The Four Imams: Information Sheet
taken from


  1. Nu'man bin Thabit ibn Zauti,- well known in Islamic History as 'Imam Abu Hanifa' and 'Imam Azam' - was the son of a Persian merchant.

    He was born in Kufa, Iraq - in the Year 80 A.H.

  2. His father - Thabit - was privileged to meet Hazrat Ali (ra) who had at the time, made Kufa his capital.

  3. Kufa was founded in 17 A.H. by Hazrat Umar ibn Khattab (ra) the 2nd Khalif.

    Kufa had become the 3rd most important centre of learning during Hazrat Umar's (ra) Khilafat.

    A large number of Sahaba (ra) were sent to this new city to settle here by Umar (ra). These included Hazrat Abdulla ibn Ma'sood, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, Ammar, Huzaifa & Abu Moosa etc. (ra).

    Records indicate the presence of 1050 Sahaba in Kufa of whom 24 were the participants of Badr.

  4. At the age of 20, Imam Abu Hanifa turned his attention towards the pursuit of advancing his Islamic knowledge.

  5. Among his 1st and the most important tutors was Imam Hammad (Died 120 A.H.) whose educational lineage is linked with Hazrat Abdulla Ibn Mas'ood (ra).

  6. Imam Abu Hanifa is also a Tabi'ee = One who saw and benefited from at least one Sahabi.

  7. Imam Abu Hanifa benefited from nearly 4,000 Shaikhs.

    In those days, the Hajj season was the best means of spreading and deriving Islamic knowledge as Muslims from every corner of the Islamic world assembled in Makka.

    In his lifetime Imam Abu Hanifa is reputed to have performed fifty Hajj.

  8. Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) had joined his father's business wherein he showed scrupulous honesty and fairness.

    Once his agent had sold a consignment of silk cloth on his behalf but forgot to mention a slight defect to the customers. When Abu Hanifa learnt of this, he was greatly distressed because he had no means of the refunding the customers; so he immediately ordered the entire proceeds of the sale ( 30,000 Dirhams ) to be given in charity.

  9. The Imam was also keenly interested in education.

    He established a school at Kufa, which later became a famous College of Theology. Here he delivered lectures on Islamic Law and related subjects.

  10. Fiqah or Islamic Law was systematically studied by his students under his expert guidance.

    A large number of his devoted and highly intelligent students worked under him for 30 years, and it is the labour of these students that gave us the Hanafi School of thought.

  11. Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) was the 1st of the Imams to advocate the use of "reason" in the consideration of religious questions based on the Qur'an and Sunnah.

  12. He was also the 1st Imam to arrange all the subjects of Islamic Law systematically.

  13. His most important work is the Kitab-ul-Aasaar which was compiled by his students - Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad.

  14. In {164 A.H.} 763 A.C. Al-Mansoor - the Banu Abbas Khalifa of the Muslim Empire at Baghdad whose capital was Baghdad - offered Imam Sahib the post of Chief Qazi of the state, but the Imam declined to accept the post and chose to remain independent. In his reply to Al-Mansoor, the Imam excused himself by saying that he did not regard himself fit for the post offered. Al-Mansoor, who had his own ideas and reasons for offering the post, lost his temper and accused the Imam of lying.

    "If I am lying," the Imam said, "then my statement is doubly correct.

    "How can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qazi?"

    Incensed by this reply, Al-Mansoor charged the Imam with contempt, had him arrested and locked in prison.

  15. Even in prison, the Imam continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him.

  16. It was here in prison that the Imam was administered a dose of poison in 150 A.H.

    Realizing that the end was near, the Imam prostrated in prayer and passed away in this condition in the month of Rajab, 150 A.H.

    The news of his death soon spread throughout Baghdad

  17. 17. The whole town came out to pay their last homage to the greatest Imam of Islamic Law.

    More than 50,000 people participated in the first Janaza Salaat.

    People continued to flock and before the Janaza could be finally taken for burial, the Salaatul Janaza was offered 6 times in all.

    For days, people came in large numbers to pay their respects at the grave side.

  18. Among the four Imams, Abu Hanifa has the largest number of followers even today in all parts of the world {M.A.R.K.}.


