Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Aamir
(Patronymic filial name) Abu ‘Abdillah
Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Aamir bin ‘Amr bin al-Harith bin Ainmaan (Uthmaan) bin Khuthail (AL-ASBAHEE-a royal tribe branch of Himyar in Yemen)
Imaam Suyooti (RA) says that Imaam Malik’s lineage goes to Ya’rab bin Yashjab bin Qahtaan. As some report in the following way: Dhu Asbah, al-Harith bin Malik bin Zaid bin Ghouth bin Sa’ad bin ‘Auoof bin ‘Adi bin Malik bin Zaid bin Sahl bin ‘Amr bin Qais bin Mu’awiya bin Jasham ibn ‘Abd Shams bin Daa’il bin al-Ghouth bin Qutn bin ‘Areeb bin Zhaheer bin Aiyman bin Humsee’ bin Himyar bin Saba bin Yashjab bin Ya’rab bin Qahtaan.
Imaam Malik’s Mother Name:
‘Aaliyah bint Shareek bin ‘Abdur Rahman al-Azdiyah
Titles Given to Him:
Imaam Darul-Hijrah and al-Madani (due to his remaining in al-Madinah the majority of his life.
According to Haafidh Adh-Dhahabi, Sam’aani ibn Farhoon, and others Imaam Maalik was born in the year 93 A.H., as was reported of Yahya bin Bukair, one of the senior students of the Imaam. Others have said he was born in 90 A.H. some say in 95 A.H. and Yaf'ee reports in Tabaqaatul-Fuqaha, 94 A.H. Extraordinarily, he remained in the womb on his mother for more than the usual, for 9 months. Some say two years while others say he remained in her womb for three years. He was born in Madinah.
Mutarraf bin ‘Abdullah al-Yasaari says that the Imaam was tall, well-built, fair complexion, blond-haired, large-eyed and large-nosed. He had a broad forehead with hardly any hair on it (referred to as Asla’ in Arabic ) the same is said about 'Umar and 'Ali (radhi Allahu 'anhumaa). He had a very profuse and thick beard that reached down to his chest. He used to trim his moustache near the corners of his lips and said it was disapproved to fully shave them. He followed the Sunnah of 'Umar bin Khattab (radhi Allahu 'anhu) who used to pull at his moustache's hair, near the lips, when he was in deep thought of something. From this it is established that 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhu) had hair on both sides of the lips.
He used to wear very elegent and expensive clothing, usually white, and frequently changing them. He would apply musk and other fragrances on his clothing. He would wear his turban and have part of it coming down underneath his chin and the tail of it between his two shoulders. He would also wear a shawl-like garment that would cover his head and shoulders.
His Education and Knowledge:
The Imaam’s childhood was spent in a place of knowledge, amidst the beautiful gardens of Madinah. He learnt and memorized the Qur’an in his youth. He recited it to Imaamul-Qurra’, Nafi’ bin Abdur-Rahman (whose recitation is the foundation for the entire Muslim Ummah's recitation today and who passed away in the year 169 A.H.) and also received his certification (sanad) and permission to teach others from him.
In the beginning of his quest for knowledge the Imaam did not have many means to acquire it properly, so he sold the ceiling beams of his home to purchase books and papers to enable him to do so. After some time Allah (ta'aala) bestowed him with a lot of wealth and money. The Imaam’s memory was also extraordinary. He himself would say that whatever he'd memorize would never be forgotten again. In fact, it is reported that Imaam Maalik had the best memory in all of Hijaaz, especially in the knowledge of Hadith and Fiqh. Imaam ash-Shaf’iee (rahimahullah) said about him,
“If Malik and Ibn 'Uyaynah were not here, the knowledge of Hijaaz would be gone.”
Imaam adh-Dhahabi wrote,
“There remains no scholar in Madinah after the Tabi’een comparable to Imaam Malik’s knowledge, jurisprudence, eminence, and memorization.”
He practiced great care in narrating Hadeeth, and did not narrate from just anyone. Imaam Maalik said,
“I do not accept knowledge from four types of people:
(1) a person well-known to be foolish, even if all the other people narrate from him;
(2) a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards innovation in Deen;
(3) a person who lies in regular conversation with people, even though I do not accuse him of being a liar with regards to Hadeeth;
(4) and a person who is pious worshipper or scholar, but does not properly and correctly memorize what he narrates.”
