His Name: Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Aamir
His Kunya: (Patronymic filial name): Abu ‘Abdillah
His Lineage: Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Aamir bin ‘Amr bin al-Harith bin Ainmaan (Uthmaan) bin Khuthail (AL-ASBAHEE-a royal tribe branch of Himyar in Yemen)
Imaam Suyooti (RA) says that Imaam Malik’s lineage goes to Ya’rab bin Yashjab bin Qahtaan. As some report in the following way: Zhu Asbah, al-Harith bin Malik bin Zaid bin Ghouth bin Sa’ad bin ‘Auoof bin ‘Adi bin Malik bin Zaid bin Sahl bin ‘Amr bin Qais bin Mu’awiya bin Jasham ibn ‘Abd Shams bin Daa’il bin al-Ghouth bin Qutn bin ‘Areeb bin Zhaheer bin Aiyman bin Humsee’ bin Himyar bin Saba bin Yashjab bin Ya’rab bin Qahtaan.
Imaam Malik’s Mother Name: ‘Aaliyah bint Shareek bin ‘Abdur Rahman al-Azdiyah
Other Names related to Him: Imaam Darul-Hijrah and al-Madni (due to his remaining in al-Madinah the majority of his life.
His Birth: According to Hafiz Zhahabi, Sam’aani ibn Farhoon, and others Imaam Malik was born in the year 93 A.H. due to the report of Yahya bin Bukair one of the elder students of the Imaam. Others have said he was born in 90 A.H. some say in 95 A.H. and Yaf’ee reports in Tabaqaatul-Fuqaha, 94 A.H. Extraordinarily, he remained in the womb on his mother for more than the usual 9 months. Some say two years while others say he remained in her womb for three years. He was born in Madinah.
His Appearance: Mutarraf bin ‘Abdullah al-Yasaari says that the Imaam was tall, well-built, fair complexion, blond-haired, large-eyes and nose, broad forehead with hardly any hair on it referred as (Asla’) in Arabic ) the same is said about Umar and Ali (Radhi Allahu Anhuma). He had a very profuse and thick beard that reached down to his chest. He used to trim his moustache near the corners of his lips and said it was disapproved to fully shave them. He followed the Sunnah of Umar bin Khattab (Radhi Allahu Anhu) who used to pull his moustaches hair near the lips when he was in deep thought of something. From this it is established that Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) had hair on both sides of the lips. He used to wear very elegent and expensive clothing, usually wearing white, and frequently changing them. He would put on Musk and other fragrances on his clothing. He would wear his turban and have part of it come down underneath his chin and the tail of it between his two shoulders. He would also wear a shawl-like garment that would cover the head and shoulders.
His Education and Knowledge: The Imaam’s Family was in itself a place of knowledge where his childhood was in the beautiful gardens and land of Madinah. He learned and memorized the Qur’an in his youth. He recited to Imaamul-Qurra’, Nafi’ bin Abdur-Rahman (whose recitation is the foundation of the entire Muslim Ummah today and he passed away in the year 169 A.H.) and also received his (Sanad) certification and permission to teach others from him. In the beginning of his quest for knowledge the Imaam did not have many means to acquire it properly so he sold the ceiling beams of his home to purchase books and papers for enabling him to do so. After some time Allah SWT bestowed him with a lot of wealth and money. The Imaam’s memory was also extraordinary. He himself would that anything I would record in my memory would never be forgotten again. It is reported about the Imaam that he had the best memory in all of Hijaz, likewise in the knowledge of Hadith and Fiqh. Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says about him, “If Malik and Ibn Uyainah where not here, the knowledge of Hijaaz would be gone.” Imaam Zhahabi say, “There remains no scholar in Madinah after the Tabi’een comparable to Imaam Malik’s knowledge, jurisprudence, eminence, and memorization.”
He practiced extreme care in regards to narrating Hadith for just anyone. Imaam Malik says, “I do not accept knowledge from four types of people: (1) a person well-known to be foolish, even though all the other people narrate from him, (2) a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards the innovation in Deen, (3) a person who lies in regular conversation with people, even though I do not accuse him as liar in regards to Hadith, (4) and a person who is pious worshipper or scholar, but does not properly and correctly memorize what he narrates.” It was said to Imaam Malik, “Why don’t you take narrations from ‘Amr bin Dinaar? He replied, “I went to him (‘Amr bin Dinaar and I found him narrating Hadith to others while in a standing position. So I thought to myself that the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is too great and majestic to take them in a standing position.” The Imaam remained his entire life al-Hijaaz and never traveled outside of it.
