The Shaf'i school is predominant in east Africa, Indonesia and southeast Asia. Al Shafii's (d. 855) thought influenced Indonesia, Southern Arabia, Lower Egypt, parts of Syria, Palestine, Eastern Africa, India and South Africa. The school remains predominant in Southern Arabia, Bahrain, the Malay Archipelago, East Africa and several parts of Central Asia. Shafi'i is practiced in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It is followed by approximately 15% of Muslims world-wide.
The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules. Hanafi took Shafi as his rival and vice versa. Tradition, the consensus of the Muslim community and reasoning by analogy are characteristics of this school.
Most Kurds in Iraq follow the Shafii school of Sunni Islam. A minority of Kurds, concentrated in parts of the Kifri and Klar areas of Kirkuk, follow the Hanafi school.
The Shafi'iyyah school of Islamic law was named after Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i [Shaf'i, Shaafi`ee] (767-819). The school of Imam Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Shafii of the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, brought up in Mecca. He later taught in both Baghdad and Cairo and followed a somewhat eclectic legal path, laying down the rules for analogy that were later adopted by other legal schools. He was a descendant of the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and came to Egypt in the 9th century. Saladin who founded the first madrasa, dedicated to the Shafi'i rite near the tomb of its founder, Imam al-Shafi'i. Al-Shafi`i was known for his peculiar strength in Arabic language, poetry, and philology. Imam Shafi`i was called devil and imprisoned. Prayers were said for his death. He was taken in captivity from Yemen to Baghdad, in a condition of humiliation and degradation.
Then at the time of Al-Shafi'i, the Prophet's ahadith were gathered from different countries, and the disagreements among the scholars increased until Al-Shafi'i wrote his famous book, Al-Risalah, which is considered the foundation of Islamic jurisprudence. The Shafi'i tradition is particularly accessible to English speaking Muslims due to the availability of high quality translations of the Reliance of the Traveler.
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