Al-Imam ash-Shafi’ee (r.a) (150 H/766 M – 204 H/820 M) is known as the establisher of the shafi’ee school of jurisprudence, or mazhab of Fiqh, widely used by Muslims in South East Asia. He was one of the ahlul bayt – his lineage can be traced back to ‘abd Manaf ibn Qusay, who is also in the Prophet’s (pbuh) ancestral line. He was known as the Mujaddid (one who renews the religion) of his time, and was the first scholar to lay the foundations of the field of Usul al Fiqh (the origins of jurisprudence). He was the first to write a book on this field of study and it was named al-Risalah.
Like most other scholars of Islam, Imam ash-Shafi’ee was well-versed in Arabic linguistics and literature, for such is the requirements for one to understand the Qur’an and Hadith. Besides being a scholar of various religious fields (including Hadith and Quranic sciences), he was also a brilliant poet in his own right. The following is taken from his famous (and only) poetry collection, Diwan Ash-Shafi’ee.
Again, each bayt (verse in Arabic poetry, consisting of two sub-verses) is followed by my own inadequate translation.
ما في المقام لـذي عقـلٍ وذي أدبٍ
من راحة فـدع الأوطـان واغتـرب
There is no rest for the one of intellect and refinement in his locality, so leave your homeland and emigrate
سافر تجـد عوضـاً عمـن تفارقـه
وانصب فإن لذيذ العيش في النصـب
Travel, and you will find a replacement for that which you left, and exhaust yourself for therein is the sweetness of life
إني رأيـت وقـوف المـاء يفسـده
إن ساح طاب وإن لم يجر لم يطـب
Verily I saw water become putrid in its stagnation, and become sweet when it flows.
والأسد لولا فراق الأرض ما افترست
والسهم لولا فراق القوس لم يصـب
And the lions would not be fierce if they didn’t leave their grounds, and the arrow would not strike if it didn’t leave the bow
والشمس لو وقفت في الفلك دائمـه
ًلملها الناس من عجـم ومـن عـرب
And if the sun stayed in its place in the universe, people would have grown tired of it
والبدر لولا أفول منه ما نظرت
إليه في كل حين عين مرتقب
And if the moon did not disappear every now and then, the anticipating eye would never spare a glance at it
والتبر كالترب ملقـي فـي أماكنـه
والعود في أرضه نوع من الحطـب
And raw gold is as good as the dust that covers it, and the staff covered in dust is mere firewood.
فـإن تغـرب هـذا عـز مطلـبـه
وإن تغـرب ذلـك عـز كالـذهـب
In leaving your destiny will change, and in emigration you will become precious, like gold.
And Allah knows.