In Hadith, the Imaam was the leader of all of Madinah, where his chain of narrators were the most authentic and called “SILSILATUL-ZHAHAB” or “THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF NARRATORS” (ie. Narrated from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu). The Imaam would not just narrate Hadith from anyone, rather he would take great caution and narrate only from authentic and reliable sources. Even other great scholars and companions of his time bear witness to that like, Imaam of Makkah, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, who says, “May Allah have mercy upon Malik, he is extremely critical of the men (in regards to the chain of narrators of a Hadith). He would also say, “Imaam Malik only used to narrate to others authentic Hadith, he would not report except from reliable narrators, I don’t see Madinah but in decrease (ie. in regards to the knowledge) after the death of Malik.” One of his most greatest pupils, Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says about him, “That when Imaam Malik was in doubt over a Hadith he would totally disregard it.”
In Fiqh, the Imaam was on a higher level than all the rest. Bahlool bin Raashid says about him, “I have never seen someone with the knowledge of deducing from the Qur’an as Malik, along with his great recognition of strong and weak narrations.” Abdullah bin Luhay’ah says, “I asked al-Nadhr bin Abdul-Jabbar (Abul-Aswad) who has a saying after Rabi’ah in Madinah? He relpied, al-Ghulam al-Asbahi (ie. Imaam Malik). Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal says about the great Imaam, “I compared Imaam Malik to Awzaa’eey, Thawri, Laith, Hammaad, and al-Hakam in knowledge, and he is the leader in Hadith and Fiqh.”
His Teachers and Instructors: Imaam Malik would only take knowledge from those men who were famous for their cleanliness, piety, and truthfulness, who were distinct in memorization and jurisprudence. The teachers mentioned in Muwatta from whom he narrated Hadith from are 95 in totol all of who were from Madinah. Thus making all of the various holders of knowledge who were scattered all around now brought together in one holder (Imaam Malik), this is why he earned the name of “IMAAM DARUL-HIJRAH.” From all of the Imaam’s teachers six of them were not from Madinah. So 95 teachers are only those mentioned in Muwatta. Otherwise, Allamah Zurqaani and Dulaqi have written that his teachers were over 900. Imaam Nawawi has written in Tahzeebul-Asmaa that of Imaam Malik’s 900 teachers 300 were from the Tabi’een and 600 from the Tabi Tabi’een. The Imaam’s greatest of all teachers was Nafi’ the slave of Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu). Imaam Malik learned with him for twelve years and attained the knowledge of Hadith and Diraayah (Fiqh). It is for this reason that many narrations are from Nafi’ (RA). This was called the golden chain of narrators because it was the best chain in Muwatta. Shah Waliullah Dehlawi has written that Harun al-Rashid asked Imaam Malik, “You have mentioned Ali and Ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) only a few time in your book, why?” He replied, “They were not here in Madinah, nor did I find any of their students or companions.” Shah Saheb writes on, “That this proud honor was given to Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).” Also he says that Abdullah bin Masood narrations are even less than these two, Ali and Ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma).
