Imaam’s Family Lineage (Father’s Side):
Muhammad ibn Idrees ibn al-Abbas bin Usman bin Shafi’ ibn al-Sa’ib bin Ubaid bin ‘Abd Yazid bin Haashim bin al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Manaaf bin Qusayy bin Kilaab bin Murrah. The Imaam’s Lineage connects with the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)’s lineage from ‘Abd Manaaf bin Qusayy.
Imaam’s Family Lineage (Mother’s Side):
His mother was Fatimah bint ‘Abdullah bin al-Hasan bin al-Hussain ibn Ali bin Abi Talib. The relations of the mother show that the only two to be born Haashimi in the family lineage were Hadhrat 'Ali bin Abi Talib and al-Imaam Al-Shafi’ee.
Place of Birth:
Imaam ash-Shafi'ee (rahimahullah) was born in the year 150 A.H., the year in which the Great Imaam Abu Hanifah passed away. He was born in Ghizza (Asqalaan) in Palestine. When he was two years old his mother took him to a tribe in al-Hijaaz who were dwellers in the country of Yemen. His mother kept him there until he reached the age of ten. A time came when she felt that the family was in jeopardy of being forgotten and wasted so she took her son (Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee) to Makkah.
The Imaam was from a very poor family; his family could not afford to pay his Qur'aan teacher. The teacher would inadequately teach the children and anytime he taught something inadequately and then left the children, the Imaam would seize this opportunity to teach them the teacher’s lesson properly. When the teacher saw this, he understood what the Imaam was doing and let him do so. In this way Imaam ash-Shaaf'iee did not have to pay for the classes as he satisfying the teacher by teaching the children his lessons. This continued and the Imaam learnt the whole Qur’an by the time he was seven years old.
The Imaam himself used to say: “After I finished learning the Qur’an I would go to the Masjid and sit with the Scholars the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and Islamic matters. I used to live in Makkah among tent dwellers in such a state of poverty that I could not even afford to by paper to write, so I would write on bones instead.”
It is also reported that the Imaam would read Hadeeth to others in the Prophet's Masjid when he was only thirteen years old. It is also reported that the Imaam’s voice was very melodious and sweet. Al-Haakim reports by the authority of Bahr bin Nasr:
“When we wanted to cry (out of the fear and awe of Allah) we would say, "Come, let us go to this young Muttalibee man to hear him recite the Qur’an." When we reached him, he would begin his recitation until people would begin falling down in front of him and the sounds of everyone weeping and yelling could be heard by him - then he would stop.”
Among his eminent teachers were:
1. Muslim bin Khalid al-Zangi (a Mufti of Makkah during the year 180 A.H. (796 A.D.)
2. Sufyaan bin 'Uyaynah al-Hilaali (one of the three distinguished scholars of that time in Makkah)
3. Ibrahim bin Yahya (a scholar of Madinah)
4. Maalik bin Anas (Imaam ash-Shafi’ee used to recite Hadith to Imaam Malik after memorizing his book, Muwatta Imaam Malik). The Imaam stayed in Madinah until Imaam Malik passed away in the year 179 A.H. (790 A.D.)
5. Wakee’ bin al-Jarraah bin Maleeh al-Koofi
6. Muhammad bin Hasan ash-Shaybaani (a scholar of Basrah and a distinguished student of the Great Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA)
7. Hammaad bin Usama al-Haashimi al-Koofi
8. Abdul-Wahhab bin Abdul-Majeed al-Basri
He was married to Hameedah bint Naafi’ bin Unaisah bin ‘Amr ibn Usman bin 'Affaan.
Some Distinctive Characteristics:
1. His eloquent style of speech and abundant knowledge of the Arabic language
2. His family lineage-as a set standard, reported by al-Hakam bin ‘Abdil-Muttalib, that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said,
“Indeed Banu Haashim and Banu al-Muttalib are the same (ie. of the same family lineage). (Ibn Majah, 22, Kitaabul-Wasaaya/46 Chapter Division of Khumus/ Hadith No. 2329)
3. Complete memorization of the Qur’an with recognition of its rules and implications in all aspects of Islamic Knowledge of which others during his time did not yet reach to.
