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ImamMuhammad Ibn Idris ash-Shafi^iyy, was born in Gazza around 150 A.H. His lineage meets with the Prophet’s one at ^Abdu Manaf, the Prophet’s great grandfather. His father died when he was very young, leaving him and his mother in utter poverty. His mother decided to take him to Makkah in order to preserve his noble lineage.

Imam ash-Shafi^yy memorised the Qur’an at a very young age, and then decided to improve his knowledge of Arabic. So, he went deep into the desert to join the Bedouin tribe of Hudhayl, renowned for the best standard of literary Arabic. Then he returned to Makkah and continued his studies. Yet his thirst for knowledge was still burning inside him, so he decided to travel to Madinah to learn from Imam Malik. He managed to borrow Malik’s book, ‘Al-Muwatta’, and memorised it even before meeting him.

It has been mentioned that Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy used to divide the night time into three portions; One third for Islamic knowledge, another for doing different acts of worship, and the rest for sleeping.

On another occasion he said: “I haven’t filled my stomach to the satisfaction, for doing so, makes the body weaker, the heart less merciful, eliminates one’s intelligence, brings sleepiness, and weakens one’s self ability to do acts of worship”.

Once when he was asked a question he didn’t give a quick answer, and when he was asked about that he said: “I don’t know whether answering or remaining silent is better”.

Among the prominent features of the life of Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy, may Allah have mercy on him, was his adherence to the Islamic Creed, methodology of the Qur’an, the prophetic traditions (Sunnah), and the practices of the Muslim elites of the first three centuries after migration (As-Salaf).

Imam ash-Shafi^yy and all the scholars of as-Salaf were on the belief that Allah is clear of all non-befitting attributes. Hence, their methodology of interpreting the mutashabih verses of the Qur’an is by submitting them to the muhkam verses. A good example is the saying of Imam ash-Shafi^iyy:

ءامنتُ بما جاءَ عن اللهِ على مُرادِ اللهِ وبما جاءَ عن رسولِ اللهِ على مُرادِ رسولِ اللهِ

Which means: {I believe in what Allah revealed according to the meaning that Allah Willed, and in what the Messenger of Allah conveyed according to the meaning that the Messenger of Allah willed}

In other words, the proper befitting meanings are not according to the sensuous and physical meanings that delusions would lead to such as places, shapes, limbs, movements, sitting, colours, directions, smiling, laughter, or any other meanings which are not permissible to be attributed to Allah.

In another statement, Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, may Allah raise his rank, said: {Allah, the Exalted is eternally existent and eternally place did not exist.Allah created the place while He is still attributed with Eternity as He was before creating the place. It is intellectually impossible for change to occur in His Self or for alteration to happen in His Attributes} “Related by Imam az-Zabidiyy in his book 'Ithaf as-Sadatil-Muttaqin”.

Imam ash-Shafi^iyy also said: {Whoever seeks to know his Creator, and concludes that his Creator is something that can be imagined in minds, then he would be a blasphemer for likening Allah to His creations. If he ends up denying the Existence of Allah, then he would be an atheist. And if he concludes that Allah exists, and admits that one’s mind cannot encompass Allah, then he would be a muwahhid} (i.e. the one who clears Allah of all imperfections)

Imam ash-Shafi^iyy said so because no one knows the Reality of Allah except Allah and engaging one’s self in thinking about the Self of Allah in an attempt to seek the Reality of Allah is blasphemous.

As-Suyutiyy in his book (al-ashbah wan-nadha’ir) related that Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy said: {the one who likens Allah to his creation is a blasphemer}

In his book (najmul-muhtadiyy wa rajmul-mu^tadiyy), Ibnul-Mu^allim al-Qurashiyy related that Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy said: {whoever believes that Allah is sitting on the Throne commits blasphemy}

Imam ash-Shafi^iyy was a great scholar whose contribution to Islamic knowledge remains considerable, despite the 1200 years that passed since his death.

May Allah reward him greatly. Ameen