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Four Imams: Their lives, works and their Schools of Thought

Brief Biographies of the Four Imams

Imam Malik - the first of the four great imams and founder of the Maliki school of thought. He lived his whole life in Madina where much of the Quran was revealed and most of the legal practices of Islam established. He spent his life studying, recording and clarifying the legal parameters and precedents which was passed down to him by the first two generations of Muslims who were the direct inheritors of the perfected form of Islam left by the Prophet (saw). This book not only gives the biographical details of the Imam's life but also puts it in its historical context and most importantly, shows us the methods he used in reaching his legal conclusions which played a vital part in preserving exactly the legacy of the pure Divine Guidance left by the Prophet and his Companions.

Imam Al Shafi'i - founder of the Shafi'i school of thought. He was remarkable in that he resolved the differences of opinion that arose in the still evolving Muslim community and brought them together in the most outstanding legal system in the whole history of mankind. This book looks at his life and traces the development of his thought. It talks of his teachers and his followers and shows how the system he devised grew out of the intellectual and political currents of his time. It also gives an in-depth historical analysis of the various movements and sects which formed the background to the Islamic world in which he lived.

Imam Abu Hanifa - died in 150 AH/767CE. He met the companions of the Prophet (saw) and is counted amongst the Tabi'un (followers). He is renowned for his piercing intellect as faqih, his scrupulousness, integrity of character and his resoluteness in the face of oppression. His school is historically associated with the rule in India and is the most widely followed school of thought. This makes his study particularly important for the English speaking readers since it gives them an in-depth appreciation of the school followed by the majority of the Muslims in the world.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal - chronologically the last of the four imams and lived just after the first three generations of exemplary Muslims, thus confronting a slightly different situation from that faced by his three predecessors. This necessitated a fresh approach to the legal issues arising out of the situation of the rapidly expanding urban development and imperial government which had started to engulf much of the Muslim community. The book shows how Imam Ahmad through his incredible personal integrity and scrupulous adherence to sound tradition was able to chart a course through a story period in which he lived. His example provided his followers with the legal bases of what later became the Hanbali madhab.

The Four Imams
Their lives, works and their schools of thought

By Muhammad Abu Zahra
Translator : Aisha Bewley
Hardback 530 Pages 
ISBN : 9781870582414
Publisher : Dar Al Taqwa, UK 

A highly recommended read whether you are interested in the four madhabs or not, this is part of the History of Islam which all seekers of sincere Knowledge should know about, and it is a must if you are want to know more about the founders of the four great schools of Islamic fiqh (the science of the application of the Shari’a) and their methods.

Many books of this nature are exaggerated in either praise or criticism, however this book was originally written in Arabic by the respected Intellectual and scholar Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra, his books are well researched cutting out the extremes in either way.

This English translation by Sister Aisha Bewley is fluid and in flowing modern English which makes this work easy to understand for all age groups.

In this book, there is a comprehensive, in depth analysis of the four Sunni madhabs (Mazhabs) and their founders, giving details of their biography and the methods they used in reaching their legal conclusions. This is particularly important in the world today when many thousands of Muslims find themselves in a situation where there is not enough knowledge and therefore, no traditional allegiance to a particular madhab. As a result of this ignorance, there is also a great deal of futile disagreements amongst the Muslims. This work therefore is instrumental in bridging the gap amongst the Muslims and uniting them.

It makes a stimulating and enriching read for all who are interested in deepening their knowledge of Islam.

"The Muslim is recommended to keep the company of the good and the Pious and many scholars have said if you can not find the company of the pious then read about their Lives.

as Jaahiz Said: "A book saves you from mixing with those that are frivolous in their character, foul in their speech, and woeful in their ignorance. If the only benefit of a book was that it keeps you from foolish daydreaming and prevents you from frivolity, it would certainly be considered a true friend who has given you a great favour."

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