It was said to Imaam Malik, “Why don’t you take narrations from ‘Amr bin Dinaar?" He replied,
“I went to him (‘Amr bin Dinaar) and I found him narrating Hadeeth to others while in a standing position. So I thought to myself that the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is too great and majestic to receive them in a standing position.”
The Imaam remained for his entire life in al-Hijaaz and never traveled outside of it.
In Hadeeth, the Imaam was the leader of all of Madinah; his chain of narrators were the most authentic and were referred to as “SILSILATUDH-DHAHAB” or “THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF NARRATORS” (which was: from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhum). Therefore, the Imaam would not just narrate Hadeeth from anyone, rather he would take great caution and narrate only from authentic and reliable sources. Even other great scholars and companions of his time bore witness to this. The Imaam of Makkah, Sufyaan bin 'Uyaynah said,
“May Allah have mercy on Malik! He is extremely critical of the men (i.e. the chain of narrators of a Hadeeth)."
He would also say,
“Imaam Malik would only narrate to others authentic Hadeeth and he would not report except from reliable narrators. I don’t see Madinah but in a decrease (ie. with regards to knowledge) after the death of Maalik.”
One of his most greatest pupils, Imaam ash-Shaf’iee (rahimahullah) said about him,
“When Imaam Malik was in doubt about a Hadith he would totally disregard it.”
In Fiqh, the Imaam was on a higher level than all the rest. Bahlool bin Raashid said about him,
“I have never seen someone with the knowledge of deducing from the Qur’an as Malik had, aswell as his great recognition of strong and weak narrations.”
Abdullah bin Luhay'ah said,
“I asked al-Nadhr bin Abdul-Jabbar (Abul-Aswad), 'Who has a word (i.e. significance and standing) after Rabee'ah in Madinah?'
"Al-Ghulaam al-Asbahi (ie. Imaam Maalik)."
Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal said about this great Imaam,
“I compared Imaam Malik to Awzaa’ee, Thawri, Laith, Hammaad, and al-Hakam in knowledge, but he is the leader in Hadeeth and Fiqh.”
His Teachers and Instructors:
Imaam Malik would only take knowledge from those men who were famous for their cleanliness, piety, and truthfulness and who were distinct in memorization and jurisprudence. The teachers mentioned in Muwatta', from whom he narrated aHaadeeth from are 95 in total, all of who were from Madinah. This made alot of the knowledge of the scholars, who was previously scattered around, now held within one person: Imaam Malik. This is why he earnt the name of, “IMAAM DAARUL-HIJRAH” from all of the Imaam’s teachers, six of whom were not from Madinah. Even though he had more, 95 teachers are only mentioned in the Muwatta. Otherwise, Allamah Zurqaani and Dulaqi have written that his teachers were over 900+. Imaam Nawawi has written in Tahdheebul-Asmaa' that of Imaam Malik’s 900 teachers 300 were from the Taabi’een and 600 from the Tabi' Tabi’een.
The greatest of all of his teachers was Naafi’ the slave of Ibn 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhu). Imaam Malik learnt with him for twelve years and attained the knowledge of Hadeeth and Diraayah (Fiqh) from him. It is for this reason that many of his narrations are narrated through Naafi’ (rahimahullah). His short chain from him is referred to as "the golden chain of narrators" because it is the highest chain in his Muwatta. Shah Waliullah Dehlawi has written that Haroon ar-Rasheed asked Imaam Malik, “You have mentioned Ali and Ibn 'Abbaas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) only a few timea in your book, why?” He replied,
“They were not here in Madinah, nor did I find any of their students or companions.”
