Al-Imām al-Shāfiʿī is Muḥammad ibn Idrīs ibn al-ʿAbbās ibn ʿUthmān ibn Shafiʿ ibn al-Sāʾib ibn ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAbd Yazid ibn Hāshim ibn al-Muttalib ibn ʿAbd Manaf, Abu ʿAbdillah al- Qurashī al-Makkī al-Shāfiʿī , the offspring of the House of the Prophet, the peerless one of the great mujtahid imāms and jurisprudent par excellence, the scrupulously pious ascetic and Friend of Allah.
He was born in Ghazza, Palestine in 150 H, the year of al- Imām Abū Hanīfah‟s death, and moved to Makkah at the age of two, following his father‟s death, where he grew up. He was early a skillful archer, then he took to learn language and poetry until he gave himself to fiqh, beginning with hadīth. He memorized the Qurʾān at age seven, then al-Imām Mālik‟s Muwaṭṭaʾ at age ten, at which time his teacher would deputize him to teach in his absence. At age thirteen he went to see al-
Imām Mālik, who was impressed by his memory and intelligence.
Al-Imām Mālik ibn Anas and al-Imām Muḥammad ibn al- Hasan al-Shaybānī were among his most prominent teachers and he took position against both of them in fiqh.
Like al-Imām Abu Hanīfah and al-Imām al-Bukhārī, he recited the entire Qurʾān each day at prayer, and twice a day in the month of Ramaḍan.
al-Imām al-Muzānī said: “I never saw one more handsome of face than al-Shāfiʿī . If he grasped his beard it would not exceed his fist.” al-Imām Ibn Rahuyah described him in Makkah as wearing bright white clothes with an intensely black beard. al- Imām al-Za`farani said that when he was in Baghdad in the year 195 he dyed his beard with henna.
Abu `Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam said: “If the intelligence of an entire nation was brought together he would have encompassed it.” Similarly, al-Muzani said: “I have been looking into al-Shāfiʿī‟s Riṣalāh for fifty years, and I do not recall a single time I looked at it without learning some new benefit.”
Someone criticized al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Hanbal for attending the fiqh sessions of al-Shāfiʿī and leaving the hadith sessions of al-Imām Sufyan ibn ʿUyaynah. Imām Aḥmad replied: “Keep quiet! If you miss a hadīth with a shorter chain you can find it elsewhere with a longer chain and it will not harm you. But if you do not have the reasoning of this man [al-Shāfiʿī], I fear you will never be able to find it elsewhere.”
Yūnus ibn Abī Yaʿlā said: “Whenever al-Shāfiʿī went into tafsīr, it was as if he had witnessed the revelation.” Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal also said: “Not one of the scholars of hadīth touched an inkwell nor a pen except he owed a huge debt to al-Shāfiʿī .”
Two schools of legal thought or madhāhīb are actually attributed to al-Imām al-Shāfiʿī, englobing his writings and legal opinions (fatāwā). These two schools are known in the terminology of jurists as “al-Qadīm” (The Old) and “al-Jadīd” (The New), corresponding respectively to his stays in Iraq and Egypt. The most prominent transmitters of the Qawl al-Jadīd among al-Shāfiʿī‟s students are al-Buwayṭī, al-Muzānī, al-Rabīʿ
al-Murādī, and al-Bulqīnī, in Kitab al-Umm (The Motherbook).The most prominent transmitters of the Qawl al-Qadīm are al- Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, al-Karābīsī, al-Zaʿfarānī, and Abū Thawr.
Al-Subkī related that the Shāfiʿī scholars considered al- Rabīʿs narration from al-Shāfiʿī sounder from the viewpoint of transmission, while they considered al-Muzānī‟s sounder from the viewpoint of fiqh, although both were established hadith masters.
(Safinat Al – Naja)