In recent years some wonderful texts have appeared in the fiqh of the Shafi’i madhab. The most prominent of these are also representative of the respective approaches of the lands from which they emerged: Al-Fiqh al-Manhaji/Al-Mu’tamad from Syria and Al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah from Al-Hijaz.
Now then, the Hadhrami approach is primarily followed in Yemen, Al-Hijaz, Al-Ahsa, and the Indian Ocean. It provides extensive coverage of the masa’il such that a graduate rarely needs to refer to the text or hashiyah. However, these same graduates often cannot link the fiqh to the evidence from which it derives.
The Syrian approach, on the other hand, focuses on the evidences in support of the rulings. However, they rarely go into detail expounding difficult expressions or expressing divergent opinions within the madhab. The Egyptians are similar in this approach. These are, of course, generalisations. There are exceptions to this.
The same pattern has been observed within the Maliki madhab too. The Moroccan/Mauritanian approach is more focused on detail whereas in Egypt attention is given to evidence. Perhaps this is due to the environs in which they find themselves. The Shafi’is in Hadhramawt and the Malikis in the Maghrib do not have any competition from other schools. Thus, evidence is not as essential in discussion. In Syria and Egypt, however, there are many different schools in competition with each other and so knowing the evidences behind rulings proves valuable in debate, as well as giving confidence in one’s own school.
Each approach has its respective merits. But a student with high aspirations should try to master both approaches by traveling and studying each tradition.