Malik ibn Anas was born in 93AH [712AD] and died in
179AH [795AD]. He was born and spent his whole life in
Malik's father used to make arrows. From an early age, he devoted himself to knowledge. Malik's brother an-Nadr was a cloth trader. Malik became a partner with his brother and traded cloth. One of Malik's students, al-Qasim said that malik had 400 dinars with which he traded to support himself.
Malik used to accept gifts from the Caliph (rulers). Once he recieved 3000 dinars from Caliph ar-Rashid. He was asked, 'Abu Adbdullah! Do you take 3000 from the leader of the Muslims?'. Malik replied, 'If this was the amount which he would have given if he had ajust Imam who was equitable to the people of virtue, I do not see any harm in it'.
Al Qasim said, 'The quest for knowledge compelled Malik to dismantle the
roof of his house and sell the wood in it. Then later on this world inclined towards him'.
Malik said, 'I do not like a man whom Allah has blessed not to show the
effect of the blessing on him, expecially the people of knowledge'.
Malik did not eat the cheapest types of food. He sought the best without
being extravagent. He ate a great deal of meat. He enjoyed food and liked to choose between varieties. He liked bananas and said there was nothing closer to the fruit of paradise than bananas.
Malik was concerned with his dress and would prefer to wear white. It is
said that he used to wear good garments from Aden and Khorasan, and white Egyptian garments of fine quality. He would also wear a nice scent/perfume, prefering musk to others. [Tartib al-Madarik]
In his home he was concerned with furniture and decoration and aimed for
things that make forcomfort, such as carpets and cushions.
Malik first taught at the mosque, and then later at home; this was due to an illness.
Malik once advised his nephews, 'It is a duty for anyone who seeks knowledge, to have gravity, tranquility and fear. He should follow the footsteps of those who have gone before. The people of kowledge should dispense with joking, particularly if they have some renown knowledge'. In the 50 years in which he taught, not a single laugh is recorded (when transmitted knowledge).
One of his students said, 'When Malik was with us, it was as if he was one of us. He was cheerful with us in conversation and we had the greatest humility towards him. When he began the hadith, his words filled us with awe. It was as if he did not recognise us and we did not recognise him'.
Malik was a good natured person, but when it came to speaking about
hadiths/knowledge he would become serious out of respect of the
When the people would come for Hajj, Malik would speak to them in groups
from the areas they represented. He would invite the people of such-and-such area to sit with him and seek knowledge. When they were done, he would invite the next group, so on so forth.
DEDICATION TO KNOWLEDGE
I had a bother the same age as Ibn Shihab. My father put a question to us one day and my brother was right and I was wrong. My father the said to me, 'Have the pigeons distracted you from the quest of knowledge?'. So I became angry and devoted myself to Ibn Hurmuz for 7 years, and I did not go to anyone else. I used to put some dates in my sleeve and give them to his children, telling them, 'If anyone asks about Ibn Hurmuz, say that he is busy'. One day, Ibn Hurmuz said to his slavegirl, 'Who is at the door?'. She could only see me (Malik), so she came back and told him 'It is only that ruddy skinned one'. He then said to her, 'Let him be. That is the man of knowledge of his people'
Malik also went to Nafi, for knowledge, he said:
I used to come to Nafi for half of the day. As long as the tree shaded me from the sun, I would wait for him to come out. When he came out I would leave im alone for a time as if I did not notice him. I would then greet him, and leave him until he entered the courtyard. Then I would ask him,'What did Ibn Umar say about such-and-such?' and he would answer me.
Imam Malik also went to az-Zuhri, he said:
Az-Zuhri visited us so we went to see him. Tabia was with us. He gace us about 40 hadiths, and then we went to him again the following day. He said, 'Look for a book so I may give you hadiths from that. Do you think that you have retained any of the hadiths I gave you yesterday?'. Rabia said to him, 'Here is someone who will repeat you you all of the hadiths you gave him yesterday'. He asked, 'Who is it?'. He replied, 'Ibn Abi Amir'. He said, 'Go on'. Then I (Malik) repeated the forty hadiths he had given us (from memory). Az Zuhri said, 'I did not think that there was anyone capable of memorising in this way except for me'.
TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE
Malik divided knowledge into two kinds; knowledge to be taught to people in general, which was not to be confined to anyone since there was no harm in it for anyone and all intellects could accept it, listen to it, and benefit from it. And the other kind of knowledge which should be reserved for the elite; which he did not teach to ordinary people as it would harm their understanding - an example being, refutation of different sects as this required specialist knowledge which would sometimes be too much for ordinary people.
