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For other uses, see Maliki (disambiguation).

The Mālikī (Arabic: مالكي‎) madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It was founded by Malik bin Anas and it considers the rulings from ulema from Medina to be sunnah.[1] Its adherents reside mostly in North Africa, West Africa, Kuwait, Bahrain,[2] in some parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman and other Middle Eastern countries, and parts of India.[3] The Murabitun World Movement also follows the Maliki school.

In the past, it was also followed in parts of Europe under Islamic rule, particularly Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily. One of the greatest historical centers of Maliki teaching, especially during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, is the Mosque of Uqba.[4][5]


Although Ibn Anas himself was a native of Medina, his school faced fierce competition for followers in the Muslim east, with the Shafi'i, Hanbali and Zahiri schools all enjoying more success than Malik's school.[6] It was eventually the Hanafi school, however, that earned official government favor from the Abbasids.

The Malikis enjoyed considerably more success in the Muslim west. Under the Umayyads and their remnants, the Maliki school was promoted as the official state code of law, and Maliki judges had free rein over religious practices; in return, the Malikis were expected to support and legitimize the government's right to power.[7] This dominance in Andalus from the Umayyads up to the Almoravids continued, with Islamic law in the region dominated by the opinions of Malik and his students. The Sunnah and Hadith, or prophetic tradition in Islam, played lesser roles as Maliki jurists viewed both with suspicion, and few were well versed in either.[8] The Almoravids eventually gave way to the predominantly-Zahiri Almohads, at which point Malikis were tolerated at times but lost official favor. With the Reconquista, the Iberian Peninsula was lost to the Muslims in totality.

Although Al-Andalus was eventually lost, the Maliki has been able to retain its dominance throughout North and West Africa to this day. Additionally, the school has traditionally been the preferred school in the small Arab States of the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai). While the majority of Saudi Arabia follows Hanbali laws, the country's Eastern Province has been known as a Maliki stronghold for centuries.


The Mālikī school derives from the work of Malik ibn Anas, primarily the Muwatta Imam Malik and the Mudawana. The Muwaṭṭa is a collection of hadiths which are regarded as sound and find their place in Sahih al-Bukhari with some commentary from Mālik regarding the practices of the people of Medina and where the practices are in compliance with or in variance with the hadiths reported. This is because Mālik (and what would later be the school after his name) regarded the practices of Medina (the first three generations) to be a superior proof of the "living" sunnah than isolated, although sound, hadiths.

Map of the Muslim world. Maliki (in teal) is the predominant Sunni school in North Africa.

The second main source, the Mudawwanah, is the collaborator work of Mālik's longtime student, Ibn Qāsim and his mujtahid student, Sahnun. The Mudawwanah consists of the notes of Ibn Qāsim from his sessions of learning with Mālik and answers to legal questions raised by Saḥnūn in which Ibn Qāsim quotes from Mālik, and where no notes existed, his own legal reasoning based upon the principles he learned from Mālik. These two books, i.e. the Muwaṭṭah and Mudawwanah, along with other primary books taken from other prominent students of Mālik, would find their way into the Mukhtaṣar Khalīl, which would form the basis for the later Mālikī madhhab.

When forced to rely upon conflicting authenticated hadiths to derive a ruling, Mālikīs would then choose the hadith that has a Medinan origin, meaning the transmitter(s) resided in Medina. To summarize, in the Mālikī madhhab the "living sunnah" of the salaf of Medina substantiates the single reported hadith, not the other way around. This is probably what distinguishes the Mālikī madhab the most from the Shāfi‘ī, Ḥanbalī, and Ḥanafī madhāhib respectively.

This source, according to Mālik, sometimes supersedes hadith, because the practice of the people of Medina was considered "living sunnah," in as much as Muhammad migrated there, lived there and died there, and most of his companions lived there during his life and after his death. The result is what would appear to be a much more limited reliance upon ṣaḥīḥ hadiths than is found in other schools, but in actuality, serves to strengthen hadiths related to actual practice.

Mālik was particularly scrupulous about authenticating his sources when he did appeal to them, however, and his comparatively small collection of aḥādith, known as al-Muwaṭṭah "The Approved", is highly regarded. Mālik is said to have explained the title as follows: "I showed my book to seventy jurists of Medina, and every single one of them approved me for it, so I named it 'The Approved'".[this quote needs a citation]

The Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba or Mosque of Oqba) had the reputation, since the 9th century, of being one of the most important centers of the Maliki school.[9] The Great Mosque of Kairouan is situated in the city of Kairouan in Tunisia.


