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Law and Jurisprudence

The five major schools of legal thought The impact of Muslim jurisprudence on European civil law.

IMAM MALIK (93 AH - 179 AH/715 - 795 AD) 1.Imam Malik spent his life in Madinah (where much of the Quran was revealed and most of the legal practices of Islam established) 2.Imam Malik spent his life studying, recording and clarifying the legal parameters and precedents which were passed down to him by the first two generations of Muslims (the direct inheritors of the perfected form of Islam left by the Prophet (saw).)

Although he is the author of numerous books, his most important work is the Kitab al-Muwatta, which deals with the subject of Islamic Law based on Ahadith and Sunnah. It is the earliest surviving book of its kind - written around 150 A.H. Ibn Abd al-Barr said that Malik was the first who compiled a book formed exclusively of sound narrations. Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi said: The Muwatta is the first foundation and the core, while al-Bukharis book is the second foundation in this respect. Upon these two all the rest have built, such as Muslim and al-Tirmidhi.

Shah Wali Allah said: It is the principal authority of all four Schools of Law, which stand in relation to it like the commentary stands in relation to the main text. Malik composed it in the course of forty years, having started with ten thousand narrations until he reduced them to their present number of under 2,000. Imam Malik held the hadith of the Prophet in such reverence that he never narrated anything nor gave a fatwa unless in a state of ritual purity.

IMAM ABU HANEEFA (80 AH - 150 A.H. 699 AD - 767 AD)

It is said that Abu Hanifah was extremely pious, avoided forbidden things, remained silent and absorbed in his thoughts most of the time, and answered a question only if he knew the answer. He was very generous and self-respecting, never asked a favor of anybody, shunned the company of the worldly-minded and held worldly power and position in contempt. He avoided slander and only talked well of people.

Abu Hanifas school of thought is is the most widely followed. Abu Hanifa was a man of profound learning and was as generous with his knowledge as with his money. Despite his wealth and high position in society, the Imam was extremely gentle and polite. Abu Hanifa was a man of few words and never took part in idle talk. In his classroom he would sit quietly, letting his pupils freely debate among themselves, and would speak only when the discussion had become long and drawn-out without any conclusion being reached. He would then give his decision, which would satisfy all present.

He left behind him three works: (1) Fiqh-i-Akbar, (2) Al Alim Wal Mutaam (3) Musnad.

IMAM SHAFII (150 AH - 204 A.H/767 - 820 AD) Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafii was a descendant from the Quraysh tribe: The only Imam who is related to the Prophet (saw). The most important books: Kitab al-Umm (contains his rulings of on almost all subjects of Islamic Law)

He is known as 'Nasir al Sunnah (one who saved the sunnah). He was honoured as al-Imam al Mujaddid in that he is the Mujaddid of the 2nd century. He was a student of Imam Malik with whom he spent eight months. Imam Malik made this comment: No scholar more brilliant than Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafii ever came to me as a pupil. He is said to have divided innovation (al-bidah) into good and bad on the basis of Umars words about the tarawih or congregational supererogatory night prayers in the month of Ramadan: What a fine innovation this is!

Among his sayings is: The study of hadith is better than supererogatory prayer, and the pursuit of knowledge is better than supererogatory prayer. Being a prominent figure, his lectures attracted a huge gathering of at least 5,000 students among whom nearly 500 took down notes daily. Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, and Imam Tirmizi were also amongst his noteworthy students.

IMAM AHMAD IBN HANBAL (164 AH - 241/780 AD. 855 AD) Chronologically, IMAM AHMAD IBN HANBAL was the last of the four imams. He was a very pious scholar who devoted all his life in the Science of Ahadith and Fiqh. It is said that he learnt almost a million Ahadith by heart. Harmala said: I heard al-Shafi`i say: I left Baghdad and did not leave behind me anyone more virtuous (afdhal), more learned, more knowledgeable than Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was probably the most learned in the sciences of hadith of the four great Imams of Sacred Law. His students included many of the foremost scholars of hadith. Abu Dawud said of him: Ahmads gatherings were gatherings of the afterlife: nothing of this world was mentioned. Never once did I hear him mention this-worldly things. ... He never once missed praying in the night, and used to recite the entire [Quran] daily. Works: Al-Musnad