How to Study the Shafi’i Madhab

Madkhal Literature

These works allow one to have a general overview of the historical development of the madhab, its nomenclature, its scholars, and its major written works. Read these often and review in order to have a strong overview of the structure of the madhab.

  • Al-Nawawi – The Muqadimah of al-Majmu’
  • Alawi al-Saqqaf – Al-Fawa’id al-Makkiyah
  • Alawi al-Saqqaf – Mukhtasar al-Fawa’id al-Makkiyah
  • Shams al-Ramli – Sharh Muqadimah Minhaj al-Talibin from Nihayat al-Muhtaj
  • Ali Jumu’ah – Imam al-Shafi’i wa Madrasatuh al-Fiqhiyah
  • Akram al-Qawasimi – Al-Madkhal ila Madhab al-Shafi’i
  • Muhammad Hasan Hitu – Al-Ijtihad wa Tabaqat Mujtahidi al-Shafi’iyah
  • Taj al-Din al-Subki – Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyah
  • Ahmad al-Ahdal – Sullam al-Muta’allim ila Ma’rifat al-Rumuz al-Minhaj
  • Ahmad al-Alawi – Al-Idah fi Bayan Istilah al-Minhaj

Curriculum Texts

These works are studied and read from cover to cover, typically with a qualified teacher. They form the basis of one’s training in the furu’ after having studied the basics (Safinat al-Naja, Matn Abi Shuja, etc.) The core texts are studied in class whereas the commentaries are usually referred to on occasion and studied at home.

Al-Masa’il al-Ta’lim Al-Muqadimat al-Hadramiyah) with its commentaries Bushra al-Karim and/or Minhaj al-Qawim – This text is the main work in ibadah and is especially popular in Yemen, Syria, and South East Asia. One should be deeply intimate with this text and perhaps even memorise its abridgment, Mukhtasar al-Latif. The work is based chiefly upon Imam al-Nawawi’s works and has a number of important commentaries and marginal glosses. The most extensive gloss is the seven volume Hashiyat al-Tarmasi upon Ibn Hajar’s commentary, Minhaj al-Qawim.

Umdat al-Salik –  its commentaries – This is usually the first intermediate level text one studies that addresses the whole spectrum of fiqh. It contains a lot of issues and much is implied, thus expecting a degree of fiqh in the student. Scholars have said that a sign of tawfiq from Allah is one’s studying this text and that the doors of fiqh are opened upon its completion and mastery. It is based mainly upon the works of al-Nawawi, al-Rafi’i, al-Shirazi, and al-Subki. An indication of the views of al-Rafi’i is given with the expression ‘wa qeela’ (and it is said…) One should continue to read and review this text throughout one’s life as it really does abridge much from the larger reference works. The best sharh is that of Alawi b. Saqaf al-Jifri, which is full of hadith evidence and explains where Ibn Naqib went against the mu’tamad positions (eighty or so instances).
Fath al-Mu’in – work is extremely popular in South East Asia and is also studied in Syria and Yemen. Its continued popularity is down to its being an abridgment of the works of Ibn Hajar al-Haytami as well as its chief commentary, I’anat al-Talibin, which draws much from the later hawashi literature.
Minhaj al-Talibin with Mughni al-Muhtaj or Fath al-Wahab – The final work studied is either of these two commentaries based upon al-Nawawi’s Minhaj al-Talibin. In South East Asia they prefer Fath al-Wahab and in the Middle East preference is given to Mughni al-Muhtaj.
Contemporary Works
These works are clearly written and presented in contemporary Arabic, whilst being based on some of the classical texts.
  • Al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah (masterful summary of worship based on Habib Zayn b. Sumayt’s classes)
  • Sharh al-Yaqut al-Nafis (particularly excellent in the mu’amalat sections)
  • Al-Fiqh al-Manhaji (an abridged version of Mughni al-Muhtaj with hadith evidence)
  • Al-Fiqh al-Shafi’i al-Muyasir (based on many authoritative hawashi works with evidences)
  • Al-Mu’tamad fi Fiqh al-Shafi’i (a modern masterpiece in the madhab)
Fatawa Works
Bughyat al-Mustarshidin.

This collection of relatively modern fatawa was collected by Habib Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad al-Mashur (1250-1320/1902) of Tarim, consisting of fatawa from some of the most reputable fuqaha of the last couple of centuries:

  • Abdullah b. Husayn Ba Faqih (1198-1296)
  • Abdullah b. Umar b. Abi Bakr (1209-1265)
  • Alawi b. Saqqaf b. Muhammad al-Jifri (d.1273)
  • Muhammad b. Abi Bakr al-Ashkhar (945-991)
  • Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kurdi al-Madani (1127-1194)

Umdat al-Mufti wa al-Mustafti.

