History of Imaam Maalik


Jumaadal-Aakhirah 26,1422 (September 14, 2001)

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

All praise is due to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon the noble Prophet. his household and companions.

Fellow Muslims! Speaking about great scholars is not an easy task, for however you try to grasp the life of any of them you will not be able to do so. Even you may miss the most important and the most impressive aspect of his life.

The way of life of the earliest great Ulamaa is the exemplar par excellence and showing that is an encouragement to our youths in order to discourage them from imitating evil people who have either no positive role to play in this life nor any value in human history.

Our speech about the scholars does not in any way mean being partisan to any one of them, for everybody can have his word accepted or rejected except the impeccable Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Our man of today’s talk is that great Imaam who grew up in this city of Al-Madeenah, whose mention is elevated and whose knowledge has filled the earth. He taught people in the corners of this great Prophetic mosque and became so popular with this so much so that when it is said: “ the scholar of Al-Madeenah” or “ the Imaam of the city of Hijrah” no one would think of any other person.

Maalik ibn Anas was born in the Prophet’s city and grew up there as a lover and seeker of knowledge in spite of his poverty. His mother gave him good upbringing by telling him:

  “Go to Rabee’ah and learn from him manners before you learn knowledge”.

This woman knew her role in life and her mission of educating and grooming the youth. She knew that manners are good companions of knowledge and that knowledge is valueless without manners. This woman molded a man and as such molded a nation.

Mother’s role is not restricted to nurturing body and guarding it against physical diseases. Rather, she has greater mission to accomplish. Her mission includes strengthening the faith, building a strong personality, developing intellectual capability and encouraging children to aim high. All these can not be achieved except by first giving preference to meritorious act of upbringing over concerns for this world.

This was what actually happened in the life of Maalik and that was what made him a school in manners from whom students learn and the whole ummah benefits.

Maalik once told a Quraishee youth:

  “O my nephew, learn manners before you learn knowledge”.

Yahya ibn Yahya At-Tameemee said,

  “I stayed with Maalik after the completion of my learning knowledge from him for a year in order to learn manners and good qualities from him. And the qualities are the same as those of the companions of the Prophet and those who followed them.”

Brothers in faith! Modern educational methods sometimes appear like mere texts that are devoid of any moral content thereby making knowledge losing its splendor and impact. If knowledge were to be separated from manners – however much the knowledge may be – you will see a huge defect in its influence on people’s conduct and purity of their deeds. Therefore, there is no good in a knowledge that does not earn one good morals.

Creating a gap between knowledge and manners breeds ill behaviors like attacking the Ulamaa, being rude to them, bad conduct, maltreatment of parents, blind imitation of unbelievers in matters of dressing and being hostile to teachers and educators either physically and verbally.

The city of the Prophet had a significant impact on Maalik’s personality, for it has been flourishing with scholars. The first school in Islamic History was the Prophet’s mosque and there have always been classes there manned by competent scholars and these classes provided the Muslim children with good education that guaranteed for them religious and moral qualities that make man good-mannered.

Brothers in faith! It goes without saying that bad environment only destroys and does not build …If not, what is the benefit of teaching a child Islamic values in the morning and in the evening he goes to bad companies who destroy what his parents has put in order? Or what is the benefit of teaching a child manners for years and then to be taken to corruption ridden environment by his very father?!

Imaam Maalik sat to give fatwa (formal legal opinion) and did not do so until seventy scholars had attested to his worthiness of that. What a different between the one who praises and forward himself and the one who is praised and forwarded by the knowledgeable and distinguished people! Maalik said:

  “It is not every one who would like to sit in the mosque and teach the hadeeth and give fatwa are worthy of that. Let the one who wants to sit for fatwa first seek for the advice of pious and distinguished people; if they see that he is fit for that, let him do that; for I did not sit to teach hadeeth and give fatwa until seventy scholars attested to his worthiness of that.”

Imaam Maalik said:

  “I am only human, I make mistakes and I do give correct opinions. As for my opinions, examine them, if they are in accordance with Sunnah, take to them.”

With this valuable statement, Maalik has established a moderate line between those who follow their leaders blindly and those who reject authentic evidences outright and reject the sayings of scholars and say, “They are men and we are also men.” What a difference between those men and these men! What a difference between dead men whom Allah immortalizes their names for centuries and valueless men who though are living are counted among the dead! Mere mention of the formers’ names activates the heats while keeping the company of the latter deadens the hearts. Those scholars of high repute did not only possessed knowledge but were also leaders in morals, piety, self-abstinence and fear of Allah.

There are however some followers of these scholars who prefer only imitation and do not wish to exceed that in spite of their ability to differentiate between the truth and falsehood.

It is also a mistake to look down upon other people’s works or to feel that one’s good deed is better than others’. This is because all these talents and capabilities are provisions from Allah and not from any human being. This is a great concept that Maalik wanted to show people that serving Islaam is an obligation that should involve every Muslim in all professions without anyone revolting against others. Maalik wrote to one of the worshippers of his time,

  “Allah has portioned out deeds as He has portioned out provisions. Many are endowed with energy and the will to pray (as many supererogatory prayers as possible) but are not endowed with (much of voluntary) fasting; others are endowed with giving charity but are not endowed with fasting; others are endowed with Jihaad and others with seeking for knowledge. Spreading knowledge is one of the best deeds and I am contented with Allah has endowed one with and I do not think that what I do is less meritorious than what you do but hope that both of us are doing good and righteous deeds.”

