History of the Schools in Islam

History of Islamic Schools

History of Islamic Schools 

Madhhab is a method that is formed after going through thought and research, then people who believe in it make that method a guide. The history of the school of thought begins with the thought or opinion of an imam in understanding something, be it philosophy, law, theology, politics, and so on. The thought is then followed by a group of followers and developed into a school, sect, or teaching. The word mazhab itself comes from the word zahab-yazhabu which means to go.

The schools in Islam arise partly because of differences in understanding the teachings contained in the Koran and the sunnah. Differences of opinion regarding the meaning of the Zanni ad-dalalah verses (verses whose meaning can still be interpreted) are one of the reasons for the emergence of schools and schools in Islam.

In essence, madhhab is a particular school of understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is not binding. While the kinds include monotheism, worship, law, politics, philosophy, Sufism, renewal, and so on.

Because these schools or schools differ only in their interpretation of verses that have no clear meaning and are not about the basic teachings of Islam, the differences in schools of thought can be accepted as true and not out of Islam. Although sometimes the differences between schools seem quite steep and even contradictory.

Schools in Theology

The beginning of the emergence of theological schools cannot be separated from political problems which eventually continue to be religious issues. In the field of kalam (theology) there are five major schools of thought in Islam, namely:


The Khawarij sect was originally a supporter of Ali bin Abi Talib who left his ranks as a form of protest against Ali’s attitude to accept the arbitration of Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan when the war was almost won by Ali’s group.

Another name for the Khawarij is Haruriyah, which is attributed to Harura, a place near Kufa, Iraq. In general, they consist of Bedouin Arabs who are simple in life and thinking, but hard at heart.

At first, the Khawarij numbered about 12,000 people. Their first Imam was Abdullah bin Wahhab ar-Rasidi. The Khawarij are democratic in matters of state, but in theology, they are considered a strict and strict sect. According to them, people who commit major sins are immediately considered unbelievers.


Murji’ah was born as a reaction to the presence of the Khawarij. They want to be neutral from the practice of disbelieving someone. For this reason, they carry the doctrine of irja’, namely the suspension of punishment for believers who commit sins and are still considered Muslims. Therefore those who are called infidels by the Khawarij, remain believers in the Murji’ah.

Murji’ah is divided between moderate and extreme groups. Moderate figures include Hasan bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Abi Talib, Abu Hanifah, and Abu Yusuf al-Qadi. Meanwhile, the extreme ones include Jahm bin Sofwan and his followers.

The teachings contained in the moderate Murjiah group become the accepted teachings in Ahlusunah waljamaah, namely those who have major sins and die without repentance completely up to Allah.


Muktazilah is one of the schools in Islamic theology which is known to be rational and liberal. The main feature that distinguishes this school from other schools is its theological views which are more supported by the arguments of ‘aqliah (reason) and are more philosophical, so it is often called the flow of Islamic rationality. For them, the great sinner is neither a believer nor a disbeliever but takes a position between the two.

Among the well-known Muktazilah figures was Wasil Bin Ata. Muktazilah is famous for its five teaching principles, namely monotheism; justice; promises and threats; position between two positions; and Amar makruf Nahi Munkar. Muktazilah adheres to the Qadariah ideology, which is an understanding which states that humans have the freedom to choose and act.

In addition to the main doctrine of free will, the Mutazilites added another doctrine: the rejection of the unity between God and His attributes, such as Power, Wisdom, and Omnipotence, arguing that such a concept would undermine the unity of God. Therefore, the nickname that the Mu’tazilites liked the most was “supporter of justice and unity”.


The Ash’ariyah school is often called the ahlusunah waljamaah school, in addition to the Maturidiah. The founder of this school was Abu Hasan Ali bin Isma’il al-Ash’ari. At first, he was a follower of the Muktazilah for 30 years, but then left and founded his school.

The main reason al-Ash’ari distanced himself from the Muktazilah was the divisions experienced by the Muslims that could destroy them if it was not ended immediately. As a Muslim who cares about the integrity of the Muslim community, he is worried that the Koran and Hadith will become victims of the ideas of the Muktazilah which in their opinion cannot be justified because they are based on the worship of reason. Therefore, al-Asyari took a middle path between the rational and textualist groups, and it turned out that this path was accepted by the majority of Muslims.

Important figures of the school were Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Baqillani, Imam al-Juwaini, and Imam al-Ghazali.