Here is a list of some of Imaam Malik’s Shuyookh (Teachers): 1. Nafi’ (the servant of Abdullah bin Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 2. Abul-Zanaad, Adbullah bin Zakwaan 3. Hishaam bin Urwah bin Zubair 4. Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Ansaari 5. Abdullah bin Dinaar 6. Zaid bin Aslam (servant of Umar bin Khattab(Radhi Allahu Anhu) 7. Muhammad bin Muslim bin Shihaab al-Zhuhri 8. Abdullah bin Abu Bakr bin Hazm 9. Sa’eed bin Abu Sa’eed al-Maqbari 10. Sumayy servant of Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 11. Ayyub Sakhtiyaani 12. Abdur-Rahman bin al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 13. Thawr bin Zaid Dabli 14. Ibrahim bin Abi Ablah al-Maqdisi 15. Rabi’ah bin Abu Abdur-Rahman 16. Humayd Taweel 17. Aishah bint Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas
In Qira’ah (recitation of Qur’an): Nafi’ bin Abu Nuaym al-Qaari
His Pupils and Students: Imaam Malik’s students reach to the thousands. Some have mentioned so many that they can not be counted, like Hafiz bin Katheer and Zhahabi. Qazi Iyyadh has mentioned over 1300 have narrated Hadith for the great Imaam. Hafiz Dar-Qutni has mentioned 1000. Hafiz Abu Bakr Khateeb al-Baghdadi has mentioned 993. Even some of the Imaam’s Teachers were his students, like:
1. Zhuhri Abul-Aswad 2. Ayyub Sakhtiyaani 3. Rabi’ah al-Ra’iee 4. Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Ansaari 5. Muhammad bin Abi Zi’ab 6. Ibn Jareeh 7. A’amash 8. Abu Suhail, Nafi’ bin Malik
Some eminent pupils were:
1. Imaam Muhammad 2. Imaam Shaf’iee 3. Abdullah bin Mubarak 4. Laith bin Sa’ad 5. Shu’bah 6. Sufyaan Thawri 7. Ibn Juraij 8. Ibn Uyainah 9. Yahya al-Qattaan 10. Ibn Mahdi 11. Abu Aasim al-nabeel 12. Abdur-Rahman Auwzaa’ee
Eminent narrators in Imaam Malik’s Muwatta:
1. Abdullah bin Yusuf al-Tunisi 2. Abdullah bin Muslimah al-Qa’nabi 3. Abdullah bin Wahab al-Misri 4. Yahya bin Yahya al-Laithi 5. Abu Mus’ab al-Zhuhri
His respect of Teaching of Hadith: After Abdullah bin Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) and his servant and pupil, Nafi’ (RA) the great Imaam narrated Hadith and taught from the age of 17 to about 79. He gave service to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), giving lessons of Fiqh and issuing Fatawa for 62 years of his life. Before the Imaam would narrate any Hadith he would or dictate Hadith to others he would perform wudhu or take a bath, put on his best and most expensive clothing, groom himself, put on musk or another fragrance, then proceed to the gathering of Hadith with the utmost dignity and respect. In every gathering coal ambers of ‘Uood (a special and beautiful fragrance derived from a unique tree) would be burnt continuously until the lesson was over. In the Imaam’s gatherings there would always be plush and expensive mats or carpeting spread out on the floor and when he would arrive there would be pin-drop silence out of the respect for him the people would remain totally quiet. In the gatherings their would be the students all around the sitting place of the Imaam, just like how a king’s servants would gather around his throne. There would be Muftis, Ulama, and leaders present in the gathering. Such respect was present in these gatherings that anyone who pass by would think that a king must be delivering his message and one who sit down in it would be taken away with awe. Abdullah bin Mubarak reports that one time the Imaam was bitten by a scorpion under his garment over ten times while narrating Hadith. During the narration of the Hadith he did not stop in order to remove it, rather he continued to narrate until the end. I noticed the discoloration of his face when the Imaam was being bitten. Afterwards when all the people had left, I came to the Imaam and asked him what had happened. He replied, “A scorpion was biting me under my garment, I could not have kept my patience because of myself restraint, rather it was out of the respect of the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that I did not remove it. Subhanallah!!!
Some of His Aqeedah: Imaam Malik believed that the Qur’an, which is the last message of Allah, was Ghair Makhluq, not a creation. He also believed that Allah SWT is on His Throne just as he has described in the Qur’an. He believed that Allah SWT has the knowledge of everything and that the believers will see Him with their eyes on the Day of Judgment. He believed that Imaan (faith) is to declare it by mouth, and is manifested through actions that will increase by obedience and decrease by committing sins. He believed that anyone who uses abusive language against the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) should be given death and that repentance should not avail them. He believed that Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) were the best in the Ummah after the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and that those who follow the beliefs of the Qadriyyah Sect, prayer is not valid behind them and their women can not be married.
His love for Madinah: Even when the Imaam attained old age and became very weak he never rode on an animal in Madinah his entire life. He understood that it was against the respect of Madinah to ride on the very land that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is buried in. Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says, “I saw at the door of Imaam Malik’s home beautiful horses from Khurasaan and Egyptian Mules. So I said to him they were very nice. He said they are yours as a gift from me. I said that you should keep one for yourself. His reply was that I am embarrassed to do so! How can I ride on them when the body of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is buried here in Madinah and the land is being rode on with the hooves of horses?
