Schools of Law

Different groups within the Sunni and Shia traditions have various perspectives on how the teachings in the Qur'an and Hadith should be interpreted and applied.


Schools of Law in Sunni and Shia Islam


I. Great Sufi Passages: Muhyi (p. 123, 133), Abdallah al-Ansari (p. 127f)


II. Recap of Four Schools of Law in Sunni Tradition

A. Hanifi

1. Largest School

2. Liberal

3. Emphasis on Qiya

4. Turkey / Asia

B. Shafites

1. Emphasis on consensus

2. Lower Egypt, portions of Arabia,

3. East Africa, Indonesia, Philippines

C. Malakites

1. Emphasis on Hadith

2. North and West Africa, Upper Egypt, Sudan

D. Hanbalites

1. Smallest school

2. Conservative

3. Literal interpretation of Qur'an - Wahabbis

4. Southern Arabia, Qatar


III. Schools in Shia Tradition

A. Imamites

1. Largest school of Shia

2. Recognize twelve Imams

3. Also known as “twelvers”

4. Last imam was Muhamad al-Mahdi in 880 A.D.

5. Iran

B. Ismailis

1. Smallest sect of Shia

2. Believe the seventh Imam was Ismail (d. 760)

3. Mystical practices / Ismail veneration

C. Zaydis

1. Sect named after fourth Imam, Zayd

2. Refuse to accept Muta marriages (Sunni also rejects)

3. Better relationship with Sunni than other Shia groups

D. Alawites

1. Emphasis on Ali

2. Liberal social views

3. Strong emphasis on final mahdi



21 min