4. His deep foresight in Hadith and comprehension of authentic and defective narrations.
5. His understanding of the principles of Hadith and Fiqh.
6. His rulings in Hadeeth Mursal (incompletely transmitted narrations) and completely transmitted narrations.
7. Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal used to say about Imaam ah-Shafi’ee,
“Our napes were in the hands of the Companions of Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy on him) when it came to hadeeth (ie. we were inclined to them more) until we saw Imaam ash-Shafi’ee. He was the most knowledgeable in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), (so much so) that he would even suffice the one who was not well informed in Hadith."
8. Al-Karaabeesi said about the Imaam,
“Ash-Shaafi’ee was a mercy from Allah upon the followers of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)."
9. Al-Humaydee said,
“We used to want to refute the arguments of the Ashaabur-Ra’iy, but we were not very knowledgeable to do so until Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee came along and opened up the way for us."
10. Ibn Raahawayh was asked, “How did Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee compose all these books at such a young age?” He replied, “
Allah (ta'aala) made him intelligent and mature-minded even in his youth.”
11. Rabee’ said, “We were were sitting for a while after the great Imaam’s demise when a Bedouin Arab came along and asked where the sun and moon of this circle (of knowledge) was (i.e. Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee). When we informed him that he had passed away he (the Bedouin) began weeping alot and then said,
'May Allah have mercy upon him and forgive him for verily he was the one who uncovered the veils of proofs by his explanations and closed the mouths of his disputer and opponent. He used to wash the blackened faces of their shame and disgrace and he opened closed doors by his intellect and understanding.'
He then turned away and left.”
Al-Hasan ibn 'Abdul-Azeez al-Jarwi al-Misri reported from Imaam Shafi’ee, who used to say,
“I have never debated with someone who I wanted (for him) to make a mistake, nor do I possess any such knowledge that I would want to keep to myself, rather that it should be with all and not just related to me.”
He also said,
“I have never debated with someone who I wanted (for him) to make a mistake. And I have never debated with someone except that I supplicate for them, "O Allah, put the truth in his heart and on his tongue. If I am on the truth he will follow me, and if he is on the truth then I will follow him.”
First Child’s Name: Abu Usman Muhammad (was a judge in Madinah, grew up in Syria)
Second Child’s Name: Fatimah
Third Child’s Name: Zainab
He Leaves For Egypt
The Imaam went to Egypt in the year 199 A.H. (814/815 A.D.) during the beginning of the Mamun Khilafah. He went back to Baghdad for a month then again returned to Egypt and stayed until his demise in the year 204 A.H. (819/820 A.D.)
His Writings and Books:
1. Ar-Risalah al-Qadeemah (Kitaabul-Hujjah)
2. Ar-Risalah al-Jadeedah
7. Sifaatul al-Amr wal-Nahiy
8. Ikhtilaaf Malik wash-Shaafi’ee
10. Ikhtilaaf Muhammad ibn Hasan
11. Fadhaa’il Quraish
12. Kitaabul-Umm 13. Kitaabul-Sunan
The Imaam became very sick at the end of his life with hemmariodal pain and passed away in Egypt on Thursday night after Isha’ Prayer, having performed the Maghrib Prayer on the last day of Rajab.
He was buried in Cairo, Egypt on Friday in the year 204 A.H. (819/820 A.D.) His Masjid in Cairo can be visited in the Imaam Al-Shaafi’ee Neighborhood.
May Allah be pleased with him. Ameen.
Source: Translated by Adil Khan on the 11th of Shabaan, 1422 A.H for Kitaabul-Umm, Printed in Beirut, Lebanon.
- Audio lecture about Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee''s life by Muhammad Shareef.
- Excellent Powerpoint Presentation on the life of Imaam Ash-Shaafi'ee (Download).
- Imaam Shafi’ee Visits Imaam Ahmad – A Strange Incident With A Beautiful Explanation!