  1. Abu Abdullah Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi Aamir (ra) was born in Madina in the year 93 A.H. (714 A.C)

    He came from a respectable family.

  2. His ancestral home was in Yemen, but his great grandfather - Aamir - settled in Madina after embracing Islam.

  3. His grandfather - Maalik - was an important Taabi-ee and a famous reporter of Ahadith.

  4. He was greatly attracted to the study of Islamic Law and devoted his entire interest to the subject after completing his primary education.

  5. Madina was the most important seat of Islamic learning as the immediate descendants of the Sahaba-e-Kiraam were inhabitants of the City.

  6. For the purpose of his study, he sought out over 300 "Tabi'een" = those who saw the Sahaba/Companions of the Holy Prophet (saw), and acquired from them the knowledge of the Holy Prophet's (saw) Ahadith and Sunnah.

  7. He spent his entire life in Madina where he studied Fiqah from 95 Shaikhs. It is these Shaikhs from whom he recorded the Ahadith in his Kitab-ul-Muatta.

    This Kitab contains 1725 Ahadith of Rasulullah (saw).

  8. He studied Qira'at & Hadith for nearly ten years under Hazrat Naafe' the slave of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Umar (ra). Hazrat Naafe' had served his master for nearly 30 years.

    Naafe' was once sent by Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (ra) to impart knowledge in Egypt.

  9. Although he is the author of numerous books, his most important work is the Kitab-ul-Muatta, which deals with the subject of Islamic Law based on Ahadith and Sunnah. The Kitab-ul-Muatta is the earliest surviving book of its kind - written around 150 A.H. - and it is used in all Islamic institutions as one of the text books in the final year studies by graduating Ulama.

  10. Imam Malik had the highest regard for the Holy Prophet (saw) as well as for his Ahadith. He never tolerated indiscipline whilst Hadith-e-Rasul was under discussion.

    He even rebuked Al-Mansoor for talking loudly when some Ahadith were being discussed.

  11. The Imam always made Wudu or Ghusal, wore fresh clean attire and applied perfume before conducting lessons on Ahadith.

  12. He delivered lectures on Islamic Law, and issued fatwas (Islamic Rulings) for nearly 62 years. Approx. 1,300 people have reported Ahadith from him.

  13. He had the honour of occupying the home of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (ra) and conducting lessons from the same spot where Rasulullah (saw) spent his time for I'tikaaf, in the Masjid-un-Nabi.

  14. Imam Malik was famous for his piety and integrity, and courageously stood up prepared to suffer for his conviction.

    For example, in 135 A.H., When the governor of Madina demanded and forced people to take the oath of allegiance in favour of Khalifa Al-Mansoor, the Imam issued a Fatwa that such an oath was not binding because it was given under duress.

  15. Since this fatwa was not in the interest of the ruler, the governor arrested the Imam and had him publicly flogged for the "crime".

    Al-Mansoor, learning of this outrage, apologized to the Imam and dismissed the errant governor.

  16. Imam Malik (ra), was offered 3,000 gold coins (dinars) by Mansoor, as travelling expenses to Baghdad and subsequent residence in the Capital, but the Imam politely refused the offer saying that he prefered to live in Madina near Rasulullah (saw).

  17. Imam Malik never intended the formation of a school of thought bearing his name. It was his disciples & followers who later developed a Fiqah School based on Imam Malik's rulings.

  18. Malikis are found mostly in North & West Africa - Tunis, Algeria, Morrocco and Egypt.

  19. This Great Leader of Islamic Law died in Madina on the 11th Rabi-ul-Akhir 179 A.H. at the age 86 years. He lies buried in the Jannatul Baqi in Madina. (M.A.R.K.)


  1. Madina was the most important centre of knowledge as scholars flocked to the City to pay their respects to Rasulullah (saw).

  2. The home of Imam Malik too was a centre of Ilm-e-Nabawi.

  3. Among his first tutors was Imam-ush-Shua'raa Hazrat Naafe' bin Abdur Rahman (died - 169 A.H.) from whom he mastered the Qur'an.

  4. Later, whilst still a youngster he joined the Hadith classes of Naafe'.

  5. Physical description: Tall, heavily built, fair but reddish, wide eyes, beautiful nose, very little hair on the forehead, heavy long beard which reached his chest. trimmed moustache above/edge of the lip.

