its translation into pragmatic terms, as exemplified by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).  These two sources are inter related because it is not possible to understand  Qur’an without reference to Ahadith; and it is not possible to explain a Hadith without relating it to Qur’an. The words 'Sunnah' and 'Hadith' are synonymous. Sunnah means 'the way' or conduct of life'.  It refers to  statements, acts, approvals and character descriptions attributed to Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).

During the life of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), the emphasis was more on recording, memorizing and preserving Quran. However, some Sahabah used to write whatever the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said or did in their presence. It is reported that 1,060 Sahabah have narrated Ahadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).

After the death of  Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Sahabah shared and collected Ahadith. This continued for a few decades.  Later, within the first two centuries, Hadith scholars conducted a thorough review of these Ahadith, tracing the origins of each Hadith along with the chain of narrators through whom the Hadith was related. The Ahadith which were verifiable were deemed authentic (Sahih) and other were either considered as weak or in some cases, concocted. 

During the time of Companions (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہم اجمعين) and their Successors  (تابعين), Islam spread to a large area in the world.  It was this time when it became necessary to record Ahadith in a systematic way. During the era of  the 'Successors of the successors' (تبه  تابعين), Ahadith were systematically collected and written in a text format.  The first such book was compiled by Imam Malik bin Anas (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) titled 'Muatta' (موطأ).  The period that followed,  witnessed critical research by Hadith scholars.  Ahadith were compiled systematically and were grouped under various headings.  The history of collection of Ahadith can be summed up as follows.
 
(i) First period (1st century AH) was the age of companions and their successor.  This is known as the age of 'Saheefah' (صحيفه), like the collections of Hadhrat Abu Bakr, Abu Huraira (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہما) and others.  Among the well known manuscripts of Hadith collections of the first century Hijri are as follows.
(a) 'As-Sahifa as-Sadiqa' of Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-Aas (d 63 H)
 
(b) 'As-Sahifa as-Sahiha' of Hammam Ibn Munabbih (d 118 H), narrated from Abu Hurairah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).
 
(c) The collection of Aban Ibn Uthman (d 105 H) from whom Mohammad Ibn Ishaq narrated.
 
(d) The collection of Urwa bin az-Zubair Ibn al-Awwam. This collection was burnt during the sack of Madina by Yazid bin Muawiya in 63 H.
 
(e) Sira of Mohammad Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri  ( d 120 H). 
 
(f) 'Munaqib as-Sahabah' by Asim Ibn Umar Ibn Qatada Ibn al-Numan al-Ansari (d 120 H), etc.
 
(ii) The second period covers middle of second century AH that witnessed planned compilation of Ahadith, like  Imam Malik (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) compilation titled 'Muatta' (موطأ).
 
(iii) The third stage began towards the end of  second century AH, in which classified and organized work on Ahadith was carried out, like Musnad of Imam Ahmad (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).
 
(iv) The fourth and most important period is known as 'the period of Sahih'.   It began at the beginning of third century AH, in which books like Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and others were compiled.  

One of the common accusations made by non-Muslims against Islamic sciences and the study of Hadith is that there is no way of verifying the Hadith and that they should not be used as a source of Fiqh. This argument is based on a very rudimentary and flawed understanding of how the Ahadith were collected and the incredible care and effort Hadith scholars (محدثين) have taken in verifying their authenticity. 

Hadhrat Umar (رضئ الله تعالی عنه) used to judge the narration of every claimant of the tradition on the basis of the 'Principle of testimony.' Meaning, he would accept it only if two men, or one man and two women, would narrate the same thing.  Hadhrat Ali (رضئ الله تعالی عنه) used to ask the narration on oath and considered oath as one witness.  All authentic Ahadith have been collected and published by our Imams of Ahadith in voluminous books.  Every single Hadith has been investigated and it is clearly written the type of Hadith it is.  In the encyclopedia of narrators, particulars and circumstances are investigated.  All these books are elucidated and are pure from weak Ahadith. We are grateful and indebted to our Hadith scholars for their unparalleled work in the history of mankind.  With the monumental work of our Hadith scholars, we are able to know what words and actions can truly be attributed to Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) even after 1400 years  of his life.

 

CLASSIFICATION OF AHADITH

(i) Continuous Narration (Hadith-e-Mutwatir) - The Continuous Narration is that Hadith which has been narrated by so many people that the mind does not contemplate that all of them might have concord with lie. Thus the continuous narration is believable. A narration against it, is not acceptable. There are two types of continuous narration, as follows.

(a) Continuous by word – A Hadith whose words are more or less identical in all the narrations is known as continuous narration by word (Hadith-e-Mutwatir bil lafz).

(b) Continuous by meaning – A Hadith whose words may be less or more in various narrations but the narration carries the same meaning is known as ‘continuous by meaning’ (Hadith-e-Mustafeedh). This narration is also believable. The denial of the Ahadith which comes under the category of ‘continuous narration (Hadith-e-Mutwatir) is equal to the denial of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS).

(ii) Acceptable Hadith (Hadith-e-Mustafeedh) – A Hadith that has frequently been narrated but did not reach to the extent of the continuous narration is known as ‘Acceptable Hadith (Hadith-e-Mustafeedh). However, in this Hadith, presumption has been dominant.