  • Maliki considers the wedding party to be compulsory.[10]
  • Malikis say nothing during the kneeling position in prayer.[11]
  • The Maliki school considers admission in a court of law to be divisible; that is, a plaintiff could accept some parts of a defendant's testimony while rejecting other parts. This position is also held by the Hanafi school, though it is opposed by the Zahiris and the majority of the Hanbalis.[12]

Notable differences from other schools[edit]

The Maliki school differs from the other Sunni schools of law most notably in the sources it uses for derivation of rulings. All schools use the Qur'an as primary source, followed by the prophetic tradition of the prophet Muhammad, transmitted as hadiths. In the Mālikī school, said tradition includes not only what was recorded in hadiths, but also the legal rulings of the four rightly guided caliphs - especially Umar. Malik bin Anas himself also accepted binding consensus and analogical reasoning along with the majority of Sunni jurists, though with conditions. Consensus was only accepted as a valid source of law if it was drawn from the first generation of Muslims in general, or the first, second or third generations from Medina, while analogy was only accepted as valid as a last resort when an answer was not found in other sources.[13][14] Malik was reported to have only actually used analogy himself one time, which he regretted on his deathbed.

The Mālikī school, in addition, relies heavily upon the practice of the people of Medina as a source - composed of the first, second, and later generations of Muslims. This is because the Mālikī school views those Medinans' collective practice, along with the derivative rulings, to be mutawātir, or known and practiced by so many people that it can only be a prophetic tradition. In other words, the practices of the first three generations of Muslims who resided in Medina form the normative practice of the "living tradition" that was preserved from Muḥammad. The remaining Sunni Muslim schools of law, while maintaining respect for the people of Medina, do not concur with the heavy weight granted by the Maliki school, setting the latter apart.


Also See: Salat

School children in Mauritania

There are slight differences in the preferred methods of ṣalāt, or prayer, in the Māliki school.[15]

  • Not reciting any supplications before the Fātiḥah in obligatory prayers (the Bismillah, reciting "in the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful" before the Fātiḥah.).
  • Tashahhud - Turning the right-handed fist onto its side (so that the smallest finger is touching the thigh) and the right index finger is moved from side to side.
  • Qunūt is to be recited only in the morning prayer.[16]
  • Malikis don't say anything during the kneeling position of prayer.[17]

Notable Mālikīs[edit]

Contemporary Malikis[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Voices of Islam - Page 160, Vincent J. Cornell, Omid Safi - 2006
  2. ^ International Religious Freedom (2000)
  3. ^ Bina Srinivasan (1 January 2007). Negotiating Complexities: A Collection of Feminist Essays. Bibliophile South Asia. p. 67. ISBN 978-81-85002-71-2. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Riad Nourallah, The future of Islam, Routledge, 2002, page 199
  5. ^ Ira Marvin Lapidus, A history of Islamic societies, Cambridge University Press, 2002, page 308
  6. ^ Camilla Adang, This Day I have Perfected Your Religion For You: A Zahiri Conception of Religious Authority, pg. 17. Taken from Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies. Ed. Gudrun Krämer and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2006.
  7. ^ Maribel Fierro, Proto-Malikis, Malikis and Reformed Malikis in al-Andalus, pg. 61. Taken from The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution and Progress. Eds. Peri Bearman, Rudolph Peters and Frank E. Vogel. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2005.
  8. ^ Fierro, "The Introduction of Hadith in al-Andalus (2nd/8th - 3rd/9th centuries)," pg. 68-93. Der Islam, vol. 66, 1989.
  9. ^ Roland Anthony Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Medieval Africa, 1250-1800, Cambridge University Press, 2001, page 36
  10. ^ Law in Afghanistan: Mohammad Hashim Kamali - 1985, Page 97
  11. ^ Making Moral Decisions - Page 106, Jean Holm, John Bowker - 2001
  12. ^ hi Mahmasani, Falsafat al-tashri fi al-Islam, pg. 175. Trns. Farhat Jacob Ziadeh. Leiden: Brill Archive, 1961.
  13. ^ Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse, pg. 32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  14. ^ Reuben Levy, Introduction to the Sociology of Islam, pg. 237, 239 and 245. London: Williams and Norgate, 1931-1933.
  15. ^ The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani: A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh. Chapter 10: On How to Do the Fard Prayers and the Sunna and Nafila Prayers Connected with Them
  16. ^ "Salat According to Five Islamic Schools of Law" from
  17. ^ Making Moral Decisions, p 106 John Holm

Further Reading[edit]

  • Cilardo, Agostino, Maliki Fiqh, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.

External links[edit]