The Shafi’i school has the paramount sources of legal school in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Of less authority are the Ijma’ of the community and thought of scholars (Ijitihad) exercised through qiyas. The scholar must interpret the ambiguous passages of the Qur’an according to the consensus of the Muslims, and if there is no consensus, according to qiyas.
History: The Shafi’iyyah school of Islamic law was named after Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i (767-819). He belonged originally to the school of Medina and was also a pupil of Malik ibn Anas (d.795), the founder of Malikiyyah. However, he came to believe in the overriding authority of the traditions from the Prophet and identified them with the Sunnah.
Baghdad and Cairo were the chief centres of the Shafi’iyyah. From these two cities Shafi’i teaching spread into various parts of the Islamic world. In the tenth century Mecca and Medina came to be regarded as the school’s chief centres outside of Egypt. In the centuries preceding the emergence of the Ottoman Empire the Shafi’is had acquired supremacy in the central lands of Islam. It was only under the Ottoman sultans at the beginning of the sixteenth century that the Shafi’i were replaced by the Hanafites, who were given judicial authority in Constantinople, while Central Asia passed to the Shi’a as a result of the rise of the Safawids in 1501. In spite of these developments, the people in Egypt, Syria and the Hidjaz continued to follow the Shafi’i madhhab. Today it remains predominant in Southern Arabia, Bahrain, the Malay Archipelago, East Africa and several parts of Central Asia.
Adherents: There are no figures for the number of followers of the school. It has some adherents in the following countries: Jordan, Palestine, Syria, the Lebanon and Yemen. It has a large following in the following countries: Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and among the Kurdish people.
The Method of al Imam al Shafi’i in His Book: Al Risalah:http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/law/alalwani_usulalfiqh/ch4.html