ABOUT THE BOOK:
al-Risalah fi 'ilm Usul al-Fiqh ("Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence") written in the second Islamic century by al-Imam al-Shafi’i (d. 204AH/820AD), the founder of one of the four Sunni schools of law. This important work gives the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence and its influence continues to the present day. During the early years of the spread of Islam, the exponents of Islamic legal doctrine were faced with the problems raised by ruling and administering a diverse and rapidly growing empire. In Medina and Kufa, as well as other cities of early Muslim rule, schools of law had to be developed, but it took the genius of Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafi’i, born in the year 150AH/767AD, to establish the principles by which the various legal doctrines could be synthesised into a coherent system. In the Risala, which laid down the basis for such a synthesis, al-Shafi’i established the overriding authority, next only to the Qur’an, of the Sunna or example of the Prophet Muhammad as transmitted in the traditions.
- On al-Bayān (Perspicuous Declaration)
- On Legal Knowledge
- On the Book of God
- On the Obligation of Man to Accept the Authority of the Prophet
- On the Abrogation of Divine Legislation
- On Duties
- On the Nature of God's Orders of Prohibition and the Prophet's Orders of Prohibition
- On Traditions
- On Single-Individual Traditions
- On Consensus (Ijmā‘)
- On Analogy (Qiyās)
- On Personal Reasoning (Ijtihād)
- On Juristic Preference (Istiḥsān)
- On Disagreement (Ikhtilāf)
This print uses not only the original manuscripts of Ibn Jama’a and al-Rabi, but also authoritative editions published earlier in this century, namely the Bulaq and Shakir editions. In the introduction the publishers have outlined the historical background of the Risala and give a biography of al-Imam al-Shafi’i.
ABOUT IMAM IBN IDRIS AL-SHAFI'I:
His name was Abū ʿAbdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfīʿī is a jurist, who lived 150 to 204 Hijri. Often referred to as 'Shaykh al-Islām', al-Shāfi‘ī was one of the four great Imams, whose legacy on juridical matters and teaching eventually led to the Shafi'i school of fiqh. He is often referred to as Imam al-Shafi'i. Al-Shafi'i was born in Gaza by the town of Asqalan on 767 CE. His father died in Syria while he was still a child. Fearing the waste of his Sharif lineage, his mother decided to move to Mecca when he was about two years old. Furthermore, his maternal family roots were from Yemen, and there were more members of his family in Mecca, where his mother believed he would better be taken care of. Little is known about al-Shāfi‘ī's early life in Mecca, except that he was brought up in poor circumstances and that from his youth he was devoted to learning.
An account states that his mother could not afford to buy him paper, so he would write his lessons on bones, particularly shoulder-bones. He studied under Muslim Ibn Khalid az-Zanji, the Mufti of Mecca then, who is thus considered to be the first teacher of Imam al-Shāfi‘ī. By the age of seven, al-Shāfi‘ī had memorized the Noble Qur'ān. At ten, he had committed Imam Malik's Muwatta to heart, at which time his teacher would deputize him to teach in his absence. Al-Shāfi‘ī was authorized to issue fatwas at the age of fifteen.
He authored more than 100 books.
--- Al-Risala — The best known book by al-Shafi'i in which he examined principles of jurisprudence. The book has been translated into English.
--- Kitab al-Umm - his main surviving text on Shafi'i fiqh,
--- Musnad ash-Shafi'i (on Hadith) - it is available with arrangement, Arabic 'Tartib', by Ahmad ibn Abd ar-Rahman al-Banna
In addition to this, al-Shafi'i was an eloquent poet, who composed many short poems aimed at addressing morals and behaviour. Al-Shāfi‘ī developed the science of fiqh unifying 'revealed sources' - the Quran and hadith - with human reasoning to provide a basis in law. With this systematization of Shari'a he provided a legacy of unity for all Muslims and forestalled the development of independent, regionally based legal systems. The four Sunni legals schools or Madhhabs- keep their traditions within the framework that Shafi'i established. Al-Shāfi‘ī gives his name to one of these legal schools Shafi'i fiqh - the Shafi'i school - which is followed in many different places in the Islamic world.