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startingarabic
07-31-2016, 10:26 PM
THE ZAYDEE MADH-HAB
The Founder: Imaam Zayd (700-740 CE)

This Madh-hab traces its origin to one of ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib’s great grandsons through his son al-Husayn. Born in al-Madeenah in the year 700 CE, Zayd ibn ‘Alee soon became one of the foremost scholars of the ‘ Alawee family. He narrated Hadeeths from all of his relatives including his older brother, Muhammad al-Baaqir.

Zayd expanded his knowledge by travelling to the other major centers of learning in Iraq,
Kufah, Basrah and wasit, where he sat and exchanged views with his contemporaries like Abu Haneefah and Sufyaan ath-Thawree. The Umayyad caliph, Hishaam ibn ‘Abdul-
Malik (reign 724743 CE) never missed an opportunity to degrade and humiliate Zayd ibn
‘Alee and he was not allowed to leave the city of Madeenah without the permission of its governor. Eventually, Zayd became the first of ‘Alee’s descendants to try to wrest the caliphate from the Umayyads after the catstrophe at Karbalaa. Before his preparations were
complete, disputes arose among his followers when they found out that he did not consider
the first caliphs, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, to be apostates. The majority of his followers broke
away from him and declared his nephew, Ja’far as-Sadiq, to be the Imaam of the time. Only a little more than four hundred followers stayed with Imaam Zayd’s and he was killed during
the fighting which ensued.

Formation of the Zaydee Madh-hab
Imaam Zayd was a scholar concerned mainly with the narration of Hadeeths and recitation
of the Qur’aan. He taught in circles of learning in the cities of Madeenah, Basrah, Kufah
and Wasit, and thus had a large number of students. If legal questions were raised, he
would solve them or choose an opinion of one of his contemporaries like ‘ Abdur-
Rahman ibn Abee Laylaa. The rulings of the Madh-hab were not dictated nor recorded by
Zayd; but by his students.

Sources of Law used by the Zaydee Madh-hab

The jurists of the Madh-hab evolved the following Sources from Imaam Zayd’s rulings as the
basis from which they deduced Islamic laws:

1. The Qur’aan

The Qur’aan was considered the primary source of Islamic law. The existing copOy of the
Qur’aan was considered to be complete without any of the deletions claimed by many
extremist Shi’ite sects.

2. The Sunnah

The sayings, actions and approvals of the Prophet (s.w.) were considered the second most
important source of Islamic law. The Sunnah was not restricted to narrations of the ‘Alawee
family or their followers, but included all reliable narration.

3. Aqwaal ‘Alee

Rulings and statements of ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib which were not merely his personal
opinions were considered by Imaam Zayd to be a part of the Sunnah. That is, If ‘Alee did not
say or imply that it was his opinion, then Zayd assumed that it was from the Prophet (s.w.).
However, Zayd did not accept everything attributed to ‘Alee and somethimes made rulings
contrary to what were claimed to be ‘Alee’s rulings. For example, it is reported that ‘Alee
ruled that Zakaah could be collected from orphans while Zayd ruled that it could not.

4. Ijmaa’ of the Sahaabah

Zayd recognized the Ijmaa’ of the Sahaabah as a source of Islamic law. Hence, although he
felt that his grandfather was better suited for leadership than Caliphs Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and
‘Uthmaan, the unanimous acceptance of their caliphate by the Sahaabah made it, in his
opinion, legally binding.

5. Qiyaas

According to the jurists of this Madh-hab, both the principles of Istihsaan and that of Istislaah
involved a form of analogical deduction. Consequently, they considered them a part of what
was known as Qiyaas in the other Madh-hab

6. ‘Aql

Human intellect was considered as a source of Islamic law where none of the previous
sources was applicable. As a youth, Imaam Zayd had met and studied under Waasil ibn
‘Ataa, founder of the Mu’tazilite school of thought. The Mu’tazilites were the first to
propound the principle of ‘Aql; whatever, the intellect considered good was good and
whatever it consedered bad was bad. However, according to the Mu’taziah, ‘Aql came
directly after the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and thus they rejected Qiyaas, as well as the opinions
of the Sahaabah, 44 whereas Imaam Zayd placed the principle of ‘Aql last and recognized
Qiyaas.

Main Students of the Zaydee Madh-hab

Imaam Zayd’s students recorded the Madh-hab. However, they also included the rulings of
others scholars form the ‘Alawee family as well as Zayd’s contemporaries.


Abu Khaalid, ‘Amr ibn Khaalid al-waasitee (d.889 CE)
‘ Amr ibn hai was perhaps the most famous of Imaam Zayd’s students. He spent a long time
with him in Madeenah and accompanied him on most of his journeys. ‘Amr compiled Imaam
Zayd’s teaching in two major works entitled Majmoo’ al-Hadeeth and Mjmoo’ al-Fiqh.
Together they are called al-Majmoo’ alKabeer. Although all of the Hadeeth narrations in
Majmoo’ alHadeeth are from the ‘Alawee family they all have corresponding narrations in
the famous six books of Hadeeth.

Al-Haadee elaa al-Haqq, Yahyaa ibn al-Husayn (860-911 CE)

The Zaydees did not restrict themselves to the rulings of the Husaynee side of the ‘Alawee
family. Hence, the opinions of alQaasim ibn Ibraaheem al-Hasanee (787-857 CE), who
became renowned for his scholarship, were also included in the rulings of the Zaydee Madh-
hab. However, al-Qaasim’s grandson, al-Haadee elaa al-Haqq, who was made the Imaam of
Yemen, made an even greater impact on the Madh-hab. An Islamic state was set up in Yemen
according to the Zaydee Madh-hab which gave it a firm footing and ensured its survival till
today.

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alee al-Husaynee (845-917 CE)

Al-Hasan, known as an-Naasir al-Kabeer, was a contemporaryof alHaadee. He taught the
Zaydee Madh-hab in Dailam and Jeelan. He was a great scholar and considered by his
successors as the reviver of the Madh-hab.

Followers of the Zaydee Madh-hab
Today, the followers of this Madh-hab are mostly found in Yemen where it is the Madh-hab
of the Majority of its inhabitans.
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