This school was founded by Abu Mansur al-Maturidi. He was a follower of Abu Hanifah and therefore his theological views had much in common with Abu Hanifa. This school uses a lot of ratios in its religious views and its theological system, although not as far as the Muktazilah.

In its development, this school is divided into two groups, namely Maturidiah Samarkand who are followers of al-Maturidi, and Maturidiah Bukhara who are followers of al-Bazdawi. Maturidah Samarkand was closer to Muktazilah, while Maturidah Bukhara was closer to Asy’ariah.

Schools in Fiqh

In Islamic law or fiqh, there are four major schools of thought, namely: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali. In addition to the four schools of thought, there are also other schools which in their development are not as big as the four previous schools. The minor schools are the at-Tauri, an-Nakha’i, at-Tabari, al-Auza’i, and Az-Zahiri schools. Among these minor schools which are quite prominent is the az-Zahiri school founded by Dawud bin Khalaf al-Isfahani.


The Hanafi or Hanafi school was founded by Nu’man bin Sabit or better known as Abu Hanifah (d. 767 AD). His legal thinking is rational. This school originates from Kufa, a city that has achieved high progress so that many problems that arise are solved through opinions, analogies, and isitihsan (kriyas khaki). Abu Hanifah’s outstanding students included Abu Yusuf and Muhammad bin Hasan ash-Syaibani. During the Ottoman period, this school was the official school of the kingdom.


The Maliki or Maliki school is a school founded by Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Amir al-Asybahi (d. 797 AD) or commonly known as Imam Malik. Throughout his life Malik never left Medina except for the pilgrimage.

His legal thinking is heavily influenced by the sunnah which tends to be textual. Malik is also a narrator of hadith. His work is al-Muwatta’ (fiqh-style hadith).

Imam Malik is also known as a mufti in the cases he faces, such as his fatwa that the pledge of allegiance is invalid. In addition, his thoughts also use the traditions of the people of Medina.


The Shafi’i or Shafi’i school was founded by Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idris ash-Shafi’i (d. 767 AD) or Imam Shafi’i. During his life, he had lived in Baghdad, Medina, and finally Egypt. Therefore the style of thought is a convergence or meeting between rationalists and traditionalists. In addition to being based on the Qur’an, sunnah, and consensus, Imam Shafi’i also adheres to figurative language.

He is referred to as the first person to record the science of fiqh, with his work ar-Risalah. His thinking which tends to be moderate is shown in qaul qadim (old opinion) and qaul Jadid (new opinion). For its spread, the Shafi’i School is widely adopted in rural Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, India, Yemen, and Indonesia.


The Hanbali or Hanbali school was founded by Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal (d. 855 AD) or known as Imam Hanbali. In his youth, he studied with Abu Yusuf and Imam Shafi’i. The style of thought is traditionalist (fundamentalist). In addition to being based on the Koran, Sunnah, and the ijtihad of friends, he also uses mursal and figurative hadiths if he has to.

Apart from being a jurist, he is also a hadith expert. His famous work is the Musnad (A collection of Hadiths of the Prophet SAW). Some of his famous followers were Ibn Taimiyah and Abdul Wahhab. Adherents of the Hanbali School are widely found in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Schools in Shia

Differences in the field of fiqh or law also gave birth to schools within the Shia, namely Zaidiah, Isna Asyariah, and Ismaili. Zaidiah School was formed by Zaid bin Ali Zainal Abidin. His famous book is al-Majmu’. While the Twelve Shia School (Isna Asyariah) only accepts traditions whose chain of conduct is through ahlulbait (the family of the Prophet Muhammad). The famous Shia Imam Isna Asyariah is the seventh imam, Ja’far al-Sadiq. In addition, this school is an official school in Iran.

Schools in Other Fields

The schools of thought in politics, philosophy, and Sufism were pioneered by the scholars of the schools of law and kalam. In politics, there are Khawarij, Shia, and Sunni schools of thought. In Philosophy, there are traditional and liberal schools. In Sufism, there are Shia and Sunni schools of thought. While in the renewal there are traditional and progressive schools.

About admin

Check Also

The Story Of The Thief Who Made Hasan Al Bana Realize The Importance Of Keeping Knowledge In His Heart

Muslimcreed – Hasan Al Bana is a prominent Muslim scholar who is known to collect …