    He considered the shaver of moustache as Makrooh and a Mussla (disfigurer).

  6. He wore expensive clothing and used much Ittar.

  7. He wore a silver ring with a stone and engraved was 'Hasbun'Allahu wa Ne'mal Wakeel'.

  8. On his door was written 'Maa Sha Allah'. This house originally belonged to Abdulla ibn Mas'ood (ra).

  9. He started teaching at the age of 17.

  10. It was only after seventy Ulama certified him as an authority, did he commence issuing Fatwa.

  11. His seat in the Masjid-e-Nabawi was the same seat that was occupied by Hazrat Umar (ra).

  12. He never answered the call of nature within the perimeter of the Haram, except during illness or some Uzar.

  13. He never rode during his entire life on an animal in Madina.

    He used to say, "How can I ride an animal whose feet tramples the ground in which lies resting of the Master (saw).

  14. During his advancing years, he never went out of Madina - hoping to be buried therein.

  15. During Hadith lessons if anyone raised his voice, he would reprimand him and quote the Qura'nic verse ... adding that the command was applicable even now.


  1. During the Khilafat of Mansoor Abbasi, oppression was on the increase.

    Muhammad Zun-Nafs az-Zakiyah in Madina and his brother Ibrahim in Basra were compelled to raise the flag of rebellion against the the injustice directed mostly towards the Sayeds.

    Imam Malik issued a fatwa in favour of these two and against the government.

  2. 2. This led to his arrest by the governor of Madina and subsequent flogging - seventy lashes.

    Later when Mansoor learnt of this, he expressed regret and sent an apology to the Imam and requested the Imam to come to Baghdad, but the Imam refused.

    When Mansoor came for Hajj, he visited Madina as well and treated the Imam with great respect.

  3. Haroon ar-Rasheed

    Haroon ar-Rasheed was a patron of the Ulama. He had great regard for Imam Malik. He personally, with his two sons, journeyed to Madina to listen to the Muatta. He invited the Imam to come to his camp in order to give lessons but the Imam refused. So Haroon brought his sons to the Imam.

  4. His death

    Imam Malik was 86 years and had become quite weak, but he still continued to give lesson and issue fatwas.

    It was Sunday when he became ill and for the next 22 odd days it got worse. He passed away on the 11 th Rabi-ul-Akhir, 179 A.H.

    He had taught and issued fatwas for 62 years.


The Fuqaha-e-Saba' of Madina are:

  1. Saeed ibn Musayyib, Died 94 A.H.
  2. Ubaidullah ibn Uttba ibn Mas'ud, Died 98 A.H.
  3. Urwa, Died 94 A.H.
  4. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Died 108 A.H.
  5. Abu Bakr bin Abdur-Rahman bin Haris ibn Hisham, Died 94 A.H.
  6. Sulaiman ibn Yasaar, Died 109 A.H.
  7. Kharija Zaid, Died 109 A.H.

These 7 were the centre of Ilm-e-Fiqah and Hadith in Madina.

Their unanimous ruling was the basis of any verdict in the court of Madina in matters of Fiqah.

The basis of Imam Malik's Fiqah and Fatwa originates from this Fiqah of Madina.

Allama ibn Qayyim (ra) states that the promotion of Deen, Fiqah, and Ilm in the Ummah is due to the students of Ibn Mas'ud, Zaid bin Thabit, Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas (ra).

Ibn Mas'ud stayed in Madina but was later ordered to reside in Kufa.

Therefore the above 7 were instrumental in the promotion of Ilm in Madina.

And it is from these persons that the Shaikhs of Imam Malik benefitted, in particular Hazrat Rabi'atur Raai who is the most important Shaikh of Imam Malik (ra).

Imam Malik based his rulings in his Fatwas from the Fiqah of the above and this eventually became the "Maliki Fiqah.


  1. Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Idrees Shafi'ee (ra) was a descendant from the Quraish tribe.

    He is the Only Imam who is related to Rasulullah (saw).

  2. Imam Shafi'ee (RAH) was born in Ghazza, Syria in 150 A.H. (765 A.C.)

    He lost his father during infancy and was raised by his mother under very poor circumstances.

  3. He completed Hifz of the Qur'an at the tender age of 7 years, and at the age of 13 memorized the Kitabul-Muatta of Imam Malik (ra).