Some Saying about Him by Other Scholars
Mus’ab Zubairi – Imaam Malik was reliable, safeguarded, trustworthy in Hadith, a great scholar, jurist, proof-bearer, and god-fearing man.
Yahya bin Mu’een – He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadith.
Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan – He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadith.
Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdi – There is no more trustworthy in Hadith Nabawi on the face of this earth than Imaam Malik.
Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdi – Sufyaan Thawri is the Imaam of Hadith not the Imaam of Sunnah whlie Auwzaa’ee is the Imaam of Sunnah not the Imaam of Hadith, but Imaam Malik in the Imaam of Hadith and the Imaam of Sunnah.
Imaam Abu Hanifah – I have never seen anyone more fast understanding, correct answering, and test-taking than Imaam Malik.
Imaam Shaf’iee – After the Tabi’een Imaam Malik is the Proof-Bearer on this entire earth for or against all of the people.
Imaam Shaf’iee – Knowledge is encircled by three men: Malik bin Anas, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, and Laith bin Sa’ad.
Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal – I was asked whose Hadith should be memorized by heart if from anyone? I replied Malik bin Anas.
Imaam Bukhaari – I was asked what is the most authentic chain of narrators. I replied from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu).
Imaam Nasai – After the Tabi’een the most understanding, reliable, trustworthy, man in Hadith is Imaam Malik. He has hardly never narrated from a weak narrator apart from Abu Umayyah Abdul-Kareem who is Matrook.
Imaam Ahmed, Tirmizi, Nasai, and Haakim have all reported in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allahu Anhu) that he said, “The time has come near that people will travel by camels in search for religious knowledge and they will not find a greater scholar than who is in Madinah.” Sufyaan bin Uyainah says that the scholar of Madinah upon which the Hadith indicates is none other than Imaam Malik.
His Demise: The great Imaam reached the age of 84 or 86 or 87 or 90 years when he became ill on a Sunday and this illness continued to get worse for three weeks until on the 11th or 14th of Rabi-al-Awwal 179 A.H. he passed away. He was buried in the famous graveyard in Madinah called Jannatul-Baqee.
His Children: The great Imaam left behind three sons: Yayha, Muhammad, and Hammad. His remaining wealth that was inherited was 3300 dinaars.
Books Written by Imaam Malik: Imaam Malik wrote many books that can be referred to in the introduction of Oujasul-Masaalik (commentary of Muwatta Imaam Malik). Muwatta Imaam Malik is the first Hadith work after the Qur’an arranged into juristic Sections and organized accordingly. Imaam Bukhaari’s Saheeh is secondary to the work of Imaam Malik in this regards. Then after these two (Imaam Malik and Imaam Bukhaari) others followed, like Imaam Muslim and Imaam Tirmizi, who based there books upon theirs. (Allamah Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi).
Imam Malik – Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn `Amr, al-Imam, Abu `Abd Allah al-Humyari al-Asbahi al-Madani (93-179), the Shaykh of Islam, Proof of the Community, Imam of the Abode of Emigration, and Knowledgeable Scholar of Madina predicted by the Prophet. The second of the four major mujtahid imams, whose school filled North Africa, al-Andalus, much of Egypt, and some of al-Sham, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khurasan. He is the author of al-Muwatta’(“The Approved”), formed of the sound narrations of the Prophet from the people of the Hijaz together with the sayings of the Companions, the Followers, and those after them. It was hailed by al-Shafi`i as the soundest book on earth after the Qur’an, nearest book on earth to the Qur’an, most correct book on earth after the Qur’an, and most beneficial book on earth after the Qur’an according to four separate narrations. Malik said: “I showed my book to seventy jurists of Madina, and every single one of them approved me for it (kulluhum wâta’ani `alayh), so I named it ‘The Approved’.” Imam al-Bukhari said that the soundest of all chains of transmission was “Malik, from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar.” The scholars of hadith call it the Golden Chain, and there are eighty narrations with this chain in the Muwatta’.
