Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi)



Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) was born in the year 95 A.H., and was 15 years younger than Imaam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullahi Alaihi). He passed away on the 14th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 179 A.H. [1]

His Expertise

Abu Nu’aim (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) narrates from Abu Mus’ab (Rahmatullahi Alaihi): “I heard Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) say: ‘I never passed a Fatwa (verdict) until seventy scholars bore testimony to the fact that I was worthy of issuing Fatwa.”[2]

Allamah Zarqaani states that Imaam Maalik started teaching Hadith at the age of seventeen.[3]

Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) said: “I wrote one hundred thousand Ahaadith with my right hand.”[4]

Imaam Shaafi’ee (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) said: “Had it not been for Imaam Maalik and Sufyaan bin Uyaynah (Rahmatullahi Alaihima), the knowledge of Hijaaz (Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Tayyibah) would have been lost.”[5]

Hammaad bin Salamah says: “If someone had to ask me to appoint a person from whom the ummah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would be able to attain knowledge from, I would regard Imaam Maalik bin Anas to be the most suitable and appropriate person for that task.[6]

Once a person asked Imaam Shaafi’ee, “Did you ever meet anyone like Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi)?” Imaam Shaafi’ee replied: “I have heard some of those who were more senior than us in age and knowledge saying that they had never seen anyone like Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi), so how could we have seen someone like him?”[7]

Muthannah bin Saeed mentions that I heard Imaam Maalik say: “There is no night that passes except that I see Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in a dream.”[8]

Droves of people used to flock to Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) to acquire the knowledge of Deen. If someone had seen the crowds of people present at the home of Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi), he could liken it to the multitudes of people present at the door of the king.[9]

His Caution in Deen

Abdurrahman ibn Mahdi (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) says: “A man once asked Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) a mas’alah (ruling), to which he responded: I am not sure about it. The man exclaimed: “I have indeed travelled to you from such and such a place to ask you about it!” Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) responded: “When you return to your place, inform the people that I said that I am not sure of it.”[10]

Haitham bin Jameel says: “I was present on one occasion when Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) was asked fourty eight questions, thirty two of which he answered by saying “I do not know.”[11]

Glad Tidings

Hafiz Jalaalud Deen Suyooti (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) says that the Ulama have mentioned that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had issued glad tidings in favour of Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) in the following manner: “Soon a time will come when people would travel lengthy journeys beating their camels in pursuit of ‘ilm. They would not find anyone as learned as the Aalim of Madinah.” It is also reported in a narration of Tirmidhi that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Knowledge will be cut off, and there will not be anyone more knowledgeable than the Aalim of Madinah.” Sufyaan bin Uyaynah (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) said: “The Muhadditheen attributed this glad tidings of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi).” Abdur Razzaaq said that we used to think that it was Imaam Maalik that was being referred to (in the above-mentioned Hadith), because this title of “The Aalim of Madinah” was not associated with anyone other than Imaam Maalik, and nor were camels beaten in travelling to Madinah to learn Hadith from anyone else as much as they were beaten for Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi).[12]

Abu Nu’aym Al-Isfahaani mentioned in Hilyat al-Awliya that Ismail bin Muzahim Al-Marwazi, one of the companions of ibnul Mubaarak, said: “I saw Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in a dream and I asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, who should we ask after you?’ Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied: ‘Maalik bin Anas.’”[13]

Mutarrif bin Abi Abdillah said: “I saw Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in a dream sitting in the musjid with people around him. Imaam Maalik was standing before him and there was musk in front of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). He was taking handfuls from it and giving it to Imaam Maalik, and Imaam Maalik was distributing it among the people.” Mutarrif said, “I interpreted it as the knowledge of Deen and following the Sunnah.”[14]

Mus’ab ibn Az-Zubairi narrates that his father said: “I was seated with Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) in the Musjid of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) when suddenly a man appeared asking which one of us was Abu Abdillah Maalik. The people indicated towards Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi). He came closer to Imaam Maalik and greeted him. Thereafter he embraced him, kissed him on his forehead and held him close to his chest. He then said to Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi): ‘Last night I had seen a dream wherein Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was seated at this very spot. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘Bring Maalik’. Thereafter you were brought whilst you were shuddering and trembling. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘There is nothing to fear O Abu Abdillah. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘Sit down’. Then you had sat down. Then Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘Open your lap’. You opened your lap and Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) spread out musk. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘Keep it by you and distribute it to my Ummah.’” Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) broke down into tears for a long period. Thereafter he said: “A dream (wherein there is glad tidings) should cause one to become happy, however it should not deceive one (in striving towards his goal).” If your dream is true then the musk refers to the knowledge which Allah Ta’ala had entrusted me with.”[15]

His Respect for Hadith

His gathering was one of great awe, forbearance and knowledge. He was a noble man who was endowed with awe and respect. There was no arguing, shouting or raising of voices in his gathering.[16]

Ibn Habib said: “When Imaam Maalik sat to teach Hadith, no one moved from their place until he got up.

