Biography of Imam Malik (ra)
His Name: Malik bin Anas bin Malik bin Abi Aamir
His Kunya: (Patronymic filial name): Abu ‘Abdillah
His Lineage: 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: Zhu 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
Other Names related to Him: Imaam Darul-Hijrah and al-Madni (due to his remaining in al-Madinah the majority of his life.
His Birth: According to Hafiz Zhahabi, Sam’aani ibn Farhoon, and others Imaam Malik was born in the year 93 A.H. due to the report of Yahya bin Bukair one of the elder 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 9 months. Some say two years while others say he remained in her womb for three years. He was born in Madinah.
His Appearance: Mutarraf bin ‘Abdullah al-Yasaari says that the Imaam was tall, well-built, fair complexion, blond-haired, large-eyes and nose, broad forehead with hardly any hair on it referred as (Asla’) in Arabic ) the same is said about Umar and Ali (Radhi Allahu Anhuma). 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 his moustaches 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 wearing white, and frequently changing them. He would put on Musk and other fragrances on his clothing. He would wear his turban and have part of it come down underneath his chin and the tail of it between his two shoulders. He would also wear a shawl-like garment that would cover the head and shoulders.
His Education and Knowledge: The Imaam’s Family was in itself a place of knowledge where his childhood was in the beautiful gardens and land of Madinah. He learned and memorized the Qur’an in his youth. He recited to Imaamul-Qurra’, Nafi’ bin Abdur-Rahman (whose recitation is the foundation of the entire Muslim Ummah today and he passed away in the year 169 A.H.) and also received his (Sanad) certification 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 for enabling him to do so. After some time Allah SWT bestowed him with a lot of wealth and money. The Imaam’s memory was also extraordinary. He himself would that anything I would record in my memory would never be forgotten again. It is reported about the Imaam that he had the best memory in all of Hijaz, likewise in the knowledge of Hadith and Fiqh. Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says about him, “If Malik and Ibn Uyainah where not here, the knowledge of Hijaaz would be gone.” Imaam Zhahabi say, “There remains no scholar in Madinah after the Tabi’een comparable to Imaam Malik’s knowledge, jurisprudence, eminence, and memorization.”
He practiced extreme care in regards to narrating Hadith for just anyone. Imaam Malik says, “I do not accept knowledge from four types of people: (1) a person well-known to be foolish, even though all the other people narrate from him, (2) a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards the innovation in Deen, (3) a person who lies in regular conversation with people, even though I do not accuse him as liar in regards to Hadith, (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 Hadith to others while in a standing position. So I thought to myself that the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is too great and majestic to take them in a standing position.” The Imaam remained his entire life al-Hijaaz and never traveled outside of it.
In Hadith, the Imaam was the leader of all of Madinah, where his chain of narrators were the most authentic and called “SILSILATUL-ZHAHAB” or “THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF NARRATORS” (ie. Narrated from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu). The Imaam would not just narrate Hadith 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 bear witness to that like, Imaam of Makkah, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, who says, “May Allah have mercy upon Malik, he is extremely critical of the men (in regards to the chain of narrators of a Hadith). He would also say, “Imaam Malik only used to narrate to others authentic Hadith, he would not report except from reliable narrators, I don’t see Madinah but in decrease (ie. in regards to the knowledge) after the death of Malik.” One of his most greatest pupils, Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says about him, “That when Imaam Malik was in doubt over a Hadith he would totally disregard it.”
In Fiqh, the Imaam was on a higher level than all the rest. Bahlool bin Raashid says about him, “I have never seen someone with the knowledge of deducing from the Qur’an as Malik, along with his great recognition of strong and weak narrations.” Abdullah bin Luhay’ah says, “I asked al-Nadhr bin Abdul-Jabbar (Abul-Aswad) who has a saying after Rabi’ah in Madinah? He relpied, al-Ghulam al-Asbahi (ie. Imaam Malik). Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal says about the great Imaam, “I compared Imaam Malik to Awzaa’eey, Thawri, Laith, Hammaad, and al-Hakam in knowledge, and he is the leader in Hadith and Fiqh.”
