A school of legal thought.
Madhhab (Arabic: مذهب maḏhab, IPA: [ˈmæðhæb], "doctrine"; pl. مذاهب maḏāhib, [mæˈðæːhɪb]; Turkish: mezhep; transliterated Urdu: mazhab or mezheb) is a Muslim school of law or fiqh (religious jurisprudence). There are several methodologies to extract concrete legal rulings from the primary texts of Islam. When an independent jurist (mujtahid) comes up with a set of rules for interpreting the texts and it gains a following, later scholars formalize rules and create the institution of that madhhab. Today there are four large recognized madhahib (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali) in Sunni fiqh and two (Ja'fari and Zaidi) in Shi'a fiqh. There have been numerous others in history but did not survive or gain a large following.