Among those Malik narrated from in the Muwatta’: Ayyub al-Sakhtyani, Ja`far ibn Muhammad (al-Sadiq), Zayd ibn Aslam, `Ata’ al-Khurasani, al-Zuhri, Ibn al-Munkadir, `Alqama, Nafi` the freedman of Ibn `Umar, and others. Among those who narrated from Malik: al-Zuhri, Ibn Jurayj, Abu Hanifa, al-Awza`i, Sufyan al-Thawri, Shu`ba, Ibn al-Mubarak, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, `Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi, Waki`, Yahya al-Qattan, al-Shafi`i, Ibn Wahb, Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi, `Abd al-Razzaq, and many others.
The Prophet said: “Very soon will people beat the flanks of camels in search of knowledge, and they shall find no-one more knowledgeable than the knowledgeable scholar of Madina.” Al-Tirmidhi, al-Qadi `Iyad, Dhahabi and others relate from Sufyan ibn `Uyayna, `Abd al-Razzaq, Ibn Mahdi, Ibn Ma`in, Dhu’ayb ibn `Imama, Ibn al-Madini, and others that they considered that scholar to be Malik ibn Anas. It is also related from Ibn `Uyayna that he later considered it to be `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al-`Aziz al-`Umari. Al-Dhahabi said of the latter: “He possessed knowledge and good fiqh, spoke the truth fearlessly, ordered good, and remained aloof from society. He used to press Malik in private to renounce the world and seclude himself.”
Abu Mus`ab said: “Malik did not pray in congregation [in the Prophet’s mosque] for twenty-five years. He was asked: ‘What is preventing you?’ He said: ‘Lest I see something reprehensible and be obligated to change it.’” Another narration from Abu Mus`ab states: “After Malik left the [Prophet’s] mosque he used to pray in his house with a congregation that followed him, and he prayed the Jum`a prayer alone in his house.” Ibn Sa`d narrates from Muhammad ibn `Umar: “Malik used to come to the Mosque and pray the prayers and theJum`a, as well as the funeral prayers. He used to visit the sick and sit in the Mosque where his companions would came and saw him. Then he quit sitting there, instead he would pray and leave, and he quit attending the funeral prayers. Then he quit everything, neither attending the prayers nor the Jum`a in the mosque. Nor would he visit anyone who was sick or other than that. The people bore with it, for they were extremely fond of him and respected him too much. This lasted until he died. If asked about it, he said: ‘Not everyone can mention his excuse.’”
Ibn `Abd al-Barr said that Malik was the first who compiled a book formed exclusively of sound narrations. Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabi said: “The Muwatta’ is the first foundation and the core, while al-Bukhari’s book is the second foundation in this respect. Upon these two all the rest have built, such as Muslim and al-Tirmidhi.” Shah Wali Allah said something similar and added that it is the principal authority of all four Schools of Law, which stand in relation to it like the commentary stands in relation to the main text. Malik composed it in the course of forty years, having started with ten thousand narrations until he reduced them to their present number of under 2,000.
Al-Suyuti said: “There is no mursal narration in the Muwatta’ except it has one or several strengthening proofs (`âdid aw `awâdid).” Ibn `Abd al-Barr composed a book in which he listed all the narrations of the Muwatta’ that are either mursal, or munqati`, or mu`dal, and he provided complete sound chains for all of them except four:
“In truth I do not forget, but I am made to forget so that I shall start a Sunna.” This is the second hadith in the book of Sahw.
“The Prophet was shown the lifespans of people before his time, or whatever Allah willed of it, and seemed alarmed that the lifespans of his Community were too brief to reach the amount of deeds reached by previous communities who lived long. Whereupon Allah gave him the Most Precious Night (layla al-qadr), which is better than a thousand months.” This is the fifteenth hadith in the book of I`tikaf.
Mu`adh ibn Jabal said: “The last instruction I received from Allah’s Messenger when I put my foot in the stirrup was: ‘Beautify your manners for the people, O Mu`adh ibn Jabal!’” This is the first hadith of the book of Husn al-Khuluq.
“If clouds appear towards the sea then go northwards, that is the mark of heavyish rain.” This is the fifth hadith of the book of Istisqa’.
