Imam Malik

Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn ‘Amr al-Asbahi (Arabic مالك بن أنس) (c. 715796) (93 AH – 179 AH ) is known as “Imam Malik,” the “the Sheikh of Islam,” the “Proof of the Community,” and “Imam of the Abode of Emigration.” [3] He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh in Sunni Islam. Imam Shafi, who was one of Malik’s student for nine years and a scholarly giant in his own right, stated, “when scholars are mentioned, Malik is like the star among them.”[4] The Maliki Madhab, named after Malik, is one of the four schools of jurisprudence that remains popular among Muslim

Biography

His full name was Abu Abdullah Maalik Ibn Anas In Maalik Ibn Abee ‘Aamir Ibn ‘Amr Ibnul-Haarith Ibn Ghaymaan Ibn Khuthayl Ibn ‘Amr Ibnul-Haarith.

Malik was born the son of Anas ibn Malik (not the Sahaba) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Medina circa 715. 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 after hijra (623).

Early life

Details of Malik’s early teenage years remains mostly unknown, though there are accounts indicating that he pursued religious education at the age of 11.[5] Before embarking in his religious studies, Malik helped his brother sell fabrics.[6]

Teachers

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 Imam Abu Suhail an-Nafi’ ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman, from whom he also received his Sanad, or certification and permission to teach others. He studied under various famed scholars including Hisham ibn Urwah, Jafar al Sadiq, and Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri.[7]

Compiling and Narrating Hadith

Malik practiced extreme care in regard to narrating Hadith, saying, “I do not accept knowledge from four types of people: (1) a person known to be foolish, even though others may narrate from him, (2) a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards the innovation, (3) a person who lies in regular conversation, even though I do not accuse him as liar in regard to Hadith, (4) and a person who is pious worshipper or scholar, but does not properly and correctly memorize what he narrates.”

In directing others to rely on hadith over scholarly opinions, Malik stressed, “Indeed I am a man, I err as well as am correct. You should analyze my opinion, and what you find in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah you take, and what you find opposing, then leave it.”[8]

Golden Chain of Narration

Imam Malik’s chain of narrators was considered the most authentic and called Silsilat ul-Zhahab or “The Golden Chain of Narrators” by notable hadith scholars including Imam Bukhari.[9] The Golden Chain consists of Malik, who narrated from Nafi’, who narrated from ibn Umar, who narrated from Muhammad.


Reluctance in rendering religious verdicts

Malik took advantage of the fact that he was contemporary to many of the Tabi‘in to formulate his famous school of thought which gave precedence to the acts of the people of Medina over the Hadith if they were in conflict. This was done due to the sizeable amount of scholars, and companions of Muhammad residing in the city where Malik’s reputation grew immensely. Malik nevertheless showed hesistancy in issuing religious verdicts explaining in one of his more famous statements that:

The shield of the scholar is, ‘I do not know,’ so if he neglects it, his statement is attacked.[10]

Textualist interpretation of hadith on God’s attributes

Malik adhered to a textual interpretion of hadith in relation to God’s attributes. Ad-Daraqutnee relates that Malik was asked about the attributes of Allah, to which Malik answered, “Pass them on as they come.”[11] Furhermore, Qadi Iyad relates that Malik was asked whether people would be looking toward Allah given the narration, “And some faces shall be shining and radiant upon that day, looking at their Lord.” Malik ensuingly answered, “Yes, with these two eyes of his,” though his student replied, “there are a people who say he will not be looking at Allah, that ‘looking’ means a reward” to which Malik answered, “They lied, rather they will look at Allah.”

