WHAT IS MADH'HAB?
No Schools of Thought ever existed in Islam at the time of ProphetMuhammad (pbuh). Neither his exemplary practices nor his Hadith (theSunnah) were put in writing during his lifetime. After the death of theProphet (pbuh) many of the prominent Sahaaba (Companions of theProphet (pbuh) adhered to Imam Ali's explanation of the Sunnah of theProphet (pbuh). The number of such luminous personalities increasedgradually, and came to be known as the Devotees of the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) as passed down by Ali. They were named
Al - Khaassah
, هصاخل meaning the
elite, the distinctive, or the special
. InArabic they were referred to as Al-Shi'a. The rest of the Muslims werereferred to as
Al - Aammah
, هماعل meaning the general public or thecommon man.When Mu'awiya became the Khalifa (ruler), he promoted the term
Al - Jama'ah
هاجل (the throng of the society) to gain support for himself among the people. About 150 years later, the term Jama'ah wasmodified (by people conforming to Abbasi government policy) in anattempt to fight off Ahlul Bayt's enormous influence in the society. Later the term Jama'ah was modified to
Al - Sunnah wal Jama'ah
هاجلو هنسل.The term of Sunnah wal Jama'ah was prevalent during the 3rd centuryH. when the Schools of Thought in Islam بذل were in a flux but weremore or less consolidating.Later in the 3rd century H. the term was modified again, and rather than calling it Al-Sunnah wal Jama'ah, it was abbreviated to
هنسل . This became a general term for the four SunniSchools of Thought.By the year 250H the four Sunni Schools of Thought werepopularized and patronized by the Abbasi government, as well as bytheir own enthusiasts, thus spreading in various areas of the IslamicUmmah at variable speed. The
Schools of Thought by thisstretch of time were:
, as headed by Imam Al-Saadiq.
, as headed by Abu Hanifa, Al-Na'maan.
, as headed by Malik Ibn Anas.
, as headed by Ibn Idrees Al-Shafi'i.
, as headed by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.