Among the hadith masters, al-`Iraqi and his student Ibn Hajar agreed with Ibn `Abd al-Barr that the above four hadiths have no chain, but others follow a different view: Shaykh Muhammad al-Shinqiti mentioned in his Dalil al-Salik ila Muwatta’ al-Imam Malik (p. 14) that Shaykh Salih al-Fulani al-`Umari al-Madani said: “Ibn al-Salah provided complete chains for the four hadiths in question in an independent epistle which I have in my possession, written in his own hand.” Shaykh Ahmad Shakir said: “But al-Shinqiti did not mention what these chains were, and so the scholars cannot judge on the question.”
Al-Zurqani counted as sixty-nine the number of those who narrated the Muwatta’ directly from Malik, geographically spread as follows:
– Seventeen in Madina, among them Abu Mus`ab Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr al-Zuhri, whose version has received a recent edition;
– Two in Mecca, among them al-Shafi`i;
– Ten in Egypt, among them `Abd Allah ibn Wahb, `Abd Allah ibn Yusuf al-Tinnisi al-Dimashqi, whose narration al-Bukhari chose, and Dhu al-Nun al-Misri;
– Twenty-seven in Iraq, among them `Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi, whose narration Ahmad ibn Hanbal chose, Yahya ibn Yahya al-Tamimi al-Hanzali al-Naysaburi, whose narration Muslim chose, and Abu Hanifa’s student Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, whose version has been published but greatly differs from the others and also contains other than what is narrated from Malik, so that it became known asMuwatta’ Muhammad;
– Thirteen in al-Andalus, among them the jurist Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi “the Sage of al-Andalus” û thus nicknamed by Malik himself û whose version is the most commonly used today and is the version meant by the term “Malik’s Muwatta’.” He is mainly responsible for the spread of the Maliki School in al-Andalus.
– Two from al-Qayrawan;
– Two from Tunis;
– Seven from al-Sham.
Imam Malik is the connection of the entire Islamic Community to the knowledge of the Sunna as it was preserved by the scholars of the Prophet’s city, al-Madina. This reference-point of his school of jurisprudence is observed time and again in the Muwatta’ with the phrase: “And this is what I have found (or seen) the people of knowledge practicing.” He was keenly aware of his mission as both the transmitter and the elucidator of the Sunna. This is characteristic of his students’ praise of him, beginning with al-Shafi`i’s famous sayings: “No-one constitutes as great a favor to me in Allah’s Religion as Malik” and “When the scholars of knowledge are mentioned, Malik is the guiding star.” `Abd Allah ibn Wahb said: “Every memorizer of hadith that does not have an Imam in fiqh is misguided (dâll), and if Allah had not rescued us with Malik and al-Layth (ibn Sa`d), I would have been misguided.” Abu Mus`ab recounts the following story:
I went in to see Malik ibn Anas. He said to me: “Look under my place of prayer or prayer-mat and see what is there.” I looked and found a certain writing. He said: “Read it.” It contained the account of a dream which one of his brothers had seen and which concerned him. Malik recited it [from memory]: “I saw the Prophet in my sleep. He was in his mosque and the people were gathered around him, and he said: ‘I have hidden for you under my pulpit (minbar) something good – or: knowledge – and I have ordered Malik to distribute it to the people.’” Then Malik wept, so I got up and left him.
The caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansur had forbidden Malik to narrate the hadith: “The divorce of the coerced does not take effect” (laysa `ala mustakrahin / li mukrahin talâq). Then a spy came to Malik and asked him about the issue, whereupon Malik narrated the hadith in front of everyone. He was seized and lashed until his shoulder was dislocated and he passed out. When he came to, he said: “He [al-Mansur] is absolved of my lashing.” When asked why he had absolved him, Malik replied: “I feared to meet the Prophet after being the cause for the perdition of one of his relatives.” Ibrahim ibn Hammad said he saw Malik being carried up and walking away, carrying one of his hands with the other. Then they shaved his face and he was mounted on a camel and paraded. He was ordered to deprecate himself aloud, whereupon he said: “Whoever knows me, knows me; whoever does not know me, my name is Malik ibn Anas, and I say: The divorce of the coerced is null and void!” When news of this reached Ja`far ibn Sulayman (d. 175) the governor of Madina and cousin of al-Mansur, he said: “Bring him down, let him go.”
