Imam ash~Shafi’i

March 26, 2012 No Comments »

Abū Mansūr Al-Baghdādī in Manāqib Ash-Shāfi’ī and Naqd Abī Abdullāh Al-Jurjānī fi Tarjīḥ Madhhab Abī Hanīfah related the following example of the Imām’s perspicuity at an early age:

“Al-Shāfi’ī was sitting at Mālik’s feet one day when a man came in and said: “I sell turtle-doves, and one of my customers returned one of them to me today saying that it does not coo, so I swore to him on pain of divorce that my turtle-dove coos all the time!” Mālik said: “You have divorced your wife and are not to approach her.”

Al-Shāfi’ī was fourteen at the time.

He said to the man: “Which happens more, your turtle-dove’s cooing or its silence?”

They said: “Its cooing”. Al-Shāfi’ī said: “Your marriage is valid and there is no penalty for you [due to your oath].”

Whereupon Mālik frowned at him saying: “Boy, how do you know this?” Al-Shāfi’ī replied: “Because you narrated to me from al-Zuhrī, from Abu Salama ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmān from Umm Salama that Fātima bint Qays said: ‘Rasūlullah! Abu Jahm and Mu’āwiya have both proposed to me.’ The Prophet (sa) replied: ‘Mu’awiya is penniless and as for Abū Jahm he does not put down his staff from his shoulder {i.e he travels a lot}.’

That is, most of the time ‘Arabs assert the more frequent of two actions [exclusively of the other] because of its constancy. Since this man’s turtledove coos more than it is silent, I can declare it constant in its cooing. Mālik was pleased at his reasoning.”

The scholars said that Allāh accelerated the intelligence of al-Shāfi’ī and al-Nawawī because he gave them a short lifespan. Al-Ḥumaydī narrated that the faqīh of Makka, Imām Muslim ibn Khālid Al-Zanjī (100-180), said to al-Shāfi’ī: “Give fatwā, Abū ‘Abdullāh! It is time you gave fatwā,” at which time al-Shāfi’ī was fifteen years old. Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim ibn Sallām said: “If the intelligence of an entire nation was brought together he would have encompassed it!”

{Tabaqat ash~Shafiyyah al~Kubra by Ibn as~Subki, Volume 5 pgs. 147-148}


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