Malik ibn Anas
Malik ibn Anas
Malik ibn Anas' name in Arabic calligraphy
|Born||711 CE/93 AH |
|Died||795 CE/179 AH (aged 83-84) |
|Era||Islamic Golden Age|
|Main interest(s)||Hadith, Fiqh|
|Notable idea(s)||Maliki madhhab|
|Notable work(s)||Al-Muwatta, Mudawana|
Malik bin Anas (Arabic: مالك بن أنس, 711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), whose full name is Mālik bin ʾAnas bin Mālik bin ʾAbī ʿĀmir bin ʿAmr bin al-Ḥārith bin Ghaymān bin Khuthayn bin ʿAmr bin al-Ḥārith al-Aṣbaḥīy, reverently known as Imam Mālik by Maliki Sunnis, was an Arab Muslim jurist, theologian, and hadith traditionist. Born in the city of Medina, Malik rose to become the premier scholar of prophetic traditions in his day, which he sought to apply to "the whole legal life" in order to create a systematic method of Muslim jurisprudence which would only further expand with the passage of time. Referred to as the Imam of Medina by his contemporaries, Malik's views in matters of jurisprudence were highly cherished both in his own life and afterwards, and he became the founder of one of the four schools of Sunni law, the Maliki, which became the normative rite for the Sunni practice of much of North Africa, Islamic Spain, a vast portion of Egypt, and some parts of Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khorasan, and the prominent Sufi orders, including the Shadiliyya and the Tijaniyyah.
Perhaps Malik's most famous accomplishment in the annals of Islamic history is, however, his compilation of the Muwatta, one of the oldest and most revered Sunni hadith collections and one of "the earliest surviving Muslim law-book[s]," in which Malik attempted to "give a survey of law and justice; ritual and practice of religion according to the consensus of Islam in Medina, according to the sunna usual in Medina; and to create a theoretical standard for matters which were not settled from the point of view of consensus and sunna." Composed in the early days of the Abbasid caliphate, during which time there was a burgeoning "recognition and appreciation of the canon law" of the ruling party, Malik's work aimed to trace out a "smoothed path" (which is what al-muwaṭṭaʾ literally means) through "the farreaching differences of opinion even on the most elementary questions." Hailed as "the soundest book on earth after the Quran" by al-Shafi'i, the compilation of the Muwatta led to Malik being bestowed with such reverential epithets as Shaykh of Islam, Proof of the Community, Imam of the Abode of Emigration, and Knowledgeable Scholar of Medina in later Sunni tradition.
According to classical Sunni tradition, Muhammad foretold the birth of Malik, saying: "Very soon will people beat the flanks of camels in search of knowledge and they shall find no one more expert than the knowledgeable scholar of Medina," and, in another tradition, "The people ... shall set forth from East and West without finding a sage other than the sage of the people in Medina." While some later scholars, such as Ibn Hazm and Tahawi, did cast doubt on identifying the mysterious wise man of both these traditions with Malik, the most widespread interpretation nevertheless continued to be that which held the personage to be Malik., al-Shafi'i, who would himself become the founder of another of the four orthodox legal schools of Sunni law, later said of his teacher: "No one constitutes as great a favor to me in the Religion of God as Malik ... when the scholars of knowledge are mentioned, Malik is the guiding star."
His full name was Abu Abdullah Mālik ibn Anas ibn Mālik Ibn Abī 'Āmir Ibn 'Amr Ibnul-Hārith Ibn Ghaimān Ibn Khuthail Ibn 'Amr Ibnul-Haarith.
Malik was born the son of Anas ibn Malik (who is not the Sahabi with the same name) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Medina circa 711. His family was originally from the al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather Abu 'Amir relocated the family to Medina after converting to Islam in the second year of the Hijri calendar, or 623 CE. His grandfather Malik ibn Abi Amir was a student of the second Caliph of Islam Umar and was one of those involved in the collection of the parchments upon which Quranic texts were originally written when those were collected during the Caliph Uthman era. According to Al-Muwatta, he was tall, heavyset, imposing of stature, very fair, with white hair and beard but bald, with a huge beard and blue eyes.
Living in Medina gave Malik access to some of the most learned minds of early Islam. He memorized the Quran in his youth, learning recitation from Abu Suhail Nafi' ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman, from whom he also received his Ijazah, or certification and permission to teach others. He studied under various famed scholars including Hisham ibn Urwah, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, and—along with Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi Sunni Madh'hab—under the Shia imam from the household of Muhammad's lineage, Jafar al Sadiq.
Golden Chain of Narration
Malik's chain of narrators was considered the most authentic and called Silsilat al-Dhahab or "The Golden Chain of Narrators" by notable hadith scholars including Muhammad al-Bukhari. The 'Golden Chain' of narration (i.e., that considered by the scholars of Hadith to be the most authentic) consists of Malik, who narrated from Nafi‘ Mawla ibn ‘Umar, who narrated from Ibn Umar, who narrated from Muhammad.
