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Madh'hab (مذهب) is a Muslim school of law or fiqh (religious jurisprudence). Within Sunni Islam there are four mainstream schools of thought, which are accepted by one another, and then there is the Shi'ite fiqh which (according to a fatwa by Al-Azhar, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam)[1] is accepted as a fifth school of Islamic thought.

The five major schools of Islamic jurisprudence are:

  • The Hanafi madh'hab. It was founded by Imam abu Hanifah who is the oldest.
  • The Maliki madh'hab. Founded by Imam Malik.
  • The Shafi'i madh'hab. Founded by imam Shafi'i.
  • The Hanbali madh'hab. Founded by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal who is the youngest.
  • The Ja'fari madh'hab. Named after Jaʿfar as-Ṣādiq, the 6th Shi'ite Imam

They agree on many things, including the death sentence for apostates.[2]


  1. al-Azhar Verdict on the Shia - Shi'ite Encyclopedia v2.0, Al-islam
  2. A Shiite Opinion on Apostasy - Originally from Kayhan International, March 1986