The second most prominent student of Abū Ḥanīfa, Abū ʽAbdullah Muḥammad b. al-Ḥaṣan al-Shaybānī (132-189AH/749-804CE), simply known as Imam Muḥammad, or al-Shaybānī, was born in Wasit but grew up as a client in Kūfa. Like Abū Yūsuf, al-Shaybānī’s studies began first in hadith. Unfortunately he was only able to study briefly under Abū Ḥanīfa who passed away when al-Shaybānī was about 18 years old. His limited time of study must have included an intense regiment of hadiths for al-Shaybānī later compiled (or transmitted from the Imam) a work of hadith and transmitted sayings of earlier scholars, Kitāb al-Athār, which rivaled in size Mālik’s al-Muwaṭṭa. After Abū Ḥanīfa passed away al-Shaybānī continued his study of Ḥanafī fiqh under Abū Yūsuf. al-Shaybānī also took his fiqh from the hadith scholar al-Thawri, the scholar of Syria al-Awza’i, and traveled to Medina to study under Mālik b. Anas. al-Shaybānī is one of the main narrators of Mālik’s al-Muwaṭṭa and, by adding a commentary, he created out of one of the first books of hadith one of the earliest works of comparative fiqh.
Abū Ḥanīfa had surrounded himself by some forty scholars, some of whom were themselves considered mujtahīds (independent legal jurists). They were free to agree or disagree with the Imam’s legal judgments and it appears, through reported statements and their later writings, that they most often took to accepting Abū Ḥanīfa’s judgments. After his death they still held his rulings with great esteem and maintained that he was a prominent, if not the most prominent, legal authority of their time. Many of his students later went on to became scholars of not only fiqh, but also hadith; some specializing in Asma’ al-Rijāl, the study of hadith narrators.
Within the first Islamic century differing jurisprudential approaches were already being formed, laying the foundations for differing legal schools still existing today. And by the beginning of the second century two geographical centers of juristic activity were emerging; one in the Ḥijāz and another in Iraq; each further subdivided into two prominent cities: Mecca and Medina in the Ḥijāz, and Basra and Kūfa in Iraq; and of the four cities none held greater importance than Medina and Kūfa.
Historians of Islamic legal thought have often looked to these two cities as the epicenters of rapidly growing, yet differing, legal schools: Ahl al-Raʽy (People of Legal Opinion) and Ahl al-Ḥadīth (People of Transmission).