Mention in Hadith
Muhammad reportedly said in a hadith authenticated by Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi: "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." Qadi Ayyad, Al-Dhahabi and others relate from Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah, ‘Abd ar-Razzaq as-San‘ani, Ibn Mahdi, Yahya ibn Ma'in, Dhu’ayb ibn `Imama, Ibn al-Madini, and others that they considered that scholar to be Malik ibn Anas.
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Abdul-Ghani Ad-Daqr wrote that Malik was 'the furthest of all people' from dialectic theology who was the most knowledgeable of their discussions without accepting their views. G.F. Haddad, on the other hand, argued that Malik was not completely averse to the idea of dialectic theology;
Creed of the salaf
When a man asked Malik about the meaning of Quran 20:5, "The Merciful established Himself over the Throne," it is related that "nothing affected Malik so much as that man's question," and the jurist fervently responded: "The 'how' of it is inconceivable; the 'establishment' part of it is unknown; belief in it is obligatory; asking about it is an innovation."
Malik was a supporter of the orthodox Sunni doctrine of the beatific vision, and he is said to have cited Quran 75:22-23 ("That day will faces be resplendent, looking toward their Lord,") and 83:15 ("Nay! Verily, from their Lord, that day, shall they [the transgressors] be veiled,") as proof of his belief.
Sunnah of Muhammad
Malik considered following the sunnah of Muhammad to be of capital importance for every Muslim. It is reported that he said: "The sunnah is Noah's Ark. Whoever boards it is saved, and whoever remains away from it perishes."
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2017)
Differences of opinion
Accounts of Malik's life demonstrate that the scholar cherished differences of opinion amongst the ulema as a mercy from God to the Islamic community. Even "in Malik's time there were those who forwarded the idea of a unified madhhab and the ostensive removal of all differences between the Sunni schools of law," with "three successive caliphs" having sought to "impose the Muwatta and Malik's school upon the entire Islamic world of their time," but "Malik refused to allow it every time ... [for he held that the differences in opinion among the jurists]" were a "mercy" for the people. When the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansur said to Malik: "I want to unify this knowledge. I shall write to the leaders of the armies and to the rulers so that they make it law, and whoever contravenes it shall be put to death," Malik is said to have responded: "Commander of the Believers, there is another way. Truly, the Prophet was present in this community, he used to send out troops or set forth in person, and he did not conquer many lands until God took back his soul. Then Abu Bakr arose and he also did not conquer many lands. Then Umar arose after the two of them and many lands were conquered at his hands. As a result, he faced the necessity of sending out the Companions of Muhammad as teachers and people did not cease to take from them, notable scholars from notable scholars until our time. If you now go and change them from what they know to what they do not know they shall deem it disbelief (kufr). Rather, confirm the people of each land with regard to whatever knowledge is there, and take this knowledge to yourself."
According to another narration, al-Mansur, after hearing Malik's answers to certain important questions, said: "I have resolved to give the order that your writings be copied and disseminated to every Muslim region on earth, so that they be put in practice exclusively of any other rulings. They will leave aside innovations and keep only this knowledge. For I consider that the source of knowledge is the narrative tradition of Medina and the knowledge of its scholars." To this, Malik is said to have replied: "Commander of the Believers, do not! For people have already heard different positions, heard hadith, and related narrations. Every group has taken whatever came to them and put it into practice, conforming to it while other people differed. To take them away from what they have been professing will cause a disaster. Therefore, leave people with whatever school they follow and whatever the people of each country chose for themselves."
Knowing the limits of knowledge
Malik is famous for declaring: "The shield of the 'alim is: 'I do not know.' If he neglects it, he will receive a mortal blow." Elsewhere, a certain Khālid ibn Khidāsh related: "I travelled all the way from Iraq to see Mālik about forty questions. He did not answer me except on five. Then he said: ʿIbn ʿIjlān used to say: If the 'alim bypasses 'I do not know,' he will receive a mortal blow." Likewise, al-Haytham ibn Jamīl said: "I saw Mālik ibn Anas being asked forty-eight questions, and he replied to thirty-two of them: 'I do not know.'" Later on, Malik's disciple, Ibn Wahb, related: "I heard ʿAbd Allāh ibn Yazīd ibn Hurmuz say: 'The 'ulema must instill in those who sit with him the phrase 'I do not know' until it becomes a foundational principle (asl) before them and they seek refuge in it from danger."