Malik was only concerned about teaching people about what had happened and not to theorise about what has not happened. He would say, 'Ask about what exists and leave what does not'. Once a man asked him a question and he did not answer. Another man said, 'If you had asked him about something that would benefit you, he would have answered you'.
Malik was afraid of erring, so he gave few fatwas. He would begin his
answers by saying, 'What Allah wills, there is no strength except by Allah'. Often he would say, 'I do not know'. And when issuing fatwas, he would follow it by stating, 'This is simply an opinion and I am not certain'.
Ibn Mahdi said,
A man asked Malik about a question and he mentioned that he had been sent for that purpose on a six-month journey from Morocco. Malik told him, 'Tell the one who sent you that I have no knowledge of it (i.e. the answer to the question)'. The man replied, 'Then who knows it?'. Malik replied, 'Whomever ALlah has taught about it'.
ARGUING ABOUT SECTS
Malik did not like to argue about reports from different sects, this wasnt due to ignorance, rather it was due to not seeing any benefit in discussing such things.
In one incident, a Mutazilite said:
'I came to Malik ibn Anas and I asked him in the presence of the people
about a question dealing with predestination. Heindicated that I should be silent. When the assembly was over,he said to me, 'Ask now'. He did not want to answer me in front of the people'. The Mutazilie stated that he asked about every Mutazilte position/belief and Malik refuted them one by one, illustrating the falsehood of the Mutazlite belief.
[Tartib al Madarik]
It was Ibn Hurmuz who taught Malik about the disagreements between people and how to refute adherants to various sects.
POSITION TOWARDS RULERS
Malik experienced Dynastic and Hereditary rule. He saw that those who
rebelled against the government were no more just than the (corrupt)
governments; so he did not participate in such matters.
Malik did not believe that people should revolt against the rulers even if they were corrupt, as he viewed the evils of civil war and the shedding of Muslim blood to be much worse, he would say, 'the one who sits is better than the one who stands, and theone who stands is better than the one who runs.
Through the rebellions, Malik stuck with the community. He would not
encourage people to fight against the rulers, but equally he would not
criticise the rulers. Rather he remained neutral and focused his efforts on teaching people Islam.
Malik said regarding unjust rulers, 'Leave them. Allah will punish the
unjust by means of the unjust.
ORDEAL WITH AL-MANSUR
Al-Mansur was one of the Abbasid rulers. He had ordered that Malik be
whipped, during which Malik's shoulder became dislodged. A number of
theories had been put forward, the strongest stating Malik's support of a
hadith which some people used throw away their allegiance to the caliph.
MALIK's OPINION TOWARDS RULERS
Malik did not believe that the rulers were ruling according to the
principles of Islam; nor did he think it was permissible to remove them by force. He would therefore focus his efforts on guiding the caliphs.
'It is the duty for every Muslim in whose breat Allah has put knowledge and fiqh to go to those with power to command them to do what is right and forbid them from doing what is wrong so that the station of a man of
knowledge will be clear to others. If that is the case, then it is an
excellence which is unsurpassed'.
A LETTER FROM MALIK
Once Malik gave advice to rulers in the form of a letter to a ruler,
'Know that Allah the Almighty has singled you out for my warning to youby what good counsel I have given you previously. In it I have explained for you what I hope Allah will make a means of happiness for you and a matter which He will make your path to Him in Paradise. Therefore - may Allah have mercy on us and you!- it lies in what I have written to you about establishing the command of Allah and what Allah has said about being responsible for His flock. According to a hadith, "Guardians will be brought with their hands tied to their necks. Only justcie will set them free"'.
When Umar was Caliph (leader) he said, 'By Allah, if a lamb died on the bank of the Euphrates I would think that Allah Almighty would ask me about it (on the day of judgement)'
MALIK's POSITION TOWARDS DOCTRINES
'The Messenger of Allah made a sunna, and those with authority after him
made sunan. To accept that is to follow the book of Allah and strength in the Denn (faith) of Allah. No one after these may change the sunan or look into anything which opposes them. Whoever is guided by the sunan will be guided. Whoever seeks help by them will be helped. Whoever leaves them will not be following the path of the believers. Allah will assign him what he has taken and he will raost in hell. What an evil return!'
MALIK's VIEW ON FAITH
'Belief is both word and deed'
Malik was of the view that faith would increase. Once Zuhayr told Malik
about two groups in Syria who disagreed on faith,one said it was subject to increase and decrease; the other said that it was always constant. Zuhayr asked him, 'What should the two groups say?' Malik replied, 'They should say, we are believers and refrain from going beyond these words'.
Home - Quran & Hadith Charity - Family & Health Islam Miscellaneous Matrimonials
Human Rights - Women Newscenter Boycott Chechnya Palestine - Links