  4. He spent some time among the Beduins outside Makka, to acquire a good knowledge of the Arabic language.

  5. At the age of 20, (170 A.H./785 A.C.) he went to Madina and became a student of Imam Malik (ra) who was greatly impressed with the young student who had memorized the Muatta.

  6. He stayed with Imam Malik for some time; thereafter he returned to Makka.

  7. He also came into contact with other learned men (81 Shaikhs) from all of whom he acquired the knowledge of the Qur'an, Hadith and Sunnah.

  8. In 184 A.H./799 A.C., Imam Shafi'ee was arrested and taken to Baghdad to appear before Haroon Ar-Rasheed on "trumped up" charges of treason. It was due to the recommendation of Imam Muhammad (the state Qazi and student of Imam Abu Hanifa) that Imam Shafi'ee was discharged. He was then 34 years old.

  9. Imam Shafi'ee remained in Baghdad as a student of Imam Muhammad for over three years to add further to his knowledge of Islamic Law.

  10. He returned to Makka where he stayed for 9 years delivering lectures on Islamic Law. It was during this period that Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal came into contact with Imam Shafi'ee.

  11. In 199 A.H., he went to Egypt where he was received with much honour and respect. He remained here until his death.

  12. Imam Shafi'ee was the author of over 100 books, the most important of which is the Kitab-ul-Umm. It contains the rulings of the Imam on all subjects of Islamic Law.

  13. He left behind a large number of dedicated students in Makka, Baghdad and Egypt.

  14. The Shafi'ee School of Thought emerged from these students who propagated the views and rulings of the Imam through their writings and preachings.

  15. Imam Shafi'ee (ra) never committed a major sin nor spoke a lie, nor did he swallow an unlawful morsel of food in his entire life.

    He never at any time performed Jumma without Ghusal.

  16. He was an extremely generous personality who on numerous occasions gave away all he possessed to the poor and needy.

  17. He died in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday evening after Maghrib, 29th Rajab, 204 A.H. (20th Jan, 820 A.C.) after a short illness, at the age of 53-54 years. { M.A.R.K. }


  1. Abu Abdulla Muhammad ibn Idris ibn Al-Abbas bin Usman bin Shafi'.

  2. His ancestry joins the Prophet at Abd Manaaf.

  3. His title is 'Naasirun Sunnah'. He was honoured as Al-Imaamul Mujaddid in that he is the Mujaddid of the 2nd century.

  4. His birth place is Ghazza/Asqalaan - a place two stages from Jeruselam. He was born in Rajab 150 A.H.

  5. He was two years old when his parents moved to Makka and made it their home.

  6. His mother was a Yemeni of the famous Bani Azd tribe.

  7. His ancestor - Shafi'- was the flag bearer of the Banu Hashim in Badr.

    He was taken prisoner and released after ransom. Thereafter he embraced Islam.

    Another report states that he met the Prophet (saw) as a youngster and became a Muslim.

    However his father - Saa'ib - was the flag bearer.....

  8. Imam Shafi'ee completed Hifz at 7 and memorised Muatta at 10 years.

  9. At 15 with the permission of his SHAIKH - Muslim bin Khalid Zanji (the Mufti of Makka) - he started issuing fatwas.

  10. Earlier he spent his time in Arabic literature and poetry.

    One day at Mina, he heard a voice behind saying: "Aliaka bil Fiqah" - (GRASP THE FIQAH).

  11. Muslim bin Khalid who had noticed his remarkable intelligence, etc., advised him to study Fiqah.

    He spent three years with the Shaikh, until the age of 13.

  12. Later he went to Madina to study under Imam Malik.

    Besides Imam Malik, he studied Hadith under 81 Shaikhs.

    In Makka his tutor was Sufyan bin Ainiyyah.

    Imam Shafi'ee said about these two: "Had it not been for Imam Malik and Sufyan, then Ilm Would not have remained in Hidjaz."

  13. He spent 8 months with Imam Malik, then returned to Makka.

  14. He came into contact in 184 A.H. with Imam Muhammad - state Qazi - at Baghdad and stayed with him for over 3 years. Taking into account future visits to the Imam, he spent 10 years with Imam Muhammad.