Imam Malik held the hadith of the Prophet in such reverence that he never narrated anything nor gave a fatwa unless in a state of ritual purity. Isma`il ibn Abi Uways said: “I asked my uncle û Malik û about something. He bade me sit, made ablution, sat on the couch, and said:la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. He did not give a fatwa except he said it first.” Al-Haytham said: “I heard Malik being asked forty eight questions, to thirty-two of which he replied: ‘I do not know.’” Abu Mus`ab reported that Malik said: “I did not give fatwas before seventy scholars first witnessed to my competence to do it.”
Malik’s ethics, together with the states of awe and emotion which were observed on him by his entourage, were no doubt partly inherited from great shaykhs of his such as Ja`far al-Sadiq, Ibn Hurmuz, and Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri. He visited his shaykh Ibn Hurmuz (d. 148) every day from morning to night for a period of about eight years and recounts: “I would come to Ibn Hurmuz, whereupon he would order the servant to close the door and let down the curtain, then he would start speaking of the beginning of this Umma, and tears would stream down his beard.” The Maliki shaykh Ibn Qunfudh al-Qusantini (d. 810) wrote:
It was the practice of the Pious Predecessors and the Imams of the past that whenever the Prophet was mentioned in their presence they were overwhelmed by reverence, humbleness, stillness, and dignity. Ja`far ibn Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn `Ali ibn Abi Talib would turn pale whenever he heard the Prophet mentioned. Imam Malik would not mention a hadith except in a state of ritual purity. `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Siddiq would turn red and stammer whenever he heard the Prophet mentioned. As for `Amir ibn `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awamm al-Asadi (one of the early Sufis), he would weep until his eyes had no tears left in them. When any hadiths were mentioned in their presence they would lower their voices. Malik said: “The Prophet’s sacredness (hurma) is in death is as his sacredness was in life.”
Qutayba said: “When we went to see Malik, he would come out to us adorned, wearing kuhl on his eyes, perfumed, wearing his best clothes, sit at the head of the circle, call for palm-leaf fans, and give each one of us a fan.” Muhammad ibn `Umar: “Malik’s circle was a circle of dignity and courtesy. He was a man of majestic countenance and noblity. There was no part for self-display, vain talk, or loud speech in his circle. His reader would read for all, and no-one looked into his own book, nor asked questions, out of awe before Malik and out of respect for him.”
When the caliph al-Mahdi sent his sons Harun and Musa to learn from Malik, the latter would not read to them but told them: “The people of Madina read before the scholar just like children read to the teacher, and if they make a mistake, he corrects them.” Similarly when Harun al-Rashid with his own two sons requested Malik to read for them, he replied: “I have stopped reading for anybody a long time ago.” When Harun requested the people to leave so that he could read freely before Malik, the latter also refused and said: “If the common people are forbidden to attend because of the particulars, the latter will not profit.” It is known that Malik’s way in the transmission of hadith, like Ibn al-Musayyib, `Urwa, al-Qasim, Salim, Nafi`, al-Zuhri, and others, was `ard (“reading by the student”) and not samâ` (“audition from the shaykh”), although the student states by convention, in both cases: “So-and-so narrated to us.”
The caliph Harun al-Rashid said to Malik after hearing his answers to certain questions he put to him: “You are, by Allah! the wisest of people and the most knowledgeable of people.” Malik replied: “No, by Allah! O Leader of the Believers.” He said: “Yes! But you keep it hidden. By Allah! If I live, I shall put your sayings in writing like the mushafs are put down in writing, and I shall disseminate them to the ends of the world.” But Malik refused.
When one of the caliphs manifested his intention to replace the Prophet’s wooden pulpit with a pulpit of silver and jewels Malik said: “I do not consider good the hindrance of the people from access to the Prophet’s relics.” (lâ ara an yuhrama al-nâsu athara rasulillah.)
Among Malik’s sayings:
From Ibn Wahb: “Knowledge Allah places wherever He wills. It does not consist in narrating a lot.”
From Ibn Wahb: “The saying has reached methat none renounces the world and guards himself except he will speak wisdom.”
From Ibn Wahb: “Knowledge diminishes and does not increase. Knowledge has diminished incessantly after the Prophets and the Books.”
From `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al-Hakam: “The Companions differed in the Branches (al-furû`) and split into factions (tafarraqû), and each one of them was correct in himself.”
