Born in Madinah, he belongs to the illustrious family of the Prophet’ s household ( AHLUL BAYT ) through Imam Muhammad al-Baqir ibn ‘Imam Ali ibn Imam Hussain ibn Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Tolib with Sayyidatina Fatimah Az-Zahra binte Rosulillah s.a.a.w.
Regarded as the sixth Imam of the Shiite, he was also the teachers of many scholars including Sunni Imams like Malik and even Abu Hanifah.
Because of persecution by the ruling powers of the ‘Ummayad and the Abbasid, the Shi’ite Madzhab later evolved separately from the mainstream Sunni schools through the subsequent Imams from his descendants.
The other branch of Shi’ite evolved earlier was the Zaydi which refer to the followers of Imam Zayd ibn ‘Ali (Zayn al-’Abidin) ibn Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abi Tolib.
Although he too regarded the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma’ as the important primary sources, he had limited access to much of Ahadith in Kufah (unlike Imam Malik in Madinah). Thus he was best known for the use of juristic analogical deduction ( Qiyas ) and Istihsan (Equitable Preference) – as methods of IJTIHAD , whence his school were called Ahlul-Ra’yu (People of Juristic Reasoning)
Born and raised in Madinah ar-Rasul (City of the Prophet), he learnt from and met many of the students of Companions (Sahabah) of the Prophet s.a.w. And he compiled the famous book on Hadith of the prophet s.a.w. – “ Al-Muwatta’ ”.
His notable teachers were Imam Ja’far as-Sodiq, Abu Radim Nafi’ ibn ‘Abdur Rahman, Nafi’, Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Ansari, Yahya ibn Sa’-id and Hishan ibn ‘Urwah.
The greatest contribution of Imam Malik was the codification of the Madinan Fiqh.
Imam Malik had recourse to many transmitters of Ahadith and thus his important compilation of “ Al-Muwatta’ “ which he systematically arranged in accordance with the practice of the Deen. Imam Shafi’ie and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal both studied and memorized this and regarded this book as second to the Qur’an.
He also regarded ‘Amal Ahll Madina -the “Practice of the People of Madina” and Masalih Mursalah - “Public interest or welfare ” to be also important basis for Fiqh unlike Imam As-Shafi’ie. Although as Muhaddith , Imam Malik placed importance upon Hadith, yet he was still regarded by Ibn Qutaybah as Ahlul-Ra’yy in matters of FIQH .
Later, tension grew between those who literally follow Ahadith, better known as Ahlul-Hadith , with those identified as Ahlul-Ra’yu .
Born in Gaza from a Qurayshi descent, raised amongst a Yemenite tribe and later travelled with his mother to Makkah when he was ten years old.
At an early aged he already memorised the whole Qur’an, the Ahadith compilation Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik, while studying jurisprudence and being mentored by well-known jurists in Makkah – the Mufti Muslim Khalid al-Zanji ,and Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayna.
At 23, he travelled to Madinah and became a student of Imam Malik ibn Anas until his teacher’s death.
Later went to Yemen. His reputation attract the Caliph’s attention but Imam Shafi’ie’s frankness, brought him in conflict with the ruler. Jealous of his reputation his enemies made unfounded allegations against him and he was arrested amongst the conspirators against the Abbassid rulers, and brought to face the Caliph in Iraq.
IMAM MUHAMMAD BIN ‘IDRIS AS-SHAFI-’IE R.A. (150 AH – 204 AH)
Thus, Imam Ash-Shafi-’ie can be said to be expert on both methodologies of Imam Malik and Abu Hanifah.
Imam Ash-Shafi-’ie then wrote the important treatise and codified a systematic approach to the principles of Islamic jurisprudence in his important work: “Kitab ar-Risaalah fi-Usul al-Fiqh”. To correct the over-reliance upon rational legal deduction over textual evidence which became rampant, especially when the Caliph became influenced by the Mutazilites.
He became well-known while in Harran, Syria and Makkah where his fame attracted many scholars from all over the Muslim world and his school of jurisprudence spread far and wide.
Finally left Makkah for Egypt and remained there till his death. His school was so well accepted the many renown Islamic scholars themselves, even in later times prefer to be regarded as followers of this school of jurisprudence, even though many of them have attained the rank of Mujtahid.
Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal is mostly known as a Muhaddith although he is acknowledged to be a Mujtahid on Fiqh having studied under Imam Muhammad Idris As-Shafi-’ie, Bishr ibn al-Mufaddal, Waki’ ibn al-Jarrah etc.
As a Muhaddith, even his teachers and other muhaddithin take Ahadith from him. His famous work is “ Musnad Ahmad ”.
He was strict and very cautious in his adherence to the ways of the pious predecessors, that when the Caliph sought his service as a Qadhi he refused. He was even flogged for rejecting the Mu’tazilite’s assertion regarding the createdness of the Qur’an but remained steadfast upon his principle.