Maliki School

Imam Malik b. Anas (93 - 179 AH)


The way of imam Malik by Mufti Abu Layth Al Maliki (Maliki fiqh)

Imam Malik b. Anas (93 - 179 AH) Malikiyyah is the second of the Islamic schools of jurisprudence. The sources of Maliki doctrine are the Qur'an, the Prophet's traditions (hadith), consensus (ijma'), and analogy (qiyas). The Malikis' concept of ijma' differed from that of the Hanafis in that they understood it to mean the consensus of the community represented by the people of Medina. (Overtime, however, the school came to understand consensus to be that of the doctors of law, known as 'ulama.)

mam Malik's major contribution to Islamic law is his book al-Muwatta (The Beaten Path). The Muwatta is a code of law based on the legal practices that were operating in Medina. It covers various areas ranging from prescribed rituals of prayer and fasting to the correct conduct of business relations. The legal code is supported by some 2,000 traditions attributed to the Prophet.

History: Malikiyyah was founded by Malik ibn Anas (c.713-c.795), a legal expert in the city of Medina. Such was his stature that it is said three 'Abbasid caliphs visited him while they were on Pilgrimage to Medina. The second 'Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur (d.775), approached the Medinan jurist with the proposal to establish a judicial system that would unite the different judicial methods that were operating at that time throughout the Islamic world.

The school spread westwards through Malik's disciples, becoming dominant in North Africa and Spain. In North Africa Malikiyyah gave rise to an important Sufi order, Shadhiliyyah, which was founded by Abu al-Hasan, a jurist in the Malikite School, in Tunisia in the thirteenth century.

During the Ottoman period Hanafite Turks were given the most important judicial in the Ottoman Empire. North Africa, however, remained faithful to its Malikite heritage. Such was the strength of the local tradition that qadis (judges) from both the Hanafite and Malikite traditions worked with the local ruler. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Malikiyyah regained its position of ascendancy in the region. Today Malikite doctrine and practice remains widespread throughout North Africa, the Sudan and regions of West and Central Africa.


Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Maaliki was the product of the Fiqh (rules and regulations) as taught by Malik Ibn Anas. As in other Islamic Schools of Thought Maalik's Fiqh deals with tawhid, elements of faith, elements ofworship (pillars of Islam), the halal and haram, ethics, dealing with other people (Mu'aamalat).

FEATURES of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Maaliki The Maaliki School of Thought tends to emphasize the authenticity of the Hadith اهل الحديث , the care in its selection, and the deductions there from. It also used some degree of Qiyas (Analogy) and Raa'y (Personal opinion). It does not acknowledge the Imamah of Ahlul Bayt. Malik Ibn Anas was supporter and a proponent of Ahlul Hadith. The Maaliki School of Thought began its popularity in the last quarter of the second century H.

MALIK IBN ANAS: مالك بن انـس Head of Al‑Madh'hab Al‑Maaliki 93‑179H

Born in 93H Malik Ibn Anas grew up at a time when the Fiqh of the Shari'ah was flourishing and Ahlul Bayt had a greater leeway to explain its detail since Benu Umayya's grip on power was waning. Malik Ibn Anas attended many of the discussion assemblies Imam Al‑Saadiq was giving. Malik Ibn Anas was 10 years younger than Al‑Saadiq, and lived to the ripe age of 86, when he died in 179H. Like Imam Al‑Saadiq, Malik spent all his time in Medina.

It is claimed that Malik Ibn Anas was a firm supporter of Ahlul Bayt and their cause. Malik gave full support to Muhammad Dhul Nafs Al‑Zakiya when he revolted against the oppression of Benu Abbas in 144H. In 146H, because of that support (or because of some disagreement with the government) Malik Ibn Anas was arrested by the governor of Medina and lashed 50 times. That resulted in damaging his left arm which remained crippled the rest of his life.[10]

Malik Ibn Anas lived at a time when forgeries of the Hadith were widespread. Therefore he took great care in selecting authentic Hadiths, as a result his popularity began to increase. Many people started to quote him and study at his hand.

At the same time however, Khalifa Al‑Mansoor was ever anxious to build forces to counteract the profound influence of the school of Ahlul Bayt. In 153H Al‑Mansoor approached the 60 year old Malik Ibn Anas offering him a position to be Supreme Justice over Medina and Hijaz, but with a request for Malik to write a book in Fiqh, so that Al‑Mansoor would enforce it over the whole Ummah. Al‑Mansoor had one more request, however, that the book not mention even once the name of Imam Ali.[11]

Malik Ibn Anas agreed, sensing that his book, as supported by the government, would have immediate success. However, the down‑side to this was not mentioning Ali, but that would be the price to be paid against the advantage of spreading his Islamic knowledge.