Whenever he sat down to narrate Hadith, he applied itr and donned new clothes. A carpet was set out for him on which he sat. He emerged from his house with great amount of humility. He sat before the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) with utmost respect and dignity. Oud used to be burnt in the gathering where the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to be taught by Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi).[17]

Abdullah bin Mubaarak said: “I was once present in the gathering of Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) while he was relating Hadith to us and a scorpion stung him sixteen times. Imaam Maalik’s facial complexion began to change colour, however he continued teaching the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). After the lesson was over and the students had departed, I asked him the reason for the change in his complexion during the lesson. He informed me regarding the scorpion sting and said, “I did not move from my place out of respect for the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).”[18]

Abu Mus’ab (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) says that Imaam Maalik used to only narrate Hadith while in the state of wudhu, out of respect for the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)[19]

Abu Muslim Al-Khuzaa’ee mentioned: “Whenever Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) intended to sit down to narrate Hadith, he would first perform wudhu like how he performs wudhu for salaah, dress in the best of clothing and comb his beard. When someone once asked him regarding this, he replied: “I do all of this out of respect for the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).”[20]

Mutarrif says: When people used to gather outside the house of Imaam Maalik, a slave girl would come forward asking: “The Shaikh would like to know whether you have gathered to ask a fatwa or to learn Ahadith?” If they replied: “We have come to ask a fatwa” Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) would immediately emerge from the home and attend to their need. However, if they said that they had come to learn Ahadith then politely she would ask them to take a seat. Thereafter, Imaam Maalik would take a ghusal (bath), apply itr, don a new set of clothes, place a long topee on his head and tie a turban, and thereafter with respect he would teach them Ahadith.[21]

His Sincerity

Allamah Zarqaani (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) mentioned: “When Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) prepared his kitaab “Al-Muatta”, he doubted his sincerity and thus feared that the kitaab may not gain acceptance in the sight of Allah Ta’ala. Hence, as a means of testing his ikhlaas, he resolved within his heart to insert the kitaab in water. In order to determine whether his kitaab was written with ikhlaas, he begged Allah Ta’ala to reveal to him in this way that if the kitaab gets wet, then it is a sign that this kitaab was not written with ikhlaas. After placing the kitaab in the water and removing it, he found it was completely dry.[22]

Allamah Zarqaani (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) writes that after Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) had prepared the Muatta, he was informed that like him there were many other Ulama in Madinah Munawwarah who had also prepared their kitaabs, called “Al-Muatta”, and he was also told that there was no need for him to prepare his kitaab when similar types of these books were found in Madinah Munawwarah. Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) responded saying: “Bring these kitaabs to me, I wish to have a look at them.” When the kitaabs were brought before Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alahi), he looked at them and said: “Certainly you know that nothing will gain acceptance in the court of Allah Ta’ala except that which was done with sincerity and ikhlaas.” Hence with the passing of time, besides the Muatta of Imaam Maalik, none of the works of those Ulama remain, nor were their names even heard of.[23]

His Muatta

Muhammad bin Rabee’ says: “I performed Hajj with my father when I was a boy and slept in the musjid of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). I saw Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in a dream as though he had just come out of his grave, and he was leaning on Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Hadhrat Umar (Radhiallahu Anhuma). I stood up and made salaam to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). I then asked, “O Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), where are you going?” He replied: “I am going to establish for Imaam Maalik the straight path.  I then woke up and I proceeded with my father to the gathering of Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi). I found that the people were surrounding Imaam Maalik and he had presented before them his Muatta. Muhammad ibnul Hakam says that Muhammad bin Sirri said: “I saw Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in a dream and I said: “O Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), teach me some knowledge which I can narrate from you.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied: “O ibn Sirri, I have brought to Imaam Maalik a treasure for him to distribute among you. It is the Muatta. After the Book of Allah Ta’ala and my sunnah, it is the unanimous agreement of the Muslims that there is no book that is more sound than the Muatta, so listen to it and you will benefit from it.” (NB: This was before the existence of Bukhaari Shareef)[24]

His Love and Respect for Madinah Tayyibah

It is related that he only left the Haram of Madinah if he had a valid reason.[25]

Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) possessed great love for the land of Madinah Munawwarah. This love was on account of the love he had for Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Allamah ibn Khalliqaan writes: “Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) never rode a conveyance in the blessed city of Madinah Munawwarah. Even at the time when he grew old and became extremely weak, he preferred to walk rather than being transported by a conveyance. When Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) was asked the reason, he mentioned: “I feel extremely difficult to ride on a conveyance in the mubaarak city of Madinah Munawwarah, whereas Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is buried beneath the ground.”[26]

Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) used to commence teaching the students of Hadith and those residing in Madinah Munawwarah before teaching others. When he was asked the reason for showing preference to the students of hadith and the people of Madinah, he exclaimed: “These are the neighbours of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).”[27]

His Intelligence

It is related that once a plague had broken out in Madina Tayyiba. On account of the plague many people had passed away. During that time, a woman was brought to be given ghusal. While she was being washed by the women, one woman exclaimed (referring to the deceased) “You are an adulteress.” The body of the dead woman immediately stuck to the hand of the woman who uttered these words. A lot of effort was made to remove the hand from the deceased’s body, but to no avail. The case was reported to the governor of Madina and he, without delay, consulted the fuqahaa. Some of them said that her hand should be cut off, while others said that part of the dead person’s body should be cut, because the sanctity of the living is greater. The governor said: “I will not issue a command until I consult Abu Abdillah (i.e. Imaam Maalik).” The case was presented before Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) who issued the ruling, “Neither the hand of this woman is to be cut off nor any part of the deceased woman’s body should be cut. I only think that the (deceased) woman is seeking her rights from the woman who had accused her.” After the woman had confessed of the accusation she levelled against the deceased woman, it was decided that the hadd (the corporal punishment which was eighty lashes in the case of false accusations of zina) should be carried out upon the slanderer. The woman was given seventy nine lashes while her hand remained stuck. Upon receiving the eightieth lash, her hand immediately was released.[28]

Statements of Imaam Maalik

Imaam Maalik says:

لاينبغي للعالم ان يتكلم بالعلم عند من لا يطيقه

It is not appropriate for an Aalim to discuss any issue of ‘ilm which is beyond the comprehension and understanding of the person he is speaking to.

Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) said: “Quarrelling and disputing in Deeni issues causes the noor of ‘ilm to leave the heart. Imaam Maalik was then asked, “How should a person possessing the knowledge of the Sunnah convey the message to someone who is not receptive. Can he adopt a forceful and quarrelling approach?” Imaam Maalik replied: “No, he should not adopt a quarrelling approach when imparting the Sunnah. Instead he should in a dignified and respectable manner inform him of the truth. If he accepts, well and good, otherwise after conveying the message, he should remain silent.”[29]

The importance of Adab (Islamic Ettiquette)

Abdur Rahmaan bin Qaasim said, “I stayed for twenty years in the service of Imaam Maalik. I spent eighteen years learning adab (etiquette, respect) and akhlaaq (good character) and two years acquiring knowledge.”

Ibn Wahb used to say that what I attained through respecting Imaam Maalik, I did not attain that much from Ilm (Knowledge).[30]

Ibn Daraawardi states: “On one ocaasion I had seen Imaam Abu Hanifah and Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihima), both engaged in Deeni discussion after the Esha salaah. Their discussion continued from after Esha till Fajr. I closely examined them and the manner in which they discussed, and I found both to be completely calm and composed. In many issues Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) had agreed and accepted the viewpoint of Imaam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullahi Alaihi).”[31]

Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) said: “If you see a person possessing hatred for Imaam Maalik then know well that he is a bid’ati (i.e. one who is misguided and does not possess love for the Sunnah).[32]

Important Facts regarding His Life

Imaam Maalik would relieve himself once every three days, yet he used to say: “I feel ashamed of relieving myself so often”. He would place a shawl over his head in such a manner that he could not see anyone nor could anyone see him. Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) would not eat or drink anything in the presence of people. Once someone said to Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi): “How do you feel this morning?” He replied: “I feel that my life is decreasing while my sins are increasing.” Imaam Maalik (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) resided in the house of Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Masood (Radhiyallahu Anhu) in Madinah Munawwarah. He did not possess his own house. Instead he rented the house until his demise. In the Musjid he sat where Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) used to sit and this was the very same place where Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would lay his bedding whilst sitting for I’tikaaf. [33]  

[1] Siyar 435/7

[2] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 77

[3] Ibid

[4] Bustaanul Muhadditheen pg. 25

[5] Siyar 399/7

[6] Muqaddamah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknowi of Muatta Imaam Muhammad pg. 10

[7] Ibid

[8] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 80

[9] Tazkiratul Huffaz 1/208

[10] Sifatus Safwah 397/1

[11] Siyar 401/7

[12] Muqaddamah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknowi of Muatta Imaam Muhammad pg. 9, Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 80

[13] Bustaanul Muhadditheen pg. 28

[14] Ibid

[15] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 80

[16] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 81

[17] Bustaanul Muhadditheen pg. 25

[18] Muqaddamah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknowi of Muatta Imaam Muhammad pg. 10

[19] Siyar 412/7

[20] Muqaddamah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknowi of Muatta Imaam Muhammad pg. 9

[21] Muqaddamah of Awjaz 1/78

[22] Muqaddamah of Awjaz 1/92

[23] Ibid

[24] Muqaddamah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknowi of Muatta Imaam Muhammad pg. 10

[25] Bustaanul Muhadditheen pg. 25

[26] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 83

[27] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 78

[28] Bustaanul Muhadditheen pg. 23

[29] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 82

[30] Aadabul Muta’allimeen

[31] Aqwamul Masaalik lil Kauthari pg. 97

[32] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 83

[33] Muqaddamah of Awjaz pg. 78



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