This is a collection by Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahman al-Ahdal (1277-1352) of the famous Ahdal family. It is arranged according to fiqh chapters and contains many useful discussions and some modern issues rarely found elsewhere.

Fatawa al-Nawawi

Fatawa Sultan al-Ulama al-’Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salam

Fatawa al-Subki

Al-Hawi li’l-Fatawa li’l-Suyuti

Al-Fatawa al-Fiqhiyah al-Kubra li Ibn Hajar

Takhrij al-Hadith and Evidence Works
Ibn Hajar – Bulugh al-Maram
Ibn Hajar – Talkhis al-Habir
Ibn al-Mulaqqin – Badr al-Munir
Ibn al-Mulaqqin – Tuhfat al-Muhtaj
Taj al-Subki – Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyah al-Kubra
Al-Shirazi – Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyah
Al-Isnawi – Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyah
Qadi Shuhbah – Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyah
Qadi Abi ‘Asim al-’Abadi – Tabaqat al-Fuqaha al-Shafi’iyah
Reference Texts
These works are typically not studied cover to cover but rather referred to in order to find a solution to a particular problem.
For finding the mu’tamad in the madhab:
  • Nihayat al-Muhtaj
  • Mughni al-Muhtaj
  • Tuhfat al-Muhtaj
  • Fath al-Wahab
For finding evidences and differences with other madhahib:
  • Al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhab
  • Ma’rifat al-Sunan li’l-Bayhaqi
  • Nihayat al-Matlab
  • Al-Hawi al-Kabir
Al-Majmu’ is perhaps the best in the Shafi’i madhab. It retains the spirit and letter of the law and all other works fail to match its appeal.
For finding different opinions within the Shafi’i madhab:
  • Al-Tahdhib lil-Baghawi
  • Al-Bayan Sharh al-Muhadhab
  • Bahr al-Madhab lil-Ruyani
  • Fath al-Aziz lil-Rafi’i
  • Rawdat al-Talibin
  • Asna al-Mutalib with Shihab al-Ramli’s Hashiyah
For learning the views of Imam al-Shafi’i himself:
  • Kitab al-Umm
  • Ma’rifat al-Sunan

Usul al-Fiqh

The following works are studied:

  • Al-Waraqat
  • Al-Khulasah by Muhammad Hasan Hitu
  • Al-Wajiz by Muhammad Hasan Hitu
  • Al-Mustasfa by al-Ghazali

Al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyah

Legal maxims are crucial for developing one’s taffaquh:

  • Abdullah b. Sa’id al-Lhji – Al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyah
  • Al-Qawa’id al-Ahkam li Islah al-Anam by al-`Izz b. `Abd al-Salam
  • Al-Suyuti – Al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir

Al-Maqasid al-Shari’ah

Understanding the general objectives of Islam is essential:

  • Al-Ghazali – Jawahir al-Qur’an
  • Al-Qawa`id al-Kubra by al-`Izz b. `Abd al-Salam

Consulting Scholars

Establishing and maintaining professional ties with scholars is essential. They can be consulted on a wide range of topics and often clarify misunderstood concepts. In our age we can also benefit from listening to recordings of classes by great scholars. The following is just a choice selection of contemporary Shafi’i scholars (some recently deceased, may Allah have mercy on them).


  • Muhammad Hasan Hitu
  • Mustafa al-Bagha
  • Mustafa al-Khinn
  • Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti
  • Muhammad Tawfiq Ramadan
  • Rushdi al-Qalam
  • Wahba al-Zuhayli
  • Muhammad al-Zuhayli
  • Akram al-Qawasimi
  • Nuh Ali Salman al-Qudah
  • Abdullah al-Harari


  • Abd al-Azim Muhammad al-Dib
  • Ali Jumu’ah
  • Muhammad al-Sadiq Qamhawi
  • Abd al-Hamid al-Sayyid abd al-Hamid
  • Amr al-Wardani
  • Salim b. Khatib
  • Ahmad al-Hajjayn
  • Hisham al-Kamil
  • Muhammad Husayn Isa
  • Dr Atiyah Abd al-Mawjud


  • Habib Zayn b. Ibrahim al-Sumayt
  • Habib Umar al-Jilani
  • Hasan b. Ahmad al-Kaf
  • Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Kaf
  • Muhammad b. Umar al-Kaf
  • Muhammad Isma’il al-Zayn
  • Hamid b. Alawi al-Kaf


  • Muhammad Ali al-Khatib
  • Habib Salim b. Abdullah b. ‘Umar al-Shatiri
  • Habib Ali al-Mashur b. Muhammad b. Salim b. Hafiz
  • Habib ‘Umar al-Khatib


  • Abdullah b. Hasan al-Kuhaji
  • Ahmad al-Kubaysi (currently residing in the Emirates)

The West

  • Taha Karan
  • Muhammad al-Afifi al-Akiti
  • Tahir Jabir al-Alwani



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