Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem
The Seven Fuqaha' of
(This is taken from the section on Imam Malik in The Four Imams by
Muhammad Abu Zahrah,
soon to be published by Dar al-Taqwa)
We should briefly mention the seven fuqaha' since they were largely
responsible for the transmission of knowledge of Madina and were the source
of most of Malik's knowledge. Indeed we are indebted to them for much of
the knowledge of Islam and the Sunna which we possess today. Malik mentioned
them as being the fuqaha' and the bearers of knowledge.
http:// - 1. Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab
http:// - 2. 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr
http:// - 3. Abu Bakr ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman
http:// - 4. Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
http:// - 5. 'Ubaydullah ibn 'Abdullah ibn 'Utba ibn Mas'ud
http:// - 6. Sulayman ibn Yasar
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ABewley/ulama.html#kharija - 7. Kharija ibn Zayd ibn Thabit
1. Sa'id ibn
The first of them in position and importance in knowledge was Sa'id ibn
al-Musayyab, may Allah be pleased with him. He was from Makhzum, the sub-tribe
of Quraysh. He was born during the khalifate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab and
died in 93 AH, so he lived through the rule of 'Uthman, 'Ali, Mu'awiya, Yazid,
Marwan, and 'Abdu'l-Malik.
He completely devoted himself to fiqh. He was not concerned with
tafsir of the Qur'an as was 'Ikrima, the client and student of Ibn
'Abbas and transmitter of his fiqh and tafsir. According to
the tafsir of at-Tabari, "Yazid ibn Abi Yazid said: 'We used to ask
Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab about the lawful and unlawful; he was the most
knowledgeable of people. We asked him about the tafsir of an
ayat of the Qur'an and he said, 'Do not ask me about any ayat
of the Qur'an. Ask the one who claims that none of it is hidden from him,'
Sa'id met a great number of the Companions, and took from them and studied
with them. What he especially sought were the judgements of the Messenger
of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the judgements of
Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman. He took half of his knowledge from Zayd ibn
Thabit, and most of his transmission was from Abu Hurayra, his father-in-law,
since Sa'id was married to his daughter.
He learned the fiqh of 'Umar from his companions to such an extent
that he was considered the main transmitter of the fiqh of 'Umar.
Ibn al-Qayyim called him "the transmitter of 'Umar and the bearer of his
knowledge." Ja'far ibn Rabi'a said, "I asked 'Irak ibn Malik, 'Who among
Malik's sources has the most fiqh?' He replied, 'The one among them
with the most fiqh and knowledge of the judgements of the Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the judgements of 'Umar, and the
judgements of 'Uthman, and the one with the knowledge of what people did
is Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab. The one with the most hadiths is 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr.
You could not wish for a greater ocean than 'Ubaydullah (ibn 'Abdullah ibn
'Utba),' 'Irak continued, 'I think that the one among them with the most
fiqh is Ibn Shihab because he joined their knowledge to his.'
Az-Zuhri said, 'I used to seek knowledge from three men: Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab,
who had the most fiqh of all, 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr, who was a bottomless
ocean, and if you wish to find a kind of knowledge not found with anyone
else you would find it with 'Ubaydullah.'" (I'lam, vol. 1, p. 18)
Ibn al-Musayyab concentrated on fiqh. His concern with hadith
was to learn the judgements of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant
him peace, and he also learned the traditions containing the judgements of
the khalifs since he was concerned to know the judgements and fatwas
of the khalifs. The most prominent in his transmission of the knowledge of
the fiqh of the Companions was 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, for his time
was the pre-eminent time of fiqh, judgements and fatwas because the
state was expanding and events occurred which made them necessary.
Since Ibn al-Musayyab followed the traditions of 'Umar in judgement and
fiqh, ra'y (opinion) had great importance in his view because
'Umar frequently formed an opinion on matters about which there was no explicit
text in the Book of Allah or the Sunna of the Messenger. So Ibn al-Musayyab
also used ijtihad (independent reasoning) to answer problems presented
to him about matters on which there was no explicit text from the Book or
Sunna or judgement or fatwa of a Companion: he would give a
fatwa based on his opinion which did not exceed what was proper. That
is why it is transmitted that he used to give fatwa when others feared to
He was the Imam of the fuqaha' of Madina in the time of the
Tabi'un. He did not refuse to give a fatwa when there was need
for one. His opinion was based on the firm pillars of fiqh: the Qur'an
and hadith, and the judgements of the Prophet and Rightly-Guided Khalifs.
2. 'Urwa ibn
The second of the seven fuqaha' who formulated the fiqh of
Madina in the time of the Tabi'un was 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam.
He was the brother of 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr and the nephew of 'A'isha,
may Allah be pleased with her. He was born in the khalifate of 'Uthman ibn
'Affan and died in 94 AH. He lived through the seditions which occurred after
the murder of 'Uthman until authority was settled with the Marwanids. Although
his brother, 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, wrested the rule from 'Abdu'l-Malik
ibn Marwan, and the conflict became intense between them, it is not known
that he became involved in the business or helped his brother in any way.
