Imam Shafi on On Legal Knowledge Read Classical – Excerpt Written in the second Islamic century by al-Imam al-Shafi’i (d. 204AH/820AD), the founder of one of the four Sunni schools of law. This important work gives the fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence and its influence continues to the present day. During the early years of the spread of Islam, the exponents of Islamic legal doctrine were faced with the problems raised by ruling and administering a diverse and rapidly growing empire. In Medina and Kufa, as well as other cities of early Muslim rule, schools of law had to be developed, but it took the genius of Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafi’i, born in the year 150AH/767AD, to establish the principles by which the various legal doctrines could be synthesised into a coherent system. In the Risala, which laid down the basis for such a synthesis, al-Shafi’i established the overriding authority, next only to the Qur’an, of the Sunnah or example of the Prophet Muhammad as transmitted in the traditions.