Translation: Aboo Aamir Ishaaq bn AbdirRaheem
He was Imaam, the scholar, Abu Abdillaah Muhammad bn Idrees bn Al-Abbaas bn Uthmaan bn Shaafiee bn AsSaaib bn Ubayd bn Abd Yazeed bn Haashim bn AlMuttalib bn Abd Manaaf bn Qoosee AlQurashee AlMuttalibee.
AshShaafi'ee was born at Gaza, some said at Asqalan (Ashqelon), some others said he was born in Yemen in year 150 Hijrah. His father died while he was very young thus his mother carried him to Makkah while he was just two years old lest he should lose the line of his lineage. It was in Makkah he grew up. He learnt the Qur'aan while he was seven years old and memorized Al-Muwata (of AlImaam Maalik) at ten. He began to pass religious verdicts at fifteen; some said at eighteen; it was his teacher, Muslim bn Khaalid Az-Zanjee that gave him the permission (to do so).
Imaam AshShaafi'ee was known for Arabic Language and Poetry. He stayed in Huzayl for about ten years; some said for about twenty years. It was from the people of Huzayl that he learnt the various dialects of the Arabic Language and Eloquence. He heard many hadith narrations from a number of teachers and scholars of hadith. He read, by himself, Al-Muwata to Maalik from his memory such that Maalik was stupefied by his manner of recitation and attachment (to knowledge). He thus took the knowledge of the people of Hejaz from him after the latter had taken it from Muslim bn Khaalid AzZanjee.
AshShaafi'ee also took the knowledge of Fiqh from Muslim bn Khaalid AzZanjee who in turn took it from Ibn Jurayj and the latter from Ataa and lastly from Ibn Abbaas and Ibn AzZubayr who both took it from a number of Companions of the Messenger of Allaah, Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, among whom were Umar, Alee, Ibn Mas'ûd, Zayd bn Thaabit and others; all these Companions took their knowledge from the Messenger of Allaah, Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam.
Ash-Shaafi'ee also learnt Fiqh (Jurisprudence) under Maalik who in turn learnt from a number of scholars.
Also many people learnt Fiqh from AshShaafiee as we have mentioned; and those who came after them till our own present time in one specific book written. All praise is due to Allaah.
More than one leading scholars of Islam had praised AshShaafi'ee among them was AbdurRahman bn Mahdee who asked AshShaafi'ee to write a book for him under Fundamentals of Jurisprudence thus he wrote ArRisaalah.
Ahmad bn Hanbal used to make supplication for AshShaafi'ee in his Prayers for more than forty years. Ahmad would say as regard the hadith reported by Abu Daawud in the route of Abdullaah bn Wahb from Saeed bn Abee Ayyub from Sharaaheel bn Yazeed from Alqamah from Abu Hurairah (may Allaah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam):
Verily Allaah would raise for this Ummah at every top of a century he that would renew for the Ummah the affairs of its Deen.
[(Authentic); Abu Dâwud recorded it in the Book of Malaaim (Carnage), Chapter of What Has Been Said With Regard to the Century (4291)]
Ahmad said: It was Umar bn AbdulAzeez in the top of the first century and Ash-Shaafiee in the top of the second century.
Said the Scholar of the Scholars, Muhammad bn Ishaaq bn Khuzaymah, while he was asked: Is this a Sunnah that did not reach Ash-Shaafiee? He would reply in the negative; meaning that at times (a narration) would get to him through its chain and at times as a Mursal (that is, where a Taabi would mention a hadith without mentioning the Sahabee from who he heard it) and at times with a cut in the chain; as it can be found in his books. Allaah knows better.
AshShaafiee was among the people best gifted with the knowledge of knowing the meanings of the Quraan and Sunnah; and he was the severest person to following what they both indicate; he was among the most balanced and sincere among the people. He used to say: 'I love that people should learn this knowledge and do never ascribe anything of it to me so that I will be rewarded for it and they will not praise me.'
Al-Buwaytee said: I heard AshShaafiee say: Stay with the People of Hadith because they are the ones that do what is best most among the people.
He used to say: Whenever I see any person from the People of Hadith it is as if I see a Companion of the Messenger of Allaah, Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, may Allaah reward them best; they guarded the foundation for us thus they have favour over us.
One of his poems that he composed to express the above meaning is this:
All knowledge other than the Quraan is time-taking/except (the knowledge of) hadith, knowledge of Fiqh in the Deen/a knowledge that has in it, he said, he told us/whatever is other than those is whisperings of the devils.
The death of AshShaafi'ee occurred in Egypt on Thursday; some said it was on Friday, in the last day of the month of Rajab year 204 Hijrah when he was fifty-four years old.
[adapted from AlBidaayah Wa Nihaayah of Ibn Katheer]