Some of His Teachers
Here is a list of some of Imaam Maalik’s Shuyookh (Teachers):
1. Nafi’, the servant of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhu).
2. Abuz-Zanaad, Abdullah ibn Zakwaan
3. Hishaam bin 'Urwah ibn Zubair
4. Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Ansaari
5. 'Abdullah ibn Deenaar
6. Zaid bin Aslam, servant of 'Umar bin al-Khattab (radhi Allahu 'anhu)
7. Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihaab az-Zuhri
8. 'Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hazm
9. Sa’eed ibn Abu Sa’eed al-Maqbari
10. Sumayy servant of Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu 'anhu)
11. Ayyub as-Sakhtiyaani
12. 'Abdur-Rahman ibn al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu 'anhu)
13. Thawr ibn Zaid Dabli
14. Ibrahim ibn Abi Ablah al-Maqdisi
15. Rabi’ah ibn Abu Abdur-Rahman
16. Humayd Taweel
17. 'Aa'ishah bint Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas
*In Qiraa’ah (recitation of Qur’an): Naafi’ ibn Abu Nuaym al-Qaari
Imaam Malik’s students are in the thousands. Some have mentioned so many of them that they can not be counted, such as Haafidh ibn Katheer and adh-Dhahabi. Qadhi 'Iyaadh has mentioned over 1300 have narrated Hadith for the great Imaam. Hafidh Daar-Qutni has mentioned 1000. Haafidh Abu Bakr Khateeb al-Baghdadi has mentioned 993.
Even some of the Imaam’s Teachers were his students, for example:
1. Zuhri Abul-Aswad
2. Ayyub Sakhtiyaani
3. Rabi’ah al-Ra’iee
4. Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Ansaari
5. Muhammad bin Abi Zi’ab
6. Ibn Jareeh
8. Abu Suhail, Naafi’ bin Malik
Some of his eminent students were:
1. Imaam Muhammad
2. Imaam ash-Shaaf’iee
3. Abdullah bin Mubaarak
4. Layth bin Sa’d
6. Sufyaan ath-Thawri
7. Ibn Jurayj
8. Ibn 'Uyaynah
9. Yahya al-Qattaan
10. Ibn Mahdi
11. Abu 'Aasim an-Nabeel
12. Abdur-Rahman 'Awzaa'ee
Eminent narrators of Imaam Malik’s Muwatta include:
1. Abdullah bin Yusuf al-Tunisi
2. Abdullah bin Muslimah al-Qa’nabi
3. Abdullah bin Wahab al-Misri
4. Yahya bin Yahya al-Laithi
5. Abu Mus’ab al-Zhuhri
As a Hadeeth Teacher
After the death of 'Abdullah bin 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhu) and his servant and student, Naafi’ (rahimahullah), the great Imaam narrated Hadeeth and taught from the age of 17 to about 79. He gave service to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), giving lessons of Fiqh and issuing Fataawa for 62 years of his life.
Before the Imaam would narrate or dictate any Hadeeth to others he would perform wudhoo' or take a bath, put on his best and most expensive clothes, groom himself, put on musk or some other fragrance, then proceed to the gathering of Hadeeth with the utmost dignity and respect.
In every gathering coal ambers of ‘Uood (a special and beautiful fragrance derived from a unique tree) would be burnt continuously until the lesson was over. In the Imaam’s gatherings there would always be plush and expensive mats or carpeting spread out on the floor and when he would arrive there would be pin-drop silence out of respect for him and the people would remain completely silent. In the gatherings there would be students surrounding the Imaam, just like how a king’s servants would gather around his throne. There would be Muftis, 'Ulama, and leaders present in the gathering. Such respect was present in these gatherings that anyone passing by would think that a king must be delivering his message and the one who sat down in his gathering would be taken away with awe. 'Abdullah bin Mubaarak reports that one time the Imaam was bitten by a scorpion under his garment over ten times while narrating a Hadeeth but did not stop to remove it, rather he continued to narrate until the end. 'Abdullah bin Mubaarak says,
"I noticed discoloration in his face when the Imaam was being bitten. Afterwards, when all the people had left, I came to the Imaam and asked him what had happened. He replied,
“A scorpion was biting me under my garment. I did not stay patient because of self-restraint, rather it was out of the respect of the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) that I did not remove it."
Imaam Malik believed that the Qur’an, which is the last message of Allah, was Ghayr Makhlooq, which means that it is not created. He also believed that Allah (ta'aala) is on His Throne just as he has described himself to be in the Qur’an. He believed that Allah ('azza wa jall) has the knowledge of everything and that the believers will see Him with their eyes on the Day of Judgment.
