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Maleki: An Introduction to Islamic Jurisprudential Sects

1- Mālik’s Character

Mālikīyah is the second Sunni school, in terms of antiquity, and the third one in terms of population. It is founded by Mālik b. Anas b. Mālik b. ‘Āmir Aṣbahī Madanī, a scholar of the third category of Successor jurists of Medina. He was born circa 90-97 in Medina. He spent almost his whole life in Medina. Mālik learned jurisprudence from Rbī‘ah b. Furūkh, Ibn Shahāb Zuharī, Nāfi‘ Mawlā ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar b. Hurmuz, Imam Ja‘far Ṣādiq (A.S.), and Abū al-Zannād. He studied under the leading scholars of the school of ḥadīth. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. Hurmuz and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān known as Rbī‘ah al-Ra’y (d. 136 A.H.). When he was 17, after receiving certification and permission for jurisprudence and ḥadīth from his teachers, he started teaching and issuing fatwas in Medina that lasted through about seventy years. He usually sat in Masjid al-Nabī for teaching and issuing fatwas and pointed to the grave of the Prophet (S.A.W) while narrating ḥadīths.

            Mālik adopted a lenient policy towards caliphs, but his silence on the rebellion of Nafs Zakīyah (145 A.H.) aroused the suspicion of Medina’s ruler and was punished. Manṣūr, the caliph of the time, apologized Mālik when got informed about this event, which has happened without informing him. In addition, the caliph Ḥārūn, during his Hajj trip in 179 A.H. visited Mālik in the last year of his life. Nevertheless, Mālik was generally dissatisfied with Abbasid Caliphs, which inclined Andalusian Umayyads to him. Mālik was a pioneer of the science of ḥadīth.  His most important jurisprudential book is al-Muwaṭṭa’ that he wrote in response to Manṣūr’s request. His other book is Risālah ilā al-Rashīd.

            Mālik’s jurisprudential school is not as a school of thought; therefore, its jurists’ ijtihād is limited to Mālik’s opinions. Mālikīs follow the school of Ash‘arīyah regarding their ideological beliefs.

Before the appearance of Shāfi’īyah, it was the predominant sect in Hejaz, Egypt and the African regions around it, Andalusia, and Sudan; and  also, it was famous in Baghdad. However, it fell into decline since 400 A.H. onwards. By the appearance of Shāfi’īyah in Egypt, it decreased there to the second place, but, it held its status in eastern Africa. Nowadays, Mālikīyah is the leading sect in the regions like northern parts of Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, mountainous regions of Egypt, Sudan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. The Mālikīyah presence is negligible in Palestine and Saudi Arabia, especially in Iḥṣā’.

2- Mālikīyah’s Sources of Deduction

2-1- The Holy Qur’an.

2-2- Sunnah was the second haven for Mālik. In Mālik’s viewpoint, contrary to Abū Ḥanīfah, isolated ḥadīth was considered as a proof, and ignoring it was not allowable when it was not in contrast to the practice of the people of Medina. He relied mostly upon the ḥadīths narrated by the people of Hejaz.

2-3- Ijmā‘ (consensus): besides the ijmā‘ as its generally accepted meaning, Mālik regards the consensus of the people of Medina as a proof, too.

2-4- Qiyās (judicial reasoning by analogy): Mālik inferred the verdicts that were not stipulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah by analogy. Many verdicts presented in al-Muwaṭṭa’ are gathered in this way.

2-5- Istiḥsān (juristic preference): Shāṭibī narrates from Aṣbagh that Ibn Qāsim quoted that Mālik said: 90% of knowledge consists of istiḥsān, however he has not extended the realm of istiḥsān as Abū Ḥanīfah did.

2-6- Istiṣḥāb (the principle of continuance): Qarrāfī says: istiṣḥāb is regarded as a proof by Mālik, Imām Muznī, and Abū Bakr Ṣayrafī.

2-7- Maṣāliḥ Mursalah (consideration of public interests of the time): one of Mālik’s principles is relying upon maṣāliḥ mursalah, so that his school is well-known for performing this principle.