His Teachers and Instructors: Imaam Malik would only take knowledge from those men who were famous for their cleanliness, piety, and truthfulness, who were distinct in memorization and jurisprudence. The teachers mentioned in Muwatta from whom he narrated Hadith from are 95 in totol all of who were from Madinah. Thus making all of the various holders of knowledge who were scattered all around now brought together in one holder (Imaam Malik), this is why he earned the name of “IMAAM DARUL-HIJRAH.” From all of the Imaam’s teachers six of them were not from Madinah. So 95 teachers are only those mentioned in Muwatta. Otherwise, Allamah Zurqaani and Dulaqi have written that his teachers were over 900. Imaam Nawawi has written in Tahzeebul-Asmaa that of Imaam Malik’s 900 teachers 300 were from the Tabi’een and 600 from the Tabi Tabi’een. The Imaam’s greatest of all teachers was Nafi’ the slave of Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu). Imaam Malik learned with him for twelve years and attained the knowledge of Hadith and Diraayah (Fiqh). It is for this reason that many narrations are from Nafi’ (RA). This was called the golden chain of narrators because it was the best chain in Muwatta. Shah Waliullah Dehlawi has written that Harun al-Rashid asked Imaam Malik, “You have mentioned Ali and Ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) only a few time in your book, why?” He replied, “They were not here in Madinah, nor did I find any of their students or companions.” Shah Saheb writes on, “That this proud honor was given to Imaam Abu Hanifah (RA).” Also he says that Abdullah bin Masood narrations are even less than these two, Ali and Ibn Abbas (Radhi Allahu Anhuma).
Here is a list of some of Imaam Malik’s Shuyookh (Teachers): 1. Nafi’ (the servant of Abdullah bin Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 2. Abul-Zanaad, Adbullah bin Zakwaan 3. Hishaam bin Urwah bin Zubair 4. Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Ansaari 5. Abdullah bin Dinaar 6. Zaid bin Aslam (servant of Umar bin Khattab(Radhi Allahu Anhu) 7. Muhammad bin Muslim bin Shihaab al-Zhuhri 8. Abdullah bin Abu Bakr bin Hazm 9. Sa’eed bin Abu Sa’eed al-Maqbari 10. Sumayy servant of Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 11. Ayyub Sakhtiyaani 12. Abdur-Rahman bin al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) 13. Thawr bin Zaid Dabli 14. Ibrahim bin Abi Ablah al-Maqdisi 15. Rabi’ah bin Abu Abdur-Rahman 16. Humayd Taweel 17. Aishah bint Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas
In Qira’ah (recitation of Qur’an): Nafi’ bin Abu Nuaym al-Qaari
His Pupils and Students: Imaam Malik’s students reach to the thousands. Some have mentioned so many that they can not be counted, like Hafiz bin Katheer and Zhahabi. Qazi Iyyadh has mentioned over 1300 have narrated Hadith for the great Imaam. Hafiz Dar-Qutni has mentioned 1000. Hafiz Abu Bakr Khateeb al-Baghdadi has mentioned 993. Even some of the Imaam’s Teachers were his students, like:
1. Zhuhri 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 7. A’amash 8. Abu Suhail, Nafi’ bin Malik
Some eminent pupils were:
1. Imaam Muhammad 2. Imaam Shaf’iee 3. Abdullah bin Mubarak 4. Laith bin Sa’ad 5. Shu’bah 6. Sufyaan Thawri 7. Ibn Juraij 8. Ibn Uyainah 9. Yahya al-Qattaan 10. Ibn Mahdi 11. Abu Aasim al-nabeel 12. Abdur-Rahman Auwzaa’ee
Eminent narrators in Imaam Malik’s Muwatta:
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
His respect of Teaching of Hadith: After Abdullah bin Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) and his servant and pupil, Nafi’ (RA) the great Imaam narrated Hadith and taught from the age of 17 to about 79. He gave service to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), giving lessons of Fiqh and issuing Fatawa for 62 years of his life. Before the Imaam would narrate any Hadith he would or dictate Hadith to others he would perform wudhu or take a bath, put on his best and most expensive clothing, groom himself, put on musk or another fragrance, then proceed to the gathering of Hadith 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 the respect for him the people would remain totally quiet. In the gatherings their would be the students all around the sitting place of 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 who pass by would think that a king must be delivering his message and one who sit down in it would be taken away with awe. Abdullah bin Mubarak reports that one time the Imaam was bitten by a scorpion under his garment over ten times while narrating Hadith. During the narration of the Hadith he did not stop in order to remove it, rather he continued to narrate until the end. I noticed the discoloration of 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 could not have kept my patience because of myself restraint, rather it was out of the respect of the Hadith of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that I did not remove it. Subhanallah!!!
