5. Distinguishing Features of the Shafi’i school
There are many features that distinguish the Shafi’i school from the other Islamic legal traditions. These features include;
1. A firm understanding and strict application of the sunna of the Prophet (salla Allah alaihi wa sallam) which is the result of the school’s founder, Muhammad ibn Idris, having studied directly under the imam of Dar al-Hijra, Malik ibn Anas, and serving as one of the primary teachers of the great imams of the sunna Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. The imams of the school closely followed in the footsteps of al-Shafi’i and many of them, such as al-Bayhaqi, ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, and others, became leading huffaz of their time. Additionally, scholars of the school went to extreme lengths to provide evidences for the school’s rulings. Just looking at the figures, the huffaz from the Shafi’i school account for nearly half of the huffaz of this ummah!
2. The founder of the school having made use of analogy and the foundations that enable one to deduce rulings which was the forte of Abu Hanifah and his colleagues. al-Shafi’i became the first person to compose a treatise in the science of usul al-fiqh. The followers of al-Shafi’i lead the way in the science ofusul al-fiqh, with imams of the school, such as al-Juwayni and al-Ghazzali, writing in the subject some of the earliest major works of reference.
3. The school represents a middle ground between the school of hadith that prevailed in Hijaz and the school of juristic opinion that dominated Iraq.
4. The number of mujtahid imams of the school who were dedicated to the school and help disseminate it throughout various regions. Imams such as al-‘Izz bin ‘Abd al-Salam, Ibn Daqiq al-‘Eid, al-Taqi al-Subki, al-Suyuti, and others.
5. The amount of books written by Shafi’i scholars throughout the ages which not only examined the issues of the school and furnished proofs for the rulings found therein but also simplified the material to facilitate learning.
6. The large population of people throughout the world who follow the Shafi’i school. The Shafi’i school is predominant in Indonesia and Malaysia to the east, southern India, areas of Iran, Iraq, the Levant, and the Gulf. To the south, adherents of the school are found in Hijaz, Hadramawt, and other regions of Yemen, and to the west, along the Horn of Africa and parts of Egypt.
7. Most of the mujaddids (revivers) of each century adhered to the Shafi’i school. The reviver of the 2nd century was al-Shafi’i himself, Abu al-‘Abbas bin Surayj of the 3rd, Abu Tayyib Sahl al-Sa’luki of the 4th, Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali of the 5th, al-Fakhr al-Razi of the 6th, al-Nawawi of the 7th, al-Isnawi of the 8th, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani of the 9th, and al-Suyuti, the reviver of 10th century.