2-8- Sadd al-Dhirā’i‘ (prohibition of what may lead to committing sins): Mālik extended the realm of this principle more than others, and issued many verdicts based upon it.

2-9- ‘Urf (local custom which is not in direct conflict with established Islamic principles): Mālik has resorted to ‘urf, but he has not practiced it as much as others.

2-10- Words of a Companion: Mālik’s jurisprudence is based upon Companions’ fatwas and judgments. He learned the jurisprudence of the seven jurists of Medina. Sunnah, in Mālik’s viewpoint, is regarded as what Companions practice; therefore, the words of Companions held a notable place among his other sources of deduction.

3- Features and Sources of Mālikīyah

  • In addition to the above-mentioned sources, Mālik, regards the practice of people of Medina, as a religious source.
  • Mālik preferred the appearance of the Qur’an to Sunnah. He did not regard comprehensive and unrestricted terms of the Qur’an and Sunnah as decisive, and completely opened the doors of determining and limiting.
  • Mālik believed that fulfilling public interests is the main purpose of Divine legislation. Therefore, his jurisprudence rotates about this axis, and he tries to achieve these interests by qiyās, istiḥsān, maṣāliḥ mursalah, sadd al-dhirā’i‘, or any other passible means. Due to this view, Mālik regarded ‘uqūd (contracts) as a means to fulfill people’s main demands that are in company with their social convention.
  • Mālik relies upon Companions’ fatwas and judgments for finding out the aim of sharī‘ah, then attempts to recognize and discover religious precepts and their purposes, as a person who has traced the root of understanding sharī‘ah and its all purposes.
  • Mālik rejected sneering at the Prophet’s Companions, and regarded it as a serious crime.
  • Mālik believed in predestination, and regarded the Qur’an pre-existent.

