Thirteen years after the commencement of Messengership, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was commanded to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, then called Yathrib. AI Madeenah al-Munawwarah or Taabah or Ad-Daar amongst other names this city came to be known after the hijrah of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), witnessed the flowering of Islam. The people of Madinah believed in the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), accommodated him, defended him and supported his message and are referred to as AI-Ansaar. He said concerning the City: "People shall travel on the backs of their camels searching for the knowledge (of Deen) and they shall not find anyone more knowledgeable than the Scholar of Madeenah. (Ahmad)
Concerning this Hadeeth, al-Imaam Sufyaan bn Uyaynah, a pious, learned and prominent taabie and a contemporary of AI-Imaam Maalik said, " ...today, I say, it is Maalik. He is left with no equals in Madeenah." AI-Imaam Muhammad bn Idrees Ash-Shaafiee, a student of Al-Imaam Maalik, who also journeyed to study under him in Madeenah said, "When the Scholars are mentioned, Maalik is a star." So, the Imaam became known all over the Islaamic World such that those who were scholars in their own respects visited him in Madeenah to learn from him.
Background of the Imaam
He is Abu Abdillah Maalik bn Anas bn Maalik bn Abee Aamir al-Ashabee al-Madanee. Born in Madeenah in the year 93H, at the tail end of the first century of the Prophets Hijrah to Madeenah. As a young boy before the age of ten he had memorized the Quraan. From his teens, he was already learning under the Scholars of the city most of whom were students of the Companions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).Habeeb al-Waraaq, one of the students of Imaam Maalik reported that the Imaam said, "I met this masjid (the Prophets masjid in Madeenah) and in it were 70 amongst those who met the Companions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) ... Some of those from whom he learnt are Imaam Muhammad bn Muslim az-Zuhree, Naafie the slave of Abdullah bn Umar for thirty years, Rabeeah bn Abee AbdirRahmaan, Aamir bn Abdillah bn Zubair, Hishaam bn Urwah bn Zubair (both grand children of the eminent companion, Zubair bn Awwaam). As a student under all of his teachers he was the best of their students in-terms of brilliance, precision at memorization, long period of stay with the teachers and sound Islamic aadaab (manners).
Concerning this, AI-Imaam Aboo Nuaym AI-Usboohaanee said, "Verily, he was one of the noble Scholars and one of the most intelligent." Thus, Scholars of Hadeeth rely on narrations from the Imaam as being authentic and reliable. AI-Imaam Muhammad bn Ismaaeel AI-Bukhaari would say, "The best isnaad (chain of transmission of Hadeeth) was Maalik bn Anas - Naafi- Abdullah bn Umar." This has been referred to by majority of scholars as As-Silsilah Adh-Dhahab (The Golden Chain).
Lover and Teacher of Sunnah
To commence his learning circles in the Prophets masjid, he would have his bath, oil and comb his hairs, dress up properly in his turban and perfume himself. He would also disallow his students raising their voices high during the learning circles since they were besides the prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) before whom Allaah had prohibited the raisinq of voice. (Q49[Hujuraat]:1-2)
The Imaam showed great respects for the personality of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and never tolerated anyone innovating anything in the Deen or taking to opinions opposed to clear authentic texts from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). In his famous statement etched in gold, he said, "Whoever invents in Islam a bida (innovation) and considers it hasanah (good), then he has assumed that Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) betrayed the message. Read Allaahs words, This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed my favors upon you and Im pleased with Islaam as your religion. "(Q5[Maidah]:4) Ibn Wahb said, "I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning between the toes during ablution. He said, The people do not have to do that.I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I said to him, We know of a Sunnah about that.He said, What is that? I said... from Mustawrad bn Shaddaad al-Qurshee who said, I saw the Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) rubbing between his toes with his little finger .He (Imaam Maalik) said, This Hadeeth is sound, I had not heard of it at all until now.Afterwards, I heard him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning between the toes."
AI-Imaam Maalik bn Anas would only narrate Hadeeth from reliable narrators. He was so keen in the trustworthiness of narrators particularly those whose ahaadeeth he recorded so much that one of his students, Bashar bn Umar Az-Zahraanee said, "I asked Maalik conceming (the reliability of) a narrator and he said, Did you see (any narration from) him in any of my books?I said, No, He said, Were he to be a trustworthy narrator, you would have seen (his narrations) in my books." Saying ﾅ..I do not know"
Al-lmaam Maalik bn Anas took great care in answering questions and giving religious verdicts whenever he was in the position to do so such that he became renown for saying I do not know. A man was sent by the people of Maghrib (North Africa) to ask Imaam Maalik about some issues. The man would ask him a question and he would say, I do not know, for we do not know of this issue in our land and we have not heard any of our scholars saying anything about it, but you can come back again! On the following day, the man went back to Imaam Maalik and he told him: " You asked me question but I do not know the answer! the man said: O Abu Abdullah! I came from a people who think that there is none in the world who is more knowledgeable than you! he answered: "I am not perfect. Imaam Maalik once said, "Whoever wants to give answer to a question should first assume himself standing between Paradise and Hell and ponder about how he is going to be saved in the Hereafter before he answers."
AI-Muwatta: Imaam Maalik bn Anas compiled one of the earliest books of hadeeth AI-Muwatta and stipulated to compile only authentic narrations from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) arranged based on Fiqh subjects in different chapters. For each of the subjects in the chapters, he related the rulings of the Sahaabah and the taabioon. Sometimes, after relating the ahaadeeth, he gave some brief explanations to them. At other times he included the position of the people of Madeenah concerning the issue. The Imaam compiled this book over a period of 40 years reversing and editing the compilation. Thus, each of the group of students who met him and read the Muwatta from him collected what the Imaam had with him at the time. This has led to different collections of the Muwatta with some slight variations among which are the collections of Imaam Yahya bn Yahya al-Layth and Muhammad bn Hassan appear to be the most common.
Over the generations, the scholars have not stopped writing books based on the Muwatta. While some of them wrote commentaries on it, others have explored commentaries of it and yet others wrote on the biographies of the narrators in the book. Over sixty books have been written in this regard.
Imaam Maalik was sick for twenty-two days and died at the age of eighty seven. Naafi (his famous student) said, "Maalik died at the age of eighty seven and lived in aI-Madeenah as its Mufti for sixty years."
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited