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"Shafi" redirects here. For other uses, see Shafi (disambiguation).

The Shafi'i (Arabic: شافعيŠāfiʿī ) school of thought is one of the schools of jurisprudence within the Sunni branch of Islam, adhering to the teachings of the Muslim Arab scholar of jurisprudence, Al-Shafi'i of the prestigious Quraysh tribe.

The Shafi'i school is the dominant school of jurisprudence amongst Muslims in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the North Caucasus, Kurdistan and Maldives. It is also practised by large communities in Saudi Arabia (in the Tihamah and Asir), Kuwait, Iraq, the Swahili Coast, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and(by Chechens).


The Shafi'i school of thought stipulates authority to four sources of jurisprudence, also known as the Usul al-fiqh. In hierarchical order, the usul al-fiqh consist of: the Quran, the Sunnah of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, ijmā' ("consensus"), and qiyas ("analogy").

The Shafi'i school also refers to the opinions of Muhammad's companions (primarily Al-Khulafa ar-Rashidun). The school, based on Shafi'i's books ar-Risala fi Usul al-Fiqh and Kitab al-Umm, which emphasizes proper istinbaat (derivation of laws) through the rigorous application of legal principles as opposed to speculation or conjecture.

Shafi'i is also known as "The Defender of the Sunnah" for his exhaustive efforts in emphasizing solitary hadiths in a systematic methodology to religious science.

Differences from other schools[edit]

  • The Bismillah is considered a verse of Sura Al-Fatiha.
  • Touching a marriageable person of the opposite sex invalidates ritual purity.
  • The jus ad bellum for jihad is disbelief (kufr) and not injustice, unlike the other schools.
  • Although other schools of thought forbid playing chess, some Shafi'is deem it disliked.[1]
  • Some Shafi'is endorse the practise of female circumcision.[2]
  • Shaving the beard is considered a disliked action whereas other schools forbid it.[3]

Shafi'i school[edit]


According to this map the Shafi`i madhhab (in dark blue) is predominant in Kurdistan, Somalia, parts of the Arabian Peninsula and Southeast Asia. Though this map is controversial and needs critical analysis.

The Shafi'i school is followed throughout the Ummah and is the official school of thought of many traditional scholars and leading Sunni authorities. It is also recognized as the official school of thought by the governments of Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.

It is the dominant school of thought amongst Muslims in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Southern Syria and Damascus, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the North Caucasus (mostly in Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia), Kurdistan and the Maldives.

It is also practised by large communities in Saudi Arabia (in the Tihamah and Asir), Kuwait, Northern and Sunni Iraq, the Swahili Coast, Mauritius, South Africa, Madagascar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan (by Chechens) and Indian States of Kerala (most of the Mappilas), Karnataka (Bhatkal, Mangalore, Hasan, and Coorg districts), Maharashtra (by Konkani Muslims) and Tamil Nadu.

In terms of followers, Shafi'i is the second largest school of the Sunni branch of Islam after the Hanafi madhab. It is practiced by approximately a third (33.33%) of all Sunni Muslims, or around 29% of all Muslims worldwide including Shia adherents.


Saladin and Guy of Lusignan after Battle of Hattin, upheld Shafi'i law.

The Shafi'i madhab was spread by the Imam's students in Egypt, Mecca, and Iraq until it gained early prominence in Iraq and Khorasan, where two main branches of the school formed. The chief representative of the Iraqi school was Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi whilst Khorasan was represented by al-Juwayni and al-Iraqi. These two branches merged around Ibn al-Salah and his father, before being reviewed and refined by al-Rafi'i and al-Nawawi.

The Shafi'i madhab was adopted as the official madhab during periods of the Abbasid Caliphate, in the first century of the Great Seljuq Empire, Zengid dynasty, Ayyubid dynasty and later the Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo), where it saw its greatest development and application. It was also adopted by the Kathiri state in Hadhramawt and most of rule of the Sharif of Mecca.

Early European explorers speculated that T'ung-kan (Hui people, called "Chinese Mohammedan") in Xinjiang originated from Khorezmians who were transported to China by the Mongols, and that they were descended from a mixture of Chinese, Iranians, and Turkic peoples. They also reported that the T'ung-kan were Shafi'ites, which the Khorezmians were as well.[4]

Famous Shafi'i's[edit]

According to the great Indian Hanafi scholar, Shah Waliullah, the Shafi'i madhab is distinguished among all the Sunni schools in having the most illustrious Islamic scholars in history, in all fields, among its followers.[5] As al-Shafi'i emphasized the importance of muttasil (connected) and Ahad (singular) hadith whilst undermining the relevance of mursal (skipped) hadith, his madhab found particular favour among hadith scholars.


In Hadith:

In Tafsir:

In Fiqh:

In Arabic Language Studies:

In Aqidah:

In Sufism

In History


Contemporary Shafi'i scholars[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Word of Islam - Page 102, John Alden Williams - 1994
  2. ^
  3. ^ Reliance of the Traveller - Page 58, Nuh Mim Keller - 1994
  4. ^ Roerich Museum, George Roerich (2003). Journal Of Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute, Volumes 1-3. Vedams eBooks (P) Ltd. p. 526. ISBN 81-7936-011-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ [1]


  • Yahia, Mohyddin (2009). Shafi'i et les deux sources de la loi islamique, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, ISBN 978-2-503-53181-6
  • Rippin, Andrew (2005). Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (3rd ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 90–93. ISBN 0-415-34888-9.
  • Calder, Norman, Jawid Mojaddedi, and Andrew Rippin (2003). Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature. London: Routledge. Section 7.1.
  • Schacht, Joseph (1950). The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford: Oxford University. pp. 16.
  • Khadduri, Majid (1987). Islamic Jurisprudence: Shafi'i's Risala. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. pp. 286.
  • Abd Majid, Mahmood (2007). Tajdid Fiqh Al-Imam Al-Syafi'i. Seminar pemikiran Tajdid Imam As Shafie 2007.
  • al-Shafi'i,Muhammad b. Idris,"The Book of the Amalgamation of Knowledge" translated by A.Y. Musa in Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008

Further reading[edit]

  • Cilardo, Agostino, Shafi'i Fiqh, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 1610691776

External links[edit]