Biography of Imam Malik
ABU ABDULLAH, Malik bin Anas, was born in Madina in the year 715 AD. His ancestral home was in Yemen, but his grandfather settled in Madina after embracing Islam. He received his education in Madina, which was the most important seat of Islamic learning, and where the immediate descendants of the Companions of the Holy Prophet lived.
Imam Malik was highly attracted to the study of law, and devoted his entire interest to the study of Fiqh. It is said that he sought out over three hundred Sahaba (those who saw the Companions of the Holy Prophet). From them he acquired the knowledge of the Holy Prophet's sayings, Hadith and the Holy Prophet's Deeds, Sunnah.
Imam Malik studied Fiqh under the guidance of nearly one hundred learned Shaikhs who were residing in the city of the Prophet at the time. Among Imam Malik's writings is the great work entitled Kitab-al-Muwatta, which is the earliest surviving book of Islamic law and Hadith. It quotes Sayings as well as the practices according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet as observed by Muslims in Madina.
Although Imam Malik wrote many treatises dealing with religion and ethics, Kitab-al-Muwatta is acknowledged as the most important among his writings. It is said that Imam Malik had originally recorded ten thousand Ahadith in this book, but in a revised edition the Imam reduced the number to only one hundred and seventy-two.
Dealing with people
Imam Malik was famous for his piety and integrity and courageously stood up, and was prepared to suffer, for his convictions. For example, when the governor of Madina demanded and forced people to take the oath of allegiance to Khalifa al-Mansour, Imam Malik issued a Fatwa that such an oath was not binding, because it was given under duress. This resulted in many people finding courage to express their opposition, but the Imam was arrested, found guilty of defiance and publicly flogged.
When al-Mansour, learnt of this outrage, he apologized to the Imam and dismissed the governor. Sometime later the Khalifa sent him three thousand Dinars for his travelling expenses and invited him to come and reside in Baghdad. Imam Malik refused the offer and indicated that he preferred to continue his residence in Madina where the Holy Prophet was buried.
When the Khalifa Haroun-al-Rasheed visited Madina, when he came to perform Hajj, he summoned Imam Malik to visit him and deliver a lecture. The Imam politely refused to go to the ruler but invited him to attend the class of students to whom he delivered regular lectures. The Khalifa, accompanied by his two sons, accepted the invitation and sat among the students to hear the Imam's lecture.
Imam Malik died in the year 795 AD at Madina and is buried in the famous Al-Baqie cemetery in the city of the Prophet. Imam Malik's followers and disciples developed a Fiqh school based on his books which came to be known as the Maliki Madhhab. Malikis are mostly found in North and West Africa, - Tunis, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.
Article Contributed by: itsIslam Staff