Author

Malik ibn Anas cover

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Malik ibn Anas

Hadith compiler

711   -   795 or 796

country of citizenship: Umayyad Caliphate, Abbasid Caliphate
occupation: muhaddith, faqih, theologian
student of: Nafi` Mawla ibn `Umar, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Ja'far al-Sadiq, Abd al-Rahman al-Awza'i, Ayoub al-Sakhtiyani, محمد بن يحيى بن حبان, Ibrahim ibn Abi 'Abla

Ebooks: on Wikisource

Mālik b. Anas b. Mālik b. Abī ʿĀmir b. ʿAmr b. al-Ḥārit̲h̲ b. G̲h̲aymān b. K̲h̲ut̲h̲ayn b. ʿAmr b. al-Ḥārit̲h̲ al-Aṣbaḥī, often referred to as Mālik ibn Anas (Arabic: مالك بن أنس‎; 711–795 CE / 93–179 AH) for short, or reverently as Imam Mālik by Sunni Muslims, was an Arab Muslim jurist, theologian, and hadith traditionist. Born in the city of Medina, Malik rose to become the premier scholar of prophetic traditions in his day, which he sought to apply to "the whole legal life" in order to create a systematic method of Muslim jurisprudence which would only further expand with the passage of time. Referred to as the Imam of Medina by his contemporaries, Malik's views in matters of jurisprudence were highly cherished both in his own life and afterwards, and he became the founder of one of the four orthodox legal schools of Sunni law, the Maliki rite, which became the normative rite for the Sunni practice of much of North Africa, Andalusia, a vast portion of Egypt, and some parts of Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khorasan, and the standard rite for several prominent orthodox Sufi orders, including the Shadiliyya and the Tijaniyyah.Perhaps Malik's most famous accomplishment in the annals of Islamic history is, however, his compilation of the Muwatta, one of the oldest and most revered Sunni hadith collections and one of "the earliest surviving Muslim law-book[s]," in which Malik attempted to "give a survey of law and justice; ritual and practice of religion according to the consensus of Islam in Medina, according to the sunna usual in Medina; and to create a theoretical standard for matters which were not settled from the point of view of consensus and sunna." Composed in the early days of the Abbasid caliphate, during which time there was a burgeoning "recognition and appreciation of the canon law" of the ruling party, Malik's work aimed to trace out a "smoothed path" (which is what al-muwaṭṭaʾ literally means) through "the farreaching differences of opinion even on the most elementary questions." Hailed as "the soundest book on earth after the Quran" by al-Shafi'i, the compilation of the Muwatta led to Malik being bestowed with such reverential epithets as Shaykh of Islam, Proof of the Community, Imam of the Abode of Emigration, and Knowledgeable Scholar of Medina in later Sunni tradition.According to classical Sunni tradition, the Prophet Muhammad foretold the birth of Malik, saying: "Very soon will people beat the flanks of camels in search of knowledge and they shall find no one more expert than the knowledgable scholar of Medina," and, in another tradition, "The people ... shall set forth from East and West without finding a sage other than the sage of the people in Medina." While some later scholars, such as Ibn Hazm and Tahawi, did cast doubt on identifying the mysterious wise man of both these traditions with Malik, the most widespread interpretation nevertheless continued to be that which held the personage to be Malik. Throughout Islamic history, Malik was venerated as an exemplary figure in all the traditional schools of Sunni thought, both by the exoteric ulema and by the mystics, with the latter often designating him as a saint in their hagiographies. Malik's most notable student, al-Shafi'i, who would himself become the founder of another of the four orthodox legal schools of Sunni law, later said of his teacher: "No one constitutes as great a favor to me in the Religion of God as Malik ... when the scholars of knowledge are mentioned, Malik is the guiding star."
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