    Comments: "I never came across a greater Alim of Kitabullah than Imam Muhammad (ra).

  15. Imam Muhammad made this comment:

    [a] The door of Fiqah was shut to the people, Allah opened it because of Shafi'ee.

    [b] Imam Shafi'ee is the Mujaddid of Deen.

  16. Imam Malik made this comment:

    No Scholar more brilliant than Muhammad ibn Idris Shafi'ee ever came to me as a pupil.

  17. Fiqah Shafi'ee

    The Imam had mastered both Maliki and Hanafi Fiqah. Keeping both before him, he formulated the basis of the Shafi'ee Fiqah.

    His pupils compiled his works, Fatwas, teachings, etc., and promoted the Shafi'ee School of Fiqah.


  1. Abu Abdullah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hambal Shaibani Al-Maruzi was of pure Arab descent whose ancestery joins Hazrat Ebrahim (as).

  2. He was born in Baghdad in the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 164 A.H. He lost his father when he was only three years old.

  3. Baghdad being the Capital of the Muslim State was an important centre of learning during the Banu Abbas Era.

  4. Imam Ahmad Hambal (ra) completed Hifz of the Qur'an at an early age.

  5. In 180 A.H., when he was 16 years old, he began to persue the knowledge of Ahadith under the Imam Abu Yusuf (the most important pupil of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra)).

  6. He stayed with him for 3 years, during which time he recorded so much information, that the volumes filled 3 book shelves.

  7. Later he also attended the classes of Imam Muhammad (another prominent pupil of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra)).

  8. After accumlating knowledge from numerous scholars in Baghdad, he journeyed to Kufa, Basra, Makka, Madina, Yemen, Syria, Jazira in order to increase his knowledge of Ahadith.

  9. After meeting with over a hundred Shaikhs, he is reputed to have made a collection of over a million Ahadith.

  10. It was in 187 A.H. that he met Imam Shafi'ee (ra) in Makka for the first time. Later when Imam Shafi'ee came to Baghdad, Imam Hambal also joined him during the Imam's residence here and mastered from him Fiqah.

  11. Imam Shafi'ee (ra) too on the other hand relied very much on the knowledge of Ahadith and Sunnah which Imam Ahmad Hambal (ra) possessed.

  12. It was in 204 A.H., only after he had reached the age of 40, that Imam Ahmad Hambal (ra) started conducting lessons and delivering lectures.

  13. Being a prominent figure, his lectures attracted a huge gathering of at least 5,000 students among whom nearly 500 took down notes daily.

  14. Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, and Imam Tirmizi (ra) were also amongst his noteworthy students.

  15. The Mu'tazila controversy regarding the "immortality and creation of the Qur'an" was the cause of much trial in the life of the Imam, who suffered much over a period of nearly 15 years.

  16. The Banu Abbas rulers - Al-Ma'moon and Al-Mu'tasim who were influenced by the Mu'tazila - tried to force the Ulama to accept the Mu'tazila doctrine.

  17. Being a devotee of the Sunnah, and an opposer of Bid'at it fell upon the shoulders of Imam Hambal (ra) to oppose this doctrine vigorously.

  18. Al-Mu'tasim even ordered the flogging and imprisonment of the Imam for several months.

    Imam Hambal succumbed to the sufferings rather than deviate from the beliefs and practices of the Sunnah.

  19. The sufferings of Imam Hambal ended when Al-Mutawakkil took over as ruler, restored the traditional teachings of Islam and accorded the Imam the honour befitting the great scholar.

  20. Among his several works is the Encyclopaedia of Ahadith called Masnad, compiled by his son Abdulla from his lectures, and amplified by references to over 28,000 Ahadith.

  21. His other important works include a collection of his fatwas (Islamic rulings on religious matters) - covering over 20 volumes.

    These fatwas form the basis of the Hambali School of Thought.

  22. The Hambalis represent the smallest group in the four Sunni Schools of Fiqah.

  23. Imam Hambal (ra) died after a short illness in Baghdad, on Friday evening, 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, 241 A.H. (855 A.C.) at the age of 77 years.

  24. His Janaza Salaat was attended by nearly 1,000,000 people who came to pay their respects to this great scholar of Islam. {M.A.R.K.}