This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Divisions within Sunnism

Sunnism is typically divided according to the school of Law (madhhab) to which they adhere. Many have been developed, but four codifications have survived the test of time and go to form the main body of Sunnism. These four ‘schools’ of jurisprudence (fiqh) are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali.

The Hanafi school began in the 8th century, founded by a Persian, Imam Abu Hanifah. Abu was himself a student of the sixth Imam of Shiism, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, considered the founder of what is now Twelve-Imam Shiite Law, and is therefore called Ja’fari Law.

Imam Abu Hanifah emphasized the integration of local conditions into the Law, and is the madhhab with the most followers among Sunni Muslims. It was popular from the beginning among the Turks and throughout the Indian sub-continent. Abu Hanifah is believed to be the first to formally adopt Qiyas, or analogy, as a method to derive Islamic law when the Koran and Hadith are ambiguous in a particular situation.

Founded in the 8th century by Imam Malik ibn Anas, Malikism is a very conservative school that differs from other madhhabs by recognizing the consensus of the people of Medina as a valid source of Islamic Law.

Northern Africa (outside of Egypt) is the heart of Maliki-based Sharia. It is this juridical unity that has made possibly the cultural unity of the region, so much so that the entire area is called al-Maghrib, ‘the West’ of the Islamic world.

The Shafi’i school was founded by a student of Imam Abu Hanifah named Imam Muhammad al-Shafi’i. It was therefore formulated slightly later, during the early 9th century. It is the Shafi’i school that most closely resembles the Ja’fari school of Shiite Islam, and in the earlier days it had the most followers, until the expansion of the Ottoman Empire led to its replacement by the Hanafi school in many areas. Shafi’ism is now concentrated in southeast Egypt and Indonesia.

Lastly, we come to the school founded by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, or the Hanbali school, founded in the 9th century. This school is distinguished by being based solely on the Koran and Hadith, which results in a very strict interpretation of Shariah. Presently its adherents are concentrated in Syria, although sometimes Saudi Arabia is also included, which is somewhat misleading since Saudi Arabia is primarily Wahhabi, an offshoot of Hanbalism.

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