Compiled by Abul Layth
Muslim ibn Khālid Al-Makhzūmī Al- Makkī is well known amongst the scholars as Imām Az-Zanjī. There are several reasons reported as to why he was called “Az-Zanjī”. Az-Zanjī literally means black and is used in modern Arabic to refer to one who is negro ((See Hans Wehr’s Dictionary )). Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal asked Suwayd ibn Sa’id, “Why was he called ‘Az-Zanjī’?” He said, “Because he was extremely black!” Al-Hāfith Ibn Hajr also mentions that he was called Az-Zanjī because he intensely loved dates. A slave girl once said to him, ‘You are nothing but a Zanjī because of your love for dates!’ And so the nickname stuck with him.
Imam Az-Zanjī is famous amongst the Fuqahā’ (jurisconsults) for being the first teacher in fiqh of Imām Ash-Shafi’ī when he was at the age of 15 or 16. Imām Ibn Kathīr writes in his Tabaqat Ash-Shafi’iyyīn the following,