Malik 93 A.H. – 174 A.H.
• Malik was born in Yemen and lived in Medina.
• He never travelled anywhere except to Makkah for performing Haj. He was a Medinan man. On the contrary,Imam Abu Hanifa traveled a lot and Imam Malik was home based.
• There were many hadiths compared to Abu Hanifa during Malik’s time and in his place.
• He collected hadiths
• He wrote a book called al-Muwatta which was a collection of hadith that was edited and made easy.
• He was a student of Rabiah of the opinion school of thought, the school that considers that rationality and thinking play a role.
• He was also a student of Al-Leith ibn Saad, a man who really believed in rationality.
• He befriended Al-Leith ibn Saad, an Egyptian, a very rich man, but Malik himself was a poor man.
• The Egyptian supported Malik financially even though Al-Leith ibn Saad’s opinions were contradictory to Malik’s opinion. Later on ibn Saad put Malik on a pay role.
• He hated arguments, philosophy.
• He did not want to do debates.
• He said that he did not want to talk about anything that does not have any practical implication. He did not believe in hypothesis.
• He preferred people’s doing over Hadith al-Ahad (singular hadith; isolated).
• He did not believe in the fasting for six days after the Ramadan because Medinan people did not observe that.
• His life in Medina affected him to a greater extent.
• He believed that the consensus of the sahaba (companions) is binding to the ummah of Islam.
• He did not approve the idea of qiyas (analogy). According to him, analogy is giving one’s own opinion and Islam does not have place for that. He said that he cannot do analogy unless it is mentioned in the Quran or sunnah or the people of Median did that.
• During his time, old people left Medina and new people came; he developed the doctrine of common good. He said on the matters that are not clear in the Quran or in the hadith and not in Medinan people, he considered what is good for the people. The doctrine of common good expanded and this shows how the circumstances affected him.
• Abu Hanifa was a man of hypothesis, whereas Malik wanted to see things and was not hypothetical.
• Imam Malik had aversion to fatwas and he always said, “I think” or “it occurs to me” rather than saying this is haram or halal.
• He said that obeying the ruler, even if the ruler is unjust is better in order to avoid chaos. He was of the opinion that a year of tyranny is better than a day of fitna (trial).
• He completely avoided politics.
Shafi’i (Mohammad ibn Idris) 150 A.H. – 204 A.H.
• Imam Shafi’i was born in Gaza, Palestine.
• He started his scholarship as Ahl al-Hadith that everything should be supported by hadith and resented the ideas of opinion.
• His active life was in Baghdad, Iraq.
• During Hajj, he met Al-Leith ibn Saad, an Egyptian and befriended him. Al-Leith ibn Saad supported Shafi’i financially and spiritually.
• Shafi’i went to Egypt after the death of Al-Leith ibn Saad. He was astonished as well as shocked to find that ibn Saad’s writings were burnt. He was involved in collecting those from ibn Saad’s students.
• Living in Egypt changed Shafi’i radically. He was no longer Ahl al-Hadith person and started looking at things in a different way.
• Imam Malik’s views did not cope up with the issues and Shafi’i expanded the scope of Malik’s thought.
• He changed his teaching from Iraq to Egypt. And his illuminating teaching was that he considered what he taught in Iraq is good for Iraq and what he is teaching in Egypt is good for Egypt i.e. what is suitable for the situation and issues in Iraq, may not be suitable for the situation in Egypt.
• He spent his last seven years in Egypt.
• In Iraq, he developed himself in linguistic and grammar in Arabic. He was a poet. It should be noted that at that time, people felt poets are not worthy to be good scholars. Shafi’i disproved that.
• Even though he changed his ideas, it came out with opinions. Imam Shafi’i was conservative.
• When he was in Egypt he was 50 years old and he developed Halaqas (settings for education) in Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Al-’Aas mosque. He developed Usul al-Fiqh stating the commonality in rules should guide the process of codification. Usul al-Fiqh is the brainchild of Imam Shafi’i.
• He wrote a book called Al-Umm (The Mother).
• Imam Shafi’i was a threat to fanatics.
(The writer is Sr. Advisor, Muslim Public Affairs Council)