The result was the book called Al‑Mu'watta'. The Fiqh in Mu'watta' was later known as Fiqh of Malik Ibn Anas. It was spread and patronized by many rulers of Benu Abbas, and especially in Andalusia (Spain), North Africa, and some parts of Middle East. Malik Ibn Anas became the official high powered Supreme Judge for a long time. He was sponsored and patronized by Khalifa Al-Mansoor, then Khalifa Al-Mahdi, then Khalifa Al-Haadi, then (and especially so) by Khalifa Al‑Rasheed. This support was done not due to what this Fiqh deserved but mainly as a counterweight against Ahlul Bayt and their enormous influence in the society.

Many Books were published as commentaries about Al‑Mu'watta' and the school of Maaliki became one of the survivors of the many Islamic Schools of Thought at the time. What was crucial to its survival (besides its dynamism) was the official support and encouragement of the Abbasi government to spread it as far as possible.

Historically during this period there were many Schools of Thought ofgreater depth than the Maaliki, which even continued for a century or two but eventually died out because they insisted to be independent of government influence, therefore the government did not support them, thus leading to their demise.

Maliki School of Thought (Al-Madhab al-Maliki)

Once Al-Mansur al-Abbasi failed to sway Abu Hanifah to his side, he turned his attention towards Imam Malik b. Anas (93 - 179 AH) and proposed that the body of Islamic knowledge unify under one definitive book and set of guidelines, rather than be split among several schools of thought, as was the case at that time. He encouraged Imam Malik to write al-Muwatta (the book that Imam Malik is well-known for). History says: Al-Mansur spoke to al-Malik around 150 AH and encouraged him to write Fiqh al-Muwatta. He told him, “Put down this knowledge in writing, and try to avoid the eccentricity (shawad) of Ibn Abdullah al- Masud, the leniency (rukhsah) of Ibn Abbas, and the harshness (shadaid)

of Ibn Umar. Be moderate in this fiqh and write whatever the majority of the imams and sahabah agree upon, and we promise you that we will bring all the people to follow your school of thought, and your fiqh and your knowledge, and we will spread and promote your book in the provinces and states, and we will ask the people not to oppose it, and they will not give judgments other than those in accordance with your books.”32

Imam Malik spent approximately 11 years writing al-Muwatta, and his book eventually became the definitive legal text of the Abbasid state.

The Abbasid rulers in turn, exhibited the utmost respect towards Imam Malik to the extent that Harun al-Rashid would stand whenever he saw Imam Malik, and then sit on the floor in front of him to listen to what he had to say. Through his open support of al-Mansur, Imam Malik alienated his teacher Rabiat al-Rai who refused to compromise his principles for the government and then parted company with Imam Malik.

Imam Malik continued to support the Abbasid government beyond the reign of al-Mansur into the time of al-Mahdi al-Abbasi. Just like al-Mansur, al-Mahdi al-Abbasi succeeded not in winning over the support of the Hanafi school of thought, but to entice two of Abu Hanifah′s most famous students (as mentioned above).

At the same time, as they fostered the growth of the Maliki movement, the Abbasid also attempted to suppress the school of Ahlul Bayt. Not only were the ideas of Ahlul Bayt school threatening, but its leaders were also popular, such as Imam Ja′far al-Sadiq. The sixth Imam of the Shia school of thought, who had nearly 4,000 students attending his classes.

Like the other Imams from Ahlul Bayt, Imam al-Sadiq was put under house arrest and later imprisoned. Only after methods of intimidation and coercion to halt the spread of his teachings failed, did the Abbasid attempt to counter his ideas by creating another intellectual entity to compete with him, in this case, the promotion of the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought.As it is said, people tend to follow the religion of their leaders;33 therefore, the ideological path that the Abbasid government was laying out was rudimentary for the people to follow. Still, like the rest of the

imams of Ahlul Bayt, Imam al-Sadiq gave up his life at the hands of the ruling power for his unwavering resistance to compromise the principles of Islam.

31 Al-Dahlawi, Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, 1:151

32 Al-Imamah wal-Siyasah, 2:150


His life:

Translation of Malik's Muwatta :

The Fundamental Principles of Imam Malik'sFiqh(Muhammad Abu Zahrah) :