Some of His Aqeedah: Imaam Malik believed that the Qur’an, which is the last message of Allah, was Ghair Makhluq, not a creation. He also believed that Allah SWT is on His Throne just as he has described in the Qur’an. He believed that Allah SWT 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 mouth, 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 Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) should be given death and that repentance should not avail them. He believed that Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) were the best in the Ummah after the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and that those who follow the beliefs of the Qadriyyah Sect, prayer is not valid behind them and their women can not be married.
His love for Madinah: Even when the Imaam attained old age and became very weak he never rode on an animal in Madinah his entire life. He understood that it was against the respect of Madinah to ride on the very land that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is buried in. Imaam Shaf’iee (RA) says, “I saw at the door of Imaam Malik’s home beautiful horses from Khurasaan and Egyptian Mules. So I said to him they were very nice. He said they are yours as a gift from me. I said that 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 Alaihi Wa Sallam) is buried here in Madinah and the land is being rode on with the hooves of horses?
Some Saying about Him by Other Scholars
· Mus’ab Zubairi – Imaam Malik was reliable, safeguarded, trustworthy in Hadith, a great scholar, jurist, proof-bearer, and god-fearing man. · Yahya bin Mu’een – He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadith. · Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan – He is the Ameerul-Mumineen in Hadith. · Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdi – There is no more trustworthy in Hadith Nabawi on the face of this earth than Imaam Malik. · Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdi – Sufyaan Thawri is the Imaam of Hadith not the Imaam of Sunnah whlie Auwzaa’ee is the Imaam of Sunnah not the Imaam of Hadith, but Imaam Malik in the Imaam of Hadith and the Imaam of Sunnah. · Imaam Abu Hanifah – I have never seen anyone more fast understanding, correct answering, and test-taking than Imaam Malik. · Imaam Shaf’iee – After the Tabi’een Imaam Malik is the Proof-Bearer on this entire earth for or against all of the people. · Imaam Shaf’iee – Knowledge is encircled by three men: Malik bin Anas, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, and Laith bin Sa’ad. · Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal – I was asked whose Hadith should be memorized by heart if from anyone? I replied Malik bin Anas. · Imaam Bukhaari – I was asked what is the most authentic chain of narrators. I replied from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu). · Imaam Nasai – After the Tabi’een the most understanding, reliable, trustworthy, man in Hadith is Imaam Malik. He has hardly never narrated from a weak narrator apart from Abu Umayyah Abdul-Kareem who is Matrook. · Imaam Ahmed, Tirmizi, Nasai, and Haakim have all reported in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allahu Anhu) that he 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 bin Uyainah says that the scholar of Madinah upon which the Hadith indicates is none other than Imaam Malik.
His Demise: The great Imaam reached the age of 84 or 86 or 87 or 90 years when he became ill on a Sunday and 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.
His Children: The great Imaam left behind three sons: Yayha, Muhammad, and Hammad. His remaining wealth that was inherited was 3300 dinaars.
Books Written by Imaam Malik: Imaam Malik wrote many books that can be referred to in the introduction of Oujasul-Masaalik (commentary of Muwatta Imaam Malik). Muwatta Imaam Malik is 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 regards. Then after these two (Imaam Malik and Imaam Bukhaari) others followed, like Imaam Muslim and Imaam Tirmizi, who based there books upon theirs. (Allamah Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi).