Malik ibn Anas

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Malik ibn Anas_table_infobox_0

Malik ibn AnasMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_0_0
TitleMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_1_0 Sheikh ul-IslamMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_1_1
PersonalMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_2_0
BornMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_3_0 711 CE/93 AH

Madina, Umayyad CaliphateMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_3_1

DiedMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_4_0 795 CE/179 AH (aged 83-84)

Medina, Abbasid CaliphateMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_4_1

ReligionMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_5_0 IslamMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_5_1
EthnicityMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_6_0 ArabMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_6_1
EraMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_7_0 Islamic Golden AgeMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_7_1
RegionMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_8_0 MedinaMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_8_1
JurisprudenceMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_9_0 MalikiMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_9_1
Main interest(s)Malik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_10_0 Hadith, FiqhMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_10_1
Notable idea(s)Malik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_11_0 Maliki madhhabMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_11_1
Notable work(s)Malik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_12_0 Al-Muwatta, MudawanaMalik ibn Anas_cell_0_12_1
Muslim leaderMalik ibn Anas_header_cell_0_13_0

Malik ibn Anas (Arabic: مَالِك ابْن أَنَس‎, ‎ 711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), whose full name is Mālik bin Anas bin Mālik bin Abī ʿĀmir bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith bin Ghaymān bin Khuthayn bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith al-Aṣbaḥī al-Madanī (مَالِك بِن أَنَس بِن مَالِك بن أَبِي عَامِر بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث بِن غَيْمَان بِن خُثَين بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث ٱلْأَصْبَحِي ٱلْحُمَيْرِي ٱلْمَدَنِي), reverently known as al-Imām Mālik (ٱلْإِمَام مَالِك) by Maliki Sunnis, was an Arab Muslim jurist, theologian, and hadith traditionist. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_0

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_1

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, Andalusia, 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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_2

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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_3

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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_4

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_5

According to classical Sunni tradition, the Islamic Nabi (Prophet) 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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_6

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_7

Throughout Islamic history, Malik has been venerated as an exemplary figure in all the traditional schools of Sunni thought, both by the exoteric ulema and by the mystics, with the latter often designating him as a saint in their hagiographies. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_8

Malik's most notable student, 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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_9

Biography Malik ibn Anas_section_0

Malik was born as the son of Anas ibn Malik (not the Sahabi with the same name) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Medina, circa 711. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_10

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_11

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_12

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_13

Teachers Malik ibn Anas_section_1

Living in Medina gave Malik access to some of the most learned minds of early Islam. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_14

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_15

He studied under various famed scholars including Hisham ibn Urwah and Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_16

Also, as with Abu Hanifah (founder of the Hanafi Sunni Madh'hab), Imam Malik (who was a teacher of Imam Ash-Shafi‘i, who in turn was a teacher of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal) was a student of the Shi'ite Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, who was a descendant of Muhammad. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_17

Thus all of the four great Imams of Sunni Fiqh are connected to Ja'far from the Bayt (Household) of Muhammad, whether directly or indirectly. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_18

Golden Chain of Narration Malik ibn Anas_section_2

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_19

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_20

Mention in Hadith Malik ibn Anas_section_3

The Prophet 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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_21

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_22

Views Malik ibn Anas_section_4

Theology Malik ibn Anas_section_5

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_23

G.F. Haddad, on the other hand, argued that Malik was not completely averse to the idea of dialectic theology; on the contrary, Haddad points to Malik having studied 'at the feet of Ibn Hurmuz', a master in dialectic theology, for 'thirteen to sixteen years'. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_24

Anthropomorphism Malik ibn Anas_section_6

Malik's unique contributions to the field of theology specifically is that he was a strict opponent of anthropomorphism, and deemed it absurd to compare the attributes of God, which were given in "human imagery" such as that of God's "hands" or "eyes" with those of man. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_25

For example, 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 ibn Anas_sentence_26

Beatific vision Malik ibn Anas_section_7

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! Malik ibn Anas_sentence_27

Verily, from their Lord, that day, shall they [the transgressors] be veiled,") as proof of his belief. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_28

Faith's nature Malik ibn Anas_section_8

When he was asked about the nature of faith, Malik defined it as "speech and works" (qawlun wa-'amal), which shows that Malik was averse to the rigorous separation of between faith and works. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_29

Intercession Malik ibn Anas_section_9

Malik seems to have been a proponent of intercession in personal supplication. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_30

For example, it is related that when the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur asked Malik about whether it was preferable to face the Prophet's tomb or the qibla whilst doing the personal prayer or dua, Malik responded: "Why should you not face him when he is your means (wasīla) to God and that of your father Adam on the Day of Resurrection?" Malik ibn Anas_sentence_31

Regarding this tradition, the thirteenth-century hadith master Ibn Jamāʿa said: "The report is related by the two hadith masters Ibn Bashkuwāl and al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ in al-Shifā, and no attention is paid to the words of those who claim that it is forged purely on the basis of their idle desires." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_32

While both Ibn Taymiyyah and, much more recently, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab's grandson Sulaymān did indeed reject the authenticity of this tradition, their opinions were characterized by the vast majority of mainstream Sunni scholars such as al-Zarqānī as "stemming either from ignorance or arrogance." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_33

Historically, it is known that Malik's statements on the validity of intercession remained a core doctrine of the Maliki school, and practically all Maliki thinkers of the classical era accepted the idea of the Prophet's intercession. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_34

It is also known, moreover, that the classical "books of the Mālikīs are replete with the stipulation that du'ā [personal supplication] be made while facing the grave." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_35

Mysticism Malik ibn Anas_section_10

On the basis of several early traditions, it is evident that Malik held the early Sufis and their practices in high regard. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_36

It is related, moreover, that Malik was a strong proponent of combining the "inward science" ('ilm al-bātin) of mystical knowledge with the "outward science" of jurisprudence. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_37

For example, the famous twelfth-century Maliki jurist and judge Qadi Iyad, later venerated as a saint throughout the Iberian Peninsula, narrated a tradition in which a man asked Malik "about something in the inward science," to which Malik replied: "Truly none knows the inward science except those who know the outward science! Malik ibn Anas_sentence_38

When he knows the outward science and puts it into practice, God shall open for him the inward science - and that will not take place except by the opening of his heart and its enlightenment." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_39

In other similar traditions, it is related that Malik said: "He who practices Sufism (tasawwuf) without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith (tazandaqa), while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing Sufism corrupts himself (tafassaqa). Malik ibn Anas_sentence_40

Only he who combines the two proves true (tahaqqaqa)." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_41

While there are a few traditions relating that Malik, while not an opponent of mysticism as a whole, was nonetheless adverse specifically to the practice of group dhikr, such traditions have been graded as being munkar or "weak" in their chain of transmission. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_42

Furthermore, it has been argued that none of these reports - all of which relate Malik's disapproving amusement at being told about an instance of group dhikr happening nearby - explicitly display any disapproval of the act as such, but rather serve as a criticism of "some people who passed for Sufis in his time [who] apparently committed certain excesses or breaches of the sacred law." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_43

As both their chains of transmission are weak and not consistent with what is related of Malik elsewhere, the traditions are rejected by many scholars, although latter-day critics of Sufism do occasionally cite them in support of their position. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_44

Relics Malik ibn Anas_section_11

Malik was a supporter of tabarruk or the "seeking of blessing through [the veneration of] relics." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_45

This is evident, for example, in the fact that Malik approvingly related the tradition of a certain Atā' ibn Abī Rabāh, whom he saw "enter the [Prophet's] Mosque, then take hold of the pommel of the Pulpit, after which he faced the qibla [to pray]," thereby supporting the holding of the pommel for its blessings (baraka) by virtue of its having touched the Prophet Muhammad. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_46

Furthermore, it is also recorded that "when one of the caliphs manifested his intention to replace the wooden pulpit of the Prophet with a pulpit of silver and jewels," Malik exclaimed: "I do not consider it good that people be deprived of the relics of the Messenger of God!" Malik ibn Anas_sentence_47

(Lā arā yuḥrama al-nāsu āthāra rasūlillāh). Malik ibn Anas_sentence_48

Sunnah of the Prophet Malik ibn Anas_section_12

Malik considered following the sunnah of the Prophet to be of capital importance for every Muslim. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_49

It is reported that he said: "The sunnah is Noah's Ark. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_50

Whoever boards it is saved, and whoever remains away from it perishes." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_51

Ethics Malik ibn Anas_section_13

Differences of opinion Malik ibn Anas_section_14

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_52

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_53

When the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansur said to Malik: "I want to unify this knowledge. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_54

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_55

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_56

Then Abu Bakr arose and he also did not conquer many lands. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_57

Then Umar arose after the two of them and many lands were conquered at his hands. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_58

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_59

If you now go and change them from what they know to what they do not know they shall deem it disbelief (kufr). Malik ibn Anas_sentence_60

Rather, confirm the people of each land with regard to whatever knowledge is there, and take this knowledge to yourself." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_61

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. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_62

They will leave aside innovations and keep only this knowledge. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_63

For I consider that the source of knowledge is the narrative tradition of Medina and the knowledge of its scholars." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_64

To this, Malik is said to have replied: "Commander of the Believers, do not! Malik ibn Anas_sentence_65

For people have already heard different positions, heard hadith, and related narrations. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_66

Every group has taken whatever came to them and put it into practice, conforming to it while other people differed. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_67

To take them away from what they have been professing will cause a disaster. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_68

Therefore, leave people with whatever school they follow and whatever the people of each country chose for themselves." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_69

Knowing the limits of knowledge Malik ibn Anas_section_15

Malik is famous for declaring: "The shield of the 'alim is: 'I do not know.' Malik ibn Anas_sentence_70

If he neglects it, he will receive a mortal blow." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_71

Elsewhere, a certain Khālid ibn Khidāsh related: "I travelled all the way from Iraq to see Mālik about forty questions. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_72

He did not answer me except on five. Malik ibn Anas_sentence_73

Then he said: ʿIbn ʿIjlān used to say: If the 'alim bypasses 'I do not know,' he will receive a mortal blow." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_74

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.'" Malik ibn Anas_sentence_75

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 ibn Anas_sentence_76

Religious disputation Malik ibn Anas_section_16

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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_77

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." Malik ibn Anas_sentence_78

Social Malik ibn Anas_section_17

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: ibn Anas.