Therefore charitable people, worshippers, those who spend their times in the cause of Allah, the scholars, the propagators of Islaam and those serving Islaam in their various fields are all doing righteous deeds – if they are sincere in their intentions.

Whenever Maalik was asked a question, he would tell the questioner,

  ‘Go now and let me think over it.’ When the questioner was gone, Maalik’s students would ask him the reason for what he said and he would answer. “I fear a Day with the Questioner (Allah) and what a (terrible) Day!”

A man was sent by the people of Maghrib to ask Imaam Maalik about some issues. The man would ask Maalik a question and he would say, ‘I do not know, for we do not know of this issue in our land and we have not heard any of our scholars saying anything about it, but you can come back again!’ On the following day, the man went back to Maalik and Maalik told him: “ You asked me question but I do not know the answer!’ the man said: ‘ O Abu Abdullaah! I came from a people who think that there is none in the world who is more knowledgeable than you!’ Maalik answered:“ I am not perfect.’

He was also asked a question and he asked the questioner to give him time to make some research and the man said: ‘But the issue is very simple. Maalik retorted,

  ‘There is nothing simple in knowledge! Don’t you her the saying of Allah: “ We shall send down to you a weighty word.” (Qur’aan 73:4)

Maalik used to say,

  “The people of knowledge and understanding that I have met in our country, when one of them was asked a question on an issue, he would feel like the one about to die. But the people of our own time love giving fatwaa (without hesitation). Had they know what they are going to face tomorrow (in the Day of Judgement) they would not have done that. Umar, Alee and ‘Alqamah are some of the best companions of the Prophet, yet when anyone of them was asked a question, he would consult his fellow companions before giving an answer to it. But it is unfortunate that fatwaa has become the pride for the people of our time”

These are the erudite and sagacious scholars who filled the world with their knowledge and good deeds and yet used to say, “I do not know”. You will however be surprised to see some people who know next to nothing about Islamic Law and yet desecrating it by speaking about the allowed and forbidden things. Even, a topic on Islamic law may come forth in a meeting and the meeting will not end before all the attendants -irrespective if their different fields of knowledge – give their opinions saying for instance, ‘According to my view . . .’ ‘As far as I belief . . .’ etc.

SubhaanAllah! When did the matter of legalizing and forbidding become a subject to ignorance and conjecture?!! If an engineer were to practice medicine and prescribe drugs, what are you going to say about him and what is going to be his fate?! What then about the one who dares to desecrate the Islamic law and speak about the lawful and forbidden things without knowledge particularly on special events that are so complicated that if Umar were to witness such events, he would have gathered all the companions who took part in the Battle of Badr to help solve the problem. But unfortunately fatwa in our age has become a spacious ground in which all those who wish to become popular or are seeking people’s pleasure at the risk of Allah’s displeasure contest.

Brothers in faith! Issues pertaining to Islamic belief are static ones over which no one is allowed to give his independent judgement. Likewise are issues that have evidences in the Qur’aan and Sunnah and issues on which scholars have consensus. It is incumbent on all Muslims to leave the say on matters of knowledge to whom they are due and not to enter into the issues of halaam and haraam on which they have no knowledge. Maalik said,

  “Whoever wants to give answer to a question should first assume himself standing between Paradise and Hell and ponder about how he is going to be saved in the Hereafter before he answers.”

Some people may be thinking that these Ulamaa are only well-versed in controversial issues and discussion of scholastic opinions and that their classes are devoid of admonishing hadeeths that address the hearts and remind of Paradise and Hell. In order to show that their classes are resplendent in various kinds of sciences, let us hear what Maalik said to a brother of his admonishing him,

  “Remind yourself of the agonies of death, what you are going to experience and what is going to be your fate after death; your standing before Allah, your reckoning, then your perpetual abode of either Paradise or Hell. Provide for that moment what will make things easy for you then, for when you see those who have earned the wrath of Allah and the horror of their torment and you hear their cries in the Fire with their gloomy faces; unable to see and talk and exclaiming for destruction and greater than all this is Allah’s turning away from them and their despair of His answer to their pleas and He will say: “Remain you in it with ignominy! And speak you not with Me.”(Al-Mu’minoon 23:108) if you know all this, nothing in this world will be too great for you to sacrifice if you want salvation.”

Imam Maalik was sick for twenty two days and died at the age of eighty seven. Naafi’ (his famous student) said,

  “Maalik died at the age of eighty seven and lived in Al-Madeenah as its Mufti for sixty years.”

May Allah have mercy on Maalik, for he used to say

  : “I met some people in Al-Madeenah who had no faults but they speak of other people’s faults, then people created fault’s for them. I also met other another group of people in al-Madeenah, who had faults but kept away from speaking of other people’s faults and the people also keep off from speaking about their faults.”

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

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