Opposition to bidah or innovation in beliefs

Malik was vehemently opposed to any forms of bidah and even directed others not to extend the Islamic greeting of Salam to the people of bidah, stating, “how evil are the People of Innovation, we do not give them salaam.”[12] Malik explained that “he who innovates an innovation in Islaam regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad has betrayed his trust to deliver the message as Allah says, ‘this day have I perfected for you your religion’. And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today.”[13]

Prohibiting Kalam

Malik sternly prohibited theological rhetoric and philosophical speech, frequently referred to as kalam.[14] Malik believed that Kalam was rooted in heretical doctrines taken up and followed by controversial theologians such as Jahm bin Safwan.[15] When asked about an individual who delved into Kalam, Malik answered, “he innovated his innovation with kalaam, and if kalaam had been knowledge, the Companions and the tabi’in would have spoken a bout it, just as they spoke about the rules and regulations.[16].

The Companions of Muhammad

Malik stressed that those who harbor rancour in their hearts toward the Companions of Muhammad or find fault with them shall have no right to share war booty with the Muslims.[17] Malik’s views pertaining to the Rightly Guided Caliphs sets forth the Sunni position that Abu Bakr properly succeeded Muhammad in leadership. In a famous narration, one of Malik’s students, Ashaab Ibn Abdul-Azeez said:

We were with Malik when a man from amongst the Alawiyyeen stood against him, and they used to come to his gatherings. So he called out to him, `O Abaa ‘Abdullaah!’ (meaning Malik) So Malik looked to him, and there was not just anyone whom he would have answered, from many of those whom he looked to with his head. So at Taalibee (the Alawee) said to him, `I wish to make you a proof in regards to what is between myself and Allah. When I stand before Him and He asks me, I will say: Malik said it to me.’ So he said to him, `Speak.’ So he said, `Who is the best of the people after the Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Abu Bakr.’ The Alawee said,`Then who?’ Malik said, `Then ‘Umar.’ The ‘Alawee said, `Then who?’ Malik said, `The Caliph who was killed in oppression, ‘Uthmaan.’ The ‘Alawee said, `By Allah, I will never sit with you, ever.’ Malik said to him, `The choice is yours.”[18]

Controversy

Despite his reluctance to render religious verdicts, Malik was outspoken. He issued fatwas against being forced to pledge allegiance to the Caliph Al-Mansur, and was punished via flogging for his stance. Al-Mansur apologized to Malik, and offered him money and residence in Baghdad, but Malik refused to leave the city of Muhammad PBUH. Later, Harun al-Rashid asked Malik to visit him while Harun was performing the hajj. The Imam refused, and instead he invited the new caliph to his class.

Death

Imam Malik died at the age of 89 in Medina in 796 and is buried in the famous Jannat ul-Baqi cemetery across from the Masjid al Nabawi. Malik’s last words was related by one Ismaa’eel Ibn Abee Uways who said, “Maalik became sick, so I asked some of our people about what he said at the time of his death. They said, `He recited the shahadah (testification of faith), then he recited:

Their affair is for Allah, before and after.[19]

Works

Imam Malik wrote Al-Muwatta, “The Approved,” which was said to have been regarded by Imam Shafi’i to be the soundest book on Earth after the Qur’an.

See also

Fatwas:

References

  1. ^ http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=471
  2. ^ The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal, pg. 16
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ http://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=530
  5. ^ The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal By Yasin Dutton, pg. 12
  6. ^ The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal By Yasin Dutton, pg. 12
  7. ^ http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=471
  8. ^ http://www.therighteouspath.com/manhaj/SayingsSalafForbiddanceTaqleed.pdf
  9. ^ http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/seerah/0041.htm
  10. ^ Al-Intiqaa, pg. 38
  11. ^ as-Siffat, pg.75
  12. ^ al-Ibaanah of ibn Battah, no.441
  13. ^ al-I’tisaam
  14. ^ Dhammul-Kalaam (qaaf/173/alif)
  15. ^ Jaami’ Bayaanul-Ilm wa Fadlihi (p. 415)
  16. ^ Dhammul-Kalaam (qaaf/173/baa)
  17. ^ al-Hilyah (6/327)
  18. ^ Tarteebul-Madaarik (2/44 -45)
  19. ^ Quran 30:4

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