From Ja`far ibn `Abd Allah: “We were with Malik when a man came and asked him: ‘O Abu `Abd Allah! “The Merciful is established over the Throne” (20:5): how is He established?’ Nothing affected Malik as much as that man’s question. He looked at the ground and started prodding it with a twig he held in his hand until he was completely soaked in sweat. Then he lifted his head and said: ‘The “how” of it is inconceivable; the “establishment” part of it is not unknown; belief in it is obligatory; asking about it is an innovation; and I believe that you are a man of innovation.’ Then he gave an order and the man was led out.”
From Ibn Wahb: “We were with Malik when a man asked him: ‘O Abu `Abd Allah!“The Merciful is established over the Throne” (20:5): how is His establishment?’ Malik lowered his head and began to sweat profusely. Then he lifted up his head and said: ‘“The Merciful is established over the Throne” just as He described Himself. One cannot ask “how.” “How” does not apply to Him. And you are an evil man, a man of innovation. Take him out!’ The man was led out.”
From Yahya ibn Yahya al-Tamimi and Malik’s shaykh Rabi`a ibn Abi `Abd al-Rahman: “We were with Malik when a man came and asked him: ‘O Abu `Abd Allah! “The Merciful is established over the Throne” (20:5): how is He established?’ Malik lowered his head and remained thus until he was completely soaked in sweat. Then he said: ‘The establishment is not unknown; the “how” is inconceivable; belief in it is obligatory; asking about it is an innovation; and I do not think that you are anything but an innovator.’ Then he ordered that the man be led out.”
From Ma`n: “Disputation (al-jidâl) in the Religion fosters self-display, does away with the light of the heart and hardens it, and bequeaths aimless wandering.”
From Ma`n and others: “There are four types of narrators one does not take from: An outright scoffer, even if he is the greatest narrator; an innovator who invites people to his innovation; someone who lies about people, even if I do not charge him with mendacity in hadith; and a righteous, honorable worshipper if he does not memorize what he narrates.” Malik’s last clause refers to the two conditions sine qua non of the trustworthy narrator, who must possess not only moral uprightness (`adâla) but also accuracy in transmission (dabt). The clause elucidates the paradox current among hadith scholars whereby “No-one lies more than the righteous.” The reason for this is that the righteous do not doubt the Muslim’s attribution of a saying to his Prophet, and so they accept it without suspicion, whereas al-Shafi`i said: “If Malik had the slightest doubt about a hadith, he discarded the entire hadith.” Dr. Nur al-Din `Itr said: “The manner of the righteous who narrate everything indiscriminately stems from purity of heart and good opinion, and the scholars have said about such narrators: ‘Lies run off their tongue without their intending it.’” There is a fundamental difference between the latter and those who deliberately forge lies or narrate forgeries passed for hadith, and who are condemned by the Prophet’s saying: “Whoever lies about me willfully, let him take now his seat in the Fire!”
From Ibn al-Qasim: “Malik used to say: ‘Belief increases.’ He would stop short of saying that it decreases.”
From Ibn Abi al-Zubayr: “I saw `Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah enter the [Prophet’s] Mosque, then take hold of the pommel of the Pulpit, after which he faced the Qibla [to pray].”
In the Muwatta’: “Shaving the moustache is an innovation.” It is elsewhere related that Malik himself was tall, heavyset, imposing of stature, very fair, with white hair and beard but bald, with a huge beard and blue eyes; he “detested and condemned” shaving of the moustache, and he always wore beautiful clothes, especially white.
Narrated by Ibn Abi Zayd: “The turban was worn from the beginning of Islam and it did not cease to be worn until our time. I did not see anyone among the People of Excellence except they wore the turban, such as Yahya ibn Sa`id, Rabi`a, and Ibn Hurmuz. I would see in Rabi`a’s circle more than thirty men wearing turbans and I was one of them; Rabi`a did not put it down until the Pleiades rose and he used to say: ‘I swear that I find it increases intelligence.’ Jibril was seen in the image of (the Companion) Dihya (ibn Khalifa) al-Kalbi wearing a turban with its extremity hanging between his shoulder-blades.” Ashhab said: “When Malik wore the turban he passed it under his chin and let its extremity hang behind his back, and he wore musk and other scents.”
Main sources: Abu Nu`aym, Hilya al-Awliya’ 6:345-392 #386; al-Dhahabi, Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ 7:382-437 #1180; M. Fouad `Abd al-Baqi, Introduction to Malik’s Muwatta’.