He believed that Imaan (faith) is to declare it by the tongue, and is manifested through actions that will increase by obedience and decrease by committing sins. He believed that anyone who uses abusive language against the Noble Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) should be given the death sentence. He believed that Abu Bakr and 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhumaa) were the best people of the Ummah after the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and that prayer is not valid behind those who follow the beliefs of the Qadariyyah Sect and that their women can not be married.
His love for Madinah:
Even when the Imaam attained old age and became very weak he would never ride on an animal in Madinah, as he didn't throughout his entire life. He felt that it was against the respect of Madinah to ride on the very land that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is buried in. Imaam ash-Shaaf'iee (rahimahullah) says,
“I saw at the door of Imaam Malik’s home beautiful horses from Khurasaan and Egyptian Mules. So I said to him that they are very nice. He said, 'They are yours.' as a gift from me. I said, 'You should keep one for yourself'. His reply was that I am embarrassed to do so! How can I ride on them when the body of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is buried here in Madinah and the land is being rode on with the hooves of horses?"
Statements About him by Other Scholars
· Mus’ab Zubairi said,
Imaam Malik was reliable, safeguarded, trustworthy in Hadeeth, a great scholar, jurist, proof-bearer, and god-fearing man.
· Yahya bin Mu’een said,
He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadeeth.
· Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan said,
He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadith.
· 'Abdur-Rahmaan bin Mahdi said,
There is no-one more trustworthy in (narrating the) Hadith Nabawi on the face of this earth other than Imaam Malik.
· 'Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdi said,
Sufyaan ath-Thawri is the Imaam of Hadeeth, not the Imaam of Sunnah, while Awzaa’ee is the Imaam of Sunnah, not the Imaam of Hadith. But Imaam Malik in the Imaam of Hadeeth, as well as the Imaam of Sunnah.
· Imaam Abu Hanifah said,
I have never seen anyone more fast in understanding, correct answering, and testing than Imaam Malik.
· Imaam ash-Shaf’iee said,
After the Tabi’een, Imaam Maalik is the Proof-Bearer on this entire earth for or against all people.
· Imaam ash-Shaf’iee said,
Knowledge is encircled by three men: Maalik ibn Anas, Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah, and Layth ibn Sa’ad.
· Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal said,
I was asked, "Whose Hadeeth should be memorized by heart if from anyone?" I replied, "Malik bin Anas".
· Imaam al-Bukhaari said,
I was asked what is the most authentic chain of narrators. I replied from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn 'Umar (radhi Allahu 'anhum).
· Imaam an-Nasaai said,
After the Tabi’een the most understanding, reliable, trustworthy, man in Hadeeth is Imaam Malik. He has hardly ever narrated from a weak narrator apart from Abu Umayyah Abdul-Kareem who is Matrook.
· Imaam Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaai, and al-Haakim have all reported in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (radhi Allahu 'anhu) that the Prophet (peace be upon him said),
“The time has come near that people will travel by camels in search for religious knowledge and they will not find a greater scholar than who is in Madinah.” Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah said that "the scholar of Madinah", as indicated by the hadeeth, is none other than Imaam Malik.
The great Imaam reached the age of 84 or 86 or 87 or 90 years when he became ill on a Sunday. This illness continued to get worse for three weeks until on the 11th or 14th of Rabi-al-Awwal 179 A.H. he passed away. He was buried in the famous graveyard in Madinah called Jannatul-Baqee.
The great Imaam left behind three sons: Yayha, Muhammad, and Hammaad. His remaining wealth that was inherited was 3300 dinaars. He also had a daughter by the name of Fatimah who narrated from him (read this interesting article about her).
Books Written by Imaam Maalik:
Imaam Maalik wrote many books. The Muwatta' was the first Hadith work after the Qur’an arranged into juristic Sections and organized accordingly. Imaam Bukhaari’s Saheeh is secondary to the work of Imaam Malik in this regard. Then after these two (Imaam Malik and Imaam Bukhaari) others followed, like Imaam Muslim and Imaam at-Tirmidhi.
- Audio lecture about Imaam Maalik's life by Muhammad Shareef.
- The Women Scholars of Madinah
- Informative Powerpoint PDF on the life of Imaam Maalik (View).