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Shafi’i School of Thought Essay


The Shafi’i school of thought is the second largest school of jurisprudence which is dominant in such countries as Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Kurdistan, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Indonesia and the North Caucasus (see fig. 1). It is also employed by communities in such countries as Iraq, India, Kuwait, South Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, Swahili Coast, Sri Lanka and some other parts of the world.

The major peculiarity of this school is that it is grounded on the Quran and the Sunnah (like of the schools of thought) but it also uses “one’s utmost rational intellect” (Shawamreh, 2012, p. 202). It is believed that if the solution is not explicitly found in the Quran or Sunnah, the person has to make a rational choice. Likewise, when praying, if the direction of the Ka’ba cannot be identified (the person is in a desert), the human can use signs (the stars, the rivers and so on) given by God and deduce the correct direction (Shawamreh, 2012).

Sunni schools of thought with a focus on Shafi’i.
Fig. 1. Sunni schools of thought with a focus on Shafi’i.

As seen from the spread of the school of thought, the contemporary Muslim society tends to employ rationality to govern different aspects of social life. The twentieth century is characterized by advances in all spheres of people’s lives and numerous inventions and discoveries. The world in the twentieth century was rapidly evolving and societies (including Muslim states) required corresponding rules. Thus, the pragmatic approach was used in development of The Iraqi Code of 1951, The Egyptian Civil Code of 1948, the Kuwait Code and Commercial Law of 1960-61 and the Libyan Code of 1953 (An-Na’im, 2005).

It is necessary to add that the twenty-first century is characterized by even more dramatic changes. Globalization has brought new trends in development of the societies. Muslim states have political and trade relationships with each other as well as with the rest of the world. Admittedly, this cooperation leads to development of certain regulations that can be universal.

The Shafi’i school of thought is, apparently, ready to respond to the needs of the new times. Ramadan (2009) argues that this school of thought advocates cooperation with the west rather than confrontation. Those adhering to the conventions and ideas of the Shafi’i school of thought believe that the world is transforming and lots of issues cannot be found in the Quran or Sunnah. Therefore, people have to use pragmatic approach to enable their societies to develop. Cooperation with the west is one of results of such thinking.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that the Shafi’i school of thought is one of most widespread and most corresponding to the needs of the contemporary society. This school is based on principles of rationality and, hence, Muslims states are more adjustable to the changes taking place in the world. More traditional and orthodox schools can be lost in their desire to adhere to traditions as sometimes the world requires the change in certain spheres. This school of thought has already had certain impact on the political geography as more and more Muslim states are ready to become open to new trends and are ready to enhance cooperation with the west. This cooperation can be beneficial for both parties though it still needs a lot of effort.

Reference List

An-Na’im, A.A. (2005). Globalization and jurisprudence: An Islamic law perspective. Emory Law Journal, 54(2), 25-51.

Ramadan, T. (2009). Radical reform: Islamic ethics and liberation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Shawamreh, C. (2012). Islamic legal theory and the context of Islamist movements. Notre Dame Journal of International & Comparative Law, 2(2), 197-223.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Shafi’i School of Thought." July 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/shafii-school-of-thought/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Shafi’i School of Thought'. 11 July.

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