It is clear that he completely devoted himself to study, studying fiqh
and hadith. In hadith he was, as his student Ibn Shihab said,
"a sea undiminished by buckets." Ibn al-Musayyab had the most fiqh
of the Tabi'un in Madina. 'Urwa had the most hadiths. He learned
the fiqh of the deen from a group of the Companions, particularly
'A'isha, the Mother of the Faithful. She was foremost in general knowledge,
rules for the apportionment of shares of inheritance and rulings. Al-Qasim
ibn Muhammad, the son of her brother, took knowledge from her as did 'Urwa,
the son of her sister Asma'.
'Urwa was the person with the greatest knowledge of the hadiths of
'A'isha. He said, "Before 'A'isha died, I saw that I had become one of four
authorities. I said, 'If she dies, there will be no hadith which will
be lost from those she knows. I have memorised all of them."
It is clear that 'Urwa was concerned with recording the fiqh and
hadith he learned and it is related that he wrote books; but he was
afraid that they might become books alongside the Book of Allah and so he
destroyed them. His son Hisham related that he had books which he burned
on the day of the Battle of Harra. He later he regretted that, however, and
used to say, "I would rather have them in my possession than my family and
property twice over."
He was a hadith transmitter and a faqih who followed the path
of tradition and he did not give fatwas in the way that Ibn al-Musayyab
3. Abu Bakr ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman
The third of those fuqaha' was Abu Bakr ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn al-Harith.
He died in 94 AH. He was devout and devoted to worship and asceticism to
the extent that he was called 'the Monk of Quraysh'. He related from 'A'isha
and Umm Salama. He was a faqih and hadith transmitter. He also
did not give fatwa as Ibn al-Musayyab did. Tradition dominated his
4. Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn
The fourth of the seven was al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the nephew
of 'A'isha, may Allah be pleased with her. He died in 108 AH. He learned
hadith and fiqh from his aunt and from Ibn 'Abbas. He was a
hadith transmitter. He criticised the use of a hadith if its
text was put before the Book of Allah and the well-known Sunna. He
was a faqih and so he had both fiqh and hadith. His
famous student, Abu'z-Zinad 'Abdullah ibn Dhakwan said about him, "I never
saw a faqih with more knowledge than al-Qasim. I never saw anyone who had
more knowledge of the Sunna than him." It is clear that as well as
piety he had aspiration (himma) and cleverness, and resolve in things.
That is why Malik related that 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz said, "If I had authority
in the matter, I would appoint the blind one of Banu Taym," meaning al-Qasim
5. 'Ubaydullah ibn 'Abdullah
ibn 'Utba ibn Mas'ud
The fifth of those fuqaha' was 'Ubaydullah ibn 'Abdullah ibn 'Utba.
He transmitted from Ibn 'Abbas, 'A'isha, and Abu Hurayra. He was a teacher
of 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz and had a profound effect on his intellect and
person. In addition to his knowledge of fiqh and hadith and
his good character, he composed poetry. He died in 98 or 99 AH. It is also
said that it was earlier than that, in 94 AH.
6. Sulayman ibn
The sixth was Sulayman ibn Yasar. He was a client of Maymuna bint al-Harith,
the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. It is said
that she gave him a kitaba contract and stipulated an amount of money he
must pay for his freedom. It is reported that he asked permission to visit
'A'isha. He said, "She recognised my voice. She said, 'Is it Sulayman?' Then
she asked, 'Have you paid what she stipulated for you?' I said, 'Yes, nearly.
There is only a small amount outstanding.' She said, 'Come in. You are still
owned as long as you still owe anything.'"1 He transmitted from Zayd ibn
Thabit, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, Abu Hurayra, and the wives of the Prophet, Maymuna,
A'isha, and Umm Salama. Sulayman had fine understanding. His knowledge and
understanding of fiqh were increased by his study of people's affairs
and knowledge of their states. He was the overseer of the Market of Madina
when 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz was its governor. He died in 100 AH.
7. Kharija ibn Zayd ibn Thabit
The seventh was Kharija ibn Zayd ibn Thabit who died in 100 AH. He was a
faqih in legal opinion (ra'y), like his father Zayd well-known
for that and the science of shares of inheritance. That is why Kharija had
few hadiths, and many fatwas based on opinion. Because of his
great knowledge of the shares of inheritance, he used to distribute people's
inheritances according to the Book of Allah Almighty. Mus'ab ibn 'Abdullah
said, "Kharija and Talha ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman gave fatwa in their time. People
accepted their statements and they distributed people's inheritance - houses,
palm-trees and property – and they wrote out documents for people."
In addition to his knowledge, fiqh and fatwa and his connection
to people at the beginning of his life, Kharija was one of the devout worshippers
of Madina. Worship moved him at the end of his life to withdraw and be alone,
which is why not much of his fiqh and knowledge spread.
Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.