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What is shafi and hanafi?

Last updated: 27th October 2006
Question ID: #2900
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bint habib
27th October 2006

Assalam alaikum!

My question is,
1)why do many people say that im shafi n im hanafi. why their way of praying vitr is differnt. should'nt we pray like Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) or should we follow them?

2) The way men pray namaz is differnt then women? if yes, but heard i heard that Hazrat Muhammad (saw) said pray namz as you see me prayin. but the only differnce is , women should cover their whole body.what abt Sajda?

I hope im clear.
Fe Aman Allah

Ulamaa ID 10
Answer last updated on:
24th January 2009
Answered by:
Ulamaa ID 10
Location: Malaysia
Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Al Jawaab Billahit-Tawfeeq

Respected Sister,

First of all we should know what the words like 'Shafi'e', 'Hanafi', 'Maliki' and 'Hanbali' refer to. These are the founders of the main four schools of thought in Islam namely Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Shafi'e, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on them all). All four of them lived during the best of times which was known as the time of the As-Salafus Salih (pious predecessors), thus are people of very high esteem and prominence.

It is a great misconception that by following the verdicts of these imaams, we are discarding the Sunnah of our beloved Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam). This is because the verdicts they issued were all derived from the Holy Quraan and the ahadeeth of Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam). On the contrary, by following their verdicts, we are actually reviving the essence of the Sunnah of Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam).

Therefore, when a person informs us that they are either 'Shafi'e' or 'Hanafi' means they are referring to the school of thought they are following. This does not in anyway mean that their aqeedah is different from the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah but they are only having differences of opinions in fiqhi matters which are not plentiful. It is incorrect to think that one school of thought is better than the other or one is correct while the others are incorrect. All of them are on the right path.

Yes, it is true that our Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) has been reported to have said 'Pray as you see me pray'. There is a narration of Imam At-Tirmidhi (rahmatullahi 'alaih) who has narrated from 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (radhiallhu 'anhu) that he said:

'Indeed the idolaters had preoccupied Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) from performing four prayers during the day of Khandaq (Battle of the Trench) until a portion of the night which Allah has willed passed by. Then Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) commanded Bilal thus he called out adhaan. Then Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said the iqaamah and performed Zohor. Then Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said the iqaamah and performed 'Asr. Then Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said the iqaamah and performed Maghrib. Then Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said the iqaamah and performed 'Isha.'

(Footnote of Nurul Anwaar, pg. 26)

In the explanation of this incident, it was further stated in the text of Nurul Anwaar (pg. 26) that Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) had performed these prayers in order and said: 'Pray as you see me pray.' This denotes that what was meant here by 'Pray as you see me pray' was the manner Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) performed the qadhaa' prayers (ie. in order) and not the command that men and women's prayers should be the same.

With regards to the second question, please click on this link:

These websites can also be visited for further details:


Also the book 'The Legal Status Of Following A Madhab' by Mufti Taqi Usmani is highly recommended.

And Allah knows best.