Malik is said to have detested disputing in matters of religion, saying: "Disputation (al-jidāl) in the religion fosters self-display, does away with the light of the heart and hardens it, and produces aimless wandering." Needless argument, therefore, was disapproved of by Malik, and he also chose to keep silent about religious matters in general unless he felt obliged to speak in fear of "the spread of misguidance or some similar danger."
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2017)
Shaving the mustache
In the Muwatta, Malik writes: "Shaving the mustache is an innovation." Elsewhere, it is written that he "detested and condemned" shaving of the mustache and, furthermore, "disliked inordinate length for the beard." While several other scholars held both the clipping (qass) and the removal (ihfā') of the mustache to be sunnah, Malik only considered the former to be truly prophetically prescribed, deeming the latter an unpalatable innovation.
The available physical descriptions of Malik relate that he "was tall, heavy-set, imposing of stature, very fair, with white beard ... [and] bald ... [with] blue eyes." Furthermore, it is also related that "he always wore beautiful clothes, especially [those that were] white."
Malik died at the age of 83 or 84 in Medina in 795 and is buried in the famous Jannat ul-Baqi cemetery across from the Mosque of the Prophet. Although there was a small shrine constructed around his grave during the medieval period, with many Muslims visiting it to pay their respects, the construction was razed to the ground by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during their campaign of demolishing many of the traditional Islamic heritage sites after the kingdom's establishment in 1932.
Malik's last words were related by one Isma'il ibn Abi Uways who said, "Malik became sick, so I asked some of our people about what he said at the time of his death. They said, "He recited the testification of faith and then he recited:
Their affair is for God, before and after.
Imam Malik wrote:
- Al-Muwatta, "The Approved," which was said to have been regarded by Shafi'i to be the soundest book on Earth after the Qur'an.
- Al-Mudawwana al-Kubra, written down by Sahnun ibn Sa'id ibn Habib at-Tanukhi (c. 776-7 – 854-5) after the death of Malik ibn Anas.
Early Islamic scholars
- Schacht, J., "Mālik b. Anas", in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online.
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 121
- See "Shadiliyya" and "Tijaniyyah" in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online.
- "Narrated by Abu Hurayrah by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi who said it is hasan -- in some manuscripts hasan sahih -- al-Hakim (1:90-91) with three chains, declaring it sahih by Muslim's criterion, al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (1:386), etc." (Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools [London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007], p. 121, note 271).
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 122
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), pp. 122-23
- M M Azami, The History of the Quranic Text, page 100-101
- "– Topics". Muslimheritage.com. 2005-01-04. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
- ""Imaam Maalik ibn Anas" by Hassan Ahmad, '''Al Jumuah' Magazine'' Volume 11 – Issue 9". Sunnahonline.com. Archived from the original on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
- Abdul-Ghani Ad-Daqr, Al-Imam Malik, Imam Dar al-Hijrah, pg. 285, 2nd ed. Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1998.
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 167; narrated by Al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 7:415, cf. al-Bayhaqī, al-Asmā' wal-Sifāt, 2:304-305:866.
- Abdul-Ghani Ad-Daqr, Al-Imam Malik, pg. 292-293.
- Abdul-Ghani Ad-Daqr, Al-Imam Malik, pp. 293-294.
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 181
- Abdul-Ghani Ad-Daqr, Al-Imam Malik, pp. 294.
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 176
- Narrated from Ibn Wahb by al-Khatīb in Tārīkh Baghdād, 7:336 and al-Suyūtī, Miftāh al-Janna, p. 162: 391, cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 175
- From Ma'n, cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), pp. 162-164
- From Ma'n, cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), pp. 162-163
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 163
- Narrated from al-Wāqidī by Ibn Sa'd in the supplemental volume of his Tabaqāt (p. 440) and from al-Zubayr ibn Bakkār by Ibn 'Abd al-Barr in his al-Intiqā (p. 81). Cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 163
- Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Intiqā, pp. 74-75; cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 176
- From Ma'n, cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 170
- From Ma'n, cited in Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 171
- Gibril F. Haddad, The Four Imams and Their Schools (London: Muslim Academic Trust, 2007), p. 177
- The medieval Andalusian Muslim traveler and geographer Ibn Jubayr describes seeing a small dome erected above the tomb of Malik when he visited the cemetery in the later twelfth-century.
- Quran 30:4
|Arabic Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Biodata at MuslimScholars.info
- Life of Imam Malik
- Biography of Imam Malik at Lost Islamic History
- Biography of Imam Malik
- A comprehensive Biography of Imam Malik
- Al-Muwatta' of Imam Malik
- Muslims of Norwich A Maliki community
- FRENCH :  BIOGRAPHY OF IMAM MALIK
- (in French) The lifestyle of Imâm Mâlik Ibn Anas (at-tawhid.net)
- Malik, Imam B Anas مَالِك بن أنس ; A complete biography on Imam Malik bin Anas