(iii) Infrequent Hadith (Ahad) – The narration that has been narrated by one or two persons and has not reched to the extent of the ‘Acceptable narration’ (Mustafeedh) is known as Infrequent narration. All disputes are related to the infrequent narration.   

It is the consensus opinion of Muslims that Bukhari and Muslim are the most authentic Hadith collections. Therefore their books are called (i) Sahih Bukhari and (ii) Sahih Muslim, meaning most authentic Ahadith.  There are four other collections of books that are held in great reverence by Muslims throughout the world. These are (iii) Jami at-Tirmizi, (iv) Sunan An-Nasa'ii, (v) Sunan Abu Dawud, and (vi) Sunan Ibn Majah.  Together, all these six books are known as Saha Sitta.

 
ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS AND GUIDES OF THE BOOKS OF AHADITH
 
English translations and Guides of  7 major books of Ahadith, Bukhari, Muslim, Muatta Imam Malik, Nasai, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Maaja, written by me are available online.  Click the following links to read them.
 

 

ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE (فقه إسلامي 

The famous historian Ibn Khaldun describes fiqh as ‘knowledge of the rules of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) that concern the actions of persons who are bound to obey the law, respecting what is required (Wajib), forbidden (Haraam), recommended (Mandoob), disapproved (Makruh) or permitted (Mubah).

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 five areas; (i) Obligation (Fardh), (ii) Recommendation (Mandoob), (iii) Permissible (Mubah), (iv) Approved but not recommended (Makrooh), and (v) Prohibited (Haram).

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).

Muslim Jurists are called ‘Alim’ (plural - ‘Ulema’), from the Arabic word ‘Ilm’ (knowledge). They are also known as ‘Faqeeh (plural ‘Fuqahaa’) from the Arabic word ‘fiqh’.

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.

The approach of the Muslim Jurists towards deciding specific issues is known as the ‘Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Usul-e-Fiqh). There are different approaches used in Fiqh to derive Sharia from the Islamic sources. These approaches are known as Islamic Schools of Thought.

Schools of Thoughts in Islamic Jurisprudence (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 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'.

A school of thought (Maktab-e-Khiyaal) is not to be considered a religious sect.  As per Webster English Dictionary, 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.


Historical perspective 

The Islamic schools of thoughts were developed as a natural evolution in the Umayyad time (661-750) when Judges were sent by the Central Government to the newly acquired territories of the Muslim Empire. 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 disputes) with the followers of the earlier schools, and composed in his Risala (booklet) the first treatise on the method of Islamic Jurisprudential 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 Shafi’i’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.

This way, the main contents of the Kitab Al-Athar of Abu Yusuf and of the Kitab al-Athar of Shaybani (both students of Imam Abu Hanifa) represent themselves as having been derived from Abu Hanifa, and from Hammad bin Abi Sulayman (d. 736), and from Ibrahim al-Naka'i and further backwards from Hazrat Ibn Mas’ud (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) who was a companion of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) settled in Kufa, Iraq.

The Madinese claimed their teachings to derive from the ‘seven lawyers of Medina’ (Fukaha Al-Madina As-Sab'a, namely, (i) Sa'id bin Al-Musayyib, (ii) Urwa b. al-Zubair, (iii) Abu Bakr bin Abd ar-Rahman, (iv) Ubaydullah Ibn Abdullah Ibn Utba, (v) Kharija Ibn Zaid Ibn Thabit, (vi) Sulaiman Ibn Yasar, and (vii) Al-Kasim Ibn Mohammad Ibn Abi Bakr. Their original authority was Abdullah bin Umar (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).

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 fully.

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 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 Salafism on the back of military conquests of Sauds, the tribal ruler of Najd in Arabian peninsula. By early 20th Century 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, Khana-e-Ka’aba and Masjid-e-Nabawi, 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 in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Zaidi in Yemen), which split from the Muslim majority on political grounds about the middle of the first century of Islam (660 AD), differed on the question of the leadership of the community and consequential questions of  Usul.

In the following we have provided a brief account of the 4 Imam’s of Islamic Jurisprudence.

Imam Abu Hanifah  (699 – 767 AD) – (81-151 AH)

Imam Abu Nahifah (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 hearted 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 an imperative from Quran and Hadith but people are incapable of comprehending it because of their inability to scan minute things, considered it to be based on his personal opinion.

Hanafi Jurisprudential 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.

Imam Malik Ibn Anas (711-795 AD) - (93 – 179 H)

Imam Maalik (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.

Maliki school of thought is popular in North Africa, Egypt and in some parts of Yemen, Syria and other places.  He 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 is the second of the 4 Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence. His 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. The Maliki school of thought is predominant in north, central and west Africa and Egypt.

Imam Malik developed his ideas in Madina, where he knew some of the last surviving companions of the Prophet (SAWS) 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 except in Lower Egypt, Zanzibar and South Africa.

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 Jurisprudential 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 (سبحانه و تعالى). 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 Companion of the Prophet, provided there is no disagreement with another Companion. In the case of such disagreement, the opinion of the Companion nearest to that of the Qur'an or the Sunnah is taken into consideration.