4- Mālikī Jurists and Books

  • Mālik b. Anas Aṣbahī, the Imam of the school (d. 179 A.H.). al-Mudawwanāt is the collection of his scattered fatwas, which includes:
    • Al-Asadīyah (fī Fiqh al-Mālikīyah): Asad b. Furāt b. Sinān known as Qāḍī Qīriwān (d. 204 A.H.). He was a disciple of Mālik and Muhammad b. Ḥasan Shaybānī. He has compiled it from Ajwabah ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. al-Qāsim.
    • Al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrā=Mudawwanah Saḥnūn, ‘Abd al-Salām b. Sa‘īd al-Tanawwukhī, entitled as Saḥnūn (d. 240 A.H.). He has narrated it from ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. Qāsim ‘Itqī (d. 191 A.H.), who narrated from Imām Mālik b. Anas.
    • A-Wāḍiḥah fī al-Sunan wa al-Fiqh, Ibn Ḥabīb, ‘Abd al-Malik b. Ḥabīb Silmī Qurṭabī (d. 238 A.H.).
    • Al-Mustakhrijah al-‘Atībah ‘alā al-Muwaṭṭa’, Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ‘Itqī Qurṭabī (d. 254 A.H.).
    • Al-Mawwāzīyah, Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Sa‘īd, known as Ibn Mawwāz Qurṭabī (d. 281 A.H.).
  • Abū Bakr Bāqilānī (d. 403 A.H.): al-Inṣāf fīmā Yajib wa lā Yajūz fīh al-Khilāf, al-Tamhīd fī Uṣūl al-Fiqh, al-Muqanna‘ fī Uṣūl al-Fiqh,
  • Ibn Abī Zayd Qīriwān (d. 386 A.H.): al-Risālah (many commentaries have been written on it),
  • Ibn ‘Abd al-Birr, Abū ‘Umar Yūsuf b. ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Birr Namrī, Andalusian scholars’ elder (d. 436 A.H.): al-Kāfī, al-Tamhīd li-mā fī al-Muwaṭṭa’ min al-Ma‘ānī wa al-Asānīd, al-Istidhkār li-Madhhab ‘Ulamā’ al-Amṣār.
  • Bājī, Abū al-Walīd Sulaymān b. Khalaf Tamīmī Bājī (d. 474 A.H.): al-Muntaqā. This is a selection of his commentary on al-Muwaṭṭa’ in seven volumes. It is claimed that it is the best book among Mālikīyah.[1]
  • Ibn Rushd/the father (d. 520 A.H.): al-Bayān wa al-Taḥṣīl, al-Muqaddamāt,
  • Muhammad b. Ahmad known as Ibn Rushd Qurṭabī/Ḥafīd (d. 595 A.H.): Bidāyah al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyah al-Muqtaṣid (it is a valuable book in two parts, and its researched version is recently published by the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools), al-Bayān, al-Muqaddamāt,
  • Ahmad b. Idrīs b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, known as Qarrāfī (d. 684 A.H.): al-Aḥkām fī Tamyīz al-Fatāwā ‘an al-Aḥkām, al-Dhakhīrah, al-Furūq (it includes four parts),
  • Khalīl Jundī, Khalīl b. Ishāq b. Mūsā Miṣrī (d. 776 A.H.) Mukhtaṣar al-Madhhab al-Mālikī. Many commentaries have been written on it, and Mālikī seminary students memorize it. Its famous commentaries are as follows:
    • Al-Tāj wa al-Iklīl fī Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Khalīl, Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Yūsuf b. Abī al-Qāsim ‘Abdarī, known as Mawāq (d. 897 A.H.),
    • Mawāhib al-Jalīl fī Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Khalīl, Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Maghribī, known as Ḥaṭṭāb Ra‘īnī (d. 954 A.H.) (in six parts)[2]
    • Sharḥ al-Kharashī ‘alā Mukhtaṣar al-Khalīl, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah Kharashī (d. 1101 A.H.), which has been published in six parts including a supplement on Mukhtaṣar by ‘Adwī (d. 1189 A.H.),
    • Al-Shar al-Kabīr, al-Shar Ṣaghīr, Sheikh Abū al-Barakāt Ahmad b. Muhammad Dardīr ‘Adwī (d. 1201 A.H.),
    • Ḥāshīyah, Muhammad ‘Urfah Shams al-Dīn Dusūqī (d. 1230 A.H.). it is printed on margin of al-Shar al-Kabīr,
    • Sharḥ al-Zarqānī ‘alā Mukhtaṣar al-Khalīl, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Bāqī b. Yūsuf Zarqānī (d. 1099 A.H.). It is published in four volumes including eight parts.[3]
    • Shar al-Maysir, ‘Allāmah Muḥniḍ Bābah b. A‘bīd al-Daymānī al-Shanqīṭī (d. 1277 A.H.),
  • Shāṭibī (d. 790 A.H.): al-Muwāfiqāt,
  • Qāḍī Abū Bakr Muhammad b. ‘Āṣim Andulusī Gharnāṭī, known as Ibn ‘Āṣim (d. 829 A.H.): Tuḥfah al-Ḥukkām (in two parts),[4]
  • Tasūlī Sabrārī, Ali b. ‘Abd al-Salām (d. 1258 A.H.): al-Bahjah fī Sharḥ al-Tuḥfah, [5]
  • ‘Adwī (d. 1189 A.H.): Ḥāshīyah al-‘Adwī ‘alā Kifāyah al-Ṭālib (Kifāyah al-Ṭālib is written by Barrānī),
  • Amīr (d. 1232 A.H.): al-Iklīl,
  • Muhammad ‘Alīsh (d. 1399 A.H.): Minḥ al-Jalīl, Fatḥ al-‘alā al-Mālik,
  • Ābī Azharī, Ṣāliḥ ‘Abd al-Samī‘(d. 1330 A.H.): Jawāhir al-Iklīl= Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-‘Allāmah al-Sheikh al-Jalīl fī al-Madhhab al-Imām Mālik, al-Thamar al-Dānī fī Taqrīb al-Ma‘ānī (it is a commentary on al-Risālah written by Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qīriwānī),
  • Dāh Shanqīṭī (d. 1389 A.H.): Fatḥ al-Raḥīm ‘alā Fiqh al-Imām Mālik bi al-Adillah (it is a commentary on the versified version of al-Risālah written by Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qīriwānī),[6]


