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Shafi'i

SHAFI'I [Mahommed ibn Idris ash-Shan 'i] (767-820), the founder of the Shafi'ite school of canon law, was born in A.H. 150 (A.D. 767) of a Koreishite (Quraishite) family at Gaza or Ascalon, and was brought up by his mother in poor circumstances at Mecca. There, and especially in intercourse with the desert tribe of Hudhail, he gained a knowledge of classical Arabic and old Arabian poetry for which he was afterwards famous. About 170 he went to Medina and studied canon law (fiqh) under Malik ibn Anas. After the death of Malik in 179 legend takes him to Yemen, where he is involved in an 'Alid conspiracy, carried prisoner to Bagdad, but pardoned by Harun al-Rashid. He was certainly pursuing his studies, and he seems to have come to Bagdad in some such way as this and then to have studied under Hanifite teachers. He had not yet formulated his own system. After a journey to Egypt, however, we find him in Bagdad again, as a teacher, between 195 and 198. There he had great success and turned the tide against the Hanifite school. His method was to restore the sources of canon law which Abu Hanlfa, had destroyed by inclining too much to speculative deduction. Instead, he laid equal emphasis upon the four Koran, tradition, analogy, and agreement. See further, under MAHOMMEDAN LAW. In 198 he went to Egypt in the train of a new governor, and this time was received as the leading orthodox authority in law of his time. There he developed and somewhat changed the details of his system, and died in 204 {A.D. 820). He was buried to the south-east of what is now Cairo, and a great dome (erected c. A.D. 1240) is conspicuous over his tomb.

See F. Wustenfeld, Schafi'iten, 31 ff.; M. J. de Goeje in ZDMG. xlvii. 106 ff.; C. Brockelmann, Geschichte, i. 178 ff.; M'G. de Slane's transl. of Ibn Khallikan, ii. 569 ff., Fihrist, 209, Nawawi's Biogr. Diet. 56 ff . (D. B. MA.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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