1- There are two other commentaries on al-Muwaṭṭa’, Mālik:

  • Tanwīr al-Ḥawālik, Jalāl al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Siyūṭī Shāfi‘ī (d. 911 A.H.),
  • Sharḥ al-Zarqānī, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Bāqī Zarqānī (d. 1122 A.H.),

2- This commentary, with Mawāq’s commentary printed on margins, is published by Dār al-Fikr, Lebanon.

3- Many commentaries and supplements have been written on this well-known commentary. The most important of them are as follows:

  • Ḥāshīyah al-Banānī (d. 1194 A.H.),
  • Ḥāshīyah al-Rahūnī (d. 1230 A.H.),
  • Ḥāshīyah al-Amīr Ali (d. 1232 A.H.),

4- Urjūzah fī Tuḥfah al-Ḥukkām (a lengthy poem of Tuḥfah al-Ḥukkām) it includes 1699 couplets that has versified two chapters of Mālikī jurisprudence including personal states and mu‘āmilāt (worldly affairs).

5- This commentary, along with another commentary on Tuḥfah by Abū ‘Abd Allah Tāwudī Mālikī (that is shorter than al-Bahjah), and including a proof reading by Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qādir Shāhīn, is published in two volumes by Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmīyah (Beirut, 1418/1998).

6- Some other important Mālikī jurists and books are as follows:

  • ‘Abd al-Wahhāb Baghdādī (d. 422 A.H.): al-Ishrāf ‘alā Nukat Masā’il al-Khilāf,
  • Ibn ‘Arabī (d. 543 A.H.): Aḥkām al-Qur’an,
  • Ibn Ḥājib (d. 646 A.H.): Jāmi‘ al-Ummahāt,
  • ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Baghdādī (d. 732 A.H.): Irshād al-Sālik ilā Ashraf al-Masālik,
  • Abū al-Qāsim Ibn Jizzī (d. 741 A.H.), al-Qawānīn al-Fiqhīyah fī Talkhīṣ Madhhab al-Mālikīyah,
  • Burhān al-Dīn Ibrāhīm b. Ali b. Muhammad, known as Ibn Farḥūn (d. 799 A.H.): Tabṣirah al-Ḥukkām fī Uṣūl al-Aqḍīyah wa Manāhij al-Aḥkām (in two parts),
  • Wansharīsī (d. 914 A.H.): al-Mi‘yār al-Mu‘rab,
  • Abū al-Ḥasan al-Mālikī (d. 939 A.H.): Kifāyah al-Ṭālib al-Rabbānī,
  • Ibn ‘Arafah (d. 803 A.H.): Tafsīr Ibn ‘Arafah,
  • Abū al-Ḥasan Khalaf (d. 857 A.H.): Kifāyah al-Ṭālib al-Rabbānī Sharḥ al-Risālah Ibn Qīriwān,
  • Miyārah, Muhammad b. Ahmad (d. 1072 A.H.): al-Itqān wa al-Iḥkām Sharḥ Tuḥfah al-Aḥkām=Sharḥ Miyārah,
  • Nafrāwī (d. 1120 A.H.): al-Fawākih al-Dawānī,
  • Ṣāwī, Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Khalwatī (d. 1241 A.H.): Balaghah al-Sālik li Aqrab al-Masālik ‘alā al-Shar al-Ṣaghīr (al-Shar al-Ṣaghīr is written by Ahmad Dardīr).

The article was written by Hujjat al-Islam Mujtaba Elahi Khorasani (Teacher of Advance Level of Mashhad Seminary) and Translated by Sayyid Dilawar Ali Naqavi  (Seminary Member, Researcher, English Translator and M.A. Student in Quranic Interpretation and Sciences).

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